Think of being a judge or architect
or trombonist, and do not worry whether
thinking so makes it so. I overhear
two men talking in another room; 
I cannot transcribe the conversation
word for word, but know if they are
vexed or depressed, joyful or nostalgic.
An elm leaf floats on a pond. 
Look, a child wants to be a cardiologist
then a cartographer, but wanting so
does not make it so. It is not
a question of copying out the Heart Sutra 
in your own blood on an alabaster wall.
It is not a question of grief or joy.
But as a fetus grows and grows,
as the autumn moon ripens the grapes, 
greed and cruelty and hunger for power
ripen us, enable us to grieve, act,
laugh, shriek, see, see it all as
the water on which the elm leaf floats. 
--from 'Shooting Star'; Arthur Sze


In the Heart of Time
-- Coral Bracho (trans by K. Pierpoint)

Time lets its subtle depths
half-open. (Doors
shielding one another; pushing open, one to another; the spoors
and traces of the sea.)  This autumn
of kindling wood, drifts of leaves.  At its heart,
forests of pleasure where the light shines through; its ivies, involved:
light in leaf everywhere:  fire raked and rooted, a metallic flowering,
and the finest moss,

[via poetry translation centre]


He was a wise man who invented beer. ~Plato..................
[Mosaic Promise; Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, MI].............


But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
........The Lady of Shalott? 
Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
........Down to tower'd Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers " 'Tis the fairy
........Lady of Shalott." 
--from 'The Lady of Shalott'; Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Today I am in cobwebs made of light –
Black-haired, fair-brown –
Mankind needs light and clear blue air
And it needs bread and Elbrus snow. 
And there is no one to consult with me,
While I will hardly find one on my own:
Not in the Urals, not in the Crimea –
There are no such transparent, weeping stones. 
Mankind needs a poem mysteriously familiar,
To be awakened by it all his days
And in the sound of it to lave forever –
As in a flaxen curl, a nut-brown wave. 
--Osip Mandelstam  (1937); trans by Ilya Bernstein


Do not compare: who lives is beyond compare.
Embracing the equality of the plains
I felt somehow caressed and scared,
and the sky's circle was my pain. 
And I addressed my servants the air,
Awaiting tidings from him or service,
And I prepared to sail, and sailed the arc
Of uninitiated journeys. 
Where there is more sky for me, there I am
.....ready to roam,
And clear despair will not release me
From the Voronezh hills, which are still young,
To the all-human hills of Tuscany. 
-- Osip Mandelstam (1937); trans by Ilya Bernstein


[ The Day Owl ; Leonard Baskin ] ......

Interviewer: What do birds mean for you? The figures of the hawk and the crow—so astonishing. Are you tired to death of explaining them?

Ted Hughes: I don’t know how to explain them. There are certain things that are just impressive, aren’t there? One stone can be impressive and the stones around it aren’t. It’s the same with animals. Some, for some reason, are strangely impressive. They just get into you in a strange way. Certain birds obviously have this extra quality that fascinates your attention. Obviously hawks have always done that for me, as a great many others have—not only impressive in themselves but also in that they’ve accumulated an enormous literature making them even more impressive. And crows too. Crows are the central bird in many mythologies. The crow is at every extreme, lives on every piece of land on earth, the most intelligent bird.


Owl's Song
--Ted Hughes 
He sang
how the swan blanched forever
How the wolf threw away its telltale heart
And the stars dropped their pretence
The air gave up appearances
Water went deliberately numb
The rock surrendered its last hope
And cold died beyond knowledge 
He sang
How everything had nothing more to lose 
Then sat still with fear 
Seeing the clawtrack of star
Hearing the wingbeat of rock 
And his own singing


Reckless Head
-- Ted Hughes 
When it comes down to it
Hair is afraid. Words from within are afraid. 
They sheer off, like a garment,
Cool, treacherous, no part of you. 
Hands the same, feet, and all blood
Till nothing is left. Nothing stays 
But what your gaze can carry.
And maybe you vomit even that, like a too-much poison. 
Then it is
That the brave hunger of your skull 
Supplants you. It stands where you stood
And shouts, with a voice you can't hear, 
For what you can't take.


Yesterday a powerful cold front made a storm out of the last of Michigan's summer weather. In the evening, I went out for a beer and had to deflect another man’s frustrations. When at home, President Obama outlined the offensive initiatives with respect to ISIS.  Drone attacks, beheadings, some wild west language that seemed to have been channeled up from Texas, and all the while categorized with the label of ‘counter-terror operation’ for the white house file cabinet, on the eve of another September 11 anniversary. And then woke up this morning to an explicit metaphor of howling wind and temperatures in the 40's. Thoughts brought me to Bolaño’s 2666– violent aggressions without beginnings or endings, only varying degrees of eruption from what already plainly exists on the surface of the every day. What is to be seen and not?  On the requiem ground was a drop cloth of heavy dew for an early autumn, holes torn in the grass where a skunk dug up some grubs, a few mushrooms popped off to the side beneath the cedar. For the past week or two, geese have made their calls known while in flight for the migration in a changing season.


