Saturday, July 25, 2009


I picked up one of my volumes of Emily Dickinson the other day; it was the first time in months that I'd touched it. I'd forgotten how stunning her poetry is. Her name has, unfortunately, been connected with saccharine poems about bees and flowers. This could not be further from the truth. Open a book of her poetry at random, and the chances of finding something fit for 'Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes' are minimal, at best. You are far more likely to find yourself enfolded in delicate and complicated word-play, with hints of Hopkins and Eliot, and subjects too serious for any child to fully appreciate. So for those of you who have never read Dickinson, I encourage you to begin, and for those who have read and rejected, I beg you to look again.


Our fate is not for hands and eyes;
its score
we hope to settle, willful-wise.
No more

can turning back the ticking face
make rest
the heavens in their steady pace
to west,

for feet can only fall within
the groove,
and, ceasing to resist, begin
to move.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I'm on something of a sonnet kick. Shakespeare had it right, you know. It really is the perfect rhyming scheme. Three verses; it is, inescapably, the right number. Any less, and one is left wanting; any more, and one grows tired. And yet, three is not enough to bring the poem to completion, for the reader, taken by the constancy of the rolling rhymes, inevitably expects one stanza to lead to another. Something must break this cycle, and so, the final two lines. Thus, the sonnet is fulfilled, and both the poet and reader are satisfied.


If love, in longing, found a holy hand,
as palm and palm, profaner than the eye,
enfold and follow, as the two demand,
and make communion in a mute reply,

or if it sought a cheek of softer flesh
than falls upon this settling embrace,
prepared to offer up, and so enmesh,
as ought to marry hearts in happy grace,

or if it heard, again, a hushing breath,
unfinished until breathed afresh in turn
by other lips that long for sober death,
when told to love will only be to yearn,

then there is hope that heaven will arise,
although it be obscured in mortal guise.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Night

Another Monday. This is becoming a bad habit, and I'll try to break it soon. Well, thanks to summer vacation, I've taken to staying up late and watching the sky and the stars. It's a very nice change of pace from the early evenings of the school year, and has given me a chance to appreciate the night in a way I never really had before. There is a wonder, you know, in morning and night; it's just difficult to find that wonder without going to sleep very late or waking up very early. In the morning, before anyone else is awake, everything is quiet, like an empty cathedral, and the possibilities of the day seem limitless, while in the night - the late, late night, when everyone has been fast asleep for hours - a sort of second life awakens, as the stars light up the world and the drowsiness of sleep missed is forgotten and falls away. Both are full of wonder, but at the present, I prefer the night, as does this sonnet.

The Night

The night is not an old man, yet, nor I,
when stars have barely broken from the blue,
to overtake the slowly dusking sky
and bid the final limbs of light adieu.

We two, we sit, below and there, about,
and watch the other watching each in turn,
but little hope have I, a poor devout,
of demonstrating any great concern

for you, so vast in silence and in strength,
and throwing over millions in your might,
as captivated subjects lay the length
of bodies down in somnolent delight,

but I will ever wait and watch your brow,
and take my dues from sleep I disavow.

Monday, July 6, 2009


I must apologize, again, for my tardiness, but I was far, far away, with neither the desire nor the ability to tie myself down to the internet. But now I am back, and only a day late. This poem is about the difference between what we want and what we need, and how dreams often serve only to encourage the former and cloud the latter.


I'm cast, benumbed, beneath Your feet,
returned to dust, whence from the dust arose
a child's heart with child's beat,
embellished by a thousand little woes,
and still, my dreams seem just as sweet
as ever on the day they drew a close.

Such dreams! But dreaming did betray
desire bounded by a selfish seed
that led my limping feet astray
and turned my eyes upon an inner greed,
and now, I see this disarray
for what it was, and how it did mislead.

So cast my heart back on the course
I left behind me in a headlong rush
to reach the rift I thought a source,
yet barely found to be a worthy blush
of life, for now I live remorse
and seek the simple way in lull and hush.