We have to be careful with poetry.  It is likely to be like a looking glass in which we enter—and never return.

But of course poetry will immediately laugh, and ask, “Return?  Return to where?”

Poetry should not be laughing, because poetry can swallow us up, and bring us down to Hades—and force us to live in a world without light—it can.

The others, the non-poets, walk about in a cloud of language; language arms them, language lives inside their heads, and yet, in the sunshine, among other non-poets, among painters, and advertising executives, they are free.

Only the poets are forced to live in darkness.

In that darkness fungi grow, and with the gentle lapping of the swamp waters in the back of the poet’s brain, the poet will answer you slowly, “What? What did you say?”

In the fantasy we have just drawn, poets are different; but of course they are not.

The laughter of the poet is true.

The poet cannot be brought anywhere, or returned anywhere.  The poet breathes the fresh air of heaven. And can talk and sing and paint. Poetry just helps the poet a little bit to be in all ways more human.

As da Vinci the painter boasted, poetry means nothing to an animal, but a painter, with his depictions, can fool any bestial eye.

Poems live with humans—but are really not such a bad thing for that.  Animals, after all, are delightful for being like humans; humans are not charming who act like animals.

Denise Duhamel has fashioned a line from deep, human, sorrow. Poetry can travel, if it wishes, into dim realms of human shame:

it’s easy to feel unbeautiful when you have unmet desires

Does this line make us feel sorry for the poet? Or is it beyond the person, and hinting at a secret truth: beauty and desire will always be the same, and in them, feeling and seeing are the same, and this is a torture that kills us all?

Cristina Sánchez López (pictured above) is letting her line of poetry take us upwards, towards the light, even as she gently reminds us with her line that poetry belongs more to hearing and time than to realms or regions—although we know there can be regions of pure sound:

Have you heard strings? They seem like hearts that don’t want to forget themselves.

To forget occurs in time. But what do we forget?  Ourselves. Poetry is the self living in time. Poetry is faith that time will make us beautiful. Poetry belongs to this region, to this region the poets, and those who love them, constantly return.



  1. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 3, 2016 at 7:51 pm


    all images of beauty are effaced
    by the conquerors when they come-
    all images are subdued

    by tribunals who organize
    to excise from the children’s texts:

    “Beauty is truth, truth, beauty.”*
    and all illustrations of ineffable

    the red rose bordered hem of Yeats
    and myriad other singers of the real-
    the true, my shining God-

    are banished

    (by whom and for what purpose?)

    from the coffee houses of the free-

    mary angela douglas 8 november 1997

    *John Keats, “Ode on a Greecian Urn”

  2. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 3, 2016 at 10:32 pm


    what difference is it who the singer is
    as long as the Song gets sung
    where the funeral is as long

    as the bell is rung
    we quibble over crumbs
    and miss the Feast because of envy

    quarrels, secret greed
    meanwhile the meal is ruined and
    we have lost all wars

    not knowing that all songs are ours
    and life and death, and all the depths
    of Beauty that there are are ours for

    being (then we are more, not less) glad
    in someone else’s happiness.

    mary angela douglas 3 april 2016

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      April 3, 2016 at 11:32 pm


      they keep you in the box sometimes I think, Jesus,
      like a doll they got for Christmas real expensive
      and though it is a beautiful box all white and gold

      with a light blue top and stars on the
      surface like gold gilt
      that won’t come off that easily (we tried)

      little candles inside that flicker on and
      off like a Christmas display
      I wonder if you feel stifled there.

      with all the cantatas.

      I think you liked fresh air, the open skies and
      sleeping out of doors near the olive trees
      where you could count the stars.

      I think you were something more than the best
      we can think of you in Sunday school
      in our little flounced dresses

      our pearl button gloves.
      or even on our own at home, in stray moments wondering,
      before being called to supper-

      who you were were you

      more beautiful than stained glass though you were shattered
      like glass in the end yet all the pieces
      came together again and so will we

      and when they saw you next
      you cooked them breakfast
      fish most real

      maybe with some kind of native fruit peel
      and you were there and
      we are here now

      with our guessing games somehow
      only knowing that you came
      and that you love us still.

