Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Heron

Whenever we noticed her
standing in the stream, still
as a branch in dead air, we
would grab our binoculars,
watch her watching,
her eye fixed on the water
slowly making its own way
around stumps, over a boulder,
under some leaves matted against
a fallen log. She seemed
to appear, stand, peer, then
lift one leg, stretch it, let
a foot quietly settle into the mud
then pull up her other foot, settle
it, and stare again, each step
tendered, an ideogram at the end
of a calligrapher's brush.
Every time she arrived, we watched
until, as if she had suddenly heard
a call in the sky, she would bend
her knees, raise her wide wings,
and lift into the welcome grace
of the air, her legs extending
back behind her, wings rising
and falling elegant under the clouds:
For more than a week now
we have not seen her. We watch
the sky, hoping to catch her great
feathered cross moving above the trees.

by Jack Ridl

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Big Bang

When the morning comes that you don't wake up,
what remains of your life goes on as some kind of
electromagnetic energy. There's a slight chance you
might appear on someone's screen as a dot. Face it.
You are a blip or a ping, part of the background noise,
the residue of the Big Bang. You remember the Big
Bang, don't you? You were about 26 years old, driving
a brand new red and white Chevy convertible, with
that beautiful blond girl at your side. Charlene, was
her name. You had a case of beer on ice in the back,
cruising down Highway number 7 on a summer
afternoon and then you parked near Loon Lake just
as the moon began to rise. Way back then you said to
yourself, "Boy, it doesn't get any better than this," and
you were right.

--Louis Jenkins

Thursday, October 31, 2013


I remembered what it was like,
knowing what you want to eat and then making it,
forgetting about the ending in the middle,
looking at the ocean for
a long time without restlessness,
or with restlessness not inhabiting the joints,
sitting Indian style on a porch
overlooking that water, smooth like good cake frosting.
And then I experienced it, falling so deeply
into the storyline, I laughed as soon as my character entered
the picture, humming the theme music even when I'd told myself
I wanted to be quiet by some freezing river
and never talk to anyone again.
And I thought, now is the right time to cut up your shirt.

~Katie Peterson


I want to tell you a story. There is a dog and sunlight in it. My sister is driving the car. My tall taciturn kid brother is sitting next to me. Our grand-aunt just called,sobbing. Her huge ancient dog has collapsed. We are driving along the beach road toward her house. You wouldn't believe the light this morning. Our grand-aunt is a bigot. It is tense whenever she comes to family dinners, because she will say things like The Yankees went to hell when they hired niggers to play the outfield. There are men on the jetties fishing for striped bass. Our grand-aunt is blind. Her dog shepherds her expertly from couch to kitchen and back, her hand on his shoulder. Our grand-aunt keened at the wedding when her brother, our grandfather, married our grandmother. Keening is wailing for the dead in the ancient Irish tradition. Our grandmother never spoke to our grand-aunt for the rest of her life. How stupid Irish is that, as our dad likes to say. The dog's name is Sandy. He is a great dog. We think he does the laundry. Our sister drives slowly and cranes her neck to see the street signs. My kid brother isn't saying much. The men on the jetties are also hoping for bluefish. Our grand-aunt always says she can tell if people on the radio are Negroes or not. She says there are more Negroes on the radio at night. When we get to the house, we can hear her weeping inside. The front door is locked, so we go around back and let ourselves in and ask for her in the dark. There are piles of newspapers like you wouldn't believe. Why exactly a blind woman would continue to get the paper is a mystery to me, our dad likes to say. When our grand-aunt come to family dinners, she sits at one end of the table, and our dad sits at the other and grinds his teeth. You can hear him do it if you sit close enough. The dog is sprawled on our grand-aunt's kitchen floor. There are dirty dishes piled so high in the sink that if you sneezed there would be a calamity. Our sister knows animals the best, and she kneels down and asks Sandy how he's doing, and he pants and stares at us in a friendly fashion. He has the thickest whitest eyebrows you have ever seen. Our grand-aunt is sobbing on the couch. She tries to explain, but she is not using any words that we know. Sandy is such a huge dog that he takes up most of the kitchen floor. One time at dinner our grand-aunt said that the Negroes were taking over the government, and I bet people in Peru heard our dad grinding his teeth. Our sister stands up and says Sandy is dying and we have to get him to the vet. Our grand-aunt cries even harder. The dog stares at us.
I remember there was a long pause while Sandy panted and our grand-aunt cried and we tried to calculate how we were going to get this dog out of the house and into the car. And then my tall kid brother bent down and picked Sandy up as if the dog weighed no more than an ounce, and he straightened up, with his arms full of dying dog, and there was this look on his face that I just cannot find the words for. That's the story I want to tell you. There was love and pain and fury on his face, but then the words run out of gas, and all I can say is: See his face all twisted and shining in the shadowy kitchen? See? This is the biggest, heaviest, oldest dog you can imagine, and it would have been a miracle if all three of us had managed to hoist him up and haul him to the car, but somehow my kid brother has lifted him like a feather, and now the tears are sliding silver down his face, like water over a rock, and I open the door, and the light comes pouring in all wind and careless and impatient.

