Saturday, October 13, 2007

Poem: "The Haunted Palace" by Edgar Allan Poe, an excerpt from The Fall of the House of Usher.

The Haunted Palace

In the greenest of our valleys,
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace
(Radiant palace) reared its head.
In the monarch Thought's dominion
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair.

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow
(This, all this, was in the olden
Time long ago);
And every gentle air that dallied
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A wingèd odor went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically
To a lute's well-tuned law;
Round about a throne where, sitting
In state his glory well befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of echoes, whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch's high estate
(Ah! let us mourn, for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him, desolate);
And round about his home the glory
That blushed and bloomed
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.

And travellers, now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms that move fantastically
To a discordant melody;
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever,
And laugh - but smile no more.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Woloch on Faith

Woloch has here composed a perfect and modern poem. This sort of thing has been on my mind a lot lately. In fact, with the fall comes a chance to shed off and burrow down. Maybe this year I will finally become a bear.

"On Faith" by Cecilia Woloch

On Faith

How do people stay true to each other?
When I think of my parents all those years
in the unmade bed of their marriage, not ever
longing for anything else —or: no, they must
have longed; there must have been flickerings,
stray desires, nights she turned from him,
sleepless, and wept, nights he rose silently,
smoked in the dark, nights that nest of breath
and tangled limbs must have seemed
not enough. But it was. Or they just
held on. A gift, perhaps, I've tossed out,
having been always too willing to fly
to the next love, the next and the next, certain
nothing was really mine, certain nothing
would ever last. So faith hits me late, if at all;
faith that this latest love won't end, or ends
in the shapeless sleep of death. But faith is hard.
When he turns his back to me now, I think:
disappear. I think: not what I want. I think
of my mother lying awake in those arms
that could crush her. That could have. Did not.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Nan Cohen

Someone else's stroke of genius on a Monday.

"Girder" by Nan Cohen, from Rope Bridge.



The simplest of bridges, a promise
that you will go forward,

that you can come back.
So you cross over.

It says you can come back.
So you go forward.

But even if you come back
then you must go forward.

I am always either going back
or coming forward. There is always

something I have to carry,
something I leave behind.

I am a figure in a logic problem,
standing on one shore

with the things I cannot leave,
looking across at what I cannot have.

Monday, July 30, 2007


"The question of the final stamp, the pressure which fixes the mark, is yet to be determined."

Henry James

Monday, July 16, 2007


Okay. Most of you know me pretty well by now. You know that I carry on from time to time, and tend to exaggerate, and make wild claims unbacked by reason. Well put all that aside and listen closely. Galway Kinnell is one of our planet's greatest living poets. I promise.

Here is one I enjoy reading out loud.


"Field Notes" by Galway Kinnell, from Strong Is Your Hold

Field Notes

When we were out at dinner
last night and a dim mood
from the day hung on in me
that neither the quenelles
de brochet nor the Pignan
2000 could quite lift,
she disappeared and plucked
out of the air somewhere
some amusement or comfort
and, quickly back again,
laid it in our dinner talk.

When it was time to leave
and she scanned the restaurant
for the restroom, she went up
on her toes, like the upland plover,
and in the taxi home we kissed
a mint from the maitre d's desk
from my mouth to hers,
like cedar waxwings.

When I squished in bare feet
up to the bedroom, I found her
already dropped off, bedside lamp still on,
Theodore Xeonphon Barber's
The Human Nature of Birds
lying open face-down under her chin.

Gazing at her I saw
that she was gazing back,
having been sleeping awake
as the tree swallow does.

I went around the foot
of the bed and climbed in
and slid toward the side lined
with the warmth and softness
of herself, and we clasped each other
like no birds I know of.

Our cries that night were wild,
unhinged, not from here,
like the common loon's.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Old Man

This might be the best shot I have ever gotten of my dad. He hates photographs, so I had to sneak up on him before dinner up at the mountain house. He is one fine fellow, I might add. Honest, old fashioned and always up for some adventure.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Just home from a week on both sides of this state. Much to tell. Be back on the horse in a day or two.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Canons of June

from Hunter S. Thompson writing a review of a really fast motorcycle for some magazine:

"Some people will tell you that slow is good – and it may be, on some
days – but I am here to tell you that fast is better. I’ve always
believed this, in spite of the trouble it’s caused me. Being shot out of
a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That
is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba…."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I may be out for a bit. Too much swirling around, and not much of it good.

