Friday, December 28, 2012

till the water table

cut into the ground
scoop straight down
the soil profile
reveals layers
at least four horizons
observe the different temperature gradients
as the water quantity is changed
how the soggy surface humus
how the the smudged boundaries
take on significance

Thursday, December 27, 2012


the sky turns
I turn towards
the sky: It is blue
deep falling blue
the whole world

looking up:
closed in it

I am falling

Monday, December 24, 2012

The War Ending by Medbh McGuckian (1991)

In the still world
between the covers of a book,
silk glides through your name
like a bee sleeping in a flower
or a seal that turns its head to look
at a boy rowing a boat.

The fluttering motion of your hands
down your body presses into my thoughts
as an enormous broken wave,
as a rainbow or a painting being torn
within me. I remove the hand
and order it to leave.

Your passion for light
is so exactly placed,
I read them as eyes, mouth, nostrils,
disappearing back into their mystery
like the war that has gone
into us ending,

there you have my head,
a meeting of Irish eyes
with something English:
and now,
it bursts.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Finch at evening

Easy breathing
The night is just beginning
Evening cools into Toronto

Trotting to the Viva at Finch
Glasses glint
Clouds lined in pink
Sunlight shuts

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two Views on Two Ghost Towns by Charles Tomlinson (1966)


Why speak of memory and death
on ghost ground? Absences
relieve, release. Speak
of the life that uselessness
has unconstrained. Rusting
to its rails, the vast obese
company engine that will draw
no more, will draw no more:
Keep Off
the warning says, and all
the mob of objects, freed
under the brightly hard
displacement of the desert light
repeat it: the unaxled wheels,
doorless doors and windowless
regard of space. Clear
of the weight of human
meanings, human need,
houses splinter to the ground
in white and red, two
rotting parallels beneath
the sombre slag-mound.


How dry the ghosts
of dryness are. The air
here, tastes of sparseness
and the graveyard stones
are undecorated. To the left
the sea and, right, the shadows
hump and slide, climbing
the mountainside as clouds go over.
The town has moved away,
leaving a bitten hill
where the minehead’s visible. Brambles
detain the foot. Ketchum,
Clay, Shoemake, Jebez O’Haskill
and Judge H. Vennigerholz
all (save for the judge’s
modest obelisk) marked
by a metal cross; and there are four
crosses of wood, three
wooden stakes (unnamed)
that the sun, the frost, the sea-
wind shred alternately
in sapless scars. How dry
the ghosts of dryness are.

Laser by A.R. Ammons (1970)

An image comes
and the mind’s light, confused
as that on surf
or ocean shelves,
gathers up,
parallelizes, focuses
and in a rigid beam illuminates the image:

the head seeks in itself
fragments of left-over light
to cast a new
any direction,
to strike and fix
a random, contradicting image:

but any found image falls
back to darkness or
the lesser beams splinter and
go out:
the mind tries to
dream of diversity, of mountain
rapids shattered with sound and light,

of wind fracturing brush or
bursting out of order against a mountain
range: but the focused beam
folds all energy in:
the image glares filling all space:
the head falls and
hangs and cannot wake itself.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Elm by Sylvia Plath (1963,1965)

I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root:
It is what you fear.
I do not fear it: I have been there.

Is it the sea you hear in me,
Its dissatisfactions?
Or the voice of nothing, that was your madness?

Love is a shadow.
How you lie and cry after it
Listen: these are its hooves: it has gone off, like a horse.

All night I shall gallop thus, impetuously,
Till your head is a stone, your pillow a little turf,
Echoing, echoing.

Or shall I bring you the sound of poisons?
This is rain now, the big hush.
And this is the fruit of it: tin white, like arsenic.

I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets.
Scorched to the root
My red filaments burn and stand, a hand of wires.

Now I break up in pieces that fly about like clubs.
A wind of such violence
Will tolerate no bystanding: I must shriek.

The moon, also, is merciless: she would drag me
Cruelly, being barren.
Her radiance scathes me. Or perhaps I have caught her.

I let her go. I let her go
Diminished and flat, as after radical surgery.
How your bad dreams possess and endow me.

I am inhabited by a cry.
Nightly it flaps out
Looking, with its hooks, for something to love.

I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.

Clouds pass and disperse.
Are those the faces of love, those pale irretrievables?
Is it for such I agitate my heart?

