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)

CaveatDumpTruck Logo

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)

Caveat: 굶는 집

굶는 집

옥순이 아버지
옥순이 어머니
옥순이 동생
옥순이 둘째 동생
더 낳을 힘 없어 둘째가 막내인지
하루 이틀 꼬박 굶고
물배만 채워
서로 얼굴보고 앉았다
옥순이 둘째 동생
그 어린 것이 한 마리
소가 되어 짚도 풀도 먹고
고구마 덩쿨도 먹을 수만 있다면

– 고은 (한국시인 1933-)

A Starving House

This family of five
Ok-soon's father
Ok-soon's mother
Ok Soon-yi
Ok-soon's brother
Ok-soon's other brother
Lacking the strength to have more children,
  the third is the youngest
Just starve for a day or two
Just drink some water
This family of five
Sat face to face
Ok-soon's second brother
The little one
Could become a cow, eat straw and grass
If only one could eat the sweet potato vine

– Ko Un (Korean poet, b. 1933)

This is my own translation, with quite a bit of assistance from my grammar book and google translate and Naver’s online dictionary. I make no claim to professionalism or accuracy. But it is a quite simple poem, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Caveat: Aspirant to nothingness


Swooning swim to less and less,
Aspirant to nothingness!
Sobs of the worlds, and dole of kinds
That dumb endurers be--
Nirvana! absorb us in your skies,
Annul us into thee.

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

Caveat: Contempt of Generations

This World is not Conclusion

This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond -
Invisible, as Music -
But positive, as Sound -
It beckons, and it baffles -
Philosophy, don't know -
And through a Riddle, at the last -
Sagacity, must go -
To guess it, puzzles scholars -
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown -
Faith slips - and laughs, and rallies -
Blushes, if any see -
Plucks at a twig of Evidence -
And asks a Vane, the way -
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit -
Strong Hallelujahs roll -
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul -

– Emily Dickinson (American poet, 1830-1886)

Caveat: our mortal eyes


I do not wonder, stones,
You have withstood so long
The strong wind and the snows.

Were you not built to bear
The winter and the wind
That blows on the hill here?

But you have borne so long
Our eyes, our mortal eyes,
And are not worn -

– Archibald MacLeish (American poet, 1892-1982)

Caveat: holding the carols / Consciously at bay

December Blues

At the bad time, nothing betrays outwardly the harsh findings,
The studies and hospital records. Carols play.

Sitting upright in the transit system, the widowlike women
Wait, hands folded in their laps, as monumental as bread.

In the shopping center lots, lights mounted on cold standards
Tower and stir, condensing the blue vapor

Of the stars; between the rows of cars people in coats walk
Bundling packages in their arms or holding the hands of children.

Across the highway, where a town thickens by the tracks
With stores open late and crèches in front of the churches,

Even in the bars a businesslike set of the face keeps off
The nostalgic pitfall of the carols, tugging. In bed,

How low and still the people lie, some awake, holding the carols
Consciously at bay. Oh Little Town, enveloped in unease.

– Robert Pinsky (American poet, b 1940)

Caveat: …dreamin’ is becomin’ a reality

What I’m listening to right now.

The Mamas and The Papas, “Creeque Alley.” Although this song was not part of my childhood soundtrack, its zeitgeist was. I feel like I could have been one of the small children in the video. The look and feel of it all, and the Dylanesque lyrics, all are profoundly nostalgic.


John and Mitchy were gettin' kind of itchy
Just to leave the folk music behind
Zal and Denny workin' for a penny
Tryin' to get a fish on the line
In a coffee house Sebastian sat
And after every number they'd pass the hat
McGuinn and McGuire just a-gettin' higher
In L.A., you know where that's at
And no one's gettin' fat except Mama Cass

Zally said "Denny, you know there aren't many
Who can sing a song the way that you do, let's go south"
Denny said "Zally, golly, don't you think that I wish
I could play guitar like you"
Zal, Denny and Sebastian sat (At the Night Owl)
And after every number they'd pass the hat
McGuinn and McGuire still a-gettin higher
In L.A., you know where that's at
And no one's gettin' fat except Mama Cass

When Cass was a sophomore, planned to go to Swarthmore
But she changed her mind one day
Standin' on the turnpike, thumb out to hitchhike
"Take me to New York right away"
When Denny met Cass he gave her love bumps
Called John and Zal and that was the Mugwumps
McGuinn and McGuire couldn't get no higher
But that's what they were aimin' at
And no one's gettin' fat except Mama Cass

Mugwumps, high jumps, low slumps, big bumps
Don't you work as hard as you play
Make up, break up, everything is shake up
Guess it had to be that way
Sebastian and Zal formed the Spoonful
Michelle, John, and Denny gettin' very tuneful
McGuinn and McGuire just a-catchin' fire
In L.A., you know where that's at
And everybody's gettin' fat except Mama Cass
Di-di-di-dit dit dit di-di-di-dit, whoa

