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Sunday, September 28, 2014


“We're in a freefall into future. We don't know where we're going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you're going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It's a very interesting shift of perspective and that's all it is... joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes.”


Grief is a hole you walk around in the daytime and at night you fall into it.   Denise Levertov


Winter Litany   Robin Davidson
                        Krak√≥w, March, 2004

I stand on Wawel Hill
in early March and morning snow
falls in flocks
tiny paper cranes
descending blowing dissolving
one into another
on the cobblestone walk
an avalanche of light

I believe this must be
what death is

this alternate
shining and melting, shining and flying


“I like the floor as a place for grieving. You can't fall off." Kate Braestrup, Main Chaplain to Game Wardens on "Speaking of Faith."


One Heart            Li-Young Lee

Look at the birds. Even flying
is born

out of nothing. The first sky
is inside you, Friend, open

at either end of day.
The work of wings

was always freedom, fastening
one heart to every falling thing.


Grief Daybook II                    Carol Ann Davis

There are panels of sky
as good as forgotten, 
Evans' gelatin folds of Florida
circa 1934. The line of sky is dark at first

where the gulf lifts it,
then comes to me like a halo 
around the palm tree with its neck bent,

its spray of branches 
leaning out of frame
as if to flee. Its roots pull 
at sand, as if to say,
this is what it takes.
I'd believe, if not for the way

my breath catches, 
if not for the wild faint
sleep's become. The palm's branches

are spears left
where they've fallen 
in the dirty sand, too heavy

for the tide to take them. Where the neck bends, 
cut branches—like stubble on a chin
as seen from below—seem to ask

something of the photographer,
something not washed away

in the chemical bath. The shadow of the trunk
just underlines—means to prove the existence 
of the world. It's three o'clock

and the latticework of 1934 
is pulling around me in this light

as if to say my god, my god,
a hymn sung
by infidels to believers 
as a way to ask for water.


Apprehension in the Blurry Trees                            Cameron Thomas
Fallen, what can a leaf care about being plucked from its

Two crows forage on the roof across the street, stepping
      along a gutter, picking through tan and rusty
      swatches, and casting them to the ground.

One finds what he wants, so he steps to the edge, drops,
      and glides across the blurry trees.

The other remains, keeping a leaf in her beak as though
      it were a body.

She must be the one who speaks from the heart and ruins


Fall down seven times; get up eight.                                          Japanese proverb

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It's Eshle-Man to the Rescue!

I've been struggling mightily with a poem the last few days. Today I spent time sitting at the dining room table staring at the errant piece, getting nowhere (again!). So I decided to give up and read some poetry instead, hoping for a respite from my frustration.

I went to my bookshelf and found Clayton Eshleman's The Aranea Constellation (Rain Taxi, 1998). It's a chapbook of poetics that I don't remember getting; I'm sure someone sent it to me, but I don't know who. So I opened it up, and unbelievably, I immediately came across a different way to look at my problem with my poem.

I'm not going to share that with you today (don't want to sap the power from it till the poem is done), but here are two passages from the chapbook that also struck a chord:

Quoting Anton Ehrenzweig: "Any creative search, whether for a new image or idea, involves the scrutiny of an often astronomical number of possibilities. The correct choice between them cannot be made by a conscious weighing up of each single possibility cropping up during the search; if attempted it would only lead us astray. A creative search resembles a maze with many nodal points. From each of these points many possible pathways radiate in all directions leading to further crossroads where a new network of high - and by-ways comes into view. Each choice would be easy if we could command an aerial view of the entire network of nodal points and radiating pathways still lying ahead. This is never the case. If we could map out the entire way ahead, no further search would be needed. As it is, the creative thinker has to make a decisions about this route without having the full information needed for his choice. This dilemma belongs to the essence of creativity."

And Eshleman's original writing: "There is an archetycal poem, and its most ancient design is probably the labyrinth. One suddenly cuts in, leaving the green world for the apparent stasis and darkness of the cave. The first words of a poem propose and nose forward toward a confrontation with what the writer is only partially aware of, or may not be prepared to address until it emerges, flushed forth by digressions and meanders. Poetry twists toward the unknown and seeks to realize something beyond the poet's initial awareness. What it seeks to know might be described as the unlimited interiority of its initial impulse. If a "last line," or "conclusion," occurs to me upon starting to write, I have learned to put it in immediately, so it does not hang before me, a lure, forcing the writing to skew itself in order that this "last line" continues to make sense as such."