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When you express yourself like this,

What can you say to me?

I guess all I can do is kiss

You and hug you and let you sleep.

Everyone reads your poetry.

Looks at your paintings divine.

You make men pause and women, weep.

There is no bottle that holds such a wine.

There is no city that contains

A gift I could give you. I go outside. It rains.

I march around between ten and two

And maybe some people wonder what I do,

Or wonder if there is a moon in the sky

That’s also a sun, and can I explain why

The revolution in the mountains

Has not spread to the sea.

When you express yourself in art,

What can you say to me?







Image result for mozart in painting

If you visit me, I will kiss you with music and compliments;

Not real kisses, for those belong

To her, nor can I give you actual song,

For I am no Mozart mathematician,

Or his modern variation, Beethoven,

Who can build and smoothly confer

Pleasure—as pleasing as kisses from her.

But you will get compliments from me,

On your learning and your beauty,

In the form of the kindest poetry

If you visit me.

I will compliment your beauty

Which only compliments like mine,

As they remove all doubts, affirm

Thoughts which will otherwise die.

If you visit me

Poetry will come, without even having to try.









Image result for lost in the woods in renaissance painting

The woman is offended, and the man cannot come near.

The man remains alone to cry his unmanly tear.

The woman is offended and must remain apart

As the man penetrates in sorrow the caves of his sorrowful heart.

The woman is offended, and would be offended more

If the man wept, ashamed, a little distance from her door.

The man must never show his repentant, weeping face.

The loving man fades—and the lawyer takes his place.

Understanding tears will not water the garden again.

The profit of the lawyer needs women—to hate men.

The gardens of love, with their flowers divine,

Are watered by love, but a lawyer draws the line:

The woman is offended, and the man cannot come near.

The man remains alone and cries his unmanly tear.

Love—wise but fragile, life’s glory—is easily ended.

It ends. In pain, she remains—forever offended.

Innocent heart. Write her poems. Make them good.

Young lover! Worship her! But walk carefully in this wood.






Image result for a strong woman in painting

The filthy meaning of woman’s love

Ostracizes me. When I was a boy, a boy a boy could shove;

I never touched a girl—as evil as the male, maybe more,

Kissing, not kissing—provoking men to war.

The weak is what we love:

Tender. Delicate. Wayward. A cooing dove.

When you have children, you see

A girl is not really dainty.

That’s the illusion which the illusion is permitted, as an illusion, to mock.

But nothing is soft, only moving; every single heart is shale, granite, rock.

Child mortality makes females strong.

Women are practical. It’s the man who sings the heartbroken song.

The greatest strategy of the strong is to appear weak.

She will produce children, poetry—and the strong are unable to speak.

In the weak position, the offended take revenge.

Her poetry has vanished. Out of the mist, Stonehenge.

Here is the religion which washes up on the shore,

Asking for submission. And more. And more.

Tell me I am weak, because I write verse,

And I will write verses even more.

I’ll write a thousand poems and send them off to war.







Image result for underworld in renaissance painting

Because you are gone, lost to love and all,
And not even your shadow remains,
I must talk to everyone when I talk to you, little one.
You and I both belong to remembrance:
You, remembered, I, the one who remembers,
The saddest thing the living do,
The mourner walks in a sorrowful trance towards you.
Your little grave is larger than a star
Which holds me, and our planet, and all we are
In its starry burning;
Time, the world turning,
And that motion
The thing that started things, not time.
Because you do not move I must move towards you in my rhyme.
You no longer die. I do.
I am false unless I die towards you.
Down into the unfathomable, I ride,
Like the ancient heroes who swam in hell’s tide,
The shadowy undersea light of Hades
With wavering shadows of dead souls on every side.
Strange valley that waves under the sea
Under the growth of death which cries
Like the crying of cries in luminosity.
But you are not there.
Only the seaweed which waves like softly drifting hair.
Only the darkness which runs
Like fish running, a million underwater suns.
Only a fear
Which is merely a tear.
Only the folly
Of falling citizens who are still jolly.
Only the partially gone
Who wander on.
Only the listening ear
Of a little one forced to hear my song,
Who is not here.



Image result for silly professor

The business professor has been talking of things

Understood by the businessman in the pit.

Government money flows freely.

Only after the student graduated, did he get it.

Now you see him hanging around the school.

He has an investment strategy designed for the fool.

The working class pays for liberal arts at the college,

Liberalism distorting debt and knowledge.

Psychology courses are embarrassing, private, thin.

Admissions wants you. Later you’ll understand why you got in.

The deans are worried. They need more deans.

The plan is for more money.  Soon you’ll see what that means.





Image result for beauties sleeping in painting

The beauties are asleep; lone, tired,

Having, at length, succumbed to love,

In some late, moonlit hour, when sweet defense

Fell. The early part of the evening was tense.

Old loves were argued and renewed half-heartedly

As if they could live again, but always the past is mired,

Always the old waves look documented and strange,

Once looking fresh and new, the sea

A painting now, quiet, unsure of its range.

But here in the café at eight in the morning I remember something new

And confident because of that, the moments

Moving into each other. Or, isn’t that you?

That was you; gravity, yes, but something else is changing you.

This one always looks the same, and yet, by slow degrees

Love creeps on, but this one renews her look ingeniously,

Until, when she looks her best, I fall utterly.

But these are passing observations. Why can’t I say

What is literary and meaningful? I can spend an entire day

Irritated with others, needing to work on my poetry alone;

Solitude is especially attractive after the hunt,

When the environment was controlled by a river breeze,

The attractive types smiling in the early evening

Before the onslaught of quiet disappointment, more grief

Than the giddy ones were prepared to feel

When the facts of the littered park stood out in contrast

To the drunk’s swelling, failed, embittered, belief

That it really is okay, it is okay,

ah, intoxication! But now it’s another day,

And the swarms of highly unattractive and loud

Women are ordering breakfast, the café

Is ruined, old men with silly hats have so much to say.

But the beauties are asleep, except this waitress,

Dressed simply in black; she is awake,

Patient and beautiful, for everyone’s sake.


Image result for abstract painting hate

Mad with desire, madly in love, hungry, unable to keep still,

Love makes me restless and unhappy,

Thanks to love, I lack accuracy and will.

Love makes me pitiful, sad, unmanly, creepy, sappy,

Untrustworthy, discontent, unable to sleep.

Love? It sends me to the ends of the earth. To weep.

All wisdom tells us love is better than hate,

But the wise are not even partially right—they are wrong.

And in love, and loving love, I excoriate love in my song.

My beautiful love, the one whom I love, is angry every day.

Her hatred makes her content; sick of my desire, she feels

The emotion which triumphs in itself; because she hates,

She doesn’t need, or want, the crushed lover, who waits.

She hates the lover, the lover’s needs, hates his desire,

And therefore her hate is a steady, patient, fire

Which desires nothing, for love is desire;

Anger, her steady, calm, bright, and purging fire.

