Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

“It’s not easy being green.”

January 15, 2018

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him, a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create—so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.”

~ Pearl S. Buck


August 23, 2017

Yesterday you climbed
To the top of the Empire State Building
(By elevator, mostly, but
There were a few steps here and there.)
You circled the observation deck,
Feet shuffling over old stone,
Hands gripping iron safety bars,
Like those of a prison cell
With a million dollar view.

You could see so much from there,
Except for you yourself—
So improbably aloft,
Tracing the edge of the precipitous building,
Scraping the cerulean sky.

Today you lie in bed
Writing poetry,
Once again seeking the spectacular,
Once again not knowing it’s you.

The Massless Particles Anthology of Great Poetry, Vol. 2

January 5, 2015
  1. The Road Not Taken (Robert Frost)
  2. One Art (Elizabeth Bishop)
  3. Questions About Angels (Billy Collins)
  4. Happiness (Robert Hass)
  5. Arrival at the Waldorf (Wallace Stevens)
  6. Maples (Mary Oliver)
  7. [since feeling is first] (E. E. Cummings)
  8. When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer (Walt Whitman)
  9. [Barn’s burnt down] (Mizuta Masahide)
  10. West Wind (Mary Oliver)

The Massless Particles Anthology of Great Poetry, Vol. 1

November 30, 2014
  1. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (Wallace Stevens)
  2. Mending Wall (Robert Frost)
  3. Playacting (Kay Ryan)
  4. Spring (Mary Oliver)
  5. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (T.S. Eliot)
  6. Shoveling Snow with Buddha (Billy Collins)
  7. This Is Just to Say (William Carlos Williams)
  8. To the Stone-Cutters (Robinson Jeffers)
  9. Friendship After Love (Ella Wheeler Wilcox)
  10. Song of Myself (Walt Whitman)

“(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right”

January 14, 2014

The day a child realizes that all adults are imperfect,
he becomes an adolescent.
The day he forgives them, he becomes an adult.
The day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.

~Alden Nowlan

“Safe and warm here in the fire of each other”

January 10, 2014


From Robert Montgomery’s current work, hopefully coming to a city near you (and me).  More here.

The Last To-Do List

October 14, 2013

Have some care for those who will not be going with you
Change the beneficiary of the modest retirement account
From your former spouse
To your widowed mother
Or perhaps let well enough alone
But leave a word or two, certainly, so that they will understand
Or can pretend to understand

Take the packet of sticky notes from the desk drawer
The little one, for signaling favorite passages
In the yellowing pages
Of books on greying shelves
And mark with the names of those who loved you
The temporal drags in which they may recall
The ripple of your voice

The unpublished manuscript
The African mask, bartered in Mombasa
For the price of three t-shirts
The statue of the Thai palace guard
Who never raised his sword
The necklace you bought in the Haight, with the little dark skull
To remind you to kill your ego

Give your brother the secret passwords
You have kept to yourself for so long
Look over the files on the computer
Keep the photographs
The poetry
The birthday emails
Consider expunging the journals
Or at least the parts that might hurt
Or make you look crazy
Or stupid
Or sad

Try to think of some way to explain to your children
Then give up and hope the best for them as you always have

Review the shopping list
Bath salts
Grand Mayan in the clay bottle
Razor with the keenest edge
So precise it is almost invisible
So that, if you had stayed,
At the next cocktail party
You too could have said
It was the best that money could buy.

“We’re all in it together.”

November 12, 2012
"The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my
     gab and loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow'd
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you."

~Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself

As Long As You’re Here

December 21, 2011
         What if I told you everything
   And that you didn't have to stay?
                                                                        Of course I'd run away;
                                        And then,
                                     Come back,
                                                                  But only for a day or so,
                                            Or less,
                                                               Or more.
                                                            One really couldn't say.

            And what if I could be okay
                                        With that?

“Isn’t life a play? Don’t I play it well?”

October 22, 2011

At LitQuake in San Francisco last weekend, I listened to readings by the poets Victoria Chang and Kay Ryan.  Loved them both.  Here is one of my favorites from Kay.


Early tribal cultures, while celebrating their rites of initiation or sacrifice, retained a very precise and subliminal awareness that the compulsive extremes to which they went…were in essence mere playacting, even though the performance could sometimes approach the point of death.
—W. G. Sebald, Campo Santo

Something inside says
there will be a curtain,
maybe or maybe not
some bowing, probably
no roses, but certainly
a chance to unverse
or dehearse, after all
these acts. For some
fraction of the self
has always held out, the
evidence compounding
in a bank becoming
grander and more
marble: even our
most wholehearted
acts are partial.
Therefore this small
change, unspendable,
of a different metal,
accruing in a strange
account. What could it
be for but passage out?

~Kay Ryan

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