Paris Review – The Art of Poetry No. 91, Jack Gilbert


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I found this Paris Review interview of the (recently) late Jack Gilbert to be moving and inspiring. We don’t often read or hear his type of commitment to poetry—whether we appreciate his poetry or not. I thought I’d share it; it is revealing of the man, the poet and the poetic life.

I think serious poems should make something happen that’s not correct or entertaining or clever. I want something that matters to my heart, and I don’t mean “Linda left me.” I don’t want that. I’ll write that poem, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about being in danger—as we all are—of dying. How can you spend your life on games or intricately accomplished things? And politics? Politics is fine. There’s a place to care for the injustice of the world, but that’s not what the poem is about. The poem is about the heart. Not the heart as in “I’m in love” or “my girl cheated on me”—I mean the conscious heart, the fact that we are the only things in the entire universe that know true consciousness. We’re the only things—leaving religion out of it—we’re the only things in the world that know spring is coming.

via Paris Review – The Art of Poetry No. 91, Jack Gilbert.

Some Day (when I’m old enough to ride my bike w/out training wheels again)


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Some day, when I’m old enough to ride
my bike without training wheels again,
risking the blood of the scrape,
I hope to become accessible to readers of humanity.

It may all turn out to be quite a challenge, loosing
then growing all those teeth back again
for the taste of raw green fruit in my mouth.
Or not.

I may yet respect the tree
and not surrender to the vices and the verses of its boughs,
avoiding shade that isn’t shade in winter.

Or I may learn what wasn’t done before
and plant right down in our family grounds

seeds of those forever gone.
I’d water them carefully right

when the sun is just about to go
to quench their thirst.

Won’t care for a single color beyond the maple
ruffled by wind. (That will just be music for remembering.)
I’ll grab my knees close to the chin

right under the sheets

and think of all of you – gone – ‘cause
I’ll be old enough to ride my bike without training wheels again,
your hand just inches from the seat.


For OpenlinkNight at @dVersePoetsPub, where Brian Miller has shared some beautiful thoughts tonight—sad moments—sincere feelings for those who have gone. Thank you, Brian.

Primitive Man (requesting a suspension of reality)


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A thousand years from now

I melt
I walk
I smell
I stalk
I kill
I fuck
I will


I Shall

return to the killing on that prairie by the buildings that collapsed right before /
the sheep’s’ eyes

that gray Monday  (as you hawks squawked it)


For OpenLinkNight at @dVersePoetsPub where Joseph Hesch has opened a Pandora’s Box on inspiration: how does or what makes a poem happen? Well, in light of the above, ‘divine intervention’ will simple not do. Nor will Lorca’s duende, I suspect. I really have no idea as to how poems come to me since many times I don’t recognize them as my own, especially as time passes. I suspect that there is some anguish, somewhere, some anxiety that a little critter inside of me brings out. Sometimes he’s not nice.



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As I said in my comment to today’s prompt at @dVersePoetsPub:

You ought to know that I am in deep trouble when I begin to rhyme “adorn” with “sweet corn” or, behold, a “French horn”. Of course, I won’t blame it on my inability to rhyme, after all I’m such a pretentious language poet :-)  Or, better still, it’s just too darn late here in Spain—midnight when I get these “fun” assignments from my @dVerse buddies, oh these gluttons for punishment. Seriously, this is fun…like…like that proverbial orthodontist visit.🙂 Great fun. Thanks guys.

But, in truth, I had never heard of a “Than Bauk”, a poetic form from Burma. And it surely is an interesting composition, albeit not an easy one. It is amazing what some poets can do wit h it. Raivenne shows us some amazing examples.

Mine, below, is a sad attempt and teaches me that form can be difficult and most challenging. A lot of fun, surely.

For all this form
I perform knowing
I’ve done little

Brittle my words
I’ll say forlorn

In vocalized scorn
My stillborn voice
Is worn sad quiet.

Otis, Fairer Than Whitman


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I’ve decided to just worry about my weeds
I’ve no name for them
the ones that grow awkward in places
out of line
with that dishevelled hippy look.
I wonder when they became unfashionable
these weeds with nasty names for gardeners.

