Monday, November 25, 2013

Zeroing In

by Denise Levertov, from Breathing the Water, 1984
‘I am a landscape,’ he said,
‘a landscape and a person walking in that landscape.
There are daunting cliffs there,
and plains glad in their way
of brown monotony. But especially
there are sinkholes, places
of sudden terror, of small circumference
and malevolent depths.’
‘I know,’ she said. ‘When I set forth
to walk in myself, as it might be
on a fine afternoon, forgetting,
sooner or later I come to where sedge
and clumps of white flowers, rue perhaps,
mark the bogland, and I know
there are quagmires there that can pull you
down, and sink you in bubbling mud.’
‘We had an old dog,’ he told her, ‘when I was a boy,
a good dog, friendly. But there was an injured spot
on his head, if you happened
just to touch it he’d jump up yelping
and bite you. He bit a young child,
they had to take him down to the vet’s and destroy him.’
‘No one knows where it is,’ she said,
‘and even by accident no one touches it.
It’s inside my landscape, and only I, making my way
preoccupied through my life, crossing my hills,
I myself without warning touch it,
and leap up at myself--’
‘--or flinch back
just in time.’
‘Yes, we learn that.
It’s not terror, it’s pain we’re talking about:
those places in us, like your dog’s bruised head,
that are bruised forever, that time
never assuages, never.’

Friday, November 22, 2013

the big one

by Charles Bukowski, from The Pleasures of the Damned, 2007
he buys 5 cars a month, details them, waxes and buffs
them out, then
resells them at a profit of one or two grand.
he has a nice Jewish wife and he tells me that he
bangs her until the walls shake.
he wears a red cap, squints in the light, has a regular
job besides the car gig.
I have no idea of what he is trying to accomplish and maybe he
doesn’t either.
he’s a nicer fellow than most, always good to see him,
we laugh, say a few bright lines.
each time
after I see him
I get the blues for him, for me, for all of us:
for want of something to do
we keep slaying our small dragons
as the big one waits.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Into the Twilight

by W. B. Yeats, from A Poet to His Beloved: Early Love Poems of W.B Yeats, 1985.
Out-worn heart, in a time out-worn,
Come clear of the nets of wrong and right;
Laugh, heart, again in the grey twilight,
Sigh, heart, again in the dew of the morn.
Your mother Eire is always young,
Dew ever shining and twilight grey;
Though hope fall from you and love decay,
Burning in fires of a slanderous tongue.
Come, heart, where hill is heaped on hill:
For there the mystical brotherhood
Of sun and moon and hollow and wood
And river and stream work out their will;
And God stands winding his lonely horn,
And time and the world are ever in flight;
And love is less kind than the grey twilight,
And hope is less dear than the dew of the morn.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Rainier Maria Rilke, from Rilke’s Book of Hours, 1996, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

You come and go. The doors swing closed
ever more gently, almost without a shudder.
of all who move through the quiet houses,
you are the quietest.
We become so accustomed to you,
we no longer look up
when your shadow falls over the book we are reading
and makes it glow. For all things
sing you: at times
we just hear them more clearly.
Often when I imagine you
your wholeness cascades into many shapes.
You run like a herd of luminous deer
and I am dark, I am forest.
You are a wheel at which I stand,
whose dark spokes sometimes catch me up,
revolve me nearer to the center.
Then all the work I put my hand to
widens from turn to turn.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Every Day

by Jonathan Walton, from The Second Verse, 2006
The eye of heaven
pours its luminance
upon the Earth
and stirs its inhabitants
into a new beginning
Beaks are released
from the tufts of wings
and nature’s chorus
surrenders new songs
for a new day
Eyes of all kinds
rise to find light
filling all spaces
‘tis a blessed sight
To behold this new day
begun in the same way
it may seem routine
and hold no special place
But every single time
that light cracks the east sky
it is the most amazing moment
up to that point in life
Because without that awakening
That initial opening of your eyes
There is no success or excellence
no chance of opportunity
Each and every day
dawn stretches her arms
out over the mountains
and down into the valleys
Into each inlet
and across every island
Around every sound
and through each isle
We all have the greatest
reason to smile
Because endless--
are our possibilities
is our potential
Life is waiting for us
And we must be ready to meet it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

no leaders, please

by Charles Bukowski, from The Pleasures of the Damned, 2007
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
don’t swim in the same slough.
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself
stay out of the clutches of mediocrity.
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
change your tone and shape so often that they can
categorize you.
reinvigorate yourself and
accept what is
but only on the terms that you have invented
and reinvented.
be self-taught.
and reinvent your life because you must;
it is your life and
its history
and the present
belong only to

Sunday, March 31, 2013


by Luci Shaw, from A Widening Light, ed. Luci Shaw, 1984.

God dug his seed
into dry dark earth.
After a pushing up
in hopeful birth
and healing bloom
and garland grace
he buried it again
in a darker place

Twice rudely-planted seed,
root, rise in me
and grow your green again,
your fruited tree

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Judas, Peter

Judas, Peter
by Luci Shaw, from A Widening Light, ed. Luci Shaw, 1984.

because we are all
betrayers, taking
silver and eating
body and blood and asking
(guilty) is it I and hearing
him say yes
it would be simple for us all
to rush out
and hang ourselves

but if we find grace
to cry and wait
after the voice of morning
has crowed in our ears
clearly enough
to break our hearts
he will be there
to ask us each again
do you love me

Friday, March 29, 2013

from Bloodcount II

from Bloodcount II
by Luci Shaw, from A Widening Light, ed. Luci Shaw, 1984.

How well chosen wine was
to stain our souls with remembrance!
He knew how it burst, vivid,
from the flushed skins of grapes
grown for this sacramental crushing:
a shocking red, unforgettable as blood
a rich brew in the cup, a bitter,
burning in the throat, a warmth within,
chosen well to etch our lintels
with the paradoxes of
a high priest bound to his own altar,
death as a tool of love,
and blood as a bleach.

Friday, March 22, 2013

so you want to be a writer?

so you want to be a writer?
by Charles Bukowski, via Academy of American Poets, found here.

if it doesn't come busting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

When You Are Old

When You Are Old
by William Butler Yeats, from A Poet to His Beloved: The Early Love Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1985.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.