Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Verse that grows as honey slows to autumn.
Love that knows what summer rose has taught them.

The Life of Michael Angelo

The Life of Michael Angelo
By Herman Grimm
Translated by Fanny Elizabeth Bunnett

Click to Enlarge

In Two Volumes
Boston : Little, Brown and Co.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Correspondence of William Cowper

Click to Enlarge

The Correspondence of William Cowper
Arranged in Chronological Order, With Annotations
By Thomas Wright
In Four Volumes

London : Hodder and Stoughton

Found between Pages 174 and 175 of Volume IV

Sunday, September 27, 2015

bee then a be hymn

can you imagine eating raw local honey
every morning and not developing a bee-consciousness
of the world? flower by flower, queen-tend,
wing-wind, sun-thought, love send,
hum-taught, deep in the heart
of things?

for surely, friend, a bitter thought is poison.


Letters of James Russell Lowell, Vol. I

Currently Reading
Letters of James Russell Lowell, Vol. II

Saturday, September 26, 2015

You came upon that distant side

You came upon that distant side of me with the old fence down,
and found my fate a map of tangled weeds;

You came upon that wild side the wind and rain have known,
where lightning brought me to my knees;

Now you come upon that gentle side, where flowers grow,
and see a child in his waning days.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Child Flight

Child Flight

September 24, 2015



September 24, 2015

Letter to the moon

In the palm of one hand, a ship. Above the ship, a star.

In the palm of the other hand — but there is no other hand.

And so how, you ask, will I escape my loneliness?

And your face grows dark.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Canvas 581

Canvas 581

September 23, 2015

Canvas 580

Canvas 580

September 23, 2015

Autumnal Equinox

That grandfather smell, not of perspiration, or tobacco,
but of memory’s own moment in the making.

(Heed it well, for his hands, like yours, are shaking.)

If I were night

If I were night, morning is the song I would write.

And to whom would I sing it?

To light. To light.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Canvas 579

Canvas 579

September 22, 2015

Mow me down

I am not saying I am not sane, but if I were a blade of grass, and you had removed my head like that, I would not be looking up to you this morning as I am, or even looking back. No. I am not saying I am not sane. I am saying, sane or not, that the root of my claim, although not seen, is its imagined depth. And that is my definition not of envy,
but of green.


Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters

Currently Reading
The Letters of James Russell Lowell
(Two Volumes)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Canvas 578

Canvas 578

September 21, 2015


Arborvitae silhouette. Sunflower ghost. Streetlight wet.
Sixty west. Gulls confess. Spirit scent. Seaside grass.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Lazarus and His Beloved

Lazarus and His Beloved

September 19, 2015

(after Gibran)

Past present

Bee communion, honeyed tongue. Night just gone, day begun. Slug on the walk, petals down. Sunflower heads, face the ground. Second thought . . . highway sound.

Friday, September 18, 2015

In the Wood

In the Wood

September 18, 2015

The ultimate child

What more natural impulse than to make something beautiful: breakfast for your family; garden path; poem; child in form of imagined god; god in joy and fear and awe, the ultimate child. As such, the blue star creeper in the faded grass out front has thrived all summer long, spreading itself into new regions, making its own grand realm.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

When are you going to come down?

Rain last night fell directly into the eyes of the bathroom skylights, and soon enough awakened the entire body of the house. After predawn reading, coffee, and a light breakfast, at seven A.M. cleared the downspouts of new debris, consisting mostly of fir needles and birch leaves. Put away ladder. Held quiet funeral and recycling ceremony of enormous overgrown zucchini affectionately known as “Bill.” While showering, wondered: Are my blog entries really love letters?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015



September 15, 2015

As saith

You may dream of past and future lives;
I may dream the present, but assume none;

indeed, as saith the rock:
such be the fond riddle of the one I am,
the one I have been, and the one I will become,
that the clock, in weary-solemn speech,
is always wrong;

as saith the pebble by its rings,
in its still untroubled pond;

as saith no one, and everyone,
and each imagined god;

how ripe the apple, how sweet the nut,
which speaks thus;

how blessed the open palm,
peace fills, with rain.

Monday, September 14, 2015



September 14, 2015

You are here

As intimate as you are with yourself as imagined by others,
imagine imagining yourself as you are, when imagination itself imagines
changing course — that is, imagine a river, imagining an ocean,
imagining an imagined star — as intimate,
as you imagine, you are.

Somewhere, there is a familiar old coat on a peg,
and underneath, a faithful, sleeping hound.

Somewhere, your shoes are on and you are at the door,
and the hound is up at the turn of the knob.

Somewhere, he follows you out.