In her anger, she is happy to close the door and be alone.

Hate is the army playing cards, the queen blessed, the solid throne,

Anger, the triumph of the warrior, the male winning his way

Into the valley of the dark which hides the redundant day.

Love whines and cries, pins all on hope, and is too lazy to pay his bills.

Love is poverty and debauch and it’s love, not hate, who, furious with desire, kills.






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“I learn from people” —Socrates, The Phaedrus

Of one thing I am certain:

The secret to life is the curtain.

In the blizzard of facts

You have to notice how the person acts.

Love and desire depends

On the curtain, and when love ends

With its union, the curtain’s division,

The fact between here and there broken,

Clothing comes off and we see what’s there,

Behind the curtain, pleasurable, embarrassed sighs,

The secret, delicate hair.

The allure of what’s hidden by the curtain

Drives everything that’s mysterious, and finally, certain.

In triumph, we part the curtain and walk

Into the mystery. And then we talk,

And in our talk, more curtains arise,

Curtains in the world and curtains in the eyes,

Until the couple who thought they had become one

Find their passionate, unified love is cruelly undone;

Suddenly all that was loved, is hated.

We broke the curtain. But these holy, happy ones? They waited.


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The flower will think itself a stem.

The flower will cling to roots—and listen to them.

The flower will fear the light

And let the message of the stem ignite

Fear and trepidation, as the role

Of different parts confuses the whole.

The way your stem sways

Is a boon to my days.

The gathering your roots do

Is surely a benefit to you.

But I want your flower to see

How beautiful your flower is to me.

Your flower, in the light,

Is better than the root and its night.

Your face is the reason for nothing but clothes,

The reason for every root and every stem—

Your face is much better than those.

Your beautiful face embarrasses them.





Image result for abstract painting fire engine red

My love sent 20 fire trucks when I burned the toast.

My love hunted me down and jailed me when I crossed the border by accident.

My love sent me from the university when I wrote the wrong word.

My love arranged to have me married to her.

My love blew herself up after crying out in adoration my holy name.

My love waited in the dark, ambushed me and imprisoned me to stare at me.

My love aborted me for a good reason as I cried out in the dark.

My love had me, held me up to the light, and then devoted her life to me.

Afraid I might be hit by a fire truck, I told my love goodbye.



The Scarriet editor’s morning commute.

Do you care about others? Sucker.

Oscar Wilde’s father had three illegitimate children when he married Oscar’s mother—they were raised as cousins by other family members. Wilde’s family, Irish Catholic, was despised by the ruling Brits. Oscar Wilde had two children with a beautiful woman who was courted by Bram Stoker, author of Dracula.  Oscar Wilde’s U.S. tour made him famous and loved. The trial in England which ruined him was due to class, not homosexuality—Wilde threatened violence to an English aristocrat who left him a calling card with the word “sodomite” on it, seen by one other person; Wilde brought the slander suit, which sealed his doom, unable to see his wife or children at the end of his life.

My heavy thoughts keep my laughter aloft.

Islam and Feminism will fall in love and save mankind.

Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” is a poem—with discrete rhymes. Poetry has no public. Wait. It does. 143 million views on You Tube for “Video Games.”

I didn’t talk to you because I love you. Because I wanted to.

You’re so miserable, I can tell exactly what you’re thinking.

Happiness hides thoughts. Misery reveals them.

You don’t know someone by their mind. The mind is what you never know.

No one knows what anyone else is thinking. Happily.

Remember when the Rolling Stones were good?  “2,000 Light Years From Home”

I was at the Grolier bookstore in Harvard Square on the evening of February 17 for the SpoKe issue no. 4 reading, Kevin Gallagher, editor.  I have two pieces in the issue on Romanian poetry, one on the poet Dan Sociu—both solicited by Ben Mazer.

Jeff Bezos, owner of Washington Post, does business with the CIA, through Amazon—a recent $600 million contract. Holy crap.

Politics is hearsay, science observation.



Image result for a cold glass of water

I don’t think it was you. I don’t think it was me.

Were you blind, too? Did you see?

My emotions conquered me.

I remember, before a kiss, drinking a cold glass of water;

In all my love adventures, that strange contrast is what I most remember.

That sudden cold drink. I don’t remember her.

I changed my mind a thousand times

In those years when I was beautiful, and making rhymes

And had curls and curls of dark brown hair

And woke, forgetting her.  And nothing was fair.

It is the greatest joy

When girlish qualities inhabit a boy

Who is yet a man and poetry

Gets you through it all even when you are a jerk and that’s what happened to me.

I made too much of those vain attempts. I wept thoroughly

For others’ verse. I derided and left it for dead in my poetry.

I suffered in the brown rooms

But recovered in well-lit ones.

You should have seen those rectangular rooms! And the furniture!

The women came and went. Even her.

Emotions! But love is not these things!

Love flowed away in the advice they gave me.

Love lies in the cold and icy springs.



Image result for two lovers outside the theater in painting

You were at the center of my song.

Why did you make what was beautiful, ugly and wrong?

You loved my insights and my face.

Two who love, and always love, cannot know disgrace.

Why do you value choice when the choice destroys

All other choices and all other joys?

Is it worth choosing, if the choice rips

What can choose away?

Why let a moment ruin the entire day?

Life is simple, why do we look for tips?

Look at life! All these girls and boys…

The only choice I want: when to kiss your lips—

Now, or when night brings a vow, a poem, a play?






It is always best to argue from simple truths; the details are interesting, but not necessary; if they were, no decision or action based on thought would be possible.

Truth is dynamic; it doesn’t curl up passively with a bunch of facts—the passive/aggressive fact-checkers never seem to understand this.

Statistics are for losers. Winning is the only thing. History is written by the winners.

But when a fact, lost to all, suddenly turns up and puts the smiling villain in jail, we exult, we cheer the triumph of justice. Colombo turns on his heel as he is about to exit, and asks one more question. Every interesting crime show, every movie of thoughtful demeanor; romance, comedy, tragedy—all hinge on a detail hidden from view, until the denouement reveals it.

But the important hidden fact was hidden by other facts—clarity and truth occur when we get clear of unnecessary facts and details.

Truth is complex; every situation in life is immensely complex: a picture, a video, a view, a vow, a law, a kiss, a structure, an assemblage, an idea, a thought—all so complex that comprehension and action are blind when confronting the infinite factual complexity of even the simplest things life presents to us.

Truth is complex, but it always emerges simply.

The very simple is not truthful; but the truthful is always very simple in our understanding of it.

A mountain of facts hides the truth, even as the truth is a mountain of facts. Facts hide themselves in the truth—what finds the truth is not the truth.

Simplicity hates and betrays all that is detailed and true until that moment when simplicity finds what is true.

Hate, the opposite of love, finally comes to it.