I am incapable of more knowledge.
What is this, this face
So murderous in its strangle of branches?--

Its snaky acids kiss.
It petrifies the will. These are the isolate, slow faults
That kill, that kill, that kill.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Season of Phantasmal Peace by Derek Walcott (1981)

Then all the nations of birds lifted together
the huge net of the shadows of this earth
in multitudinous dialects, twittering tongues,
stitching and crossing it. They lifted up
the shadows of long pines down trackless slopes,
the shadows of glass-faced towers down evening streets,
the shadow of a frail plant on a city sill -
the net rising soundless as night, the birds' cries soundless, until
there was no longer dusk, or season, decline, or weather,
only this passage of phantasmal light
that not the narrowest shadow dared to sever.

And men could not see, looking up, what the wild geese drew,
what the ospreys trailed behind them in the silvery ropes
that flashed in the icy sunlight; they could not hear
battalions of starlings waging peaceful cries,
bearing the net higher, covering this world
like the vines of an orchard, or a mother drawing
the trembling gauze over the trembling eyes
of a child fluttering to sleep;
                                          it was the light
that you will see at evening on the side of a hill
in yellow October, and no one hearing knew
what change had brought into the raven's cawing,
the killdeer's screech, the ember-circling chough
such an immense, soundless, and high concern
for the fields and cities where the birds belong,
except it was their seasonal passing, Love,
made seasonless, or, from the high privilege of their birth,
something brighter than pity for the wingless ones
below them who shared dark holes in windows and in houses,
and higher they lifted the net with soundless voices
above all change, betrayals of falling suns,
and this season lasted one moment, like the pause
between dusk and darkness, between fury and peace,
but, for such as our earth is now, it lasted long.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Love Poem by Audre Lorde (1974)

Speak earth and bless me with what is richest
make sky flow honey out of my hips
rigid as mountains
spread over a valley
carved out by the mouth of rain.

And I knew when I entered her I was
high wind in her forests hollow
fingers whispering sound
honey flowed
from the split cup
impaled on a lance of tongues
on the tips of her breasts on her navel
and my breath
howling into her entrances
through lungs of pain.

Greedy as herring-gulls
or a child
I swing out over the earth
over and over

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Deaf-Mute in the Pear Tree by P.K. Page (1985)

His clumsy body is a golden fruit
pendulous in the pear tree

Blunt fingers among the multitudinous buds

Adriatic blue the sky above and through
the forking twigs

Sun ruddying tree's trunk, his trunk
his massive head thick-knobbed with burnished curls
tight-clenched in bud

(Painting by Generalic. Primitive.)

I watch him prune with silent secateurs

Boots in the crotch of branches shift their weight
heavily as oxen in a stall

Hear small inarticulate mews from his locked mouth
a kitten in a box

Pear clippings fall
                       soundlessly on the ground
Spring finches sing
                       soundlessly in the leaves

A stone. A stone in ears and on his tongue

Through palm and fingertip he knows the tree's
quick springtime pulse

Smells in its sap the sweet incipient pears

Pale sunlight's choppy water glistens on
his mutely snipping blades

and flags and scraps of blue
above him make regatta of the day

But when he sees his wife's foreshortened shape
sudden and silent in the grass below
uptilt its face to him

then air is kisses, kisses

stone dissolves

his locked throat finds a little door

and through it feathered joy
flies screaming like a jay

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


if we were together
would you be happier?
we are
not symmetrical not one to one
but one, among many memories

you come with a light smile
into my dream: a human-animal
with the power of a thought
I take the animal out of you

and I wonder
what will make you stay

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Body as Braille by Lorna Dee Cervantes (1981)

He tells me, “Your back
is so beautiful.” He traces
my spine with his hand.

