I Live In Stillness Now

Allen Ginsberg and his partner Peter Orlovsky


I Dwelled in Hell On Earth To Write This Rhyme

by Allen Ginsburg  (1926 – 1997)

I dwelled in Hell on earth to write this rhyme,
I live in stillness now, in living flame:
I witness Heaven in unholy time
I room in the renown-ed city, am
Unknown. The fame I dwell in is not mine.
I would not have it. Angels in the air
Serenade my senses in delight
Intelligence of poets, saints and fair
Characters converse with me all night,
But all the streets are burning everywhere,
The city is burning these multitudes that climb
Her buildings. Their inferno is the same
I scaled as a stupendous blazing stair.
They vanish as I look into the light.

Queer poetry has come a long way since the 17th century.   If you are surprised to see a sonnet from Ginsburg, so was I.  The poem above is truly a unicorn in Ginsburg’s body of writing.  But as I have commented before, one of the fun things about this blog is almost every poet, regardless of their dominant style, wrote at least one sonnet like poem along the way, a testimony as to how incredibly pervasive the sonnet form is in literature.

I debated sharing an excerpt from Howl and decided against it.  I found it difficult to find a portion that contained the spirit of Howl that also fit the style of this blog.  I think one of the reasons that Howl is so successful is that Ginsburg didn’t shy away from discussing his sexuality and emotions in terms that were not common at the time.  He brought all of it to the page, the raunchiness and the simplicity of gay sex and his outlook on life.  I have had the same internal debate around Auden’s poem The Platonic Blow.  I think The Platonic Blow is the best poem ever written about a blow job, but it strays a bit too far into the realm of pornography that some readers would find it offensive.   

Richard Barnfield has only recently caught the attention of the reading public again, in part because he was forthright for his day in his courageous themes around homosexuality given the stigma and potential punishment.   Barnfield is a unique character; he praised Shakespeare before Shakespeare’s writing had caught the public’s attention and wrote several poems that for a period of time following both men’s deaths were incorrectly attributed to Shakespeare.   Modern anthologies have sorted things out, based on careful research and documentation, but to have a poem or two of your own thought to be tied to one of the greatest literary mind’s in history is quite the back handed compliment.   

There has been lots in the news lately about the big business of art forgery and the murky provenances of missing paintings that suddenly appear on the market.  The Knoedler gallery scandal makes for entertaining reading but is problematic about why is some art considered valuable and the incentives that value then creates to cheat. It made me wonder how often writers forge the work of other poets and try and fit it in to the literary canon so that it becomes accepted as the work of that famous writer?  How many literary scholars who toil away in academic obscurity have been tempted to “uncover” a new poem that they secretly took great pleasure in writing, knowing if it was attributed to them it would be ignored, but as a long lost poem of a famous writer it suddenly becomes a career enhancing “discovery”?  The less inventive and more common fraud is someone stealing another’s writing and claiming they wrote it and putting their name on it.   Is anyone aware of a case where poetry was forged by someone else, and if so, for what purpose was the forgery perpetrated? How was it uncovered? If you aware of such a case, please share. 

Sonnet 16

By Richard Barnfield (1574-1620)

Long have I long’d to see my love againe,
Still have I wisht, but never could obtaine it;
Rather than all the world (if I might gaine it)
Would I desire my love’s sweet precious gaine.
Yet in my soule I see him everie day,
See him, and see his still sterne countenaunce,
But (ah) what is of long continuance,
Where majestie and beautie beares the sway?
Sometimes, when I imagine that I see him,
(As love is full of foolish fantasies)
Weening to kisse his lips, as my love’s fees,
I feele but aire: nothing but aire to bee him.
Thus with Ixion, kisse I clouds in vaine:
Thus with Ixion, feele I endles paine.

We Have No Time

William Henry Davies (

No matter where the body is the mind is free to go elsewhere.

William Henry Davies


by William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.


