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Sunday 27 September 2009

For Edward Dorn (II): Wind River Canyon in Snow


File:Wind River Canyon, January 20, 2008.jpg

... In the night the
memoria float up to scatter with old recursive visions the gaps between the words of the posted elegy preceding...

Ed Dorn and I went scouting in a tiny little car in March 1979 (it was just a few weeks short of Ed's fiftieth birthday), investigating "Wyo-booming": the energy boom in Wyoming, where coal, natural gas and uranium reserves were being exploited due to the sudden rise in gasoline prices. We drove all round the state, talking to wildcatters and itinerant riggers and geologists and polyurethane salesmen and tattooed barladies and boomers of every stripe and kind, meanwhile examining some of the strangest, most "unearthly" landscapes this side of the moon: Smithsonian- (as in Robert) scale excavations that put me in mind of the grandeur of the Theban constructions in the Valley of the Nile.

We'd departed Boulder in a false springtime that left us unprepared for the winds and snow we found in Wyoming. The deepening understanding of the meaning of the high plains snow-fence came over us in a rush as the little VW fastback was enveloped in blowing snow. Up in the Wind River Range, not too far from the spot (Titcomb Lakes) pictured in the top photo of the post below, we crossed the Continental Divide in alternating blizzard and blinding sunlight and then again blizzard; the whole scene set into a haze broken with spells of extreme visual acuity; Ed, hunched over the steering wheel like a small-plane pilot over his controls in rough weather, his searching squint into the oncoming flakes contained and keen and penetrant, the white-out a signless opaque cloud gradually enclosing us, wordless, the windows iced, the air frigid, bluish wisps of mushroom smoke drifting like cartoon genies out of Ed's corncob pipe. A wild experience of riding the spine of the Americas at what amounted to an Andean height (well over 10,000 feet, the Wind River Range reaches up near 14,000), well... you had to be there.

The shot up top here, anyway, will give you a bit of an idea of what it looked like then, cresting the continent... in another life.

And then we had some other adventures in somewhat calmer weathers on the way back. That prairie dog I mentioned in the elegy, it stared us right in the eye, in its pop-up prairie dog town, at the base of Devil's Tower...

File:Jeff Fennell - Devils Tower (by).jpg

With not a human soul in sight we made the circuit trail on foot round the base of the Tower, through the pines the vistas westward opened up forever; out there lay for Ed a summoned history, a memory of time and movements of the peoples...


Of course there's more to say about that trip and about the great poet of the American landforms who conducted me on it... but the memoria feel lost tonight...

File:Lost Springs, Wyoming.jpg

Wind River Canyon
: photo by Jonathon Green, 2005

Devil's Tower, Wyoming: photo by Jeff Fennell, 2006
Wyoming landscape as seen from Tower Trail at Devil's Tower National Monument: photo by Xnatedawg, 2008
Lost Springs road sign, state route 20, Wyoming: photo by Idunno00923, 2006

Saturday 26 September 2009

For Edward Dorn



The passes over & through which I’ve

been driven by you, Edward,

are bright & shining, in

my mind. The prairie

dog we visited, in my mind

now that you’ve gone

(8:30 P.M. PST

12/10/99) reminds a traveler

is a man alone,

in a long coat,

on a dusty prairie,

walking on water

because the desert is now closed.

1:28 A.M.


File:Ghost Trees at Fountain Paint Pot.JPG

Wind River Range, Wyoming, Green Lakes region of Bridger Wilderness, Bridger-Teton National Forest: photo by G. Thomas, 2007

Ghost Trees at Fountain Paint Pot, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming: photo by Wing-Chi Poon, 2004

Sadly X (A Text)


Texting on a keyboard phone: photo by Alton, 19 December 2007

Sadly X
in death was spoken
of not so much
for the work which
stood apart from
the inconsistencies
of character, as
for the latter. A

text is variously
a life, but the purpose
of an individual
is single.
To be difficult
is to be difficult.
There are no two
ways about it.

