Caveat: from the bones of the mountain

January, 5

Off Lindisfarne
the waves shiver like monks
at their ablutions.

Under high horizontals
of ice-cloud, the sky
scrubbed clean as a dairy.

The train darts north,
hungry as a tongue.

Only the exile longs for
the words to name a country:

either live it or learn,
at a bare table,

ancestral silence, like a rumble
deep in the loch’s throat,

the forgotten song
of the curling-stone,

the snow slipping like white meat
from the bones of the mountain.

- Alison Fell (Scottish poet, b. 1944)

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Caveat: Of empty atmosphere

Climbing the Tower at the Temple 
 of Blessings with Friends

The fragrant realm of incense teems
With shrines and temples; yet none seems
     A match for the tower here.
As breezes fan our high redoubt,
A vision of Great Power spreads out
     Like trigrams for a seer.
We joke we’ve joined the feathered race,
And reached the elevated space
     Of empty atmosphere.
Or I perhaps am now a king
Of every seen and unseen thing:
     I’ve left the mortal sphere.
Palaces hunker at the base
And in the span these gables trace
     Mountains and rivers appear.
Last night the wind blew autumn in;
From east to west, the plain of Qin
     Seems measureless and clear.
A hundred miles away are seen
The royal tombs at Wuling, green
     Still lustrous yet austere.
This golden age owes gratitude
To Ruan’s brave men; I too have stood
     With a border sentry’s spear.
In this good cause our thanks are sent:
Today we climb this monument
     In perfect carefree cheer!

- Gao Shi (Tang Dynasty poet, ca. 704–765)

高适  同诸公登慈恩寺浮图

This poem is posted on the blog Tang Poetry, with translation by the blog’s author.

I don’t know Chinese at all. At best, I occasionally recognize a character and can guess its meaning, because of my study of Korean. At my height proficiency, I maybe had 100-150 characters memorized as recognition vocabulary, which is not necessary knowledge for modern Korean but which is quite useful in getting a better understanding of the relation between words, their etymologies, and distiguishing the language’s abundant homonyms, since about 60% of Korean vocabulary was borrowed (in past centuries) from Chinese. The sounds are often quite different, so even knowing the old Korean character and its pronunciation doesn’t inform me in any way about the modern Chinese pronunciation.

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Caveat: This is first-class reality

Real and Half Real

It was a time to find a new world: who was sent forth?
  Columbus, that is the dove, Noah's dove
Over wide waters. It was time (men having so long
  so vainly envied the birds) it was time to realize
That ancient dream: and who were appointed? Two
  brothers, surnamed Wright, (that's maker, artificer)
Launch their contrivance--where?--on the field of the
  hawk, Kittyhawk, the mewing hawk.
    These are the two great turnings
In a thousand years: you notice how the names mark
  them: to you see Myth
Leaning tall from her darkness over the shoulder of
  History, guiding
The hand that writes? A dove discovers new lands; a
  legendary artificer, doubled to symbolize
Importance, invents the plane.
    Or again: consider the dates of the earlier
  world-war. It became world-war
The day America entered: what was that day? A
  most appropriate day, a so-called Good Friday,
The day of the death of Christ. And then it ended,
  not quite too late, and its armistice
Is dated the eleventh hour, underscored by eleventh
Day and month: a grim bit of humor, trivial but omi-
  nous. --And now we return to complete the 
The man who is chosen to crack the iron shell of Europe:
  what is is name? --Iron-hewer.
    There seems to be something
Intentional in these coincidences. Perhaps they are
That what makes history is not the actors; men's minds
  and clashing causes are not the cause. The play--
As Hardy, Tolstoy, Sophocles knew--is authored
Outside the scene. Invisible wires are pulled, the pas-
  sionate puppets gesticulate, Napoleon, Oedipus
And Hitler perform their pre-formed agonies.

    But now consider
Something not human:--here the coast hills at Sobe-
  ranes Creek sea-mouth, sleep wedges and cones of
Thin-skinned with grass; their feet are deep in the flood-
  tide ocean, dark, heavy and still, calm in this trough
Between two storms; their heads are against the dark
  heavy sky. No life is visible but the bright grass,
And a gang of wild pigs, huddled flank-to-flank,
  flowing up a swale
On the far slope; and that one eagle, wheeling and rock-
  ing, high and alone
Against the cloud-lid.
    Here are not trivial artist-signatures, no puppet-
  play, no pretence of free will;
This is first-class reality. The human affair is half real,
  part myth, part art-work: this is in earnest.
I conclude
That men should play the parts assigned to them and do it
  bravely, emulating
The nobility of nature, but well in mind
That their play is a play; it is serious but not important;
  what's done in earnest is done outside it.