~ Brian Doyle

Monday, September 16, 2013

A New Law

Let there be a ban on every holiday.
     No ringing in the new year.
No fireworks doodling the warm night air.
     No holly on the door. I say
let there be no more.
     For many are not here who were here before.

Greg Delanty

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dear Miss Emily (by James Galvin)

I knew the end would be gone before I got there.
After all, all rainbows lie for a living.
And as you have insisted, repeatedly,
The difference between death and the Eternal 
Present is about as far as one
Eyelash from the next, not wished upon.
Rainbows are not forms or stories, are they?
They are not doors ajar so much as far-
Flung situations without true beginnings
Or any ends--why bother--unless, as you
Suggest--repeatedly---there's nothing wrong
With this life, and we should all stop whining.
So I shift my focus now on how to end
A letter. In XOXOXO,
For example, Miss, which are the hugs
And which the kisses? Does anybody know?
I could argue either way: the O's
Are circles of embrace, the X is someone
Else's star burning inside your mouth;
Unless the O is a mouth that cannot speak,
Because, you know, it's busy.
X is the crucifixion all embraces
Are, here at the nowhere of the rainbow's end,
Where even light has failed its situation,
Slant the only life it ever had,
Where even the most gallant sunset can't
Hold back for more than a nonce the rain-laden
Eastern sky of night. It's clear. It's clear.
X's are both hugs and kisses, O's
Where stars that died gave out, gave up, gave in--
Where no one meant the promises they made.
Oh, and one more thing. I send my love
However long and far it takes--through light,
Through time, thorough all the faithlessness of men,
James Augustin Galvin,


His mark.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

He Foretells His Passing

I can imagine, years from now, your coming back
to this high, old, white house. "Home" I shouldn't say
because we can't predict who'll live here with a different
How tall the birches will be then. Will you look up
from the road past the ash for light in the study windows
upstairs and down? Go climb the black maple as first
in new sneakers you walked forty feet in air
and saw the life to come. Don't forget the cats. 

Because you grow away from a house, no matter how much you
     come back,
if the people you love are elsewhere, or if the reason is,
nostalgia, don't worry about small changes or lost names.
Sit down for a minute under the tallest birch. Look up
at the clouds reflected in the red barn's twisted window.
Lean on the wall. Hear our voices as at first
they shook the plaster, laughed, then burned in the dry air
like a wooden house. I imagine you won't forget the cats.

by F. D. Reeve

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Grandmother's Love Letters

There are no stars tonight
But those of memory.
Yet how much room for memory there is
In the loose girdle of soft rain.

There is even room enough
For the letters of my mother's mother,
That have been pressed so long
Into a corner of the roof
That they are brown and soft,
And liable to melt as snow.

Over the greatness of such space
Steps must be gentle.
It is all hung by an invisible white hair.
It trembles as birch limbs webbing the air.

And I ask myself:

"Are your fingers long enough to play
Old keys that are but echoes:
Is the silence strong enough
To carry back the music to its source
And back to you again
As though to her?"

Yet I would lead my grandmother by the hand
Through much of what she would not understand;
And so I stumble. And the rain continues on the roof
With such a sound of gently pitying laughter.

~Hart Crane

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When Ecstasy Is Inconvenient

Feign a great calm;
all gay transport soon ends.
Chant: who knows—
flight's end or flight's beginning
for the resting gull?

Heart, be still.
Say there is money but it rusted;
say the time of moon is not right for escape.
It's the color in the lower sky
too broadly suffused,
or the wind in my tie.

Know amazedly how
often one takes his madness
into his own hands
and keeps it.

