Apr 042019

All day working happily down near the streambed
     the light passing into the remote opalescence
it returns to as the year wakes toward winter
     a season of rain in a year already rich
in rain with masked light emerging on all sides
     in the new leaves of the palms quietly waving
time of mud and slipping and of overhearing
     the water under the sloped ground going on whispering
as it travels time of rain thundering at night
     and of rocks rolling and echoing in the torrent
and of looking up after noon through the high branches
     to see fine rain drifting across the sunlight
over the valley that was abused and at last left
     to fill with thickets of rampant aliens
bringing habits but no stories under the mango trees
     already vast as clouds there I keep discovering
beneath the tangle the ancient shaping of water
     to which the light of an hour comes back as to a secret
and there I planted young palms in places I had not pondered
     until then I imagined their roots setting out in the dark
knowing without knowledge I kept trying to see them standing
     in that bend of the valley in the light that would come

 Comments Off on W. S. Merwin: What is a Garden
Jan 162019

Go to the ant, you sluggard,

and watch it lug an object
forward single file
with no short breaks for
coffee, gossip, a croissant,

and no stopping to apostrophize
blossom, by-passed because
pollen is not its job,
no pause for trampled companions:

consider her ways—and be content.

 Comments Off on David Curson: Proverbs 6:6
Jan 162019

The race is not to the swift
but to those that can sit still
and let the waves go over them.

The battle is not to the strong
but to the frail, who know best
how to efface themselves
to save the streaked pansy of the heart from
being trampled to mud.

 Comments Off on D. H. Lawrence: Race and Battle
Dec 212018

There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
‘T is the seal, despair, –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, ‘t is like the distance
On the look of death.

 Comments Off on Emily Dickinson: There’s a certain Slant of light (320)
Dec 132018


How many hands, vicissitudes,
Have worn this gold to the thin ghost
That gleams in the shopkeeper’s palm?
A millennium flickers, eludes
Us, is gone, as we bend engrossed
In blurred words and a surface charm.


Mismanaged love, at large, made vagrant,
Uncontained seeking the enormous land

Seen fleetingly, once manifest, now lost:
Seeking the defining rite, the service

That the heart could bend to – of rosary,
Or gun, or patient domesticity.


What is his life? the library,
  Worn books minutely scanned,
The evening and the single meal.
  He dreams of the vast land.

He sees behind the urtext loom
  The dedicated band
Who, barbarous, inhabit him:
  He dreams of the vast land.

A scholar’s indolence: the shelves
  Dissolve to endless sand;
Horizons touched, lost enmities:
  He dreams of the vast land.

His patience thins: minutiae:
  His predecessors planned
The complex text impeccably:
  He dreams of the vast land,

His solitary action there:
  O he can understand
His love’s futility: but look,
  He dreams of the vast land.

 Comments Off on Dick Davis: Three Poems