Now, that somewhere might be your childhood, or his, or both.

You reckon with yourself.

And then, unexpectedly, the artist changes direction.

You hold up your arms, cry out your palms, and are gone.

How bright, how good, how lovely it is!

Just as imagined, all along.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Loves me, loves me not

Would it be a leap to say I sleep to pay the piper,
who seeks to play my life away
inside the dream
that finds

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters

Your ingenious habit of not dating your letters
will make your biographer curse.

— Conan Doyle’s lifelong friend James Ryan

(Click to Enlarge)

Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters
Edited by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower, & Charles Foley

New York : The Penguin Press

First Edition : 706 pages


Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle
(see this morning’s entry)

Currently Reading
Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters

Here likewise

Before daylight this morning, I finished the second of two volumes of The Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, the collection of 333 letters, letter fragments, and journal entries I wrote about briefly on the fourth day of this month. Not quite sixty-five, the author died suddenly in her carriage of heart failure, after having jumped out to rescue her injured dog, which had been scampering alongside. In the words of a close friend, “She was leaning back in one corner of the carriage, rugs spread over her knees; her eyes were closed, and her upper lip slightly, slightly opened. Those who saw her at the hospital and when in the carriage speak of the beautiful expression upon her face.”

The editor concludes with Jane’s epitaph, the truth of which is borne out on every page of these two books, the tragic-witty substance of which serves as one far more complete:

Mrs. Carlyle was buried by the side of her father, in the choir of Haddington Church. These words follow on the tombstone after her father’s name:

Here Likewise Now Rests

Jane Welsh Carlyle

Spouse of Thomas Carlyle, Chelsea, London.

She was born at Haddington, 14th July, 1801, only daughter
of the above John Welsh, and of Grace Welsh Caplegill,
Dumfriesshire, his wife. In her bright existence she
had more sorrows than are common; but also a soft
invincibility, a clearness of discernment, and a noble
loyalty of heart, which are rare. For forty years she
was the true and ever-loving helpmate of her husband,
and by act and word unweariedly forwarded him, as none
else could, in all of worthy, that he did or attempted.
She died at London, 21st April, 1866; suddenly snatched
away from him, and the light of his life, as if gone out.

Friday, September 11, 2015

a word is all I ask

you pause and listen

as my pen strikes out each and every line

until it comes to the place where

your face says


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Poor Jane

Poor Jane

September 10, 2015

(still reading the letters of Jane Welsh Carlyle)

How I will speak

And you think, O, how I will speak,
when given the chance;

and when the chance finally comes,
not a single word accompanies its arrival;

instead, you are a tree, in the salt breeze,
a shower of spray at your feet;

and you think, O, how can I speak,
when given to dance;

and the sea, relentless,
speaks for you;

and you find it all blessed,
blessed, and grand.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Rooms within rooms . . .

The Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson
Round Table Edition
(Ten Volumes)

New York : Henry T Thomas

“The large paper edition is printed at the Norwood Press,
on English hand-made paper, and is limited to five hundred copies,
of which this is number 275.”

Signed by the printer, Berwick Smith.

At the end of a wooden handle

This glorious day, right where you find it,
at the end of a wooden handle,

(picture a tool no one understands or remembers how to use)

part butterfly
part leaf
part sail
part rib
part grief
part riverbed

(part grandfather-scent of earth-dyed figs)

autumn a harbor
autumn a need
autumn a child
autumn a love
autumn a grave
autumn a sun

autumn, live grass dying
autumn, dead grass living
autumn, the last dried sage in your hand


(and how the wood feels in your hand)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Not one child at the flower show

Not one child at the flower show —
and then I thought,

Yes, of course — the flowers themselves.


A grave, the size of a shoebox,
on the shelf, all else a dream.


Thus, out of a poem — sticks, petals,
solitude, and whatever else.

The aged, in their hats, looking back.

Looking back — except that now, for some reason,
I remember there were children everywhere.

There were babies just a few weeks old,
frowning, like prunes in the sunlight,
when their heads should have been covered.

Good heavens — fancy that.

Not one flower at the child show?

Surely I was someone, somewhere, sometime, else.

Oh, I know — I was a flower, myself.

And you — you were there.

Monday, September 7, 2015

As is was

Now, in one fine unsplash, the pebble back in your hand,
the face of the pond, the light of the sun, the shape of your hat,
undone as begun, to the brim of the rim in a flash, you carry on as is in,
as is this as was that, and isn’t it fun, isn’t it lost as is won,
as is not as is is, as off as is on, as oft as you come,
isn’t it as was as because it is as all
as is none as is is is?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Your mind its own sun

Your mind its own sun

you a field of flowers

a generous hand has sown

just to dream them

one by one

by one

You a rock

You a rock in ocean storm, your senses airy birds.

