Monday, December 11, 2017


You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Kahlil Gibran

“Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”
― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Kahlil Gibran

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.”
― Kahlil Gibran

“I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.”
― Kahlil Gibran, The Madman

“I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.”
― Kahlil Gibran

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”
― Kahlil Gibran

“We are all like the bright moon, we still have our darker side.”
― Kahlil Gibran


And I. I too.
Quite collected at cocktail parties,
meanwhile in my head
I'm undergoing open-heart surgery.

― Anne Sexton, Transformations


by Anne Sexton

Be careful of words,
even the miraculous ones.
For the miraculous we do our best,
sometimes they swarm like insects
and leave not a sting but a kiss.
They can be as good as fingers.
They can be as trusty as the rock
you stick your bottom on.
But they can be both daisies and bruises.
Yet I am in love with words.
They are doves falling out of the ceiling.
They are six holy oranges sitting in my lap.
They are the trees, the legs of summer,
and the sun, its passionate face.
Yet often they fail me.
I have so much I want to say,
so many stories, images, proverbs, etc.
But the words aren't good enough,
the wrong ones kiss me.
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
but with the wings of a wren.
But I try to take care
and be gentle to them.
Words and eggs must be handled with care.
Once broken they are impossible
things to repair.

― Anne Sexton, The Complete Poems

Seamus Heaney Poem


By Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

- Seamus Heaney, from Death of a Naturalist Copyright 1966 by Seamus Heaney, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC.

Anne Sexton Poem

Her Kind

by Anne Sexton

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

― Anne Sexton, To Bedlam and Part Way Back

Anne Sexton

“Depression is boring, I think
and I would do better to make
some soup and light up the cave.”
― Anne Sexton

“Suicide is, after all, the opposite of the poem.”
― Anne Sexton

“Don't bite till you know if it's bread or stone.”
― Anne Sexton, Complete Poems


“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.”
― Anne Sexton

Irish Monk

More than loud acclaim, I love Books, silence, thought, my alcove.
Pangur Bán, a Poem by Anon Irish Monk, Translated by Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

"Then I thought of the tribe whose dances never fail
For they keep dancing till they sight the deer."
- Station Island, Seamus Heaney

"If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way."
- Seamus Heaney

"How perilous is it to choose not to love the life we’re shown?"
- Opened Ground: Selected Poems, Seamus Heaney

"Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear."
- Death of a Naturalist, Seamus Heaney


“Watch out for intellect,
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.”
― Anne Sexton, The Complete Poems


“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.”
― Kahlil Gibran


“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship

The Stars

“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
― Sarah Williams


“You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.”
― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet


“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back...”
― Plato

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Snow Romeo

Last night when we turned out the lights to go to sleep Romeo jumped up on our bed right on top of us. We placed him back in his bed, turned out the light and he did it again. I was so laughing hard I was too weak to push him off. "You're no help," my husband said but he too was laughing, picking Romeo up like a lamb and lowering him onto his bed. Finally we realized Romeo was too cold on the floor even though we had doubled his bed for extra warmth. So we set him up on the couch in the other room and he slept through the night.

The storm brought about four inches of snow. It looked like whipped cream dropped on the neighborhood. Even the chain link fences were beautiful. Our clothesline had two inches of snow balanced on it.

Romeo loves the snow! I suspect this is his first snowstorm having been originally from Georgia. He loves fetching the ball when it's buried, it brings out his terrier digging instincts. It's a little bit harder for him to smell it to find it. He is self entertained nosing the ball around and then pouncing on it. Black dog in white snow, he shows up when running through the brush. I love that when we play fetch with the tennis ball it becomes snowy and icy rather than the usual muddy, drooly, slimy, muck.

Our neighbor Robin gave us a frozen turkey on Wednesday and we defrosted it over the past few days. We are currently roasting it in the oven to celebrate Bill's graduation. We just basted the turkey with the giblets liquid we seasoned with olive oil, garlic, ginger, beer, water, brown sugar, jam, hot sauce, mustard, sage, and black pepper. It smells amazing.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Michael McGarry


Charles Simic

Heights of Folly

by Charles Simic

O crows circling over my head and cawing!
I admit to being, at times,
Suddenly, and without the slightest warning,
Exceedingly happy.

On a morning otherwise sunless,
Strolling arm in arm
Past some gallows-shaped trees
With my dear Helen,
Who is also a strange bird,

With a feeling of being summoned
Urgently, but by a most gracious invitation
To breakfast on slices of watermelon
In the company of naked gods and goddesses
On a patch of last night's snow.

- Charles Simic

Charles Simic


by Charles Simic

Where it says snow
read teeth-marks of a virgin
Where it says knife read
you passed through my bones
like a police-whistle
Where it says table read horse
Where it says horse read my migrant's bundle
Apples are to remain apples
Each time a hat appears
think of Isaac Newton
reading the Old Testament
Remove all periods
They are scars made by words
I couldn't bring myself to say
Put a finger over each sunrise
it will blind you otherwise
That damn ant is still stirring
Will there be time left to list
all errors to replace
all hands guns owls plates
all cigars ponds woods and reach
that beer-bottle my greatest mistake
the word I allowed to be written
when I should have shouted
her name

- Charles Simic

A Mask from a Dream

“The habits of Franciscan nuns still shrouded all but their faces, and so each of the new nun's features were emphasized, read forty times over in astonishment. Outlined in a stiff white frame of starched linen, Sister's eyes, nose, and mouth leapt out, a mask from a dream, a great raw-boned jackal's muzzle.”
― Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich

“One of Tobasonakwut's favorite phrases is andopawatchigan, which means "seek your dream," but is lots more complicated. It means that first you have to find and identify your dream, often through fasting, and then that you also must carry out exactly what your dream tells you to do in each detail. And then the philosophy comes in, for by doing this repeatedly you will gradually come into a balanced relationship with all of life.”
― Louise Erdrich, Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country

Louise Erdrich

“...which causes me to wonder, my own purpose on so many days as humble as the spider's, what is beautiful that I make? What is elegant? What feeds the world?”
― Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum


“We are never so poor that we cannot bless another human being, are we? So it is that every evil, whether moral or material, results in good. You'll see.”
― Louise Erdrich, The Round House

Books: Louise Erdrich

“We have a lot of books in our house. They are our primary decorative motif-books in piles and on the coffee table, framed book covers, books sorted into stacks on every available surface, and of course books on shelves along most walls. Besides the visible books, there are books waiting in the wings, the basement books, the garage books, the storage locker books...They function as furniture, they prop up sagging fixtures and disguised by quilts function as tables...I can't imagine a home without an overflow of books. The point of books is to have way too many but to always feel you never have enough, or the right one at the right moment, but then sometimes to find you'd longed to fall asleep reading the Aspern Papers, and there it is.”
― Louise Erdrich, Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country

Louise Erdrich

“To sew is to pray. Men don't understand this. They see the whole but they don't see the stitches. They don't see the speech of the creator in the work of the needle. We mend. We women turn things inside out and set things right. We salvage what we can of human garments and piece the rest into blankets. Sometimes our stitches stutter and slow. Only a woman's eyes can tell. Other times, the tension in the stitches might be too tight because of tears, but only we know what emotion went into the making. Only women can hear the prayer.”
― Louise Erdrich, Four Souls


“When every inch of the world is known, sleep may be the only wilderness that we have left.”
― Louise Erdrich, The Blue Jay's Dance: A Birth Year


“We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.”
― Louise Erdrich, Tracks

Louise Erdrich

“To love another human in all of her splendor and imperfect perfection, it is a magnificent task...tremendous and foolish and human.”
― Louise Erdrich, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse

Louise Erdrich

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.
― Louise Erdrich, Original Fire


“When we are young, the words are scattered all around us. As they are assembled by experience, so also are we, sentence by sentence, until the story takes shape.”
― Louise Erdrich, The Plague of Doves

Louise Erdrich

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.
― Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum


Excuse me, I said. I thought you were a trout stream.
I'm not, she said.
― Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America


Finding is losing something else.
I think about, perhaps even mourn,
what I lost to find this.
― Richard Brautigan, Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork


Karma Repair Kit Items 1-4.

1.Get enough food to eat,
and eat it.

2.Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
and sleep there.

3.Reduce intellectual and emotional noise
until you arrive at the silence of yourself,
and listen to it.

― Richard Brautigan

Richard Brautigan

My Name

by Richard Brautigan

“I guess you are kind of curious as to who I am, but I am one of those who do not have a regular name. My name depends on you. Just call me whatever is in your mind.
If you are thinking about something that happened a long time ago: Somebody asked you a question and you did not know the answer.
That is my name.
Perhaps it was raining very hard.
That is my name.
Or somebody wanted you to do something. You did it. Then they told you what you did was wrong—“Sorry for the mistake,”—and you had to do something else.
That is my name.
Perhaps it was a game you played when you were a child or something that came idly into your mind when you were old and sitting in a chair near the window.
That is my name.
Or you walked someplace. There were flowers all around.
That is my name.
Perhaps you stared into a river. There as something near you who loved you. They were about to touch you. You could feel this before it happened. Then it happened.
That is my name.”

― Richard Brautigan, In Watermelon Sugar

Friday, December 08, 2017

Thank You, Paul Krugman

The Republican War on Children

Facts Have a Well-Known Liberal Bias


“Let us forget with generosity those who cannot love us.”
― Pablo Neruda


“New furniture has no character whereas old furniture always has a past. New furniture is always mute, but old furniture can almost talk. You can almost hear it talking about the good times and troubles it's seen. I think there is a Country and Western song about talking furniture, but I can't remember the name.”
― Richard Brautigan

Apple Juice

My friend is insulin dependent. She told me she walked her dog the other night and realized she was having an attack of low blood sugar. "I was too afraid to ask anyone for help because then I'd have to explain myself. A glass of apple juice would've done it. If anyone saw me they would think I was drunk the way I was staggering. I finally made it home without falling," she said. "Normally my monitor tells me but it was recharging at home. I felt fine and thought I'd take a quick walk before the sun set. The problem with low blood sugar is it makes me stupid. When I got home I couldn't even figure out how to unhook my dog's leash."
"If I ever see you acting strange I will offer you some apple juice," I said and we both laughed.


I dreamed I went with Romeo-dog to see Anthony as a surprise. He had a black dog that got along with Romeo. In the dream Anthony had broken his leg and was about to enter the house on crutches. I put a tennis ball on my nose to disguise myself.

