Monday, April 28, 2008

Last Monday in April

Perhaps it’s to keep myself focused. Like any profession of faith . . .

The difficulty I find in writing poetry is the difficulty of attending to the world while knowing I’m attending through language, while knowing how much that attending through language makes the poem more about language than it is about the world. More? Well, maybe not. But is language in the way or is language the way? And in knowing, in paying attention to, language, while trying to use the language to present more than just the workings of language, is the world somewhere lost in between? Or is there a new thing in the world?

This has been said so many ways for so many years by so many people. I suppose that’s the foregrounding of any art gesture. I suppose it’s obvious. But the obvious must also be reintroduced now and then:

Because the medium is the message. How many times have we heard that? And in how many contexts?

Because the world works outside of language, language would seem incapable of union.

Because the solidity of things meets the fragility of their borders.

Because shadows also have a certain solidity.

Because sentences are things, I congratulate them their continual arrival.

Because things are things happening, one needs a certain trust in attentiveness.

Because the world of things is also emotion.

Because the world of things is also people happening.

Because language is worn, and it’s all there is to wear.

Because the gesture of forms has a structure, language forms as much as it conveys.

Because the constraints of the few words keeps attention from primary utterance, as the language of a formulation can be guessed at, before the experience has resolved.

Because sentences paint experiences toward two corners at once:

The corner of grammar, which should never be underestimated.

The corner of time unfolding, as time does not allow the experience of the poem to happen in the flash that experience of the world happens.

Because the art act is an act in the world.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud, Country City
Wayne Thiebaud, Boxed Balls
Wayne Thiebaud, Hill Street
Wayne Thiebaud, Glassed Candy
There are some tones that artists can capture that make me very jealous. Wayne Thiebaud is a good example. What would these look like as poems?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What's Wrong with American Poetry? Day 1

The current issue of Center, with its symposium on the line, continues to interest me. I found myself arguing quite a bit with what a few of the respondents were writing. I found myself really wanting to talk with the piece Paisley Rekdal wrote, for instance. Rekdal conceptualizes things in ways I don’t, and it gets me all oppositional. Good. I like the energy of feeling oppositional.

Things feel pretty quiet out there right now. Maybe its time for something a little oppositional. So, toward that end, I’m wondering what people are thinking these days about what’s right and what’s wrong in and with American Poetry. Are these valid questions? I think so. At least as thought experiments.

Today I’m starting to look around for what irritates people the most, and what they value the most, in current American poetry.

I found a fun, old thing from August Kleinzahler, writing against Good Poems, ed. by Garrison Keillor:

Most people have neither the sensitivity, inclination, or training to look or listen meaningfully, nor has the culture encouraged them to, except with the abstract suggestion that such things are good for you. Multivitamins are good for you. Exercise, fresh air, and sex are good for you. Fruit and vegetables are good for you. Poetry is not.

Especially most of what Garrison Keillor reads on his Writer’s Almanac, which, as a rule, isn’t poetry at all but prose arbitrarily broken into lines masquerading as poetry. The typical Keillor selection tends to be anecdotal, wistful: more often than not a middle-aged creative writing instructor catching a whiff of mortality in the countryside—watching the geese head south, getting lost in the woods, this sort of thing.

* * *

And then I tossed “What’s wrong with American Poetry?” into google, and out came an article by Cristina Nehring, writing against the 2007 Best American Essays (which I haven’t read). Although not about poetry, it does start with a bit of poetry, and I’ve heard this same sentiment from some poets over the years, so here’s an excerpt from “What’s Wrong With the American Essay” (just switch "poetry" with "essay"):

His gaze has been so worn by the procession
Of bars that he no longer sees.