      mary angela douglas 3 april 2016

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        April 4, 2016 at 2:15 pm


        may you learn faster than we did
        how fast Time can run off the pages of your readers
        trailing a scarlet vine

        leaving the winds in its wake and
        you can wake to find all fairy tales departed.
        oh my hearts, my valentines

        outstretched, your hands in winter time I see
        where the windows have vanished where
        your coloured pencils shone

        on little portraits taped there and the glow of them
        more than stained glass.
        what is the past did any child ever ask did we even

        hear the word or were our ears stopped up with snow
        by our better angels pending the time to go

        mary angela douglas 4 april 2016

        • maryangeladouglas said,

          April 4, 2016 at 3:28 pm


          starting a flower garden in your room
          you begin to water the walls then the rains come in
          to help you, small leaves grow

          tomatoes glow a little surprised to be there
          have some salad! pluck a rose.
          there’s more where that came from

          how soft the petaled carpet feels beneath your feet
          and perfumed sleep and now the winds blow through
          and now the ceiling’s blue and clearing

          the small birds sing near the radiator
          and the newborn cherries.
          and you no longer get groceries

          of a Saturday.

          mary angela douglas 4 april 2016

  3. noochinator said,

    April 4, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Tomas, can you paste in the Cristina Sánchez López poem from which the line was taken? Many of us aren’t on F-book — I would never sign up for an F-book account unless I got a job as Anne Hathaway’s intern…..

  4. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 4, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    I think and strongly feel Christina Sanchez Lopez line about strings being like hearts that can’t forget themselves and put so exquisitely as a question to the reader is a line on the highest peak of poetry perched. In one strand, or string of her violin possibly poetry I completely changed the way I thought about music. This is incredible. Thank you Christina Sanchez Lopez. Such beauty does not come by accident. Thank you for whatever you endured to compose such a beautiful fantastic line.

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      April 4, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      regarding Christina Sanchez Lopez, my comment, the phrase violin possibly poetry does NOT mean she is writing, possibly, poetry. It just is shorthand for saying I wanted to hyphenate, coin like Rilke (and he has beautiful lines on violins too) a phrase, violin-poetry to describe her line but then I realized through that line her poetry should be like the entire strings section of the orchestra or else referencing everything possibly every played by the violin and this is beyond expression in English so I will just leave it there and go listen to Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg or Maxim Vengerov of David Oistrakh as if I never heard it before.

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        April 4, 2016 at 3:45 pm

        please fix my typos if you have a chance Tom. I was too overcome by the beauty of the line. This is a real unity of poetry and music what she wrote.

  5. thomasbrady said,

    April 4, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    If the moon knows dying, if it is a fundamental symbol of those hearts, which know, using their silence, that it was an impossible coin. We will have to be like the winter, which doesn’t accept any cage, except for our eyes. Have you heard its strings? They seem like hearts which don’t want to forget themselves. –CSL

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      April 4, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      THANK YOU TOM FOR POSTING THIS. HOW INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL THE WHOLE IS. Do you know of any place to read more of her poetry? I couldn’t find her at all online. It is not a mistake you found this poet as you are always striving to elucidate so beautifully all the affiliations of poetry and music!

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        April 4, 2016 at 3:57 pm

        it’s kind of mysterious, isn’t it that without seeing Christina’s poem I used the word coin in my comment on it, also a word, unusual word in her poem (for the moon, or poetic emotion associated with the moon).

        The word coin must have been shining through the mists of the one line.

        • maryangeladouglas said,

          April 4, 2016 at 4:46 pm

          I had an unusual experience (for me anyway) with the line from Christina Lopez’ poem. When I first saw it I rejected it out of hand because I feel so certain that the most beautiful music is completely unaware of itself and also the same for the person interpreting it. But all of a sudden early this morning when I looked at the line again, as I looked at it, it triggered an audio memory of strings as I’ve heard them so many times in so many pieces recorded and sometimes, in concerts by friends and I heard in my mind the pervasive insistence of strings above all other planes of the music and it hit me like thunder that this is really true. Then in her poem I saw she was referring in a way to the waning music of the spheres but still, the feeling remains of music having been altered, or rather a lifelong perception of music having been altered by ONE LINE OF POETRY. So I am so glad Thomas that you insisted on what YOU heard in your innermost thought that the line of the poem considered in and of itself is a rarity worthy of distinct consideration. I know this is too many words on the subject but it is a kind of epiphany for real I experienced and I though I was long past epiphanies. April is not, therefore, the cruelest month even if the name of the game is March Madness.

          • maryangeladouglas said,

            April 4, 2016 at 4:48 pm

            I thought, not I though I was long past epiphanies. Thank you for not using a red pencil on my comments.

      • thomasbrady said,

        April 4, 2016 at 8:07 pm


        I discovered this amazing poet on Facebook. Spanish is her first language. Her “fugitive” verses live on the internet. She is a very, very nice person.