Lustration Rite


Saturday night kitties loll about bathing
in milky blue flickering tv light and shade
as if it were not the end of the world after all
chimneysweep girl Dark Sister furiously
pecking at herself then abruptly pausing
to stare off into deep space quizzical while
Princey the great sleek black head potentate
laps daintily at his own snowy breastfur
and glances up through slit eyes sphinxlike
across the temple of the disinterested moment
at the advertised world apocalypse


Six studies of a cat: Thomas Gainsborough, 1765-1770 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

Farewell Sweet Prince


File:Prunus mume Tojibai1.jpg

Prunus mume, "Tojibai", Osaka: photo by KENPEI, 2008

The sun shone for you in the winter afternoon
Brightness fell from the air
Your pain was finally over
After too many crazy hours of holding you
A fool who can’t let anything go

I wrapped your beautiful jungle body
Snowy belly afloat in lavender and cyclamen and roses
Furled with an old blue towel you liked to slumber on
And laid you in the ground
Beneath that old plum tree you used to bask lordly
Under and ponder the frantic squirrels

8:30 A.M.

File:Prunus mume Koutoji1.jpg

Prunus mume, "Koutoji", Osaka:  photo by KENPEI, 2008

Thursday 24 September 2009

Stoogism: A Manifesto


File:Sunrise JAX and palms.jpg

The palm trees
the bars
in my internalized sing

A peon feeling meaningful
he's missing something

We are not fools
or terrorists
we are stooges

This is a movement
not a weakness of character

I will be a stooge in
order to survive
the coming pulsations of Class

File:Sing Sing old cell block.jpg

Sunrise at Jacksonville beach: DeusXFlorida, 2009
Old cell block, Sing Sing Prison, Ossining, N.Y.: photo by C.M. Stieglitz, N.Y. Telegram and Sun, 1938 (Library of Congress)

Second Thoughts About Stoogism


File:Palm tree and sun in smoke SoCal 2007.jpg

Even my resilience is limited

The crashing silence of the palm trees

The rubber ball is on its
Eight thousandth bounce
The logic of elasticity
Is growing blurred

It is 5:19 A.M.

I have a feeling
Like being X-rayed
In the privacy of my house

File:Electric Chair at Sing Sing-noborder.jpg

Palm tree and sun in smoke, Socal
: photo by Alora Manley, 2007
Electric chair at Sing Sing Prison, Ossining, N.Y., c. 1900 (George Eastman House)



Super Ball: invented by Norman Stingley, 1965 (via The Great Idea Finder)

You approach me carrying a book
The instructions you read carry me back beyond birth
To childhood and a courtyard bouncing a ball
The town is silent there is only one recreation
It’s throwing the ball against the wall and waiting
To see if it returns
One day
The wall reverses
The ball bounces the other way
Across this barrier into the future
Where it begets occupations names
This is known as the human heart a muscle
A woman adopts it it enters her chest
She falls from a train
The woman rebounds 500 miles back to her childhood
The heart falls from her clothing you retrieve it
Turn it over in your hand the trademark
Gives the name of a noted maker of balls

Elastic flexible yes but this is awful
You say
Her body is limp not plastic
Your heart is missing from it
You replace your heart in your breast and go on your way

Mystery Streets


File:Mystery Street.JPG

Who knows what goes on in those
Dark miles beyond Montrose up Palamino Canyon
Up there among the cold kennels of dawn
Where unknown guys pay you $50 to park their Toronados
It's every dog for himself they say
I understand these things only a little bit
Got a wife & kid yet often I feel alone
Take solitary walks down by the black ocean
Johnny O'Clock said his goodbyes on these
Dead nocturne mystery streets didn't he?
Then they hired him to a long-term contract
The kind that doesn't pay you any royalties
"You can't unplug your phone forever Johnny"
They said to him as they burned him down

Mystery Street, dir. John Sturges (1950): poster, image scan by Noirish, 2005
Mystery and Melancholy of a Street: Giorgio de Chirico, 1914

Sunday 20 September 2009

After Wang Wei


File:Bluewater 1.JPG

Bluewater: photo by Warburg, 2008

Chilling down by the water
stopped to watch clouds drift
clouds drift clouds drift
bumped into mr. green
talked laughed forgot
it was time to go

File:Cirrus 23 juni 2008.jpg

Cirrus clouds
: photo by Rasbak, 2008

Small Change


File:Palenque glyphs-edit1.jpg

Sense life's
expense of spirit
in a waste of shame's
oh maybe fifteen cents

and can't spare it --
ah lighten up, it happens
without spending experience
value doesn't apply

File:Sumerian 26th c Adab.jpg

Mayan stucco glyphs, Palenque, Mexico: image by Kwamikagami, 2004
Sumerian inscription, 26th c. B.C. Text: "Gifts from the High and Mighty of Adab to the High Priestess, on the occasion of her election to the temple" (with list of gifts)

"Walked into state..."


