A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day
'Tis the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
          The sun is spent, and now his flasks
          Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
               The world's whole sap is sunk;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr'd; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compar'd with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring;
      For I am every dead thing,
      In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
          For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness;
He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death: things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
      I, by Love's limbec, am the grave
      Of all that's nothing. Oft a flood
          Have we two wept, and so
Drown'd the whole world, us two; oft did we grow
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death (which word wrongs her)
Of the first nothing the elixir grown;
      Were I a man, that I were one
      I needs must know; I should prefer,
          If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love; all, all some properties invest;
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light and body must be here.

But I am none; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
      At this time to the Goat is run
      To fetch new lust, and give it you,
          Enjoy your summer all;
Since she enjoys her long night's festival,
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year's, and the day's deep midnight is.

Country Station Poem
it goes something like this: when the dog
lunged she froze he fired at the head

they drove around they came back he wore black
they line-danced they drank they fell down

they swore allegiance to the women who bore them
they cursed the women who bore them

the chambers of the heart opened and shut
they made plans they made plans

Poem of a Forest of Clouds Sweeping By
your life blew past as a shirt off a line
but then turned and turned again
O Archangel of the Mirror
what would you have done
it's been said that over the years
the house sustained the smell
of fresh-cooked trout and the rest
as we well know is still journeying

This late grace,
the sun in a grey
bath, the kiss of light -
and the goose with
a pearl in its beak
walking into the city
on hot, hushed roads.
The slaughter will take
days: it will be
deemed exquisite.

Saluda al sol, araña, no seas rencorosa.
Da tus gracias a Dios, ¡oh, sapo!, pues que eres.
El peludo cangrejo tiene espinas de rosa
y los moluscos reminiscencias de mujeres.
Sabed ser lo que sois, enigmas siendo formas;
dejad la responsabilidad a las Normas,
que a su vez la enviarán al Todopoderoso…
(Toca, grillo, a la luz de la luna, y dance el oso.)


Little spider, greet the sun. Don't be down.
Give thanks, dear toad, that you are here.
The hairy crabs, like roses, all have thorns,
and mollusks are reminiscences of women.

Know how to be what you are:
enigmas that have taken form.
Leave responsibilities to the Norm,
who will in turn send them on to Heaven.

(Sing, cricket: the moon is lit.
And, bear, go ahead and dance.)

the genius of the crowd
there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art

New Rule
A New Year’s white morning of hard new ice.
High on the frozen branches I saw a squirrel jump and skid.
Is this scary? he seemed to say and glanced

down at me, clutching his branch as it bobbed
in stiff recoil–or is it just that everything sounds wrong today?
The branches

He wiped his small cold lips with one hand.
Do you fear the same things as

I fear? I countered, looking up.
His empire of branches slid against the air.
The night of hooks?

The man blade left open on the stair?
Not enough spin on it, said my true love
when he left in our fifth year.

The squirrel bounced down a branch
and caught a peg of tears.
The way to hold on is


A Bedtime Story
Pipe tobacco and the passing of clouds.
The small promises of collarbones
and cedar shingles. Has it been so long
since I’ve really said anything? My days are filled
with meaningless words and the child’s
laughter. Little of what I do
is important, but maybe the ways
are. The crows outside bathing
in the gutters, the strange necessity
of holding up an appearance
and nodding our heads at dinner parties.
If I misspoke, if I misunderstood…
A litany of the stains that show
through on white T-shirts and hands.
What comes out in the wash are afternoons
and sand from the sandbox, a migration
of beaches to backyards, backyards
to the bottoms of sewer lines and imaginations:
what shore do the waves in my dreams
arrive from? Sometimes I hear you
sing there. You bade me speak,
and I howled. You bade me roll over,
and I played dead. I show up beside you
in bed with a dozen bad similes about love.
Don’t ask me what they mean, or if
I am ever —          I don’t know. Only the streetlight
coming in and out behind the curtains,
our shadows making shadows
on the wall. Your eyes gone heavy
at the sound of my voice, reading you
these things others have written.

