Owl's Song
--Ted Hughes 
He sang
how the swan blanched forever
How the wolf threw away its telltale heart
And the stars dropped their pretence
The air gave up appearances
Water went deliberately numb
The rock surrendered its last hope
And cold died beyond knowledge 
He sang
How everything had nothing more to lose 
Then sat still with fear 
Seeing the clawtrack of star
Hearing the wingbeat of rock 
And his own singing


Reckless Head
-- Ted Hughes 
When it comes down to it
Hair is afraid. Words from within are afraid. 
They sheer off, like a garment,
Cool, treacherous, no part of you. 
Hands the same, feet, and all blood
Till nothing is left. Nothing stays 
But what your gaze can carry.
And maybe you vomit even that, like a too-much poison. 
Then it is
That the brave hunger of your skull 
Supplants you. It stands where you stood
And shouts, with a voice you can't hear, 
For what you can't take.


Yesterday a powerful cold front made a storm out of the last of Michigan's summer weather. In the evening, I went out for a beer and had to deflect another man’s frustrations. When at home, President Obama outlined the offensive initiatives with respect to ISIS.  Drone attacks, beheadings, some wild west language that seemed to have been channeled up from Texas, and all the while categorized with the label of ‘counter-terror operation’ for the white house file cabinet, on the eve of another September 11 anniversary. And then woke up this morning to an explicit metaphor of howling wind and temperatures in the 40's. Thoughts brought me to Bolaño’s 2666– violent aggressions without beginnings or endings, only varying degrees of eruption from what already plainly exists on the surface of the every day. What is to be seen and not?  On the requiem ground was a drop cloth of heavy dew for an early autumn, holes torn in the grass where a skunk dug up some grubs, a few mushrooms popped off to the side beneath the cedar. For the past week or two, geese have made their calls known while in flight for the migration in a changing season.


Summer Haiku- 2014

the weight of words-
another box of books
into the car trunk

evening sun lingers
beneath the cloud bank-
a few last thoughts

black squall line,
low pressure dragon,
it will be done

one red cardinal sings
after a needed rain-

with floating silence,
a hummingbird
honors the flowers

dew point
thick as rain
evening wine

black birds that fly
past a setting sun

two young hares
chase into the grove
silent shadows

old wrangler truck
not starting at sunrise
wisp breeze in aspens

breaking news story,
but still with full attention
to her new born

grey cygnets fret
while the cygnus swims
in white, sunlight

grey tiger cat peep
from beneath the hosta-
curious stranger

deep noon
august heat
in shadows

perseid storm,
crickets about the porch
here upon earth

an extra summer day-
gold finch flying through
black-eyed susans

late summer blooms
deepened in the receding
whispers of sunlight


Oblate cored Jupiter in a mettled density
of hydrogen helium. God strength weight enough
to  magnetically pull sixty seven loyal moons. 
Celestial model component in the lunar sky
of earth, where footprints set down upon
soil sand thought and breath from the gut 
to fall dioxide answers to flight shot questions.
Sifting on a good day, timbre sheen similes
through and through. While on bad, more 
more colossal same. Both, realize spherical
heft, emotive levity, momentary flux structures,
antique color composure from independent 
atmospheric dust. A personal poetic ward
cycled out of ancient physics and physiologic
experience. A song to rise and attract its own. 
                                         after Miles Smiles (side A)


[ Eternity ; Mikalojus Ciurlionis (1906) ]


Not for That City
-- Charlotte Mew 
Not for that city of the level sun,
.....Its golden streets and glittering gates ablaze—
.....The shadeless, sleepless city of white days,
White nights, or nights and days that are as one—
We weary, when all is said , all thought, all done.
 ....We strain our eyes beyond this dusk to see
.....What, from the threshold of eternity
We shall step into. No, I think we shun
The splendour of that everlasting glare,
.....The clamour of that never-ending song.
.....And if for anything we greatly long,
It is for some remote and quiet stair
.....Which winds to silence and a space for sleep
.....Too sound for waking and for dreams too deep.