White Noise

Walked into state
office building
in flat white
light of cold overcast that,
without sun,
makes all days
seem alike--boat adrift on
ocean sans shore
floats aimless
on endless waves
falling and
again lifting.

Stills from White Noise, dir. Geoffrey Sax, 2005

Saturday 19 September 2009



Digital clock changing number
s: photo by Beyond silence, 2007

The clock at the bedside, mutilated like all things today, in these times, had no hands, only bright red numbers, which went on displaying themselves all night, one after another, 3:48, 3:49 and so on, as long as there was electric power. Usually there was. Often he wondered what it would be like to be blind. Life would go on in the dark just the same except for the numbers, they would cease to exist.

Leap second (drawing showing what a digital watch should show during a leap second): image by Twid/Stannered, 2005

Monday 14 September 2009

Jim Carroll


File:Jim Carroll - Seattle WA - September 2000 - Photo by Eric Thompson.jpg

A poet departs, too soon, and there is a void that will not be filled. From somewhere deep and old the tears well up in the dark night.

When I met Jim in 1967 he was seventeen. He had been leading a triple life: high school All-American basketball star, heroin addict/street hustler, poet.

On scholarship at the elite Ivy league prep academy Trinity School (alums include Humphrey Bogart, Truman Capote, Ivana Trump, Yo Yo Ma, John McEnroe, Aram Saroyan), he had shown unusual abilities on the court. He had played against the city's best (including Lew Alcindor, later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had starred at Power Memorial, a school in Jim's own Inwood Park neighborhood). His skills had drawn the attention of college scouts. The turning point, according to one of his versions of the story, had come when a representative of Notre Dame took him out for dinner. Jim told the story with great good humor; the Notre Dame man had ordered a spaghetti dinner. Jim had listened politely to the man's talk of the virtues of a Notre Dame education. And then nodded out into the spaghetti.

His people were Irish Catholic. His father owned a bar. In 1995 he talked to John Stewart of Interview about his early life.

JC: ... the way I got into writing was Catholic grammar school. It was the one good thing that I got out of the nuns and Brothers that taught me...

JS: Was there ever a sense that basketball held a finite limit for you, and that writing was infinite?

JC: Well, yeah. But it wasn't that canny, actually, because I had been writing for a long time. People think that my demise in basketball was from drugs, but it wasn't. I wasn't getting high before every game. Once in a while we made the mistake of taking downers instead of ups and stuff before a game. But from the time I was eight, my whole goal was basketball. I practiced all day after school. By my junior year, though, the jock trip started running thin. This was the late '60s, and chicks wanted guys who had long hair and went to folk clubs and wrote poetry and stuff. So I started jerkin' off and hanging around the poetry scene. Instead of playing in the summer tournaments, my art teacher gave me his loft down in the Village while he went to Cape Cod for the summer. It was, like, hellza-poppin, man! I was what, sixteen? My first book of poems came out that summer, just a small book - like thirty pages. I made up my mind right then that I was going to be a poet. No matter how difficult it was to live or anything, that's what I was going to do. And that sort of opened me up in a whole different way, Because I was always kind of withdrawn and looking at things from a distance. I told Leonardo [DiCaprio, in the movie based on Jim's Basketball Diaries] to lay back at certain times. When the action's really happening, of course, stealing a car or something, you're involved in it completely. But sometimes you just withdraw yourself. Because they called me Daisy, since I was always in dazes. In fact, my parents took me to doctors because they thought I had some form of epilepsy. But it was determined that I just had a vivid imagination. I'd just go off. Even before I was into writing, I'd be waiting for a three-on-three game to end and they would have to shake me. But when I was into writing, I was not only thinking about strange things; I was formulating them on the page as well.

JS: And then you went on to become a rock 'n' roll performer. How did those two things connect?

