The cost of clarity is cold weather.
 Fog kept the beach mild;
It clouded over the quadrantids.

 New Year’s dinner, the four of us together,
 I toasted: “Bewildered, and beguiled!
But when I raise my lids

No need to question whether
Four hearts are reconciled.”
Meanwhile, January rids

The beach of fog, and there’s never
A chance of warm retreat.  It’s wild:
All softened unknowing forbid…

So we breast the chill, the clear-eyed pressure,
The sharp-horizoned world to which we are unreconciled,
But which strands us here, shivering, unhid.

Seven Stanford Coaches, Six Fake Test Takers…

… Five Briberies! Four Bogus Apps…

How do you solve a problem like McMansions?
How do you solve a problem like McMansions?
Cavernous shells impossible to sell?
Rent them all out for huge illegal parties
Making the life of those around them hell

Price is eight hundred daily for the trashing
Don't give a thought to local rules and regs
Jam all the folks and weaponry you want to
Plenty of room for super jumbo kegs

Everyone lies, the owner and the renter
Neighbors complain but town officials suck:
"We won't do shit, but here's a little wisdom:
When bullets start flying the best thing to do is duck."


It's on its own, the black wind of autumn,
The start of autumn, after long summer. 
I know it's started, because the night world 
Is suddenly cold, unapproachable, 
A planetary blank that fronts my face
When I slide back the door to the owl's cry.

Two owls, in fact, working on their marriage
Against a black backdrop, against darkness.
Anxious call, anxious response.  On their own.

“How do you plan to spend your resurrection?”

A hilariously smug Christian poses this question to Jack Gladney in White Noise, as they contemplate the aftermath of what everyone’s euphemistically calling the ‘airborne toxic event.’ In its end-time confidence, it’s sort of the ultimate anti-poetic question. Poets – poets of our time – tend to be present-moment mavens, anxiously, ecstatically, completely committed to intensity of earthbound experience. Linda Gregg, who died this week, was prominent among them.

For years she lived on Greek islands with Jack Gilbert (she dedicated one of her books to him, with the epigraph It was like being alive twice.), himself a quintessential greed of being poet:

Using up what
little time we have, relishing our mortality,
waltzing slowly without purpose. Neglecting
the future. Content to let the garden fail
and the house continue on in its usual disorder […]
Hesitant occasions of pride, feeling himself feeling.
Waking in the night and lying there. Discovering
the past in wonderful stillness. […] Above all,
his greed. Greed of time, of being. 

A friend once mentioned to Gregg the name of a painting by Paul Thek – While there’s still time, let’s go out and feel everything – and she loved it and said Jack would have loved it.

One form of poetry you get with this disposition – and both Gilbert and Gregg wrote this way – is a seemingly dashed-off-from-this-moment’s-feelings, impressionistic set of tenuously connected statements and images, inside of which lies the somewhat hidden, somewhat obliquely referenced, tragic nature of life. Because there’s obviously a price to be paid for this seriously committed ecstatically open presentness – Gilbert talks about the price explicitly in this poem – and because, as some sage put it, Wherever you go, there you are. Which is to say, let’s not pretend that while you’re getting a major bang out of a Milos sunset, you’re not a neurotic like everyone else, with an inescapable personal history.

So… a poem of Gregg’s to remember her by. I’ll interrupt it with commentary. Go here for the uninterrupted poem.

Looking for Each of Us

[The title I think contains a double meaning: She’s looking for the meaning of her past, and the past of her now-departed lover Gilbert, in a bunch of postcards she saved from those years. She’s also doing the work of looking for both of them, in the sense of her having taken on an obligation.]

I open the box of my favorite postcards   
and turn them over looking for de Chirico   
because I remember seeing you standing   
facing a wall no wider than a column where   
to your left was a hall going straight back
into darkness, the floor a ramp sloping down  

[de Chirico because his surrealistic paintings often feature weird mysterious interiors/architectures with lots of open spaces and ancient statuary – all of this richly suggestive material for a woman trying to fill in the gaps of her romantic past in Greece.]

to where you stood alone and where the room   
opened out on your right to an auditorium   
full of people who had just heard you read   
and were now listening to the other poet.   

[She recalls maybe their first encounter at one of his readings; his partial emergence behind partial walls, columns, in the dark… A figure for her never quite getting him, or never quite getting his vacant, open, shadowy, setting – his existential location – clearly looked at.]

I was looking for the de Chirico because of   
the places, the empty places. The word   
“boulevard” came to mind.

