The problem of time seen through the example of music. Music is returning time. The taut springs of time. Time coursing through certain creative personalities, and so personal time. The time of Beethoven, the time of Brahms, Chopin’s time, Mozart’s time. 
These individual times, so varied in their movement, their temperaments, their energies—are subject just the same to the general laws of time. There are always two inclines leading into the present: the past and the future. For all that, though, music taken as a whole holds hints of eternity, of permanence. 
The raw material of music is time. 
Time is the raw material of our lives, too, although each of us molds something different from it. 
Time as a gift, as something given to us—to use, to fulfill, as one fills a glass of wine. It’s given like the coin in the Gospel parable, to be multiplied. And how could time be multiplied except through eternity and outside eternity. 
When I listen to music, I feel how time passes, I hear it passing. Time is intensified, revitalized, recharged. 
--from 'Industrious Amazement: A Notebook'; Anna Kamienska


Poetry constructs parallel worlds. It makes us stretch, as if we were made of rubber, toward the people it is possible for us to be, toward our possible realities, starting from the matter that forms us, dark and light. We can live there, in a world of eternal possibility and perpetual promise that are equally tangible (as dreams are). And in the very instant we seek to define poetry, pin it down as if it were a simple matter of free will, or as if this were the only guiding energy, everything becomes an option—good or bad, better or worse; then the plurality of meanings hidden in the poetic word is threatened; that word becomes univocal and collapses. 
--Pura López-Colomé

[via MAKE]


To be able to speak 
without punctuation 
jubilant infinite moment
moment jubilant infinite
infinite moment jubilant
and as if that weren’t enough
burn and sing
a solipsist
heard by no one
but the weird world’s
distant core 
To be able to speak 
without contrivance,
underlinings or cursives 
supreme instant
of unbounded pleasure
at the center of an immensity
without any outside pressure
knowing full well that vital forces
peel away from the muscle easily
and drift off
and one drowns
and it doesn’t matter
that one is protected
To be able to speak  
to speak it
to speak it to them
to oneself
--from 'Dehiscent, Enraptured Invention'; Pura López-Colomé


--Pura López-Colomé 
You insist
on moving mountains
under the mantle
and to the skirts
of an opacity
not surmountable
by equivocation,
by which no one appears,
by which the magnolia offers itself
and also gives off
so much scent that
padlocks of pores and eyelids
are opened
and something peculiar
comes clear,
a howl,
a blaze
behind the screen.


Our intention is to affirm this life, not to bring order out of chaos, nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we're living, which is so excellent once one gets one's mind and desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord. 
--John Cage

[via whiskey river]


[Donald Byrd/Gigi Gryce; Over the Rainbow (1957)]

tr- Donald Byrd
as- Gigi Gryce
p- Tommy Flanagan
bs- Wendell Marshall
d- Art Taylor


Six Significant Landscapes
--Wallace Stevens 
An old man sits
In the shadow of a pine tree
In China.
He sees larkspur,
Blue and white,
At the edge of the shadow,
Move in the wind.
His beard moves in the wind.
The pine tree moves in the wind.
Thus water flows
Over weeds. 
The night is of the colour
Of a woman's arm:
Night, the female,
Fragrant and supple,
Conceals herself.
A pool shines,
Like a bracelet
Shaken in a dance. 
I measure myself
Against a tall tree.
I find that I am much taller,
For I reach right up to the sun,
With my eye;
And I reach to the shore of the sea
With my ear.
Nevertheless, I dislike
The way ants crawl
In and out of my shadow. 
When my dream was near the moon,
The white folds of its gown
Filled with yellow light.
The soles of its feet
Grew red.
Its hair filled
With certain blue crystallizations
From stars,
Not far off. 
Not all the knives of the lamp-posts,
Nor the chisels of the long streets,
Nor the mallets of the domes
And high towers,
Can carve
What one star can carve,
Shining through the grape-leaves. 
Rationalists, wearing square hats,
Think, in square rooms,
Looking at the floor,
Looking at the ceiling.
They confine themselves
To right-angled triangles.
If they tried rhomboids,
Cones, waving lines, ellipses --
As, for example, the ellipse of the half-moon --
Rationalists would wear sombreros. 


