October 29, 2010

& then afterward

by Nate Pritts


I woke to early sun:
burning of fire, & then afterward.

We kept reaching
through the long night.



the small deceptions
we allow ourselves:
a sickness, unchecked.
Like this:


& first sunlight.
Snow continues.
I could never close my eyes to light.

But there was no light
& you looked like night.


There must be a pattern,

snow slow-dropping in wet clusters
through the wooden arms
of empty trees.


Sun fingering its way
through branches

I’d hung my life on.
We don’t matter a bit; realization
forces our eyes closed—


A sickness, unchecked, like this.
I’d hung my life on

burning of fire, & then afterward.


Our arms together
we searched for patterns

& sunlight.


Our arms laced together,
pointing together
over wind-tossed grasses.

Us: waist deep in night blue.


There was no light.
You pointed.


Sun overhead,
you pointed
to the wind-tossed grasses.
This is a memory now.


Together in that first sun,
so vivid:
there must be a pattern

I’d hung my life on.


Snow dropped in clusters,
staggered & jagged.

We don’t matter a bit.


Reflected in lake water:
all these things I’ll forget.


Our arms together

but we keep reaching
over the wind-tossed grasses.


Black smoke curling:

the importance
of night-blue field grass,


the importance of.

The stars are close; we try to hold together.


All this ends
but until then:

burning of fire, & then afterward.
The stars are close; we try to hold.
Such distance between the fallen!


Burning of fire, & then afterward.

You pointed.


Grasses silently fold,
a sickness, unchecked, reaching. Like this.

Wooden arms of trees
long since emptied.


This ends in darkness,
& all the stars within reach,
& other constellations.

October 17, 2010

The Hours

by Stephen Dunn

Worst was to live by somebody else's time,
the hours scheduled for him, smudged
with clarity and motives not his own.

He preferred the enigmas of early morning

and the neither-here-nor-thereness of dusk,
which gave the half-life he lived an atmosphere.
He liked watching it collect itself,
impossible to tell if it descended or rose.

He didn't care for noon's bustle and blare.
And evenings couldn't be trusted, he felt,
so dependent were they on other people.

Even evenings alone were measured
by who wasn't there. Desire & Need,
how they sat down with him,
helped like untrained helpers
arrange the hours that followed.
Evening was their time.

He remembered, of course, the lovely hours --
the body's sudden holidays, prolonged fiestas
of the mind. He rewound and rewound.

October 15, 2010


by Shail D. Patel

Pain trains an undisciplined mind.
I will end yours if  you end mine.

Little feet, little feet are playing
Hopscotch among the landmines.

Hope has worked miracles before.
If  yours didn't, how can mine?

I could have learned to welcome night,
If only  you had been mine.

How dare you put words in God's mouth,
 Why not. He put ashes in mine.

October 06, 2010

I Am Learning To Abandon the World

by Linda Pastan

I am learning to abandon the world
before it can abandon me.
Already I have given up the moon
and snow, closing my shades
against the claims of white.
And the world has taken
my father, my friends.
I have given up melodic lines of hills,
moving to a flat, tuneless landscape.
And every night I give my body up
limb by limb, working upwards
across bone, towards the heart.
But morning comes with small
reprieves of coffee and birdsong.
A tree outside the window
which was simply shadow moments ago
takes back its branches twig
by leafy twig.
And as I take my body back
the sun lays its warm muzzle on my lap
as if to make amends.

October 04, 2010


by Jack Gilbert

You hear yourself walking on the snow.
You hear the absence of the birds.
A stillness so complete, you hear
the whispering inside of you. Alone
morning after morning, and even more
at night. They say we are born alone,
to live and die alone. But they are wrong.
We get to be alone by time, by luck,
or by misadventure. When I hit the log
frozen in the woodpile to break it free,
it makes a sound of perfect inhumanity,
which goes pure all through the valley,
like a crow calling unexpectedly
at the darker end of twilight that awakens
me in the middle of a life. The black
and white of me mated with this indifferent
winter landscape. I think of the moon
coming in a little while to find the white
among these colorless pines.