[Came to mind, perhaps, because the world she’s remembering was broadly open – as broad as a Parisian boulevard … And while all that openness was then, let’s say, beckoning and sexy, in retrospect, having been in various ways wounded in their relationship, it now has a more de Chirico feel – ominous, even threatening.]

Standing on the side   
of the fountains in Paris where the water   
blew onto me when I was fifteen. It was night.   

[Again an image of her peripherality to, partial understanding of, a scene – as she was peripheral to Gilbert at the reading. She recalls being at the “side” of the fountain, aware of it mainly because of the water it blew onto her, and of her being in the dark. There’s visceral experience when you’re young – the water – and there’s detached retrospection when you’re older.]

It was dark then too and I was alone.   
Why didn’t you find me? Why didn’t   
somebody find me all those years?

[Here I think she’s back to the scene at the poetry reading – another dark shadowy setting of insufficient knowledge. She recalls her lonely youth, as she went “undiscovered” for so long by people like Gilbert, who should have recognized right away the love she had to give.]

The form  of love was purity. An art. An architecture.   
Maybe a train. Maybe the shadow of a statue   
and the statue with its front turned away   
from me. Maybe one young girl playing alone,   
hearing even small sounds ring off cobblestones   
and the stone walls.

[Her engagement with de Chirico’s visual world continues as she recalls her pre-sexual world of aesthetic feeling. Each of her maybes describes an image in a de Chirico painting, with the sense of her own peripherality and insufficient understanding implicit in his scenes: the statue’s front is turned away from her; the avidly sensitive, avidly feeling, young girl is desperate to hear even the smallest meaningful sounds from the world around her… In a way she’s returned to that world now.]

I turn the cards looking   
for the one and come to Giacometti’s eyes   
full of caring and something remote.
His eyes are loving and empty, but not with   
nothingness, not for the usual reasons, but because   
he is working.

[Still not finding the de Chirico, the poet finds a photograph of another artist, Giacometti, whose love, like her earlier, pre-sexual love, expresses something purely aesthetic and has nothing for her emotionally – and the implicit comparison here is with her poet/lover, whose love for her similarly turned out to be, let’s say, more about being engrossed in aesthetic “work” than about human caring.]

The Rothko Chapel empty. A cheap   
statue of Sappho in the modern city of Mytilene   
and ancient sunlight. David Park’s four men   
with smudges for mouths, backed by water,   
each held still by the impossibility of what   
art can accomplish.
A broken river god,
only the body. A girl playing with her rabbit in bed.   
The postcard of a summer lightning storm over Iowa.

The poem concludes with a cascade of images – one postcard after another glanced at on the way to the de Chirico she’s still after and won’t find – so she won’t find the clarity she seeks. She finds instead art’s oblique truths, with plenty of emptiness: Giacometti’s empty eyes; the empty Rothko Chapel; vast ancient sunlight in a cheapened world. And then there’s a precise description of the Park painting, a painting which accomplishes perhaps exactly what Gilbert and Gregg were ultimately, with all their intensity of movement, after: being “held” in the moment of fullness and intensity forever. Which is what powerful poems do: They elaborate such moments so strongly as to arrest them.

But now? The men’s godlike reality in their generative hyper-present moment, captured by the artist, is only painted body now – cheapened, broken. And the next image – the girl playing with the rabbit on her bed – is not I think a postcard, but a personal memory stirred by all of the images she has seen. It’s a kind of sudden reversion to the real – not passion, not art, but plain old autobiography — her own inescapable personal history.

By the time we get to her final postcard, we’ve transcended even personal history: The summer lightning storm over Iowa zooms everything out to nature as its blind tragic force crashes over the best-laid passionate intensities and geographical exoticisms. We end in Iowa.



Mourning doves and dogs barking and new bees

And the traffic heavy out of Dulles:

I’m gone a week and I come back to spring.

At the beach I walked right into a seal

At rest on the blank Atlantic shoreline.

For a second I couldn’t believe it.

The seal watched me stand there being slack-jawed

And then I dropped my shells and my backpack

And again and again took its picture:

Gray, gazing, grazing.  Crazy.  I alone

On the printless winter sand at seven

Circling, thirty feet away, the wild seal.

And this was stark, and not spring: printless sky

And featureless seal and long trackless strand

And nothing of green and the buzz of bees.

Hot stuff…

… on a cold day.

The link is to Christine Gosnay’s erotic poem, “Strangers,” which seems to UD a nice antidote to the current freezing conditions in her world. Not that things aren’t freezing in Gosnay’s poem; they are. But they’re also jazz-hot. The poem’s a surrealistic sexual reverie, and it runs hot and cold. Let’s eavesdrop.

