Bring me the sunset in a cup,
Reckon the morning’s flagons up
And say how many Dew,
Tell me how far the morning leaps —
Tell me what time the weaver sleeps
Who spun the breadth of blue!

Write me how many notes there be
In the new Robin’s ecstasy
Among astonished boughs —
How many trips the Tortoise makes —
How many cups the Bee partakes,
The Debauchee of Dews!

Also, who laid the Rainbow’s piers,
Also, who leads the docile spheres
By withes of supple blue?
Whose fingers string the stalactite —
Who counts the wampum of the night
To see that none is due?

Who built this little Alban House
And shut the windows down so close
My spirit cannot see?
Who’ll let me out some gala day
With implements to fly away,
Passing Pomposity?

--Emily Dickinson, No. 140 (1860)



Cocoon above! Cocoon below!
Stealthy Cocoon, why hide you so
What all the world suspect?
An hour, and gay on every tree
Your secret, perched in ecstasy
Defies imprisonment!

An hour in Chrysalis to pass,
Then gay above receding grass
A Butterfly to go!
A moment to interrogate,
Then wiser than a “Surrogate,”
The Universe to know!

--Emily Dickinson, No. 142 (1860)



As if some little Arctic flower
Upon the polar hem —
Went wandering down the Latitudes
Until it puzzled came
To continents of summer —
To firmaments of sun —
To strange, bright crowds of flowers —
And birds, of foreign tongue!
I say, As if this little flower
To Eden, wandered in —
What then? Why nothing,
Only, your inference therefrom! 
--Emily Dickinson, No. 177 (1860)




......[ Summer ; Alphonse Mucha (1896) ]



Haiku- Spring 2021

vernal equinox
morning songbird songs
a thousand miles wide

day in day out, yet
the unknown calligraphy
from dirty dog paws

slow rain alley music softening rust

clouds pass a little
rainy somewhat sunny-
just wasting time

red light green light,
the dog barks and morning sun
unfolds the tulips

allergy attack, 
no apologies required
from this floating world



An observant pace in the afternoon's
scribbled thoughts from adequate
material welling up the horizon,

rhythmic spring, that energetic
pulse more bluntly, humbling light
unfurling the sallow to yellow

accents kindled with pigment, aloud
over some darkened roots revealed
now again through temperate air

without consensus, shifting hours
brought through each daily limb newly
sung in daybreak's widening chorus,

angelic as well as why not, heckling
chuckles, such thoughts abandoned
on winds over a yearly settlement

that went astray, of what was never
anymore what can be beforehand,
or anything other than just now,

fuchsia deep, embedded, stemmed,
for other possibilities always known
from those forgotten tastes in full

bloom, which is aromatic sense
spindled with rain falling down
in cadence of our hellos, goodbyes,

as it can never be truly as wished,
closed, but beside dreamed in sunlight,
forgivably piqued while left undone. 



[ Pastime Paradise ; Chick Corea ]

p - Chick Corea
orig. by Stevie Wonder


--John Brehm

Even though I have not seen it,
I know how it could be,
how when the skylark flees
from a falcon's quick pursuit

it will turn sometimes and begin
to sing, as if to say, "Being
eaten by a falcon is the last thing
in the world I'm worried about.

You cannot catch me, Tra, la, la.
I've got breath enough to waste
on a song like this, which you
may as well enjoy before I vanish

into air." And the raptor knows
it's true, knows that anyone
foolish enough to sing in such
a circumstance is quite beyond

ever being caught, and that for all
his hunger he'll be given just
a song, tumbling through the air,
as the body he desires disappears.


--John Brehm

Do nothing and everything will be done,   
that's what Mr. Lao Tzu said, who walked   
around talking 2,500 years ago and   

now his books practically grow on trees   
they're so popular and if he were   
alive today beautiful women would

rush up to him like waves lapping   
at the shores of his wisdom.   
That's the way it is, I guess: humbling.

But if I could just unclench my fists,   
empty out my eyes, turn my mind into   
a prayer flag for the wind to play with,

we could be brothers, him the older one   
who's seen and not done it all and me   
still unlearning, both of us slung low

in our hammocks, our hats tipped   
forwards, hands folded neatly,   
like bamboo huts, above our hearts.



--John Brehm
There's something to be said
for having nothing to say,

though I don't know what
that is, or isn't, just as

there's something to be
known about not-knowing,

which I would tell you
if I could. There must be

something to be gained
by losing, a seed of victory

buried in every failure,
else I would not be here.

Clearly, there's something
to be desired about being

beyond desire, as the sages
never tire of telling us,

and nothing more fulfilling
than emptying yourself out—

no ground beneath your feet,
nothing to hold onto, no handrail,

no belief, only this bright self-
sustaining air, and a falling

that feels like floating.



........[ Popeye ; Beatriz Milhazes (2008) ]




--Vinod Kumar Shukla

Leaving the earth,
mounting the air,
does the bird know
that it’s the earth it is leaving?
To fly above it,
you really have to go high.

And when they return
to settle on trees
do birds know
that it’s the earth they’ve returned to?

I don’t have wings.

