Wednesday, January 23, 2019


The Government Lake

          The way to the toy store was blocked by a fallen tree
in the road. There was a policeman directing traffic down a
side street. I asked him, “What happened?” He said, “Lightning
in the night.” I took the turn and drove down the street
looking for a way to turn back. Other streets were blocked by
fallen trees, and I couldn’t find a way back to the toy store.
I kept driving and soon I was on the outskirts of town. I
got on a highway and drove, soon forgetting the toy store and
what I was supposed to get there. I drove on as if I was hypno-
tized, not noticing the signs for turnoffs. I must have driven
a couple of hours before I woke up, then I took the next exit
and had no idea where I was. I drove down a straight tree-lined
lane with farm houses on either side. There was a lake at the
end of the lane. I pulled over and parked. I got out and
started walking. There were several docks along the shore.
I walked out on one and watched the ducks swimming and diving.
There was something bobbing in the middle of the lake. I stared
at it for a long time before I realized it was a man’s head.
Then, a moment later, it was a coconut. No, it was an old tire
floating right side up. I gave up and started following the
ducks. They would suddenly fly up and circle the lake and
come down and splash land again. It was quite entertaining.
A man walked up behind me and said, “This government lake is
off-limits to the public. You’ll have to leave.” I said,
“I didn’t know it was a government lake. Why should it be
off-limits?” He said, “I’m sorry. You’ll have to leave.”
“I don’t even know where I am,” I said. “You’ll still have
to leave,” he said. “What about that man out there?” I said,
pointing to the tire. “He’s dead,” he said. “No, he’s not.
I just saw him move his arm,” I said. He removed his pistol from
his holster and fired a shot. “Now he’s dead,” he said.

Source: Poetry (January 2019)


The Government Lake
(Ecco, July 2019)

Monday, January 21, 2019


After Work

Long day for us both

Field work hot sun

Resting later on

Taking off your boots for you

Then your socks

I can’t stop


walking out

from her bath

one lasting

water drop

between those


Folk Song

It was a Sunday morning

When we decided to chase

The freight train flat on the

New Mexican plain —

Straight and longly forever

It seemed like the barren

Road we were on, rails

Running  parallel,  sun

Rising, three locomotives

Strong — we all galloped —

And when we reached

Ahead and to a bend in the

Road we stopped and ran out

As close as we dared and

Almost better than the

Sight of the train itself

Felt the earth shake at

Its approach up and down

Like a planetary drum

This shooting star comes

Thundering over the rise —

A good man knowing a

Good thing when he sees

It waves to us with two

Blasts of his train whistle

Quivering and heart-filling

Like the best folk song


what bedspread

what blanket

what cloth I

have watched her

hand spread smooth

with an elegance


on my-


Bob Arnold
Heaven Lake

Longhouse 2018

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Saturday, January 19, 2019


Considering the Snail

The snail pushes through a green
night, for the grass is heavy
with water and meets over
the bright path he makes, where rain
has darkened the earth’s dark. He
moves in a wood of desire,

pale antlers barely stirring
as he hunts. I cannot tell
what power is at work, drenched there
with purpose, knowing nothing.
What is a snail’s fury? All
I think is that if later

I parted the blades above
the tunnel and saw the thin
trail of broken white across
litter, I would never have
imagined the slow passion
to that deliberate progress.

New Selected Poems
Thom Gunn
edited and with an excellent
introduction by Clive Wilmer
Farrar Straus Giroux 2018

Thursday, January 17, 2019



The Old Poets of China

Wherever I am, the world comes after me.

It offers me its busyness, it does not believe

that I do not want it. Now I understand

why the old poets of China went so far and high

into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.


Mary Oliver
1935 - 2019


Wave Books

Wednesday, January 16, 2019



You left me to re-attach myself

Carefully and only partly to someone else

While you finished your fling

With fast cars, married women, cocaine,

      magic, and deception.

Now you begin a new life

With a young strong lady

To whom you give fidelity,

Honesty, and clean living.



I long to give this body —

Not to science, not to the fire,

I long to be given, whole

For the fish in the sea to nibble away.

I long to be buried, naked,

Under the earth, to be returned to the earth.

I want to be placed high,

On an altar made of sticks, for the birds,

For the birds of prey to feed on,

For the sun to whiten my bones.

I long, long to join myself

Back, back into all that life

From which I came.

I long, long to feed life directly.

A Chinese Painting

The stairs,

Up the mountain,

Are delicately, barely visible.

A chicken looks at

A butterfly looking at . . .

                          I think of Issa.





As satisfying

As pulling

Out potatoes.


Joanna McClure
Collected poems
North Atlantic Books

Monday, January 14, 2019


1943 ~ 2019



What a noise!

Pots that won’t

Fit in a drawer

The Lifetime

What does a writer do all day?

She or he writes

Some are successful

Most are not

Even if a book or books are published

Many millions of books go by the wayside

So now what is the writer but someone who writes and fails

Books are forgotten or no books are published at all

Years and even a lifetime could be wasted

Something else is accomplished

One becomes a sales clerk

While still writing at odd hours

The writing goes nowhere

But the sales clerk is very popular

People leave you very happy, bag in hand

You try to write a book about a sales clerk

No one cares

They’d rather you be the sales clerk

Who sells caramel candy

Because you are beautiful

Someone goes home and melts

That caramel in their mouth and

Smears the caramel across

Their teeth and lips

Thinking of you

Cabin Life

On the coldest day of winter

25 below

just to get-by

and it’s all about just getting-by

we took the two largest empty potato chip bags

in the house and fit them over our heads

making us

two feet-taller

scaring all

our cats

The Muse

I can’t get anything done

until she is out of my hair!

her eyes are that blue

her hair goes with the sun

the flash of her flowered dress in the air

and even when she is away

only momentarily, an errand to town

I’m thinking now of what I’m missing

here where I work in a woods ditch with shovel

laying in stone stairs which may as well be to the sea

since she’ll visit on her return and I’m grubby and

she steps lightly down each new step before anyone

saying how lovely it all is and all is fine


Bob Arnold
Heaven Lake

Longhouse 2018

Sunday, January 13, 2019


The Journey Inward (Body Time No More)

From that which refuses my moth, I replace my hands.

From that which instigates the winter storms of my eyes, I open

      an ear.

On the pillow, a spot of snail blood, spittle of the vanish auk.

Where my left ear had lain in the moist warm, all noise of the world

      was muffled.

Draw a bath of lightly caressed playing cards.

Ask me for the king of clubs, the jack of night sweats.

There is a place in my heart even I have not touched with


Try if you must, but know that—in extreme quiet—you too might

      get quashed.

A divide opens up along the shelf of Antarctic ice.

On one side of the deck, it is cold. On the other, cold.

I do not speak any longer in ice moths or in irreparable twos.

I will not solve the dichotomy of this winged pain, even with an

      obstinate mouth.

Nor will I salve my own blue-bolstered bruise with dream talk and


I am not talking time any longer but a continental drift of ice

      diamonds, devoid of the clutch of a kind hand or mouth.


George Kalamaras
That Moment of Wept
SurVision Books (Ireland)