Always as it holds us in one place, the earth
Grows as it moves, exhaling
Its rooted joy. I stand on tracks
Where nothing starves. Vegetation, green blush,
You and I sail today
Through newly infinite
Space on this surfeited hillside. Complacency has its own force

Leafed-out with renewal. I cannot be anything
But alive, in a place as far

From the blank and the stark, as this.

--from 'Immortals'; James Dickey


Wise men, you have cast me aside.
Fools, I do the same to you.
I would be neither wise man nor fool;
From now on, let us hear no more from each other.
When night comes I sing to the bright moon;
At dawn, I dance with white clouds.
How could I still my voice and my hands
And sit stiff as a stick with my grey hair rumpled?  
--Han-shan (trans. Burton Watson)

[from Cold Mountain: 100 Poems by the T'ang poet, Han-shan]


[ Second Letter (Zen Spring) ; Brice Marden (2009) ]..........


This—is the land—the Sunset washes—
These—are the Banks of the Yellow Sea—
Where it rose—or whither it rushes—
These—are the Western Mystery! 
Night after Night
Her purple traffic
Strews the landing with Opal Bales—
Merchantmen—poise upon Horizons—
Dip—and vanish like Orioles! 
--Emily Dickinson (1862)


The two poems below are from Harrison’s more recent volumes, 'Songs of Unreason' (2011) and 'In Search of Small Gods' (2009). Regarding his later verse, it is often identified as mortality poetry. But Harrison referred to his poem 'Barking' as a satori poem. And while that specific poem does contain the imagistic and thematic qualities traditionally found in Asian/Zen verse, the self applied characterization could work for the majority of the poems he penned later in life. 

To remember you're alive
visit the cemetery of your father
at noon after you've made love
and are still wrapped in a mammalian
odor that you are forced to cherish.
Under each stone is someone's inevitable
surprise, the unexpected death
of their biology that struggled hard, as it must.
Now to home without looking back,
enough is enough.
En route buy the best wine
you can afford and a dozen stiff brooms.
Have a few swallows then throw the furniture
out the window and begin sweeping.
Sweep until the walls are
bare of paint and at your feet sweep
until the floor disappears. Finish the wine
in this field of air, return to the cemetery
in evening and wind through the stones
a slow dance of your name visible only to birds.

The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.


Two poems from Jim Harrison's first publication, Plainsong (1965):

Word Drunk 
I think of the twenty thousand poems of  Li Po
and wonder, do words follow me or I them--
a word drunk?
I do not care about fine phrases,
the whoring after honor,
the stipend, the gift, the grant-
but I would feed on an essence
until it yields to me my own dumb form-
the weight raw, void of intent;
to see behind the clarity of glass
the birth of new creatures
suffused with light.

The sun's warm against the slats of the granary,
a puddle of ice in the shadow of the steps;
a bluetick hound lopes
across the winter wheat--
fresh green, cold green.
The windmill, long out of use,
screeches and twists in the wind.
A spring day too loud for talk
when bones tire of their flesh
and want something better.


[ 1937 - 2016 ]
"Nothing new here except aggressive aging that comes from working every day of the week. I don't know what else to do. Since age 14 I've been a slave to language. There's a new book about aging — 'Travels with Epicurus.' Penguin. Fine and discreet, elegant, truthful. With age all my opinions drift away. Who am I to say for sure? My people thought they'd see Jesus when they died. Now that we know we have 90 billion galaxies, I'm not inclined to discount anything. How can I say what is not possible in this universe? You can disembowel reality all you want and certainties are hard to find, the towering reality being death. I don't mind. I was never asked. On death, a tour of the 90 billion galaxies would be flattering. Yes? Our curiosity is still in the lead. Wittgenstein said that the miracle is that the world exists."

