It may be that living in an imaginative state is the same as living in a primitive state, one ruled by the whims of obscure gods, gusted with unassailable pleasures and torn open by corpuscular terrors, one right in the middle of the blast furnace of the sacred. But that depends upon a present overwhelming awareness of the unknowable and fabricating the knowable allows for control, survival, progress. We know now where the gazelle lie down so we can sneak up upon them. We know what this seed contains and where these waters lead and the opposite-smell of fire is snow-coming. I am not saying that the triumphs of the rational mind, of the creation of cause-and-effect relation isn’t fundamentally imaginative, nor that the glories of technology aren’t imaginative, but much of that triumph has led to the notion of the imaginary as being something that is false, discarded with maturity because it produces no material result. So after years of condemning and destroying the forest, of our war on twilight and dawn and war on night, we wonder why we’re waking up in a desert. That’s why in art the presence of the imagination has become so disruptive and primitive, engaged often in first-mindedness. The rational intellect, so evolved and rewarded with stunning successes, with footprints on the moon and cures for TB, is now fitting too snugly over our minds like a too-small helmet, and it requires antlers to get through it. Our explanations are so powerful we’re suffering from the anemia of having replaced the world with explanations of the world. We need mystery in our lives, it is the presence of love: we need the beauty of the splash. We’re not just turkey necks used for crab bait, are we? We’re not math either. The imagination is the vital extra, the extravagance of the flower’s throat as well as the poverty of the weathered barn door. It is counterproductive, insurgent, undemocratic, and unknowable, but a true comfort. 

  ........--Dean Young

[via BOMB]


Dear Oblivion, I love
your old song. Let a spinning wheel be
my fireplace, the lit-up nerves of jellyfish
my universe. The greatest indication of truth
is laughter and maybe now I’m ready
to talk to my mother and father. This morning
I have the distinct impression my house
is about to crumble so let rubble be my crown.
Release the hound! What a joke, she’s about
a hundred years old and when you look into
her almost-no-one-home eyes, you come to a river
and when you come to that river, float. 
--from 'How to Glow'; Dean Young

[via slate


Flash Powder
--Dean Young 
Tonight when I look out the hotel window,
the bells inside me are quiet but
they start up again walking through the park
to the statute of the sun stepping on
a giant crab. Sunset wears a crown
like a wound wears a crown.
Even then the gods are at work.
The eyes see something beautiful beyond,
the shells of attending snails twirling
like galaxies made into mathematical formulas
like flames trying to become a rose. It all
makes sense, promise the physicists
piling on more and more dark matter
like in a Lou Reed song. Please please
please, peals the oblongata.
What the fuck with everything. 


[ Cat ; Theophile Steinlen (1906) ].................


My Felt Hat Worn In
A Place Not My Own
Residual clouds shade
still life layers across
an urban morning otherwise
hatched and crosshatched
by transit commuters, 
a day without an underline
but free fall pointillist rain,
darkening bistre trees in
city lot grades, smattered
road signs, traffic signals, 
backload delivery trucks
that rattle into brattled
bolts of metallic seconds
when through intersections
of dissipated avenues, as 
watched by the tabby cat
in an upper story window
reckoned by dry silence,
blithe brick, framed glass,
his grey wistful vantage- 


Excuse Me
--Dick Allen 
"Excuse me," the roshi said,
removing his earphone,
"I was just listening to some honkyoku
and thinking about a wandering monk I knew
whose passion was collecting sounds
on a Sony digital tape recorder. He played me
wind high in the Rockies, surging through aspens,
the magnified sound
of an ant climbing a rock wall.
Such sounds!
Boring, enlightening.
But my favorite sound
was of his voice, explaining
the sound of hand-drawn curtains
on an old curtain rod,
metal scraping metal, very lightly." 

[via poetry daily]


What You Have to Get Over
--Dick Allen 
Stumps. Railroad tracks. Early sicknesses,
the blue one, especially.
Your first love rounding a corner,
that snowy minefield. 
Whether you step lightly or heavily,
you have to get over to that tree line
........a hundred yards in the distance
before evening falls,
letting no one see you wend your way, 
that wonderful, old-fashioned word, wend,
meaning “to proceed, to journey,
to travel from one place to another,”
as from bed to breakfast, breakfast to imbecile work. 
You have to get over your resentments,
the sun in the morning and the moon at night,
all those shadows of yourself you left behind
on odd little tables. 
Tote that barge! Lift that bale! You have to
cross that river, jump that hedge, surmount that slogan,
crawl over this ego or that eros,
then hoist yourself up onto that yonder mountain. 
Another old-fashioned word, yonder, meaning
“that indicated place, somewhere generally seen
or just beyond sight.” If you would recover,
you have to get over the shattered
........autos in the backwoods lot 
to that bridge in the darkness
where the sentinels stand
guarding the border with their half-slung rifles,
warned of the likes of you. 

