Saturday, January 31, 2015


How to Enter a Big City 
Thomas James Merton


Swing by starwhite bones and
Lights tick in the middle.
Blue and white steel
Black and white
People hurrying along the wall.  
”Here you are, bury my dead bones.“

Curve behind the sun again  
Towers full of ice. Rich  
Glass houses, “Here,
Have a little of my blood,”  
Rich people!”

Wheat in towers. Meat on ice.
Cattlecars. Miles of wide-open walls.  
Baseball between these sudden tracks.  
Yell past the red street—
Have you any water to drink, City?  
Rich glass buildings, give us milk!  
Give us coffee! Give us rum!

There are huge clouds all over the sky.
River smells of gasoline.
Cars after cars after cars, and then
A little yellow street goes by without a murmur.

There came a man
(”Those are radios, that were his eyes“)  
Who offered to sell us his bones.

Swing by starwhite buildings and  
Lights come to life with a sound  
Of bugs under the dead rib.

Miles of it. Still the same city.  


Do you know where you are going?  
Do you know whom you must meet?

Fortune, perhaps, or good news  
Or the doctor, or the ladies  
In the long bookstore,
The angry man in the milkbar  
The drunkard under the clock.  
Fortune, perhaps, or wonder  
Or, perhaps, death.

In any case, our tracks
Are aimed at a working horizon.
The buildings, turning twice about the sun,  
Settle in their respective positions.
Centered in its own incurable discontent, the City  
Consents to be recognized.


Then people come out into the light of afternoon,  
Covered all over with black powder,
And begin to attack one another with statements  
Or to ignore one another with horror.
Customs have not changed.
Young men full of coffee and
Old women with medicine under their skin
Are all approaching death at twenty miles an hour.

Everywhere there is optimism without love
And pessimism without understanding,
They who have new clothes, and smell of haircuts  
Cannot agree to be at peace
With their own images, shadowing them in windows  
From store to store.


Until the lights come on with a swagger of frauds  
And savage ferns,
The brown-eyed daughters of ravens,
Sing in the lucky doors
While night comes down the street like the millennium  
Wrapping the houses in dark feathers
Soothing the town with a sign
Healing the strong wings of sunstroke.
Then the wind of an easy river wipes the flies
Off my Kentucky collarbone.

The claws of the treacherous stars  
Renegade drums of wood
Endure the heavenward protest.  
Their music heaves and hides.  
Rain and foam and oil
Make sabbaths for our wounds.  
(Come, come, let all come home!)
The summer sighs, and runs.
My broken bird is under the whole town,  
My cross is for the gypsies I am leaving  
And there are real fountains under the floor.


Branches baptize our faces with silver
Where the sweet silent avenue escapes into the hills.  
Winds at last possess our empty country
There, there under the moon  
In parabolas of milk and iron  
The ghosts of historical men  
(Figures of sorrow and dust)
Weep along the hills like turpentine.  
And seas of flowering tobacco
Surround the drowning sons of Daniel Boone.


The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton
(New Directions)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

bpNichol ~

A fine poet
A fine press

This gift 
brought home
to us from
a friend
while in

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


The first time I ever stepped up into Jack's Hot Dogs in North Adams, Massachusetts was fifty year ago this year. Can you believe your eyes and ears that the establishment is still in business? Yes it is.

In fact it may be one of the longest and enduring establishments in that dying slowly but surely Berkshire town, hard to admit for me as a native and as I recently roamed the streets with my true love. All my old haunts, except Jack's, are long gone. The shoe store, the clothing store, my mother's shoe store, my mother's clothing store, both movie theaters, the hardware store, my uncle Frank's lumberyard, where my father cut his own commercials at the local radio station for his lumberyard (Herb Alpert was the preferred music used as his theme), my dentist Doctor Greene, Lily's Music Shop where I bought my Dylan and Hendrix and Traffic and Led Zeppelin and Miles and where I looked a long time at Linda Ronstadt on an album cover sitting very pretty in a sty of pigs.