You a rock in after calm, your senses preening words.

You a rock in siren song, your senses sweetly heard.

You a rock in myth now grown, your senses gently blurred.

You a rock in rock alone, your senses reassured.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Let us not think

Let us not think of each other as fixed stars,
but as lanterns carried up a steep mountainside
by an unseen hand, moved by a breath,
shaken by the wind.

once said

a leaf a pond a mind a hand

a sky a light a light again

a life a life a life

and then

The last, perhaps, or not

In its thinker, each thought leaves a trace,
in body and face, after its kind;

some are birds, some butterflies,
some flowers, some frogs;

some are grace, some lace,
some waste, some odd;

and like a tree that’s down,
each lives on;

and there is no axe, no axe,
no axe, like dawn.

what grace might say







Friday, September 4, 2015

Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle

Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle
Prepared for publication by Thomas Carlyle
Edited by James Anthony Froude
(Two Volumes)

New York : Charles Scribner’s Sons

I am near to finishing the first volume, and am enjoying the work immensely. Written in the shadow, so to speak, of her husband Thomas Carlyle’s brooding genius, the letters herein show us a strong, intelligent, writer whose words reveal humor, sympathy, and a keen, insightful memory. Most of the letters are introduced by Carlyle, his notes having been penned after his “Jeannie’s” death, and many end with a profound exclamation or sigh for the times and travails gone by. Jane suffered a great deal of ill health through the years (noted also in the letters between Carlyle and Emerson), and was often laid up in bed with debilitating headaches. As one reads, a clear picture emerges of the life they led, the literary visitors they entertained, their various travels (mostly apart), and their gradual escape from poverty to, if not wealth, at least a better measure of comfort. Everything is here: the daily life; visits with the ailing Thackeray; the taking down and cleaning and de-bugging of the drapes; the dealing with mice; the troubles with domestic help brought on by the consumption of too much gin (the help’s, not Jane’s). The two books combined contain around 900 pages. I look forward with relish to the second volume.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

écrire la vie

Dear Paul,

It’s clear this morning, and forty-nine degrees. About this time of day, I have to close the curtain in this northeast-facing room to keep the sun from blinding me, and from boiling and bleaching the books near the window — partial nineteenth-century sets of Bulwer-Lytton, Eugene Field, and George Meredith, a complete set of Browning, and miscellaneous other “delightfully obscure” volumes. These all rest on one of my mother’s antique tables. Around nine-thirty or so, I’ll be able to open the curtain again. I far prefer, of course, the dim light of cloudy days, and being able to leave the curtain open. And even though the big window faces the street, I leave the room exposed all night, the house being several feet higher than the street, and the small front yard rimmed by growth that gives the needed privacy — Mom’s old lilac; a volunteer cedar; a western juniper (often ghostly in the winter mist) started by seed old family friends brought my parents many years ago from the high Sierras; a volunteer lacy-green maple; a Japanese red maple wider than it is tall and a perfect haiku; and several arborvitaes I planted shortly after Mom died. Arbor (tree) vitae (of life). Perfect.

Well. You are sure you’ve mentioned Annie Ernaux, and I am sure you haven’t. But as always, when I say I am sure, it means “I am sure unless I’ve forgotten, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I have.” You say she practices something called écrire la vie. Yet I wonder if either of us, or any of us, practice anything else — publicly, privately, consciously, unconsciously, and everywhere in between. In any case, I have not read her writing, but hereby make a note to do so, based on your description of it as “wonderfully poetic and spare.”

And that’s where I’ll leave it for now. The grand-kids were here all day yesterday and I need to pick up the pieces, literally and figuratively. And even if it weren’t necessary, I would still have to vacuum up my hair, which I find everywhere these days and is coming out in wads — hardly a surprise, considering my many bald uncles. And yet I started with so much that the process is taking years. At first I thought I was merely shedding, and that whatever fell out was being replaced. Indeed, for a long time, it seemed so. But the daily evidence in the shower drain speaks otherwise, as do the gray-brown drifts that pile up gently against the baseboards. Hence the silly little poem I wrote yesterday:

coiffé d’un béret

new shingles for a neighbor’s roof,
so I’m told by sound,

coiffé d’un béret,
while mine are falling out.

Until later,


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015



September 1, 2015

How it would be, if it weren’t, when it is

How it would be, if it weren’t, when it is,
the change rain brings, to the same old thing,
the same old thing, being change,
being rain, being me.