Wednesday, October 29, 2008


W.S. Merwin (2008)

Climbing in the mist I came to a terrace wall
and saw above it a small field of broad beans in flower
their white fragrance was flowing through the first light
of morning there a little way up the mountain
where I had made my way through the olive groves
and under the blossoming boughs of the almonds
above the old hut of the charcoal burner
where suddenly the scent of the bean flowers found me
and as I took the next step I heard
the creak of the harness and the mule’s shod hooves
striking stones in the furrow and then the low voice
of the man talking softly praising the mule
as he walked behind through the cloud in his white shirt
along the row and between his own words
he was singing under his breath a few phrases
at a time of the same song singing it
to his mule it seemed as I listened
watching their breaths and not understanding a word

Monday, October 20, 2008


Richard Tillinghast

Early pleasures please best, some old voice whispers:
Cozy holdings, the heart's iambic thud
And sly wanderings—lip-touchings, long summers,
The rain's pourings and pipings heard from bed,
Earth-smell of old houses, airy ceilings,
A boy's brainy and indolent imaginings.

Twenty summers gone then that boy is gone,
Speeding down beach roads in a friend's MG.
Love, or the limey buzz of a g & t—
Or better, both—and the watery hunter's moon,
Accelerate the engines of the night,
And set a long chase afoot.

Today twenty years older than that even,
I breathe quietness and fresh-laundered linen,
Kneeling, seeing with eyes opened white brick,
Smelling Sunday, mumbling beside my son those words
About a lost sheep, and someone's having erred.
Thank God for instinct, and beginner's luck.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Donald Justice

Summer, goodbye.
The days grow shorter.
Cranes walk the fairway now
In careless order.

They step so gradually
Toward the distant green
They might be brushstrokes
Animating a screen.

Mist canopies
The water hazard.
Nearby, the little flag lifts,
Brave but frazzled.

Under sad clouds
Tow white-capped golfers
Stand looking off, dreamy and strange,
Like young girls in Balthus.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Way

Albert Goldbarth (2008)

The sky is random. Even calling it “sky”
is an attempt to make a meaning, say,
a shape, from the humanly visible part
of shapelessness in endlessness. It’s what
we do, in some ways it’s entirely what
we do—and so the devastating rose

of a galaxy’s being born, the fatal lamé
of another’s being torn and dying, we frame
in the lenses of our super-duper telescopes the way
we would those other completely incomprehensible
fecund and dying subjects at a family picnic.
Making them “subjects.” “Rose.” “Lamé.” The way

our language scissors the enormity to scales
we can tolerate. The way we gild and rubricate
in memory, or edit out selectively.

An infant’s gentle snoring, even, apportions
the eternal. When they moved to the boonies,
Dorothy Wordsworth measured their walk

to Crewkerne—then the nearest town—
by pushing a device invented especially
for such a project, a “perambulator”: seven miles.
Her brother William pottered at his daffodils poem.
Ten thousand saw I at a glance: by which he meant
too many to count, but could only say it in counting.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Sea-Change

Derek Walcott

With a change of government the permanent cobalt,
the promises we take with a pinch of salt,
with a change of government the permanent aquamarine,
with a reorganized cabinet the permanent violet,
the permanent lilac over the reef, the permanent flux
of ocher shallows, the torn bunting of the currents
and the receding banners of the breakers.
With a change in government no change in the cricket’s chirrup,
the low, comical bellow of the bull, or
the astonishing symmetry of tossing horses.
With a change in government the haze of wide rain
which you begin to hear as the ruler hears the crowd
gathering under the balcony, the leader who has promised
the permanent cobalt of a change of government
with the lilac and violet of his cabinet change.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Burnout in the Overshoot

A.R. Ammons

The first cool spell has
cracked the white aspers open,
samples here and there,

and tomorrow's promised warmth will
stir a few bees loose:
there's something besides

death and nothingness,
even if winter is coming:
and, anyway, death isn't

a place you get all the way
to: as you arrive
what is arriving

diminishes and
finally, touch to touch,
nothing is equal to nothing.