Sunday, September 20, 2020

Thursday, September 10, 2020

We live among people
who haven't yet forgotten
what we have done.

If only I could remember
what I have become,
            what it is they see.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Likeness, Imagination

         Art's the joint
between science and
politics, like beauty,
between truth and
justice, like experience,
between belief and
desire, like the image
between the thought
         and the feeling.

Poetry is like music.
You'll often find that the
composer isn't the best
performer of the work.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

When it rains
I water the plants
in the window.

It seems the least
I can do.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The mind is smarter
but the heart is stronger.

For all that the mind knows
the heart holds the power.

The lucid mind, friends.
But the beating heart.

If it were a contest,
it would long be over.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Light is the shortest path
between two points.
Massless, unrestrained,
all virtue and motion,
it longs for nothing.
It thinks it's already there.

Walking takes longer,
driven by hunger,
heavy with memory.
So much passion.
So many reasons.
It's better to travel light.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Everything belongs to existence.
Everyone longs for inspiration.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Philosophy, like poetry,
seeks an extraordinary precision
in ordinary language.
Sometimes, in frustration,
it invents a new jargon.
Sometimes in desperation,
and sometimes out of pity,
the vernacular adopts it.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

When reality finally sank in
he had run out of ideas.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Robertson, Paterson

"The effects we call 'poetic' occur when speech is made under two conditions: urgency and shortness of time. When the former is 'inspiration' and the latter is 'form', the result is the cultural convention known as 'the poem'." (Don Paterson, The Poem, p. 12)

"Here my use of the word poem parts from the conventions of aesthetic autonomy that have resulted from commodity culture’s limits and heroisms, to propose that the poem is the shapely urgency that emerges in language whenever the subject’s desiring vernacular innovates its receivers. The poem is the speech of citizenship." (Lisa Robertson, "Prosody of the Citizen")

Update (15/7/20): I had originally cropped and arranged these quotations differently, putting Robertson first, and leaving out her departure from "the conventions of aesthetic autonomy". I was emphasising the affinities between the poets as I saw them. I think those affinities are real, but by eliding the tension between them, I think I went too far, distorting Robertson's meaning. The juxtaposition still gives me hope, however.

Saturday, July 11, 2020


Your heart has had enough
long before your liver
and your kidneys tap out.

You lose your mind
before your sight
and hearing go.

That explains the drinking,
the loud music,
the antic disposition.

It does not explain
the addled brain
or the broken heart.

These things take time.
They destroy you slowly
from the inside,

and all around you
the pain and pleasure
circle round,

an administration of
bruises and memories, like
your breath on my skin.

Monday, July 06, 2020

These things will fall apart.
Do not dismantle your self.

Be as articulate about who you master
as you are about what you know.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The philosopher makes a vocation
of reason. The poet, of passion.

One must suspend belief in order
to think, the other, desire,

in order to feel. One seeks clarity in
the concept, the other, intensity in

the emotion. Both are called to suffer
the terrible precision of the craft.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Dressed as a servant
she'd go down to the sea

as if to return a stone
the land once stole.

In the moonlight, she'd let
her garment fall, and step

into the soft, black waves,
her servitude complete.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Cordial feelings. Mental thoughts.

Mental states. Cordial moves.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

A Totality for Adults

with apologies to Raoul Vaneigem

"A basic social arrangement in modern society is that the individual tends to sleep, play and work in different places with different co-participants, under different authorities, and without an over-all rational plan. The central feature of total institutions can be described as a breakdown of the barriers ordinarily separating these three spheres of life." (Erving Goffman)

"How do you react to our slogan 'Total Everybody Always'? Have you at last understood that your miserable failure as an individual is proof that you pursue a lost cause?" (Cyril Connolly)

The modern arrangement, we might say, institutes a kind of social immediacy. It gives us different roles in different spheres, and in order to play them we merely have to show up there. This gives us a here and now, unconcerned, for the moment, with everywhere and everyone else. Our words and actions mean something to the others who are present; their effectiveness does not depend on those who are absent.

Our social media, as the name suggests, undo this immediacy, breaking down the ordinary barriers and making our significance in one sphere of life contingent on our actions in the others. For all intents an purposes, we now sleep, work, and play in the same place. "We live in a society," as the saying goes. While we're still physically situated in time and space, we are always "virtually" connected to the same people, subject to the same authority, following the same plan. Total Everybody Always.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Poetry is the art of freeing your emotions from your opinions — philosophy, of concepts from caprice.

Biographical Sex

"Biology is not destiny. But it is half of it." (Norman Mailer)

Gender is the way
we have sex.
It is an element
of style, the way we

carry our selves.
My pronouns are "I/me"
in the autobiography
of my biology.

Sex engenders
the difficulty
of being a man,
of being a woman.

Your body is your
problem to solve.
To be human is
to become a man

or a woman. And everyone
fails in some way,
always on their own terms.
Sex isn't everything.

Monday, June 08, 2020

Knowledge is to power
as intelligence,
                   to allegiance.

In your composure you find
you are as articulate
about your power as you are
about your knowledge.

Begin with the silence
of your ignorance,
of your impotence.

Now find in your mind
an honest belief, in your
heart, a decent desire.
Hold them forth together.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Pictures are to the world
as epochs, to history.

Hence, a "world picture"
a "historical epoch".

"The Age of the World Picture" (Heidegger)
"The age demanded an image" (Pound)

We look for pictures.
We grab the handle.

(Epoch - epi-ekhein:
something to hold onto?)

A picture of it all.
A handle on it.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

The trouble with wisdom
is that everyone already gets it.
Wise words are never new.
We feel foolish hearing them.

Now, the trouble with love...

Friday, May 29, 2020

What the atheist forgets:
it is easy to prove there is no God.

Everyone does it. The logic of devotion
demands it. God cannot be

and yet must be believed. What is hard,
as hard as life ever gets,

even when there is no light, is to doubt
the existence of your soul.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Kindred Spirits

The man who desires
to write a poem
is like the man who believes
in a philosophy.

They are both fools.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Some struggle and learn.
Others suffer and learn.
The poet struggles and suffers
and doesn't learn a thing,
except that to live is to labor
in ignorance and longing.

Monday, May 11, 2020

" which I attribute the empire of passion and dreams..." (Mallarmé)

Reason is
to experience

as passion,
to an empire.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Doubt comes
from fear,
which tears
   the mind
      in two.

   is of unknown

Monday, May 04, 2020

BM: Why do you want to get your ideas in order?
EP: For my poem.
XX: Why do you refuse to accept reality?
YY: It's my philosophy.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Study your existence
to become
good at being.

To be good at
heed your inspiration.