John Steinbeck

Here are 19 quotations from John Steinbeck, including writing advice, and some thoughts on literature and the writing life:

“Over the years I have written a great many stories and I still don’t know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.”
(The Paris Review)

“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.”
(New York Times, 2 June 1969)

“The free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.”
(East of Eden, 1952)

“If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.”
(The Paris Review)

“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”
(“…like captured fireflies,” 1955; also published in America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction, 2003)

“Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.”
(The Paris Review)

“In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.”
(New York Times, 2 June 1969)

“The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty.”
(“In Awe of Words,” The Exonian, 75th anniversary edition, Exeter University, 1930)

“If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.”
(The Paris Review)

“I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.”
(Speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1962)

“Time is the only critic without ambition.”
(The Paris Review)

“The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.”
(Newsweek, 24 December 1962)

“Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.”
(Quote magazine, 18 June 1961)

“Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.”
(The Paris Review)

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
(Interview with Robert van Gelder, 1947; quoted in John Steinbeck : A Biography, 1994)

“Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.”
(The Paris Review)

“In every bit of honest writing in the world … there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. there is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. Try to understand each other.”
(Journal entry, 1938; quoted in introduction to 1994 edition of Of Mice and Men)

“Boileau said that Kings, Gods and Heroes only were fit subjects for literature. The writer can only write about what he admires. Present-day kings aren’t very inspiring, the gods are on a vacation and about the only heroes left are the scientists and the poor … And since our race admires gallantry, the writer will deal with it where he finds it. He finds it in the struggling poor now.”
(Radio interview, 1939; quoted in introduction to 1992 edition of The Grapes of Wrath)

“Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.”
(The Paris Review)

Thursday, December 07, 2017


A spindly-legged woman with a white braid down to her ass
walks while carrying a gallon of milk.
I am wondering if she can be in my poem.

Underwater Solitude

At the pool a man wanted to engage in small talk. I held my canvas swim bag over my groin for a moment feeling modest. Then I put on my goggles and submerged into the turquoise ocean, relieved.


When my husband got up out of bed this morning my dog Romeo jumped in beside me snuggling his warm fury head into my neck.

Jalaluddin Rumi

Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.
– Rumi

What you seek is seeking you.
― Rumi

Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.
― Rumi

Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.
― Rumi

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.
– Rumi

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.
– Rumi

There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.
– Rumi


“Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
― Jalaluddin Rumi, The Essential Rumi

A Hand

“A hand shifts our birdcages around. Some are brought closer. Some move apart. Do not try to reason it out. Be conscious of who draws you and who not.”
― Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi


“A man once asked Rumi, "Why is it you talk so much about silence?" His answer: "The radiant one inside me has never said a word.”
― Coleman Barks, The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems


“Solitude is a fount of healing which makes my life worth living. Talking is often a torment for me, and I need many days of silence to recover from the futility of words.”
― Coleman Barks, The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems

Rumi Translated by Coleman Barks

“If you want what visible reality
can give, you're an employee.
If you want the unseen world,
you're not living your truth.
Both wishes are foolish,
but you'll be forgiven for forgetting
that what you really want is
love's confusing joy.”
― Coleman Barks

“In the front yard lives the oldest thing around, a white oak
That I used to say is my love for the world,
That I now would just call love as it is.
Belonging to nobody, no metaphor, the very.”
― Coleman Barks

“Fold within fold, the beloved
drowns in its own being. This world
is drenched with that drowning.”
― Coleman Barks, The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems

“We were all born by accident but this wandering caravan
will make camp in perfection
Forget the nonsense categories of there and here, race, nation, religion, starting point and destination
You are soul, and you are love,...
No more questions now as to what it is we're doing here”
― Coleman Barks


Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
― Jalaluddin Rumi


The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
― Jalaluddin Rumi


The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster

When you take your pill
it's like a mine disaster.
I think of all the people
lost inside you.
― Richard Brautigan, The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster


Hinged to forgetfulness like a door,
she slowly closed out of sight,
and she was the woman I loved,
but too many times she slept like
a mechanical deer in my caresses,
and I ached in the metal silence
of her dreams.
― Richard Brautigan, Rommel Drives on Deep Into Egypt

Richard Brautigan

I saw thousands of pumpkins last night
come floating in on the tide,
bumping up against the rocks and
rolling up on the beaches;
it must be Halloween in the sea
― Richard Brautigan, The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster


One day
Time will die
And love will bury it
― Richard Brautigan


The Guest House

Translated by Coleman Barks

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

- Jalaluddin Rumi


Every day the smoking woman goes out on her balcony and talks on her cell phone. I can hear everything although I try not to. Paragraphs of advice to a girlfriend. Her toddler wanders out and climbs on a chair lifting himself up to the railing, three stories up.
James get off the chair I've told you a million times to get down from there. Do you want the fire trucks to come? Because that's what will happen if you fall, she says, resuming her conversation.
Fire truck, fire truck, he shouts, smiling.

Your Catfish Friend

by Richard Brautigan

If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
of my affection
and think, “It's beautiful
here by this pond. I wish
somebody loved me,”
I'd love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
at peace,
and ask yourself, “I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them.”

― Richard Brautigan, The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster


“Probably the closest things to perfection are the huge absolutely empty holes that astronomers have recently discovered in space. If there's nothing there, how can anything go wrong?”
― Richard Brautigan


“I had a good-talking candle last night in my bedroom. I was very tired but I wanted somebody to be with me, so I lit a candle and listened to its comfortable voice of light until I was asleep.”
― Richard Brautigan

Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork

“I’ll affect you slowly
as if you were having a picnic in a dream.
There will be no ants.
It won’t rain.”
― Richard Brautigan, Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Charles Simic

Empire of Dreams

by Charles Simic

On the first page of my dreambook
It's always evening
In an occupied country.
Hour before the curfew.
A small provincial city.
The houses all dark.
The storefronts gutted.