--Lorine Niedecker

Saturday, July 13, 2013

on the beach

so let’s say i ride this giant seahorse into the ocean…
i will cross paths with a red balloon which reminds me
of the city where i was born and it will lilt and bob
over the waves so whimsically that there will be
no way for me to develop my gills. and, after that --

the waters’ wills cannot do much to convince me
of my being seaworthy and this giant seahorse will
sense something amiss and throw me as soon
as i loose my grip. not much for bridles, not much for
sympathy, this giant seahorse whinnies and grimaces.
he says, “i wanted to have your children.”

i will be able to catch the sun, in a fraction of a second,
glowing on the other side of that red balloon, so i will
curse myself for ever having laid eyes on the mirror-ball
ocean, for being so easily tempted by gigantic curlicue
hippocampus, for screaming jubilant into each crest
however many hundreds of thousands of fathoms
it took me from land:

there are no red balloons, under there and no cities
to be born in. there is no sun and no waves upon which
it could dance. were i to climb aback and ride this giant seahorse
into the ocean, i would not be able to say goodbye.

-Iris Appelquist

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Burning the Old Year

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

--Naomi Shihab Nye

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Another Feeling

Once you saw a drove of young pigs
crossing the highway. One of them
pulling his body by the front feet,
the hind legs dragging flat.
Without thinking,
you called the Humane Society.
They came with a net and went for him.
They were matter of fact, uniformed;
there were two of them,
their truck ominous, with a cage.
He was hiding in the weeds. It was then
you saw his eyes. He understood.
He was trembling.
After they took him, you began to suffer regret.
Years later, you remember his misfit body
scrambling to reach the others.
Even at this moment, your heart
is going too fast; your hands sweat.

Eve, After

Did she know
there was more to life
than lions licking the furred
ears of lambs,
fruit trees dropping
their fat bounty,
the years droning on
without argument?

Too much quiet
is never a good sign.
Isn't there always
something itching
beneath the surface?

But what could she say?
The larder was full,
and they were beautiful,
their bodies new
as the day they were made.

Each morning the same
flowers broke through
the rich soil, the birds sang,
again, in perfect pitch.

It was only at night,
when they lay together in the dark,
that it was almost palpable -
the vague sadness, unnamed.

Foolishness, betrayal,
- call it what you will. What a relief
to feel the weight
fall into her palm. And after,
not to pretend anymore
that the terrible calm
was Paradise.

- Danusha Lameris

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Complaint of Achilles' Heel

Everyone's so quick to blame my
tenderness. My wound opening like a mouth
to kiss an arrow's steel beak.

A beautiful man, now, plants his face
in Trojan sand while I tell
the secrets of his body--

make the ground red with truth.
Red with the death of Achilles, felled
by an arrow's bite when nothing--

nothing--could puncture his Kevlar skin.
Everyone skips ahead to the moral: don't
be a heel. For just one day I felt

sun where the chafing bonds of sandal
should have been. Without me, he'd be
just more fodder for the cannon.

I made him a hero, Troy's poster
boy. Everyone forgets I was part of him,
I needed him--that even as he died,

I tasted each pulse--
that I could not hold back its rush of red
birds or the season to which they flew.

~ Charles Jensen

Saturday, June 15, 2013

If You Forget Me

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

--Pablo Neruda

The Flight

Look back with longing eyes and know that I will follow,
Lift me up in your love as a light wind lifts a swallow,
Let our flight be far in sun or blowing rain--
But what if I heard my first love calling me again?

Hold me on your heart as the brave sea holds the foam,
Take me far away to the hills that hide your home;
Peace shall thatch the roof and love shall latch the door--
But what if I heard my first love calling me once more?

~Sara Teasdale

Saturday, June 8, 2013


People that build their houses inland,
  People that buy a plot of ground
Shaped like a house, and build a house there,
  Far from the sea-board, far from the sound

Of water sucking the hollow ledges,
  Tons of water striking the shore,--
What do they long for, as I long for
  One salt smell of the sea once more?

People the waves have not awakened,
  Spanking the boats at the harbour's head,
What do they long for, as I long for,--
  Starting up in my inland bed,

Beating the narrow walls, and finding
  Neither a window nor a door,
Screaming to God for death by drowning,--
  One salt taste of the sea once more?