As we haunted up and down and sideways on the sidewalk these places and store fronts were vacant, boarded up, echoes. A few of the side alleys were still there like mountain passes and how I loved them as a kid and how I still love them as an old timer, taking my sweetheart by the hand and down an alley way we'd go, flushing out into a parking lot and the back door to a vintage Italian restaurant opens and an old woman sticks her head out having eye contact with us at the same time we land in the lot looking wildly about and she waves us over that it's okay to come into her establishment that way, through the kitchen back door, around the pots and pans, the hot grilles and spitting grease and the young workers surprised we're suddenly there and quickly moving out to the front where there is no one at all but a sunny picture window and old tables with a fake flower vase at the center. How not to sit down? We sit. Order two pizza slices. The woman who invited us in serves us like it's a full course meal, she knows best, she's old town, disciplined, worked all her life, reminds me of my Irish aunts once down the road in Adams, except she is fully Italian. All gone. I'm in that moment.

There was a fish market on a side street up a hill in North Adams where my mother and I would stop on the incline and my mother would jerk up the emergency brake and leave me with the words she'd be back in a minute, and she almost was, with a roll of fish n' chips sopped in good grease of the newspaper, and we'd eat it all right there in the car where we sat. The town spread out before us through the windshield.


All gone but Jack's. The smallest restaurant I believe Sweetheart has ever been in and she loves it. Loves me. There's a short counter and maybe ten stools, it's all too small to count. Why bother? You're in a heavenly nest of short order cooks behind the counter grabbing orders as soon as you arrive, plunk down, and before you know it at 3 in the afternoon all the stools are taken. The guy next to me orders four hotdogs, two hamburgers, and a plate of french fries topped with a plate of onion rings. He's scrawny and thin. Eats this pile like he's lucky. No doubt a regular. Once you find and try Jack's you become a regular. The prices will set you back on your heels — a hot dog for $1.20. Hamburger the same. The fries are ridiculously nasty, ridiculously tasty and ridiculously cheap. A glass of Coke is 75 cents and the glass, I swear, is the same size glass used in my junior high school cafeteria just down the road from here. Except that school is also gone, as is my elementary school across the narrow street.  Pulverized. Disappeared. The great oak floors that snapped and buckled and gleamed.


Sit on the stool and watch the world of Jack's work. Two guys man the grille and the orders and a third guy is thumbing through receipts. His 'desk' is the narrow counter you're chowing down on. He's a foot from me, leaning over making meticulous on the orders and today's earnings. I stood up a moment curious as ever because I see a door in the back corner to somewhere and stick my head into another closet size space dark with an ATM machine and maybe two pinball or game machines. It looks ancient. Spooky. Sweetheart guards my stool with her hand or else it will be swiped by the next hunger artist.

There's a window that looks out where the cook does his magic but it's worthless with steam, grime and smeared sunshine. We're on the greatest side street in North Adams once known for bakeries and side dives and antique stores and other restaurants. You can walk up the street, jump across and hurdle the intersection of traffic coming out of Vermont and more Massachusetts, sidewind around a parking lot of a grocer's and come to Mass MOCA, the intellectual of the town. If the powers that be there haven't yet drawn together the vintage artwork and flavor of Jack's Hot Dogs and put it up on display in their museum as a supreme example of local-yokel, some one is missing their beat. Where Mass MOCA is was exactly where Sprague Electric was when I was a kid. You can walk through the museum and forget the artwork for the first visit and just admire and be overwhelmed by the original architecture of the former factory's massive wooden beams. I used to deliver sheetrock into this building with my cousin Alan. Two flights up. Heavy work.


I came for my first hot dog in 1965 off a lumber truck delivery with my co-worker Big John, a Polish monster lumberjack I drove hundreds of deliveries with between 1962-1969. I was the kid in the passenger seat, conservationist, know-it-all, and helping hand. John liked to eat. Eat big. He could just fit through the only door to the place, and in the summer it was a screen door.

 ~ Bob Arnold

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Muriel Spark 

The Informed Air
New Directions


The Comforters (1957)
Robinson (1958)
Memento Mori (1959)
The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960)
The Bachelors (1960)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)
The Girls of Slender Means (1963)
The Mandelbaum Gate (1965)
The Public Image (1968)
The Driver’s Seat (1970)
Not to Disturb (1971)
The Hothouse by the East River (1973)
The Abbess of Crewe (1974)
The Takeover (1976)
Territorial Rights (1979)
Loitering with Intent (1981)
The Only Problem (1984)
A Far Cry from Kensington (1988)
Symposium (1990)
Reality and Dreams (1996)
Aiding and Abetting (2000)
The Finishing School (2004)


Critical Biographies:

John Masefield (1953)
“Child of Light”: A Reassessment of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1951) completely revised as “Mary Shelley” (1987)