Everything will be okay, though.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Arkansas will take weeks to settle in. I saw a great section of our country, and I need to sieve it through, turn it over, dwell a bit on all those dry spaces, those well worked fields, the hard folks with stories and a small piece of land. When a person is standing in the City, it is so easy to mis-remember how days here pass with slow-steady purpose and all well in good tune and manner.

I am back at my wood desk with a lot of new ideas. I hope I can keep a few in place - make them stay. The windows are open tonight. A great rain outside. There is a bit of cool here with the weather - a chance to air things out.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Sis Draper

I am diligent at work this week. I hope everyone is proud. And I am off to Memphis at daybreak Friday - heading to a wedding. Good folks. Fine town. Deep river. Actually, it is over in farm country, Arkansas. Fields of wheat, chewing tobacco, and home-grown country girls.

As Shawn Camp says about his grandmama the fiddle player:

She stepped right up and sawed one off
And Uncle Cleve he dropped his jaw,
Said "she's the best I ever saw
She must be from Arkansaw"

Sunday, June 3, 2007

If you ever see me dancing, things have taken a terrible turn for the worse. And, well, that was my exact state this past Friday night. I went out on a party, as Johnny Cash used to say, and came home so late it was early. This is not my normal habit, and it has taken all weekend to decompress. Like a deep sea diver working out the nitrogen. I must say, though, it was a great way to rustle up a too-still pond, tilt the canoe a bit. I met up with several old friends and went from one end of town the the other, and at one point I was up on some sort of stage waving my arms about like a wounded bird, coaxing the local roller derby girls to knock back just one more tequila, bump up against each other, just for fun.

Oh the life of the modern cynic. And woe the very next day.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Pee Dee River, Georgetown County

I feel renewed. We worked hard on the farm, and everything was so hot, dusty and dry I dove in to the river with my workclothes on. As I pulled up on the dock, I noticed two alligators floating chin deep back in the cypress.

My brother cooked a feast of fried chicken, and we celebrated the end of a fine day with beer out on the dock. I think I saw Jupiter near the moon. Sleep came easy.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Carolina Gold

It is Friday, late May. That means it is time to go to our farm near the South Carolina coast and check on the rice crop. The seedlings are about five inches tall now, and if all goes well we should have a wonderful crop this year. This is not normal rice, though. We are one of three small farms that are producing this heirloom variety of aromatic rice. So, what I am getting at is this: I am off to plod around in the mud and beat back mosquitoes.

I like this a lot:

by Kathleen Jamie, from Waterlight: Selected Poems.


Piled high in a corner of second-hand store
in Toronto: of course,
it's an immigrant country. Sometimes

all you can take is what you can carry
when you run: a photo, some clothes,
and the useless dead-weight

of your mother tongue.
One was repaired
with electrician's tape—a trade

was all a man needed. A girl,
well, a girl could get married. Indeed
each case opened like an invitation:

the shell-pink lining, the knicker—
like pockets you hook back
with a finger to look

for the little linked keys.
I remember how each held a wraith
of stale air, and how the assistant seemed

taken aback by my accent;
by then, though, I was headed for home,
bored, and already pregnant.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Golden Gate

Rare Coastal Sequoia, that, by the way, shares genetic similarity (one of five relative species remaining) to South Carolina's Bald Cypress. This is in Golden Gate Park's Japanese garden. A quite impressive display. Also, the Acer palmatum sp. (Japanese Maple) to the side is a specimen shipped from Kyoto after WW II, or so I was informed by the kind botanist in the garden that day.

Also note species of grumpy mule attempting to smile in a self conscious manner.

Above the Yellowstone Caldera

Friday, May 18, 2007

Monday, May 14, 2007

I am back. Part of me, at least.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Permian Fate

Muir (below) and Galen Clark -- they both drew in to the high sierra range, stretched meadows and glacial ruts; riparian lull, sequoia trees. Sheer rock. Yosemite. This was the middle 1800's and train tracks were just stretching across America.