I'm burning like the white ring
around the moon. “A witch’s moon,”
dijo mi abuela. The schools call it

“a reflection of ice crystals.”
It's a storm brewing in the cauldron
of the sky. I'm in love

but won't tell him
if it's omens
or ice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Sheer the skin
Peel the clothes
                       and all

         Pull it till it


somewhere someone


Monday, October 15, 2012


seduced out today by the sweater-weather:
the stars are wet with cloud
the sun is soft and muted
all shades of green and grey
the asphalt and the trees.
this my home, my land
this, my country

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dreams within dreams

I went to read a dream but
instead I found in the
pages of that book
dreams within dreams
within dreams and
for hours I ate to
satisfy my mouth
and paced to satisfy
my legs because
my heart wanted
and wanted and

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Prediction by Mark Strand (1970)

That night the moon drifted over the pond,  
turning the water to milk, and under  
the boughs of the trees, the blue trees,  
a young woman walked, and for an instant

the future came to her:
rain falling on her husband’s grave, rain falling  
on the lawns of her children, her own mouth
filling with cold air, strangers moving into her house,

a man in her room writing a poem, the moon drifting into it,  
a woman strolling under its trees, thinking of death,
thinking of him thinking of her, and the wind rising
and taking the moon and leaving the paper dark.

Eating Poetry by Mark Strand (1968)

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man,
I snarl at her and bark,
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

Keeping Things Whole by Mark Strand (1964)

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in  
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Geometry by Rita Dove (1980)

I prove a theorem and the house expands:
the windows jerk free to hover near the ceiling,
the ceiling floats away with a sigh.

As the walls clear themselves of everything
but transparency, the scent of carnations
leaves with them. I am out in the open

and above the windows have hinged into butterflies,
sunlight glinting where they've intersected.
They are going to some point true and unproven.

Epilogue by Grace Nichols (1983,1984)

I have crossed an ocean
I have lost my tongue
from the root of the old one
a new one has sprung

Invitation by Grace Nichols (1984)


If my fat
was too much for me
I would have told you
I would have lost a stone
or two

I would have gone jogging
even when it was fogging
I would have weighed in
sitting the bathroom scale
with my tail tucked in

I would have dieted
more care than a diabetic

But as it is
I’m feeling fine
feel no need
to change my lines
when I move I’m target light

Come up and see me sometime


Come up and see me sometime
Come up and see me sometime

My breasts are huge exciting
amnions of watermelon
                              your hands can’t cup
my thighs are twin seals
                                 fat slick pups
there’s a purple cherry
below the blues
                                 of my black seabelly
there’s a mole that gets a ride
each time I shift the heritage
of my behind

Come up and see me sometime

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Log in the Sea

Their little feet ran faster than the wind on the sand, past trees, over roots, under branches, ripping through leaves like monsters, which Alik was, at the moment. “Graaaa!!!” He bellowed, racing with his face out first, uncaring about thorns hidden in the grasses below.

“Alik!” Kali yelled, running past and then ahead of him, squealing and laughing as he lunged to catch her with his monster’s claws. What claws they were! Glistening with the blood of his most recent kill, black and dripping with terrifyingly immoral deeds. The ground trembled underneath Alik’s feet as he bounded out, past the line of the jungle and into the open sand.

It was a beach. Alik the monster came to a stop. Kali stood, out where the waves were breaking, by a gigantic dead black log. The surf sprayed around it. Knee deep in the ocean, she turned and waved Alik over. Alik walked up to the log with reverence. Imagining. What size, what power, what thrilling currents would waves need to pull a trunk this size from the jungle to the waterline. The enormity shook him. What could such an ocean do to them? It was pointless, he knew, but to test his strength he yanked on the trunk. It didn’t budge. He pulled. Pushed. Jumped on. Yelled at. Finally, Kali stated the obvious: its stuck.

She scrambled onto it, and stood. The ocean spread out around her, from her. The vast waters. The waves broke and pulled and broke and pulled, as if breathing. Blue, gray-blue, undulating far, far out. The rest of the world. She couldn’t see the horizon. The line that normally marked where sky ended and ocean began was smudged today.  The ocean and the cloudy sky were one. It could be, she thought, that there was no sky, and this was all water. Blue below, blue above, and Kali looking into it from a sandy edge on the side. One more step forward and she would be underwater, without even being underwater. Kali looked at Alik and told him, “Get on!” He got on, straddling the log, lifting his legs so the water wouldn’t touch them. Well, The spray from the surf didn’t count, he decided.

Kali looked out and recalled a dream she had had. She had been underwater. All around her there was blue, like early morning, or late evening. And in the vast blue there was nothing. It was empty. She had struggled initially, but way upwards towards the surface that bodies instinctively knew didn’t exist in the dream. There was no “up”. There was empty blue all around. She found she could breath underwater, despite not having gills. As easily as breathing air. She swam a little, hoping to find something, and made out a shape in the distance. She swam towards it and the shape became a bunk-bed, and she knew the top bunk was Alik’s, because he was sitting there, and the bottom bunk was her’s.