- Robinson Jeffers (American poet, 1887-1962)

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Caveat: Inundo de nubes el vacío


Sobre la nieve se oye resbalar la noche
La canción caía de los árboles
Y tras la niebla daban voces
De una mirada encendí mi cigarro
Cada vez que abro los labios
Inundo de nubes el vacío
En el puerto
Los mástiles están llenos de nidos
Y el viento
gime entre las alas de los pájaros
Y en la orilla silbando
Miro la estrella que humea entre mis dedos.

– Vicente Huidobro (poeta chileno, 1893-1948)

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Caveat: Oor fire and oor lamp

"Coorie Doon"

Coorie Doon, Coorie Doon, Coorie Doon, my darling,
Coorie Doon the day.

Lie doon, my dear, and in your ear, 
To help you close your eye, 
I'll sing a song, a slumber song,
A miner's lullaby.

Your daddy's doon the mine my darling
Doon in the Curlby Main, 
Your daddy's howking coal my darling
For his own wee wean.

There's darkness doon the mine my darling,
Darkness, dust and damp.
But we must have or heat, or light,
Oor fire and oor lamp.

Your daddy coories doon my darling, 
Doon in a three foot seam,
So you can coorie doon my darling, 
Coorie doon and dream.

– Matt McGinn (Scottish songwriter, 1928-1977

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Caveat: Thoughts against thoughts

Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves

Earnest, earthless, equal, attuneable, ' vaulty, voluminous, . . . stupendous
Evening strains to be time’s vást, ' womb-of-all, home-of-all, hearse-of-all night.
Her fond yellow hornlight wound to the west, ' her wild hollow hoarlight hung to the height
Waste; her earliest stars, earl-stars, ' stárs principal, overbend us,
Fíre-féaturing heaven. For earth ' her being as unbound, her dapple is at an end, as-
tray or aswarm, all throughther, in throngs; ' self ín self steepèd and páshed – quite
Disremembering, dísmémbering, ' áll now. Heart, you round me right
With: Óur évening is over us; óur night ' whélms, whélms, ánd will end us.
Only the beak-leaved boughs dragonish ' damask the tool-smooth bleak light; black,
Ever so black on it. Óur tale, O óur oracle! ' Lét life, wáned, ah lét life wind
Off hér once skéined stained véined varíety ' upon áll on twó spools; párt, pen, páck
Now her áll in twó flocks, twó folds – black, white; ' right, wrong; reckon but, reck but, mind
But thése two; wáre of a wórld where bút these ' twó tell, each off the óther; of a rack
Where, selfwrung, selfstrung, sheathe- and shelterless, ' thóughts agaínst thoughts ín groans grínd.

- Gerard Manley Hopkins (English poet, 1844-1889)

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Caveat: the dogs go on with their doggy life

Musee des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

- W. H. Auden (British poet, 1907-1973)

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Caveat: Dehiscing of inscrutable / energies


Before light’s encroaching
Beams, across wavelengths
Of glints, in between yawning
Protocols of waking,
The cocks strike a redundant
Choked by their own sensitve
Yodelling spree, muted by
Spittle of outstretched, moaning
Clouds, frayed and piqued by
The lusts of flying machines,
Hours stretch on rubber’s speed.
The rain is a common spiv, holding
On the crests of soaking waves
Upon night’s purloined
On the roof, the rain pelts
With energy, hunting the
Fire-caked degree of heat,
Insufferable to the dictates
Of yelling protests.
Faint mirrors of earliness hang
Loose on frescoes of heaven, peeking
Through serrated drapes above
Window panes. And these, like neighing,
Spavined horses, wake
Memories of puking slumber...
And the hours of dimmed contours
Stretched. And the lilt from the
Pluvial melody humbles the
Insomnia monody, drummed
Into the silence of fastened hedonism.
No sunrise within the grey
Patterns of veiled clouds...
Cocks’ crows, subsumed within
This muffled protocols, become
Distant trumpets of varieties,
Preening themselves of the usage
Of establishing culture.
Allah, Allah, Allah! ! !
The presence became fixed!
At the very hour of the cocks’ choir,
When piddling gathers the froth of
First waking with the grogginess
Of drunken dreams, the muezzin
Reads out the laws....
From the jungle chambers, elated
Spirits from pricked ears and
Rising furs soothe the voice,
Arched, raised and powered
Even to the birth of essences and
Dehiscing of inscrutable
Energies of efflorescences.
Allah, Allah, Allah!