All in June

by William Henry Davies

A week ago I had a fire 
To warm my feet, my hands and face; 
Cold winds, that never make a friend, 
Crept in and out of every place. 

Today the fields are rich in grass, 
And buttercups in thousands grow; 
I’ll show the world where I have been– 
With gold-dust seen on either shoe. 

Till to my garden back I come, 
Where bumble-bees for hours and hours 
Sit on their soft, fat, velvet bums, 
To wriggle out of hollow flowers.

I, Catullus Redivivus

Alan Tate (1899 – 1979)

How does one happen to write a poem, where does it come from? That is the question asked by the psychologists or the geneticists of poetry.

Alan Tate

Sonnets of The Blood (Excerpt)

by Alan Tate
The fire I praise was once perduring flame—
Till it snuffs with our generation out;
No matter, it’s all one, it’s but a name   
Not as late honeysuckle half so stout;
So think upon it how the fire burns blue,   
Its hottest, when the flame is all but spent;   
Thank God the fuel is low, we’ll not renew   
That length of flame into our firmament;   
Think too the rooftree crackles and will fall   
On us, who saw the sacred fury’s height—
Seated in her tall chair, with the black shawl   
From head to foot, burning with motherly light   
More spectral than November dusk could mix   
With sunset, to blaze on her pale crucifix.

On the first read of Words for Hart Crane, its hard to tell if it is intended as a homage. an ode to a departed friend or a put down.  It maybe because its likely Lowell intended it be both.  There are certain words, in certain poems, whose meaning and context can be pivot points of understanding.  For someone who prided himself on craftsmanship, Lowell’s use of Catullus redivivus is interesting.  Catullus was a Latin poet in the late Roman empire, who in some ways was one of the first “confessional” poets, writing about his own life experience, rather than gods, goddesses and heroes.  Inferring that Hart was the “Catullus” of his generation and the Shelley, sets him in esteemed company, but does it imply he was also outdated? Is it intended as a compliment?  I am not sure.  Potentially unravelling this sonnet further requires a little history.

Although Alan Tates legacy is mostly tied to his influence at Vanderbilt University, Princeton University and the University of Minnesota, his literary influence was much broader through friends and colleagues.  After graduating from Vanderbilt, Alan Tate moved to New York City where he became good friends with Hart Crane.  The two of them and Tate’s soon to be wife Caroline Gordon moved from Greenwich Village to a house in Patterson, New York (home of William Carlos Williams).  The three of them lived together for several years and shortly after, Caroline and Tate married and Caroline gave birth to their daughter.  Though their marriage was bumpy, they largely stuck it out, despite divorcing and remarrying and separating again over the years.  Crane,  sadly did not, stick it out.   He died while on a ship in 1932 at the age of 33 in the Caribbean by throwing himself overboard.   The connections between Hart Crane, Alan Tate, Robert Penn Warren, John Crowe Ransom, John Berryman and Robert Lowell are intricate.  There is a quadrangle that runs from Vanderbilt, to Kenyon to Princeton, Yale and Harvard and the University of Minnesota where these men moved, sometimes interchangeably, during their careers.   

When Lowell was dropped off by Merrill Moore on the door step of Alan Tate’s home in the 1930’s, it wasn’t a two bedroom flat of a penniless professor.  It was at the steps of a charming 185 acre Tennessee estate called Benfolly, which Tate’s brother had purchased for him after making a fortune on coal.  Benfolly was one of the centers of American literature in its day, a place of comfort for frequent visits by Ford Madox Ford, Edmund Wilson, Louise Bogan, Stark Young, Malcolm Cowley and his wife, John Ransom and his wife and Robert Penn Warren and his wife.  Talk about an amazing book group.  It sounds like a bushel of fun!

Students like Lowell and Randall Jarrel, who had the good fortune to be allowed into this literary and stimulating circle, realized the incredible opportunity that was opened for them.  Alan Tate is quoted multiple times that the only thing you can take as a reader and as a writer are the words on the page.   What does something mean?  There is no one meaning of any poem and what Lowell intended may have been only sheer gratitude and to honor his friendship with Crane.   What do you take from Lowell’s poem; Words For Hart Crane?   