Love is always the goal; hate, looking for love, always the opposite of love, the seeker; love cannot search for love, truth cannot look for truth, the good cannot find good. I told many half-truths to get here, my love, and I am here because of you. The ambiguous assertions are in the past, always in the past, just as facts and more facts unnecessarily clog up our days.

We now live in an Information Age, such that ignorance is sexy like never before. The more information there is, the more of it must be ignored to find the truth. The success of Trump demonstrates this, to the wailing and whining horror of the educated Left.

Not that ‘too many facts as the enemy of truth’ is lost on the Left.

I realize I am stating a truism.

Everyone confronts “inconvenient” facts—doctored data, religious and philosophical contradictions, party-platform gaps in logic, dearly held beliefs with hidden flaws, old actions or quotes from our former selves—anxiety greets us all—more, the more we are in the public eye—as we desperately patch daily the leaks in our ideological and personal boats. Whether we are a Facebook opining Buddhist monk or Catholic priest, a Muslim American feminist, a gay conservative, or anyone who is terribly honest with their opinions, we struggle daily to make our ideas fit with the world, and more and more in this Information Age we live in, it gives us fits.

Even comedians are crashing and burning these days. Sages of the comedic left are having an especially hard time; the rapaciously principled right are now having their moment in the sun; even comedy is moving to the right; the right is, at this moment, funnier than the left—which has dominated the talking classes since the Kennedy/Nixon debates. Almost overnight, the Left finds itself trapped in a politically-correct corner, making nasty faces—a scared, anti-free speech, rat. The impulse could be said to be the same on the Right. Close the borders ‘to be safe.’ The left is shutting up the right ‘to be safe.’ Fear is messing everybody up.

No one is immune. As I write this piece, in a calm, logical, state of mind, I hear some readers in my ear, “You support Trump, that ASSHOLE, you ASSHOLE???”  Even though I haven’t defended Trump at all; the ‘triggered’ tend not to be discerning, but I realize “success of Trump” and comparing the left to a “rat” will damn me in some minds forever.

There is the truth, and then ‘how the truth gets talked about,’ and they are not the same. I do not pretend to know much about the former; I’m only attempting some advice about the latter.

Here’s how to make sense of all this, and the simpler, the better:

There are two impulses, that of Greece and Rome. Community and Empire.

Community is where “reasonable” people, friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, interact;the life most of us know most of the time. This is the realm of cat photos and birthday parties. Conversation. Sleep. Cleaning. Work.

Empire is where political and religious differences exist, aesthetic judgment, the world of Hillary and Trump. Empire is where human beings on a grand scale are managed. United, divided, and motivated.

We all live in both places. Uneasily. Because these two worlds are very different, yet they constantly bleed into each other, and impact each other, and judge each other.

The Empire is more abstract, more distant, and yet it has the upper hand. Poor people, people with less education, resent the Empire, and just want to live in a community. But when the poor, or anyone outside the thinking of the Empire, get ambitious, they make a move toward Empire; for all ambitious people strive to take part, in some way, in the ways of the Empire.

In the community, religion is habit, tradition, culture, ceremony.

In the Empire, religion is theology, mass good, mass evil, terrorism, conformity, ignorance, or enlightenment.

This divide, community and empire, is simple and real.

It is at the heart of every single conflict today.

And the complexity arises because of differences which continually flow in two different directions: debates within the empire—vital, significant, often violent, where the ambitious clash—also run headlong into the community.

Community believes in community, but ideas of Empire may be fostered against community, to destroy community, since Empire is rapaciously ambitious. Community looks out for people. Empire often does not. Community is default common sense. Empire is whatever it wants to be.

Obama’s birth certificate, Russia and the 2016 election—just two examples of how Empire issues dominate the news in extremely divisive ways: empire is where animals in the wild battle over turf; community is mother and her cubs, the babies in the nest. Holocaust is empire, not community action. Religious wars are empire phenomena; religions of peace reflect desires of the community.

But wait. Does this mean all large, global actions are bad, and the good resides only in small gatherings?

My thesis is falling victim to the very thesis I stated—no thesis can describe the world.

Not really. Community actions can be large. They don’t have to be small. Think of the Marshall Plan.  Greece had wide influence, and all that was glorious about Greece fed the grandeur that was Rome. Rome is what incorporates Greece, spreads it, vulgurizes it; the core genius of a Socrates is diluted by the speeches of a Cicero. Shakespeare invents the sitcom, Bach, the Top 40 Hit.

The genius, the good, the beautiful, are too important to hide, but Empire is that which mass produces and distorts these things in order to control and expand beyond the community, producing theft and wealth for Empire beneficiaries, leaders who naturally hate genius and goodness and beauty, just as one brother will envy and hate an innocent and glorious sibling.

But is Rome always bad? Are sitcoms and top 40 hits always bad? No.

And yet the genius makes the good happen in the first place.  We shouldn’t forget that.

Community will not be cowed by empire and will rise up to fight it—and Rome and the British Empire fell, though Empire lives on, and will never be cowed, either.

The vastness of the battle is confusing to many—and ideological differences harden due to pride; community is humble, so how can it be large? Stupidity is easy, and why should it not rush into the arms of a vast and wealthy Empire?

There’s one more division that needs to be elucidated, and with community/empire as a significant division in the background, here is the one real duality which is the key to understanding an ideologically confusing world.

How do we understand the world? Religiously, secularly, patriotically, hedonisticaly, aesthetically, intellectually?

This should help, and this is all this is meant to be—not an ideology, but an aid to understanding.

The world is either pro-business or anti-business.

Money, wealth, happiness, transactions of all kinds, move in two basic directions—either from buyer to seller, or in some other direction—taxes to the state, tithes to the church, or payoffs to criminals.

The more wealth flows from buyer to seller in a fair and enlightened exchange, and the less it flows in some other direction, the better. And this is the one criterion with which we should be most concerned.

The greatest hope for mankind is an economic one; and no other fact is more important for the world’s community, for its people, than the dear wish that the current leader of the free world, stand up to communism in its cult-religious and all its other forms, to nation-killing capitalism in all its forms, and to Empire scare-mongering environmentalism in all its forms.

And what does this entail? The answer is simple, even as we bask in the glory of community, and struggle with the many contradictory messages of empire—to foster a healthy and just environment within every community for business.









Image result for giant face of a woman in art

What a man wants to do to you

Is way beyond my control.

What he will not do is write you a love poem,

What he will not do is the nothing we understand as the soul.

We are computers, and the more things computers do,

The more inputs create responses less specifically you.

There you are. The radiant hair,

The beautiful face, and now everywhere.

The larger inhibition is always the larger face

Until we miss the part in the mysterious whole,

Whose ongoing progress keeps us moving to a larger place.

Where are you going? I was just beginning a song

In honor of you, my desire being so wrong.


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Let beauty breed.

Do you think there was any other reason I loved you?

It was your beauty. And the need

For beauty is all there is in love.

