Friday, June 22, 2018

Hello, my love

As crazy as it seems, I have a new website. It’s simple, it’s streamlined, and it’s now the home of my writing and blogging activities. As of this morning, the new blog contains three entries. While I’ll still be making refinements, and perhaps adding a page or two to accommodate special content, the site is ready for you to visit, with the caveat that while I learn the new platform, there will likely be a few inconsistencies.

While my focus will be on the new website, Recently Banned Literature will be kept live. I will respond to comments on old posts, should any arrive. Nothing, really, is ending. I’m just continuing elsewhere. And, as suggested in my first new post, I think the two places are bound to overlap — this being an archival edifice, that being a traveler’s nigh empty hut.

And so this is where things stand. I’ll close this post with my thanks, and a poem:

One Last Thing

One last thing
before I say hello:
here is a flower.

It cried out at first,
but on you it no
longer seems alone.

Hello, my love. Hello.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Out like a light

Last night at nine-thirty the birds were still singing.
By four-thirty this morning they were at it again.
Who was last? Who was first? Do they know?
Does it change from one night to the next?
Does it mean anything to them?
Or do they simply go out like lights?
And rise in the morning to relieve the stars?

And what of the man who is miserable and important, who is miserable because of his importance, and important in his mind because of his misery, which he wears like armor and is afraid to remove? Does he not also go out like a light? And make way for a sweet child to rush in?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Wild Flowers Imagine the Rain

While on
his journey,
a young man asks
how he should live.

A wise man replies,
live life the dream
not as dreamer,
but the dreamed.

Then he dies,
and from
the mountain
his spirit departs.

Comes the wind,
the rain, the snow,
the granite’s
ancient lust for stars.

Sings yearning
like an arrow
on its pathway
to the heart.

Upon the slope,
sunlight’s riddle
of sweetly
marrowed bones.

A field ripens
down below,
abundant grain
for empty palms.

Songs and Letters, February 6, 2006

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Crow Bah

It’s so sunny and warm out this morning, even the crows are photosynthesizing. And it seems almost as if I’m not looking at them directly, but at their shimmering reflections in celestial waters.

My grandfather had a word for expressions like this. It was Bah.


Listening to the digestive processes at five in the morning,
and to the birds singing, and to the sound of traffic.

Are they one sound, or many?

Crows. Robins.

The flickers have been pulling up the drying moss
from the seams in the sidewalks and along the curbs by the street
to get at the ants.

Broken lines this morning.

Because everything is poetry?

But of course everything isn’t, the experts will say.
Or they will say, while stroking their imaginary beards,

Only in a sense.

This means they are wise,
and that, in all likelihood, I am not,
which is true, but not because
they say so.

With so many of us talking at once,
I wonder how there can be silence at all.
Or is silence the sum total of sound,
An infinite roar, a vessel rimmed with stars?

How quiet we are in the ground.

As if one needs an entire lifetime to learn the art,
when love is in, and out, and all around.

Saturday, June 16, 2018


To be an old poet is to be young.

Youth is old poetry.


Gray clouds on a locomotive’s back,
A cry at every crossing.

A penny on the track.

The price for what cannot be.

Warm, the scent of bare skin in summer.

Ripe peaches, whispering to each other on the table.

And that is how the first kiss came to be.

Old poetry.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Canvas 1,217 — Chorus

Canvas 1,217

June 11, 2018

On warm summer nights
the little ones climb the walls —
they think they are frogs.

Then August comes
and the ditch runs wide.

Full of bugs,
frogs hop
across the lawn.

That old bearded one
looks like my grandfather,
but he jumps like
my son —

into the shadows,
where someone is singing.

Songs and Letters, May 4, 2008,
from a batch of Sunday poems

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Canvas 1,216 — In the Vernacular

Canvas 1,216

June 10, 2018

Talk about a crazy religion —
they greet each other with flowers,
not words. Why, they’re children,
that’s what they are.

In the Vernacular”
Songs and Letters, June 29, 2008,
from a batch of Sunday poems

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Canvas 1,215

Canvas 1,215

June 9, 2018

Why not a waterfall

My main website, though still standing, is suffering the ravages of time. The platform it’s built upon is vulnerable and outdated. And anyway, it isn’t a main website anymore. This is, and really has been for years. The other is a dusty brochure. And I no longer seem able to muster the requisite interest to design another. To do that, there would need to be a purpose. Otherwise, the result is what it is already: sheer vanity.

Look at me, Ma, I’m a writer. Ma? Did you hear me? I said — Yes, I heard you, Son. Just let me take these cookies out of the oven and then we’ll talk about it.

Good old Ma.

Oh, these are good. Chocolate chip. Oatmeal. Spirit food.

Why not a waterfall where a website once stood? Why not peace and quiet? Why not an enchanted wood? Why not a child, smiling at man?

Friday, June 8, 2018

Imaginary Conversations

Imaginary Conversations

by Walter Savage Landor

with bibliographical and explanatory notes
by Charles C. Crump

In Six Volumes

London: J.M. Dent & Co.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

The sinews and the bones

Imagine the luxury of sitting down and having nothing at all to write. And then the birds begin to sing. And words or no words, as raindrop is to ocean, you realize you are at least a small part of what is being written. Calm here, a tempest there, sails tattered and crew gone mad, Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink, and you think, how wonderful it all is, this living, dying, and carrying on.

’T is a spirit journey. ’T is sinew and bone.

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

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

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

The body sick, the body hurt, the body bent, the body in need of a cane, the body warm, the body cold, the body wise above all in all it has known and felt. And so the spirit goes. ’T is truly a dance to love, in which first is last and last is first, and mother is daughter, and father is son. And now I hear a dove.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Real Time

Every now and then, I wonder if I am already dead, and if what I am thinking at the moment is my brain’s last attempt to communicate and understand before it finally expires. I might be stretched out on the ground, or in my bed, murdered, the victim of an accident or a heart attack, bleeding on the pavement, surrounded by strangers, loved ones, or friends — or as yet unnoticed and alone, the unfortunate task of the first person who finds me.