“Hey-ho, off we go! Off we go to sea!” Alik hollered, and he set his legs down and paddled. Kali joined forces with him, and together for each mighty push they hollered a mighty “Huh!” Slowly their crew of two felt the giant trunk under them lift. They Huh-ed! and kicked, leaning their bodies forward. The sand unwillingly let the log slide. In it went, gaining speed as it left behind the shallows. Huh! Huh! Huh! Alik and Kali kicked in perfect tandem. Waves lifted their log up and down, and up and down. Further and further they floated.

In the enormity of the ocean, the trunk looked like a stick, with two knobby upright branches. “We go, we go, to the edge of the world we go,” sang Kali and Alik, although they both knew that the world had no edge (it was more fun to think that it did), and that this wasn’t the original song (it made sense to change the lyrics to fit their situation). They sang, enjoying the speed the current added to their paddling. The wind dried their backs. The log floated on the sea. The sea was the sea was the sea: a giant who had not even noticed the two adventurers. The sea mourned and lived and tried but didn’t always succeed in keeping her emotions from getting away. What was it she mourned for, so consistently, for so long? “We go, we go,”  Kali and Alik chanted.

A while later Kali and Alik stopped singing and kicking. They had reached the center. the midpoint. Kali knew this, because she couldn’t see the shoreline anymore, and the horizon line was still invisible. They floated in the center of the blue circle. Only the ocean’s breeze, and the soft sounds the water made in keeping the log up interrupted the perfect peaceful quiet. Alik closed his eyes and listened to the wind’s well-traveled stories. Kali lay her cheek on the log, letting her arms and feet dangle off the sides, and watched the light play on the waves.

Kali was mesmerized. Her thoughts began to imitate the rise and fall, the light and dark, of the ocean. Her body felt the need to disperse, like a chunk of butter on a slice of bread that needs to be spread. She tried to grasp the space, the area, the sheer size of the ocean, without losing the oneness of her self. She could feel how one by one her atoms were doubting their reasons for being her, and not becoming part of the ocean. It was too much to take. She shut her eyes. She let the bobbing motion of the log begin to lull her to sleep.

Alik was an excellent audience, when the story was good. He smiled, scowled, frowned, and wept at all the correct places, without ever making a interruptive sound. The wind’s stories had no real ends, but when part One was done he sighed and gave as good as a stretch he could, sitting on a log floating in the middle of the ocean. Faintly, on the wind, he heard his own name. And Kali’s. Kali, nearly asleep, heard it as well, and sat up. It was their mother’s voice. “Alik! Kali! Lunch!” the wind whispered.

“Coming!” Alik hollered. And they both jumped off the dead log. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Little fictions

for H and Fatema ben

The sky is blue. Then it turns a hazed orange. And in the twilight zone the females come out, in high heels and black dresses, hunting their prey behind sunglasses. Their hair flies like dandelion seeds in the wispy breeze, and their fingers point and ask questions better left unsolved.

You see, the night shows a few stars, in between the clouds. Beside me, my brother and my sister don’t see them. They see fairies dancing like dragonflies mating, they see the pulse of a thousand grasshopper heartbeats, they see the milky light of a moon that isn’t out yet. They see sunrise. But it is still night.

This is what the morning brings. Birds chirping: Bird 1: So lets go eat. Bird 2: That front yard looks promising. Bird 1: Yeah, the weedy ones are always awesome. I love humans that let their weeds grow out. Bird 2: Yeah, hahah, imagine how annoyed their neighbors are. Bird 1: hahaha.

I wake up too late for the sunrise. Remnants of a sleepover pierce me like rida pins dropped and stepped on, lost somewhere in the depths of this carpet. Here, lost things live in a secret community. If there is silence, you can hear voices. A sharp thin pin voice asks: Where’s the washroom? A round milky bead voice replies: Roll down the steps, then spin left. Pin: Isn’t there one closer? Bead: No, that’s the closest one. I’m pretty sure. Pin: Well, fine. You sure are pretty too. Let’s talk later. Bead shrugs but a faint pink flush colours her as Pin leaves. But perhaps it is only the reflection of the sunset outside the window.