Words For Hart Crane

By Robert Lowell

When the Pulitzers showered on some dope
or screw who flushed our dry mouths out with soap,
few people would consider why I took
to stalking sailors, and scattered Uncle Sam’s
phoney gold-plated laurels to birds.
Because I knew my Whitman like a book,
stranger in America, tell my country; I,
Catullus redivivus, once the rage
of the Village and Paris, used to play my role
of homosexual, wolfing the stray lambs
who hungered by the Place de la Concorde.
My profit was a pocket with a hole.
Who asks for me, the Shelley of my age,
must lay his heart out for my bed and board.

It Seems Almost Unfair

Mad Magazine’s Depiction Of Humpty Trumpty


by T. A. Fry

November is the month,
Most trees are brown and bare
The leaves are down,
They’ve lost gold crowns
It seems almost unfair.

The tree invested time
In nurturing each leaf
Then let them go
Next spring to grow
New ones in relief.

Do the barren trees
Rest in a belief;
It’s better to live
Like it’s better to give,
Than be the ones to receive?

The brown leaves all objected,
Lying lifeless in the dirt;
“We fed the tree
Sugar for free,
We gave until it hurt.”

I am a fan of nursery rhymes, parables and general silliness with words.  Word play, puns and rhymes are ways our brains smile.  How many of you can remember the pledge of allegiance by heart versus Humpty Dumpty?   We remember silly rhymes far better than we do free verse because the rhyme and meter guide our memory.   

Nursery rhymes also have a long history of subversion, a way for people to rebel, to hide political satire or treason in plain sight and teach it to their children.   

Humpty Trumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Trumpty had a great fall,
All of his lawyers and all of his men,
Couldn’t put Trumpty in the White House again.

I have been working on a draft of a children’s book the past couple of weeks, cooped up at home because of COVID.   November kind of popped out of my brain one morning a couple weeks ago and although it doesn’t fit the current children’s book I am writing I am fond of it as a parable.   

History is generally on the side of the victor and eventually the law.  I am confident history will not be kind to Mr. Trump.  Starting January 20th, he will no longer have the legal protections afforded him as President and will have to give an account for himself  as a civilian.  I believe the sheer lunacy of his claims around winning the election and the constant lies he and his lawyers Tweet on a daily basis are not because they believe he will prevail in the courts and remain President.  I don’t think that’s his intention.  I think he is trying to solidify his dwindling cult following and whip those that remain into a such a frenzy around a conspiracy so far fetched, so impossible, that it either has to be believed as faith or rejected, because no actual evidence exists.  Trump’s defense of claiming victory is like writing a mathematical theorem on the existence of God, it can’t be done, no physical proof exists.  Trump’s lies are  so far beyond the realm of common sense that they become a test of faith.  Trump is like a child standing before his Mother  with chocolate on his face, claiming to know nothing about a missing cake, wanting to know if Mother country loves him more than the lie he is telling?

Trump is hoping to solidify his status as a cult leader and in some way that will protect him when federal prosecutors file charges and eventually convict him of serious crimes.  Trump is not interested in politics or being the leader of the GOP.  I don’t believe he is interested in leading the government. Trump is interested only in being the leader of his cult.  Trump is hoping to subvert the law’s of this country in ways that are far more sinister than messing around with the transition of power between administrations, far worse than being rude or shrewd or rejecting the norms of our Democracy and generally being difficult. Let’s call what Trump is doing what it is; fascism. Trump is conducting a a very real civil war for his own personal gain.   The question is whether it will remain a war of words or something far more dire, something far more consequential than it has already become in the damage it has done to our democracy and our unity as a nation.