My lawnmower—Otis Wolff T41 something or other—
does not discriminate between one or the other.
Given his way you would not see one fucking green thing
rise more than two inches off the ground.
(Of course, Otis, makes a hell of lot of noise—so you don’t get to hear the / screams.)

He fucks them all. Green, less green, darker green.
He’s fair, this Otis. Fairer than Whitman.


#OpenLinkNight @dVersePoets

A Song of Cowardice (for the Don, loveless, counting days)


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Saw the slant figure running in the field
A melancholy shadow buried in the mound
I waited for a thought, sad
Remembrance         recollection
Piercing as your lance

If you heard laughter it wasn’t me or I  [correct me Chevalier!]
(Coward watching tilting windmills)

To be sad        engulfed in sadness for you
Valiant man      if you can stand
This song of cowardice

The wind
The afternoon sun of your country stretching out forever
—Your sad countenance on my mind

& I cannot describe or cry
Counting the years
I can’t give back

Not with hearts sacrificed or with blood spilt on earth
—blood spilt dry—
For nothing gives back


Your steps & your gray hair in wind
Round the windmill—tick-tacking the clock—wind nothing!
Helpless air
Swoosh & swirl breathless.

(for @dVersePoets–Thanks for the prompt, Brian.)

Ron Silliman’s “BART”


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Ron Silliman's poem BART

Ron Silliman’s “BART”

Found this typewritten version of “BART” in a PDF of BEZOAR, apparently a poetry “magazine” of sorts published in 1976—the same year Ron Silliman composed BART onboard BART. Interesting how this poetry takes us back—so vividly; likewise, so interesting to see it in a printed version of the time.

Have we come a long way? Read BART.

(You may also read BART here in another format).

(A look at Ron Silliman’s Blog here. Worth a peek.)

Odious Odysseus Mind Your Ss


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dVerse Poets Pub again—this time with a post-modern extravaganza, wherein Anna Montgomery introduces us:

to some aspects of contemporary poetry throughout this series. This time we’ll focus on the postmodern view that the high/low cultural distinction is fallacious. To explore this we’ll investigate the work of some of the New York Poets. ‘The New YorkSchool of poetry began around 1960 inNew York City and included poets such as John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, and Frank O’Hara. Heavily influenced by surrealism and modernism, the poetry of the New YorkSchool was serious but also ironic, and incorporated an urban sensibility into much of the work. Abstract expressionist art was also a major influence, and the New YorkSchool poets had strong artistic and personal relationships with artists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem DeKooning.’

Do read Anna’s interesting write-up on a fascinating aspect of modern American (world) poetry.

Guess I’ll play with some post-modern work of my own. See how this works. As usual I can’t get it to show on the blog—my post-modern sentences running right off the page!

Click on the title below for the proper PDF version.

Odious Odysseus Mind Your Ss


If comparisons are odious
Then why are these my words
Any different than His—his majesty’s
Abstract expressionistic work
Which I do not dislike   (even if Humanity doesn’t understand it)

. . .

Witch goes Tiny


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dVerse Poet’s Pub at work again. This time Natasha Head inspires us with some ghostly, ghoulish ideas and things. Lots of fun. & inspiring, mind you. So here we go—can’t get the lines to print right here, as usual. Sorry that I have to put these in PDF. A little (tiny) excerpt then you can click the title below to follow:

Witch goes Tiny

Witch, cast-speller divine? Found
This tiny[1] witch hiding up in the corner of the attic
Thought she was a spider—maybe
(Though it could’ve of been a warlock He!)
Such was the distance, the angle[2],     & the darkness
Or some tiny bird with tinny-weenie-tiny feathers covering her face
Redundantly swinging to & fro, you dust your tiny dress
& laugh at me just so precisely

. . .

[1] It was Tiny—nothing else—not minute or miniscule or plain small & certainly not                                                                                                    insignificant!
[2] Or an angel from that angle un-precise as such was the fear & fear it was.