[via poetry foundation]


[Herbstwald (Autumn Forest); Heinrich Nauen (1911)]


From A. R. Ammons, The Art of Poetry No. 37, the Paris Review:

One day, when I was nineteen, I was sitting on the bow of the ship anchored in a bay in the South Pacific. As I looked at the land, heard the roosters crowing, saw the thatched huts, etcetera, I thought down to the water level and then to the immediately changed and strange world below the waterline. But it was the line inscribed across the variable landmass, determining where people would or would not live, where palm trees would or could not grow, that hypnotized me. The whole world changed as a result of an interior illumination—the water level was not what it was because of a single command by a higher power but because of an average result of a host of actions—runoff, wind currents, melting glaciers. I began to apprehend things in the dynamics of themselves—motions and bodies—the full account of how we came to be a mystery with still plenty of room for religion, though, in my case, a religion of what we don’t yet know rather than what we are certain of. I was de-denominated.


It may be time for another official Paris Review interview question. What advice do you give to young writers?

First of all, I omit praising them too much if I think that will be the catalyst that causes them to move into a seizure with a poetic way of life. Because I know how difficult that can be, and I tend to agree with Rilke that if it’s possible for you to live some other life, by all means do so. If it seems to me that the person can’t live otherwise than as a writer of poetry, then I encourage them to go ahead and do it. However, the advice splits, depending on how I feel about the person. If I think he’s really a genuine poet, I’d like to encourage him to get out into the so-called real world. If he seems like a poet who’s going to get by through a kind of pressure of having to turn in so many poems per week in order to get a good grade or having to publish a book of poems in order to get promoted, then I encourage him to go to an M.F.A program somewhere and become a so-called professional poet. You get to know people who know how to publish books, you begin to advance your career. I don’t think that has very much to do with real poetry. It sometimes happens that these professional M.F.A. people are also poets, but it rarely happens.

You once said that trying to make a living from poetry is like putting chains on butterfly wings.

Right. I’d stand by that.

How do you feel about government support of the arts?

I detest it. I detest it on many grounds, but three first. And the first is that the government gouges money from people who may need it for other purposes. Second, the money forced from needy average citizens is then filtered through the sieve of a bureaucracy, which absorbs much of the money into itself and distributes the rest incompetently—since how could you expect the level of knowledge and judgment among such a cluster to be much in advance of the times? At the same time the government attaches strings to the money, not theirs in the first place, to those who gave it in the first place. And third, I detest the averaging down of expectation and dedication that occurs when thousands of poets are given money in what is really waste and welfare, not art at all. Artists should be left alone to paint or not to paint, write or not to write. As it is, the world is full of trash. The genuine is lost, and the whole field wallops with political and social distortions.

Do you feel the same way about private support of the arts?

Not at all. 


The One-Many problem in philosophy has to do with the nature of reality, whether reality inheres in various things of which there is an infinite supply or whether there is one organizing, unifying principle that unites all the disparate phenomena. Is that a fair summation?

Yes. Another way that I think of it is the difference between focus and comprehensiveness. For example, if you wish to focus on a single point, or statement, to the extent you’ve purified the location or content of that statement, to that extent you would eliminate the comprehensiveness of things. You would have to leave out a great many things in order to focus on one thing. On the other hand, if you tried to include everything comprehensively, you would lose the focus. You see what I mean? So you have a polarity, a tension between bringing things into a sort of simplified clarity and going back to the wilderness of comprehensiveness, including everything.


The Way of One's Desire
--A. R. Ammons 
One not lost finds no way:
terror brightens what it sees:
home's a destination one 
departs with to part with:
okay never looks to be okay,
and not-okay, looking, sees 
the only not-okay: you who
know, even as if not knowing,
tell me, how does one err 
to find one's erring: where
in the wild are the wiles
that school the way back home?


Reading By Ways
--A. R. Ammons 
The epicurean (and stoic) philosophers,
monists and
are interesting (they show
that time over time
unwinds nearly the same story) but 
how can I resist the creek,
slowing over depth
or breaking into shiny ramshackles 
on a rise of pebbles or blurring
storm history in weed-slants
along high banks: I get 
caught up in clouds illustrating
the sky or muddying out: I can’t
get enough of nodding 
adjustments when a
squirrel leaps on or off a branch,
the trail quaking: still, I 
like it when the old philosopher says
live unknown, whole
histories like unread creeks.


