Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bob Arnold: A Possible Eden (Book 2)

I have a father, sister, close friends all gone,
but not at all gone to me. I’m still with them or they are with me
and I accept no religion, absolutely none, to get in the way
between me and the stars. The woodfire burns tonight.
In the flames my father used to say he saw faces.

Bob Arnold
from “Benediction”

A Possible Eden
(Book 2)

by Bob Arnold

Cover paintings by the author

Publishers & Booksellers
Green River, Vermont

Image: front cover (click to enlarge)

Companion Volume



I go out and say Come and meet my friend,
and guess who’s first to smile. That’s right.
The neighbor’s dog, breaking down the fence.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I gave her a leaf. It had turned gray in my hand;
but it was a lovely gray — a gray with veins,
a gray of ten thousand subtle shades,
a gray inside gray still becoming gray,
a deep gray well in which gray voices
echoed the glad gray eternity of our names.

“Canvas 269”
June 27, 2011

[click to enlarge]

Passage from “Gray,” first published here and in Poems, Slightly Used.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A note about my novel

As some of you might recall, the tenth anniversary authorized print edition of my novel, A Listening Thing, will be published later this summer. I’m pleased to say that the text is now in place, and the cover is almost done. No blurbs were solicited, but there’s a tiny bit of room on the back cover for this excerpt from a note sent by a reader of the online edition1 back in 2009:

All night, into the morning and here it is one o’clock
in the afternoon and I’m still sitting here in my underwear,
bleary eyed in quiet awe of this book.

The rest of the note, which ends ......thank you so much for the I’ve read in years....... is included for the record with full credit in the front matter, as well as other “specimens” that will throw light on the novel’s long and harrowing journey into print.

I’ll be mentioning the book again before its official release. For now, I’m at liberty to say that for a limited time prior to that2, readers and friends will be able to buy copies directly from the publisher at a generous discount. After the release, the price will necessarily go up to a more profitable level — although, in my opinion, it will be worth as much, if not more, than what some sellers were asking online3 for the generic review copies of the edition that was left high and dry by its almost-publisher lo those many years ago. The salient details of that story, too, are included in the book, along with a new preface and afterword, and an extensive new interview.

An authoritative edition, the new examined-and-corrected version of A Listening Thing will officially replace all previous editions.

A Listening Thing is a novel by a poet who, at the time it was written, had penned little poetry. It’s also a poem by a writer who, at the time it was written, hadn’t a novel to his name4. Some think it’s the best thing I’ve written. My hope is that the best is yet to come. Either way, I believe in the book deeply and implicitly, and will stand behind it all the days of my life. Its message really is that important.

1 Published in 2003, the online edition is no longer available.
2 To be announced.
3 In some cases, hundreds of dollars.
4 A second novel, The Smiling Eyes of Children, is now waiting in the wings.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I make note of this bright hour,
passed in the quiet, alone.

No song is its equal, no poem,
only the joy a child knows.

I mark my hunger and thirst,
my tired muscles, fingers, and bones.

I set down my ignorance;
beside it, I place all I understand.

Let the two know one another.
Let them smile and become friends.

From Songs and Letters, first published January 25, 2006.

“Canvas 268”
June 24, 2011

[click to enlarge]

Friday, June 24, 2011

All Ways

Last night I received a precious gift. Thank you, Robert. The world through your eyes helps me see through mine.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

There is something in this world

Another summer, and all that dream portends. Lazy water in a ditch, polliwog-infested, one sigh from a raft on the Mississippi, bacon and a pipe, bullfrogs calling in the night. Whirlpools and eddies. A rusted can torn from its jagged lid, a cry from the netherworld. The crows are moving in. No one really knows how old I am. But someone, somewhere, remembers.

A letter arrives. I stare at it for days, unopened. Death, perhaps, or a reason to rejoice.

I make of it a fire.

I strain the ashes into my cup and drink them to the dregs.

Unread, it becomes a part of me.

Now, there is something in this world called Wisdom, but it’s nothing more than sunlight, or the sweat on my skin. My hair falls around me, my bare shoulders are its friends, twigs, seeds, pollen, dust, the swirls on my chest. That which the mirror offends, the sky defends. I’ve opened many a book that way, sung countless songs, picked up pennies by the road, recited poems inside bottle caps. I am not as old as I pretend.

We call them paragraphs. But they are blood and snot and breath. I ply them as I would any horizon, my face to the wind.

Earlier this morning: In Contemplation of My Right Thumb

In Contemplation of My Right Thumb

“Canvas 267”
June 22, 2011

[click to enlarge]

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Late one night, when he was very old,
they found the great astronomer
holding a ruler at arm’s length,
measuring the distance between stars.

From Songs and Letters, first published December 5, 2008.

Or, as I said to Erin yesterday upon her thoughtful observation,

...maybe words aren’t a sorry translation after all. Maybe they arrive before we do. Maybe our lives are an effort to catch their tails.

And their tails might just as easily be those of comets, or falling stars.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A proverb you should know

When it comes to fathers,
there’s a proverb
you should

Wisdom arrives when it’s least expected,
long after it’s needed most. But love is present always;
do not deny it.

You seek a way to live?
To live is the way.

Love abides,
even when we hide it.

And there is no father crueler, or lonelier,
than the one who fools himself.

Canvas 265

“Canvas 265”
June 18, 2011

[click to enlarge]

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In my garden

You crave attention, but conceal your broken heart. Tell me, how will I know you? And how will you know me? Our triumph is not in being seen or heard. It’s in our love for one another. In my garden are fading irises — barren nuns, hooded monks. They bloom for just a month. But they live and dream the whole year ’round.