I am on a street corner
Where I shouldn't be.
Alone and coatless
I have gone out to look
For a black dog who answers to my whistle.
I have a kind of Halloween mask
Which I am afraid to put on.

- Charles Simic

Charles Simic

Eastern European Cooking

by Charles Simic

While Marquis de Sade had himself buggered—
Oh just around the time the Turks
Were roasting my ancestors on spits,
Goethe wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther.

It was chilly, raw, down-in-the-mouth
We were slurping bean soup thick with smoked sausage,
On Second Avenue, where years before I saw an old horse
Pull a wagon piled up high with flophouse mattresses.

Anyway, as I was telling my uncle Boris,
With my mouth full of pig's feet and wine:
"While they were holding hands and sighing under parasols,
We were being hung by our tongues."

"I make no distinction between scum,"
He said, and he meant everybody,
Us and them: A breed of murderers' helpers,
Evil-smelling torturers' apprentices.

Which called for another bottle of Hungarian wine,
And some dumplings stuffed with prunes,
Which we devoured in silence
While the Turks went on beating their cymbals and drums.

Luckily we had this Transylvanian waiter,
A defrocked priest, ex-dancing school instructor,
Regarding whose excellence we were in complete agreement
Since he didn't forget the toothpicks with our bill.

- Charles Simic

Billy Collins


by Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

- Billy Collins


“I drank coffee and read old books and waited for the year to end.”
― Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America

Billy Collins


by Billy Collins

How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hilltowns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.

There are no abbeys here, no crumbling frescoes or famous
domes and there is no need to memorize a succession
of kings or tour the dripping corners of a dungeon.
No need to stand around a sarcophagus, see Napoleon's
little bed on Elba, or view the bones of a saint under glass.

How much better to command the simple precinct of home
than be dwarfed by pillar, arch, and basilica.
Why hide my head in phrase books and wrinkled maps?
Why feed scenery into a hungry, one-eyes camera
eager to eat the world one monument at a time?

Instead of slouching in a café ignorant of the word for ice,
I will head down to the coffee shop and the waitress
known as Dot. I will slide into the flow of the morning
paper, all language barriers down,
rivers of idiom running freely, eggs over easy on the way.

And after breakfast, I will not have to find someone
willing to photograph me with my arm around the owner.
I will not puzzle over the bill or record in a journal
what I had to eat and how the sun came in the window.
It is enough to climb back into the car

as if it were the great car of English itself
and sounding my loud vernacular horn, speed off
down a road that will never lead to Rome, not even Bologna.

- Billy Collins

Billy Collins

Child Development

by Billy Collins

As sure as prehistoric fish grew legs
and sauntered off the beaches into forests
working up some irregular verbs for their
first conversation, so three-year-old children
enter the phase of name-calling.

Every day a new one arrives and is added
to the repertoire. You Dumb Goopyhead,
You Big Sewerface, You Poop-on-the-Floor
(a kind of Navaho ring to that one)
they yell from knee level, their little mugs
flushed with challenge.
Nothing Samuel Johnson would bother tossing out
in a pub, but then the toddlers are not trying
to devastate some fatuous Enlightenment hack.

They are just tormenting their fellow squirts
or going after the attention of the giants
way up there with their cocktails and bad breath
talking baritone nonsense to other giants,
waiting to call them names after thanking
them for the lovely party and hearing the door close.

The mature save their hothead invective
for things: an errant hammer, tire chains,
or receding trains missed by seconds,
though they know in their adult hearts,
even as they threaten to banish Timmy to bed
for his appalling behavior,
that their bosses are Big Fatty Stupids,
their wives are Dopey Dopeheads
and that they themselves are Mr. Sillypants.

- Billy Collins

Billy Collins

Candle Hat

by Billy Collins

In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates:
Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes,
Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,
Rembrant looks relieved as if he were taking a breather
from painting The Blinding of Sampson.

But in this one Goya stands well back from the mirror
and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio
addressing a canvas tilted back on a tall easel.

He appears to be smiling out at us as if he knew
we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head
which is fitted around the brim with candle holders,
a device that allowed him to work into the night.

You can only wonder what it would be like
to be wearing such a chandelier on your head
as if you were a walking dining room or concert hall.

But once you see this hat there is no need to read
any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.

To understand Goya you only have to imagine him
lighting the candles one by one, then placing
the hat on his head, ready for a night of work.

Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention,
the laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow.

Imagine him flickering through the rooms of his house
with all the shadows flying across the walls.

Imagine a lost traveler knocking on his door
one dark night in the hill country of Spain.
"Come in, " he would say, "I was just painting myself,"
as he stood in the doorway holding up the wand of a brush,
illuminated in the blaze of his famous candle hat.

- Billy Collins

Billy Collins

Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House

by Billy Collins

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.

- Billy Collins

Tuesday, December 05, 2017


The flowers in the vase have wilted
Outside the shadows are sideways giraffes
It is winter
I sip hot tea from a blue cup and wear yellow knee-socks

The Weather

Blonde meteorologist in Mondrian mini-skirt
monitors the weather
This is television at its best


the radio has been off for fourteen months
we had no heat so I invited the dog on the couch
he stretched across my torso his ankle on my collar bone, his head on my knee
I dreamed of Dostoyevsky riding on a roller-coaster made of hollow logs
a circus without tigers
I closed my eyes and saw a pink-thighed lady riding a zebra
"I love black and white, don't you?" she said

Monday, December 04, 2017

Woonsocket is the Greatest!