Summer Haiku- 2014

the weight of words-
another box of books
into the car trunk

evening sun lingers
beneath the cloud bank-
a few last thoughts

black squall line,
low pressure dragon,
it will be done

one red cardinal sings
after a needed rain-

with floating silence,
a hummingbird
honors the flowers

dew point
thick as rain
evening wine

black birds that fly
past a setting sun

two young hares
chase into the grove
silent shadows

old wrangler truck
not starting at sunrise
wisp breeze in aspens

breaking news story,
but still with full attention
to her new born

grey cygnets fret
while the cygnus swims
in white, sunlight

grey tiger cat peep
from beneath the hosta-
curious stranger

deep noon
august heat
in shadows

perseid storm,
crickets about the porch
here upon earth

an extra summer day-
gold finch flying through
black-eyed susans

late summer blooms
deepened in the receding
whispers of sunlight


Oblate cored Jupiter in a mettled density
of hydrogen helium. God strength weight enough
to  magnetically pull sixty seven loyal moons. 
Celestial model component in the lunar sky
of earth, where footprints set down upon
soil sand thought and breath from the gut 
to fall dioxide answers to flight shot questions.
Sifting on a good day, timbre sheen similes
through and through. While on bad, more 
more colossal same. Both, realize spherical
heft, emotive levity, momentary flux structures,
antique color composure from independent 
atmospheric dust. A personal poetic ward
cycled out of ancient physics and physiologic
experience. A song to rise and attract its own. 
                                         after Miles Smiles (side A)


[ Eternity ; Mikalojus Ciurlionis (1906) ]


Not for That City
-- Charlotte Mew 
Not for that city of the level sun,
.....Its golden streets and glittering gates ablaze—
.....The shadeless, sleepless city of white days,
White nights, or nights and days that are as one—
We weary, when all is said , all thought, all done.
 ....We strain our eyes beyond this dusk to see
.....What, from the threshold of eternity
We shall step into. No, I think we shun
The splendour of that everlasting glare,
.....The clamour of that never-ending song.
.....And if for anything we greatly long,
It is for some remote and quiet stair
.....Which winds to silence and a space for sleep
.....Too sound for waking and for dreams too deep.


A Dark Swimming Figure
-- Tomas Tranströmer (trans Robin Fulton) 
About a prehistoric painting
on a rock in the Sahara:
a dark swimming figure
in an old river which is young. 
Without weapons or strategy,
neither at rest nor quick
and cut from his own shadow
gliding on the bed of the stream. 
He struggled to make himself free
from a slumbering green picture,
to come at last to the shore
and be one with his own shadow.



[ Curtain ; Jessica Dessner (2010) ]......................



oh gossamer gossamer breath
moment daylight life untouchable
by no name with no beginning 

what do we think we recognize

--from 'The Wonder of the Imperfect'; W S Merwin (2014)


Duo as the Light is Going
-- W S Merwin 
Those two go on with what they are saying
at the ends of their long
lengthening shadows
while the sun sinks in silence
the one gesturing is Painted On
boasting even in silhouette
to Burned In who in response
says not a thing


[ Summer ; Leo John Meissner (1929) ].....

[via dreaming in the deep south]


Bleecker Street, Summer
--Derek Walcott

Summer for prose and lemons, for nakedness and languor,
for the eternal idleness of the imagined return,
for rare flutes and bare feet, and the August bedroom
of tangled sheets and the Sunday salt, ah violin!

When I press summer dusks together, it is
a month of street accordions and sprinklers
laying the dust, small shadows running from me.

It is music opening and closing, Italia mia, on Bleecker,
ciao, Antonio, and the water-cries of children
tearing the rose-coloured sky in streams of paper;
it is dusk in the nostrils and the smell of water
down littered streets that lead you to no water,
and gathering islands and lemons in the mind.

There is the Hudson, like the sea aflame.
I would undress you in the summer heat,
and laugh and dry your damp flesh if you came.


[ Polka Dots & Moonbeams ; Bud Powell (1953) ]


Summer Syntax
-- Peter Cole 
Saxifrage, arabis, phlox;
lobelia, euphorbia, nasturtium;
coreopsis, guara, flax;
brunnera, salvia, rubrum; 
delphinium, snapdragon, alyssum;
bacopa, yarrow, thyme;
viola, cress, chrysanthemum,
convolvulus and clematis that climb 
over the flowering fescue,
the prairie mallow, and sage,
with Lucerne sisyrinchium to the rescue
of spirit surveying the cage 
of its inching calibrations –
luring us out to stare
into this constellation’s
efflorescence as        everywhere.


Is what most people call mysticism an escape from reality or a means of entry into it with greater intensity? Or maybe that should just be — my standard for mysticism is the same as for poetry: does it make life more interesting or less
Something useful I stumbled on this morning while looking for music that might help me work: Bach’s miraculously microcosmic Inventions, which he titled “honest instruction,” were written for children to teach them how to “discover” the little ideas and starting points that unfold into a piece, and then to move, within exercises in counterpoint, from givenness to song. 
An afterthought about the aesthetic of conduction: Pleasure, certain psychoanalysts have noted, is experienced with the greatest intensity in the momentary dissolution of the ego, physically through orgasm and socially and emotionally through a lower-intensity (sublime and sublimated) love-- which is to say, not in isolation from the ego, but in its giving way to something larger, which might also be smaller. 
That’s not a bad place to start when it comes to what one needs to know as a writer, or even as a reader or scholar or serious seeker, though of course one comes to such things only long after the start. 
Then again, one is always starting. 

-- from The Invention of Influence: A Notebook

[originally published by Poetry and prior to the release of Cole’s eventual 2014 collection, The Invention of Influence]


The perfect state of being human isn't perfection,
it's becoming, the Greek says, ever more real
in nearing but never quite reaching a certain ideal,
like translation. It's deficient. A chronic affection. 

Ancient aspirants imagined perfection
as progress up-- to places on high.
For us the question is can one bring
that heightened vision to an eye? 

Perfection, the feeling philosopher says,
suggest an openness to endless change--
the self in radical revolution
within a self it soon finds strange. 

-- from 'The Perfect State'; Peter Cole

[2014; The Invention of Influence]