When the muse looked in on me,
I suppose she was just being kind,
But I don’t like to see
Anyone reading my mind.

When the muse looked in on me,
My poem was almost done.
The purple clouds nearly covering
The marvelous, setting sun.

She smiled at the clouds,
She smiled at the sun.
Then she looked at me as if to ask,
Are you sure you’re almost done?

Is the sunset the way you want it?
Because I’ll change everything, for free.
It was something about the way she said it.
The poet wasn’t me.


  1. Mary Douglas said,

    December 1, 2014 at 7:17 am

    a very happy thing to know that flying in the face of current (stifling) poetic codes a contemporary poet known as Thomas Graves wrote a poem about a muse of the purple clouds, the effect of the poem itself being its own sunset aftermirage on several readings – every time…

    I hope you write many more (and sunrise poems too). And there is a riddle in this poem too. The blending of the Romantic tradition with the immediate almost colloquial in a lot of these poems is really refreshing and I wish I could say this better.

    • thomasbrady said,

      December 1, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      Thank you, Mary, for ‘getting it.’ That is the best gift you can give someone: to understand them. And you understand. I am consciously pursuing a revolution in Poetry, in Letters, and Culture. Some say, ‘poetry is a minor pursuit and it matters little.’ No. All this matters very much.

  2. Mary Douglas said,

    December 1, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    The feeling of it ‘mattering very much’ seems to me the very heart that has been cut out of Poetry and of our culture by the self-serving and the sleeping. The feeling of it ‘mattering very much’ shines out from the poets of the past you champion and from your own poems and from the paintings you choose to accompany them. Never to lose this feeling of it mattering is my only goal for the New Year. With that, everything is possible. Without it, nothing is. So, also, I imagine the world mattering to God and all that flows from that…

    I wish you (and all of us) every victory.

    • thomasbrady said,

      December 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Maybe that is what God is: the vast, inexplicable sense of ‘it matters.’ From that, our work, our joy, even in our ignorance, springs.

      By the way, I made a small alteration in my poem, changing “quick,” a word in the poem I didn’t quite like, to “everything.”

      All blessings to you, Mary…

  3. Mary Douglas said,

    December 1, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    “Everything” does fit better there as a quality of this particular muse, well, I think so. The way you described thinking of God is stunning to me and something I would like to ponder more. Though I love most of all thinking of Him through the poetry of the King James scriptures, really, I think of Him through everything and as many ways as possible and I find no contradiction in doing that at all. He like us I believe is most of all a Poet who wants to be understood or at least for people to make their best, wholehearted attempt in everything they do, think, and feel, as if it (He, we) matter(s).

    I don’t often enter poetry contests, or submit poems to magazines because rejection is so devastating to me but last year I entered a poetry contest in my home state (and through the same university my father taught journalism at the last ten years of his career – he was a newspaperman before) and when I didn’t win anything (there were supposed to be four prizes given in July of this year: mysteriously they decided to only give one which also made it more galling) I felt more heartbroken than ever. And I did feel what is the use. I didn’t do it for fame or money or even to have my work published. I just did it out of love for my home state and to honor my Dad somehow-After I got over my disappointment, though I did appreciate greatly the person they chose as he seemed a little like a reincarnation of Thomas Wolfe (on his own terms, of course!)

    But I think really with the internet perhaps the poets now are not forced to jump through these very painful and baffling hoops of asking permission in a sense to be acknowledged. Also I think making handmade books would be a treasuring thing to do for the history of poetry. I wonder, have you ever done that? With your feeling for art as well I am sure you could make a thing of beauty. Actually, when I read the purple cloud muse poem I suddenly saw you writing a play in which the Poet as a kind off allegorical figure would appear drifting in and out of other scenes. And of course, speaking lines from your poems.

    I hope you will experiment with many forms and to your heart’s delight and mind’s satisfaction because you have many years ahead of you and you have a rare courage to write things exactly the way it feels to you and without compromise. I appreciate as well the cogency of your essays which compels me to read them even when I may not always agree with them or with every point made. At the very least, they always make me think harder as do the comments of others here.

    I pray for all poets here (as well as myself) who are seeking a new path every day. The main thing I hope for them as for myself is not to get discouraged and throw in the towel and your sterling effort here and the freshness also of the individiual contributors to this blog has made a huge difference in my outlook even this late in the year and this late in my life.

    I think it is possible to accomplish a lot even late in life even feeling time has passed us by if only we don’t lose heart and having just finished the first year of my retirement I realize more and more that it is possibly mysteriously to multiply time beyond the given calendar to accomplish, to comprehend, and to learn more than we dreamed possible in the beginning and to the very end and last breath.

    Forgive my long-windedness (everyone) and thank you for all the inspiration!

  4. Mary Douglas said,

    December 1, 2014 at 4:09 pm



    [“Music, breathing of statues, perhaps…”
    -Rainer Maria Rilke

    [to the memory of my sister and I playing swing-a-statue
    in the dew bright grass. Just before supper…
    [for MBY and LWY, the “Grown-ups” in this Play]

    all Beauty was a doorway into God:
    the latch that chimed, the secret Spring in winter’s hues
    the hidden passageways we knew, the playhouse played
    whose brick was laid so well where few could see
    its lemon candied Sun above
    when we came home from school; new jump rope rules;

    the small room colored in, pale blue
    the wind that sailed the cherry petals
    sown and just as you were taking your first steps
    in a sunshine ruffled gown near the Rose Garden

    (and with a pink parasol, balancing.)