While never directly mentioned in any of my classes while attending Michigan State in the mid 1990s, it still seemed that everyone read Jim Harrison. I always just assumed it was a result of me and my fellow English majors being eagerly on our way towards sharing a common alma mater with Harrison. MSU not necessarily being known for prodigious literary talent, so the success he was beginning to garner at that time providing an opportunity for some old fashioned school pride. 

Although over the years I had the fortune to observe his name move beyond Michigander regionalism and towards that of international stature (France being the strongest market for his books, sales in the State's being 'okay'). So perhaps there is a much simpler and meaningful explanation as to why his books were always checked out at the library: he was good. Very, very good. Even, excellent. And with his passing last weekend, its sad to know that what we now have is all that we are going to get. A fact that hit home when I clicked on his page at Poetry Foundation and saw 1937 now forever paired with 2016. Still, with his living and actively writing up to the age of 78, there’s little to feel down about.

This morning the public radio station in town re-aired a 2008 interview with Harrison and during which, Harrison shared some thoughts on one’s personal spirit. When our spirit is cared for and properly maintained, we can stand up to just about anything life might place in our path. When our spirit is neglected, even going up to the grocery store becomes an insurmountable task. I cannot remember the context of the thought, but I can’t help think that it would have been connected to his reason for writing. I say that because its certainly one of the main reasons for my reading his books, repeatedly.


On Beauty
--Troy Jollimore

Beauty some have ventured is proportional:
the right relative ratio of the actual

against the actual. Others hypothesize
that beauty’s roots lie buried in the sexual,

insisting that aesthetics are relational:
the eye of the beholder is the noumenal

perceiving core, where spores of the phenomenal
sprout into lit-screen images. The visual

is permeated, down to the foundational,
with lust, with longing. Say it: we are animals,

which does note mean that we must all be criminals,
but only that desire is constitutional,

that we are fixed to perpetrate the species--
I meant perpetuate-- as if our duty

were  coupled with our terror. As if beauty
itself were but a syllabus of errors.


The Solipsist
--Troy Jollimore 
Don't be misled:
that sea-song you hear
when the shell's at your ear?
It's all in your head. 
That primordial tide—
the slurp and salt-slosh
of the brain's briny wash—
is on the inside. 
Truth be told, the whole place,
everything that the eye
can take in, to the sky
and beyond into space, 
lives inside of your skull.
When you set your sad head
down on Procrustes' bed,
you lay down the whole 
universe. You recline
on the pillow: the cosmos
grows dim. The soft ghost
in the squishy machine, 
which the world is, retires.
Someday it will expire.
Then all will go silent
and dark. For the moment, 
however, the black-
ness is just temporary.
The planet you carry
will shortly swing back 
from the far nether regions.
And life will continue—
but only within you.
Which raises a question 
that comes up again and again,  
as to why
God would make ear and eye
to face outward, not in?


Jelly Fish Eyes: Black 4; Takashi Murakami (2006) ]........


From Laugh While You Can, Kay Ryan:

At about nine months, a baby starts to laugh when something is suddenly taken away from her. One of a baby’s first games is peek-a-boo, where someone repeatedly disappears and reappears (the enjoyment of which is, incidentally, considered a key indicator of later language acquisition skills).... 
If this strikes you as nonsense, it is. Something nonsensical in the heart of poetry is the very reason why one can’t call poetry “useful.” Sense is useful; you can apply things that make sense to other circumstances; you can take something away. But nonsense you can only revisit; its satisfactions exist in it, and not in applications. This is why Auden and others can say with such confidence that poetry makes nothing happen. That’s the relief of it. And the reason why nothing can substitute for it.... 
Nonsense exists only in relation to sense. It uses the rules of sense but comes to different conclusions. What is it but nonsense that has taken the grave weight of Frost’s and Dickinson’s poems—the sensible, expressible weight of them: all that is new is soon lost; human grief finds no sympathy in nature—and has left them weightless? Because if these poems, or a Shakespeare sonnet or a dark sonnet by Donne, had not had their arguments undone somehow, they would indeed crash upon our heads like hammers.  
All feelings must go through the chillifier for us to feel them in that aesthetically thrilling way that we do in poetry. Poetry’s feelings are not human feelings; we know the difference. There is some deep exchange of heat for cool that I’m trying to get at, something that I see operating in nonsense and that I believe gives poetry much of its secret irresistibility and staying-power (we are not exhausted by it and must always revisit it). 


