Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What I Didn't Say

It's summer in Detroit. Yesterday after bible study, I sat and read The Virgin Suicides (about Detroit) in fading downtown light. I love it here -- the million dollar mansions of a gilded age long past, the dream houses moldering in gorgeous dilapidation, a new running route to the Fisher Building, new friends, bustling farmers markets, music and music, the sleepy bells of my cathedral informing on times sneaky passage. I'm cleaning, paring down, trying to simplify the complicated as the school year winds to a close and summer opens up with its Detroit and tiny house days and trips to Canada and Europe. Weeding out old blog entries, I found unfinished entries in my drafts folder. Here are a few.


Life sometimes resembles the narrative thread of a novel. In the middle, all is unresolved, unrequited, unsettled. Out of the strange winter soil, tropical fruits grow. What's done is not done.


All the planes I could have taken back to you have turned to paper.


Love is an act of memory.


Rage is the truest sense of the present tense.


An ending... The curtain closes. The conversation stops. The phone-line goes dead. Last words. Last tears. Last rites. All has been said, shed, read. Some poems manage what life can't: an end the opens up, sustaining a feeling and music. Take William Butler Yeats -- that man could stick an ending.

In the "Song of the Wandering Aengus." The narrator has been searching his whole life in vain to recapture of vision of beauty that came to him as a youth. The poem closes with an avowal that he will keep searching, that a lifetime in pursuit of the chance of real beauty isn't in vain:

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;

And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Unincorporated Lines

Close to the water, close yours eyes -- there's no difference
in spelling, only pronunciation, the way silence sounds different
waiting on the platform for a scheduled train than waiting for life
to change as the first breath of spring greens the dormant city.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Olives - Modal Verbs

Excerpts from my notebooks

In the late Latin period, speakers began saying amare habeoI have (to) love instead of amaviI loved. This grammar of possession in the past or a future is present in English too—I have loved or I've got to go. On some subconscious level, we must feel we own our actions in the past and intentions for the future

Friday, January 6, 2017

A line from Blanca Castellon

I'm reviewing Water for Days of Thirst by Blanca Castellon, translated by Roger Hickin. I read this line going to sleep last night and have carried it with me all day long.

Atravesamos el verano con el otano a cuestas.

We go through summer with autumn on our shoulders.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Unincorporated Lines

In New York City this spring, I woke to sunlight and a bleary eyed view of the Brooklyn Bridge. A dream was fresh in my mind, present in it's beauty -- a coffee shop, a little creek in the middle of the city, golden light. I was writing for Tupelo Press' 30/30 and this line from the dream is all that came to me that day. It's not much but the vision is with me still. Is there more to the poem? Is there more to the mystery, that other life the dream speaks of? 

Unincorporated Lines

But the girl with golden freckles tattooed across her arms shows you where the river disappears.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

November for Beginners - Rita Dove

November for Beginners - by Rita Dove

Snow would be the easy
way out—that softening
sky like a sigh of relief
at finally being allowed
to yield. No dice.
We stack twigs for burning
in glistening patches
but the rain won’t give.

So we wait, breeding
mood, making music
of decline. We sit down
in the smell of the past
and rise in a light
that is already leaving.
We ache in secret,

a gloomy line
or two of German.
When spring comes
we promise to act
the fool. Pour,
rain! Sail, wind,
with your cargo of zithers!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

When You Are Old

Last year, I wrote a post about Yeats and losing in love. And that enduring, hopeless love of his produced "When You Are Old. It's been stuck in my head for weeks. A poem can't be a requitation for love, for that kind of love, but it's something.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.