A Dark Swimming Figure
-- Tomas Tranströmer (trans Robin Fulton) 
About a prehistoric painting
on a rock in the Sahara:
a dark swimming figure
in an old river which is young. 
Without weapons or strategy,
neither at rest nor quick
and cut from his own shadow
gliding on the bed of the stream. 
He struggled to make himself free
from a slumbering green picture,
to come at last to the shore
and be one with his own shadow.



[ Curtain ; Jessica Dessner (2010) ]......................



oh gossamer gossamer breath
moment daylight life untouchable
by no name with no beginning 

what do we think we recognize

--from 'The Wonder of the Imperfect'; W S Merwin (2014)


Duo as the Light is Going
-- W S Merwin 
Those two go on with what they are saying
at the ends of their long
lengthening shadows
while the sun sinks in silence
the one gesturing is Painted On
boasting even in silhouette
to Burned In who in response
says not a thing


[ Summer ; Leo John Meissner (1929) ].....

[via dreaming in the deep south]


Bleecker Street, Summer
--Derek Walcott

Summer for prose and lemons, for nakedness and languor,
for the eternal idleness of the imagined return,
for rare flutes and bare feet, and the August bedroom
of tangled sheets and the Sunday salt, ah violin!

When I press summer dusks together, it is
a month of street accordions and sprinklers
laying the dust, small shadows running from me.

It is music opening and closing, Italia mia, on Bleecker,
ciao, Antonio, and the water-cries of children
tearing the rose-coloured sky in streams of paper;
it is dusk in the nostrils and the smell of water
down littered streets that lead you to no water,
and gathering islands and lemons in the mind.

There is the Hudson, like the sea aflame.
I would undress you in the summer heat,
and laugh and dry your damp flesh if you came.


[ Polka Dots & Moonbeams ; Bud Powell (1953) ]


Summer Syntax
-- Peter Cole 
Saxifrage, arabis, phlox;
lobelia, euphorbia, nasturtium;
coreopsis, guara, flax;
brunnera, salvia, rubrum; 
delphinium, snapdragon, alyssum;
bacopa, yarrow, thyme;
viola, cress, chrysanthemum,
convolvulus and clematis that climb 
over the flowering fescue,
the prairie mallow, and sage,
with Lucerne sisyrinchium to the rescue
of spirit surveying the cage 
of its inching calibrations –
luring us out to stare
into this constellation’s
efflorescence as        everywhere.


Is what most people call mysticism an escape from reality or a means of entry into it with greater intensity? Or maybe that should just be — my standard for mysticism is the same as for poetry: does it make life more interesting or less
Something useful I stumbled on this morning while looking for music that might help me work: Bach’s miraculously microcosmic Inventions, which he titled “honest instruction,” were written for children to teach them how to “discover” the little ideas and starting points that unfold into a piece, and then to move, within exercises in counterpoint, from givenness to song. 
An afterthought about the aesthetic of conduction: Pleasure, certain psychoanalysts have noted, is experienced with the greatest intensity in the momentary dissolution of the ego, physically through orgasm and socially and emotionally through a lower-intensity (sublime and sublimated) love-- which is to say, not in isolation from the ego, but in its giving way to something larger, which might also be smaller. 
That’s not a bad place to start when it comes to what one needs to know as a writer, or even as a reader or scholar or serious seeker, though of course one comes to such things only long after the start. 
Then again, one is always starting. 

-- from The Invention of Influence: A Notebook

[originally published by Poetry and prior to the release of Cole’s eventual 2014 collection, The Invention of Influence]


The perfect state of being human isn't perfection,
it's becoming, the Greek says, ever more real
in nearing but never quite reaching a certain ideal,
like translation. It's deficient. A chronic affection. 

Ancient aspirants imagined perfection
as progress up-- to places on high.
For us the question is can one bring
that heightened vision to an eye? 

Perfection, the feeling philosopher says,
suggest an openness to endless change--
the self in radical revolution
within a self it soon finds strange. 