There’s a small yellow butterfly
flying above the earth.



--Kirun Kapur

my bones are made of whales,
and when whales die, their songs.

My eyes are pits
of mangos, scraped clean of sweet.

From my feet plunge fifty streams—
the rush, the cold

exposes underworlds of fear.

Four stomachs cannot explain my hungers.
I have devoured myself. I tread upon my loves.

I have been strung with a necklace
of hummingbirds, my hair

in braids, my braids are tongues.
Atop my head, a crown of forty

languages, spoken all at once.

My breastplates gleam and thrum,
two armies, marching on. You,

who extracts the marrow and the light.
You, who sucks the sun and leaves

the bone eroded colder—Demon, disease,

dear fated one. Do you hear? I will come
to you on the back of a tiger.

Author’s Note
Years ago, I saw a tiger in a game preserve in India. I’d been driving down a jungle road, when, suddenly, there she was, lying in tall grass, sunning herself on a bluff. Her size, her suddenness, the lush gloss of her coat, the way she radiated well-being and power have never left me. Sometimes, when I’m falling asleep at night, I see her again, just for a second. In Hindu mythology, the goddess Durga is often pictured with a tiger. As a child, my aunt would sometimes take me to the temple on Friday, Durga’s day, to say a prayer. I was awed by both lady and beast. This poem began with that mix of myth, memory and dream. I wrote it at a time when I found myself in circumstances I couldn’t avoid or control–it’s an effort to summon an interior ferocity and majesty. I suppose I wanted to imagine a way to ride right down the throat of fear.


--Vivek Narayanan

I want to be sweet and clear and free, as half a line
of Auden, or an episode of the Powerpuff Girls;
I want to be dew, and honest with mine,
like Bob Marley, or Boesman the Boer.
I want to swing and get it right
at the speed of Pollock’s light,
I want to be deep like Zulu,
tight like Tamil,
and trust my sense of Sanskrit true
with little shame for its will.
I want to dabble in the fields
ignorant of what I was doing,
rub myself on the ruins
with a self-induced disease
and gleefully lapse
the hope to be heard. I want to fix
my favourite English words
into the forty-fifth century—
haw, for instance, or luminary—
hiding them in a snatch of prose…
passed over in silence
like Wittgenstein, no evidence
for myself or Laura Riding,
like Bharathiyar going mad composing,
I want to dissolve into our language
printing too little for my age;
I want to be obscure but not leaden,
flippant if I feel like it, then
I don’t mind being called poetically shitty
in a note from Manohar Shetty,
writing into the time we’ve borrowed,
singing from our utter boredom;
I want to hold in me the heat of my combustion
and leave this sweat-smear as a resurrection:
I want to be sweet and clear and free,
insouciant, insufferable, just like me.




..................[ Unknown ; Wu Guanzhong ]



--Wisława Szymborska (trans.S Baranczak and C. Cavanagh)

Nothing's a gift, it's all on loan.
I'm drowning in debts up to my ears.
I'll have to pay for myself
with my self,
give up my life for my life.

Here's how it's arranged:
The heart can be repossessed,
the liver, too,
and each single finger and toe.

Too late to tear up the terms,
my debts will be repaid,
and I'll be fleeced,
or, more precisely, flayed.

I move about the planet
in a crush of other debtors.
some are saddled with the burden
of paying off their wings.
Others must, willy-nilly,
account for every leaf.

Every tissue in us lies
on the debit side.
Not a tenacle or tendril
is for keeps.

The inventory, infinitely detailed,
implies we'll be left
not just empty-handed
but handless too.

I can't remember
where, when, and why
I let someone open
this account in my name.

We call the protest against this
the soul.
And it's the only item
not included on the list.



--Wisława Szymborska (trans. Stanisław Barańczak)

I’m a tranquilizer.
I’m effective at home.
I work in the office.
I can take exams
on the witness stand.
I mend broken cups with care.
All you have to do is take me,
let me melt beneath your tongue,
just gulp me
with a glass of water.

I know how to handle misfortune,
how to take bad news.
I can minimize injustice,
lighten up God’s absence,
or pick the widow’s veil that suits your face.
What are you waiting for—
have faith in my chemical compassion.

You’re still a young man/woman.
It’s not too late to learn how to unwind.
Who said
you have to take it on the chin?

Let me have your abyss.
I’ll cushion it with sleep.
You’ll thank me for giving you
four paws to fall on.

Sell me your soul.
There are no other takers.

There is no other devil anymore.



--Wislawa Szymborska (trans. by S Baranczak/C Cavanagh)

It has come to this: I'm sitting under a tree
beside a river
on a sunny morning.
It's an insignificant event
and won't go down in history.
It's not battles and pacts,
where motives are scrutinized,
or noteworthy tyrannicides.

And yet I'm sitting by this river, that's a fact.
And since I'm here
I must have come from somewhere,
and before that
I must have turned up in many other places,
exactly like the conquerors of nations
before setting sail.

Even a passing moment has its fertile past,
its Friday before Saturday,
its May before June.
Its horizons are no less real
than those that a marshal's field glasses might scan.