Brokenhearted, I turned philosopher,

And every precept is born of her.

It is not you anymore.

Beauty is wealth, and you have made me poor.

She provides me beauty every day

Since you made that sour face and went away.

She smiled on me, and then

I acquired temper, folly, understanding,

Which escapes other men.

Oh sure, there is grime

In bus stations and train stations.

There’s great indifference. I don’t care.

Lack of beauty is no crime.

Resentment of beauty is everywhere.

You’ll love me again. Take your time.







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All science depends on observation –a scientist

I really don’t intend to come across as contrary, or slow,
But in matters of the heart, the argument is all I know,
The dispute of the heart which hurts me blow by blow.
We don’t know anything except by the wheel:
All knowledge is the ever-returning pulse we feel.
To demonstrate how you don’t know what you know
Think of time as a pulse, a beat, which becomes so slow,
The beat becomes one continuous impulse—no beat at all.
Or the opposite: pulses so fast, the space between the beats so small,
The speed blurs the pulses into one; so again, no beat at all.
In both cases, one pulse, one thought, one flame.
In each case, incredibly slow, or incredibly fast,
Super slow or super quick, a pulse of one.
We experience opposites exactly the same!
The truth just uttered lies in the past.
Now kiss me. My argument is done.


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The only love is public love; in public you will know

It is love. Otherwise, hide. Otherwise, go.

In private realms, hate, as well as love, breeds

And privately even love has its unkind needs,

So public love is the only thing love knows.

Even privately, love is not love unless it shows,

And since hate has its reasons—let’s see

What they are. Nothing is proven privately.

Privacy is for slumber and fantasy

And I love to sleep. But my poetry

Will only be good if I agree

In public to love you privately.

This is why I steal away to you at night

With my poetry and my wishes and my light.





Image result for dreamland in painting

I return to you in dreams!

Let me lean near you, and inform you of dreams.

A dream is more than a dream seems.

Do not insult dreams—especially dreams of you!

Do poets presume poems and dreams untrue?

Poems are false, I know they are, but not dreams, not dreams of you.

Dreams! Dreams are real, and you exist again in dreams, found

By my life, as you existed, passive but profound.

The dreams remember the years,

The years when nights and promises were true.

Returning is what dreams prefer to do—

Take my hand! Look! Dreamland!

This is how I return, in my mind’s softest robe, to you.

And you return in winding silence too,

Past openings where the smoke

Hangs heavily where paths have made

Entrances down the entrances to shade,

Darkness offering secret, trembling memories of light

Where you spoke to me by trees one summer night.

In the dream I see you there:

Proud, beautiful face!

On either side of your face, the perfumed hair,

Your eyes loving me and mocking me as much as mockery might dare

In the smile which melts into the mist of your race,

The proud chin, the nostrils of an ancient shape,

Which puts me in mind of all

That might take place in a palace banquet hall

By the feast, seated, arms of the lemon, lyre and grape,

Drapery with patterns of circles, strange patterns of the heart

Where you, by fire-light, later undress and recline,

Letting me know, with one look, your entire mind.

These dreams are returning, my morning soon to be my night;

The languid half-falling music of dreams,

Dreams, dreams, dreams, setting right

The wrongs, the inevitable sorrow

Which marches forward in a cold tomorrow.




Image result for intellectual smoking in a cigarette in painting

The mind is what finally acts

After it receives a false collection of facts.

The truth forced you to pause

When you saw the real cause.

Your mind was sorely deceived

By facts. It was not the truth, as you believed.

A pile of facts, which do not cohere,

Is the basis of truth somewhere, but entirely false here.

You wanted a smoke; you found a cigarette,

But the smoke, the love—you haven’t found that yet.

Talk to people face to face, people with the world on their back.

Listen to them. Then you’ll wish for a soundtrack.

You see reports of truth suppressed,

And understand why when you see truth, undressed.

There was a reason the cloud hung around the sun.

They weren’t going to ask you. You weren’t the one.




Field of Flowers, 1910 - Egon Schiele

The stupid want to know what they don’t need to know.

They ask questions all day.

They are stupid that way.

The truth will only be embarrassing; the wise

Know how to avoid embarrassment. They say a few words and go.

Wisdom knows what not to know.

The eyes are trying to catch up to the brain which is trying to catch up to the eyes.

I have no faith in poetry, and art, its superficial depiction.

I can show you the truth of the truth—in this fiction.

We had a lot of time to kill—the pressure was on to talk.

I suggested we kiss for awhile, after taking a walk.

The less I shared my knowledge of the flowers

The better. We kissed in them for hours.






Image result for sketches by the renaissance masters

Love is stupidity.

It wasn’t passion, because passion

Can make anything for a moment with anyone happen.

For a few days, it seemed to me

It was my passionate poetry.

But then I found out she had neither heart nor mind

For it. We looked at it and she was blind.

It must have been the momentary glee

That bubbled up when she laughed with me

Over something really stupid. I looked her in the eye

And something happened, but I

Have no idea what made us connect.

Love is something you never expect.

I think it was stupidity.

And a little bit, my poetry.

And more, her heart, vulnerable, because she could not see

My hunger. Or hers, for me.




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When I entered the orgy, it seemed I had entered a brawl.
It did not seem that anyone was making love at all.
It was dark, and sounds I heard only filled me with fear.
I had come for love. Something wasn’t right here.
I began to see in the darkness that the lovers were sad and old;
Is love this brutal? At the book reading, that wasn’t what I was told.
When she explained love to me, she didn’t do it well.
I thought it was more like poetry.  This seems like hell.


Image result for lovers in the rain in futurist painting

Dreaming of being loved,

I weep with joy to think when that joy will begin.

But none loves me, or seems to love me.

Not enough love is death and too much love is sin.

I wake up. I dress. I try to be polite.

I squint in the sun. I sing to myself at night.

Sometimes when you are loved, it’s hard to tell:

One told me loving me was a sickness and she was trying to get well.

I kept track of violins, of factories, of whispers in the hall.

I concluded I should be enthusiastic, but not beg love of all.

I didn’t ask for a lot. I had a little fun.

But I was willing to give. I was only looking for one.

Didn’t one love me? What did I have to do?

Was it that I looked, and didn’t find you?

Another loved me when I did not love her;

It was a pleasure when we were together.

It was a sweet friendship made in regions above.

But it wasn’t love.



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We are artists, every one.
We see more in the shade than in the sun.
We see more of the twisted body on the couch
Than art can depict, never mind “My kid could do that.” Ouch!
We see more in the laughter of Valerie
Than we see in an art gallery.
Valerie really hurt me. See her selfie?
Valerie has been on my mind all day.
Greek statue, you are great, but you won’t make Valerie go away.



They’re not going to think what you want them to think,
Even when they’re in your arms,
After reading your poem and sighing.
And you? What will you be thinking?
How love lights you up, but already seems to be dying?