It’s funny, in a way: Here I am, dead, and yet think I am alive, and that I am writing about wondering if I am dead — just after, or perhaps even during, the event of my death.

One day after school when I was in the fourth grade, my mother was waiting in our dingy-brown 1961 Chevrolet Impala in front of the building to take me to my piano lesson. As luck would have it, I was running on the sidewalk, then I slipped, fell, and momentarily lost consciousness just a few feet from the car. While I was out, my mind kept working. I saw myself climb into the car next to my mother, then I saw her pull away and start down the road, and then I saw us driving through the country to the white two-story house where my piano teacher lived.

When I opened my eyes, I was completely surprised to find myself still at school, and to learn that something that had happened had not happened.

Well. Apparently I am still alive, for I have been sitting here for some time. Or have I? Years ago, in a matter of just a few seconds, my brain created an entire trip down a country road. It is also known that long, complicated dreams can take place within mere moments of so-called “real time.”

Maybe this is a dream. Or, maybe you are the one who is dreaming. It might even be that we are dreaming together, that we are living inside each other’s dreams, and that those dreams are being lived inside an even larger dream — one that is infinite in its complexity and cosmic unimportance.

Yes, yes. I know. I could go on like this all day. Or, maybe I already have. . . .

Songs and Letters
April 6, 2006

Canvas 1,213

Canvas 1,213

June 5, 2018

Monday, June 4, 2018

peach poem

crooked ladder, crooked tree, crooked arm,

crooked sun, crooked peach, looking down,

crooked sweet, crooked juice, crooked tongue,

crooked lips, crooked kiss, crooked smile,

crooked sheets, crooked sleep, crooked love.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Lemon Sun, Pomegranate Blood

I think I might move our rusty, moss-covered old cultivator from behind the house to the east end, and put it near the thriving young grapevine I planted last year, and let the growth pile up on it and climb the two handles. The cultivator is meant to be pulled by a horse. It’s from my great-grandparents’ farm, at the corner of Avenue 404 and Road 74. Imagine that. Now, of course, the house is gone, the barn is gone, the tank house, the lemon tree, the pomegranate, the olive — everything is gone — the neighbors who knew them, their children, and so on. And I am gone. Gone to Oregon.

Lemon Sun, Pomegranate Blood

The little unpainted house where my great-grandparents lived has been gone for many years, along with their lilac and lemon tree, their olive tree and barn, and their brave and lonely footprints in the dust. It is gone, yet last night I saw it in a dream, a silent beacon in the dark standing at the northwest corner of Road 74 and Avenue 404, with yellow light spilling from its windows on the ground.

I stopped the car and went inside. The house was much bigger than before. There were many rooms, with strange high ceilings, and in each room there was a bed. In each bed there was an old man or old woman near death, softly moaning. One man, lying on his side with his eyes shut against the world, said, “I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m tired. . . .” Poor soul. Lonely soul.

No one else was about. No warm and smiling aunt, no patient grandmother with weathered hands, no sunburned grandfather with rough gray whiskers on his face. Only this harbor of despair, with its battered boats gently rocking, rocking, rocking,

and I a stranger
in this place,
passing from
door to door.

The real house contained old letters and a piano, a heavy oak dining table, kitchen implements, and straw hats. The entire floor was bowed, and a large branch from an umbrella tree held the roof in place like a giant’s thumb. There were dry weeds in the yard, a pomegranate tree, and a lilac thriving against all odds. A tiny, sun-bleached garage. A tank house with a circular harrow on the ground floor, and an outside staircase to the second floor where my father’s uncle lived. A faithful barn, in which all else could have been safely stored for the Second Coming,

a farmer’s cathedral
without a gate.

I left the place, ashamed that I was late.

This morning, the sun is a ripe lemon high up in my family tree, and my fingers are stained with the pomegranate’s blood. The miles I traveled in my sleep are etched upon the wood of this old house,

like the lines
in our foreheads,
or our crooked
vineyard rows.

Songs and Letters
June 20, 2005

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Walk on water

A robin chirps, scolds, exclaims in one way, loudly, urgently, but sings from a treetop in another, sweetly, yet with remarkable projection, and you think there must be two kinds of birds making these sounds, not one.

The little boy next door explains and describes things in a tongue not always easy to understand, yet you feel and are caught up in his happiness. And then later that same day, when you hear him crying from the other side of the fence that separates his backyard from yours, you wonder if that can also be him.

A woman, all business and perfume one day, then tender and vulnerable the next, in soft clothing which, for the life of you, seems as if it has already begun to melt.

A man up early, with a fishing pole, walking down a hillside to the edge of a lake before the heat of the day is on, father and son all at once, teacher and disciple, each in pursuit of his own thoughts; is this the same man who returned years ago from the war with nightmares and dysentery?

An obstacle appears in your path, its strength and size grows and recedes in direct proportion to the resistance you give it. No resistance, no obstacle. No you, no path. Yet joy remains, and love. You are everywhere and everything.

Friday, June 1, 2018

A fine pine makes nine

Thus far this spring, nine cones have fallen from the young volunteer pine in the front yard. I have them lined up as a decoration on the step. The grandkids count them each time they visit. Next year’s crop is already forming. It looks like there will be more. Beneath the pine, there is a lacy red Japanese maple that I planted for my mother about twenty years ago. It has become a big beautiful mound. Under the maple is moss. Under the moss, the ground. Under the ground, more ground — so much more that eventually, down is up, and flat is round.