Saturday, December 29, 2007

Anna Akhmatova

Lot's Wife
And the just man trailed God's shining agent,
over a black mountain, in his giant track,
while a restless voice kept harrying his woman:
"It's not too late, you can still look back

at the red towers of your native Sodom,
the square where once you sang, the spinning-shed,
at the empty windows set in the tall house
where sons and daughters blessed your marriage-bed."

A single glance: a sudden dart of pain
stitching her eyes before she made a sound . . .
Her body flaked into transparent salt,
and her swift legs rooted to the ground.

Who will grieve for this woman? Does she not seem
too insignificant for our concern?
Yet in my heart I never will deny her,
who suffered death because she chose to turn.

So many stones have been thrown at me,
That I'm not frightened of them anymore,
And the pit has become a solid tower,
Tall among tall towers.
I thank the builders,
May care and sadness pass them by.
From here I'll see the sunrise earlier,
Here the sun's last ray rejoices.
And into the windows of my room
The northern breezes often fly.
And from my hand a dove eats grains of wheat...
As for my unfinished page,
The Muse's tawny hand, divinely calm
And delicate, will finish it.

Monday, December 24, 2007


words and music by Sammy Fain / Irving Kahal

I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces all day and through

In that small cafe, the park across the way
The children's carousel, the chestnut trees, the wishing well

I'll be seeing you in every lovely summer's day
In everything that's light and gay
I'll always think of you that way
I'll find in the morning sun, and when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon, but I'll be seeing you

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hand in Hand

Risk by Anais Nin
And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to Blossom.

Visions and Interpretations

Because this graveyard is a hill,
I must climb up to see my dead,
stopping once midway to rest
beside this tree.

It was here, between the anticipation
of exhaustion, and exhaustion,
between vale and peak,
my father came down to me

and we climbed arm in arm to the top.
He cradled the bouquet I'd brought,
and I, a good son, never mentioned his grave,
erect like a door behind him.

And it was here, one summer day, I sat down
to read an old book. When I looked up
from the noon-lit page, I saw a vision
of a world about to come, and a world about to go.

Truth is, I've not seen my father
since he died, and, no, the dead
do not walk arm in arm with me.

If I carry flowers to them, I do so without their help,
the blossoms not always bright, torch-like,
but often heavy as sodden newspaper.

Truth is, I came here with my son one day,
and we rested against this tree,
and I fell asleep, and dreamed

a dream which, upon my boy waking me, I told.
Neither of us understood.
Then we went up.

Even this is not accurate.
Let me begin again:

Between two griefs, a tree.
Between my hands, white chrysanthemums, yellow

The old book I finished reading
I've since read again and again.

And what was far grows near,
and what is near grows more dear,

and all of my visions and interpretations
depend on what I see,

and between my eyes is always
the rain, the migrant rain.

Li-Young Lee

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Kid

(art by Damon Tommolino)

quote of the day

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

--William Hutchinson Murray


by Oscar Wilde

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

by John Donne

FOR God's sake hold your tongue, and let me love ;
Or chide my palsy, or my gout ;
My five gray hairs, or ruin'd fortune flout ;
With wealth your state, your mind with arts improve ;
Take you a course, get you a place,
Observe his Honour, or his Grace ;
Or the king's real, or his stamp'd face
Contemplate ; what you will, approve,
So you will let me love.

I Loved You

I loved you once: perhaps that love has yet
To die down thoroughly within my soul;
But let it not dismay you any longer;
I have no wish to cause you any sorrow.
I loved you wordlessly, without a hope,
By shyness tortured, or by jealousy.
I loved you with such tenderness and candor
And pray God grants you to be loved that way again.

~ Pushkin

Afraid So

Is it starting to rain?
Did the check bounce?
Are we out of coffee?
Is this going to hurt?
Could you lose your job?
Did the glass break?
Was the baggage misrouted?
Will this go on my record?
Are you missing much money?
Was anyone injured?
Is the traffic heavy?
Do I have to remove my clothes?
Will it leave a scar?
Must you go?
Will this be in the papers?
Is my time up already?
Are we seeing the understudy?
Will it affect my eyesight?
Did all the books burn?
Are you still smoking?
Is the bone broken?
Will I have to put him to sleep?
Was the car totaled?
Am I responsible for these charges?
Are you contagious?
Will we have to wait long?
Is the runway icy?
Was the gun loaded?
Could this cause side effects?
Do you know who betrayed you?
Is the wound infected?
Are we lost?
Will it get any worse?

~ Jeanne Marie Beaumont

Saturday, November 24, 2007

a poem by Charles O. Hartman


I love the moment at the ticket window—he says—
when you are to say the name of your destination, and realize
that you could say anything, the man at the counter
will believe you, the woman at the counter
would never say No, that isn't where you're going,
you could buy a ticket for one place and go to another,
less far along the same line. Suddenly you would find yourself
—he says—in a locality you've never seen before,
where no one has ever seen you and you could say your name
was anything you like, nobody would say No,
that isn't you, this is who you are. It thrills me every time.