~Edna St. Vincent Millay

Friday, May 17, 2013

L'Avenir est Quelque Chose

All day for too long
everything I've thought to say
has been about umbrellas,
how I can't remember how
I came to possess whatever weird one
I find in my hand, like now,
how they hang there on brass hooks
in the closet like failed actors,
each one tiny or too huge,
like ideas, always needing
to be shaken off and folded up
before we can properly forget them on the train.
Most of my predictions are honestly
just hopes: a sudden sundress in March,
regime change in the North, the one where Amanda
wins the big book award from the baby boomers.
There's that green and white umbrella
the cereal company interns handed us
outside the doomed ball game,
the one just for sun,
the one with the wooden handle
as crooked as the future
that terrifies me whenever one of us uses it
as a stand-in for a dance partner.
You once opened it in the living room
so Scarlett could have a picnic
beneath something that felt to her like a tent
as it felt to me like my prediction
we would live forever was already true.
When I want to try to understand now
I tend to look up and how
truth be untold, I might see nothing
more than a few thousand pinholes in black nylon,
it's enough to get you to Greece and back,
or something to kiss beneath,
who knows how this is going to play out?
I know you won't ever be able to say
exactly what you're feeling either,
the way worry might pop open overhead
like fireworks oozing pure midnight --
will we ever see the sun? --
the way we're sure to pull closer
to whatever's between us, the rain playing
the drum that's suddenly us.

~Dobby Gibson

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Late August morning I go out to cut
spent and faded hydrangeas--washed
greens, russets, troubled little auras

of sky as if these were the very silks
of Versailles, mottled by rain and ruin
then half-restored, after all this time...

When I come back with my handful
I realize I've accidentally locked the door,
and can't get back into the house.

The dining room window's easiest;
crawl through beauty bush and spirea,
push aside some errant maples, take down

the wood-framed screen, hoist myself up.
But how, exactly, to clamber across the sill
and the radiator down to the tile?

I try bending one leg in, but I don't fold
readily; I push myself up so that my waist
rests against the sill, and lean forward,

place my hands on the floor and begin to slide
down into the room, which makes me think
this was what it was like to be born:

awkward, too big for the passageway...
Negotiate, submit?
When I give myself
to gravity there I am, inside, no harm,

the dazzling splotchy flowerheads
scattered around me on the floor.
Will leaving the world be the same

--uncertainty as to how to proceed,
some discomfort, and suddenly you're
--where? I am so involved with this idea

I forget to unlock the door,
so when I go to fetch the mail, I'm locked out
again. Am I at home in this house,

would I prefer to be out here,
where I could be almost anyone?
This time it's simpler: the window-frame,

the radiator, my descent. Born twice
in one day!
In their silvered jug,
these bruise-blessed flowers:

how hard I had to work to bring them
into this room. When I say spent,
I don't mean they have no further coin.

If there are lives to come, I think
they might be a littler easier than this one.

~Mark Doty

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gapped Sonnet

Between the blinds Past the coded locks
Past the slanted gold bars of the day
Smelling of all-night salt rain on the docks
Of grief Of birth Of bergamot Of May

In the wind that lifts the harbor litter
Wet against my fingers in a dream
Salvaging among the tideline's bitter
gleanings Generous Exigent Lush and lean

Your voice A tune I thought I had forgotten
The taste of cold July brook on my tongue
A fire built on thick ice in the winter
The place where lost and salvaged meet and fit
The cadences a class in grief is taught in
The sound when frozen rivers start to run

~ Suzanne Gardinier

Sunday, March 3, 2013


There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons -
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes -

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us -
We can find no scar,
But internal differences,
Where the Meanings, are -

None may teach it - Any -
'Tis the Seal Despair -
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air -

When it comes, the Landscape listens -
Shadows - hold their breath -
When it goes 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death -

~Emily Dickinson

Friday, March 1, 2013

You Can't Have It All

But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam's twin is blood.
You can have the skin at the center between a man's legs,
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who'll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can't bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts,
for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,
at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.
You can't count on grace to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind
as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother's,
it will always whisper, you can't have it all,
but there is this.

~Barbara Ras

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Figure

You sit at a window and listen to your father
crossing the dark grasses of the fields

toward you, a moon soaking through his shoes as he shuffles the wind
aside, the night in his hands like an empty bridle.

How long have we been this way, you ask him.
It must be ages, the wind answers. It must be the music of the wind

turning your fingers to glass, turning the furniture of childhood
to the colors of horses, turning them away.

