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.