I find the definition of civilian prophetic, given Mr. Trump’s civil and criminal legal predicaments hanging over this head, not the least of which are his fraudulent tax filings.  I hope the vast majority of Americans will look at the golden leaves of our democracy on the ground, turning brown and realize it is the tax payers and common stockholders in their 401K and pensions, who bail out companies and individuals like Trump when they go bankrupt.   It is the person working as a cashier in the grocery store who pays their full share of their taxes who finance the shenanigan’s of rich men’s accountants, who do not pay their fair share.  Ultimately it is we, as citizens of a society, who pay for the repeated business failures of men like Trump; the cost of those losses are taken out of the pockets of all, in higher costs for goods and services. 

Let us hope as a civilian he will be seen as unprofessional by the vast majority of Americans, not just the 80 plus million majority of legal voters who cast legal votes for democracy, who voted for Biden.  Let us hope that Trump will be seen as the emperor with no clothes, with no golden crown, who has fallen from his ledge of power.  I hope main stream Republicans will start to look on  Trump as a criminal who does not belong in the GOP.  I hope they will realize that it is unbecoming of the traditions of our nation to support a fascist who wants to rewrite an election in his own favor for his own personal reasons.   Its time we all distance ourselves from this man, a man unworthy of anyone’s loyalty.  Biden is offering a flower of peace, a white lily.  Let’s hope we can all put it in a vase to admire while its still in bloom. 


[ si-vil-yuhn ]


  1. a person who is not on active duty with a military, naval, police, or fire fighting organization.
  2. Informalanyone regarded by members of a profession, interest group, society, etc., as not belonging; nonprofessional; outsider.

My Pretty Rose Tree

by William Blake

A flower was offered to me,
Such a flower as May never bore;
But I said, ‘I’ve a pretty rose tree,’
And I passed the sweet flower o’er.

Then I went to my pretty rose tree,
To tend her by day and by night;
But my rose turned away with jealousy,
And her thorns were my only delight.


Dreaming As The Summer Dies

Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll (1832 – 1898)

A Boat Beneath A Sunny Sky

By Lewis Carroll

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July —

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear —

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream —
Lingering in the golden gleam —
Life, what is it but a dream?

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known under his pen name Lewis Carroll, authored some of the most complicated and inventive poems and stories in the last 200 years. Both  Jabberwocky and The Hunting Of The Snark are unfairly in my mind categorized as nonsensical poems or pigeon holed as “children’s” literature.  Yet, I have met more than one grown adult who knew only one poem by memory and that poem was Jabberwocky and could recite it brilliantly after a couple of beers.

What about Carroll’s imagination continues to connect with generation after generation of readers? I believe it’s because his “nonsensical” literature actually makes more sense than some of our real life experiences.  Danger and unfairness abounds in Alice in Wonderland but in the end she returns safe and sound to her sister’s side to share her adventure. Carroll turns the world upside down and topsy-turvy not as a parody but because that is how life can feel for many of us.   Crafting all of his writing as “children’s” stories is the real brilliance of his subversive literature, allowing readers of all ages to identify with the humor and inventiveness while letting each of us decide how it connects to our imaginations. If you haven’t read Jabberwocky recently, here is a link.


Carroll’s ability to make up words is a gift limited to very few writers. I have only attempted it a couple of times in my own writing and nothing as bold or timeless as Carroll’s additions to the English language.  The tradition of using made up words is a hallmark of poets that goes back to oral traditions by story tellers from the beginning of time.  Maybe all new words start out as nonsense. And only become respected members of dialogue as time passes. Do you or your family have a made up word that fits perfectly in your vocabulary?   Is it alive and well and have you immortalized it in a poem?

The Voice Of The Lobster

by Lewis Carroll

”Tis the voice of the Lobster: I heard him declare
‘You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair.’
As a duck with its eyelids, so he with his nose
Trims his belt and his buttons, and turns out his toes.
When the sands are all dry, he is gay as a lark,
And will talk in contemptuous tones of the Shark:
But, when the tide rises and sharks are around,
His voice has a timid and tremulous sound.’