JC: I remember reading The Time of the Assassins, which is Henry Miller's book examining Rimbaud's life and work - although he's really examining his own life and work. But it's a genius book, and he talks about, "Where are the poets today?" I mean, the nobility of poetry is missing. In the neighborhood where I grew up, you couldn't tell people that you were writing poetry, man. I mean, you were considered a sissy if you wrote poems, for God's sake. The mailman for my building hung out in my father's bar, and one day when he was half in the bag he starts asking my father, "What's happening with your son? I used to read about him in the papers making the all-city team and shit. Now he's getting all these poetry magazines in the mail. He's got long hair. What the hell's wrong with him?" My father comes home. I'm like, "Hey, Dad, how you doin'?" Boom! "Get a hair-cut! What's with this poetry shit?"

Jim had by that time already begun haunting the Poetry Project at St. Mark's in the Bowery Church. He loved the poetry of Frank O'Hara, and writing under a rush of Frank's influence, at seventeen produced his own first slim chapbook, Organic Trains. Ted Berrigan had taken Jim under his wing. Poetry not basketball was where Jim wanted to go in his life.

A sweet, shy, gentle, lovely good-humored young man, gracious to a fault. We were soon friends. He gave me his phone number and asked that I give him a call any time. I rang the number and a young woman's voice came on, saying Jim wasn't home. I later asked if that had been his girlfriend. "No," he said with his customary shy twinkle, "my mom."

I was dazzled by the promise of unusual gifts evident in Jim's poetry and soon began putting his poems in The Paris Review. Over the next few years I placed a half dozen of them there (along with, later on, an excerpt from The Basketball Diaries).

One of those Paris Review poems is in my mind tonight.

The Birth and Death of the Sun

Now the trees tempt

the young girl below them

each moves off the other's wind

endlessly, as stars from the earth,

stars from the stars.

Jim Carroll


In March 1968 Angelica and I got married at the Church. The day before the wedding, while we were downtown obtaining a marriage license, the junkies who lived below me in a 14th Street apartment house climbed up the fire escape and stole all our belongings that seemed of value. That night John Giorno threw a bachelor party for me at his place down on the Bowery. After our trying day, Angelica understandably did not want to stay alone in my torn-up apartment. She came along to the party and immediately went to sleep on John's bed--as is documented in photos taken at the party by Peter Schjeldahl. Peter's photos from the party show Jim, babyfaced and sweet looking, his strawberry mop tousled over his eyes, dressed up neatly in blue blazer, oxford shirt, red prep school tie. In one shot he can be seen intently studying a volume of poetry. In another he sits quietly at Ted's side as Ted, holding forth, carefully rolls a joint. Across the table is George Schneeman. John Wieners and Mike Goldberg are also in the photos. They're all gone now.


In another old fading photo stuck in a dusty album around here, five or six years have passed and a leaner, lanker, longer-haired Jim, now developing a craggy Prince Valiant look, is hanging out with me on Bolinas Beach. In 1973 he had come out to Bolinas to kick his heroin habit. He lived for awhile at a house downtown, under the informal protection of the ever generous Bill Berkson. There he dwelt largely unto himself, working on the long careful reconstruction of his youth that would be The Basketball Diaries. Bill regularly drove him over the hill to San Rafael, where Jim had entered a detox program.

This was the beginning of a long, deep, isolating struggle for him.

When the always variable weather allowed there was in those years a daily pick-up basketball game at the outdoor court in the playground of Bolinas School. I was guilty of forever attempting to get the reclusive Jim to come out to join us. Only on rare occasions did he agree, and then, as I recall clearly, in an entirely dispirited and lackadaisical fashion. It was like asking a great violinist to take up a plastic ukulele. He would stand disinterestedly at the top of the key, doing his best to seem invisible so as avoid the ball. If you insisted on passing it to him, however, there was always a moment or two of casual miracle work that told you of the quality of his skill in this sport of his youth. Always completely expressionless. For Jim this was an old familiar zone of proper action. A quick move. A silky smooth long jumper grabbing nothing but the tattered net on its true way through the hoop. Or a brilliant nonchalant no-look pass, flicked without effort into the hands of the unmarked man.


even the



can't match

the perfect


for insight

into the



A little later Jim found a place of his own, a small cottage in a eucalyptus grove at the foot of Mesa Road. He was then working on his Forced Entries diaries and the poems of The Book of Nods. Jim was a painstaking writer who never hurried things along. In these years he became even more withdrawn, his constant companion a small terrier he called Jo'mama. Jim loved that little dog dearly, I think its company got him through the darknesses of those years of seclusion.