--Kay Ryan 
Imagine a sea
of ultramarine
suspending a
million jellyfish
as soft as moons.
Imagine the
interlocking uninsistent
tunes of drifting things.
This is the deep machine
that powers the lamps
of dreams and accounts
for their bluish tint.
How can something
so grand and serene
vanish again and again
without a hint?


--Kay Ryan 
The feet
are stopped
but the brain
continues its
forward motion. 
Say you were a
train engine,
and a bridge
had just fallen: 
Not yet even
the beginnings
of information
up from the back cars
hitting the ocean.


[ Blue Monk ]

b- Yasushi Nakamura
b- Ben Williams


In the morning—early, still in the dark—I wake up and am an amoeba. Retract into sleep again until the alarm clock rings. Go through all the stages of development, every morning I crawl out of the ocean, up from the duvet, sprout legs for walking, unfurl fingers, raise myself upright, put on clothing, slowly become a more and more complex organism: I brush my teeth. All the while, the folds of my brain stretch out toward an increasingly powerful, increasingly piercing light: consciousness. It finally blinks on after five minutes sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee. 
In the beginning was the water. The earth was without form and void, darkness hovered over the deep. Life formed in the water, and remained in the water. In the beginning was the water, and it won’t let us go. Each new life begins again in water. The fetus in its mother’s womb resembles the fetus in an egg. The fetus in an egg resembles the fetus in the sea. The egg white and amniotic fluid both imitate the primordial sea from which we arose. This imitation, this moveable sea, is a condition for life on land. And it required a certain degree of luck—the right mutation at just the right time. 

About this form and content stuff. Forms are not constant. An organism’s form, function, and appearance are not constant, the interaction between organisms is not constant. But its contents, the hidden secrets of the cell, its acids and chemical bases, those are constant. The contents of the secrets, the sequence of the codes, are not constant. The form of interactions is not constant. Yet the fact that interaction is perpetual, an infinite movement, that is constant.  

--from Every Morning I Crawl Out of the Ocean; Frøydis Sollid Simonsen (trans. Becky L. Crook)

[via asymptote]


The Golden Age
--Emmanuel Moses (trans. Marilyn Macker)     
Everything is rare in this delicate kingdom
fruit and sealing-wax
silk as well as steel.
A bouquet of flowers
costs more than what would fill a purse
the dead, like the living, must do without.
On sunny days
--which are numbered also--
ladies go out, their parasols in hand
they stroll beside the canals
till the hour when the reddening sun scissors
....their silhouettes
then erases them like a repentant painter.
Behind the latticed windows, people play music
while drinking wine.
Spinet or lute accompanies the passer-by
who feels an inexplicable pang.
Memories of lace are rustling everywhere
and the swan's dawn cry
freezes forever.

[via oberlin college press


''A wall always has two sides," said the worker
''A wall always has two sides," said the poet
''A wall only has one side," said the soldier
''A wall only has one side," said the politician
''A wall only has one side," said the villager
"Walls don't exist," said the prisoner
"Walls don't exist," said the child
"Walls don't exist," said the lovers 
A house is born from no earth
No sky or stars
No trees
A house, one day, will be everything
You'll move in, you'll leave it
You'll be evicted, expelled, it will be illegally occupied
It will be paradise and hell
An ideal attained, a nightmare come to life 
"I don't have time to die," says the living man
"I don't have time for resurection," says the dead man
From the two sides of the wall
Two sides of the bones 
The poet says "I saw that in my childhood—a house
.....swallowed up
In the dark of night." 
--from 'A House and a Wall'; Emmanuel  Moses (trans. by Marilyn Hacker)

[via poetry daily]