The title suggests that the object of her reverie will be a stranger with whom she had sex; or the title might be suggesting that whatever the degree of knowledge and intimacy, we are always sexual (and other kinds of) strangers to one another. As in the Philip Larkin poem:

Talking In Bed

Talking in bed ought to be easiest,
Lying together there goes back so far,
An emblem of two people being honest.
Yet more and more time passes silently.
Outside, the wind’s incomplete unrest
Builds and disperses clouds in the sky,
And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation
It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.

Gosnay finds very strange words indeed as her speaker evokes for herself, in memory, in reverie, a sexual encounter. Here goes.

Tremendous orange things are happening somewhere.
I lay a wooden stick for stirring on the white note
on the desk. I lay a stain on the clean note.

Somewhere things are happening. Marvelous orange
and purple things. Flooding rivers at dusk, wheels threading
roads in the desert. Strangers. Strangers. Sea.

Makes no linguistic sense; the first sentence calls to mind Chomsky’s famous Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. OTOH, the emotional feel of that jumbled sentiment might also call to mind the wonderful first scene in the film Amélie, where the child-like, fantasizing title character suddenly vividly imagines all the exciting sex that must be going on in various places in Paris at that instant. Tremendous vivid and hot (orange) things are happening somewhere; and the images in this poem (flooding rivers at dusk…) leave little doubt that it means to evoke orgasmic release.

The poem’s speaker sits at a desk with a coffee stirrer, and when she puts it down on a clean sheet of paper she leaves a stain. This trivial domestic moment will broaden symbolically as the poem proceeds; it will become an icon of a white-sheeted bed on which a woman leaves a post-sex stain. It will remind the speaker of the sexual encounter that will produce her reverie.

Somewhere you are lying in a white bed. The clock
on your thigh is ticking. Somewhere a human form
is being lifted from the ground.

Somewhere, yes, and I am counting. The clean note
with its numbers has changed. I will remember.
You are a location, with a bed.

Now she addresses her stranger/lover directly; or perhaps she addresses herself. In any case, the simple point here seems to be that she found this sex both memorable and transformative: She has been lifted by lust into a new life – the once “clean” note on which her life was written has changed, “staining” her (not in a pejorative sense) forever. She now knows herself through that sexual interaction: You are a location, with a bed.

The road ends somewhere in the flooding river
at dusk. Why here, strangers. A cartwheel in the stow hold
of a ship. A stranger who wheels it on the ice.

Somewhere the ship has frozen. The ship has frozen
in the ice. A frozen form. The ship cannot be lifted
from the purple sky at dusk.

She’s revolving and revisiting her images now – river, road, strangers, wheel, dusk – all with the intent, I think, to suggest the following. Sex can be what Kafka says certain books can be: ‘the axe for the frozen sea within us.’ Sex can set rivers flooding, can break through the ice of the isolated self, and, weirdly, that can even happen – especially happen? – between strangers.

Stain in the somewhere. You are lying in a white bed.
Why here is the river. On the thigh. Remember
what we did with clocks. Orange and purple.

Lovely trees in the frozen sky. Holding somewhere and threading
thighs. Strangers. I lay a stain on the white bed.
Remembering what tremendous purple things we did.

Stain in the somewhere; holding somewhere. It’s wonderful the way she sustains the vague surrealism that authentically conveys the dusky fuzzy encounter and its dusky fuzzy remembrance. Looking up from that flooded bed, she now remembers, she noticed the lovely untransformed frozen world framing her transformation.

The mind ends every thing stirring. Somewhere the ship
is being lifted from the desert. Marvelous. You will change
from the river location to the sea.

Somewhere, things are happening. You are lying in the white bed
beside the sea with coffee. I am lying in the white bed.
Tremendous strangers. Blind roads in the sea.

There are many ways to read the first sentence, but in keeping with the rather simple reading I want to do: Everything in me was so excitedly stirred that I blessedly lost – temporarily, wonderfully – the very capacity for thought. Truly you lifted me from the desert of the self – selfishness, self-awareness, self-consciousness… I have gone from river to sea; from self to world. Three times she writes tremendous; twice she writes marvelous. This liberation from the stow hold of a frozen self, this being wheeled out into bliss, is too massively, enigmatically stupendous for words, so I’ll content myself with somewhere, and with vague indicators of immensity: tremendous, marvelous.