-- from 'The Perfect State'; Peter Cole

[2014; The Invention of Influence]


Substantial Planes
-- A.R. Ammons
It doesn't
to me
poems mean
there's no
to the
and yet
walks the

[via poetry foundation


From, Jim Harrison: What I've Learned, published in Esquire:

Given free rein, our imagination can get infinite. 
Unlike a lot of writers, I don't have any craving to be understood. 
I don't know if it was writer's block or if I just didn't have anything I wanted to say. 
It's overwhelming when you know Indian history. What fuckin' assholes we were for so long. 
All people disappear. 
I didn't want to die on the Warner lot. 
Has happiness changed with age? Yes, I expect less of everything. 
No conclusions on time. Other than the old beginning, middle, and end. 
You end up missing your dogs. 
What's the meaning of it all? Seems to me nobody's got a clue. Quote Jim Harrison on that: Nobody's got a clue.


Nothing Special
To tend daily intrigue,
bartering up from
narrative, purblind
folds and pages,
I honor simpatico  
hamstrung green,
bivouac hibiscus,
diaphanously aqua
feathered chances
assembled in the same  
closed deal reminder
of what we all have
with the physical. 
Original embodiment
accepting out back
always is the stalled
silent strength
of fist appearance, 
prima materia,
womb for the ātman ,
so a simillimum
as such for worthy
lent continuance, 
wrought percentage bet
each morning to wake
our weight on into.


[ Pat Metheny + Bruce Hornsby; Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids MI ]..


From a Thomas Lux interview with Peter Swanson:

History seems particularly important to you. 
As I said, I read a great deal of it. Never in any systematic way but I have read deeply in certain areas: World War II, medieval, lately a lot of nineteenth-century world history and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American history. A persistent theme of mine seems to be man’s inhumanity to woman and man. Lots of examples of that in history and right up until the seconds before I finish typing up this sentence. Lots of metaphorical possibilities to mine there too! I’m just curious: I don’t want to take tests on what I read; I don’t want to argue with history professors about theories. An example of the kind of book I like best would be about the daily life—in as great detail as possible—of a fifteenth-century German pig farmer. 
The Drowned River uses a famous saying of William Faulkner’s as an epigraph: “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” How important is that idea to your poetry? 
Well, I believe Mr. Faulkner was right. I don’t think he meant simply “history repeats itself,” though that’s implicit too. I think he’s saying that humans are pretty much the same as we’ve always been. I think he’s saying that despite all the tremendous advantages the modern world brings us, we carry our past, ourselves, our history, with us always. As a country. As one country among many others. As individuals. I think he’s taking a swipe at our human arrogance, the relentless drive of the human ego.


To Help the Monkey Cross the River
-- Thomas Lux 
which he must
cross, by swimming, for fruits and nuts,
to help him
I sit with my rifle on a platform  
high in a tree, same side of the river
as the hungry monkey. How does this assist
him? When he swims for it
I look first upriver: predators move faster with
the current than against it.
If a crocodile is aimed from upriver to eat the monkey
and an anaconda from downriver burns
with the same ambition, I do
the math, algebra, angles, rate-of-monkey,
croc- and snake-speed, and if, if
it looks as though the anaconda or the croc
will reach the monkey
before he attains the river’s far bank,
I raise my rifle and fire
one, two, three, even four times into the river
just behind the monkey
to hurry him up a little.
Shoot the snake, the crocodile?  
They’re just doing their jobs,  
but the monkey, the monkey  
has little hands like a child’s,
and the smart ones, in a cage, can be taught to smile.


Render, Render
-- Thomas Lux 
Boil it down: feet, skin, gristle,
bones, vertebrae, heart muscle, boil
it down, skim, and boil
again, dreams, history, add them and boil
again, boil and skim
in closed cauldrons, boil your horse, his hooves,
the runned-over dog you loved, the girl
by the pencil sharpener
who looked at you, looked away,
boil that for hours, render it
down, take more from the top as more settles to the bottom,
the heavier, the denser, throw in ache
and sperm, and a bead
of sweat that slid from your armpit to your waist
as you sat stiff-backed before a test, turn up
the fire, boil and skim, boil
some more, add a fever
and the virus that blinded an eye, now’s the time
to add guilt and fear, throw
logs on the fire, coal, gasoline, throw
two goldfish in the pot (their swim bladders
used for “clearing”), boil and boil, render
it down and distill,
that for which there is no
other use at all, boil it down, down,
then stir it with rosewater, that
which is now one dense, fatty, scented red essence
which you smear on your lips
and go forth
to plant as many kisses upon the world
as the world can bear! 

[via poets.org]