– Nkwachukwu Ogbuagu (Nigerian poet, b. 1968)
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Caveat: El río invierte el curso de su corriente

El río invierte el curso de su corriente.
El agua de las cascadas sube.
La gente empieza a caminar retrocediendo.
Los caballos caminan hacia atrás.
Los militares deshacen lo desfilado.
Las balas salen de las carnes.
Las balas entran en los cañones.
Los oficiales enfundan sus pistolas.
La corriente se devuelve por los cables.
La corriente penetra por los enchufes.
Los torturados dejan de agitarse.
Los torturados cierran sus bocas.
Los campos de concentración se vacían.
Aparecen los desaparecidos.
Los muertos salen de sus tumbas.
Los aviones vuelan hacia atrás.
Los “rockets” suben hacia los aviones.
Allende dispara.
Las llamas se apagan.
Se saca el casco.
La Moneda se reconstituye íntegra.
Su cráneo se recompone.
Sale a un balcón.
Allende retrocede hasta Tomás Moro.
Los detenidos salen de espalda de los estadios.
11 de Septiembre.
Regresan aviones con refugiados.
Chile es un país democrático.
Las fuerzas armadas respetan la constitución.
Los militares vuelven a sus cuarteles.
Renace Neruda.
Vuelve en una ambulancia a Isla Negra.
Le duele la próstata. Escribe.
Víctor Jara toca la guitarra. Canta.
Los discursos entran en las bocas.
El tirano abraza a Prat.
Desaparece. Prat revive.
Los cesantes son recontratados.
Los obreros desfilan cantando

– extracto del poema-libro “La Ciudad” de Gonzalo Millán (poeta chileno, 1947-2006)

Hace 50 años hoy, Pinochet – con aprobación de la CIA estadounidense – hizo su golpe en contra del legítimo presidente de Chile, Salvador Allende.

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Caveat: lavez votre cerveau

Chanson dada

La chanson d’un dadaïste
qui avait dada au cœur
fatiguait trop son moteur
qui avait dada au cœur

l’ascenceur portait un roi
lourd fragile autonome
il coupa son grand bras droit
l’envoya au pape à rome

c’est pourquoi
n’avait plus dada au cœur

mangez du chocolat
lavez votre cerveau
buvez de l’eau


la chanson d’un dadaïste
qui n’était ni gai ni triste
et aimait une bicycliste
qui n’était ni gaie ni triste

mais l’époux le jour de l’an
savait tout et dans une crise
envoya au vatican
leur deux corps en trois valises
ni amant
ni cyciste
n’étaient plus ni gais ni tristes

mangez de bons cerveaux
lavez votre soldat
buvez de l’eau


la chanson d’un bicycliste
qui était dada de cœur
qui était donc dadaïste
comme tous les dadas de cœur

un serpent portait des gants
il ferma vite la soupape
mit des gants en peau d’serpent
et vint embrasser le pape

c’est touchant
ventre en fleur
n’avait plus dada au cœur

buvez du lait d’oiseaux
lavez vos chocolats
mangez du veau

- Tristan Tzara (Romanian-French poet, 1896-1963)

Caveat: and all the birds are suspended in flight

The End

Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.

When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky

Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.

– Mark Strand (Canadian-American poet, 1934-2014)
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Caveat: Whatever that means

Cloud Marauder

He is the cloud marauder,
whatever that means.

He said he was,
and if it's less than true,
what else could he be?

He said he was the cloud
marauder, marauds clouds.
It's good enough for me.

- James Tate (American poet, 1943-2015)

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Caveat: A wakeful brain / Elaborates pain

The Bench of Boors

In bed I muse on Tenier’s boors,
Embrowned and beery losels all:
      A wakeful brain
      Elaborates pain:
Within low doors the slugs of boors
Laze and yawn and doze again.