Broke, busted, disgusted, agents can't be trusted
And Mitchy wants to go to the sea
Cass can't make it, she says we'll have to fake it
We knew she'd come eventually
Greasin' on American Express cards
It's low rent, but keeping out the heat's hard
Duffy's good vibrations and our imaginations
Can't go on indefinitely
And California dreamin' is becomin' a reality


Caveat: People are not going / To dream of baboons and periwinkles

Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.
- Wallace Stevens (American poet, 1879-1955)


Caveat: where the field long slept in pastoral green

The Apparition
(A Retrospect)

Convulsions came; and, where the field
Long slept in pastoral green,
A goblin-mountain was upheaved
(Sure the scared sense was all deceived),
Marl-glen and slag-ravine.

The unreserve of Ill was there,
The clinkers in her last retreat;
But, ere the eye could take it in,
Or mind could comprehension win,
It sunk!—and at our feet.

So, then, Solidity’s a crust—
The core of fire below;
all may go well for many a year,
But who can think without a fear
Of horrors that happen so?

– Herman Melville (American writer, 1819-1891)

Caveat: where it is level and undisturbed by colors

A Portrait in Greys

Will it never be possible
to separate you from your greyness?
Must you be always sinking backward
into your grey-brown landscapes—and trees
always in the distance, always against a grey sky?

                          Must I be always
moving counter to you? Is there no place
where we can be at peace together
and the motion of our drawing apart
be altogether taken up?
                         I see myself
standing upon your shoulders touching
a grey, broken sky -
but you, weighted down with me,
yet gripping my ankles, - move
                               laboriously on,
where it is level and undisturbed by colors.

– William Carlos Williams (American poet, 1883-1963)

Caveat: λP[λQ[∼∃x[P(x)∧Q(x)]]]

Two jokes.
First joke:

A: I said, λP[λQ[∼∃x[P(x)∧Q(x)]]]

B: Huh?

A: What part of “no” don’t you understand?

(This joke only works if you’ve studied formal modal logic.)

Second joke:

A: What sport do you play with a wombat?

B: Wom.

Lo que escucho ahora.

José José, “El Triste.” Me acuerda de viajes en autobuses de tercera clase en el México rural de los 80.

Que triste fue decirnos adios
Cuando nos adorabamos mas
Hasta la golondrina emigro
Presagiando el final

Que triste luce todo sin ti
Los mares de las playas se van
Se tiñen los colores de gris
Hoy todo es soledad

No sé si vuelva a verte despues
No sé que de mi vida será
Sin el lucero azul de tu ser
Que no me alumbra ya

Hoy quiero saborear mi dolor
No pido compasíón ni piedad
La historia de este amor se escribió
Para la eternidad

Que triste todos dicen que soy
Que siempre estoy hablando de ti
No saben que pensando en tu amor
En tu amor

He podido ayudarme a vivir

He podido ayudarme a vivir
Hoy quiero saborear mi dolor
No pido compasíón ni piedad
La historia de este amor se escribió

Para la eternidad
Que triste todos dicen que soy
Que siempre estoy hablando de ti
No saben que pensando en tu amor
En tu amor
He podido ayudarme a vivir
He podido ayudarme a vivir


Caveat: Geget sa, niminwendam

Zhingwaak gaa-ozhibii’aan
Zhingwaak! Zhingwaak! Ingii-ikid,
Weshki waabamag zhingwaak
Dagoshinaan neyab, endanakiiyaan.
Zhingwaak, zhingwaak nos sa!
Azhigwa gidatisaanan
Gaagige wezhaawashkozid.
Mii sa naa azhigwa dagoshinaang
Bizindamig ikeyaamban
Geget sa, niminwendam
Miinwaa, waabandamaan
Gii-ayaad awiiya waabandamaan niin
Zhingwaak, zhingwaak nos sa!
Azhigwa gidatisaanan.
Gaawiin gego, gaa-waabanda’iyan
Dibishkoo, ezhi-naagwasiinoon
Zhingwaak wezhaawashkozid
Wiin eta gwanaajiwi wi
Gaagige wezhaawashkozid.
- Jane Johnston Schoolcraft
AKA Bamewawagezhikaquay
(Ojibwe poet, 1800-1842)
To the Pine Tree
Pine! Pine! I said,
The one I see, the pine
I return back, to my homeland.
The pine, the pine my father!
Already you are colored
Forever you are green
So we already have arrived
Listen in that direction
Certainly I am happy
And I see
He was there I saw it myself
The pine, the pine my father!
Already you are colored.
Nothing, you did show me
Like that, the way it looks
Pine he is green.
He is beautiful
Forever he is the green one.
- translated by Margaret Noodin

Published 2020 by in their Poem-a-day feature.
What I’m listening to right now, as snow falls outside.

Arvo Pärt, “Salve Regina.”

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