This morning on my walk I noticed the Castle luncheonette trash barrel out front was filled to the brim. They closed for the season yesterday. I saw the highway department guys up ahead and I ran with my dog to catch up. "Hi, I know this may not be your jurisdiction but the Castle trash is overflowing and they just closed for the season yesterday," I said. "No problem we'll swing around and get it," the driver said. And they did! Amen to Woonsocket Highway Department I LOVE YOU!

The Couch

Last night I invited my puppy Romeo to sit on the couch with me.
I watched Jaques Pepin stuff chicken breasts with olive tapinade on TV.
Romeo fell asleep and was snoring.

Thich Nhat Hanh

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That's the message he is sending.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Anne Lamott: December

“I can teach them little things that may not be in any of the great books on writing. For instance, I’m not sure if anyone else has mentioned that December is traditionally a bad month for writing. It is a month of Mondays. Mondays are not good writing days. One has had all that freedom over the weekend, all that authenticity, all those dreamy dreams, and then your angry mute Slavic Uncle Monday arrives, and it is time to sit down at your desk.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott

“In this dark and wounded society, writing can give you the pleasures of the woodpecker, of hollowing out a hole in a tree where you can build your nest and say, “This is my niche, this is where I live now, this is where I belong.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

“Even if only the people in your writing group read your memoirs or stories or novel, even if you only wrote your story so that one day your children would know what life was like when you were a child and you knew the name of every dog in town — still, to have written your version is an honorable thing to have done.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

“I also tell them that sometimes when my writer friends are working, they feel better and more alive than they do at any other time. And sometimes when they are writing well, they feel that they are living up to something. It is as if the right words, the true words, are already inside them, and they just want to help them get out.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Krishnamurti Wisdom

“We carry about us the burden of what thousands of people have said and the memories of all our misfortunes. To abandon all that is to be alone, and the mind that is alone is not only innocent but young -- not in time or age, but young, innocent, alive at whatever age -- and only such a mind can see that which is truth and that which is not measurable by words.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“If we can really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem. ”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“The ending of sorrow is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge is always within the shadow of ignorance. Meditation is freedom from thought and a movement in the ecstasy of truth. Meditation is explosion of intelligence.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. ... The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

Transform the World

“To transform the world, we must begin with ourselves; and what is important in beginning with ourselves is the intention. The intention must be to understand ourselves and not to leave it to others to transform themselves or to bring about a modified change through revolution, either of the left or of the right. It is important to understand that this is our responsibility, yours and mine...”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

Krishnamurti: Love

“When I understand myself, I understand you, and out of that understanding comes love. Love is the missing factor; there is a lack of affection, of warmth in relationship; and because we lack that love, that tenderness, that generosity, that mercy in relationship, we escape into mass action which produces further confusion, further misery. We fill our hearts with blueprints for world reform and do not look to that one resolving factor which is love.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti


“You know, if we understand one question rightly, all questions are answered. But we don't know how to ask the right question. To ask the right question demands a great deal of intelligence and sensitivity. Here is a question, a fundamental question: is life a torture? It is, as it is; and man has lived in this torture centuries upon centuries, from ancient history to the present day, in agony, in despair, in sorrow; and he doesn't find a way out of it. Therefore he invents gods, churches, all the rituals, and all that nonsense, or he escapes in different ways. What we are trying to do, during all these discussions and talks here, is to see if we cannot radically bring about a transformation of the mind, not accept things as they are, nor revolt against them. Revolt doesn't answer a thing. You must understand it, go into it, examine it, give your heart and your mind, with everything that you have, to find out a way of living differently. That depends on you, and not on someone else, because in this there is no teacher, no pupil; there is no leader; there is no guru; there is no Master, no Saviour. You yourself are the teacher and the pupil; you are the Master; you are the guru; you are the leader; you are everything. And to understand is to transform what is.

I think that will be enough, won't it?”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

Jiddu Krishnamurti

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“It is truth that liberates, not your effort to be free.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

“Freedom and love go together. Love is not a reaction. If I love you because you love me, that is mere trade, a thing to be bought in the market; it is not love. To love is not to ask anything in return, not even to feel that you are giving something- and it is only such love that can know freedom.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“Tell your friend that in his death, a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you also go. He will not be alone.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end - you don't come to an achievement, you don't come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“Governments want efficient technicians, not human beings, because human beings become dangerous to governments – and to organized religions as well. That is why governments and religious organizations seek to control education.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti, Education and the Significance of Life

“Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“To understand the immeasurable, the mind must be extraordinarily quiet, still.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“You can only be afraid of what you think you know.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“Do not repeat after me words that you do not understand. Do not merely put on a mask of my ideas, for it will be an illusion and you will thereby deceive yourself.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

Sunday, December 03, 2017


Not everyone makes a habit of studying their shadow. It was just the other day when mine drove off in the shape of a mountain. It came back carrying a pitch fork followed by an angry mob. I ran inside my house and pulled the shades. I took a nap and when I woke up it had passed.

Did I Mention?

My dog chases tennis balls in his dreams
Did I mentioned how much I love parsnips?
and wearing flannel pajamas all day
in this administration

The Incident

What's happening? I asked.
There might have been a shooting, he said. There were four guys face down tied up. They were very nice people. They helped my wife, he said, holding his little long-haired dog. I pointed to my dog.
This is Romeo, I just adopted him, I said.
She just adopted him, he shouts to his wife.
Have a good night, I said.
Don't trust anyone, he yelled.

