Thursday, July 12, 2018

Do You Like My Tie?

sculpture mix; green house-paint;
leather cord; and abalone shell.

Cover shot for that book of poetry I haven’t quite written yet . . . .

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Glenlivet: Founder’s Reserve

Almost as good as poetry
And far less labor.

I falter,
And drain the glass.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Notes: My Back Hurts

Back spasms are no fun.  I don't even know exactly how I strained my back this time.  I didn't carry scuba tanks too far; I didn't lean over and lift a box of books and then twist to put it down somewhere else; I didn't even try to pick up the other kayak, which I know is too heavy for one person.  (I have, I must admit, been carting gear about, shifting book-boxes, and loading up the other kayak, but I haven't had the dramatic pull, that overstepping of muscle through negligence of mind.)

Still, I've had a sore back for days, and today the spasms started.  Really, from long walks in the wrong pair of shoes?  Or a 70-minute hike?  Or, more likely, from the years piling up?

I've applied heat, I've stretched, and now I'm trying ice: three cubes in a glass with Flor de Cana.

I certainly don't like pain, but sometimes these back spasms just crack me up.

I've always thought that muscle cramps carry with them a funny sort of pain (they hurt, but the twisting of the muscles seems ridiculous), but some of this morning's spasms seemed triggered by the slightest wrong move, almost by the thought of moving, and I keep having to laugh.

Gasp and grunt, yes, but also laugh.

(I didn't move, I swear; I only thought about moving!)

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Sam Hamill: "Ars Poetica"


Some say the poem's
best made from natural speech
from the inner life.
I say, That is sometimes true.
The poem's a natural thing.

Some say the poem
should rise into purest song,
a formality,
articulate expression
achieved through complex structures

derived from classics--
which also is true enough.
Let the song arise
as it will.  Learn to revise
the life.  Beware.  Disguises

rise up everywhere:
most dangerously, self-in-
fatuation.  "More
poets fail," Pound declared,
"from lack of character than

from lack of talent."
Some insist the poem is
heaven-sent, claiming
angelic heirs.  The poem,
I believe, is a failure

elevated in-
to triumph, a form of truth
wrought from mortal flesh
and blood that will soon perish,
but which--for one brief moment

or an hour--reveals
the tragic human spirit
in the very act
of imagining itself
cured of the sickness of self.

The poem cannot,
finally, be explained nor
defined.  The true gift
poetry bestows begins
and ends with humility

before the task.  All
the suffering of this world
can be truly felt,
absorbed adn transcended, just
by the act of listening

to that deepest voice
speaking from within.  Forget
All the great masters are dead.
Forget rime and irony.

Forget words, meter,
diction, whole syllabaries--
the literary.
The heart by way of the ear.
What's that you wanted to say?


from Gratitude,
BOA Editions, Ltd.
Rochester, NY  1998

(This one is for Eric, a very welcome house-guest)

Friday, July 6, 2018

Notes: Of Reading and Rereading

I read the way most folks listen to music, so there's an awful lot of rereading.  Often, a book deserves a second try or even multiple readings.  Or, I'm not the same man, not the same reader, that I was twenty or thirty years ago.  And, who listens to a great song and never listens again, right?

I have been thinking about the books I have reread again and again, and I think they fall into four or five categories.

No, I'm simpler than that: two or three.

Distraction, direction, and devotion.

I reread to be taken away from current events, current pressures, or I want background "music".

I reread for traction and to carry myself forward, to motivate myself, to pump up or to shake it all loose.

I reread as an act of prayer, as homage to great craft and vision and story.  I reread as a commitment to what the word can do beyond any other media.  I reread to explore and to embrace, to be exposed and to expose myself--all the nerve endings of mind and heart and soul--to story and character and action in the best senses.  I don't really have words myself for what I'm seeking, but it is a sacrament I seek daily, hourly, constantly.  Or, if not sacrament, at least immersion.  I reread to dive deeper, to swim beneath the surface of things, and to drown--if need be--in story.  (I hold my breath well, I must add.)

Background, motivation, and/or concentration.  Exposure.  Immersion.  Perhaps, an addiction?

All joy in various measures.

All fun in multifarious modes.

I read and reread the way most folks listen to music.  The way I listen to music.  The way I'll bet you listen to music.

Why don't you join me, if you don't already?

P.S.  Can something read be both distraction and devotion?
Sometimes, it can.  That's the magic.

Body Language

sending me signals.
Those ears back, and that tail like a metronome.