Showing posts from November, 2019


Image: M irja Pljakka/by kind permission I woke before dawn to distant low rumbling and a whistle, faint and attenuated: the early freight train moving through the valley. Snow had fallen overnight, enough to insulate the house a little and to reveal the tracks of creatures that move around outside it: squirrels, wild turkeys, propane delivery truck, us. "One must have a mind of winter," goes Wallace Stevens' poem "The Snow Man" , to meet its beauty -- "junipers shagged with ice," "distant glitter," the sound of wind in dry leaves -- and not to "think / Of any misery" there. I could say the passing train sounded lonely, or cold, or plangent. It did stir those feelings. I could note that the snow over the chrysanthemums struck some grief-chord that chrysanthemums without a snow cover don't. What would it mean to have a mind of winter? Out there things are cold, still, dormant. Would it be a mind like that? Or wou


This haiku by Buson appeared in my social media feeds recently, posted by American poet Sean Singer .                            I go,                     you stay;                            two autumns. How well I know it! Its simple arithmetic of movement and stasis neatly sums up the late Augusts of my last twenty or so years: summer comes to a close; I leave my partner and rural home and writing life for the city and my teaching job. Now, though, I've left that job, and for the first time in a long time I experience autumn in increments instead of decisive dates. Small pockets of shadow in a warm garden, a pinkish hue in the woods, fruit fallen from trees. Bear scat close to the fence. Look, a dragonfly! We'd thought they were gone. Writing no longer happens in the off-season, in a second home. It happens, or doesn't, period. What will that be like? Buson's poem speaks directly, and deftly, of parting: friends, perhaps, or lovers. The separation


In today's post, poet-musician Anne Archer considers Patrick Kavanagh's "On Raglan Road." A few months ago, on a whim or perhaps a nudge from the cosmos, I spent a morning listening to various versions of On Raglan Road , a poem by the 20th-century Irish writer Patrick Kavanagh, set to The Dawning of the Day , a 17th-century tune attributed to Thomas Connelan. At first hearing, the narrative seemed familiar—a ballad of unrequited love in which the lover knows from the start that the love is doomed. He predicts that the beloved's 'dark hair will weave a snare,' and hopes that his impending grief will be ephemeral and passing, 'a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.' Shades of Down by the Salley Gardens, I thought. Though we never hear directly from the object of the speaker's affection, I assumed that, like the beloved in Yeats's ballad, Kavanagh's dark-haired girl bids him 'take love easy, as the leaves grow on the


Klaus Pfeiffer, by permission November , and here in the northern hemisphere, days are getting shorter. Light is thin and clear, or thin and grey; all but the most tenacious of leaves are down. Storms are predicted. It's the time of year some say the walls between living and dead are at their most fragile. I dig out my painted La Catrina tile, build a little shrine with my love, light candles early. Time itself feels fragile -- a moment ago, wasn't it yesterday, wasn't I just stepping across the threshold of school on my first day? Wasn't I sitting beside my father, saying goodbye, saying hello? Almost by accident I found three poems by Mexican poet Carmen Boullosa, whose work is new to me, in the journal Latin American Literature Today . I fell in love with those poems. Here is one.      CRINOLINE VARIATIONS      Everything rushes                                    (the fish, the ant)      and I toward the tomb,