Rainy Days

Dust bunnies on the bottom of the pool swaying with the turquoise current
I watch underwater
I am swimming in the neighborhood fish tank
I walk miles in the dark with my black dog to see twinkling lights
Men are scribbling poetry on prescription pads
In the high school cafeteria nobody asks for cauliflower
The white brain under a red lamp
Kids duck under school desks for an air raid drill
Back when we turned on the lights on rainy days

Mark Strand

A Piece Of The Storm

by Mark Strand

For Sharon Horvath

From the shadow of domes in the city of domes,
A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room
And made its way to the arm of the chair where you, looking up
From your book, saw it the moment it landed.

That's all There was to it.
No more than a solemn waking
To brevity, to the lifting and falling away of attention, swiftly,
A time between times, a flowerless funeral.
No more than that
Except for the feeling that this piece of the storm,
Which turned into nothing before your eyes, would come back,
That someone years hence, sitting as you are now, might say:
"It's time.
The air is ready.
The sky has an opening."

- Mark Strand

Charles Simic

Against Winter

by Charles Simic

The truth is dark under your eyelids.
What are you going to do about it?
The birds are silent; there's no one to ask.
All day long you'll squint at the gray sky.
When the wind blows you'll shiver like straw.

A meek little lamb you grew your wool
Till they came after you with huge shears.
Flies hovered over open mouth,
Then they, too, flew off like the leaves,
The bare branches reached after them in vain.

Winter coming. Like the last heroic soldier
Of a defeated army, you'll stay at your post,
Head bared to the first snow flake.
Till a neighbor comes to yell at you,
You're crazier than the weather, Charlie.

- Charles Simic

Saturday, December 02, 2017


Sipping hot tea without biscuits.
Too many clocks ticking.
Saturday laundry perfumes the air.
I put the baby to bed with a tennis ball.
A car screeches and I wait for the boom.

Charles Simic: Surprises

“When you start putting words on the page, an associative process takes over. And, all of a sudden, there are surprises. All of a sudden you say to yourself, ‘My God, how did this come into your head? Why is this on the page?’ I just simply go where it takes me.”
- Charles Simic,

Betty Cracker

Well, stopping it was always a long shot. Now our job is to hang this shitty piece of legislation around their necks like a flaming tire.
- Betty Cracker@bettycrackerfl

Dan Harmon on Depression

For One: Admit and accept that it’s happening. Awareness is everything. We put ourselves under so much pressure to feel good. It’s okay to feel bad. It might be something you’re good at! Communicate it. DO NOT KEEP IT SECRET. Own it. Like a hat or jacket. Your feelings are real.

Two: try to remind yourself, over and over, that feelings are real but they aren’t reality. Example: you can feel like life means nothing. True feeling. Important feeling. TRUE that you feel it, BUT…whether life has meaning? Not up to us. Facts and feelings: equal but different

The most important thing I can say to you is please don’t deal with it alone. There is an incredible, miraculous magic to pushing your feelings out. Even writing “I want to die” on a piece of paper and burning it will feel better than thinking about it alone. Output is magical.

Dark thoughts will echo off the walls of your skull, they will distort and magnify. When you open your mouth (or an anonymous journal or blog or sketchpad), these thoughts go out. They’ll be back but you gotta get em OUT. Vent them. Tap them. I know you don’t want to but try it.

— Dan Harmon (@danharmon) November 28, 2017,

Black Top Orphan

I found a spaghetti strap black top on the street in front of my house. It was my size. I took it inside and washed it with my clothes.

Last night I wore it and I was distracted by the faint scent of sandalwood. What is the story behind this shirt? Did a woman disrobe in a moment of passion while traveling in the back seat of her lover's car?

I am wearing her shirt eating popcorn, watching Forensic Files on TV.


I dreamed I was swimming at a local swimming pool. Lily-dog was there and so were about six other large dogs running around the edge. I knew she had died. "Look, she's in my dream," I said.

Friday, December 01, 2017

I Believe in Libraries

“I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”
― Ray Bradbury

The Magic

“The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury

“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.”
― Ray Bradbury

“With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word 'intellectual,' of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't "try" to do things. You simply "must" do things.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Don't ask for guarantees. And don't look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were heading for shore.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Remake a World

“You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
― Ray Bradbury

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
― Ray Bradbury

We are Cups

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
― Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Kurt Vonnegut

“If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A Man Without a Country

Kurt Vonnegut

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young


“If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Kurt Vonnegut

“And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A Man Without a Country

George Orwell

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
― George Orwell


“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
― George Orwell

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. ”
― George Orwell

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
― George Orwell

“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”
― George Orwell, 1984


The face of evil is always the face of total need.
-William Burroughs


Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.
-William Burroughs

Wendell Berry

A Warning To My Readers

by Wendell Berry

Do not think me gentle
because I speak in praise
of gentleness, or elegant
because I honor the grace
that keeps this world.
I am
a man crude as any,
gross of speech, intolerant,
stubborn, angry, full
of fits and furies.
That I
may have spoken well
at times, is not natural.

A wonder is what it is.

Wendell Berry

A Meeting

by Wendell Berry

In a dream I meet
my dead friend.
He has,
I know, gone long and far,
and yet he is the same
for the dead are changeless.

They grow no older.

It is I who have changed,
grown strange to what I was.

Yet I, the changed one,
ask: "How you been?"
He grins and looks at me.