A few days ago I was out for a run after work and while coming up to a crosswalk by a playground, I saw a grey haired man wait with a toddler age boy cradled in one arm and a red plastic Tyco toy car of some sort carried by the other. The light changed a bit before I caught up to them and when they started to cross, I could see the boy squirm in an attempt to turn backwards, with fingers fully spread while also grasping, clawing, gripping at the air, and with vocal cords increasingly strained. He obviously dropped something when they were stopped for the light and was none happy about it.

When I got to the corner myself I began looking around to help out. Maybe a figurine? Rubber ball? Piece of candy? The boy calmed when he saw me begin my search and the man must have noticed the change as he stopped to turn around as well. At that point I was hoping to be able to bring to them whatever was left behind, but I couldn’t find a thing. Just grass and crumbled concrete about the curb. I was a bit dumbstruck. The man picked up on my befuddlement as he first chuckled, then paused a second to let some humor fill into his eyes, and then said, “It‘s a rock.”


It’s dark because you are trying too hard. 
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. 
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. 
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. 

I was so preposterously serious in those days,
such a humorless little prig. 
Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me. 
When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous,
or portentous, or emphatic. 
No rhetoric, no tremolos, 
no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation
of Christ or Little Nell. 
And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. 
Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. 

So throw away your baggage and go forward. 
There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, 
trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. 
That’s why you must walk so lightly. 
Lightly my darling, 
on tiptoes and no luggage, 
not even a sponge bag, 
completely unencumbered.

 --Aldous Huxley


[ Peggy-O ; trad. ]

Borrowed time from the afternoon below the thin stirring of a locust tree, archaic marigold leaves that fell like sifts of paper rain and with those that landed on my lap, intoned by verse once lived but never understood upon being spoken. From years that grew after time into autumn’s shadows, stretched from what I can now only know through a flux of symbols, silent messages. Gracious are those mellifluous winds from the far reaches, the likes of Caledonia, and slowed down for peninsular songs of flaxen yield gone memorable. Linseed dreams are bottomless valleys. Myself there surrounded by heights of forever, hanging on to the covered brevity of nothing.


Ghostly Twilight
--Georg Trakl (trans. James Reidel) 
Stillness meets at the edge of the woods
A dark deer;
On the hill the evening wind quietly ends, 
The blackbird's lament trails off,
And the soft pipes of autumn
Fall silent in the reeds. 
On a black cloud
Drunk from poppies you sail
The night pond, 
The starry sky,
The sister's lunar voice forever echoes
Through the ghostly night.

The horrendous beauty of Trakl's poetic efforts are being newly presented in a gorgeous three volume series from Seagull Press. 'Ghostly Twilight' was taken from Sebastian Dreaming, which is the second publication and out earlier this year (a copy of which I had the fortune to purchase while visiting City Lights Books in May). A review can be found at Queen Mob's Tea House. The third book has not yet been released. I eagerly await.   


Transfigured Autumn
--Georg Trakl 
So the year ends enormously
With golden wine and fruit of the gardens.
All around the forests silence wonderfully
And are the lonely one's companions. 
Then the countryman says: it is good.
You evening bells long and quiet
Still give glad courage to the end.
A line of birds greets on the journey. 
It is the mild time of love.
In the boat down the blue river
How beautifully image is strung to image -
That declines in rest and silence.

[via Georg Trakl: Poems]


Salt flats of dream of memory of dream ... limitless horizons
and out on the utmost rim (can you see?) a house
white-on-white abstract except for the room-within-a-room
which can’t be seen but can be known, white being one thing
in sunlight another under moonlight, not oblivion, not revival,
and the soul’s song across that windless landscape, unheard;
by night the heart-stopped silence, by day the rising glare.

Graves under bramble and a wet light through the trees.
A quietness something like stealth or sudden absence; it seemed
to gather and disperse. Rat-run, ground for stray dogs, a place
where lovers come to be swallowed whole by half-light.
You could lie down here on thorn, on stone, and find your match.

Wind-driven salt in the crevice of the rock is how
memory works: image, invention, regret. It maddens
with its ersatz colors, unknowable language, sudden reversals,
shoreline, skyline, cityscape, landscape ... There are those who wake
with the whole thing fixed at the forefront of their minds:
a stage-set, people held in a frozen moment who will break
to action soon, one fearful, one laughing, one clawing at her eyes.