Selected poems of Emily Brontë (1952)
The Brontë Letters (1954) 


Joint Editor:

Tribute to Wordsworth (1950)
Emily Brontë: Her Life and Work (1953)
My Best Mary: Selected Letters of Mary Shelley (1953)
Letters of John Henry Newman (1957)


Radio Plays:

The Dry River Bed
The Interview
The Party through the Wall
The Danger Zone



Doctors of Philosophy (1963) (staged 1962)



The Fanfarlo and Other Verse (1952)
Collected Poems I (1967)
Going Up to Sotheby’s and other Poems (1982)
All the Poems of Muriel Spark (2004)


Short Stories:

The Go-Away Bird (1958)
Voices at Play (1961)
Collected Stories I (1967)
Bang-Bang You’re Dead and Other Stories (1982)
The Stories of Muriel Spark (1987)
The Collected Stories (1994)
Open to the Public: New and Collected Stories (1997)
All the Stories of Muriel Spark (2001)
The Complete Short Stories (2001)
The Ghost Stories of Muriel Spark (2003)


For Children:

The Very Fine Clock (1969)
The French Window and The Small Telephone (1993)


Omnibus editions:

Omnibus I (1993)
Omnibus II (1994)
Omnibus III (1996)
Omnibus IV (1997)



Curriculum Vitae (1992)


The following novels were filmed:

“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1969), which was a Command Performance and for which Maggie Smith won an Oscar.
“The Driver’s Seat” (1974), starring Liz Taylor, Mona Washbourne and Andy Warhol
“The Abbess of Crewe” (1977) as “Nasty Habits”, starring Glenda Jackson and Melina Mercouri


The following novels have been adapted for TV:

The Girls of Slender Means (1975)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1978)
Memento Mori (1992)
And the Stories: The Black Madonna and You Should Have Seen the Mess (BBC2)


The following novels have been adapted for the stage:

Memento Mori (1964)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1966)
The Girls of Slender Means (2009)


The following novels have been adapted for the radio:

The Ballad of Peckham Rye (winner of the Italia Prize for Dramatic radio 1962)
The Girls of Slender Means (1964)
The Comforters (1957)
Memento Mori (1964)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Srečko Kosovel ~

 Srečko Kosovel

( 1904-1926, Slovenia )


I love the quiet August rain
that cools the forests and fields,
the gray sky, the fresh wind
that comes to the heart's quiet.

Quietly it comes to the carefree heart,
which is quietly open to sadness.
No longer crushed or glum,
grief giving way to joy.

Now all is fulfilled, the gray
clouds fragrant and melancholy.
In the rain and in the field
the dark wet poplars rocking.


My poem's an explosion,
savage rending. Dissonance.
My poem won't reach you,
who by God's will and providence
are dead aesthetes, museum moths.
My poem is my face.


I would like to walk around
in a small coat of

But hidden underneath should be
a warm, bright world.

What is wealth?
What is luxury?
For me it is this:
a small coat I have,
and this coat is like
no other.


I went for a ride in a golden boat
across the red waters of evening
through the trees
and along the grassy shore.
I was rowing,
I, the golden boatman . . .

But a storm blew in
and the sun fell
from its height,
so that everything less golden
shone forth
more clearly, more alive,
newly born —
I stepped ashore.

Red clouds tore
from my heart.
I saw them,
and I followed them
across the world.


Why be human if being human
is so difficult? Become the lamp
by the roadside that quietly sheds
its light on man.
Be as it is, for as it is
he will always have a human face.
Be good to him, this man,
and impartial like a lamp
that quietly illuminates the faces
of drunkards, vagabonds, and students
along the solitary road.

Be a lamp
if you can't be human,
for being human is difficult.
A human has just two hands
but he should help thousands.
So be a lamp by the roadside
shining on a thousand happy faces,
shining for the lonely, the aimless.
Be a lamp with a single light,
man in a magic square
signaling with a green arm.
Be a lamp, a lamp,
a lamp.