The Author's Abstract of Melancholy
When I go musing all alone
Thinking of divers things fore-known,
When I build castles in the air,
Void of sorrow and void of fear,
Pleasing myself with phantasms sweet,
Methinks the time runs very fleet.
          All my joys to this are folly,
        Naught so sweet as melancholy.

When I lie waking all alone,
Recounting what I have ill done,
My thoughts on me then tyrannise,
Fear and sorrow me surprise,
Whether I tarry still or go,
Methinks the time moves very slow.
    All my griefs to this are jolly,
    Naught so mad as melancholy.

When to myself I act and smile,
With pleasing thoughts the time beguile,
By a brook side or wood so green,
Unheard, unsought for, or unseen,
A thousand pleasures do me bless,
And crown my soul with happiness.
    All my joys besides are folly,
    None so sweet as melancholy.

When I lie, sit, or walk alone,
I sigh, I grieve, making great moan,
In a dark grove, or irksome den,
With discontents and Furies then,
A thousand miseries at once
Mine heavy heart and soul ensconce,
    All my griefs to this are jolly,
    None so sour as melancholy.

Methinks I hear, methinks I see,
Sweet music, wondrous melody,
Towns, palaces, and cities fine;
Here now, then there; the world is mine,
Rare beauties, gallant ladies shine,
Whate’er is lovely or divine.
    All other joys to this are folly,
    None so sweet as melancholy.

Methinks I hear, methinks I see
Ghosts, goblins, fiends; my phantasy
Presents a thousand ugly shapes,
Headless bears, black men, and apes,
Doleful outcries, and fearful sights,
My sad and dismal soul affrights.
    All my griefs to this are jolly,
    None so damn’d as melancholy.

Methinks I court, methinks I kiss,
Methinks I now embrace my mistress.
O blessed days, O sweet content,
In Paradise my time is spent.
Such thoughts may still my fancy move,
So may I ever be in love.
    All my joys to this are folly,
    Naught so sweet as melancholy.

When I recount love’s many frights,
My sighs and tears, my waking nights,
My jealous fits; O mine hard fate
I now repent, but ’tis too late.
No torment is so bad as love,
So bitter to my soul can prove.
    All my griefs to this are jolly,
    Naught so harsh as melancholy.

Friends and companions get you gone,
'Tis my desire to be alone;
Ne'er well but when my thoughts and I
Do domineer in privacy.
No Gem, no treasure like to this,
’Tis my delight, my crown, my bliss.
    All my joys to this are folly,
    Naught so sweet as melancholy.

’Tis my sole plague to be alone,
I am a beast, a monster grown,
I will no light nor company,
I find it now my misery.
The scene is turn’d, my joys are gone,
Fear, discontent, and sorrows come.
    All my griefs to this are jolly,
    Naught so fierce as melancholy.

I’ll not change life with any king,
I ravisht am: can the world bring
More joy, than still to laugh and smile,
In pleasant toys time to beguile?
Do not, O do not trouble me,
So sweet content I feel and see.
    All my joys to this are folly,
    None so divine as melancholy.

I'll change my state with any wretch,
Thou canst from gaol or dunghill fetch;
My pain’s past cure, another hell,
I may not in this torment dwell!
Now desperate I hate my life,
Lend me a halter or a knife;
    All my griefs to this are jolly,
    Naught so damn’d as melancholy.

To My Wife (In the Kitchen Attempting Pancakes)
Let go of the skillet
and your fear of failure. Everyday we live
is a reminder of how God muffed it: think
of the forty days and forty nights. How many times
will you stand at the stove, stirring
a coagulating mixture of flour, eggs and milk?
Your bangs frizzing in the heat
rising from the smoking pan. Not even faith can help you
now. Come into the study, sit on my chair’s armrest
and be lit by the monitor’s dumb light. Look
over my shoulder, check my grammar, spelling.
Tell me I’ve got the ingredients wrong.


Log in