        • maryangeladouglas said,

          April 4, 2016 at 9:16 pm

          Thank you very miuch for the information, Tom. About both her poetry and her character. That is heartening to know. It’s extremely interesting to me as well that Spanish is her first language because when I read Christina Sanchez Lopez’ poem the way you posted it I felt this could have been translated from another language it has such an unusual density and fragility at the same time and maybe it was in way translated at least through her mind in that way. You discovered gold. It’s such a condensation of lyricism it’s almost heart stopping but thank God in ref. to my recent health scare and phobia. figuratively, not literally.

  6. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 4, 2016 at 10:49 pm


    that you had adventures maybe you should keep to yourself
    they’ll never believe they happened to you
    why her, and not me (or him, as the case may be)

    the mousy one, the one who just showed up for the day
    while so and so’s been laid up our fave
    who’s been here for a thousand years and

    knows her stuff, not this newbie.

    and then the whispering burns your ears
    while they’re all on break together or
    dining at the Ritz while you’re at the switchboard

    on the fritz

    praying, God, please dont let them call
    don’t leave me in this pit and they’re
    not talking about the weather that’s for sure

    or trading tips on nail polish, recent hues, oh no,

    but for how much longer are…?
    they’re going to have to endure
    your presence here, you bumpkin.

    you take your lumps of sugar
    and depart from the little cart
    in the hall with the leftover Danish

    to the park across the street, thank God’s it’s there
    not like those industrial parks in the middle of nowhere=
    with its pink trees, cracked fountain, non essential squirrels.

    mustard, please you say at the hotdog stand

    and wish you could fake the flu
    or be let off at 2 due to a small fire or something.
    a summer blizzard.

    but you’re a new hire if you get that far
    and it looks like

    you’re always going to be
    that dreaded thing called temporary.
    and yet, in light of Eternity you smile and think

    when it comes down to it
    we’re pretty much all temporary.

    mary angela douglas 4 april 2016

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      April 5, 2016 at 1:12 am


      in your mind you are the most beautiful dancer
      little girl, practicing in the corner your made up things
      so that the whole world throws flowers at your feet

      as you twirl and of course it’s all the flowers in the world
      even the ones you don’t have names for yet.
      and you think you’re like a jewel box ballerina or

      the one on the birthday cake of pink and cream.
      and then you think of wedding cake dolls a little distracted
      and wonder how would it feel to live on the top layer

      with all that white frosting. silver beading.
      sometimes you whirl to make yourself dizzy
      thinking this must be the way they practice

      and you make the steps you’ve seen in the
      Easter grass and in your dress no longer clean
      with its bright sash.

      how long will this last your Grandmother wonders
      that you will wander from dream to dream
      jumping from stone to stone in a crystal creek

      in the wilderness

      eating strawberries, sewing a fine seam and then,
      going to get ice cream, you always order the pink kind.
      it’s long ago in the long ago these things happened.

      and you still daydream they’re all flinging flowers at you
      and you’re up there in lilac toeshoes. a frothy tutu.
      or waltz length, the best.

      well, sometimes, you do!

      mary angela douglas 4 april 2016

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        April 5, 2016 at 3:51 am


        we make useful things: things that won’t shatter.
        we make useful things, things that Matter.
        think of a wave on the sea, I said;

        think of a butterfly wing
        crumbling to dust,
        gold spotted;

        they said weeping in lead.
        you are besotted.
        think of the rainbow edge

        fluted along the floods
        think of the mists that shrives
        those in the house of sod.

        and then the prairie rose
        that no one has to mind
        that glows in the mud

        and the snow and the summers
        honey hived.
        these makers may stand and cheer

        that long may their items survive.

        but whatever is made by God
        is the thing that has been alive.

        mary angela douglas 4 april 2016

        • maryangeladouglas said,

          April 5, 2016 at 4:28 am

          And will live again.

          • maryangeladouglas said,

            April 5, 2016 at 3:52 pm

            P.S. To think, as in Tom Graves above essay of the poem, of Poetry as asking: ‘Return, return to where?’ and laughing is the most felicitous thing I have ever read in an essay on any subject

  7. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 5, 2016 at 4:05 pm


    it is very unsettling to be here she thought
    but here I am without even a traveling case;
    a writing desk one gets for Christmas, sometimes;

    the kind you would hold in your lap
    writing tinted postcards.
    I do observe manners;it doesn’t help

    and the books keep falling off the shelves

    in the wind tunnel.
    stereoscopically speaking
    there is a slight breeze in a toy forest.
    this helps.

    and clouds.

    everything else is a jurisdiction, somehow
    I will learn to live with these inconsistencies
    and no one impressed with my spelling.

    there are roses on the trees.
    I will focus on that.

    mary angela douglas 5 april 2016

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