--from "Salt"; David Harsnet

[via POETRY; September 2016]


What is it all for, this poetry,
This bundle of accomplishment
Put together with so much pain?
Twenty years of hard labor,
Lessons learned from Li Po and Dante,
Indian chants and gestalt psychology;
What words can it spell,
This alphabet of one sensibility?
The pure pattern of the stars in orderly progression,
The thin air of fourteen-thousand-foot summits,
Their Pisgah views into what secrets of the personality,
The fire of poppies in eroded fields,
The sleep of lynxes in the noonday forest,
The curious anastomosis of the webs of thought,
Life streaming ungovernably away,
And the deep hope of man.
The centuries have changed little in this art,
The subjects are still the same.
“For Christ’s sake take off your clothes and get into bed,
We are not going to live forever.” 
--from 'August 22, 1939'; Kenneth Rexroth


Summer Haiku- 2016

ageless dawn
filled with a birdsong
above all else

cottonwood seeds
floating transcription
of wind chimes

summer solstice
wild daisies, an unknown
path to nowhere

a sunny yesterday
now bent in slow rain,
silent peony

Independence Day-
freely I shut the windows
for some quiet

people getting to me-
hungry ants that found
my raspberry patch

dust cloud 
at an intersection-
stale memory

what stands in the heat
of high summer asphalt,
the crow

tickled joy
black swallowtail
in tiger lily blooms

saying goodbye,
thoughts brought by the dew
will fade in sunlight

chinese lanterns
in a labor day evening sky-
summer in remnants


A Poem- for September 
Staghorn sumac velvet
color in outbound light
impossible with goldenrod
and misdealt constancy 
while crouched crickets
pullulate featherless
stygian teal trill wings
as translucent riddles 
scintillating experience
beyond personal
pronoun photographs,
intimate subjectives 
blemished into posed
images, surpassed
through hunches taken
from how they once were.


A Display of Mackerel
--Mark Doty 
They lie in parallel rows,
on ice, head to tail,
each a foot of luminosity 
barred with black bands,
which divide the scales'
radiant sections 
like seams of lead
in a Tiffany window.
Iridescent, watery 
prismatics: think abalone,
the wildly rainbowed
mirror of a soapbubble sphere, 
think sun on gasoline.
Splendor, and splendor,
and not a one in any way 
distinguished from the other
--nothing about them
of individuality. Instead 
they're all exact expressions
of one soul,
each a perfect fulfillment 
of heaven's template,
mackerel essence. As if,
after a lifetime arriving 
at this enameling, the jeweler's
made uncountable examples,
each as intricate 
in its oily fabulation
as the one before.
Suppose we could iridesce, 
like these, and lose ourselves
entirely in the universe
of shimmer--would you want 
to be yourself only,
unduplicatable, doomed
to be lost? They'd prefer, 
plainly, to be flashing participants,
multitudinous. Even now
they seem to be bolting 
forward, heedless of stasis.
They don't care they're dead
and nearly frozen, 
just as, presumably,
they didn't care that they were living:
all, all for all, 
the rainbowed school
and its acres of brilliant classrooms,
in which no verb is singular, 
or every one is. How happy they seem,
even on ice, to be together, selfless,
which is the price of gleaming.


Often down here I have entered into a sanctuary . . . of great agony once; and always some terror; so afraid one is of loneliness; of seeing to the bottom of the vessel. That is one of the experiences I have had here in some Augusts; and got then to a consciousness of what I call "reality": a thing I see before me: something abstract; but residing in the downs or sky; beside which nothing matters; in which I shall rest and continue to exist. Reality I call it. And I fancy sometimes this is the most necessary thing to me: that which I seek. But who knows - once one takes a pen and writes? How difficult not to go making "reality" this and that, whereas it is one thing. Now perhaps this is my gift: this perhaps is what distinguishes me from other people: I think it may be rare to have so acute a sense of something like that - but again, who knows? I would like to express it too. 
 .......--Virginia Woolf

[via whiskey river]


[ untitled ; Hughie Lee-Smith (1930-39) ].........


Women and Men
--Robert Bly 
We'd like to know what women want-- some want
Heaven and earth joined. Some men want sawn
Boards, roads diverging, and jackdaws flying,
Heaven and earth parted. Women love to see
Strangers fed, children fed and laughing,
Daughters in seats of honor, canvases with Venus
And a naked man, doves returning at dusk,
Cloths folded, and giants sitting down at a table.