Saturday, October 31, 2020



I'm re-reading Hemingway in October,

before November, and it's anyone's guess

what is coming for us in November.

Hemingway is good medicine during these times

and A Moveable Feast remains one of his strongest books.

The date on my book says 1972 and it's been with me

since that date in hardcover. As a teenager I loved the smaller

paperback edition which has since gone somewhere else, or is in

another building in the one, two and over three libraries we

have going on here. Last night I re-read "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"

If it's been awhile since you read the short story, go back,

you'll be glad you did. The same with A Moveable Feast.

There are those humorous and revealing wonderful pages

with Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald together.

I’m now on Hemingway’s non-fiction (By-Line

and he doesn’t let anyone off the hook. 

As soon as he arrived in Paris 

he had his eyes roaming and talking. 

Ever the hunter and fisherman, which makes 

his writing so smoothly balanced and declarative, 

different from everyone.

[ BA ]

Friday, October 30, 2020


from Whores

With me is a railroad man

in a railroad uniform,

with a railroad whistle and pocket watch,

and a railroad cap.

He talks about trains,

the express, the cannonball.

He remembers a girl

he left behind on the train.

Before he lies down

he turns off the lamp.

Outside, falling snowflakes

mingle with electric sparks.

Asleep he holds me

by my breasts,

still wearing his wool socks

with a toe sticking out of each one.

In the morning he runs

across the tracks.

He loses his cap.

He finds his cap.


With me is a man

who talks too much,

talks about everything,

so he sees nothing.

The washpan with red

and blue roses,

or the frog in the pan

with twelve baby frogs.

Sees neither my left

nor my right shoulder,

nor my cheeks caked

with thick powder.

Sees neither my thing,

nor his thing,

babbling so much he forgets

why he came.

I stuck a finger

under his tongue

and my finger stayed

in his mouth.


With me is a young woman

who loves only women.

She smokes unfiltered cigarettes,

sways while she walks,

pays for my services

in foreign currency.

Her breasts are still

just two drops of honey,

she uses a whip,

sips ghastly concoctions.

We dream of each other,

exchange places.

When I wake, I see beside me,

my own funny childlike face

with buck teeth

and high cheek bones.

At night, a beard and a mustache

grow on her. In the morning,

she is again herself,

neither better nor worse than she is.


With me is a long-legged,

long-eared stallion.

His other horsy virtues

I won't even mention.

He bolted from under

his master's whip.

He's tired of high-class mares,

he wants only me.

He strokes me with his head

and his tufted mane.

He's happy when I ride him

naked, wearing only boots.

His eye is human

and so is his impatience

and his well-developed

sense of humor.

He eats blue-tinted sugar cubes

out of my hand.

In some respect, he's a man.

In others, just a horse.


With me is a grinning


when he walks, the bones

make a racket.

At times he loses

some small bone,

so we look for it

among the bedding.

Expertly, I fit

the missing bone between two others

It's tiring work,

but it gives me pleasure.

At times, he tries to drink

from my glass.

The way the wine puddles on the floor

makes him truly miserable.

If he had any nerves,

he'd lose them in bed

having to listen

to the rattle of his bones.


With me is the God

of all gods.

I have no other god

but him.

Without fuss

he kisses me everywhere;

on my head, on my forehead,

on my undone hair,

on my mouth while I speak,

in my armpits,

on my wet tits,

on my left and on my right knee,

inside my lungs, in my heart,

in my bowels,

in both kidneys,

and in my full and in my empty gut.

With great art he handles

the venerable tool.

God is truly within me,

or any other girl like me.

Devil's Lunch
Aleksandar Ristovic
selected poems
translated by Charles Simic

I'm always returning to Ristovic.
There is a accent mark over the "c"
I can't do it, but I do it with a pen in hand.
And again Charles Simic at the helm.
They should give him a prize for his
decades of work as translator, always
sizzling, and maybe they have.
The only prizes I pay attention to now
are the birthdays of our two
granddaughters, the rest
is filigree.
I also adore this edition
and design from Faber & Faber.
Did you know there was only one Faber?

Thursday, October 29, 2020



B I L L Y     J O E     S H A V E R

1939 Corsicana, Texas ~ 2020


Book Burning

We are out of wood to heat the house,

and still the weather is cold.

I did something that did not make me happy.

My first book of poems,


yes, we brought the copies up from the cellar,

took them out of the packages they're wrapped in,

and threw them in the yellow tile stove

and the black metal one. I'm burning books

I wrote a long time ago and doing so remember

other burnings, the many cruel ones in history,

and especially the ones in the twentieth century.

To my books I add literary magazines.

Listen, people, it's just my books I'm burning!

From the paper covered with words many ashes remain.

The stove heats up from the pages in flames.

We feel warmer and perhaps closer to spring,

the sun shining, balmy weather, clear skies.

Perhaps, we'll be forgiven for this fire

by the stern judges whose forgiveness we seek?

Nevertheless, I ask myself, is there an excuse for this.

Will my conscience bother me because of what I've done?

Should one sacrifice in everything for higher things?

Perhaps, friends, freezing in a cold house

is not something one should resist in this way

and burn books, words, sentences, white paper

and get from them black and gray ashes and a little warmth.

Milan Djordjevic
Oranges and Snow
translated from the Serbian
by Charles Simic
Princeton, 2010

When I really need to dig in, I go eastern european —
it's on the way to Asia from where I live

Wednesday, October 28, 2020



Back to an old favorite book.

My copy is so old that the back cover photograph

of the author with his then young family,

has Snyder in full view in white shirt and

necklace but his wife Masa and son have

disappeared almost entirely into the background.

Quietly I reread the chapters from the "Lookout's Journal,"

and the "Spring Sesshin at Shokoku-ji", plus Snyder's

bright witted and woodsman academia take on de Angulo's

Indian Tales

Pure delight, Spring 1954. Gary Snyder is 24 years old.

Then one rainy day, both of us all caught up at home with work,

I noticed Sweetheart laying down with pretty blue skirt and bare legs

reading more from HP Lovecraft's The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.

I was starting Snyder's chapter of "Tanker Notes." Who knows where Susan

is in her book but somewhere with Randolph Carter. I start to read aloud

to her from Tanker Notes which slightly irritates her, which is the

fun of things, so I suggest she read a passage from Lovecraft and I'll return

with a passage from Snyder and let's see how it goes. An hour goes by.

It's fascinating how well the two texts dovetail, both journeys.

Somewhere in the notes with Snyder, around Pago Pago, Samoa,

it's 1958, he and some of the ship's crew are foolin' with native girls.

 Sweetheart looks over and asks, "What are you reading?"

I tell her.

She says, "I don't remember any of that when I read the book."

"Me neither!" I laugh.

We both read the book when it was released in 1969.

 My copy now is first edition

cloth bound with homage to Edward Weston photograph

on the front cover, age-toned and a thoroughly loved book all around.

August Derleth calls the Lovecraft book,

"The finest weird fantasy ever written."

The thing of it is — thinking of Snyder's "Tanker Notes" —

Lovecraft loathed anything to do with the sea.

Monday, October 26, 2020



D I A N E     D I     P R I M A

1934, Brooklyn ~ 2020


P O E T S     W H O     S L E E P


                                           drawn & scribed by Bob Arnold


all drawings
Bob Arnold

Sunday, October 25, 2020


National Gallery of Art, D.A.P


Friday, October 23, 2020


L E A V E S     O F     H YP N O S
a selection
translated by Cid Corman

I think of that army of cowards with their appe-

tites for dictatorship that will perhaps be seen

again in power, in this forgetful country, by

those who will survive this time of damned al-



We are being torn apart between the avidity for

knowing and the despair of having known. The

goad will not renounce its sting and we our hope.


Act as primitive and forsee as a strategist.


To judge by the subsoil of the grass where a cou-

ple of crickets were singing last night, prenatal

life must have been very sweet.


Acquiescence kindles the face. Refusal gives it


The poem's line of flight. It should be within the

power of each to feel.


Imagination, my child.


Eternity is hardly longer than life.


I think of the woman I love. Her face is suddenly

masked. The void is in its turn sick.


Get intelligence going without the help of ord-

nance maps.


We are like those toads who in the austere night

of the marshes call without seeing each other,

bending to their love cry all the fatality of the



One need not love men to be of real help to them.

Only desire to improve that expression in their

eyes when it lights upon others more impover-

ished than themselves, to prolong by a second any

pleasant moment of their lives. After this move

and each root treated, their breathing would

become calmer. Above all don't deprive them al-

together of these painful paths, after whose effort

follows the evidence of truth through tears and



Horrible day! I was witness, some hundred meters

away, to the execution of B. I had only to press

the trigger of my Bren gun and he could have

been saved! We were on the heights overlooking

Cereste, arms enough to make the bushes creak

and at least equal in number to the SS. They un-

aware that we were there. To the eyes around me

everywhere begging for the signal to open fire I

answered no with my head . . . .The June sun

slipped a polar chill into my bones.

He fell as if he didn't make out his executioners

and so light it seemed to me, that the least breath

of wind could have lifted him from earth.

I didn't give the signal because this village had to

be spared at any price. What is a village? A village

like any other? Did he perhaps know at that ulti-

mate instant?


The time of enraged mountains and fantastic



Accumulate, then distribute. Of the mirror of the

universe be the part that is densest, most useful

and least apparent.


Keep with respect to others what you have pro-

mised yourself alone. That is your contract.


Sing your iridescent thirst.


The fruit is blind. It's the tree that sees.


The people of the meadows enchant me. Their

frail and venom-free beauty I don't grow tired of

reciting to myself. The vole, the mole, dark

children lost in the chimera of the grass, the slow-

worm, child of glass, the cricket as docile as any,

the grasshopper that clicks and counts its linen,

the butterfly that stimulates intoxication and an-

noys the flowers with is silent hiccups, the ants

sobered by the great green expanse, and immedi-

ately overhead the meteor swallows. . . .


Grassland, you are the day's encasement.


Since the kiss in the mountains, time is guided on

the golden summer of her hands and the ivy



Children accomplish this fond miracle of remain-

ing children and seeing through our eyes.


This is the hour when windows escape houses to

catch fire at the end of the world where our

world is going to dawn.


Are we doomed to being only the beginnings of



If life could only be a disappointed sleep. . . .


There are two ages for the poet: the age during

which poetry, in all regards, mistreats him, and

that when she lets herself be madly embraced.

But neither is wholly defined. And the second is

not sovereign.


Plunge into the unknown which cuts deep. Com-

pel yourself to whirl about.


There's no more question of the shepherd being

guide. Or so the politician, this new general far-

mer, has decided.


Formerly at the moment I got into bed, the idea

of a death for the time being in the bosom of

sleep proved pacifying, today I go to sleep to live

some hours.


All the virtue of the August sky, of our trusted

anguish, in the meteor's golden voice.


"My body was more immense than earth and of

it I knew only a very tiny part. I receive such

innumerable promises of felicity, from the bot-

tom of my soul, that I beg you to keep for us

alone your name."


In the depths of our darkness there is no one place

for Beauty. The whole place is for Beauty.


A war had begun which, though most of his country was
soon occupied, occupied Rene Char still more. . . .He was
about 36 then, and the poetic journal he kept of and at
that time comes to us under the auspices of his Resistance
code-name, HYPNOS, the Greek divinity of Sleep.

I read this now during the Covid pandemic and much of it aloud
to the one I love as we travel around, truck and book in lap, and
what are these tears in my eyes?

No book like it on earth.


Rene Char
Leaves of Hypnos
translated from the French by Cid Corman
Mushinsha/Grossman, 1973