‘I passed by his garden, and marked, with one eye,
How the Owl and the Panter were sharing a pie:
The Panther took pie-crust, and gravy, and meat,
While the Old had the dish as its share of the treat.
When the pie was all finished, the Owl, as a boon,
Was kindly permitted to pocket the spoon:
While the Panther received knife and fork with a growl,
And concluded the banquet by [eating the owl.]

The Secret of Secrets


Anna Akmatova by Nathan Altman

On The Road

by Anna Akmatova (1889 – 1966)
Translated by Jane Kenyon

Though this land is not my own
I will never forget it,
or the waters of its ocean,
fresh and delicately icy.

Sand on the bottom is whiter
. .than chalk,
and the air is drunk, like wine.
Late sun lays bare
the rosy limbs of the pine trees.

And the sun goes down in waves
. .of ether
in such a way that I can’t tell
if the day is ending, or the world,
or if the secrets of secrets is within
me again.

Portrait of a Figure Near Water

by Jane Kenyon

Rebuked, she turned and ran
uphill to the barn. Anger, the inner
arsonist, held a match to her brain.
She observed her life: against her will
it survived the unwavering flame.

The barn was empty of animals.
Only a swallow tilted
near the beams, and bats
hung from the rafters
the roof sagged between.

Her breath became steady
where, years past, the farmer cooled
the big tin amphoræ of milk.
The stone trough was still
filled with water: she watched it
and received its calm.

So it is when we retreat in anger:
we think we burn alone
and there is no balm.
Then water enters, though it makes
no sound.

We Are The Men of Soul

Fela Kuti (1938 – 1997)

“A radical is he who has no sense…fights without reason…I have a reason. I am authentic. Yes, that’s what I am”

Fela Kuti

Beware, Soul Brother

by Chinua Achebe

We are the men of soul
men of song we measure out
our joys and agonies
in paces of the dance.
Beware, soul brother, beware,
for others there will be
lying in waiting, leaden-footed, tone deaf,
passionate to despoil the devour.
Take care then, mother’s son, take care
hanging a lame foot in air like the hen
in a strange unfamiliar compound.
Protect this patrimony to which
you must return when the song is finished
and the dancers disperse;
Remember also your children
for they in their time will want a
place for their feet when they come of age
and the dance of the future is born for them.


The concept of artist transforming society is most visible among rock stars.  But when those artists change the way we think there is something profound that goes beyond their music.  Bob Dylan never wanted to take credit that his music had a message.  Fela Kuti did.  Kuti didn’t pull any punches in regard to what he was singing and why.  Kuti wanted to bring down the corruption endemic in politics in post colonial Africa and move Africa forward.  So did Achebe.  Poetry and music is most powerful when it moves beyond the words to a regenerative truth. When it strives to create a new understanding, even an imperfect understanding of ways to improve our world.

Tony Allen was the rhythm that drove Fela Kuti’s sound for decades. Allen died in April at age 79.  If you don’t recognize the name, you should recognize the beat, because it has been imitated by drummers in jazz and rock and roll for the past 50 years. Allen created the Afro beat and was the coolest jazz drummer of our generation.  No one played a lick like Allen. His timing, his rhythm is sheer poetry, sheer jazz.  I have shared a few links below.  Enjoy.




Beasts of No Nation

by Fela Kuti

Ah- Let’s get now into another, underground spiritual game
Just go to help me the answer, go to say, “Aiya-kata”- Oh ya
AIYA-KATA *(after each line)
O’feshe- g’Ba

AIYA-KATA *(after each line)