There are ways out of the frozen self! But the roads are “blind” – which is what this inchoate but symbolically controlled poem very nicely conveys. (Recall the first phrase of Joyce’s story, “Araby”: North Richmond Street, being blind...) Even at moments of intensest liberation, we don’t know where we’re going – we barely know where we are – and the best we can do is ruminate on liberating events. This poem is the trace of that rumination.

Schubert in Florida

All that’s best of dark and brightThis is Florida, where supremely brilliant days give way to the blackest of cosmic backdrops. The intensity of light and lightlessness draws poets, among them Charlie Smith.

Schubert in Florida

When you slunk across my dream

I was listening

to Schubert, I was standing in a stairwell

in a beach town, listening to Schubert’s darkest sonata

Poetry, so much of poetry, is dream. I’ve said this – and tried to demonstrate it – constantly on this blog. Poetry is the navigation of dream, if you like — poetry takes for granted our hard-won, fugitive awareness at any daylight moment; it tells us we are not really in command of ourselves. Rather we attempt, every blessed day, to marshal our consciousness-forces with enough plausibility to make it through social life, though a public world, all the time in peril of being pulled under into our private stream of consciousness.

So not really dark and light, but a tissue of them, a dance with them, a struggle — a musical counterpoint — between them, and this tends to be poetry’s territory, the exploration and expression of the mind oscillating between something like what Freud meant by ego and id. If Schubert’s darkest work waltzes forward with deep obscure personal sorrow, sunniest Florida strains hard in the other direction, all communal sweetness and light even as the cosmic blackdrop is always there. Smith will place his speaker in that tug of war as he tries to drag himself out of a darkly persistent passion for an ex-lover and enter the light of day.

thinking of children

coming on love for the first time, of their hands,

trembling as they reach across an obscure space

to touch the beloved who has become everything

important in life

Well I’ll be damned, writes Joan Baez in a song about her long-ago lover Bob Dylan, here comes your ghost again.  In this instance, the woman the speaker can’t get over has “slunk” into his dream, prompting, on his waking, thoughts of early, cryptic, all-encompassing passion… and, implicitly,  personal amazement at the lifelong intensity of his passion for the woman who haunts his dreams.

and thought how ridiculous

and destructive this is, this irrepressible need

for the loved one, the cascade through the self

of another’s presence – 

His mature non-dreaming mind can see the crazy, damaging thing letting someone essentially crash into you and take you over represents; but obviously there’s not much to be done about it. (“Love,” wrote James Merrill, “buries itself in me, up to the hilt.” Whether he likes it or not.)

thinking of the music

picking my way through this like a man searching

tearfully for his most important possession, a man drifting

through one of the aging Florida beach towns

on an August day

Of course music, pure music, is pure dream; there’s a kind of structure, a kind of dream logic; and there’s an expressivity that is strong but inarticulable.  Dreams and music move along to some meaning, or at least both feel profoundly meaningful, and we pick our way through both because both often seem to contain not only the most important things but, in their self-contained power and beauty, some explanation, some justification, for the way we are.  

So… that “aging” town is our guy, having moved past passion to tearful acknowledgment of its weird loss/retention; and that Floridian August is the passion still somehow burning very bright – at least on the evidence of who goes slinking through one’s dreams.

who abruptly leaves the dolphin performance

and returns to his car

parked in the shade of a gumbo-limbo tree

and takes a nap

& dreams of his ex-wife crossing a sun-streaked lawn,

a fine woman who glances at him without desire

That “limbo” tree is a nice touch, since we’re arguing that all of us exist not in clarity of consciousness and then sleep, not in past and then present, but in a much more interesting state of limbo. And here the drifty confused impassioned old guy suddenly (not with forethought) leaves the bright dolphin display of the Florida beach and goes back to his Schubertian car (one assumes it’s his own radio he’s hearing when he stands in the stairwell) and takes the nap that generates the dream with which the poem begins: the lost lover never lost, always crossing the sun-streaked world of youth that his unconscious generates in the night.

as one would glance

indifferently at a stranger standing in an outdoor stairwell

in a beach town listening to Schubert playing on a car radio,

a stranger waiting almost patiently for a brief sadness

to quell and die down, so he might move on from there.

Poem for the End of the Year


Let me die under a true dark sky
A certified cloudless lightless sky
Far down the Atlantic let northern lights
Dip their curtains when I die
Shallow breathing on the observation field
Skyglow gone and city brightness sealed
Let me sleep at ease in the windless clear
While mourners keep their torches low 

Let me find a window in the weather
For deep sky and a circle of telescopes
And a circle of mourners riveted
To the Milky Way

There are SO many poems titled ‘Winter Night’…

But UD likes this one best, by Jon Lang.