This tree is a poplar that's been rooted here for years.
The river is the Raba; it didn't spring up yesterday.
The path leading through the bushes
wasn't beaten last week.
The wind had to blow the clouds here
before it could blow them away.

And though nothing much is going on nearby,
the world is no poorer in details for that.
It's just as grounded, just as definite
as when migrating races held it captive.

Conspiracies aren't the only things shrouded in silence.
Retinues of reasons don't trail coronations alone.
Anniversaries of revolutions may roll around,
but so do oval pebbles encircling the bay.

The tapestry of circumstance is intricate and dense.
Ants stitching in the grass.
The grass sewn into the ground.
The pattern of a wave being needled by a twig.

So it happens that I am and look.
Above me a white butterfly is fluttering through the air
on wings that are its alone,
and a shadow skims through my hands
that is none other than itself, no one else's but its own.

When I see such things, I'm no longer sure
that what's important
is more important than what's not.



.[ Giverny, le jardin de Monet ; Pedro Roldán Molina ]

[via dreaming in the deep south]


--Amy Gerstler

Gardens are also good places
to sulk. You pass beds of
spiky voodoo lilies   
and trip over the roots   
of a sweet gum tree,   
in search of medieval   
plants whose leaves,   
when they drop off   
turn into birds
if they fall on land,
and colored carp if they   
plop into water.

Suddenly the archetypal   
human desire for peace   
with every other species   
wells up in you. The lion   
and the lamb cuddling up.
The snake and the snail, kissing.
Even the prick of the thistle,   
queen of the weeds, revives   
your secret belief
in perpetual spring,
your faith that for every hurt   
there is a leaf to cure it.



--Amy Gerstler

Why are the woods so alluring? A forest appears
to a young girl one morning as she combs
the dreams out of   her hair. The trees rustle
and whisper, shimmer and hiss. The forest
opens and closes, a door loose on its hinges,
banging in a strong wind. Everything in the dim
kitchen: the basin, the jug, the skillet, the churn,
snickers scornfully. In this way a maiden
is driven toward the dangers of a forest,
but the forest is our subject, not this young girl.

She’s glad to lie down with trees towering all around.
A certain euphoria sets in. She feels molecular,
bedeviled, senses someone gently pulling her hair,
tingles with kisses she won’t receive for years.
Three felled trees, a sort of chorus, narrate
her thoughts, or rather channel theirs through her,
or rather subject her to their peculiar verbal
restlessness ...    our deepening need for non-being intones
the largest and most decayed tree, mid-sentence.
I’m not one of you squeaks the shattered sapling,

blackened by lightning. Their words become metallic
spangles shivering the air. Will I forget the way home?
the third blurts. Why do I feel like I’m hiding in a giant’s nostril?
the oldest prone pine wants to know. Are we being   freed
from matter? the sapling asks. Insects are well-intentioned,
offers the third tree, by way of consolation. Will it grow
impossible to think a thought through to its end? gasps the sapling,
adding in a panicky voice, I’m becoming spongy! The girl
feels her hands attach to some distant body. She rises
to leave, relieved these trees are not talking about her.


--Amy Gerstler

I’d given up hope. Hadn’t eaten in three
days. Resigned to being wolf meat ...
when, unbelievably, I found myself in
a clearing. Two goats with bells
round their necks stared at me:
their pupils like coin slots
in piggy banks. I could have gotten
the truth out of those two,
if goats spoke. I saw leeks
and radishes planted in rows;
wash billowing on a clothesline ...
and the innocuous-looking cottage
in the woods with its lapping tongue
of a welcome mat slurped me in.

In the kitchen, a woman so old her sex
is barely discernible pours a glass
of fraudulent milk. I’m so hungry
my hand shakes. But what is this liquid?
“Drink up, sweetheart,” she says,
and as I wipe the white mustache
off with the back of my hand:
“Atta girl.” Have I stumbled
into the clutches of St. Somebody?
Who can tell. “You’ll find I prevail here
in my own little kingdom,” she says as
she leads me upstairs—her bony grip
on my arm a proclamation of ownership,
as though I've always been hers.



.....[ The Reminiscent Ghost;  Francis A Willey ]


--Troy Jollimore

What matters is that when you lift the avocado to your mouth
you bend all your senses toward it, yet
allow a sliver of its flavor to escape
your lips—not into the muffled ether
of radio static that deadens the air
around us, but into the nearly real lips
of those who have gone before us, the pale
blue shadow-forms of the ancestors
who no longer have bodies to touch or to taste with,
to sing or to fuck with, but who still recall
what it is to touch or taste or sing or fuck
and who long for it and, in their longing, attach
themselves to the living, incarnated ones,
in the hope of feeling, once more, by a process
that must be mostly imagination, some spark
of sensation, the thinnest, outermost layer
of the experience of hearing the ocean,
of watching the moon rise over a city,
of kissing a woman, of stroking the fur
of a cat as it stretches to meet your palm,
of holding a pen, of smelling the pine-scented
breezes at dusk, of gazing deep into
a fire, a well, the eyes of a lover,
of tasting a teardrop, of tasting avocado.