Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Physics of Hope

Illustration by Hope Coulter

Remember lessons in displacement, how water is pushed aside
by the hollow of a boat, the way a heart is held in suspension
by absence. Time spent waiting for a ferry to arrive is the same
as other time, even if it seems to pass more slowly. Its derivative
will show the rate of change of the prow cutting through the chop
of a grey Sunday. For every action, an equal and opposite reaction.
You pushed, he ran, a body in motion. Now there are questions
only observation can decide: whether the boxed cat is alive or dead,
whether the boy shows up to a meeting arranged months before
or steps off the gangway with a fistful of drugstore carnations
clutched in hand. Consider the factors at play –– friction, momentum,
tension, gravity, trajectory, entanglement. It’s hard to calculate
the physics of hope against hope. If energy is not created or destroyed,
perhaps love too could be enduring. The equation will soon solve itself
and the future resolve into the facts that eventually make up life.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Late Summer Honey

We will awake to chill and the scent of leaves
some crisp morning and realize summer has left us,
irrevocably, in the night. What will we have then ––
a rumbling of apples on the roof, frost-tinged roses,
sweaters and jean jackets, afternoons of white wine
and tea sandwiches? In the last failings of the gardens,
the sleepy susurration of bees will lull us to sleep
beneath the sly warmth of the mid-day sun.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Rilke -- Autumn Day

Autumn Day

Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Lay your shadow on the sundials
and let loose the wind in the fields.
Bid the last fruits to be full;
give them another two more southerly days,
press them to ripeness, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now will not build one anymore.
Whoever is alone now will remain so for a long time,
will stay up, read, write long letters,
and wander the avenues, up and down,
restlessly, while the leaves are blowing.

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.