Before we go there: My own winter night sky tonight – viewed from my back deck in Garrett Park, Maryland – is blackly clear, with a large, full, bright moon.  This cosmic clarity comes equipped, this evening, with very cold, very awakening, air.  Like all those winter night poets, I’m stirred, and I’m lifted, out here, off the earth, to something acutely articulate; something post-human, and post-humous…   Yet as it happens, I don’t know what the universe is saying — I only know I’m exposed, in my coatless, ghosty condition, to its voice.   Wallace Stevens hears something of this with similar recognition and confusion at the seashore: 

The water never formed to mind or voice,   
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion   
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,   
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.
If you’re ever going to “break through the sensual gate,” writes Cecil Day-Lewis, it’s liable to happen facing the ocean, facing the stars; but that breakthrough, though heady, will be muddled and unnerving.  Better to return, continues Day-Lewis, to sublunary reality: “Friend, let us look to earth,/ Be stubborn, act and sleep.”
Philip Larkin, in “Sad Steps,” responds in a similar way to a sublimely moonstruck night:
Lozenge of love! Medallion of art!
O wolves of memory! Immensements! No,
One shivers slightly, looking up there.
The hardness and the brightness and the plain   
Far-reaching singleness of that wide stare…


Winter Night

How often we draw back, detached from the world

Like a star, and thinking the mind a pure space

Imagine our fate somehow suspended – almost

As if, like a far eye, or a small fist

Of light, we might take the whole of it, coldly, in.

But ah, what a show … for nothing really stops –

And the further we fade, the more the smallest pain

Heightens, iced to a moon’s edge. O, could we just

See! How even without us the vanishing earth

Goes on, child without mother, bearing itself

Blindly toward spring! Would we still, like gods,

Think ourselves beyond it all? Now, shrinking

Within, we only at best mimick the dead,

Who have earned with a life that richer, darker distance.

Sing it.

This is my trauma
Had it from birth
This is my trauma
Grandest on earth

My fellow poet stole it
O plagiarist! You’re bold!

But this is my trauma
To have and to hold

For UD, this has always been THE great WWI poem.

Its third stanza has become part of my mental life.


1. Prelude: The Troops

Dim, gradual thinning of the shapeless gloom
Shudders to drizzling daybreak that reveals
Disconsolate men who stamp their sodden boots
And turn dulled, sunken faces to the sky
Haggard and hopeless. They, who have beaten down
The stale despair of night, must now renew
Their desolation in the truce of dawn,
Murdering the livid hours that grope for peace.

Yet these, who cling to life with stubborn hands,
Can grin through storms of death and find a gap
In the clawed, cruel tangles of his defence.
They march from safety, and the bird-sung joy
Of grass-green thickets, to the land where all
Is ruin, and nothing blossoms but the sky
That hastens over them where they endure
Sad, smoking, flat horizons, reeking woods,
And foundered trench-lines volleying doom for doom.

O my brave brown companions, when your souls
Flock silently away, and the eyeless dead
Shame the wild beast of battle on the ridge,
Death will stand grieving in that field of war
Since your unvanquished hardihood is spent.
And through some mooned Valhalla there will pass
Battalions and battalions, scarred from hell;
The unreturning army that was youth;
The legions who have suffered and are dust.

— Siegfried Sassoon


(Most of its words and phrases
are taken from this article.)



Lightsail of artificial origin!
Non-trivial periodicity
Of the light curve! O Oumuamua:
I am in an excited state of spin.


You are excited by external torques…
Curved sheet, hollow cone or ellipsoidal,
Part of the vast unbound population,
Are you alien, probe, mineral, Orc?

“[R]eality itself remains very dear. One wants glimpses of …

… the real,” wrote Harold Brodkey, days before he died, in his memoir This Wild Darkness: The Story of My Death. In Saul Bellow’s novel, Herzog, his main character desperately wants to

live in an inspired condition, to know truth, to be free, to love another, to consummate existence, to abide with death in clarity of consciousness – without which, racing and conniving to evade death, the spirit holds its breath and hopes to be immortal because it does not live …

And in his poem, Note to Reality, Tony Hoagland, who has died, says much the same thing as Bellow and Brodkey, though in the wandering pastiche of poetry:

Without even knowing it, I have
believed in you for a long time.