Aiya kata
Aiya Koto
Aiya Kiti
Aiya Kutu
AIYA-KATA *(after each line)
O’feshe- g’Ba
Basket mouth wan start to leak again, oh-
Abi** you don forget I say I sing, ee-oh **(is it not)
Oh, I sing, I say, I go my mouth like basket, ee-oh, Malan Bia-gbe-re
Basket mouth wan start to leak again, oh-
Fela, wetin you go sing about?
DEM GO WORRY ME… *(after each line)
Dem go worry me, worry me– worry, worry, worry, worry
DEM GO WORRY ME *(After each line)
Dey wan to make us sing about prison
Dem go worry me, worry me– worry, worry all over da town
Dey wan to know about prison life
Dem go worry me, worry me– worry, worry all over da town
*(repeat stanza)
Fela, wetin you go sing about?
Dem go worry me, worry me– worry, worry, worry, worry
The time weh I dey, for prison, I call am “inside world”
The time weh I dey outside prison, I call am “outside world”
Na craze world, na be outside world
CRAZE** WORLD *(after each line) / **(crazy)
Na be outside- da police-i dey
Na be outside- da soldier dey
Na be outside- da court dem dey
Na be outside- da magistrate dey
Na be outside- da judge dem dey
Na craze world be dat
Na be outside- Buhari dey
Na craze man be dat
Animal in craze-man skin-i
Na craze world be dat
Na be outside- Idia-gbon dey
Na craze man be dat- oh
Animal in craze-man skin-i
Na craze world be dat
Na be outside- dem find me guilty
Na be outside- dem jail me five years
——————I no do nothing
Na be outside-dem judge dey beg ee-o
Na craze world be dat, Na craze world be dat
Na be outside- dem kill dem students
Soweto, Zaria, and Ife
Na craze world be dat, ee-oh
Na craze world be dat
Na be outside- all dis dey happen
Na craze world be dat, ee-oh
Na craze world be dat, ee-oh
Na craze world be dat, ee-oh
Na craze world be dat, ee-oh
Na craze world be dat, ee-oh…
Make you hear this one
War against indiscipline, ee-oh
Na Nigerian government, ee-oh
Dem dey talk ee-oh
“My people are us-e-less, My people are sens-i-less, My people are indiscipline”
Na Nigerian government, ee-oh
Dem dey talk be dat
“My people are us-e-less, My people are sens-i-less, My people are indiscipline”
I never hear dat before- oh
Make Government talk, ee-oh
“My people are us-e-less, My people are sens-i-less, My people are indiscipline”
Na Nigerian government, ee-oh
Dem dey talk be dat
Which kind talk be dat- oh?
Craze talk be dat ee-oh
Na animal talk be dat


A Yesterday I Find Almost Impossible To Lift

Stanley Plumly (1939 – 2019)

“And now each day seems,
Like my own soul, farther and farther off,
Lost in its light as in a dream in which I meant to ask you something.”

Stanley Plumly

Five Flights Up

by Elizabeth Bishop

Still dark.
The unknown bird sits on his usual branch.
The little dog next door barks in his sleep
inquiringly, just once.
Perhaps in his sleep, too, the bird inquires
once or twice, quavering.
Questions—if that is what they are—
answered directly, simply,
by day itself.

Enormous morning, ponderous, meticulous;
gray light streaking each bare branch,
each single twig, along one side,
making another tree, of glassy veins . . .
The bird still sits there. Now he seems to yawn.

The little black dog runs in his yard.
His owner’s voice arises, stern,
“You ought to be ashamed!”
What has he done?
He bounces cheerfully up and down;
he rushes in circles in the fallen leaves.

Obviously, he has no sense of shame.
He and the bird know everything is answered,
all taken care of,
no need to ask again.
—Yesterday brought to today so lightly,
(A yesterday I find almost impossible to lift).

I enjoy the connections that poets make as inspiration in their work.  I like to try and connect those dots between poems.  A test of a poet’s prowess among the academic community is often the unique quality of their voice in their work, this idea that poetry has to be constantly evolving.   I am not sure that’s possible or even always interesting. Everything is built on the foundation of something, influenced by something.  Poetry written with no influences is likely not poetry in my mind, the poet disingenuous in giving credit where credit is due.  We all have to start with something, start somewhere. We travel to what we think are unique destinations of the mind, only to find the cairns of past adventurers, awaiting us in literature and art.

Freud is quoted as saying,  “Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.”  