    or watching a Grown-up pull the taffy of a smile from you
    by winding up the pull-toy moon or
    showing you the latest lady bug perched

    dilly down down from a Grown-up’s point of view
    with its own cuticle moon rising or setting.
    or on a slender thread of grass as dear
    as the orange nasturtium we loved…

    enchantment only grew and grew
    when measuring the birthday shadow of a dream
    that flickered when you blew the candles out
    on the rose crowned cakes. year on shining year
    what was it whispered in your ear, oh, stay…

    now they want Change: too chic, too late
    to find the doorway or the gate, the baby star
    the thistledown sigh

    and Poetry is run off in a ditch-
    I don’t know why
    and the apricot cupolas singed
    on every fairy tale page.

    and those who talk among the stars
    or feel they do, are half in love
    with only Magnitude-
    and miss, sheer Light

    misreading the music as the end
    of the One who made it shine in them
    on all those peerless afternoons

    mary angela douglas 7, 8, 10 february 2013

    • Andrew said,

      December 4, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      all Beauty was a doorway into God:
      the latch that chimed, the secret Spring in winter’s hues
      the hidden passageways we knew, the playhouse played
      whose brick was laid so well where few could see
      its lemon candied Sun above […]

      These are beautiful lines that remind me of a favorite song and an image:

      • Mary Douglas said,

        December 4, 2014 at 2:20 pm

        very lovely song, very wistful and joyful at the same time;musically, a rare and difficult combination. i loved the lines (translated in the poem) “the house the house that is to come”.

  5. thomasbrady said,

    December 2, 2014 at 7:48 pm


    The internet is wonderful. Look at this blog. I can publish what I want without having to grovel before editors. Poe actually talked about this, before the internet. Well, he was ahead of his time in so many ways. The ‘official stamp’ of editors/publishers is hollow. Self-publishing is the glory of the genius.

    Contests and such are silly, often fixed, at best a decent excuse, I suppose, to raise some money on entry fees to publish someone’s book. discovered some of the contest frauds. Awards tend to work in the same corrupt manner. “Who you know,” etc etc Byron knew Shelley, fine, but they didn’t give each other awards or write sweet reviews for one another.

    Sorry you had to go through the heartbreak of a contest submission.

    Your poetry is exquisite—every one of your poems has a line, phrase, or stanza that stands out as breathtaking work of the first order. In the poem above, “misreading the music as the end/of the One who made it shine in them/on all those peerless afternoons” and the sweet, dainty, child-like moments? They will lose you the rough, modern, over-sophisticated reader, perhaps, but why should you stoop to them?


  6. Mary Douglas said,

    December 2, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Thank you Tom for your kind comments. More and more I am starting to think, like you, that the Internet is the way of true freedom for all sincere poets and writers for the very reason you state: there is no need to grovel, there is no need to “know the right people” (whatever the heck that was ever supposed to mean). It allows for total creative freedom without the requisite humiliation and waiting on godots.

    It has intrigued me for a long time how much of academia and journalism (especially the upper echelons and, in every field!) from the very beginning of even the possibility of anyone and everyone having their own blog-has expressed extreme displeasure, disdain and ridicule. But then I think of all those writers and artists of the past who basically got crucified by dishonest critics and the literary establishment or downgraded socially or in other more nuanced ways and how sensitive all these individuals are (and wee) – and it is truly breathtaking to imagine a future where all artists can be free of this forever!

    This is wonderful. This is miraculous. And it’s why I pray every day for the free and open aspects of the Internet to remain that way and it does require prayer because of course – there remain those on earth who want to dominate and choke off everything-and be the billy goats gruff exacting their toll on the bridge that really isn’t theirs and the kings exacting tribute in a kingless (supposedly) land.

    Thank you for your remarks about my poems. I am happy with my blog too. My own plot of land…sigh…(happy sigh). A little garden enclosed.

    Thank you for reminding me of this. We don’t really need them anymore (the self proclaimed arbiters, moguls of culture, publishing controlling the purse strings). When you don’t even care about getting paid for it you are even more free, I think.

    I have also taken note of a quite snippy fact that many literary magazines (both print and ezines) and prominent contests disallow work published on the internet (even in blogs) in categories where they require the work to be “previously unpublished”. This includes the poetry foundation.

    I think this is really disingeneous on their part.

    • Mary Douglas said,

      December 2, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      oops. I shrunk everyone down by my semi scottish typo- as in “how sensitive all those artists are (and wee)”

      I guess they felt that way after dealing with the Machine of their particular epoch

      but anyway, wee should be were! I can’t stop laughing. This used to happen to me as a temp on admin assignments. I typed quite fast and made few typos but the ones I made were always somehow embarrassing and blithely skipped over by spell check being, still, actual words.

      God’s way of keeping me from pride. I should be the most humble person on earth by now.

      • Mary Douglas said,

        December 2, 2014 at 10:51 pm

        and disingenuous (not disingeneous) I really did know how to spell that, honest.

  7. Mary Douglas said,

    December 2, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Your comment about the Romantic poets not giving each other awards really made me laugh (can you imagine especially Byron presenting a trophy to anyone?) and really illuminates the absurdity of it nowadays
    and for a long time, the endlessly looping award treadmill… I did remember about fifteen years ago the realization finally struck me “they keep giving prizes to the same people over and over” and I wondered, why don’t they at least pick someone new, who never got anything before?

    And finally the resemblance to the Girl Scouts struck me (all those badges). I quit in third grade after being a Brownie (the first year). I couldn’t stand it even then. My grandmother was quite sympathetic and empathetic about it which is one of many reasons why so many of my poems are for her.

  8. J. Scott said,

    December 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Nice painting. Juvenile poem.

    • thomasbrady said,

      December 4, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      Poetry which strives with painting tends to come across that way. Glad you like the painting.

      • Ashu अशु said,

        January 14, 2015 at 10:27 am

        This time, it strove and won. They deserve each other.

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