When I looked at my blood under a microscope
I could see truth multiplying over and over.

—Not police sirens, nor history books, not stage-three lymphoma
persuaded me

but your honeycombs and beetles; the dry blond fascicles of grass
thrust up above the January snow.
Your postcards of Picasso and Matisse,
from the museum series on European masters.

When my friend died on the way to the hospital
it was not his death that so amazed me

but that the driver of the cab
did not insist upon the fare.

Quotation marks: what should we put inside them?

Shall I say “I” “have been hurt” “by” “you,” you neglectful monster?

I speak now because experience has shown me
that my mind will never be clear for long.

I am more thick-skinned and male, more selfish, jealous, and afraid
than ever in my life.

“For my heart is tangled in thy nets;
my soul enmeshed in cataracts of time…”

The breeze so cool today, the sky smeared with bluish grays and whites.

The parade for the slain police officer
goes past the bakery

and the smell of fresh bread
makes the mourners salivate against their will.


Nothing concentrates the mind like life-threatening illness; or so you’d think, but like most of us the poet’s “mind will never be clear for long,” so he must “speak now,” when his mind clears enough for him to write a poem. He addresses a love/hate note directly to what UD has always, in her own private lingo, called Mama Reality, that thing Bellow and Brodkey yearn toward, dream of, want to wake themselves from their dream of, so they can enter “clarity of consciousness” and leave the half-life their fear of death has settled them into.

Having overcome, for the moment, his customary half-awareness, the poet now sees that he has long “believed in you” – or he has at least believed in those manifestations of Mama Reality that involve the sheer pulsating amorally-triumphant proliferation of nature: cancerous blood cells overcoming the immune system; high grass overcoming January snow. Not abstractions, or even loud alarms, but the particularity of beetles (dung beetles, featured in Kafka’s Metamorphosis, represent another natural force that feeds on death) and honeycombs “persuade” the poet that reality exists, that life is not sheer dream, evasion, longing. Life is mad, often sweet and beautiful, but uncertainly meaningful, proliferation, as in the honeycombs, or in the piles of postcards of their work that the prolific artist-bees Picasso and Matisse generate.


And now we shift to a little narrative, a little memory, still in the key of morbidity and uncertain meaning:

When my friend died on the way to the hospital
it was not his death that so amazed me

but that the driver of the cab
did not insist upon the fare.

I note for the record, Reality, that to be grounded in you is to be hopelessly grounded in life – so much so, that once he died my friend was instantly less real to me than an anonymous, gratuitous, cabbie. That gratuitous gesture – not insisting on the fare – is all of us blindly driving forward to the next event, veering right away from the face of death. So here the poet is back to thinking about our customary half-sleep, our mainly unclarified consciousness:

Quotation marks: what should we put inside them?

Shall I say “I” “have been hurt” “by” “you,” you neglectful monster?

Why have you abandoned me to unreality, to the distancing abstractions of quotation marks rather than the direct expression that, as Herzog says, would allow me “to know truth”? You’re monstrously guilty of neglecting my yearning to be close to you; and at this late date I’m terribly ill – terribly hurt by your amoral proliferating processes – and I’m therefore very angry with you.

“For my heart is tangled in thy nets;
my soul enmeshed in cataracts of time…”

Here is another quotation. The poet draws upon biblical? Romantic? poetic traditions in another form of complaint: I can make this pretty if you like, but the obdurate outraging fact is my powerless implication in your unaccountable story of killing proliferation.

And now we end with brief present-time (real-time?) orientation:

The breeze so cool today, the sky smeared with bluish grays and whites.

The parade for the slain police officer
goes past the bakery

and the smell of fresh bread
makes the mourners salivate against their will.

Well, smeared. ‘Fraid we’re not making much progress out of unclarity, though, as with our response to all those Picassos, we retain aesthetic – painterly – responsiveness to the world. The earlier police siren, alarming us to danger, is now the accomplished death of the police officer; and, as in the narrative of the cab, reality seems to be that thing that hastens us on to the next fresh event, even in the immediate face of death. Rather than mourning, the paraders salivate at the smell of fresh bread.


It is an interesting question, you know – the extent to which our superior human consciousness can really lift us into a realm significantly higher than that of worker bees, enmeshed in cataracts and compelled – against our will – always to freshen and sweeten and proliferate our world until those compulsions turn morbid.

Ol’ Justice Buzzard

Ol’ Justice Buzzard
Had only just uttered
A word to his prisoners two;
But then on a dare
The courtroom was bare!
So Buzzard he tore off and flew.

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