In dreams they doze, the drowsy boors,
Their hazy hovel warm and small:
      Thought’s ampler bound
      But chill is found:
Within low doors the basking boors
Snugly hug the ember-mound.

Sleepless, I see the slumberous boors
Their blurred eyes blink, their eyelids fall:
      Thought’s eager sight
Within low doors the boozy boors
Cat-naps take in pipe-bowl light.

- Herman Melville (American novelist and poet, 1819-1891)

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Caveat: por las calles de este mundo


Madre, todo ha cambiado.
Hasta el otoño es un soplo ruinoso
que abate el bosquecillo.
Ya nada nos protege contra el agua
y la noche.

Todo ha cambiado ya.
La quemadura del aire entra
en mis ojos y en los tuyos,
y aquel niño que oías
correr desde la oscura sala,
ya no ríe.

Ahora todo ha cambiado.
Abre puertas y armarios
para que estalle lejos esa infancia
apaleada en el aire calino;
para que nunca veas el viejo y pedregoso
camino de mis manos,
para que no sientas deambular
por las calles de este mundo
ni descubras la casa vacía
de hojas y de hombres
donde el mismo de ayer sigue
buscando soledades, anhelos.

- Heberto Padilla (poeta cubano, 1932-2000)

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Caveat: The reader became the book

The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

- Wallace Stevens (American poet, 1879-1955)

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Caveat: summer’s blood was in it


for Philip Hobsbaum

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

- Seamus Heaney (Irish poet, 1939-2013)

Caveat: me deba entonces a los manicomios


País mío no existes
sólo eres una mala silueta mía
una palabra que le creí al enemigo

antes creía que solamente eras muy chico
que no alcanzabas a tener de una vez
Norte y Sur
pero ahora sé que no existes
y que además parece que nadie te necesita
no se oye hablar a ninguna madre de tí

Ello me alegra
porque prueba que me inventé un país
aunque me deba entonces a los manicomios

soy pues un diocesillo a tu costa

(Quiero decir: por expatriado yo
tú eres ex patria)

- Roque Dalton (poeta salvadoreño, 1935-1975)

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Caveat: suddenly what the trees try

Some Trees

These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though speech
Were a still performance.
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.

And glad not to have invented
Such comeliness, we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges

A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.
Placed in a puzzling light, and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents seem their own defense.

- John Ashbery (American poet, 1927-2017)

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Caveat: 35 segundos


Lo sabéis amigos
no volveremos más.
La virtud de la lluvia
se aniquila en los soles
y el viento entre las flores
se sumerge en la sangre de los toros.
Sólo los viejos vagabundos al morir
pueden saber quizá
el secreto de la hora derramada
y el porqué de la mujer húmeda en estío.
Pero nosotros no. No podemos volver.
Es imposible calavera mariposa
el tiempo entre la niebla seducido.
Somos nosotros mismos
el ritmo pereciente
y nuestro gesto
la invisible caracola de la muerte
primavera pura aniquilada
en incesantes mundos destruidos.
Nada más. Tan sólo eso.
Un levantar baldío de los brazos
para recoger el mar que se nos huye
pletórico de ahogados y de olvidos.
Un lamento también
y un querer crear agujeros
en el agua mansa de los recién nacidos.
Mientras os alejáis
cantando juventudes
yo permanezco aquí
mudo y atónito
como un muerto inmortal
soñando vida inmensa
y una antigua e inconcebible libertad.
No volveremos más.
Es cierto amigos.
La estatua el árbol la hormiga
y esta pena mía tan hermosa
se confunden en la mente ignorada de las manos.
35 segundos han pasado en mi reloj de Pulsera.

- Miguel Labordeta (poeta español, 1921-1969)

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Caveat: And vast compassion curving like the skies

To the Old Gods

Old gods and goddesses who have lived so long
Through time and never found eternity,
Fettered by wasting wood and hollowing hill,

You should have fled our ever-dying song,
The mound, the well, and the green trysting tree.
They have forgotten, yet you linger still.

Goddess of caverned breast and channeled brow, 
And cheeks slow hollowed by millennial tears,
Forests of autumns fading in your eyes, 

Eternity matvels at your counted years
And kingdoms lost in time, and wonders how 
There could be thoughts so bountiful and wise 

As yours beneath the ever-breaking bough, 
And vast compassion curving like the skies.