Lying with the Dog

My dog sleeps with me. It's nice. He lies always in the same spot, at the bottom of the bed, with his little head on my right ankle. When the weather turns cold, he simply climbs beneath the covers and pads his way to the exact same place, resting his head. Only then can I feel his fuzzy neck and chin. I've come to rely on these simple pleasures.

Last night I had a hideous nightmare. Usually I can guide my dreams, once they arise, bad or good. But there is no control when the dream takes place in the room in which I'm actually sleeping. No guiding the horror of the man standing in the corner, or emerging from the closet with luminous eyes, holding a huge syringe-like scepter, advancing at me, speaking in tongues. ("Tubalar," he says, that's the only word I can remember, "Tubalar.")

Then I can't separate the dream, can't divide it from the reality of my room. I've begun a program of detoxification, and the lower my dose of mojo juice, the more often this person invades the one sanctuary where I cannot ward off the nightmare's cunning, or control the demons. He comes in various costumes; he knows the rituals of my vulnerabilities.

But last night, as always when it happens, when I wake up in toxic sweat, sometimes dreaming, Jo'mama comes up to my face and licks, and kneels there like a sentinel. I'm open to such gushing sentiment. I welcome it. I've suppressed it for too long. I thank God for the dog... he calms me down, and that's as much as you can ask for. It surely is enough to feel free to lick him in return, before I can risk more sleep, and he goes back to my ankle and yawns as he circles once more before he rests his head there.


The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll - First Edition (1978)

He invited me to come over to do a reading with him at the detox center in San Rafael. There he was among his company of fellow rehab souls, all lost and looking to find themselves. In one room the methadone (which Jim termed "mojo juice") was doled out from behind barred windows, in small plastic cups, mixed with orange juice. The cups had to be drained there at the window. Then came the reading.

Poetry readings have never exactly been my idea of a good time. This however was the most electrifying and intense poetry reading I have ever attended. Jim read "Guitar Voodoo" from The Book of Nods. His "look" at the time was pretty much as can be seen on the cover of the original edition of the Basketball Diaries. There were about ten people in the small windowless linoleum floored institutional chamber. It was totally mesmerizing; I felt privileged, uplifted and scared. While reading Jim seemed to leave himself and become the conductor of energies from another place. I understood then that I was in the presence of a master, his powers palpable yet perhaps beyond the understanding of anyone present. The work told a tale of sexual revenge occurring in a vivid psychic dimension of superhuman electrical charge. A harrowing experience, unforgettable.

Afterward there was a workshop session with other writers from the detox program. Many were broken and down in soul, yet their readings seemed to bring them briefly to life. A woman with her arm in a cast after a dispute with her lover read a piece in which her private hells were entered. Jim gently supported her in the ensuing discussion. Here he was at home among the lost, helping as a guide whose words could be believed because he had been there, and indeed maybe dwelt there still.

In those years he mixed socially not at all. He had all but disappeared. I too had stepped away from the daily town whirl of sociality. Each day at dawn I ran down Mesa Road and out to the Olema Road, passing Jim's hermit's cabin. We saw each other and exchanged unspoken greetings, a wave, a nod. Neither of us asking more. To me he seemed then in his solitude with his demons and his angels (as I imagined them) a gaunt ascetic saint of a special order beyond the ken of the scene, in its pleasant bubble.

The Door to the Forest

for Jim

Eric Dolphy can't wake up:

the green light's still burning

by the gate. Pine cones

when stepped on by

dogs or raccoons, click

gently, like bones

into the mist, which

smells like mint; the

sounds diminish it;

the white rose

through the dropper's eye

falls; and the rain remains.

Bolinas Road by Agent of Orange.


In 1978 Jim finally resolved to let go of The Basketball Diaries. Our neighbor Michael Wolfe of Tombouctou Books leapt at the opportunity to publish the work. I wrote an introduction in which I staged an imaginary conversation between myself and an older Arthur Rimbaud, to whom I spoke of Jim as a latterday confrere. The impulse came from Jim himself, who felt Rimbaud's work deeply and in effect channeled him in pieces like "Rimbaud's Toothache" and "Rimbaud sees the Dentist", in which he transferred his own experiences to the long dead poet. That kind of detachment came naturally to Jim.