The old world is dying in me.
A sad hour comes.
In a streak of gold comes
new mysticism.
Human mysticism.
Magnetic blaze of the heart.
Human eyes glow —
radium in the night.
Death — a retreat from life.
O happy death.


 translated from the Slovene by
Ana Jelnikar & Barbara Siegel Carlson

Look Back, Look Ahead
The selected poems of Srečko Kosovel 
Ugly Duckling Presse

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Traditional dancing at the Malikha lodge
  photo ~ Brigitte Lacombe for The New York Times

It isn't Vermont, but present day Myanmar, although I can remember a time in back hills Vermont
where this lush description of pure simple nothingness/everything, was also my own habitat:

"Here, local people tend to retire and rise with the sun. Each new day is announced not by cellphones, clock radios or the beeping of other digital devices, but by the first insomniac rooster’s prelight reveille, a clarion call that quickly triggers a wrap-around sonic cacophony, as every other backsliding rooster in the neighborhood joins in to herald the dawn. Then from across the river, where rice paddies step down to the shore, come the sounds of crying babies, laughing children and the chopping of wood. Only then does the sky begin to brighten and smoke begin to curl up from cooking fires. And when the sun finally does burst forth to limn the frieze of jagged, snow-capped peaks behind the forested foothills, it is, indeed, like being present at creation."

Read more of this fascinating article by Orville Schell, long in the tooth with Asia, old & new, as well as the whole of the Pacific Rim.

Friday, January 23, 2015



                                                                             So many days and

                                                                             so many nights ex-

                                                                             act infinity

                                                                            The petals of the

                                                                            flowers of an in-

                                                                            dissoluble light.


The final volumes to Corman's opus in one book ~ 


volumes 4 & 5


C I D   C O R M A N


1500 poems

850 pages

edited by Bob Arnold

available in a limited edition from, limited quantity available




Shipping is priority mail only for US orders
insured with tracking

plus $7 US mail priority

Paypal, credit card, or check


International orders, $100
 plus $40 air priority rate

Paypal or credit card

 Publishers & Booksellers
PO Box 2454
West Brattleboro, Vermont



If I Blinked Through
These Windows
Collected Music Writings     
a big soaking book of youth      ~ $20


 Sweeping The Broom Shorter ~
 Selected Poems     ~ $15

two different covers ~ take your pick!

maple sugaring in Vermont     ~ $12



Small Lines On The Great Earth

poems from Scotland     ~ $15

My Sweetest Friend  
poems from brother to sister     ~ $15

 The Islandian 
Poems & Fables
journey to another land     ~ $12



Go West
c'mon! travel westward by train   ~ $15

Start With The Tree
photographs by Susan Arnold
a lifetime of building & marriage      ~ $20





Thursday, January 22, 2015


S N O W Y    O W L

Photograph: Christopher Millette/AP

Rare — we caught two snowy owls
in flight above a family neighborhood
flying spruce tree to spruce tree
of western massachusetts in late 2014

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Ernesto Cardenal

born January 20, 1925
Granada, Nicaragua 

from  Zero Hour

Translated By Donald D. Walsh


Tropical nights in Central America,
with moonlit lagoons and volcanoes
and lights from presidential palaces,
barracks and sad curfew warnings.
"Often while smoking a cigarette
I've decided that a man should die,"
says Ubico smoking a cigarette . . .
In his pink-wedding-cake palace
Ubico has a head cold. Outside, the people
were dispersed with phosphorous bombs.
San Salvador laden with night and espionage,
with whispers in homes and boardinghouses
and screams in police stations.
Carías' palace stoned by the people.
A window of his office has been smashed,
and the police have fired upon the people.
And Managua the target of machine guns
from the chocolate-cookie palace
and steel helmets patrolling the streets.

Watchman! What hour is it of the night?
Watchman! What hour is it of the night?