In November

Lisel Mueller

Outside the house the wind is howling
and the trees are creaking horribly.
This is an old story
with its old beginning,
as I lay me down to sleep.
But when I wake up, sunlight
has taken over the room.
You have already made the coffee
and the radio brings us music
from a confident age. In the paper
bad news is set in distant places.
Whatever was bound to happen
in my story did not happen.
But I know there are rules that cannot be broken.
Perhaps a name was changed.
A small mistake. Perhaps
a woman I do not know
is facing the day with the heavy heart
that, by all rights, should have been mine.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Urge for Going

I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town
It hovered in a frozen sky, then it gobbled summer down
When the sun turns traitor cold
And shivering trees are standing in a naked row
I get the urge for going but I never seem to go

I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

I had me a man in summertime
He had summer-colored skin
And not another girl in town
My darling's heart could win
But when the leaves fell trembling down
Bully winds did rub their faces in the snow
He got the urge for going
And I had to let him go

He got the urge for going
When the meadow grass was turning brown
Summertime was falling down and winter was closing in
The warriors of winter they gave a cold triumphant shout
And all that stays is dying and all that lives is getting out
See the geese in chevron flight flapping and racing on before the snow
They've got the urge for going, they've got the wings to go

They get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in
I'll ply the fire with kindling and pull the blankets to my chin
And I'll lock the vagrant winter out and bolt my wandering in
I'd like to call back summertime and have her stay
Just another month or so
She's got the urge for going and I guess she'll have to go

And she gets the urge for going when meadow grass is turning brown
All her empires are falling down
Winter's closing in
~ song by Joni Mitchell

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mad Girl's Love Song

Sylvia Plath

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

She Tells Her Love While Half Asleep

She tells her love while half asleep,
In the dark hours,
With half words whispered low;
As earth stirs in her winter sleep
And puts out grass and flowers
Despite the snow,
Despite the falling snow.

~ Robert Graves

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dover Beach

Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the A gaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

No Doctor's Today, Thank You

A little Ogden Nash to start the weekend off:

They tell me that euphoria is the feeling of feeling wonderful,
well, today I feel euphorian,
Today I have the agility of a Greek god and the appetitite of a
Yes, today I may even go forth without my galoshes,
Today I am a swashbuckler, would anybody like me to buckle
any swashes?
This is my euphorian day,
I will ring welkins and before anybody answers I will run away.
I will tame me a caribou
And bedeck it with marabou.
I will pen me my memoirs.
Ah youth, youth! What euphorian days them was!
I wasn't much of a hand for the boudoirs,
I was generally to be found where the food was.
Does anybody want any flotsam?
I've gotsam.
Does anybody want any jetsam?
I can getsam.
I can play chopsticks on the Wurlitzer,
I can speak Portuguese like a Berlitzer.
I can don or doff my shoes without tying or untying the laces because
I am wearing moccasins,
And I practically know the difference between serums and antitoccasins.
Kind people, don't think me purse-proud, don't set me down as
I'm just a little euphorious.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Country of Marriage, by Wendell Berry


I dream of you walking at night along the streams
of the country of my birth, warm blooms and the nightsongs
of birds opening around you as you walk.
You are holding in your body the dark seed of my sleep.


This comes after silence. Was it something I said
that bound me to you, some mere promise
or, worse, the fear of loneliness and death?
A man lost in the woods in the dark, I stood
still and said nothing. And then there rose in me,
like the earth's empowering brew rising
in root and branch, the words of a dream of you
I did not know I had dreamed. I was a wanderer
who feels the solace of his native land
under his feet again and moving in his blood.
I went on, blind and faithful. Where I stepped
my track was there to steady me. It was no abyss
that lay before me, but only the level ground.


Sometimes our life reminds me
of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
and in that opening a house,
an orchard and garden,
comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
made in the light for the light to return to.
The forest is mostly dark, its ways
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,
provided we stay brave
enough to keep on going in.


How many times have I come to you out of my head
with joy, if ever a man was,
for to approach you I have given up the light
and all directions. I come to you
lost, wholly trusting as a man who goes
into the forest unarmed. It is as though I descend
slowly earthward out of the air. I rest in peace
in you, when I arrive at last.


Our bond is no little economy based on the exchange
of my love and work for yours, so much for so much
of an expendable fund. We don't know what its limits are--
that puts us in the dark. We are more together
than we know, how else could we keep on discovering
we are more together than we thought?
You are the known way leading always to the unknown,
and you are the known place to which the unknown is always
leading me back. More blessed in you than I know,
I possess nothing worthy to give you, nothing
not belittled by my saying that I possess it.
Even an hour of love is a moral predicament, a blessing
a man may be hard up to be worthy of. He can only
accept it, as a plant accepts from all the bounty of the light
enough to live, and then accepts the dark,
passing unencumbered back to the earth, as I
have fallen tine and again from the great strength
of my desire, helpless, into your arms.


What I am learning to give you is my death
to set you free of me, and me from myself
into the dark and the new light. Like the water
of a deep stream, love is always too much. We
did not make it. Though we drink till we burst
we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.
In the evening we come down to the shore
to drink our fill, and sleep, while it
flows through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us, except we keep returning
to its rich waters thirsty. We enter,
willing to die, into the commonwealth of its joy.