They’re not going to love what you want them to love,
Even when their lips are on yours
After reading your poem and sighing.
And you? What do you think of love,
Knowing that love, a fire, just like a fire, lives as a fire by dying?

They’re not going to say what you want them to say,
Even when they say what they want you to say.
After reading your poem, they cannot say
Why you cannot say anything, or why you are sighing.
And so you wrote a poem today.
Which already seems to be dying.


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She’s beautiful, and would be my choice;

She’s beautiful, but I hesitate by that ugly voice.

How often do we experience the soul?

I do. When I look at a woman who is beautiful.

But then, I draw near, and before the soul makes a choice,

I listen to the soul—in the fearful particulars in the voice.

I know that sometimes the beautiful is a trick

To make use of me, to eat me, to kill me with a decorated stick.

The vines winding around the tree are snakes

And after the lovemaking the soul in terror wakes.

After the love flashes in the eye

The hand with the knife reaches around and you die.

The weeping love, the poem whispered in sorrow,

Is forgotten in laughter when I’m murdered tomorrow.

What is the soul? The soul is not the chosen, but the choice.

Who are you? That music. Where is it? What happened to your voice?




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I’m the only good person in the world. White American liberals, who raised me, are hypocritical and racist. And then I hear that in other countries, in Latin countries, in India, all over the world, the slightest hint of darker skin generates the most vicious bigotry one can imagine. So, then, who is good? If where I’m from is bad, and elsewhere is bad, who is good? Only I am good. If I don’t know you, because you live far away, you are either bad, or, if you are good, you don’t know me, so you don’t share your goodness with me! You withhold your goodness from me, so how can you be good? And if I read or hear about someone who is good? That’s not good! I don’t experience the advertised. The advertised is not true goodness. Nothing that is advertised is the whole story. Who runs to me? Who throws money at me? Who tries to really get to know me? Who in the world has the courage to really say what they are thinking to me? No one. You are all bad. But I know exactly what I am thinking all the time. I am going to listen to Mozart now. I am going to write a beautiful poem now. There is so much beauty in the world! It makes me cry. And none of it is trying to be beautiful. It just is. No story is needed. Once the story begins, it is an advertisement, a lie. Only I am good. I don’t need a story. I’m the only one who I know, for certain, is good, because I’m the only one who I know, and good, to be good, must be known! I don’t hate you, I just don’t know you. I want to be honest. I want to report the facts that I know. I’m the only good person in the world.


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Use your beauty for love, not control,
And I will give you, for this love, my soul.
And since beauty on a person doesn’t last,
It might be good to put it to good use fast.
If you fail at love with your fortunate good looks,
Shit. You might as well experience love in books;
No love is going to be possible at all
If you fuck it up, when you are beautiful and tall!

If you have doubts about your beauty, listen to me:
I am partial to myself, so if your vanity
Is not something you value much,
Trust my eyes, my poetry, my love, if not my touch.
You don’t have to give your love to me;
I know you are beautiful and I know that means you’re free.
But believe me: love isn’t going to be possible at all
If you won’t accept you are beautiful and tall.

Use your love for beauty, not control,
And discover the secret to poetry’s soul.
Since beauty in poetry lasts forever,
It will be a profitable endeavor
For poetry, to work on your poem’s good looks,
If you want your poems to live forever in books,
To comfort those not poetic at all,
Who don’t have love, or beauty, and are not even a little bit tall.




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There was very little Catherine could actually do:

Read a book. Put on jogging clothes and jog down the avenue.

Be slightly useful to a boss; friendly to a friend, or two.

What made Catherine interesting was what Catherine knew.

The important facts of her life were few:

Children, none.

Job, a joke, but at least that meant she could have some fun.

She knew the secret of a wandering star

Of poetry. This is what made her superior by far.

This is what allowed her to seem kind

To a friend—betrayed, because she had been unkind;

She had tried hard to love with her body but had been too angry in her mind.

Catherine learned her friend’s secret and decided to be kind.

When a good secret lives in the head it isn’t that bad to be blind.






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The porn of us in love is the most forbidden.

On trains, in marches, people push and shove,

Speeches, episodes, scenes are watched, but we are hidden.

Those attributes are anonymous, cheap.

The common story arc comes to a climax and we weep.

The naturally cautious are not about to go crazy.

Love can’t last; we are tongue-tied, distracted, banal, lazy.

You can see right away what the problem is;

What is her is hers and what is his is his.

The porn of us in love has many obstacles.

The first is that it’s too unique to be imaginable.

Marriages set up house and meal.

You don’t find love in marriage. Get real.

The porn of us in love is nearly impossible.

The porn of us in love is not quite laughable.

The porn of us in love is so hidden that it has no will.

Since all of us are types, you must love all men in the man.

You might write a poem about our porn, but I don’t think you can.





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I don’t think about you; I hope you don’t think about me.

I’m not worth thinking about—I can’t understand poetry

Unless I know what the poet looks like, and the song

Makes the poet dance. Even then I tend to get it wrong.

The strings are languid. The drums are fast.

Can you admit love will never last?

I don’t think about you. I hope you don’t think about me.

You protest—with words like “infinity.”

You’re my ex: it’s February, and there you are, a Christmas tree.

Things end. That’s how my life works. That’s how I fight my war.

Things must end. I end them. Things have ended for me before.

“But what about memory,” you ask, and look at me in tears.

But even then I wasn’t moved. And now it’s been years.


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Love! The more in love,

The easier jealousy can kill

The love. One whispered word

Thwarts a happy lover’s will.

Sad, in the garden, sad, in the street.

No where and no one, jealousy

Said, other loves, might possibly meet.

Other loves? What is wrong with others?

The more madly in love, the more we sweep aside

Everything. In the walls of love things hide.

Friends, whispers, rumors, a meaningless joke about mothers.

The more in love, the more a whisper manages to make its way in

To conquer sighs the lovers used to conquer sin.

My love! I found out too late!

A word was dropped in the river—

Your river, our river, which flowed with love—to water a river of hate.







Love compares its way to religion,

Religion compares its way to love.

Religion does not save a person, but a people;

Your religion is always theirs, not yours.

None of the things which arouse pity

Should be the goal, but rather, those things

Arousing pity should be escaped and surpassed.

Love involves partiality to an extreme degree,

Or it is not love, but there’s nothing partial about love;

You either love, or you don’t, and its completeness

Defines its love, and by comparison, nothing else is,

For you, and everything is, for you in love with them.


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Since eternity is death, I’ll take this hour as my bride,
This hour! When the light of the sky is leaving
And beauty begins to coincide with light’s deceiving
In that hour when all the phantom lights begin to be lit inside.

This bride of mine shall be beautiful, in the same hour
When youth and its maturity mix with time—
To land in a splash, and linger in leaves of leafy rhyme
After leaping by the smoke-exhaling river and perfume-damaged flower.