He and Jo went on long hikes, Jim with his pilgrim's staff walking stick. The two of them climbed far up upon the sleeping flanks of the great female shaped mountain Tamalpais. I believe that despite the harsh loneliness and inner torments that were his burden in those years Jim was then finding ecstasy of a kind, in fleeting glimpses. The moments probably didn't last, but I sensed there must have been in them a shining intermittent respite from ambient pain, a kind of lapsing transcendence.

I have to reregister a room for my heart. It's been waiting a long time, somewhere outside, without so much as a whisper of protest. That abandonment wasn't just an abuse, it was a sin.

Today I went for a long walk with my dog, up to Mount Tamalpais. I watched a pumpkin spider for hours, weaving its web across a tri-pronged branch on a dead thorn bush. After watching all the insect death and escape, and the repairs that followed, I wanted to feel the web. It was nothing more than tactile curiosity. I reached out and fingered a piece, but I couldn't control my newly recovered senses. The fine tuning of my touch was off. I just couldn't gauge the resilience of the web. I was too caught up in the vibrance of the orange hump on the spider, and the silver intricacy of the weave. By the time I pulled my hand free, the whole web was torn apart. It seems the deeper I allow my perceptions to penetrate, the more ruin I leave in my wake.

I could vaguely fathom then that Jim was capable of a poet's pure wonder, the sort of thing I thought had gone out of poetry with Blake and Keats. Not until much later did I come to fully realize the quality of the poetic genius in whose presence I had been so fortunate to find myself, if only for isolated instants, as I padded along the cold asphalt in my two-dollar sneakers and he sauntered past with his stick and his little dog, giving me a wordless wink and a high sign, beneath the eucalypti, by the waters of the lagoon--all of it now drowned amid the tears of time.

Lone pelican by edwinsail.

Jim Carroll, Seattle: photo by Eric Thompson, 2000
Jim Carroll: photo via catholicboy website
Fields of Sawdust (Bolinas): photo by blmurch, 2007
The Basketball Diaries (cover), 1968
Bolinas Road: photo by Agent of Orange, 2005
Lone pelican (Mt. Tamalpais, from Bolinas Beach): photo by edwinsail, 2007

Jim Carroll: The Street Side of the Game, Interview 25.4
JC: The Birth and Death of the Sun: from Living at the Movies, 1973
TC: Into: from Blue, 1974
JC: Lying with the Dog: from Forced Entries, 1987
TC: The Door to the Forest: from Blue, 1974
JC: Torn Web (extract) from Forced Entries, 1987

Sunday 13 September 2009

Blue Spring


File:Mourning Dove Perched.JPG

The blue spring wind drifted the plum boughs up to the sun, an offering. In that moment you were one with the universe, even if five months gone from it, suggested the cricket song. A mourning dove cooed into the blue-powdered white thought. A set of wind chimes gently dinged somewhere not too far off. The alert brown alleycat's ears twitched like anxious pans, fanning the air to pick up and sort out the confusing soundmix the wind carried. Somewhere, very faintly, briefly in the distance, when in an instant of mercy traffic and all the other racket stopped, a tinny radio signal grew rich with shoals of orderly baroque violins.

File:Zenaida macrouraAWP17AA.jpg

File:Zenaida macroura -California-8-2c.jpg

Mourning dove perched on a tree limb: photo by Pccromeo, 2007
Mourning dove (Zenaida macroura): John James Audobon, from The Birds of America (1827-1838)
Mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), near Almaden Lake, Santa Teresa County Park, San Jose, California: photo by Don Debold, 2008



File:Riesiger Cb mit mammatus.jpg

Elsewhere perhaps life was going on, the business of the world was being done, connections between individuals were being made, troths plighted, who knew, maybe even babies born.

The person speaking droned on.

In the third row someone yawned. A notetaker paused and glanced toward the window. Outside it was a bright spring day. Oxygen, carbon dioxide and sunshine conspired to produce undeniable evidence of natural process in the form of chlorophyll. The red end of the light spectrum having been largely banished from the atmosphere, a blueness perhaps reflecting some great water-mass prevailed in the patches of sky visible through the branches, across which also passed every now and then a lazy, buttery cloud. An oblivious bird tweeted on the other side of the glass. Time almost stood still.