—“The Panther,” Rainer Maria Rilke

The essay is in a bad way. It’s not because essayists have gotten stupider. It’s not because they’ve gotten sloppier. And it is certainly not because they’ve become less anthologized. More anthologies are published now than there have been in decades, indeed in centuries. The Best American Essays series, which began in 1986, has reached 20 volumes. The problem is that these series rot in basements—when they make it as far as that. I’ve found the run of American Essays in the basement of my local library, where they’ll sit—with zero date stamps—until released gratis one fine Sunday morning to a used bookstore that, in turn, will sell them for a buck to a college student who’ll place them next to his dorm bed and dump them in an end-of-semester clean-out. That is the fate of the essay today.

Is it our fault? Are we, as readers, responsible for the decline of the American essay? Have we become lazier, less interested, less educated? Attention spans, to be sure, have shortened. Gone are the days when people pored over periodicals at languorous length during transatlantic crossings. But this is not the reason why essay collections gather dust and why essayists so often count themselves “second-class citizens” (in the words of E.B. White). If the genre is neglected in our day it is first and foremost because its authors have lost their nerve. It is because essayists—and their editors, their anthologists and the taste-makers on whom they depend—have lost the courage to address large subjects in a large way.

Today’s essayists need to be emboldened, and to embolden one another, to move away from timid autobiographical anecdote and to embrace—as their predecessors did—big theories, useful verities, daring pronouncements. We need to destigmatize generalization, aphorism and what used to be called wisdom. We must rehabilitate the notion of truth—however provisional it might be. As long as persons with intellectual aspirations are counted idiots for attempting to formulate a wider point, they will not do so, and even if they dared, most editors would not publish them and most critics would not praise them. Take the case of Laura Kipnis and her recent volume, “The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability.” While there is a great deal for which this book can be faulted, it has been attacked not for the dearth of its author’s talent so much as for the breadth of her ambition. It is the size of her topics that gives her highbrow critics pause: “What is dirt?” Kipnis asks, in a book in which she attempts to explore “the female psyche.” Her New York Times reviewer responds disdainfully, “Which raises the question: Who is Laura Kipnis?” In other words, how dare she ask such questions? Well, Seneca would have said, how dare she not? Life is short. “Assume authority. ... It is a disgraceful thing that a man should derive wisdom solely from his notebook. ... Utter yourself something that may be handed to posterity.” This is what Kipnis tries to do, and she should be saluted for it, not mocked. Her shortcomings lie elsewhere. But the territory she marks out for herself and the boldness with which she sprints into it are cause for gratitude. It is what all essayists should do.

* *

I’ll keep looking. This is fun.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Center on the Line

Center: A Journal of the Literary Arts

The new issue of Center is just out, with a symposium:

Symposium on the Line:Theory and Practice in Contemporary Poetry

Kazim Ali, On the Line: A Short Vociferation
Marianne Boruch, Secret Life read (pdf)
Brent Cunningham, Remarks / On the Foundation / Of the Line: A Personal History
J. P. Dancing Bear, A Line Apart
Christina Davis, Some Lines about the Poetic Line
Annie Finch, Grails and Legacies: Thoughts on the Line
Graham Foust, Only the Broken Breathe
Noah Eli Gordon, Explosive Exactitude: On the Single Line Stanza
Arielle Greenberg, The Hyperextension of the Line
Sarah Gridley, Slash
H. L. Hix, Outta Line
Cynthia Hogue, Out of Joint: An Ir/reverent Meditation on the Line
Catherine Imbriglio, Lines and Spaces
Karla Kelsey, Lineation in the Land of the New Sentence
Ben Lerner, “What I cannot say is / Is at the vertex”: some working notes on failure and the line
Dana Levin, Some Notes on the Line
Joanie Mackowski, “And then a Plank in Reason, Broke”
Jenny Mueller, Minding the Gaps: The Line Approaching Retirement
Laura Mullen, Line / Break
Patrick Phillips, Harold and the Purple Crayon: The Line as a Generative Force
Donald Platt, On the Origin and Practice of a “Signature” Line
Paisley Rekdal, Two Takes on Poetic Meaning and the Line
Mary Ann Samyn, Clarity and Mystery: Some Thoughts on the Line
Ravi Shankar, Breadthless Length
Evie Shockley, A Few Lines on the Line
Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Some Notes on the Poetic Line in G.C. Waldrep and Lily Brown
Sam Witt, Thermal Signatures; The Radical of the Line


I’ve gotten about half way through it, browsing around. One of the things I noticed right off, is how interesting it is how often I come across poets mentioning Michael Palmer’s “Notes for Echo Lake 4,” as Kazim Ali does here. I’ve decided if there were nominations for Poem of the Age, I’d nominate it. If you haven’t read it, go see what I was thinking about on Thursday, September 7, at 4:33 AM

The symposium is well worth your time. There’s guaranteed to be something for you to agree with, and something for you to disagree with. I promise.

Here are some of my reactions, in fragment form, because working it up more than that would take time away from spring.

The essay I’m most identifying with so far is the one by Brent Cunningham, who finally ends up stressing the same thing I’ve come to realize for myself: “uh. lines. um.”

It’s obvious to me that we’re still squarely in the postmodern period, as much as we’d have it otherwise I hear, because the crisis of representation that infuses the movements into postmodernism are still hugely at play.

A line is a hesitation, not a world.

Is there anything we can safely assume about the production of a line of poetry? No. But I assume this: one’s conceptions of what one is doing don’t matter much in the face of what one has done. It’s the law of the rendered object over time. I’m product oriented in this way, and not very mystical.

So a line is this thing you read momentarily isolated, but barely, as it’s not isolated so much as hesitated into and out of. When I read a poem, I don’t feel the lines as discrete. There are some instances (Kazim Ali seems to be nodding toward them as well) in poets such as Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, where the lines, as they are accentuated as also being “prose” sentences, achieve something close to isolation, but still not isolation as much as the sort of union collage allows its elements. I’m not saying this well. Let’s just say that I mean to nod again to Ron Silliman’s The New Sentence (as Karla Kelsey is also nodding, in her trajectory toward one of my favorite poets, Martha Ronk), where it’s more the surrounding texture of the union that is at stake than the taking off into discrete elements. So I like to think of poems more toward their methods of unity within disruption than in their moments of line “breakages.”

Reading is always somewhere on the gamut of misreading, the way I, in reading Brent Cunningham’s essay, found myself wanting to argue his points, having already passed through them in my own thinking, not realizing his essay was a tracing of his journey through them as well.

Lines can be measured, but I continually fail to get the point of doing so. Does Charles Wright really compose that way? Line by line? Counting syllables? Well, again, if the outcome holds (and in the work of Charles Wright I find it does hold), then whatever gets you through the (compositional) night’s all right with me, but I don’t see why that is the net one should be placing up for one's poem's tennis game. And then there’s James Tate’s rather annoying take on the line, which really doesn’t seem to do anyone any help. But then again, if the outcome . . .

OK. I see where this is heading. And I can already see there’s no center to hold onto, except the one here on my desk as I type this. It’s an interesting read. I'm enjoying it.

In my thinking, I’ve always imagined people broke lines (or wrote lines outward) according to their phrasing. Trying to match the poem to the voice. Not so much a score for performance as a willed internality of the poem’s pace of unfoldingness. But a lot of people don’t do that.

Therefore, what?

The line helps one down the page so that the poem doesn’t sit in a frenetic blob—it helps keep things from too much too fast. If line breaks are meaningless, try taking the line breaks out of a Rae Armantrout poem and see what you get.

But then again, the “music” of the line also eludes me. I dislike hearing the “music” of the line just about as much as I dislike hearing the “poetry” of things that aren’t poems. I think this idea of “music” is what’s behind so many people reading with such strongly affected “poet” voices.

I’m much more comfortable thinking about sentences unfolding in bits. But then I’m up against the obvious non-poetry moments of chopping prose sentences into lengths. So poetry is neither and all. Or something like that.

If new form equals new content, one’s use of the line has to be of some primary importance to the poem. So what is the nature of that importance?

For me, beyond a gestural definition of the line as somehow indicating the hesitations of the voice down the page, any concept of the line—any prescriptive concept—seems a before-the-fact definition of the poem, so I become anxious. Except that one’s poems tend to resemble each other over time (ah, the glories of “finding your voice” [blech])—and they resemble each other in some enacting of the line . . . the kind of words chosen, the sorts of sentences . . . as well as the pacing of the line . . . and though I can think of examples where the kinds of words chosen and the types of sentences structured are more dominant than the way the lines enact, some theory of the line as a compositional unit is at play, no matter how subterranean.

A word is a collecting.
A line is a collecting.
As are sentence, stanza, and poem.
The parts part and return.
It’s how the attention make a focusing.

And we all agree that lines interrupt sentence “logic.”
Obvious enough.
But so does dancing like ice cream.

But if a line enacts a propelling force toward a hesitation, what about ending a line with a period or comma? And what happens when one breaks from one stanza to the next?

These things have meaning, but I’m beginning to think the meaning is not languageable outside of the act of the poem. So that the poem becomes a use definition of line break, line, stanza, and so forth.

And so I fade in and out of caring until I come across a poem where the use of line breaks (etc.) grate on my nerves. There has to be some elegance to it, as there is elegance in the body, the breath of the body expelling the poem.

So that’s it? Am I to have thought about this for 20 years just to end up in some corner of Olson’s field?


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Are You a Notable Poet? Well, Are You?

What a silly question: Are you notable?

But then again . . . I wrote a couple days ago that someone out there in the world created an entry on Wikipedia about me. Here’s the page:

I wasn’t surprised that almost as soon as it went up, it went down. And I didn’t think much more about it, until I started reading the reasons why people wanted it taken down. Go to this article’s entry to read the comments to delete the entry and the comments to keep the entry.

The whole thing struck me as rather funny. And I thought they’d decide to take it down and all would be back to Wiki normal, but then I read Lytton Smith’s comments this afternoon to keep the entry up, and it occurred to me that there is an interesting question here. A little searching, and I discovered that very few poets have pages. That should change.

The Wikipedia people (whomever they are) have certain objective criteria a poet has to meet to be considered notable enough for a Wikipedia entry. Those criteria seem to include the "size" of the press that poet is published with, what awards (and what kind of awards) the poet has won, and how many acticles (and in what kind of publications) have been written on that poet.

What do we think of those criteria? In short, how does the culture guage poets? What, in the end, are any of us worth? And then, honestly, what makes a poet “notable” to other poets and the readers of poetry?

It’s quite fascinating.

Your National Poetry Month Homework:

I suggest that everyone put a bio up on Wikipedia. It can be a bio for yourself, or for someone you think should be up there. This weekend, I intend to put a bio up for Martha Ronk, who is, by anyone’s standards, notable. I didn’t (despite what one of the commentators intimated) put my entry up, so I don’t know how difficult it is, but I’m guessing it’s not very.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Steven Campbell, 1953 - 2007

I just found out that Steven Campbell, an artist I like, died last year.

What would these look like as poems?

Poem in Your Pocket - Wiki in your Tiki?

From the “Ouch” and “This is kind of funny” departments, combined:

Someone out there in the world (should I thank this person or not?) created an entry on Wikipedia about me:

It was brought to my attention this morning. And then it was brought to my attention that someone else is trying to get it deleted. It seems that those on the side of deletion are just about to prevail regarding this article's entry. Alas?

Well, that was fun. My moment of Wikipedia glory, so fleeting. So should I start a petition? And if so, would it be a petition to keep the page up, or to take the page down?


Moving on (because that’s what I’ve been told we’re supposed to do in such sad moments), are you participating in this?

In honor of April’s National Poetry Month, New York City is hosting the 6th annual Poem in Your Pocket Day (PIYP) on Thursday, April 17, 2008. This series of events is intended to celebrate the versatility and inspiration of poetry by encouraging New Yorkers of all ages to carry a poem in their pockets to share with friends, classmates, coworkers and family.

This event is co-sponsored by the NYC Department of Education, Department of Cultural Affairs and the Mayor’s Office.


Here’s an enigmatic image to close with:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dr. Dog - We All Belong

Somewhere between The Beatles and The Flaming Lips, with stops along the way including America, The Band, Mott the Hoople, and others, Dr. Dog is quietly amassing an impressive catalogue.

I discovered them only recently in Paste magazine, but I’m making up for lost time.

Here’s a wonderfully catchy video for “My Old Ways” from their newest album, We All Belong, which I highly recommend:

Sure, you say, but what do they do live?

Here they are on Letterman, doing the same song:

For a quick primer, if you don’t already know them, here are some mp3s from the band’s website:

ABCs from Toothbrush [MP3 4.28MB]
Adeline from Toothbrush [MP3 3.04MB]
Easy Beat from Easy Beat [MP3 4.51MB]
Say Something from Easy Beat [MP3 5.16MB]
Wake Up From Easy Beat [MP3 4.28MB]
California from Takers and Leavers [MP3 2.88MB]
Ain't It Strange from Takers and Leavers/We All Belong [MP3 4.10MB]
Worst Trip from We All Belong [MP3 2.75MB]

A new album is coming out in July. Can I get a witness?


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Live Free or Die

I went and read in New Hampshire. I've decided I really like New Hampshire in April. They still had snow in the shady spots, and then it got up to 70 degrees. I had not been there before. So now I have, and I'd like to go back. I always wish I were staying longer when I go somewhere, but the New Hampshire people were especially nice. Live Free or Die, indeed.

I really like traveling. There's so much to see. Maybe I could travel to where you are? I'd like that. I'm a very easy guest and airports are everywhere.
Jennifer Militello (left) invited me. She has a book coming out from Tupelo next year (I've seen it, and it's very, very good. More on that in several months.). And look, one of my favorite poets in the world was there as well: Paige Ackerson-Kiely. I've been talking about, and reading, and thinking about, In No One's Land quite a bit over the last year. It was wonderful to see her and meet her dog and talk a bit.
Speaking about meeting people, I met none of these people in the Manchester airport. But something about the lighting, and my love of Brian Eno's Music for Airports (to which I was listening [a little snippet of it is below, from youtube]) made for a nice wait. I love airports.
And the chance symmetries of the airport. The logic of the seating. The uniformity of travel clothing. The various signs with arrows. I sat there listening to Brian Eno, reading Ashbery's Girls on the Run, and looking up every now and then. How pleasant it all was.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Renos - The Notorious Reno Brothers

OK, so anyway (here you go, Paige!), I used to be in this band, see, and well we wrote and recorded some songs and then I wrote and recorded a few more demos and we didn’t do anything with it, so above is a link to the story of The Renos with a link to downloadable mp3s of some of what we came up with. Feel free to download and distribute.

If there’s demand, we can always get back together. If you want to cut to the chase, the direct links to the songs are below:

The Renos CD:

Track 1:
Coming Apart (4.3 MB)
Track 2:
Nothing Ever Happens Here (3.7 MB)
Track 3:
Postcard Town (4.9 MB)
Track 4:
Motion Pictures (5.7 MB)
Track 5:
Floating Saturday (4.7 MB)
Track 6:
Echolocation (7.4 MB)
Track 7:
Down (4.3 MB)
Track 8:
No Talking (0.7 MB)
Track 9:
The Weather In Space (4.7 MB)
Track 10:
Whirling Away (4.7 MB)
Track 11:
The Future is Chrome (live) (5.7 MB)
Bonus tracks:

Track 12:
Painless demo (3.2 MB)
Track 13:
From A City That's Turning demo (4.8 MB)
Track 14:
See How They Run demo (5.4 MB)
Track 15:
Directionless demo (5.3 MB)
Track 16:
After The Gold Rush (3.6 MB)

Monday, April 07, 2008

It's Monday: Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

I was instantly struck with James Tate’s new book, Ghost Soldiers. At the same time, I found Charles Simic’s new book, That Little Something, interesting, but not anything to go wild over. The funny thing is that I stopped reading The Ghost Soldiers after getting about halfway through, and I’ve now finished That Little Something. What does that say? I’m not sure.