The stars, after a short summer night-shift, come to my store just before sunrise. Its true. They leave their places in the sky and fall into thin plastic beds, smoothly, thinly. At their arrival, a wind rustles in the store but the alarm stays off. No one sees them come. Except the security guy, who lives with the guilt of falling asleep at his job every day, because he thinks it is a dream. Even he doesn’t see them shrinking, dimming, and sticking themselves onto sheets, whispering goodnight to the other celestial bodies: to Saturn and her rings, to bright and brilliant Venus, to cold Pluto who doesn’t reply. In the morning sun’s audacious light, their faint glow is invisible.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Swim in Co. Wicklow by Derek Mahon (1999)

The only reality is the perpetual flow of vital energy.
— Montale

Spindrift, crustacean patience
and a gust of ozone,
you come back once more
to this dazzling shore,
its warm uterine rinse,
heart-racing heave and groan.

A quick gasp as you slip
into the hissing wash,
star cluster, dulse and kelp,
slick algae, spittle, froth,
the intimate slash and dash,
hard-packed in the seething broth.

Soft water-lip, soft hand,
close tug of origin,
the sensual writhe and snore
of maidenhair and frond,
you swim here once more
smart as a rogue gene.

Spirits of lake, river
and woodland pond preside
mildly in water never
troubled by wind or tide;
and the quiet suburban pool
is only for the fearful —

no wind-wave energies
where no sea briar grips
and no freak breaker with
the violence of the ages
comes foaming at the mouth
to drown you in its depths.

Among pebbles a white conch
worn by the suck and crunch,
a sandy chamber old
as the centuries, in cold
and solitude reclines
where the moon-magnet shines;

but today you swirl and spin
in sea water as if,
creatures of salt and slime
and naked under the sun,
life were a waking dream
and this the only life.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

from Twenty-One Love Poems by Adrienne Rich, poem VII

What kind of beast would turn its life into words?
What atonement is this all about?
---and yet, writing words like these, I’m also living.
Is all this close to the wolverines’ howled signals,
that modulated cantata of the wild?
or, when away from you I try to create you in words,
am I simply using you, like a river or a war?
And how I have used rivers, how I have used wars
to escape writing of the worst thing of all ---
not the crimes of others, not even our own death,
but the failure to want our freedom passionately enough
so that blighted elms, sick rivers, massacres would seem
mere emblems of that desecration of ourselves?

from A Valediction Forbidding Mourning by Adrienne Rich (1970-71)

A last attempt: the language is a dialect called metaphor.
These images go unglossed: hair, glacier, flashlight.
When I think of a landscape I am thinking of a time.
When I talk of taking a trip I mean forever.
I could say: those mountains have a meaning
but further than that I could not say.

To do something very common, in my own way.

Monday, June 4, 2012


The frame of his body
Down on one knee
Smile leaning to one side
Canon up to right eye
Shining black in the sun
His count begins at one
and two and three, Click.
And still on one knee
One two three,

Sunday, June 3, 2012


tell myself I’ll find you
tell myself its okay
try and reconcile myself
with leaving you this way
may not see you again
but still I pretend
making you promises
I won’t keep in the end

redirecting emotions

I try to redirect
the logic of my emotions
but they cut through space and time
they ache in my mind

I use mental blocks: ice, glass, stone

I twirl with pretend freedom
among crabs, sand and sea
they mix inside me

the Woman

In the left and right of her nose
Turning from one to another
In the rolling of her shoulders
As she bent over low for him
In the lift of her bare feet
In her curves, in her style
I lost my words, in her singing
In her smile, in the swish of her hair
I forgot what I was going to say
In the mark on her creamy skin
In the bend of her legs as she shifted her weight
I lost the meaning of language, of everything. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


we should be second to none
what a waste it would be
how useless
the things we've become
used to

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Earthly Love by Louise Glück (1999)

Conventions of the time
held them together.
It was a period
(very long) in which
the heart once given freely
was required, as a formal gesture,
to forfeit liberty: a consecration
at once moving and hopelessly doomed.

As to ourselves:
fortunately we diverged
from these requirements,
as I reminded myself
when my life shattered.
So that what we had for so long
was, more or less,
voluntary, alive.
And only long afterward
did I begin to think otherwise.