Someone laughs. The blessed know when it comes,
The hour when the child is no longer a child,
And this is when you lie down in the wild
And weep, and your heart plays eternal drums.

There is an hour when some of my dreams come true—
An hour I spend dreaming of an hour, lost in those hours
When I made rhymes, missing you,
As I smile, pretending there is an island which has eternal flowers.

I will decide on this hour—no other hour but this.
That hour? When I called out your name
In urgency? I remember that hour. The shame.
I want this hour—the holy hour when I hardly look at you and kiss.

I was hurt by that urgent hour. I called you.
I called you again. You didn’t respond.
I ran the entire length of the pond.
Thank God hours like that are few!

The hour I choose will be holy, and filled with treats,
Like Christmas when I was young.
The trembling holy days when the holy songs were sung
And life lived, and we read Keats.

The bride climbs the hill.
All her friends are crying, as if it were a sacrifice.
Do not weep, friends! We’ll kiss you and kill
Your fear. And serve you cold drinks with clinking ice.

Within this hour, I shall be with the bride
Who in the outdoor lamplight wakes
Calmly, as if she were death life gently shakes
And she were curious to come inside.

This will be the hour, gleaming,
Defying eternity and its length!
The delicacy of the hour its strength—
A dreamy hour, before the delicate sleeper lies dreaming.

I decide—after hours of thought—my hour will be the one
When night is blue along the long earth, but not yet all.
We don’t need to know how the motion of the sun—
Look! Has made the large and gold look so sad and small.

And now the bride comes down in the shadowy blue
And everyone is weeping, and we
Do not believe—who can believe anyone is true?
In this hour I am marrying eternity.


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Desiring to articulate what I saw

I used words. But words don’t see.

What I saw saw nothing.

My love for you betrays

Not only nights, in which I try to see

And don’t, and don’t sleep, but all my days

Which, to be good days, need rest.

To know is not free.

The worst happened when I loved you the best.

This is why my friends are amazed and cannot understand:

I don’t speak to you or look at you though I love you and you are close at hand.



Image result for da vinci drawing of an ugly man

I went into a situation totally blind,
Teaching my love a lesson with documents official,
Saddening myself, as I thought I was unkind,
But later found elation in wisdom of mind behind the mind.

She was secretive—he told her to be, but they were soon to find
True love doesn’t like secrets
And their apparent kindness was soon to unwind,
Thinking they were aware, but both were unaware—of the mind behind the mind.

You cannot rob a person who is intent on love, the mind
Cannot be deceived, even if the eyes are fooled.
Love only wants desire, not to bind—
So I opened doors and found the flowering in the mind behind the mind.

I wrote a poem unconsciously, but said
Exactly what I thought; you read
What I wrote, you were amazed
How I put it. Now she is sultry and dazed.

She has learned the lesson. Look, her mind
Is gradually opening and loosening, the official
Life used against her was the life that was unkind.
She wasn’t seeing, but now she is seeing the mind behind the mind.

I thought I was wrong—but no;
I knew exactly what to do and where to go.
I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew
What was going on and who was really unkind.
I found out who I am in the mind behind the mind.







Don’t you remember how we tried to read that book?

How exactly do you think two nerds are expected to look?

You are actually beautiful, and you don’t like to read,

But want your nerdy lover—a true nerd!—to fulfill that need.

Look at your beautiful face, hovering above the page—

Uncomprehending! in a quizzical, lip-biting, rage.

Look at me, insouciant, unattractive, sly,

Understanding even more than the author as the pages fly by.

Look at you, your perfect nose, your perfect posture, your uncanny, beautiful chin,

Breasts hidden by shallow breathing, and thoughts—God where have they been?

I don’t care anymore; you’re a creature of sentiment and feeling alone.

Eye glasses make you look even more beautiful. And look, now you’re looking at your phone…





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The one you love is always the one who loves you.

Your thinking is always—someone else thinking inside of you.

And that’s what love is. Love is desire. Desire is, and already is, what you do.

Did I just do that? did I just think that? you say.

Yes you did. And what you did a long time ago is what you are and exactly who you are today.

Things change outside, but you don’t change. You are

Not the light that flickers. The flickering light is not the star.

The flickering lights are not what you love, or will ever know.

That’s right. Look.  The curving sunlight is moving.  Into the shoot you go.

You are the universe trying to get into something very small.

Here comes your lover. The uncanny face. And you are not exactly sure—are you?—exactly how tall.




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Telling you I love you made me love you.

That’s what poetry can do.

It doesn’t matter if you or I ever meant this to be true.

Love has a sister: desire. And desire looks for a way.

But desire, being desire, never knows what to do.

Desire rises from her nightly bed and stands speechless before the day.

Love, to really love, needs to hear what the poets say.

A poet comes from the east, wearing purple and yellow and red,

And the poetry is alive, even when the poet is dead!

Look where Emily Dickinson down to the darkness is led.

Now law says there will be a husband and he will come to your bed

And if he does not please you, you may leave him, is what the law finally said.

Now this is what love says to you when she reaches for you in bed:

When you have a moment, will you remind me what the poem you composed for me said?







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When you, a stranger, came on too strong,

I immediately thought there was something wrong.

But how much beauty fails to speak

Because we are too wise and weak?

How much love by caution killed?

A colosseum empty, when it should be filled?

A Shelley dead, because he was too bold?

Love sitting around until it’s old?

The landscape is ruined with ruins wild.

I should have kissed. But smiled.




This country has millions of beautiful women

And all of them are sad.

In my dreams, I walk through shadows of mango trees

Covering the boulevard, and the harmonious music

Gradually fades away.

Are they resting, hurrying, thinking

Or looking in their handbag for keys, or phone?

This country has trillions of automatic actions

Per second and everyone is alone.

The lead singer, in the light, has drummers and violins

To facilitate the final grand crescendo.

I duck into the forest of street lamps,

Thinking of one of the last moments with her in the café

And wonder how many signs have been selected to tell me where to go.

Don’t miss your opportunity, she tells me,

Giving me confident advice and hope—in the misery

I can feel from here. There’s a Japanese company

In your country and if you work hard and she decides she will never leave,

Marriage can be the answer, and you will only occasionally grieve.

Bombs will solve the need for reforms, and TV

Reruns can keep the construction crews comforted, late at night,

As the grin in the face of laugh tracks will make them feel everything is alright.

Laughter. That will do it. A little seafood and wine.

A perfect sauce. The Nibelungen. T.S. Eliot singing softly beside the Rhine.





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You went down the other stairs

Instead of the usual way, to avoid me—so you could show

How much you hate me. I saw you. I know.

A friend told me the future is unpredictable. And I said no.

I’ve seen the future. The future is the past.

Things around us change, but we don’t. The soul does not change.

I saw you take the other stairs. You are still the same.

You haven’t changed. You love to walk away

Without a word and forget everything, and today

There you were, doing it again—no, trying to do it again.

You never had faith in analyzing the past;

You think to walk away from it, wordlessly and fast.

