Elegy for Pentti Saarikoski

Like many poets I wake thinking of delicate things, some apparent, others abstract. I think of Wallace Stevens “planet on a table”—the world we must make each day, and then I smell the  sweet ripening apples outside my bedroom window. I rise, feed my dogs, brew coffee, check the news hoping for breakthroughs in international understanding, put on my rough shoes and walk into the still morning. I’ll make something of this. Put on my little “peace hat” and pepper the aborning hour with words—names—Isaac Bashevis Singer, entelechy, sea cucumber, yellow mittens, mother-world. No one is about in my neighborhood. No one’s awake. The houses are all buttoned, windows dark. My feet love the wet road. I think I need to pardon my youth. I hear the Phoebe bird. The age I live in has a dark taste. I’m seldom prone to this but I do sometimes wish I was a bird.


I fed my heart but it fell from the nest…


I did the proper thing, read poems

While its wings were growing—

Just another shattered cup now


When young

Living in cheap apartment

I heard the eyelids next door


You get used to it

Able bodied people

Thinking you’re a creep


I had a dream

About Jack Kerouac

Somewhere somewhere


Back then, 1959, he couldn’t distinguish between dreams and daylight.

Even in sleep there were shadows or the footprints of shadows,

Twin brother in heaven?


The gardener cherishes a black flower–

Sad napkin:

A Lepidopterist’s poem


I am in love with blindness,

Do you understand?

Even old horses delight in walking.

Life when you taste it…

Life when you taste it,

It’s handsome and fatal,

A tall, dark stranger at every corner table,

Something whispered, a woman with a flower

On her shoulder, her nipples like living ice.

Life, certainly a romantic word,

When you taste it, Robin Hood, oak tree,

Dark-faced like a big river,

Laser lights before dying.

Life, a white napkin. But then dark, dangerous.

The taste of it.

A granite body with blood vessels,

Black meat and herbs.

Life as you live it. Carefully, leveling.

Taste life. It’s acorn water…


–Jarkko Laine

translated from the Finnish by SK

It’s when you read to yourself a true voice comes…

Not spoken

A rehearsal and a what if,

A talking back to your mother

Things you’d say

Running off

And won’t be forgot

But embellished,

Mrs. Havisham’s house

Was your childhood home

(There must have been a cake

With spiders, windows

Never opened)

All this under your tongue

Which insists

Like a cat prowling

Through grass

Page after page

There is a kind of future.


But I Can’t

Some mornings I need tenderness, tendre—just to make clear: “soft, easily injured,” early 13c., from Old French tendre “soft, delicate; young” (11c.), from Latin tenerem (nominative tener) “soft, delicate; of tender age, youthful,” from a derivative of PIE root *ten- “to stretch,” on the notion of “stretched,” hence “thin,” hence “weak” or “young.” Compare Sanskrit tarunah “young, tender,” Greek teren “tender, delicate,” Armenian t’arm “young, fresh, green.”

Meaning “kind, affectionate, loving” first recorded early 14c. Meaning “having the delicacy of youth, immature” is attested in English from early 14c. Related: Tenderly; tenderness. Tender-hearted first recorded 1530s. 

See http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=Tenderness


Early today I required Auden:

“But I Can’t”

Time will say nothing but I told you so,

Time only knows the price we have to pay;

If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,

If we should stumble when musicians play,

Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,

Because I love you more than I can say,

If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,

There must be reasons why the leaves decay;

Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,

The vision seriously intends to stay;

If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,

And all the brooks and soldiers run away;

Will Time say nothing but I told you so?

If I could tell you I would let you know.

October 1940

Excerpt From: “Selected Poems.” iBooks.


When a human soul is bruised but not yet crushed, a man, woman, or child often senses a green bleed beneath the skin of mind, as if a coin has fallen through blood with its promise of luck deferred. Oh we didn’t receive our due, but “the vision seriously intends to stay”—life works just this way. If I could tell you I would let you know.

Micro Memoir #90

Larch, I’m going sad like a toy

In an occupied country.

I am a doll faced thing.

You can tell I was burned

For awhile. Don’t

Fool yourself

I got here by choice

Having believed too much

In others. How

Could they not

Fall in love with me—

& of course

They were simply running for their lives…


Micro Memoir #89

I wanted a name so I went to the birch

Yes and I wept when Allen Ginsberg died

Of course I wanted the greenest of skins

& in the asylum’s garden

I read poems by Rimbaud


Many facts make for a life

& the capricious hours

Do their best

To turn us

From what matters