We are all human-
we protect ourselves
as well as we can
even to the point of denying
clarity, the point
of self-deception. As in
the consecration to which I alluded.

And yet, within this deception,
true happiness occurred.
So that I believe I would
repeat these errors exactly.
Nor does it seem to me
crucial to know
whether or not such happiness
is built on illusion:
it has its own reality.
And in either case, it will end.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Moment the Two Worlds Meet by Sharon Olds (1987)

That's the moment I always think of--when the
slick, whole body comes out of me,
when they pull it out, not pull it but steady it
as it pushes forth, not catch it but keep their
hands under it as it pulses out,
they are the first to touch it,
and it shines, it glistens with the thick liquid on it.
That's the moment, while it's sliding, the limbs
compressed close to the body, the arms
bent like a crab's cloud-muscle legs, the
thighs packed plums in heavy syrup, the
legs folded like the wings of a chicken--
that is the center of life, that moment when the
juiced bluish sphere of the baby is
sliding between the two worlds,
wet, like sex, it is sex,
it is my life opening back and back
as you'd strip the reed from the bud, not strip it but
watch it thrust so it peels itself and the
flower is there, severely folded, and
then it begins to open and dry
but by then the moment is over,
they wipe off the grease and wrap the child in a blanket and
hand it to you entirely in this world.

Photograph of the Girl by Sharon Olds (1984)

The girl sits on the hard ground,
the dry pan of Russia, in the drought
of 1921, stunned,
eyes closed, mouth open,
raw hot wind blowing
sand in her face. Hunger and puberty are
taking her together. She leans on a sack,
layers of clothes fluttering in the heat,
the new radius of her arm curved.
She cannot be not beautiful, but she is
starving. Each day she grows thinner, and her bones
grow longer, porous. The caption says
she is going to starve to death that winter
with millions of others. Deep in her body
the ovaries let out her first eggs,
golden as drops of grain.

Privilege of Being by Robert Hass (1989)

Many are making love. Up above, the angels
in the unshaken ether and crystal of human longing
are braiding one another's hair, which is strawberry blond
and the texture of cold rivers. They glance
down from time to time at the awkward ecstasy--
it must look to them like featherless birds
splashing in the spring puddle of a bed--
and then one woman, she is about to come,
peels back the man's shut eyelids and says,
look at me, and he does. Or is it the man
tugging the curtain rope in that dark theater?
Anyway, they do, they look at each other;
two beings with evolved eyes, rapacious,
startled, connected at the belly in an unbelievably sweet
lubricious glue, stare at each other,
and the angels are desolate. They hate it. They shudder pathetically
like lithographs of Victorian beggars
with perfect features and alabaster skin hawking rags
in the lewd alleys of the novel.
All of creation is offended by this distress.
It is like the keening sound the moon makes sometimes,
rising. The lovers especially cannot bear it,
it fills them with unspeakable sadness, so that
they close their eyes again and hold each other, each
feeling the mortal singularity of the body
they have enchanted out of death for an hour so,
and one day, running at sunset, the woman says to the man,
I woke up feeling so sad this morning because I realized
that you could not, as much as I love you,
dear heart, cure my loneliness,
wherewith she touched his cheek to reassure him
that she did not mean to hurt him with this truth.
And the man is not hurt exactly,
he understands that life has limits, that people
die young, fail at love,
fail of their ambitions. He runs beside her, he thinks
of the sadness they have gasped and crooned their way out of
coming, clutching each other with old invented
forms of grace and clumsy gratitude, ready
to be alone again, or dissatisfied, or merely
companionable like the couples on the summer beach
reading magazine articles about intimacy between the sexes
to themselves, and to each other,
and to the immense, illiterate, consoling angels.

ABC by Robert Pinsky (2000)

Any body can die, evidently. Few
Go happily, irradiating joy,

Knowledge, love. Many
Need oblivion, painkillers,
Quickest respite.

Sweet time unafflicted,
Various world:
X = your zenith.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Epilogue by Robert Lowell (1977)

Those blessèd structures, plot and rhyme--
why are they no help to me now
I want to make
something imagined, not recalled?
I hear the noise of my own voice:
The painter's vision is not a lens,
it trembles to caress the light.