The campesinos of Honduras used to carry their money in their hats
when the campesinos sowed their seed
and the Hondurans were masters of their land.
When there was money
and there were no foreign loans
or taxes for J.P. Morgan & Co.,
and the fruit company wasn't competing with the little dirt farmer.
But the United Fruit Company arrived
with its subsidiaries the Tela Railroad Company
and the Trujillo Railroad Company
allied with the Cuyamel Fruit Company
and Vaccaro Brothers & Company
later Standard Fruit & Steamship Company
of the Standard Fruit & Steamship Corporation:
                        the United Fruit Company
with its revolutions for the acquisition of concessions
and exemptions of millions in import duties
and export duties, revisions of old concessions
and grants for new exploitations,
violations of contracts, violations
of the Constitution . . .
And all the conditions are dictated by the Company
with liabilities in case of confiscation
(liabilities of the nation, not of the Company)
and the conditions composed by the latter (the Company)
for the return of the plantations to the nation
(given free by the nation to the Company)
at the end of 99 years . . .  
"and all the other plantations belonging
to any other persons or companies or enterprises
which may be dependents of the contractors and in which
this latter has or may have in the future
any interest of any kind will be as a consequence
included in the previous terms and conditions . . ."
(Because the Company also corrupted prose.)
The condition was that the Company build the Railroad,
but the Company wasn't building it,
because in Honduras mules were cheaper than the Railroad,
and "a Gongressman was chipper than a mule,"
                     as Zemurray used to say,
even though he continued to enjoy tax exemptions
and a grant of 175,000 acres of the Company,
with the obligation to pay the nation for each mile
that he didn't build, but he didn't pay anything to the nation
even though he didn't build a single mile (Carías is the dictator
who didn't build the greatest number of miles of railroad)
and after all, that shitty railroad was
of no use to the nation
because it was a railroad between two plantations
and not between the cities of Trujillo and Tegucigalpa.

They corrupt the prose and they corrupt the Congress.
The banana is left to rot on the plantations,
or to rot in the cars along the railroad tracks
or it's cut overripe so it can be rejected
when it reaches the wharf or be thrown into the sea;
the bunches of bananas declared bruised, or too skinny,
or withered, or green, or overripe, or diseased:
so there'll be no cheap bananas,
                         or so as to buy bananas cheap.
Until there's hunger along the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua.

And the farmers are put in jail for not selling at 30 cents
and their bananas are slashed with bayonets
and the Mexican Trader Steamship sinks with their barges on them
and the strikers are cowed with bullets.
(And the Nicaraguan congressmen are invited to a garden party.)
But the black worker has seven children.
And what can you do? You've got to eat,
And you've got to accept what they offer to pay.
                        24 cents a bunch.
While the Tropical Radio Subsidiary was cabling Boston:
"We assume that Boston will give its approval to
the payment made to the Nicaraguan congressmen of the majority  
because of the incalculable benefits that it represents for  
       the Company."
And from Boston to Galveston by telegraph
and from Galveston by cable and telegraph to Mexico
and from Mexico by cable to San Juan del Sur
and from San Juan del Sur by telegraph to Puerto Limón
and from Puerto Limón by canoe way into the mountains
arrives the order of the United Fruit Company:
"United is buying no more bananas."
And workers are laid off in Puerto Limón.
And the little workshops close.
Nobody can pay his debts.
And the bananas rotting in the railroad cars.
                   So there'll be no cheap bananas
                   And so that there'll be bananas cheap,
                              19 cents a bunch.
The workers get IOUs instead of wages.
Instead of payment, debts,
And the plantations are abandoned, for they're useless now,
and given to colonies of unemployed.
And the United Fruit Company in Costa Rica
with its subsidiaries the Costa Rica Banana Company
and the Northern Railway Company and
the International Radio Telegraph Company
and the Costa Rica Supply Company
                     are fighting in court against an orphan.
The cost of derailment is $25 in damages
(but it would have cost more to repair the track).

And congressmen, cheaper than mules, Zemurray used to say.
Sam Zemurray, the Turkish banana peddler
in Mobile, Alabama, who one day took a trip to New Orleans
and on the wharves saw United throwing bananas into the sea
and he offered to buy all the fruit to make vinegar,
he bought it, and he sold it right there in New Orleans
and United had to give him land in Honduras
to get him to break his contract in New Orleans,
and that's how Sam Zemurray appointed presidents in Honduras.
He provoked border disputes between Guatemala and Honduras
(which meant between the United Fruit Company and his company)
proclaiming that Honduras (his company) must not lose
"one inch of land not only in the disputed strip
but also in any other zone of Honduras
(of his company) not in dispute . . ."
(while United was defeating the rights of Honduras
in its lawsuit with Nicaragua Lumber Company)
until the suit ended because he merged with United
and afterward he sold all his shares to United
and with the proceed of the sale he bought shares in United
and with the shares he captured the presidency of Boston
(together with its employees the various presidents of Honduras)
and he was now the owner of both Honduras and Guatemala
and that was the end of the lawsuit over the exhausted lands
that were now of no use either to Guatemala or Honduras.


Ernesto Cardenal

“Zero Hour” (excerpt)
 Zero Hour and Other Documentary Poems
 New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1980
 translated by Donald D. Walsh