Elsewhere perhaps life was going on...

File:Sky of Bangladesh 1.jpg

Big cumulonimbus during a cold front, with cumulonimbus mammatus: photo by Simon Eugster, 2006
Sky from Bangladesh: photo by Mahmudul Karim Farsad, 2008

I'm on an Island


Iolanda Reef, Ras Muhammad Nature Park: photo by Mikhail Rogov, 2006

Do not try to adopt me
I am not a pigmy soothed
Boy or baby hitchhiker saint

What is wrong suddenly
Is that I swallow a cold
Blast of air, I mean fright

Spill coffee on my book
And hear the kinks
In the great universe

The warp in the coffin
Phantom men fly out of
Anywhere in this world

Poetry Street


File:Paper cup.JPG

On Poverty Street, the disinterested
click of Dixie Cups on bakelite trays
reminds me that prose exists.

Paper cup
: photo by Glane23, 2008

Bakelite tray: image via Sintetica

Thursday 10 September 2009

"This diminishing of things..."

This diminishing of things, as if
Sleep were a miniaturist working
In the darkness, to the dimensions
Of a mini-theatre echo-chamber
Through which stray air currents dragged their ghosts:
A point of light appearing in the dream,
A glimmer almost swallowed by the room's
Dark corners at first, grown in a little while
To the restless thought sleep's escaped again.
The thought cast its anxious reflex into
The dream, and I awakened then, castaway,
Drenched in the sunshaded stones of afternoon.

File:Little Nemo moon.jpg


Little Nemo in Slumberland: Winsor McCay (1905-1914)

Fireside Chat


File:American union bank.gif

You really think free advice is worth money?
An old ghost rising up clammier than ever,
You can hear his teeth rattling. Let’s call
Him Fear Itself, and nestle up closer
To the warm and fatherly radio
Whence issue deep and reassuring words.
At the other end of the transmission
A world of static and black-edged clouds away
You can hear the fire crackling in the hearth
And if you strain your ears you might make out
A distant barking, perhaps the voice of Falla,
Woolly anachronism from a lost epoch.
Dogs speak in unintelligible words. Arf!
I take that back: unintelligible
To us. And we’re not reassured. Crisis
Of confidence time, then: credit default
Occurs when you can’t buy what they’re saying.
But wait, did you ever? Bought situation
City all these years and now someone’s
Surprised? Do crocodiles cry rivers
In order to have someplace to swim? Time for
Regulation arrives at one minute
Before the sun yo-yos up into the sky
And that tinny barking starts up again. Woof!
High time to begin drawing limits to thought.
This may be a fight for life. We may find
Both sides of the limit unthinkable. We may
Have to be able to think what can’t be thought,
Credit crunch or no. Credo means I believe
In crop circles. Or did I mean church
May be the last sanctuary of deceived
Believers in the free market dream?
You’ll find a crescent-shaped scar on my wrist
To prove to you this was no mere nightmare.
I’m in a weakened condition so go easy.
What can I do but hand over the payroll?

Crowd at New York's Union Bank during a bank run early in the Great Depression: photographer unknown, 1931 (U.S. Social Security Administration)

Wednesday 9 September 2009



File:King Penguin.jpg

Green ink stars fly hurriedly over these pages
so white
like snow covered
pianos at the North Pole
and make of them a lovely
leaf-colored room

File:Black-naped Oriole.jpg

for the Oriole
to live in
and also other animals, the fox
the pumpkin spider whose gossamer web supports her
the shark and pelican
the splendid penguin king

File:Amur Leopard Pittsburgh Zoo.jpg

the moth

the leopard
and the red fish
with blue
spots on its belly
that change color drastically
as it flares for battle with
its own mirror image

don't fence them in!

File:Aquarium vue.JPG

King penguin swimming under water
: photo by Jeff Kubina, 2006
Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis): photo by Natureatyourbackyard, 2007
Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis): photo by Colin Hines, 2007
Male Siamese Betta Fighting Fish flaring at his reflection in mirror: photo by Malzees, 2007
Freshwater aquarium: photo by Vassill, 2007