I thoroughly enjoyed both of these poems. The fact they are connect by one line, “-Yesterday brought to today so lightly,” gives them an interesting push/pull when read back to back. For the time being, my yesterday’s are not as impossible to lift as the uncertainty of my tomorrows. I’ll get more used to this  new uncharted territory of worry for our loved ones and the unthinking way we took for granted our good health in the past, but it will take a while. If there is blessing of this pandemic is to make our today’s more mindful and not a thing we take for granted.  Be well.

Variations on a line from Elizabeth Bishop’s “Five Flights Up”

by Stanley Plumly

Sometimes it’s the shoes, the tying and untying,
the bending of the heart to put them on,
take them off, the rush of blood
between the head and feet, my face,
sometimes, if I could see it, astonished.
Other times the stairs, three, four stages
at the most, “flights” we call them,
in honor of the wings we’ll never have,
the fifth floor the one that kills the breath,
where the bird in the building flies to first.
Love, too, a leveler, a dying all its own,
the parts left behind not to be replaced,
a loss ongoing, and every day increased,
like rising in the night, at 3:00 am,
to watch the snow or the dead leaf fall,
the rings around the streetlight in the rain,
and then the rain, the red fist in the heart
opening and closing almost without me.
“ — Yesterday brought to today so lightly!”
The morning, more and more, like evening.
When I bend to tie my shoes and the blood
fills the cup, it’s as if I see into the hidden earth,
see the sunburned path on which I pass
in shoes that look like sandals
and arrive at a house where my feet
are washed and wiped with my mother’s hair
and anointed with the autumn oils of wildflowers.

Luminous The Light Of Being You

Edna St. Vincent Millay

To Vincent

by T. A. Fry

Never was your singular voice contrived.
Nor the passion that shaped it.  Like your art,
No more separable from your racing heart
Than blood from beating, than poets from pride.
Jilted lovers, their earnest vows denied,
Your bohemian life, eagerly read,
Vainglorious words and beauty wed,
To your poetic nature like a bride.

Faithfulness to art a winsome doom.
How great was Envy’s pressure to be true,
To the siren who infamously burned?
A Pulitzer for voicing freedoms earned.
Luminous the light of being you,
Free to live and love, what you loved and whom.

It’s hard to say goodbye to Vincent, but awfully good to be about to say Hello to February.  And as much fun as its been to spend a month in her company, she would be the first to tell you variety is the spice of life.  Time to head out again farther afield with more spontaneity and new poets.

Here is a charming grainy home made movies of Edna with her friends. I highly recommend you turn your volume to zero when you watch it.  Someone, well meaning I am sure, laid in music over the top. These were silent films, similar to the films of my mother as a child.  Try watching it as Vincent would have watched it.  And then we will bid adieu to Millay letting her own words have the last word.

From Not For A Nation

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

What rider spurs him from the darkening east
As from a forest, and with rapid pound
Of hooves, now light, now louder on hard ground,
Approaches, and rides past with speed increased,
Dark spots and flecks of foam upon his beast?
What shouts he from the saddle, turning ’round,
As he rides on? — “Greetings!” — I made the sound;
“Greetings from Nineveh!” — it seemed, at least.
Did someone catch the object that he flung?
He held some object on his saddle-bow,
And flung it towards us as he passed; among
The children then it fell most likely; no,
‘Tis here: a little bell without a tongue.
Listen; it has a voice even so.

I Will Put Chaos Into Fourteen Lines

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I will put Chaos into fourteen lines
And keep him there; and let him thence escape
If he be lucky; let him twist, and ape
Flood, fire, and demon – his adroit designs
Will strain to nothing in the strict confines
Of this sweet Order, where, in pious rape,
I hold his essence and amorphous shape,
Till he with Order mingles and combines.
Past are the hours, the years, of our duress,
His arrogance, our awful servitude:
I have him.  He is nothing more than less
Than something simple not yet understood;
I shall not even force him to confess,
Or answer.  I will only make him good.