- Edwin Muir (Scottish poet, 1887-1959)

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Caveat: Catorce eran de Lope

El primer soneto

Una vez... ¡ah!, figúrome que ahora
Respiro aún su delicioso aliento
Y enardecido por sus labios siento
El corazón que la suspira y llora...

"Hazme versos así," dijo leonora,
(¡Catorce eran de Lope, y un portento!)
"Y lo que pides te daré al momento,
Con la vida y el alma que te adora"

Después... Más nunca demandó cantares,
Porque tan cerca palpitar se oían
¡Mi corazón y el suyo!... Y luminares

Del alama aquellos ojos que ventían
Bajo mis besos luz y lloro ardiente,
¡Fuego inmortal dejaron en mi mente!

- Jorge Isaacs (poeta colombiano, 1837-1895)

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Caveat: as if they were flowers

All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

- Richard Brautigan (American poet, 1935-1984)

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Caveat: a pool wherein the heaviest stone may fall

Full Moon, West Coast

Blotched with its unattainable mountains
this was that yellow half-wheel rolled above Bald Hill,
diminishing cirque climbed to its apogee of night,
unsluicing sheeted silver on the world.
It rose persimmon-colored from the sea,
and hued like pumpkin as it fired the trees,
suffused and swollen, lanterning the dusk;
now less than evening size,
processes all blue midnight and looks down,
pouring from zenith on the blank-faced stones.

Leaving no wrinkle on the planet's face
at loss of what its winds and waves absorb
and grind and blow to nothingness
here are the furious struggles all brought down:
slow drown of clashing towers of jangled bells
and bodies that were wasted sacks of blood
subsiding to the lit and level floor,
their heroes cried to silence.
Here is negation of both word and deed,
of goodness and of evil in men's hearts,
a pool wherein the heaviest stone may fall
and write its weight of nothing in the glass.

- Eric Wilson Barker (American poet, 1905-1973)


Caveat: without human meaning

Of Mere Being

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

- Wallace Stevens (American poet, 1879-1955)


Caveat: The syllables amount to something

It is a serious thing, nothing.
The notion confounds the mind
As wind confounds the sea.
A woman fixes words to a miracle,
A man describes himself to God.
The syllables amount to something,
But they are nothing to speak of.

– M. Scott Momaday (American poet, b. 1934)


Caveat: Too many words, but precious.


We were sitting there, and
I made a joke about how
it doesn't dovetail: time,
one minute running out
faster than the one in front
it catches up to.
That way, I said,
there can be no waste.
Waste is virtually eliminated.

To come back for a few hours to
the present subject, a painting,
looking like it was seen,
half turning around, slightly apprehensive,
but it has to pay attention
to what's up ahead: a vision.
Therefore poetry dissolves in
brilliant moisture and reads us
to us.
A faint notion. Too many words,
but precious.

– John Ashbery (American poet, 1927-2017)

Caveat: not in haste to end

The Best Thing in the World

What's the best thing in the world?
June-rose, by May-dew impearled;
Sweet south-wind, that means no rain;
Truth, not cruel to a friend;
Pleasure, not in haste to end;
Beauty, not self-decked and curled
Till its pride is over-plain;
Love, when, so, you're loved again.
What's the best thing in the world?
--Something out of it, I think.

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning (English poet, 1806-1861)

Caveat: a piece / of ripened memory

Part of Speech

...and when "the future" is uttered, swarms of mice
rush out of the Russian language and gnaw a piece
of ripened memory which is twice
as hole-ridden as real cheese.
After all these years it hardly matters who
or what stands in the corner, hidden by heavy drapes,
and your mind resounds not with a seraphic "doh",
only their rustle. Life, that no one dares
to appraise, like that gift horse's mouth,
bares its teeth in a grin at each
encounter. What gets left of a man amounts
to a part. To his spoken part. To a part of speech.

– Joseph Brodsky (Russian-American poet, 1940-1996)

Caveat: beyond / The flames of Troy & Carthage

The Oldest Living Thing In L.A.