But sometimes everything I write
with the threadbare art of my eye
seems a snapshot,
lurid, rapid, garish, grouped,
heightened from life,
yet paralyzed by fact.
All's misalliance.
Yet why not say what happened?
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun's illumination
stealing like the tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning.
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.

Small Song by A.R. Ammons (1970)

The reeds give
way to the

wind and give
the wind away

Love Song by A.R. Ammons (1970)

Like the hills under dusk you
fall away from the light:
you deepen: the green
light darkens
and you are nearly lost:
only so much light as
stars keep
manifests your face:
the total night in
myself raves
for the light along your lips.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

from "The Sea Is History" by Derek Walcott

then came the synod of flies,
then came the secretarial heron,
then came the bullfrog bellowing for a vote,

fireflies with bright ideas
and bats like jetting ambassadors
and the mantis, like khaki police,

and the furred caterpillars of judges
examining each case closely,
and then in the dark ears of ferns

and in the salt chuckle of rocks
with their sea pools, there was the sound
like a rumour without any echo

of History, really beginning.

Monday, April 9, 2012


It's not decent or godly shit that goes on in my mind, and I don't get bored, I visualize - I just sit on the edge of my bed and imagine meeting an old friend (a childhood crush) in the back room of an old lentil store (daals in sacks). I'd kiss him and he'd respond with the passion and vigor that can only be born of the same brand of loneliness as mine, wasted days of sunny youth. Then I catch myself fantasizing and stop it. (...then he'd press me up against a wall, prop me on a sack, I'd run my hands all over his back, and our tongues would dance, and...)

I watch the knotted up mosquito net turn slowly, so slowly, on it's hook, like a slow, old lady. The little curtain on the window rises, then falls, then rises, then falls in the breeze. How time goes by. "Where are we going? Where do we go now?" Nanaji asks me. "I don't know", I say. "We are going to... (thoughtful pause)... London," he says. "Uhuh," I say. "Me and you, together, we'll go. You are my friend," he says. "Yeah we'll go," I say. "Where are we going? Now where shall we go?" he asks. "No where," I say. "Where do we go now", he says. "I don't know", I say. "Where are we going? I don't know, where are we going?", he asks. "I don't know either," I say. (How about London?)

Since everything is done for us, the cleaning, the meals, table laid, clothes washed, bathrooms cleaned, Nanaji fed and washed, I do the most useless thing of all - art. Beauty runs rampant in this country. An ant's first two halves are red, and it's butt is black. The ants make a neat line in the toilet, and quite a gathering around a bread crumb in the dining room (Why has that crumb not been wiped?). The ants come inside when it rains, they say, but really they come inside for the food, the little thieves. True to the high calling of art, I take a video of these ants. First zoomed out, then zoomed in. After watching it (the zoomed in one) a few times I believe I have witnessed a pattern these creatures of nature make - there is symmetry! And balance! Where and when do ants practice such choreography? Do they run underground sessions?

Truth is easy to come by when you look for it. Everything is open, fruits go bad in a day and people go bad even faster. Gossip makes for reliable exposure. And the great truth is: there is nothing. "There is nothing," Nanaji says, "There is nothing here." I am not sure how to respond. "There is nothing here," he says and waves his hand to indicate everyone and everything. "There is something," I say. "No, look, there is nothing!" he says. It's true, there is nothing here. And there is nothing there as well. We all know it. "Other old people watch T.V., some read magazines, to pass the time," Nanima says, "but nothing goes in his mind, so how can he?" How time goes by. I master the games on my phone. There is nothing. Just time going by. I make art. I knot my mosquito net, and open it at night...and take a video of it, to capture how it falls around me, tenting me.

"I don't know where I am," Nanaji says. "Home," I say. "But there is nothing," he says, "There is nothing here." "There is something," I say. "Now where will we go?" he asks, "Where will we go?" 

