...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

John Wesley Harding

'Why do you do what you do when the things that you do hurt the person you are?'

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Emily Dickinson


Death sets a Thing significant
The Eye had hurried by
Except a perished Creature
Entreat us tenderly

To ponder little Workmanships
In Crayon, or in Wool,
With "This was last Her fingers did"--
Industrious until--

The Thimble weighed too heavy--
The stitches stopped--themselves--
And then 'twas put among the Dust
Upon the Closet shelves--

A Book I have--a friend gave--
Whose Pencil--here and there--
Had notched the place that pleased Him--
At Rest--His fingers are--

Now--when I read--I read not--
For interrupting Tears--
Obliterate the Etchings
Too Costly for Repairs.

[for L.B.]

Monday, November 25, 2013

Anonymous [15th or 16th C., Spain]

I don't want to be a nun.
I am a girl waking to love.
Leave me happy and daring
with my love.
I am a girl in pain.

Ralph Dickey

I sat on my stool
in the dark
a plane of light
from the cracked door
fell across my face
like a burn
in the next room
my father was beating
my mother to death
he kicked her until
she cried blood
and then he kicked her
until she came down
with a coma
and then he kicked her until
he just couldn't
kick her no more
he came in to see me
and put his hand on
my shoulder listen
I want you to kill
a man for me
I stood up he shoved me
back sit down I'll
give you a hundred
dollars what do you
say I said well
who is it
here's a piece of paper
with the man's name
kill him I'll give you
a hundred dollars
I opened the paper my name
was on it I turned
it over to see if
there was an alternate
what is this I said
some kind of goddam
joke I never joke
about money
he said

- Leaving Eden (1974)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Current Favorite Thing

Choral Cricketry

[UPDATE:] Dammit! 

[UPDATE 2:] Nice, too. 

I like 'em all already

Monday, November 18, 2013

Power Pop Hit Parade

My wife, and now my younger kid, are huge fans of FOW. I'm pretty mixed on them, but this song has a certain something, like a boiled-down Updike story.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013


In spring meadows beyond the city,
sprigs of yellow light dot the grass

in tiny blasts. Here, at Prospect
and Lexington, a woman in trim,

gray work skirt and blazer holds
a tan cat carrier, her free arm lifted

toward the street. Like daisies freed
by a stiff, fall wind, taxis glide

resistanceless down the avenue.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ecclesiastes 11.1-6

Send out your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will get it back.

Divide your means seven ways, or even eight, for you do not know what disaster may happen on earth.

When clouds are full, they empty rain on the earth; whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.

Whoever observes the wind will not sow; and whoever regards the clouds will not reap.

Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother’s womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything.

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hands be idle; for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Choleric Youth

Choleric Youth
are super uncouth,
drinking vermouth
they nicked from Walmart.

All of their chansons,
inspired by Manson's,
sound like their Hansen's
They're no Arvo Pärt.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Poem up

at Green Mountains Review, all the way over there in Vermont. You can read it here. I've posted a picture to get you in the mood:

A.R. Ammons


I look for the way
things will turn
out spiralling from a center,
the shape
things will take to come forth in

so that the birch tree white
touched black at branches
will stand out
totally its apparent self:

I look for the forms
things want to come as

from what black wells of possibility,
how a thing will

not the shape on paper--though
that, too--but the
uninterfering means on paper:

not so much looking for the shape
as being available
to any shape that may be
summoning itself
through me
from the self not mine but ours.

[from The Selected Poems, expanded ed., Norton]

Monday, November 4, 2013

Poem Beginning with a Line from Milton

Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star,
The face in my periphery is gone—
Or was it a bird that flitted from a tree?
My sight never was perfect, yet these things
I’ve named doubt my perception and my place,
As here there are no trees, no faces not
Covered by masks, and the stars are screened withal
By smoke rising from torches and burning cars.