Your father is still crossing the acres, a light on his tongue
like a small coin from an empire that has always been ruined.

Now the dark flocks are drifting through his shoulders
with an odor of lavender, an odor of gold. Now he has turned

as though to go, but only knelt down with the heavy oars
of October on his forearms, to begin the horrible rowing.

You sit in a chair in the room. The wind lies open
on your lap like the score of a life you did not measure.

You rise. You turn back to the room and repeat what you know:
The earth is not a home. The night is not an empty bridle

in the hands of a man crossing a field with a new moon
in his old wool. We abandon the dead. We abandon them.

~Joseph Fasano

Monday, February 18, 2013

Having it Out with Melancholy

If many remedies are prescribed for an illness, you may be certain that the illness has no cure.
A. P. CHEKHOV The Cherry Orchard

When I was born, you waited 
behind a pile of linen in the nursery, 
and when we were alone, you lay down 
on top of me, pressing
the bile of desolation into every pore.

And from that day on 
everything under the sun and moon 
made me sad -- even the yellow 
wooden beads that slid and spun 
along a spindle on my crib.

You taught me to exist without gratitude. 
You ruined my manners toward God:
"We're here simply to wait for death; 
the pleasures of earth are overrated."

I only appeared to belong to my mother, 
to live among blocks and cotton undershirts 
with snaps; among red tin lunch boxes
and report cards in ugly brown slipcases. 
I was already yours -- the anti-urge, 
the mutilator of souls.

           2  BOTTLES

Elavil, Ludiomil, Doxepin, 
Norpramin, Prozac, Lithium, Xanax, 
Wellbutrin, Parnate, Nardil, Zoloft. 
The coated ones smell sweet or have 
no smell; the powdery ones smell 
like the chemistry lab at school 
that made me hold my breath.


You wouldn't be so depressed
if you really believed in God.

           4  OFTEN

Often I go to bed as soon after dinner 
as seems adult
(I mean I try to wait for dark)
in order to push away 
from the massive pain in sleep's 
frail wicker coracle.


Once, in my early thirties, I saw 
that I was a speck of light in the great 
river of light that undulates through time.

I was floating with the whole 
human family. We were all colors -- those 
who are living now, those who have died, 
those who are not yet born. For a few

moments I floated, completely calm, 
and I no longer hated having to exist.

Like a crow who smells hot blood 
you came flying to pull me out 
of the glowing stream.
"I'll hold you up. I never let my dear 
ones drown!" After that, I wept for days.

       6  IN AND OUT

The dog searches until he finds me 
upstairs, lies down with a clatter 
of elbows, puts his head on my foot.

Sometimes the sound of his breathing 
saves my life -- in and out, in 
and out; a pause, a long sigh. . . . 

           7  PARDON

A piece of burned meat 
wears my clothes, speaks 
in my voice, dispatches obligations 
haltingly, or not at all.
It is tired of trying 
to be stouthearted, tired 
beyond measure.

We move on to the monoamine 
oxidase inhibitors. Day and night 
I feel as if I had drunk six cups 
of coffee, but the pain stops
abruptly. With the wonder 
and bitterness of someone pardoned 
for a crime she did not commit 
I come back to marriage and friends, 
to pink fringed hollyhocks; come back 
to my desk, books, and chair.

           8  CREDO

Pharmaceutical wonders are at work 
but I believe only in this moment 
of well-being. Unholy ghost, 
you are certain to come again.

Coarse, mean, you'll put your feet 
on the coffee table, lean back, 
and turn me into someone who can't 
take the trouble to speak; someone 
who can't sleep, or who does nothing 
but sleep; can't read, or call 
for an appointment for help.

There is nothing I can do 
against your coming. 
When I awake, I am still with thee.


High on Nardil and June light 
I wake at four, 
waiting greedily for the first
note of the wood thrush. Easeful air 
presses through the screen 
with the wild, complex song 
of the bird, and I am overcome

by ordinary contentment. 
What hurt me so terribly 
all my life until this moment? 
How I love the small, swiftly 
beating heart of the bird 
singing in the great maples; 
its bright, unequivocal eye.


It's all I have to bring today

It's all I have to bring today –
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

- Emily Dickinson

Monday, February 4, 2013

Of Suicide

Reflections on suicide, & on my father, possess me.
I drink too much. My wife threatens separation.
She won't 'nurse' me. She feels 'inadequate.'
We don't mix together.