You walked down the other stairs and I saw,

In that awfully simple moment, the essence of your soul.

You would race off like that when you loved me,

Too enraged, in your sudden mood change, to say goodbye

—And I ran after you, sometimes, in tears.


The blessed can forget the past, but you cannot.

The happy can glide away from the past without trying.

Goodbye, and hello, to the sun. Goodbye, and hello, to the evening sky.

Who recalls the shape of the evening clouds? Or the way

The falling music sounds in the evening? Now tomorrow comes,

And the truly glad escape, without looking back, their sad and fated past.

You recall how the music sounds in the dying evenings, it sounds

In the sadness of your soul, it sounds in the stairs of your soul

Even though you close and lock the doors.

You, who make a great show of leaving the past behind,

Cannot. It lives. And I cannot help you. It still lives in your mind.


The prophecy I spoke to my friend is that we

Are always the same—the future’s peaceful, sweet solemnity

Stretching out to the blessed, is the same peace that I

Find now—in reflection, study and empathy

Of the past I love. But you hate the past

And because of this you suffer now—as you walk with purpose,

Down the other stairs…there you go!

Proud, silent, angry, hateful, steadily and fast

As you did—lovely creature whom I loved!—in the past.







Many people are terrified of the question “So what do you do?”

Everyone hates superficial judgement.

Is this not the greatest social fear?

And because 99% of our conscious lives are social, isn’t this the greatest fear of all?

To be judged superficially?

Poets hate the question, “So what do you do?” most of all—if they are bad poets.

Because to be a bad poet means precisely this: there’s no hiding from superficial judgment.

Here’s the first rule of good writing: it hides.

There’s only two social choices:

1. Superficial judgment.

2. Hiding from superficial judgment.

Nature does not fear superficial judgment: her genius is fully on display. Try and superficially judge me, she says. Here I am, for all to see.

Nature doesn’t hide.

So why do we?

Because we judge each other. Which nature doesn’t do.

The “social” doesn’t involve judgment; it is judgment.

Nature does not judge, nor is it judged—since Nature is, and it is the only thing which, in fact, is.

Poetry is not judged as good or bad.

Poetry, as not-Nature, as a social function, is bad and good judgment itself, on display.

The rise of “reality TV” reveals this most acutely: the producers of these shows, which depict simple social activities, whether cooking, music, dating, or wilderness survival, use the judgment/competition model to generate interest.

All humans do is judgmental.

We have no doubt that if a good poetry “reality show” were produced, strongly competitive in nature, it could be as successful as any of the other kinds of reality shows, and would help poetry in general.

Many, of course, would object, saying poetry is pure, and reflective, and has nothing to do with competition, and any judgment attached to poetry comes along afterwards and is apart from the poetry itself. To argue that poetry itself is judgmental is insane.

But this objection is insane. It ignores all that we have previously and rigorously said: Human social activity is judgmental and poetry belongs to human social activity; a person is either superficially judged, or not, and to escape superficial judgment is good and noble and pure, of course, but the escape is immersed in judgment—even if poetry were a harbor of escape in the sea of judgment, it still exists in that sea.

The social judgment aspect exists in the context of how we started the essay: “what do you do?” We are not talking about a single instance of an amateur writing a poem for a beloved to woo the beloved (but even this involves broad judgment: oh how sweet!); we speak of the act of writing poems again and again, as a vocation: a poet as professional calling. “What do you do?

And just as people are wrong that poetry is not a judgmental activity, they are also wrong in their common belief that the poet and the poem exist in separate universes. They do not. I refer to the ubiquitous idea that a morally bad person can write good poetry. No. This is not true. They cannot.

And why is it not true?  Why is it true that poet and poem are intimately related on a moral level?

Because writing poetry, if it is good poetry, and passes the test of being a real social activity, is reflected in what the poet “does,” in the most thoroughly social sense imaginable—as if that question asked at a cocktail party could be really answered in four or five hours. Here’s what I as a poet “really do,” as a person in life, without which there were no poetry produced by me at all.

Journalism is not poetry, and this is why Plato feared the poets, because good poetry hides, and journalism should do the very opposite. If someone asks what a journalist “does,” the answer is simple: observe and report facts—journalist and journalism will both be judged by their accuracy; any attempt to distort this simple formula should immediately raise suspicions.

When poetry acts like good journalism—not hiding, but reporting facts—it’s not good poetry for the simple reason that it is not poetry.

What the good journalist “does” is to observe well—and this involves being “on the ground,” talking to the important participants, etc. A complex, winding path is followed, and the hidden often has to be unearthed. A good journalist will produce good journalism, based on the simple question: “what did you do?”

Poetry is not journalism. However, a good poet “does” the same thing—observes and lives/exists in a winding path—and this is why, just as journalist and journalism are the same, poet and poem are the same.

Left wing critics fall over each other adoring the poetry of right wing poet Ezra Pound, saying the poet and the poetry are two different things. The politics aside—far left and far right are perhaps the same, etc—we mean to demolish this false idea once and for all.

The poet and poetry cannot be separated, in social, judgmental terms.

The poetry exists because of what the poet “does,” not as a poet, but as a person, traveling, observing, loving, hating.

In attempting to define what the poet does, we exclude the “bag of poet’s tools:” rhyme, meter, language, etc as a factor. We reject the notion of a poet/person over here and his or her impersonal technique over there.

This may elicit howls of protest from the formalists—but we are not denying technique (those who read Scarriet can attest to this); we are saying the fruitful use of technique has nothing to do with the availability of said technique, since all poets are more or less acquainted with technique—acquiring skill with technique cannot be separated from what the poet “does” as a human being on the winding path of life.

The record of a life which cannot be judged superficially—that is, poetry—uses poetic technique (rhyme, meter, etc) to keep ordinary judgement at bay. If the technique is not predictable and banal, it will ensure a life presented in a manner profound and original— since it runs parallel to, and supports, the prose meaning.

Nor has this anything to do with the tricky idea that “form is an extension of content,” except very indirectly—the poet (the poet’s life) is far more important to the poetry than “form” or “content,” and this is the common sense, yet radical, point we are making. The poet’s life propels its telling into modes which are emotionally rich—and all poetic technique is merely the material means to heighten emotion, so the poet regards emotion through the lens of technique without having to really focus on technique. He is reaching for the emotion he wants to reproduce, and uses rhyme, for instance, as naturally as if he were speaking a language or playing an instrument he knows how to play.

The really important thing is this: the poet must have a fortunate and unusual life, in which experience is not harsh enough to crush the organs of judgement, but on the other hand, the experience is not so vapid as to never stimulate them.

This criterion alone leaves few individuals who are suited to write excellent poetry.

