Wednesday, August 31, 2016


What Kind of Times are These

There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled,
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light —
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.



Collected Poems
Norton, 2016

In 1951 Adrienne Rich published A Change of World and came right out of the poetry tree completely formed —
and remarkably she continued to form and re-form and grow for the next half-century. 
One of the major American poets of
the 20th and 21st centuries.

[ BA ]

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Not a mountain fiddle
but a sawing violin
not a real cuckoo bird
but a cuckoo clock
all from this canny
Virginia singer
(Document 1926-1929)

Monday, August 29, 2016



March comes and water moves,

The river, ponds, brooks open.

On snowshoes this is the last week

You’ll hike down these banks of

Rotten snow, the last week bridges

Of ice will be there to criss-cross

Down stream, the last week a

Deer carcass will be pinned between

Rocks and white water spray through

The white of her skull — the runoff

Will let her go, or break her to pieces —

You’re aware of this where you step.

Pools of water swirl 5 feet deep,

Maybe her bones will lay down in the

Sand and white pebbles here, it is

The last week to think of any of this.

Beneath your feet of oblong ash wood

And softened leather you sense the newness

Of life — hide has slipped all winter off

The body, it is time to go places.

Barred Owl
                             for Janine Pommy Vega

Without a sound

I made myself walk

A day in the sun

The thin pale grass breeze

An axe along to trim dead limbs

Moving beneath pines

I stopped when I saw its wings

Spread straight for me and

Grips itself 10 yards away

With no idea we were face to face

Black water of the eyes opening and seeing

Spotting easily what wasn’t right

In a skiff of wind

She dropped and floated

Low to the ground

Lost my  eye in blending flight

With feathers like the woodland


Some sound outside has raised our heads

Made us look into the eyes of one another.

You by the kerosene lamp glowing into your

Face and hair, knitting needles down in your lap.

I pull on high boots and wool shirt

Walk out to the dogs on their chains

Muzzles sniffing to the hillside.

We wait, beneath a clear wash of moonlight,

For sure we’re heard something and we’ll freeze

To hear it again — there, low bark, speaking from

A darkness left in the woods, excites the malamute

To circle his hut, piss on the pine he’s tied under.

No stir or movement up there, though these barks are

Moving across the face of the night, striking out

From some loss or pain, wearing down a trail.

I leave the dogs whining to go to the river

Rushing deep and flashing white light of the sky.

This is the clearest night yet for October

Frost webs open ground

Deer everywhere must be fattening on mushed apples.

A howl, now straight across from me —

I can’t see the bear but know it’s a bear,

The call it makes fills that body.

In a moment it will be farther away

Gone back into the hairs of darkness.

I hear nothing more, as if I’ve heard enough —

Now the middle of the night.

Soon that white light will rise out of the river.


Bob Arnold
(Mad River Press)

Sunday, August 28, 2016


we both always carry sam cooke. . .

and ~


I played this last night and could see in her eyes what it brought. . .


last year we visited an exhibit 10 times, never enough. . .


my lily. . .


Loving SEA
(anniversary 42)

28 aug



All my life

Lived under the stars,

Walked with them night after

Night, and I’m still

Learning how they move

Through the seasons.

And you help — point your

Gloved hand this winter

Evening almost over our heads

To Cassiopeia and then arc

To the North Star in the

Little of the dippers. It’s

Easy once you know, once you

Are shown, once you have

Someone to see with.

for Susan forever


Bob Arnold
(Mad River Press)

Friday, August 26, 2016



Some electric fish can give off up to 500 volts. The
electrical fiend that silently surrounds them is the
ancestor of eyesight.

Speaking forcefully diminishes one's force. If you
shout, "I love you," you have already lost your sexual
potency. You have to speak with your eyes. Between
hunters, the intense, decisive exchange is a silent
exchange of glances.

We are still living in the interglacial period of the
Pleistocene which we sometimes call present time.

    Which brings us to Mallarme's remark of February
1895: "There is no present.

    He who thinks himself his own contemporary is


There are streams that meander about long before the
human beings who follow them, the birds that fly
above them, the flowers that border them. Secret
traditions don't go back to historical periods. They
re-emerge from the secrecy of the unmediated dispel
station itself, beyond history, in the fons tempers.


Mercury is a hard metal, dense and elusive.

   Only the real is harder and has more holes in it; is
more truncated, more sexed, cutting, dying.

   Writing is closer to the real than speaking.

   Writing is a denser material than mercury. I call up
a face which each secret I divulge pushes further and
further from me into the shadows, so true is it that all
attempts to call out to people actually abandons them.

Hadewijch says that above scripture, above all that is
created, the short-circuit of the mind-that-loses-track-
of-meaning recovers the lost element at the root of its

   Vision, the reading, then dazzlement,

   Vision become reading.

   Reading become dazzlement.

   Vision, reading, then dazzlement recapture the
irradiating intimacy of the wandering planets, letter for
letter, atom for atom; they communicate at full speed;

   without mediation, sonder middel,

   they stream at once.


There are men who follow the banks of rivers with the
aim of getting back to their source. They climb mount-
tains. They come up against solitary wild beasts. They
discover wondrous women. They think of themselves
as the companions of the great silent birds of prey
flying at great heights — on top of the world — sweeping
up the moon and sun in their talons, and swooping
down suddenly amid the steep rocks and fearsome
flowers to crush their prey and drench them in their
blood. They keep watch over some harrowing spots.
They live for a time in caves inaccessible to ibex and
bears. They fear neither sky nor night.
   Most let the breezes carry them along and dive into
the sea before suddenly turning around as the sun does
twice a year.
   Some men go against the flow.
   There are centrifugal men, men who go against the
flow, just as there are rivers that flow into others. From
the beginnings of time, there are anti-focal, anti-festive,
anti-social men. Mountain men. Stag men. Fountain-
head men.

Marcus Aurelius wrote: "The sunlight spreads
everywhere but never runs out."

The Fear of Forebears

Fear of mice is the fear of forebears. There are 4,5000
species of mammal.

   The ancestral form of mammals is a kind of shrew
that lived in the Eocene.

   All creatures with breasts derive from a sort of
tiny insectivorous rat that makes us scream the way we
might at a witch jumping out or a ghost appearing.

   We are screaming at the sight of our ancestors.

Animal husbandry on horseback, which was
extremely unusual in human history, beginning in
2,800 BCE and ending in 1789. On the hillsides of
Afghanistan in 2001, men on horseback were still to
be seen fighting against aircraft.

The European twenty-first century is a thing of mean-
choly, knowing, as it does, for the first time, that
humanity isn't special, that meaning is constructed,
that truth is unknowable and nudity unrevealable.
   An age of intense wonder where the excavation of
the most distant things is concerned. The modern
world is wrong to complain of the Unanswerability
that has accompanied it — this is its extraordinary, ever-
ally unpredictable good fortune.
   Its sudden silence.

I went hunting for antiques.

Loosening the ties a little.


Pascal Quignard
Seagull Books 2015
translated by Chris Turner