It's an hour later in the East.
I could call up Mother in Washington, D.C.
But could she help me?
And all this postal adulation & reproach?

A basis rock-like of love & friendship
for all this world-wide madness seems to be needed.
Epictetus is in some ways my favourite philosopher.
Happy men have died earlier.

I still plan to got Mexico this summer.
The Olmec images! Chichen Itza!
D. H. Lawrence has a wild dream of it.
Malcolm Lowry's book when it came out I taught to my precept at Princeton.

I don't entirely resign. I may teach the Third Gospel
this afternoon. I haven't made up my mind.
It seems to me sometimes that others have easier jobs
& do them worse.

Well, we must labour & dream. Gogol was impotent,
somebody in Pittsburgh told me.
I said: At what age? They couldn't answer.
That is a damned serious matter.

Rembrandt was sober. There we differ. Sober.
Terrors came on him. To us too they come.
Of suicide I continually think.
Apparently he didn't. I'll teach Luke.

- John Berryman

Monday, January 21, 2013

Look Anew

If you look anew
     with every new day's dawning,
as aware as though
     the world had just begun,
you will fill your life
     with meaning every morning,
but apart from that
     get very little done.

--Piet Hein

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Foxes in Winter

by Mary Oliver

Every night in the moonlight the foxes come down the hill
to gnaw on the bones of birds. I never said
nature wasn't cruel. Once, in a city as hot as these woods
are cold, I met a boy with a broken face. To stay
alive, he was a beggar. Also, in the night, a thief.
And there are birds in his country that look like rainbows--
if he could have caught them, he would have
torn off their feathers and put their bodies into
his own. The foxes are hungry, who could blame them
for what they do? I never said
we weren't sunk in glittering nature, until we are able
to become something else. As for the boy, it's simple.
He had nothing, not even a bird. All night the pines
are so cold their branches crack. All night the snow falls
softly down. Then it shines like a field
of white flowers. Then it tightens.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I always thought death would be like traveling
in a car, moving through the desert,
the earth a little darker than sky at the horizon, 
that your life would settle like the end of a day 
and you would think of everyone you ever met, 
that you would be the invisible passenger, 
quiet in the car, moving through the night, 
forever, with the beautiful thought of home.

- Carl Adamshick

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Blossoms of babies
Blinking their stories
Come soft
On the dusk and the babble;
Little red gamblers,
Handfuls that slept in the dust.

Summers of rain,
Winters of drift,
Tell of the years;
And they go back

Who came soft-
Back to the sod,
To silence and dust;
Gray gamblers,
     Handfuls again.

-Carl Sandburg

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hearing your words, and not a word among them
Tuned to my liking, on a salty day
When inland woods were pushed by winds that flung them
Hissing to leeward like a ton of spray,
I thought how off Matinicus the tide
Came pounding in, came running through the Gut,
While from the Rock the warning whistle cried,
And children whimpered, and the doors blew shut;
There in the autumn when the men go forth,
With slapping skirts the island women stand
In gardens stripped and scattered, peering north,
With dahlia tubers dripping from the hand:
The wind of their endurance, driving south,
Flattened your words against your speaking mouth.

- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Eyes Fastened with Pins

How much death works,
No one knows what a long
Day he puts in. The little
Wife always alone
Ironing death's laundry.
The beautiful daughters
Setting death's supper table.
The neighbors playing
Pinochle in the backyard
Or just sitting on the steps
Drinking beer. Death,
Meanwhile, in a strange
Part of town looking for
Someone with a bad cough,
But the address somehow wrong,
Even death can't figure it out
Among all the locked doors...
And the rain beginning to fall.
Long windy night ahead.
Death with not even a newspaper
To cover his head, not even
A dime to call the one pining away,
Undressing slowly, sleepily,
And stretching naked
On death's side of the bed.

-Charles Simic

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Boy at the Window

by Richard Wilbur

Seeing the snowman standing all alone
In dusk and cold is more than he can bear.
The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare
A night of gnashings and enormous moan.
His tearful sight can hardly reach to where
The pale-faced figure with bitumen eyes
Returns him such a god-forsaken stare
As outcast Adam gave to Paradise.

The man of snow is, nonetheless, content,
Having no wish to go inside and die.
Still, he is moved to see the youngster cry.
Though frozen water is his element,
He melts enough to drop from one soft eye
A trickle of the purest rain, a tear
For the child at the bright pane surrounded by
Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear.