Poem: The Antique Store

This is probably my favorite personal ars poetica–in fact, I used it as the prologue to my first chapbook, The Caterpillar.

The Antique Store


Recent Photos

Here are several recent photos, nothing terribly artful… two from today’s yardwork and two from our overnight to Depoe Bay.

cloverCoquettish bush-clovers
Stretched out on the ground,
Ill-mannered just as much
As they are beautiful
– Basho

20140728_123600Jason Voorhees mows the lawn! (I’m allergic to grass.)

CarolCarol at McMenamins in Lincoln City

Wharf at Depoe BayThe wharf at Depoe Bay


Poem of the Day: What You Should Know to be a Poet

another, particularly delightful, ars poetica, by Gary Snyder!

Poem of the Month

What You Should Know to be a Poet

all you can know about animals as persons.
the names of trees and flowers and weeds.
the names of stars and the movements of planets
and the moon.
your own six senses, with a watchful elegant mind.
at least one kind of traditional magic:
divination, astrology, the book of changes, the tarot;

the illusory demons and the illusory shining gods.
kiss the ass of the devil and eat sh*t;
fuck his horny barbed cock,
fuck the hag,
and all the celestial angels
and maidens perfum’d and golden-

& then love the human: wives husbands and friends
children’s games, comic books, bubble-gum,
the weirdness of television and advertising.

work long, dry hours of dull work swallowed and accepted
and lived with and finally lovd. exhaustion,
hunger, rest.

the wild freedom of the dance, extasy
silent solitary illumination, entasy

real danger. gambles and…

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SunWinks! July 27, 2014: Ars Poetica

Dear SunWinkers:

SunWinksLogoThere are two ways of classifying poems: One is by form: haiku, sonnet, villanelle, quatrain, rubaiyat, cubist, concrete, etc. The other is by purpose: elegy, ode, pastoral, epic, love poem, etc. One of the latter is, I suppose, inevitable: sooner or later, a dedicated poet of any accomplishment will feel the impulse to write about the poetic process, what a poem is, or what it should be. Such a poem is referred to as an ars poetica, which is Latin for “the art of poetry.” Possibly the most famous is Archibald MacLeish’s “Ars Poetica” :

A poem should be equal to:
Not true.

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

 A poem should not mean
But be.

  Continue reading

New Poem: Mikvah (formerly: Epiphany)

For those of you, all three of you, who are following my every post with bated breath, this was my initial attempt to write a modern-style* poem about death in response to my own prompt of Sunday. It wasn’t the poem I was trying to write (I succeeded on the second try). Comments welcome.

*When I say “modern-style,” it sounds a little silly, as though I were saying “new-fangled.” What I mean, precisely, is poetry in English in the period 1940-2000.

Update: I’ve been contemplating this some more and decided to rename it “Mikvah.” Mikvah is the Jewish purification ritual of immersion in water.


New Poem: Coming To Terms

Gentle Reader:

This is my response to my own prompt of yesterday. It took me two tries, interestingly. The first try turned into a different poem. I’ll post it later in the week.

This is what I meant by approaching the topic obliquely (from the side), metaphorically,  and on a small scale, more or less in the manner of William Carlos Williams and the other poets I cited in the column. This is but one approach; there are many others. Irina has taken a rather more sweeping and literal approach to the prompt and written a beautiful poem.

Coming To Terms


SunWinks! July 20, 2014: Where Is Thy Sting?

Dear SunWinkers!

Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more.

            Shakespeare, Macbeth


SunWinksLogoI find myself being rather emotional these days. Last week, I spent four days in bed with the chest flu. This sort of inactivity and helplessness is very problematical for me as a trigger for depression. After another week, I’m still not my better self in terms of energy and industry.

Add to this… Continue reading

Never Cast Pearls Before Swine

My wife Carol’s response to the June 29 SunWinks! Priceless!


Casting pearls before swine.  I’m sure you’ve heard that expression. It basically means, to my understanding, that someone has presented something of great worth to someone who doesn’t appreciate it, or perhaps isn’t worthy of it, or wouldn’t know what to do with it.   You probably haven’t ever heard an Aesop fable explaining the origin of the phrase or a story that has a necklace and a pig in it. You haven’t heard anything like that because there is no such story.   Over the years, proverbs and fables get bastardized, morphed, mutated and mutilated, usually by changing or omitting a word or two.  For instance, we say, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” which means, be kind to the child and don’t spank  him.  But the original phrase was “Spare the rod and YOU WILL spoil the child”, which has just the opposite meaning.  Another one that has been…

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