Thursday, May 5, 2016


University of Virginia Press

Only months before James Salter passed away,
at the age of eighty-nine,
he agreed to serve as the first
Kapnick Foundation Distinguished 
Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia
where he delivered the three lectures presented
in this nifty little book, with maybe a
too long introduction by Salter's friend
and fellow novelist John Casey.
Something smaller, intimate and
comfortable with the size of the book
may have been a better choice.
No problem with the Salter.
We would love a fourth lecture,
a fifth.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Home Place

The old house went down the basement stairs
And didn't come back up.

The people
The cows
The sheep
The pigs and the chickens
Have disappeared through a great hole
In the landscape.

Cold in the Trees

The hoot
Of the owl
Is large enough
To carry off a whole sheep.

Knowing Nothing

The hole in the landscape is real.
I can walk through it and back again.
Every time I do
My clothes look baggier.
My hair sticks out.
My boots become untied.
My coat unbuttoned.
My education gone.
I don't care anymore how the world thinks.

I only know that the snow
Has reached my knees.

After a Long Trip

The river is going to the Gulf of Mexico.
The moon on top the water
Doesn't move.
It's not interested in a
Trip to New Orleans.
Its light is already tired from traveling
250,000 miles
To shine on some trees.

Love for Other Things

It's easy to love a deer
But try to care about bugs and scrawny trees
Love the puddle of lukewarm water
From last week's rain.
Leave the mountains alone for now.
Also the clear lakes surrounded by pines.
People are lining up to admire them.
Get close to the things that slide away in the dark.
Be grateful even for the boredom
That sometimes seems to involve the whole world.
Think of the frost
That will crack our bones eventually.

Found on the Earth

The simple words no longer work.
Neither do the grand ones.
Something about
The hanging bits of dark
Mixed with your hair.
The everlasting quietness
Attached to the deserted barn
Made me think I'd discovered you
But you already knew all about yourself
As we stood on the edge of a forest
With your dress as languid as the air,
The day made of spring wind and daffodils.
Then the sky appeared in blue patches
Among slow clouds,
Oak leaves came out on the trees,
Grass suddenly became green,
Filled with small animals that sing.
All the parts of spring were gathering.
The earth was being created all over again
One piece at a time
Just for you.

Late March

A dark day raining
A bright flash
Of blue jay disappearing
Into black folds
Of a dripping spruce tree.
Bark of ash and apple tree shine
In the dim drizzle.
The woodpecker's
song this afternoon
Is a chipping noise,
A sound that puts little dents
In the wet air.


Darkness Sticks to Everything
Copper Canyon Press, 2013 


Tuesday, May 3, 2016


b. Chicago, Aug. 4, 1912 ~ 2016

Daniel Aaron holding one of 155 volumes of the diary of Arthur Crew Inman, a failed poet and scion of Southern wealth, which he condensed to 1,661 pages.

photo ~ Steve Liss/The LIFE Images Collection, via Getty Images


E D W A R D     A B B E Y

B A C K R O A D     C H A L K I E S

S P R I N G    2016

Photo: © bob arnold


Monday, May 2, 2016


V I C T O R     J A R A

It's So

After love, you lift your dress

Wash in cold running water.

I’ve to work in the morning,

Drive through the field, frighten

A flicker from wet grass

To the stone wall, birch, white oak.

It all started with you hugging my neck

Pulling back and laughing.

We’d open a large window upstairs

Lie down in the river sound.

The mason’s young helper unloads stone

Then breaks for a cigarette,

All day guns cement mixer blades.

Long handle shovel stuck in sand

Lime dust blowing

Whitewash peeling from ripped out

Barn ceiling boards.

Two weeks ago this was a new job —

Rotten sills weren’t jacked

Bolts cut —

A buzzard flew up from the valley

Cockeyed in stiff wind

Beating rough edged wings,

Very black on melting snow.

Now 4-wheel drives burn tread

On the hillside, tool boxes slam

Workers pitch vision to the ground,

Black flies sting our skin.

By the end of day a red fox

Hops out of that sunny part of the field.

I hear a school bus downshift miles away.

Two guys clean out a wheelbarrow

Drink from the hose

Talk of bear hunting.

Faraway, Like the Deer's Eye

                      for Victor Jara, Chilean folksinger

Ah yes, now I believe I know —

A cool breeze and very early morning

A wood thrush breaks from the pasture,

Fences have all been mended,

Here and there animal hair.

I think of Jara; Victor,

By jesus as they busted your fingers

And you kept to the last moment

Something loving, say your sister, far in your belly.

Then they beat you like the backside of a horse

And it all fell — my chore bucket spilled

Suddenly in Vermont.

I may still have the gathering of birds,

The pull of this long river

Where I wade to my waist, undo my hair and wash slowly

Strong sweat and black flies,

A quiet day with the saw

Now near its end.

But Chile stays — forever.

How in the hell can you ask me to forget

A father dragged down from an attic

And pumped into a scream

In front of his huddled family?

The blood goes everywhere

And they live with it

And the killers — shit,

Something the raccoon wouldn’t even wash.

Daylight goes.

Evening is soon.

My friends, we are to become

The last light in the pond.


Bob Arnold
Walter Lowenfels took "Faraway. . ." for his seminal anthology
For Neruda, For Chile (Beacon Press)


Saturday, April 30, 2016


D A N I E L     B E R R I G A N

 (May 9, 1921 – April 30, 2016)



Smaller than the Radius of the Planet

There is a patch like ice in the sky this

evening & the wind tacks about, we are
both stopped/fingered by it. I lay out my
unrest like white lines on the slope, so that
something out of broken sleep will land
there. Look up, a vale of sorrow opened by
eyes anywhere above us, the child spread out
in his memory of darkness. And so, then, the
magnetic influence of Venus sweeps its
shiver into the heart/brain or hypothalamus,
we are still here, I look steadily at nothing.
"The gradient of the decrease may be de-
termined by the spread in intrinsic lumin-
osities" —the ethereal language of love in
brilliant suspense between us and the
hesitant arc. Yet I need it too and keep
one hand in my pocket & one in yours,
waiting for the first snow of the year.


J.H. Prynne
New York Review of Books 2016


 J.H. Prynne

Friday, April 29, 2016


Geography Lesson

She learned the names of rivers
and of mountain ranges.
For rooms full of visitors. So willing was she —
it was a way to impress the new men in her family,
who were on leave from the Pacific
or Pearl Harbor, facing a long, silent war.

Always maps, and the nervous
mapmakers, changing their minds.

She learned to follow
the slow curves of a river
to a source in the high wall
of the Andes. To follow
the Orinoco, the Amazon, the Nile.

Sometimes the rivers went underground.
You could hear them murmur the names
through canyons and grottoes,
emerging up ahead.

Always the maps, big glistening maps
with worn-out folds,
which Time was always changing.
The blue and brown and green fields
asked to borrow a new history —
changing names, or having their names erased.

Her own name had been changed —
the forever name buried,
left at the border.

She could unfold the maps completely
and follow the drift, as if allowed to swim away
from the family boat,
where they were sitting out on deck,
heads down over nautical charts —
at some distance.

Slow curves in a northerly direction,
to the high points, where the mountains become one.
Does this ever happen?


S A B R A     L O O M I S
House Held Together By Winds
Harper, 2008