"I been eating peaches
off some mighty fine trees."

Wendell Berry

The Real Work

by Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Mark Strand

So You Say

by Mark Strand

It is all in the mind, you say, and has
nothing to do with happiness.
The coming of cold,
the coming of heat, the mind has all the time in the world.

You take my arm and say something will happen,
something unusual for which we were always prepared,
like the sun arriving after a day in Asia,
like the moon departing after a night with us.

Mark Strand

Coming To This

by Mark Strand

We have done what we wanted.

We have discarded dreams, preferring the heavy industry
of each other, and we have welcomed grief
and called ruin the impossible habit to break.

And now we are here.

The dinner is ready and we cannot eat.

The meat sits in the white lake of its dish.

The wine waits.

Coming to this
has its rewards: nothing is promised, nothing is taken away.

We have no heart or saving grace,
no place to go, no reason to remain.


This morning the sky was clear with one pinhole; Venus.
I was at my desk.
My cat opened the kitchen cupboard. My dog stuck his head in.
I reached for my pup. I could feel his monkey belly and chimpanzee elbows.

Last night the moon was a cop's flashlight shining on the street.
A far-away neighborhood had twinkling white lights.
The air was delicious.

"I am lucky, I live alone but I am never lonely," Jackie said.

Mark Strand

The New Poetry Handbook
by Mark Strand

1 If a man understands a poem,
he shall have troubles.

2 If a man lives with a poem,
he shall die lonely.

3 If a man lives with two poems,
he shall be unfaithful to one.

4 If a man conceives of a poem,
he shall have one less child.

5 If a man conceives of two poems,
he shall have two children less.

6 If a man wears a crown on his head as he writes,
he shall be found out.

7 If a man wears no crown on his head as he writes,
he shall deceive no one but himself.

8 If a man gets angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by men.

9 If a man continues to be angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by women.

10 If a man publicly denounces poetry,
his shoes will fill with urine.

11 If a man gives up poetry for power,
he shall have lots of power.

12 If a man brags about his poems,
he shall be loved by fools.

13 If a man brags about his poems and loves fools,
he shall write no more.

14 If a man craves attention because of his poems,
he shall be like a jackass in moonlight.

15 If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow,
he shall have a beautiful mistress.

16 If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow overly,
he shall drive his mistress away.

17 If a man claims the poem of another,
his heart shall double in size.

18 If a man lets his poems go naked,
he shall fear death.

19 If a man fears death,
he shall be saved by his poems.

20 If a man does not fear death,
he may or may not be saved by his poems.

21 If a man finishes a poem,
he shall bathe in the blank wake of his passion
and be kissed by white paper.

Mark Strand

The Remains

by Mark Strand

I empty myself of the names of others.
I empty my pockets.

I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.

At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.

What good does it do? The hours have done their job.

I say my own name.
I say goodbye.

The words follow each other downwind.

I love my wife but send her away.

My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds.
How can I sing?
Time tells me what I am.
I change and I am the same.

I empty myself of my life and my life remains.

Mark Strand

The Dreadful Has Already Happened

by Mark Strand

The relatives are leaning over, staring expectantly.

They moisten their lips with their tongues.
I can feel
them urging me on.
I hold the baby in the air.

Heaps of broken bottles glitter in the sun.

A small band is playing old fashioned marches.

My mother is keeping time by stamping her foot.

My father is kissing a woman who keeps waving
to somebody else.
There are palm trees.

The hills are spotted with orange flamboyants and tall
billowy clouds move beyond them.
"Go on, Boy,"
I hear somebody say, "Go on."
I keep wondering if it will rain.

The sky darkens.
There is thunder.

"Break his legs," says one of my aunts,
"Now give him a kiss."
I do what I'm told.

The trees bend in the bleak tropical wind.

The baby did not scream, but I remember that sigh
when I reached inside for his tiny lungs and shook them
out in the air for the flies.
The relatives cheered.

It was about that time I gave up.

Now, when I answer the phone, his lips
are in the receiver; when I sleep, his hair is gathered
around a familiar face on the pillow; wherever I search
I find his feet.
He is what is left of my life.


After Romeo and I played fetch he was smiling with his tongue hanging out. The muddy ball was still in his mouth. He looked like the Buster Brown shoes dog. He tanked up on water and I fed him. Then we walked downtown so he could leave his business card on every shrub.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


I dreamed that I was offered a job in an advertising firm for 1,000 a week. What about Romeo, could I bring him to work? What about dancing around the room when nobody was around? What about swimming? I woke up.

The White Room

by Charles Simic

The obvious is difficult
To prove. Many prefer
The hidden. I did, too
I listened to the trees

They had a secret
Which they were about to
Make known to me--
And then didn't

Summer came. Each tree
On my street had its own
Scheherazade. My nights
Were a part of their wild

Storytelling. We were
Entering dark houses
Always more dark houses
Hushed and abandoned

There was someone with eyes closed
On the upper floors
The fear of it, and the wonder
Kept me sleepless

The truth is bald and cold
Said the woman
Who always wore white
She didn't leave her room

The sun pointed to one or two
Things that had survived
The long night intact
The simplest things

Difficult in their obviousness
They made no noise
It was the kind of day
People described as "perfect."

