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Louise Erdrich

June 8, 2011

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

— from Original Fire: Selected and New Poems


March 25, 2011

Aboard a bus between the hills of Rome
and Florence, I was dozing with my wife
but heard that cypress means eternal life.
Our guide talked on; at least one fact hit

I saw the cypresses upon the hills,
like spearheads pointing heavenward, leaf-
up close and smoke-wreathed flames of life
when seen
through Tuscan haze. This dreaming vision fills

the wine-cup of the poet’s mind, I think;
the lamp that hangs by golden chains above
the sculptor’s stone. So Dante’s verses sink
so deeply in the soul, and rays of love

revealed to toiling Michelangelo
a David in the marble’s ageless glow.

-Thomas Zimmerman, from The Corner Club Press


March 16, 2011

Our father taught us
music too—
Saturday evenings,
the tubes grew hot
as the turn-table
ran across a needle.
Steady low strings
held the cut of high
strings, in the air
around the room.
We listened;
the hiss and hum
of Copland’s
Spring, resonated
the speaker gauze.
We lay with him
on the carpet;
one of our hands
in each of his,
while notes pulled
new meanings
of what it meant
to be a hard-working
man, overcome
with such sound.

-Matthew Haughton, from Hamilton Stone Review

Books Read 2011

January 10, 2011

Half a Life, V.S. Naipaul

Lit Sites/Journals

December 19, 2010

Granta Magazine

HTML Giant


November 8, 2010

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood”

“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.”

-T.S. Eliot


October 17, 2010

“Their protected error (for she indulged a fancy that it was hers too) was like some dangerous, lovely, living thing that she had caught and could keep – keep vivid and helpless in the cage of her own passion and look at and talk to all day long. She had got it well locked up there by the time that from an upper window she saw Mrs. Gareth again in the garden. At this she went down to meet her.”

The Spoils of Poynton, Henry James

October 7, 2010

Another night, another packed trolley
approaches through rain—
all those faces at the windows,
taking the wide curve slowly
over the puddled street
rising, reflecting scattered lights
around the square.
The wheels rumble—
their distant squeak and heavy scraping.
I don’t need to see sparks fly to know
electricity’s out there. The Dnieper’s
dark width curves around the hip of Podol.
The Black Sea waits, but I’m not so sure
about the moon and stars I’ve not seen
in weeks, even late, coming back to my room,
to the Westclox I wind daily
for its iambs, downbeat
for the stray dogs barking.

The word is out, Another hard winter
is on the way. Man-made or not,
it is not enough to say, It is all just
in the planet’s revolving on its axis.

In Moscow, red Parisian fish
by Matisse, Goldfish,
wait in the master’s cylindrical bowl
flanked by arrangements
of flowers and plants
that just might paper the wall.
In that borrowed world
abstract strokes at the surface
are reflections of fish,
their eyes open in the clear water
upright and still on the round table
balanced on two thin legs
with no allusion to a third—
all cropped between the curved arm of a chair
and pink blossoms on the black floor.

In Kyiv, citizens decipher the surface
as at the Pole, an Eskimo
reads snow, as in Baltimore a man
might read the Sun in that Southern city
where The Blue Nude reclines, framed
behind a pane of glass. She might be
anywhere, come back, too cold
from shadows set high in deep perspective.

She contemplates the singularity
in her right arm and hand,
turned parallel to her body—not time
nor place, but these very parts of her,
like the semicircles of the vegetation,
like the circles of her breasts….

A chair set out on the beach at night,
a seat on the crowded trolley
about to stop, or the chair in Moscow
might be hers.
We can see
the sensation that she feels,
the moment of our being in her stare.

-James Brasfield on VerseDaily


October 6, 2010

When you see us swarm — rustle of

wingbeat, collapsed air — your mind
tries to make us one, a common

intelligence, a single spirit un-
tethered. You imagine us merely
searching out the next

vessel, anything

that could contain us, as if the hive
were just another jar. You try

to hold the ending, this
unspooling, make it either

zero or many, lack

or flurry. I was born,
you begin, & already each word
makes you smaller. Look at this field —

Cosmos. Lungwort. Utter each
& break

into a thousand versions of yourself.

You can’t tell your stories fast enough.
The answer is not one, but also

not two.

Nick Flynn in Folly


October 2, 2010

Balance is noticed most when almost failed of-

in an elephant’s delicate wavering
on her circus stool, for instance,
or that moment
when a ladder starts to tip but steadies back.

There are, too, its mysterious departures.

Hours after the dishes are washed and stacked,
a metal bowl clangs to the floor,
the weight of drying water all that altered;
a painting vertical for years
one morning-why?- requires a restoring tap.

You have felt it disappearing
from your own capricious heart-
a restlessness enters, the smallest leaning begins.

Already then inevitable,
the full collision,
the life you will describe afterwards always as “after.”

-Jane Hirshfield, originally published in Barrow Street