And so it was written I’d be deficient…

Little boy in a hospital
Bandages on his face
When they let him out
Old ladies said “tsk tsk”
The moon was alright
Indifferent and far
Now you can’t live this way—
Pressing your face
Into plants of anguish
Like a lonely alchemist
The leaden life and the gold
Seeking better flowers
Afraid of the light
Chanting such swift
Meaningless words

Being Awake

I read philosophers at night
Poets in the morning

A river never found
Concerns both

Bread floats on the waters
An old woman drinks from her hands

Call me when you arrive home safely
I’m sitting alone among the spice plants

Yes I make promises
I stand on a horse’s back

Waving pages at the wind

Emily Dickinson and Spinoza on an Ordinary Afternoon

These lines by Emily Dickinson have long puzzled me:

“That Love is all there is,
Is all we know of Love;
It is enough, the freight should be
Proportioned to the groove.”

The first two lines are an assertion and express a sentiment older than Plato. The second two lines create a problem as while we dimly understand love and accept this condition, now there’s a simile dressed as a metaphor, we carry our inexact knowledge of love like freight (which we assume is heavy) and further, that freight is proportioned to the groove by which she means a furrow—so there’s a plough in this figure, we press down with our limited knowledge of love into the field of life. But what about “proportioned”? She means, I think, that our thinking of love should be in accordance to the lives we’re “in” and not according to the lives of others. In the end the effect is lonely. Love confounds. Keep ploughing according to your own understanding.

**
In his excellent book “Emily Dickinson and the Art of Belief” Robert Lundin writes: “Dickinson realized that belief is an art that demands trial and practice. A product of the romantic age and a prophet of modernity, she comprehended more fully than most people in her day how much the human mind contributes to the process of belief. Art, after all, is about the making of things; and in matters of belief, the history of the modern world is the story of our increasing awareness of the extent to which we participate in the making of truth as well as in the finding of it.”

Are making and finding connected to “proportionate”? Are truth and faith? One has to conclude that faith has material effects much as Spinoza told us—God is in the gravity and answers no prayers. God in the Spinozan sense is not concerned with you but is nature alone. Proportoniate means in this sense a man or woman corresponds exactly to something else. We are each responsible for the proportioned making of our places in the world. Faith, as Dickinson understood it, is material.

I Dreamt Last Night I Was Writing a Poem…

I was Lord Byron with a club foot
But unlike my blind waking self
Many people loved me —
Fog mannequins
And assorted credulous ones

**

Anyway the dream went on without poetry the way they tend to do…

No one can describe the happiness of others. We’re like dogs barking at hieroglyphs when we talk about emotion.

**

Christ I spent years studying poetry and all I know is its a dream, this business of inter-personal comprehension. I hardly know myself.

About this life I recognize only a few bare details. I’ve a better chance calming the wind than understanding it.

The Four Seasons


They try to break you by not being obvious
Housing prices go up if you’re Black

December rain on your neck
“We can’t install a ramp…”

Where are Shelley’s legislators
Where is Batman

A bus rumbles by with an advertisement for lawyers
Do you think the attorneys read poetry

My dog looks at me
Don’t worry I tell her

It’s just seasonal tears

Primitive Sonnet

I am today clinging to beauty for all its worth
Though the professors
Disagree about the value of Keats
Or Bartok—my god
They think its transactional
As in, “I hand you a rose
And you give me your hopes”

You see, I wish you
To keep them, your beauty hopes,
Inelegant or overused
As they may be
Wing shadow on the pond
That toothless folk tune
Going around again