Canvas 264

“Canvas 264”
June 18, 2011

[click to enlarge]

Friday, June 17, 2011

Joseph’s Coat

My wife and I saw this beautiful climbing rose at the nursery the other day.
It reminded her of one that grew wild at her childhood home.
It’s planted now.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Sinews and the Bones

this old language
will stretch
until it snaps,
leaving me
with two live ends
and a bright sting
upon my hands.

“Canvas 262”
June 15, 2011

[click to enlarge]

Even now
the strands
are taut
and thin,
the blue nerves
of words exposed.

“Canvas 263”
June 15, 2011

[click to enlarge]

and meaning
are the same,
so whisper
the sinews
to the bones.

From “The Sinews and the Bones,” Songs and Letters, June 11, 2005.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sunday morning as rain approached

Sunday morning as rain approached,
we walked by the river among snowing cottonwoods.

I inhaled a pound of lint.

Yesterday I heard a girl I grew up with
lost her husband to cancer.

I haven’t seen her since high school
and didn’t know him.

You should have heard them whisper,
the trees along the path,

the girls with their eyes closed,
thinking no one was about.

Summer sorrows and wedding gowns;
the far-off taste of lips.

The way back is longer than we remember.
We cross it in a breath.

Monday, June 13, 2011


“Canvas 257”
June 9, 2011

[click to enlarge]

The best death is a song on the lips.
The saddest is a live mouth stopped with dust.

From “Conclusion,” first posted here and in Poems, Slightly Used.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The best dancers have holes

The best dancers have holes in their pockets.
The best singers have the blues.

And when the milk runs dry and babies cry,
My soul is in the noose. My soul is in the noose.

Earlier today: Bits and Pieces (poem)

Bits and Pieces

Your favorite glass,
shattered on the floor.

The silence it commands
is all you can endure.

The moment that it ends,
grief becomes you.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

From the Lodge to the City

From the Lodge to the City
Short stories by Trent Aitken-Smith

York, England


ISBN: 978-1-4477-2408-7
200 pages. Paper.

Cover by Kayla Wren
Ren Photography

[click to enlarge]

We have to live it before we can give it.
Double-spaced, ragged-right,
Even now, our best is busy writing itself.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Imagine a Whale









Imagine a Whale
Seven poems by John Levy

Smallminded Books
Edited by poet and artist Rupert Loydell


[click to enlarge]

Sixty-six words, each of them as right as any ocean.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Run of the Mill

Run of the Mill

June 6, 2011

Acrylic on Canvas Panel
6 in. x 8 in.

[click to enlarge]

Everyone has choice
When to and not to raise their voices
It’s you that decides
Which way will you turn
While feeling that our love’s not your concern
It’s you that decides

No one around you
Will carry the blame for you
No one around you
Will love you today and throw it all away
Tomorrow when you rise
Another day for you to realize me
Or send me down again

As the days stand up on end
You’ve got me wondering how I lost your friendship
But I see it in your eyes

Though I’m beside you
I can’t carry the lame for you
I may decide to
Get out with your blessing
Where I’ll carry on guessing

How high will you leap
Will you make enough for you to reap it?
Only you’ll arrive
At your own made end
With no one but yourself to be offended
It’s you that decides

George Harrison


“Canvas 254”
June 6, 2011

[click to enlarge]

Monday, June 6, 2011


An hour alone, sitting outside near our fig tree, thinking about the men in my family — our voices, our hands, our way of doing things, our love for the high wire, and how the luckiest of us have been saved again and again by the wisest, most patient, most understanding, most forgiving women.

This morning: a new drawing and poem

I could not draw him

“Canvas 253”
June 5, 2011

[click to enlarge]

I could not draw him if I did not feel close to death.
And still he goes on singing.

I could not be him if he were less.
And so he goes on dreaming.

There was a waterfall that splashed on rocks
in the mountains near his home.

It was in a barren place beside the road,
where a giant had met his end.

So it was he guessed.

His father turned the wheel to stop.
The earth and sky confessed.

His mother knew the rest:
that all things be given, if they must exist.

Now, where once his heart had been,
a simple wish remains:

Dandelion, rock, feather.

And lo, the bird is on the wing.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Piano Man

One reason I’ve come to write poems, I think, is that it’s easier than dragging my old piano through the streets. Also, I sing better than I play.

Piano Man
c. 1959

[click to enlarge]

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011


To confess to less would be a crime:

                              I take flight,

                not knowing if or where

                                                     or what

                                       I’ll find,

                        as if to bear the consequence

        were any choice of mine,

                while a risk

                              of such impertinence

seeks shelter one leaf, one cloud, one love, at a time.

Thursday, June 2, 2011



“Canvas 251”
May 31, 2011

[click to enlarge]

Earlier today: Flight (drawing)



“Canvas 250”
May 29, 2011

[click to enlarge]

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Puddicombe Poetry

It’s an honor to be thought of in this connection. Thank you, Conrad. Wishing you a wonderful event.

Earlier today: Source (poem)


                  Hell is deep —

          all the more astonishing to look up,

                  then, and be blinded by

                                  the light.

Note: I’m still feeling my way through Dante’s Divine Comedy — Hell, to be precise. I’ve just finished Henry F. Cary’s “Hell,” and am ready as hell to read John Aitken Carlyle’s “Inferno.” After that, I’ll move on to Melville Best Anderson’s “Purgatorio.”