Gods disguising themselves
As black hairpins, a hand-mirror
A comb with a tooth missing?
No! That wasn't it

Just things as they are
Unblinking, lying mute
In that bright light--
And the trees waiting for the night

-Charles Simic

Country Fair

by Charles Simic

If you didn't see the six-legged dog,
It doesn't matter.
We did, and he mostly lay in the corner.
As for the extra legs,
One got used to them quickly
And thought of other things.
Like, what a cold, dark night
To be out at the fair.
Then the keeper threw a stick
And the dog went after it
On four legs, the other two flapping behind,
Which made one girl shriek with laughter.
She was drunk and so was the man
Who kept kissing her neck.
The dog got the stick and looked back at us.
And that was the whole show.

Paradise Motel

by Charles Simic

Millions were dead; everybody was innocent.
I stayed in my room. The President
Spoke of war as of a magic love potion.
My eyes were opened in astonishment.
In a mirror my face appeared to me
Like a twice-canceled postage stamp.

I lived well, but life was awful.
there were so many soldiers that day,
So many refugees crowding the roads.
Naturally, they all vanished
With a touch of the hand.
History licked the corners of its bloody mouth.

On the pay channel, a man and a woman
Were trading hungry kisses and tearing off
Each other's clothes while I looked on
With the sound off and the room dark
Except for the screen where the color
Had too much red in it, too much pink.

Late September

by Charles Simic

The mail truck goes down the coast
Carrying a single letter.
At the end of a long pier
The bored seagull lifts a leg now and then
And forgets to put it down.
There is a menace in the air
Of tragedies in the making.

Last night you thought you heard television
In the house next door.
You were sure it was some new
Horror they were reporting,
So you went out to find out.
Barefoot, wearing just shorts.
It was only the sea sounding weary
After so many lifetimes
Of pretending to be rushing off somewhere
And never getting anywhere.

This morning, it felt like Sunday.
The heavens did their part
By casting no shadow along the boardwalk
Or the row of vacant cottages,
Among them a small church
With a dozen gray tombstones huddled close
As if they, too, had the shivers.

-From The Voice at 3:00 a.m.: Selected Late and New Poems by Charles Simic. Copyright © 2003 by Charles Simic

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Trash Day

The green and brown bins are lined up in uniform on the curb overstuffed from the holiday. The big loud monster will arrive and grab them one at a time with it's gigantic mechanical arm. It will tip them upside down into it's open back leaving them scattered and empty on the street.

Short Order Cook

by Jim Daniels

An average joe comes in
and orders thirty cheeseburgers and thirty fries.

I wait for him to pay before I start cooking.
He pays.
He ain’t no average joe.

The grill is just big enough for ten rows of three.
I slap the burgers down
throw two buckets of fries in the deep frier
and they pop pop, spit spit. . .
pssss. . .
The counter girls laugh.
I concentrate.
It is the crucial point--
they are ready for the cheese:
my fingers shake as I tear off slices
toss them on the burgers/fries done/dump/
refill buckets/burgers ready/flip into buns/
beat that melting cheese/wrap burgers in plastic/
into paper bags/fried done/dump/fill thirty bags/
bring them to the counter/wipe sweat on sleeve
and smile at the counter girls.
I puff my chest out and bellow:
Thirty cheeseburgers! Thirty fries!
I grab a handful of ice, toss it in my mouth
do a little dance and walk back to the grill.
Pressure, responsibility, success.
Thirty cheeseburgers, thirty fries.

From Show and Tell: New and Selected Poems by Jim Daniels. Originally appeared in Places/Everyone. Copyright © 1985 by Jim Daniels

Jim Daniels Poem

Brushing Teeth with My Sister after the Wake

by Jim Daniels

at my kitchen sink, the bathroom upstairs
clogged with family from out of town

spending the night after the wake
and the after-wake—cold beverages

have been consumed and comfort food,
leftovers bulging both the fridge

and the minifridge. In our fifties, both
half-asleep half-awake, we face each

other. My sister’s smile foams white
down her chin at the end of a day

on which no one has smiled. We laugh.
We may never brush our teeth together again.

No mirror down here to see our haggard faces.
We rinse, we spit. As we were taught.

- Jim Daniels from The Middle Ages © Red Mountain Press, 2018.

John Martin Poem

Bear In Mind

by John Martin

A bear is chasing me through a meadow
and I’m running as fast as I can but
he’s gaining on me—it seems
he’s always gaining on me.
I’m running and running but also
thinking I should just
turn around and say,
“Stop it! Stop chasing me. We both
know you aren’t going to catch me.
All you can ever do is chase me. So,
think about it—why bother?”

The bear does stop,
and he sits on his haunches and thinks,
or seems to think. And then
the bear says to me,
“I have to chase you, you know
that. Or you should. And, sure,
we both know I’ll never catch you.
So, why not give us both a break and
just stop thinking about me?”

But, with that said, he gets back on four feet,
sticks his long pink tongue out, licks down
both sides of his snout. Then he sighs, looks
behind himself, then at me and says, “Okay,
ready when you are.”

- John Martin from Hold This © Concrete Wolf Press, 2017

Delicious Air

Last night I ran into Jackie walking her neighbor's dog. She has been dog sitting for weeks as the pup owner recuperates "I couldn't get any of my neighbors to take a walk with me. They all said it's too cold. I just dress in layers. I love this weather," she said.
"Me too, the air is delicious."

Happy Puppy

Last night I tried an experiment. I fed Romeo-pup his dinner after we played fetch but before the long walk. It worked like a charm. He didn't pull me the whole home for his supper. And when we got home he crashed out without a peep.

He needs the time in his den to rest and recover from our walks and so do I.