The moral judgment is always short on information with which to judge, since the situation judged is often layered and complex—precisely since it is life, and not the moral judgment—yet both need one another for civil society and sanity to exist. The moral judgment and the layered private life will always be opposed and never be able to rest side by side in harmony. Moral art is where this oil and water are forced together, and this also makes the great poet rare, since the individual who is both highly judgmental and also a “sinner” in a deeply justified manner—many-layered, sensual, and private—is also rare.

We spoke of hiding: the unusual incidents of a poet’s life—complex, bizarre, lovelorn, passionate, odd, eerily fated and coincidental—must be expressed in a manner which hides the trivial particulars in a unique fog of philosophy—the fog resembling a cold, sustaining fire which comfortably incinerates all that is useless, mundane, haphazard, and boring, allowing the primitive aesthetic (as it lives in nature) to sparkle and gleam, to descend and rise into beautifying shadows, at the poet’s will.

If the poet recount starkly the most bizarre yet universal love affair the world has ever seen in a journalistic memoir, leaving in all the details—this purging will provide a resting place for journalistic sentiment and knowledge—and deprive the world of a wonder by stating it too clearly.

But if, instead, a particularly vivid incident from the poet’s life is hidden in poetry, in which the poetry expresses the hidden elements as hidden (by technique) but manifests to the reader the beauty, both moral and sensual, of the true incident, poetry will result.

At our inquisitive cocktail party, the question “so what do you do?” will not intimidate the poet—if he listens, and really responds, to the question.

We said poetry is not journalism, and yet they are both something people “do,” within, and in response to, nature.

We finish our essay with a poem by Paige Lewis, which we think successful—and note how the poem exists because of a certain winding path of experience and reflection practiced by the poet, almost as if she were a journalist and acute observation were the test of both her, as an actor, and her result (the poem), the two things existing as one—a journalist might even begin a report from the field with the key thematic line of her poem:

“We are only remembered as cruel when what we harm does not die quickly,”

but this morally ambiguous advice surely needs to “hide” in poetry to live; otherwise a journalist uttering this “truth” could find themselves labeled a murderer with a handy excuse.

Another thing to note is that without Andy being observed, we can easily imply the poem wouldn’t exist; that Andy is responsible for the poem, and that’s what a poet “does;” they let things in, just as the journalist does, who counts themselves lucky by what they happen to see: a boy who eats tadpoles!

You need to be on a winding path to see this, whether journalist or poet.  You notice things: morally and clearly if you are a good journalist, amorally and cloudily if you are a good poet.

The poem below can be summed up:

Cruelty is quick, for what is caught is eaten. Kindness is hungry—and slow.

We want our journalists to be quick.

We want our poets to be slow.

And now we’ll close with the poem:


The River Reflects Nothing

This morning I watched a neighborhood

boy throw his model plane into the air

with his right hand and shoot it down

with the garden hose in his left. My

hands have never been that quick. When

my mother lived by the river. I lived

by the river. I knelt over it with legs red

and pebble-dented. Reaching in, I pulled

back empty fists and it always seemed

like a trick, those tadpoles all green-glinting

and shadows, but Andy could catch them,

could make the squirming real in his

palm before he swallowed each whole.

We are only remembered as cruel when

what we harm does not die quickly. I

don’t know how long it took the tadpoles,

but I know I was trying to say I’m sorry

when I leaned down, pressed my mouth

against his stomach and said, If you’d

just let me catch you, I’d let you go.


(“The River Reflects Nothing” by Paige Lewis, published in Ninth Letter)










for Robert Ritzenthaler

Literature exists, because reconciliation is sweet

In imagination’s heaven—even as the hellish school boy squirms in his seat.

Literature exists, and we know literature well:

The boring parts of heaven, the exciting parts of hell.

Literature exists, resting on shelves everywhere,

Literature dreams for you, even if you don’t care.

You know why literature is covered in school and hidden:

It’s never just life. It’s always life that is forbidden.

Literature is always about the sorrow that never gets said.

But literature becomes a critic being really boring, instead.

Literature should be this poem and don’t worry,

I will tell you I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m really sorry.

Literature is putting together the boy and his dad

Who never got together—isn’t that sad?

Literature is that novel which had some tragic deaths at the end

We didn’t finish. The one who gave it to me I swear was only a friend.

Literature is the foreshadowing, the metaphor, the clue

Which we don’t see. Or, maybe I did see it. Is that okay with you?






She paints, and when she paints

I love her more.

She paints her face so beautifully

That art critics who enter by the back door

Know all at once what painting and poetry is for.

They sadly recognize that when you say

“I love you” it could be on the very day

You leave, because you said it only to make someone glad,

And when the words fled to them, they made you sad.

We think nothing, but only say what we think we ought to say

Until the red shadows come and we vanish in the blue day.

But now she presents herself at the front of the hall,

And even you look at her, and even you will fall

On your knees and worship her. And that is all.


Image result for van gogh sun

What I do to her by doing nothing

Is more than anyone has ever done.

I was a rare flower she held.

Now I am the sun.

I am silent and far away,

No longer kissing her ear

And telling her how lovely she is.

Now she sees me every day

But I no longer move near

And say exactly what I’m thinking.

I am a blank face of simple fire,

No longer allowed to feel, or think, or have desire,

But like my cunning poetry which everybody reads,

I love her with an appetite that forgets it has needs.

She is courted by a distant sky and distant fields

Which love her only by being there. And she yields.



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10. Cold. Where’s global warming? Fuck.

9. Dark. According to science, which only I believe in, this promises to get better.

8. Trump. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

7. Romance? Not really in the fucking mood for it. White male invention, anyway.

6. Wining and Dining? No. Can’t afford health insurance, college loan debt. Whining cheaper.

5. Yoga, meditation? No. In those quiet moments  I’ll just think about my goddamn ex. Or Trump.

4. Protest? No. Too dark, too cold, and I’m too depressed. And it will make me think of Trump.

3. Sex? No. In the mood I’m in, it will neither feel good nor end well.

2. TV, film or Internet? Maybe. It might possibly remind me of my ex. Or Trump. Must be selective.

1. Christmas. Oh fucking fuck.






You thought you had it when that song was learned,

The summer, tan, when you first lost your baby fat

And your limbs were lithe and your teeth were pretty but she is more beautiful than that.

You thought you had it when you married young

And jumped on jobs and connections like a cat

And put your claws in the suburb of pleasure but she is more beautiful than that.

You thought you had it when you went to college and got degrees and turned

Around one day and saw the shoes on the welcome mat

And he spoke confidently and loved you bravely but she is more beautiful than that.

You had an unhappy marriage even as the marriage song was sung.

The reasons you weren’t loved? Too much honor. Love sometimes looks like a rat.

Love is empathy—which is often an enemy of love. But she is more beautiful than that.

She is shy, and paints, and writes poems, and no tongue

But yours crosses into the tranquil valley with her this late.

She is more beautiful if the poem says what the poet sees.

Her smile? Her face? Her elegance? They collect their fees.

But her modesty doesn’t see what you see. She expects her fate.



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