Muir was a Scotsman, a keen observer with a bent toward science and an eye for how things came to be. Good with the pen. Clark was a roustabout in old boots and worn leather. He was one of the first white men to venture in to Wawona, the giant redwood grove. The Mariposas. Both men carried solid walking sticks and, I feel certain, a bitter drive to keep the un-thoughtful from tearing the place apart. It still stands.

I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to see the place for myself. I can't recall being more excited for a trip. I will take a clean writing pad, a couple changes of socks, and my hat. Be well. Wish me luck.

Monday, April 30, 2007

That is Bill Murray, above, in his prior occupation as pizza chef. He had hamburgers at my brother's house last night. That is my brush with fame. Wait. I wasn't there. Bastards. My younger brother burst in the front door, not knowing there was company. The man by the sink held out his hand, said "I'm Bill."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mesa County, Sundown

Colorado, heading in to Utah. I had so much on my mind that Fall day, and I remember looking up, finally noticing everything before me, and breathing one of those deep, life-full inhales. All was well.

If we can just make ourselves understand the calmness that is without, perhaps we could live with a more tranquil peace. I know this is all very out of character, but I mean it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

from E. Dickinson, "875"

I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my Feet the Sea.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tuolumne County, West Sierra

If everything around here doesn't totally unravel, then I will be staring down the valley toward half-dome in two weeks time. And this time, I will travel with bear mace.

I am looking for meadow alpines, among others. I may end up bogged in scrub chaparral, but as long as I am out there, it will be adventure.

Maybe I will find Muir atop an inner tube, beer in hand, floating the Merced River.

Friday, April 20, 2007

It is Friday. I am off to Charleston in a little while, which is a good thing. The breeze is always nice there, and my friend has this dog named Max. Max is the best dog I have ever met. I am going to walk old Max down by the ocean and ruminate on the wisdom of canines.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Old Joy

Comment on, with respect to the recent story about Google
acquiring DoubleClick for billions of dollars:

"Whenever I read stories such as this, I wish I could go back in time
ten years ago to high school and actually done something with my life
rather than run off and drink in the hills and fire shotguns at

By the way, has anyone seen this film besides me? Best of the decade, I think. And that Oldham has a wonderful new album out.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Missoula, MT 1978

My best friend just passed away. After college, I traveled out west with my girlfriend at his urging. He told us to save $500 and just drive around, see what we could find. I remember calling him from a pay phone in Arches National Park, Utah, and going on about the sublime beauty and the sunset and the great stretch of land. "John," he growled from his trailer in the mountains, "I already told you, that is where America and Ed Abbey finally agree." Indeed they do.

And though my friend's life was cut short, his spirit will linger out there, where the wind cuts across the plain, where he kept his heart.

I have posted this so many times my keyboard is wearing out. But anyway, it deserves another round.

from a speech by Edward Abbey, Missoula MT 1978

"Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am. A reluctant enthusiast and part-time crusader. A hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the West. It is even more important to enjoy it while you can, while it's still there. So go out there, hunt, fish, mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the griz, climb a mountain, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet elusive air. Sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness of the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves. Keep your brain in your head and your head frimly attached to the body, the body active and alive. And I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in safe deposit boxes and their eyes hypnotized by their desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The End of Fifty

Death Valley, 1849

A man named Robinson left this note tucked in a hymn book, discovered in a cave in 1998:

"My dear Edwin, Knowed now we should have gone arowned but am thankful to not be sick the agir cause others are worse ofen me. My last ox falled in his checks afor morn and I caint carry down the steep. The locket was your mahs. The boles and the wagon shrod were the preachers wife. I toted her youngen. If you shoulddove already seen my Lydia, tell her my heart beats with hers. Kindly leave me a half stake and my short gun. Ifen I dont raturn by end of fifty I wont never come. Lord be precious to your soul. William"

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Sailor cannot see the North,
but knows the Needle can.

-E. Dickenson, 1862

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

My Esteemed Readers

Can someone please tell me why I get all this traffic coming to my (other) site because of this old photo? Is there a group of women + gun fetishists? I assume so.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My writings are located in