Archive for October, 2011

Friday, October 21st, 2011


I always confuse certain words:

banister and barrister

algorithm and logarithm

optimist and optometrist

Paleolithic and Neolithic

record and record

accidental and occidental

yes and no

umbrella and banana

Thursday, October 20th, 2011


In the 17th century there were lots of things people didn’t say to one another and I MISSED THE TRAIN was one of them and SHALL WE GO SEE A MOVIE? was another. The 17th century was not our time. What was our time, Chloris dear?


You can see things that are far away with a telescope but only if they are far away in  space. Time is more complicated. Once I went to see someone about arranging companionship but it was a wasted journey. She said to keep on writing letters to an imagined person. Someone from another time.

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011


I don’t write about dreams because they’re only dreams

but in this dream a bunch of people were running along a country lane

and goading (nice word: goading)

a brown cow in the green field that abutted (nice word: abutted) the lane

and the brown cow was becoming increasingly irked (nice word: irked)

and suddenly it leaned over the fence

and swung a punch at one of the bunch of people

and as it did so it turned from a brown cow

into a half-man-half-cow creature

and then it vaulted (nice word: vaulted) the fence

and began to chase me (Why? I was doing no goading. I was asleep.)

and when it caught up with me it put something into my hand

(I don’t know what it was)

and then it put something into my other hand

(I don’t know what it was)

and then, dear Reader, I woke up. (Nice word: chrysanthemum).

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011


Between us we caught a ragged and forlorn horse

and took it into the pasture where the grass was busy growing

under the feet of nymphs and satyrs. I asked you

if you had any horse food but, as usual, you had come

ill-equipped. But it didn’t matter, because I forgive all short-

comings, all sins, and I forgive even my own transgressions.


When dusk draped herself across the scenery

I haven’t bothered to describe in detail

the horse was sleeping, and we were planning tomorrow

although we knew it was never going to come.

Monday, October 17th, 2011


Foreword to The Best American Poetry 2011

by David Lehman from The Best American Poetry 2011, Kevin Young and David Lehman, eds.


What makes a poem great? What standards do we use for judging poetic excellence? To an extent, these are variants on an even more basic question. What is poetry? Poetry is, after all, not a neutral or merely descriptive term but one that implies value. What qualities in a piece of verse (or prose) raise it to the level of poetry? The questions face the editor of any poetry anthology. But only seldom do we discuss the criteria that we implicitly invoke each time we weigh the comparative merits of two or more pieces of writing. And to no one’s surprise, it turns out to be far easier to recognize the genuine article than to articulate what makes it so, let alone to universalize from a particular instance. Thus, so astute a reader as Randall Jarrell will linger lovingly on the felicities of Robert Frost’s late poem “Directive” only to conclude sheepishly: “The poem is hard to understand, but easy to love.”

Read the complete text here

Sunday, October 16th, 2011




Let’s slam on some music

and remind ourselves why

in the maelstrom of our days

we remember there can be many loves

and it’s overwhelming

and I don’t believe in God any more

only the grace of life

so let’s go out and get drunk.

Saturday, October 15th, 2011



Dear MS

So, you’re going to (and I quote) “do some more stuff on the internet”? You know what I think of the internet, don’t you? It’s the lair of lawbreakers en masse: gangsters, felons, crooks and convicts, delinquents, villains, pimps and procurers, whores, hussies and harlots, molesters and abusers, as well as liars, frauds, fakes, pretenders, imposters, plagiarists, propagandists, egotists, witches and wizards, warlocks, hypocrites, phonies, pseudo-scholars and would-be clerics, libellers, pests, bugs, ingrates, slovens, lackeys, lapdogs, slouches and sloths, wastrels, dorks, geeks, jerks, downloaders, uploaders and freeloaders, dictionary diggers and thesaurus pillagers….. the list goes on and on.

And, by the way, “blog” is one of the most depressing words I have ever heard in my life.