Sunday, April 8, 2012


she is a shadow
dark under washed hanging clothes
mineral salts dry from the drip-dripping well-water
like powder on her ebony skin
muscles toned into a smooth shape
eyes stare as red as the virus going around 
hard veins thickly knot to claw-like fingers
black twisted feet end in sharp painted nails

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Girl at a counter

You should have seen her
Eyelids thick
And curved over her eyes
Smooth. Shut, then open
Her lips were large, sculpted
Over a perfect mouth
Imagine the feel of her skin
The colour of molasses
Sweet husky deep warmth

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Perfect Circle

without any end
with a broken pencil
I can try and draw
the perfect circle
of the universe but
it is frustrating
without a point
to keep on drawing

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fever 103° (by Sylvia Plath, 1962)

Pure? What does it mean?
The tongues of hell
Are dull, dull as the triple

Tongues of dull, fat Cerberus
Who wheezes at the gate. Incapable
Of licking clean

The aguey tendon, the sin, the sin.
The tinder cries.
The indelible smell

Of a snuffed candle!
Love, love, the low smokes roll
From me like Isadora’s scarves, I’m in a fright

One scarf will catch and anchor in the wheel,
Such yellow sullen smokes
Make their own element. They will not rise,

But trundle round the globe
Choking the aged and the meek,
The weak

Hothouse bred baby in its crib,
The ghastly orchid
Hanging its hanging garden in the air,

Devilish leopard!
Radiation turned it white
And killed it in an hour.

Greasing the bodies of adulterers
Like Hiroshima ash and eating in.
The sin. The sin.

Darling, all night
I have been flickering, off, on, off, on.
The sheets grow heavy as a lecher’s kiss.

Three days. Three nights.
Lemon water, chicken
Water, water make me retch.

I am too pure for you or anyone.
Your body
Hurts me as the world hurts God. I am a lantern—

My head a moon
Of Japanese paper, my gold beaten skin
Infinitely delicate and infinitely expensive.

Does not my heat astound you! And my light!
All by myself I am a huge camellia
Glowing and coming and going, flush on flush.

I think I am going up,
I think I may rise—
The beads of hot metal fly, and I love, I

Am a pure acetylene
Attended by roses,

By kisses, by cherubim,
By whatever these pink things mean!
Not you, nor him

Nor him, nor him
(My selves dissolving, old whore petticoats)—
To Paradise.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Wild nights
Smoking on
The veranda
Speaking loudly
The wet heat
Flows slowly
In our bones
Lamp posts shine
Long and soft
And the music
Is sad and low
A warm breeze
Blows gently
From ocean waves
To sandy beaches
Soaked in dreams
Of the old times


are like insect wings and petals
dust and shrapnel metals
magnesium strips and ashes
leaves and windblown trashes
blowing flying here and there
whisked by winds everywhere
spinning wheeling shifting directions
jumping and dancing in dizzying motions

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


The word in your accent
Feels suddenly warm, clear
Like light reflected in beams
Off of a spinning crystal
Warm and bright and clean

When it is night
We form an alliance
Walking on untouched paths
Trembling together in shadows
Shaking into a confused union
Only to feel the rise and fall
Of breathing in an embrace

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Close your mouth softly around me
I'll leave my flavor on your lips
Close your eyes and gently bite me
Break away slow from my tip
Your sensuous tongue let it curve
Moisten me and break me down
Among my textures let it swerve
Humus and tahini finely ground
I'll melt inside your enzyme embrace
Give me over to your molar powers
I hope you never forget my taste
Remember, I love to be devoured

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

the mississippi river empties into the gulf, by Lucille Clifton (1996)

and the gulf enters the sea and so forth,
none of them emptying anything,
all of them carrying yesterday
forever on their white tipped backs,
all of them dragging forward tomorrow.
it is the great circulation
of the earth's body, like the blood
of the gods, this river in which the past
is always flowing. every water
is the same water coming round.
everyday someone is standing on the edge
of this river, staring into time,
whispering mistakenly:
only here. only now

Moonburn, by Marge Piercy (1997)

I stayed under the moon too long.
I am silvered with lust.

Dreams flick like minnows through my eyes.
My voice is trees tossing in the wind.

I loose myself like a flock of blackbirds
storming into your face.

My lightest touch leaves blue prints,
bruises on your mind.

Desire sandpapers your skin
so thin I read the veins and arteries

maps of routes I will travel
till I lodge in your spine.

The night is our fur.
We curl inside it licking.

Monday, January 2, 2012

from “Thorow” by Susan Howe (1990)


lift off slow

wake up
lift off slow
clouds blow
lights and shadows
play on the ceiling
lying in bed thinking
chocolate ice cream licking
sweet hindi music streaming
sun shining warm blanket folding
the phone that connects me to you