I give you what is unbounded, passing from dark to dark,
containing darkness: a night of rain, an early morning.
I give you the life I have let live for the love of you:
a clump of orange-blooming weeds beside the road,
the young orchard waiting in the snow, our own life
that we have planted in the ground, as I
have planted mine in you. I give you my love for all
beautiful and honest women that you gather to yourself
again and again, and satisfy--and this poem,
no more mine than any man's who has loved a woman.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Over the Rhine

Emily is an impetuous friend to have... and I, I'm not prone to sudden action. Kinda like a butterfly and a sloth being friends. She has a far more interesting life than me, but sometimes I'm lucky enough to get sucked into her exciting plans.

So, today we are driving to Columbus, OH to see Over the Rhine perform. I don't really know many more details than that, but these things always work out well. More updates to come...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

To a Stranger

by Walt Whitman

Passing stranger! you do no know how longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me, as of a dream).
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recalled as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me, or a girl with me,
I ate with you, and slept with you—your body has become not yours only, nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass—you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return,
I am not to speak to you—I am to think of you when I sit alone, or wake at night alone,
I am to wait—I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wifi Jesus

Wifi Jesus

Ben says we are all pilgrims
my hazy memory balks,
his tailored casuals mocking
visions of dusty feet.

Tune in he pleads
easy crocodile tears
on a Sunday morning
unmoved I ponder free caffeine

Over layers of praise and drums
we place our bets
I back the loser-
humility none, wifi jesus one

(inspiration courtesy of the Vineyard)
Poem in progress... by Hannah

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Getting away...

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

W.B. Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Monday, August 20, 2007

In a Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood—
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.
What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight comes again!
A man goes far to find out what he is—
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.
Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

~ Theodore Roethke

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Whenever you're called on to make up your mind
And you're hampered by not having any
The best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find
Is simply by spinning a penny
No--not so that chance shall decide the affair
While you're passively standing there moping
But the moment the penny is up in the air
You suddenly know what you're hoping

~ Piet Hein

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Love brought with it a tail of sorrows
A long static ray of thorns
And we closed our eyes
Because no wound can separate us

This weeping is not the fault of your eyes
Your hands do not grasp the sword
Your feet did not search out this path
By which the dark honey arrived at your heart

When love like an immense wave
Breaks us against a hard stone
It kneads us into a single dough

And the pain falls on some other sweet face
So in the light of an open place
Is consecrated the wounded spring

~ Pablo Neruda

(translated by Peter Rohloff, 08/05)
"I look at the light of the sun, and I see that it serves that same purpose in nature as God's wisdom in heaven, to illuminate; I observe the warmth of the sun and see that it serves the same purpose in nature as God's love in heaven - to nurture; and when I do this, when I see how the spiritual affections and natural elements are the same in Use, it is difficult to know sometimes if I am being told more about the truths from nature, or more about nature from these truths.

But it is of no matter, for what should I mind if someday I lost sight of the difference? Mind? That should be my goal, I think, not just to remember this, but to see it every day - that nature is spirit, and spirit nature, such as I have been given to know either."

- The Twilight Letters of Gustav Uyterhoeven by Brooks Hansen

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Cuadrados y ángulos

Casas enfiladas, casas enfiladas,
casas enfiladas.
Cuadrados, cuadrados, cuadrados.
Casas enfiladas.
Las gentes ya tienen el alma cuadrada,
ideas en fila
y ángulo en la espalda.
Yo misma he vertido ayer una lágrima,
Dios mío, cuadrada.

~ Alfonsina Storni

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

In My Vineyard

In my vineyard
The vines are bleeding
As if an overwhelming autumn
Should fill me to overflowing
One more time.
As if from among
My erratic steps
One should break through
Into the interior,
As if my forehead
With its cold armor
Should still let fly
A bird of paradise.

Marie Luise Kaschnitz

Monday, July 30, 2007

How did this poem come about?
It was of the muse's making.
I prayed to her, no joke,
I vowed,
then passed under a tree quaking,
where a baby was falling down,
cradle and all, the boughs breaking.
She landed in my arms--that's how.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

To the Words

During Em's last visit, I was entrusted with purchased Galway Kinnell's new book. However, I balked at paying $26 for a very slender hardbound book of poems. One that would barely last us an hour or two of candlelight and pipe smoke. So instead I found Present Company by W.S. Merwin, another of the poetic greats of our time. We spent a lovely evening creating wax art on my back stoop, listening to Peter's mesmerizing reading voice, and passing around the pipa.

To the Words

When it happens you are not there

O you beyond numbers
beyond recollection
passed on from breath to breath
given again
from day to day from age
to age
charged with knowledge
knowing nothing

indifferent elders
indispensable and sleepless

Keepers of our names
before ever we came
to be called by them

you that were
formed to begin with
you that were cried out
you that were spoken
to begin with
to say what could not be said

ancient precious
and helpless ones

say it

To a Departing Companion

Only now
I see that you
are the end of spring
cloud passing
across the hollow
of the empty bowl
not making a sound
and the dew is still here