Be Always Drunken

Minneapolis Getting In The Holiday Spirit At The Brave New Workshop

The Drunk Sonnets

by Daniel Bailey





I much prefer Baudelaire’s version of over indulgence but Bailey certainly has a great sense of humor.  ‘Tis the season for office holiday parties, white elephant gift night with the buds and other opportune events to let down your hair, put on a lamp shade and over indulge. Here are a few tips to avoid incarceration, termination or break-ups with your current squeeze.

  1. Don’t try and keep up.  Let’s face it, most people can’t drink up to the living large standards of their friends and alcoholic relatives.  Let them do the heavy lifting this December and New Years.  Skip the first round and then go every other from there, making sure they are picking up the tab along the way if you are out on the town.  They will run out of steam after their fifth drink and you’ll only have had two.
  2. Bring poetry to read aloud to all holiday gatherings.  Read one poem every 30 minutes, by announcing loudly, “Can everyone be quiet, I have something MARVELOUS to share.” Nothing will kill the vibe at that party faster and you won’t have time to get plastered.  The event will end much quicker than planned and you can go home with extra doggy bags of left over food where you can drink like a responsible adult, on your sofa.
  3. Become an Uber driver and then charge all your friends and relatives to drive them to and from the events you are invited. It will give you a sense of purpose to be the designated UBERIST and you can make some extra cash for the holidays.
  4. Ride the bus to all your scheduled events.  You will arrive 45 minutes late and have to leave by 9:45 to get to your bus stop and so likely you’ll only have time for a couple of drinks.
  5. Use the buddy system.  This is similar to option #1, except be sure to go to all the events with your favorite drunk.  Someone who has a great sense of humor, killer sarcasm and a supernatural knowledge of 1990’s television shows for trivia.  Pick them up when they are 3 cocktails into the afternoon at .10 blood alcohol content and then watch as they slur their way to .20 over the next couple of hours. Watching them make a complete fool of themselves while you are dead sober will keep you to a two drink maximum.   Remember to bring a plastic bucket in your car in case your friend is a 1:30 am White Castle snacking barfer.   This tip also applies to Option #3.

I hope you find these holiday survival tips to getting plowed helpful.   Happy Holidays!


(Paris Spleen, 1864)
by Charles Baudelaire

Il faut être toujours ivre. Tout est là: c’est l’unique question. Pour ne pas sentir l’horrible fardeau du Temps qui brise vos épaules et vous penche vers la terre, il faut vous enivrer sans trêve.

   Mais de quoi? De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise. Mais enivrez-vous.
Et si quelquefois, sur les marches d’un palais, sur l’herbe verte d’un fossé, dans la solitude morne de votre chambre, vous vous réveillez, l’ivresse déjà diminuée ou disparue, demandez au vent, à la vague, à l’étoile, à l’oiseau, à l’horloge, à tout ce qui fuit, à tout ce qui gémit, à tout ce qui roule, à tout ce qui chante, à tout ce qui parle, demandez quelle heure il est et le vent, la vague, l’étoile, l’oiseau, l’horloge, vous répondront: “Il est l’heure de s’enivrer! Pour n’être pas les esclaves martyrisés du Temps, enivrez-vous; enivrez-vous sans cesse! De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise.”

Be always drunken. Nothing else matters: that is the only question. If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time weighing on your shoulders and crushing you to the earth, be drunken continually.Drunken with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will. But be drunken. And if sometimes, on the stairs of a palace, or on the green side of a ditch, or in the dreary solitude of your own room, you should awaken and the drunkenness be half or wholly slipped away from you, ask of the wind, or of the wave, or of the star, or of the bird, or of the clock, of whatever flies, or sighs, or rocks, or sings, or speaks, ask what hour it is; and the wind, wave, star, bird, clock, will answer you: “It is the hour to be drunken! Be drunken, if you would not be martyred slaves of Time; be drunken continually! With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will.”

Arthur Symons translation, as quoted by Eugene O’Neill in Long Day’s Journey into Night