At Wilshire & Santa Monica I saw an opossum
Trying to cross the street. It was late, the street
Was brightly lit, the opossum would take
A few steps forward, then back away from the breath
Of moving traffic. People coming out of the bars
Would approach, as if to help it somehow.
It would lift its black lips & show them
The reddened gums, the long rows of incisors,
Teeth that went all the way back beyond
The flames of Troy & Carthage, beyond sheep
Grazing rock-strewn hills, fragments of ruins
In the grass at San Vitale. It would back away
Delicately & smoothly, stepping carefully
As it always had. It could mangle someone’s hand
In twenty seconds. Mangle it for good. It could
Sever it completely from the wrist in forty.
There was nothing to be done for it. Someone
Or other probably called the LAPD, who then
Called Animal Control, who woke a driver, who
Then dressed in mailed gloves, the kind of thing
Small knights once wore into battle, who gathered
Together his pole with a noose on the end,
A light steel net to snare it with, someone who hoped
The thing would have vanished by the time he got there.

– Larry Levis (American poet, 1946-1996)

Caveat: no llores, dueña del mundo

No llores, América

No llores, América
No llores, América, no llores
por la sangre vertida en las
del Sur, no llores por los hijos
de tus mercenarios, no llores
por tus bombas, tus cohetes,
tu napalm,
tus viajes a la luna, tus calles
de navaja,
tus dólares amargos, tus negros
de precinto
con sus bastones relucientes como
golpeando a sus hermanos de
no llores por los amos de Wall
su polvo del mejor, sus trajes bien
sus tiradores de pelo de gacela,
no llores América, no llores,
tu atronadora voz es la más bella
entre los tules del sol,
no llores, dueña del mundo,
amada América, no llores,
irás al cielo cuando mueras,
tienes los ojos azules como Dios.

– Julio Llinás (poeta argentino, 1929-2018)

Caveat: Байрактар

“No catalogue of horrors ever kept men from war. Before the war you always think that it’s not you that dies. But you will die, brother, if you go to it long enough.” – Ernest Hemingway

What I’m listening to right now.

Unknown, “Байрактар.” This song is quite morbid, and glorifies death and war and patriotism, which are dangerous sentiments. I freely acknowledge that it is Ukrainian war propaganda, which makes me uncomfortable. Yet I found myself transfixed by it – as a composition (video and song, together), it’s coherent and well-crafted, though insanely simple. I’d hazard the opinion that it’s a kind of 21st century bardism. The title, Bayraktar, is the name of a high-tech, Turkish-made, drone-based weapons system, which the Ukrainians have been deploying to devastating effect on Putin’s columns of tanks and supplies.


Прийшли окупанти до нас в Україну
Форма новенька, воєнні машини
Та трохи поплавився їх інвентар
Байрактар… Байрактар…

Російскі танкісти сховались в кущі,
Щоб лаптем посьорбати довбані щі
Та трохи у щах перегрівся навар
Байрактар… Байрактар…

Зі сходу припхались до нас барани
Для вастанавлєнья велікай страни.
Найкращій пастух баранячих отар
Байрактар… Байрактар…

Їх доводи – всяке озброєня різне:
Потужні ракети, машини залізні.
У нас на всі доводи є коментар –
Байрактар… Байрактар…

Вони захопити хотіли нас зразу
І ми зачаїли на орків образу.
З бандитів російських робить примар
Байрактар… Байрактар…

Російска поліція справи заводить
Но вбивцю рашистів ніяк не знаходить.
Хто ж винен, що в нашому полі глухар?
Байрактар… Байрактар…

Веде пропаганду кремлівський урод,
Слова пропаганди ковтає народ.
Тепер нове слово знає їх цар:


Caveat: In all my years as a pedestrian

This Economy

In all my years as a pedestrian
serving juice to guests, it never occurred to me
thoughtfully to imagine how a radish feels.
She merely arrived. Half-turning
in the demented twilight, one feels a
sour empathy with all that went before.
That, needless to say, was how we elaborated
ourselves staggering across tracts:
Somewhere in America there is a naked person.

Somewhere in America adoring legions blush
in the sunset, crimson madder, and madder still.
Somewhere in America someone is trying to figure out
how to pay for this, bouncing a ball
off a wooden strut. Somewhere
in America the lonely enchanted eye each other
on a bus. It goes down Woodrow Wilson Avenue.
Somewhere in America it says you must die, you know too much.

– John Ashbery (American poet, 1927-2017)

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