Saturday, December 29, 2012

Occupy Christmas

That was some night. The world went black.
We never got our feelings back
Below the waist. The frost descended.
All of the stars were apprehended,

But not by us. The cars refused
The roads. The birds of prey, confused,
Flew into clouds, and there they stayed.
The householders were sore afraid.

Since mangers would be closed this year,
A sensible wise man would appear
On other stages, baggy pantsed.
And all the stars in Heaven danced.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

And a Happy New Year to You, Too

The year sheds skin and time and cash.
The firedrake burns down to ash
His habitation. The road is clear
All the way home to Happy Year,

Coming soon. With the proper friends,
Nobody notices when it ends,
This derelict calendar. The few,
The consequent, have naught to do

But watch the helicopters tow
The End behind them as they go
West, of course, and into the spring,
Where next year’s lark prepares to sing.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Importance of Titles

Given the time of year, I'm getting lots of visitors who typed "sentimental christmas poem" into their search engines and were referred to my poem titled, oddly enough, "A Sentimental Christmas Poem." I don't know why I never seem to learn from this sort of thing. I could attach titles like "Taylor Swift Wants to Kiss You" or "End of the World Megan Fox Bikini" or "Guns Don't Kill People, Bullets Do" to pretty much any poem, and people would just think I was whimsical or cutting edge or annoying. But they'd probably arrive here in greater numbers. Don't know if they'd read poems once they'd arrived, though. Probably not.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Poe No More

Today's Quote of the Day on my Google page is from "Ligeia."

In beauty of face no maiden ever equaled her. It was the radiance of an opium-dream – an airy and spirit-lifting vision more wildly divine than the phantasies which hovered about the slumbering souls of the daughters of Delos.

God, I detest Poe. Take a red pencil to this, and all that would remain would be "of," "an," and "the."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Pisan Pantos

The rain distorts my make-up, blue
The color of my hair and eyes.
(My nose is red, my heart is green.)
A scenist has prepared the skies
Ingeniously. I’ve come into
My own here--Look! A human bean,

A roly-poly in a cage,
The Widow Twanky on her walk,
Wishing the weeds would grow so high,
I could ascend my private stalk
And put all heathen in a rage.
This dragonfly my private eye:

He boos and hisses, laughs and cheers
As I perform the buck-and-wing,
Magic to find the state a spine,
Alchemy in chansons I sing.
I hope the ingenue appears
To change my homemade ink to wine,

To animate imagined books,
A smell of candy from the crowd.
This fence is higher than my art.
The roly-poly laughs so loud,
Guards come a-runnng, Demos looks,
And here is where my poems start.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Notes for the Volume Left Unfinished

*Albinius says otherwise. He errs.
His sources for an ill-conceiving creed
Are elderly ex-chamberlains and eunuchs,
Village crones and plods deprived of the sense
Announced to a scarecrow, those who took their cues
From discount chickens, virgins secondhand,
And scholars from the farmhouse provinces.
As every schoolboy knows, the archers filled
His orifices with their arrows. Pray
For him, but do not emulate his art.
He burns in Hell and weeps black tears of ink.
(It is no sin to benison the damned,
Whatever El Chimayo says, the damned.)

†Persona Claus claims 273,
Year of Our Lord. Persona Claus, who loved
Boys best, then men, was skewered, a flaming bowl
Of apple cores inverted on his head.

°Albumen, King, who found that history
Irenic--they had lied, the scribal tribe.
The Church Pacific strewed its road, on donkeys,
With palms and psalms; and all its paths were peace.
Albumen, King was thrown into a pit
Of Bulgars, Albigensians, and Swedes.
No fragments of him ever were retrieved.

•It sounds absurd, and yet proved true. I went
Myself, with native guide, and saw the place,
A dog to follow and a wife to heel.
I touched the Rock, the Rock was warm. My sense
Of touch is unimpeachable. What else
Explains the errors of the Early Crypts?
Deceived by Occam’s Razor Blade, they shaved
A world away and found a Heaven there.
I recommend The Liber Book, ƒ. 2.

§Cf., op. cit., to-wit, to-woo. Tra-la,
The placard on the temple wall proclaimed,
In Greek first, Latin after, sing tra-la,
The angels have been with us from the first
And bless the martyrs in their shattered state
And bear their broken bones away and praise
The bearded monarchs who have made it so.
Nevertheless, Albinius was wrong.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


is a singularly unattractive term for those who read here, especially for those of us who cut our teeth on "Subterranean Homesick Blues."  I see I lost one recently.  I hope she's in a better place.  There must be one.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Fan mail from some flounder?

Yesterday I had mail from Anonymous (he writes often).  This time he said,

i followed your blog because i think its awesome! lol please follow mine! I think you have a great sense in literature! =) keep it up!

I have a number of comments, all of which, after time to reflect, seem superfluous.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Harlot Read

Tomorrow, when the men pick up the trash,
I'll lose a little more. Sure, I can spare,
God knows, some surplus. Every box and drawer
And cupboard bulges. Still, it took my life
To fill them up, and emptying them out
Means few forget-me-nots for you and yours
To harvest, left behind. As though you would
Endow occasions with irrelevance
Like that, forthcoming in your sequined dress
Of harlot red that 30 years have not
Fashioned for your figure, under the face
You carry off at banquets, marriages,
And Celebrations Of A Life Well Lived.
We used to call them funerals. We burned
Bodies just like the paper we collect.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be

I'm reading with great interest a short biographical dictionary of English literature (I believe it's called A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature -- ) written in 1910, just before The Great War.  It's always worth remembering, and being reminded, how literary judgments evolve.  Tennyson is praised in terms we'd reserve for Shakespeare and maybe Milton.  Hawthorne is pronounced the greatest American author of imaginative literature and Melville dismissed in a couple sentences, the biographical lexicographer clearly of the opinion that Typee was his most important work.  Hardy and James and Yeats were still alive, so are not mentioned.  Everyone who knew of the existence of sex, and mentioned it, is downgraded for crudity.  (Of Tom Jones our author says, "All critics are agreed that the book contains passages offensive to delicacy, and some say to morality.")  (Alas, my delicacy was hopelessly offended a long time ago.  I think it was mortally wounded when I tried to read Shelley without smirking.  Of Shelley our biographer says that some of his shorter poems "reach perfection."  Of course he also says that Sir Walter Scott's work, whether considered for quantity or quality, is "marvellous," which, though I am an admirer, seems somewhat overstated.)  Emily D doesn't make the cut.  Our biographer likes Clemens/Twain more than you might expect, though not as much as Fenimore Cooper.

You might think of this book when next you gush -- or rail -- over the latest Idol of the In Crowd.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Be patient, and look elsewhere

I have removed "The Heart of Holy Moses" and "The Complete Henriad" following their acceptance by the Anglo-Aussie online journal Angle.  Someday they'll return.  (If you can't wait, call me, and I'll read them to you over the phone.)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Active Spirits

We stowed our spirits underneath the bed,
To ripen in the dark. There will be bits
Of unexplained detritus on the necks
And bitter accents, something like a stain,
Floating on amber surfaces. Some day
They might be fit for use, oily on bright
October afternoons and nicely keen
When darkness undertakes our management,
But only if our lives go well. We trust
That chemistry will not betray the heart
Which counts upon her. There are still inert
Elements to be heard from and the sweet
Aftertaste of hydrangea leaves and mint
And complicated resins, close enough
To life to be electrified by chance.
The spirits might just walk, depart their glass
Panopticon and take to love and crime,
Go skulking through the streets. We'd see them turn
Unshaved faces away, ashamed to know
The jailers of their lightless infancy
And corkscrewed adolescence. We have turned
The bottles lately. Maybe we can drink
What we have brewed. Lord, we can hardly wait.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Gol-darned new-fangled contraption

I am sorry to have switched to a newer format, but Blogger wouldn't provide access to all its features unless I did.  So many tekkies confuse change with improvement.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Oh, and thanks

I am grateful to all of you who read here, you know, even if most of you are too wonder-struck to comment.  (The last three comments I received, and rejected, were thinly disguised ads for an editorial service, which is not exactly overwhelming, as compliments go.)  Keats may have found unheard melodies sweeter, but poems like to be read.  They told me so.

Friday, June 01, 2012

If you're following the Dunbar regimen,

you can find me at FB (richard.epstein.3) and Google+ .  There you will find it easy to ask if you can publish my poems.  (Unless you edit The Horst Wesssel Review, the answer is almost certain to be yes.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Treasure Islands

The frontons bet on sonnets, good
To the last foot, unlike Lord B
Or LJS, whose syncope
Turned flesh and blood to strap and wood.

Each foot expands the club, the start
Of each sestet a lucky act.
The shape is bowing, hunched with tact,
By present pulse and present art

Betrayed in novel ways. At last
She is a rose and he a stag
Or he the hunk who freed the hag
Into her dewy, virgin past.

The Hellespont swum, Ben Gunn goes bang.
I sing the song my masters sang.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

That Voodoo You Do

The recipe is principally blood
And Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, stirred till
All bubbles have been beaten out, then fried
To burnt beyond description in cast-iron.
Cooled and crumbled and sprinkled on a brush—
Tooth or hair, macht nichts—it can be observed.
Debs may grow blue and die, Associate
Professors watch all hope of tenure fail,
Children shift into Senior Homes. And still
None of them finds a hint of consequence.
Sometimes, however, conscience gone on break,
The air will fill with lust and violins,
Like soundtracks at an old Italian dive,
Ladling the night with syrup. There is hope
For magic, then, and sweet unlikelihood.
But, geez, you would have had that anyway.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Just as a working hypothesis: if your readers are arguing about the paraphrasable content of your poem, your poem is not a success. What's the first thing you think about when you think of, say, "Sunday Morning"? "Death isn't really the mother of beauty -- that's a neo-capitalist platitude, designed to distract labor from its dire plight"? No, I didn't think so. Or "Leda and the Swan" -- "If the campus administrators had issued her a really powerful whistle and properly trained her in Krav Maga, this could all have been avoided"? No?

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Like a Requiem

for Michel, in loving memory of his wife, Lili

On mornings when there's no one else to tell
the paper still arrives. The milkman makes
dogs bark at 5 a.m. The sun comes up,
unjustly bright, exactly as you saw
it overspread your coffee and bad news.

The news read round the clock is uniform.
Everyone is dying for more life,
the radio says. The mailman's on his way,
bringing the bills that say how much it costs
to see the sun again. When you were here,

day smelled like mint and sage. Nobody had
the same day you had. Stars took special shapes,
the constellations Ampersand or Love.
Here in our garden grass grows now. The sun
rises, shines some, and passes down the west,

like requiems, which, skillful, sound the same,
whoever writes or plays them. It is not
events which give a form to forms; it was
you, and the grass grows, dogs bark, men drive off
to do what men do when they have no choice.

I wrote this poem on commission from Michel Brochetain, who wanted it for his splendid Russian art site,

It's worth your time and attention.

Friday, March 09, 2012

as the body is one, and hath many members

As time goes by, my verse seems to become more supple, more flexible, which makes it the mirror image of my physical body. Let us hope that the body of my verse and the body of my body demonstrate that "as the body is one, and hath many members and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body."

Monday, March 05, 2012

from Days of Our Lives

That year I saw 3, maybe 4 great men.
I don't recall what pearls they had to drop,
what they looked like, the timbre of their voices
or suits. I talked once, maybe for 3 minutes,
to a lapis-eyed blonde who didn't know my name.
I knew hers, remember every word,
and have concocted several dozen lives
of swift conclusion. All end up inside
her. At 2 a.m. at the Rockybilt counter,
hard and bright as a Hopper, I could drink
coffee, mop up secret sauce, and wonder
how anyone had ever finished James,
if Strether would find Bohemia in Paris,
whether he'd "live" and why anybody cared.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

from Days of Our Lives

The chemlab flash fired in a sunburst
of eyebrows and steam, the alarms claiming
the end of class, the sprinklers playing April,
and happy singees coughing into the sunlight.
Learning seeps in, pore-wise, or explodes in-
appropriately in the absence of
loco parentals. So under dormers,
beneath graduation gift patchwork quilts,
the love of clear-cut classes multiplies
beyond reason, without regard, ungraded,
and altogether traditionally.
If by the next day the glass is swept up,
the puddles all expunged, the windows boarded,
youth blooms eternal, for a little while.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

from Days of Our Lives

At the hoity-toity entrance to the George
Cinq, a grand guy, looking George his own
self, opens the door, and bows me inside,
past Ms Deneuve or Ms Bardot or someone,
a U-Drive sabled hooker, as it happens.
The desk sneers at my jeans and cowboy boots,
just as he ought, unmottled by abuse
in perfect idiomatic French. He waves
a boy over--this creaking, spavined geezer
buttoned up like an organ-grinder's monkey.
He barely lifts my beat-up leather gladstone.
The concierge sneers, but blushes as I pass,
Bardot attentive to the suite assigned.
I hear this on the Middle Fork of the Salmon,

the yarning boatman bitching that his degree
in fluvial geomorphology
wasn't worth a sou in Paris, grinning
that he'd said, "sou." Explaining to a dude
that this entire valley had been dug
as part of a WPA project by
starving painters and that the river flowed
under the ocean, hooking up with China,
he said that the worst was, when she finished up
and smoothed her francs into her reticule,
she wanted to discuss her pension plan
and whether ECUs would appreciate
against the yen. Them Frogs, he said, and spat
his plug against the current, steering right.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Google's quote of the day,

from Flannery O'Connor: Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.

Thank you, Ms O'Connor.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

If you have to choose

Well, yes, you can find me on Facebook, and I'll be happy to note your favorite movies and relationship status; but if your time is limited, and you have to choose, visit me here. Here be poems.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nepotism? Anyone?

If any of you regular readers (you know who you are, all 3 of you) have close family members who are like Carly Simon's father, don't be embarrassed to point them in this direction. I'm like Arlo Guthrie -- "I'm not proud...or tired."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

For Dr Feldman: After Martial

Your standards, Burton, force you to condemn
A verse not passed into an apothegm.
Forgive me, will you, if I do not die
To earn the moist approval of your eye.