Here’s something of which I’m terribly jealous. At 10:15 pm Saturday night, in Rock Creek, Montana, an email went out from Lucas Farrell, Greg Hill Jr., and Brandon Shimoda. They were going to put together an instant poetry website called Left Facing Bird. In the space of six hours they were able to get 100 poets to send poems. The result is up:

What a great idea that was/is.


Also this weekend, sent me an email telling me books I might be interested in purchasing. We all get these emails periodically, I imagine. What made this one funny to me is that Amazon suggested I purchase The Little Book of Guesses, by John Gallaher. I’m wondering if maybe I should. You know, support the cause and all. I could place it in the box of guesses I have by the back door.


Jason Tandon, a contributor to The Laurel Review, has a new book out. Go here to see:


There are a lot of new books coming out in 2008 (Cole Swensen!), but, as I’m short of money just now, I’m going back to some books from last year that I feel I rushed through. First up, Bin Ramke’s Tendril.


R.E.M.’s new album is better than their last one, but it still hasn’t gotten me very fired up. Much more interesting, I’m finding this, from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!":

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!"

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Ephemera Weekender

I’ve finished going through a notebook, and am sending it to the drawer this afternoon. We all have these books. And what are we to do with them? For what it’s worth, here is the ephemera from this little blue one.

Titles I didn’t get to use:

Book of Winter Words
Blood & Treasure
Legend of the Wayward Duck
From the Committee of Meaning
History Seizure
With the Tabloid Regulars
Hooray for the Hills
The Nodes of Ranvier
Little Lambs Eat Ivy
Friendly Interview
Diner with the Norwegians
Shooting Day for Night in a Gorilla Suit
Bingo Night in Space

Ideas I didn’t do anything with:

Something to help us through the difficult bits, the deaths of our fathers, the long illnesses.

I’ll testify if I have to, but only in movie quotes from foreign films I’ve never seen.

If called to serve, I’ll have to borrow an apron.

We’re experimental now, we only capitalize vowels.

Language does not mirror the world, but our way of being in the world. If this is the case, different “schools” of poetry, as they enact different ways of mirroring our way of being in the world, can be seen as competing alternatives, and pretending otherwise is like saying that religions should be able to wholly coexist with each other. (Which people do all the time, of course, even religious people.)

We want what we have, but made a little more vague and mysterious. Maybe a funny hat.

You can pass the time by focusing on the edge of the desk or the first few months of the war. Well-made desk. Good war.

I have no confidence in things.

Is this even a real road?

It’s mostly April, with patches of other months here and there.

You say nothing of it to the authorities.

When the boardwalk slingshot carnival ride thing—some metal ball tethered by bungee cords—flew up into the sky with two teenage girls in it and splattered a pelican flying by, I learned something new about the world, surrounded in little silver fish raining from the sky. It was on my last trip to Daytona.

And then we all turned into boats.

I’m on the phone to China.

Most things are going to be OK.

It’s still the end of the world. It’s just taking a bit longer than expected.

We develop a culture of hitting ourselves over the head with bricks.

I was having a difficult time finding my glasses, until I realized I was wearing them. After that, it was easier.

Six billion people is a lot of people.

The buildings have begun to sing. Don’t listen to them very carefully, it’s their first try.

Suburbia is the theory of heaven during an apology.

You must not listen to them or understand anything they say.

Election years as a series of Americas.

How does one negotiate a post-Courage the Cowardly Dog world? And did they ask this question of Felix the Cat? So how could anyone complain seriously about the “difficulty” of poetry?

understanding is not the point.

Understanding, as in “understanding” is not necessary to live with something. What it takes to live with something is to live with something. I don’t need to understand transpiration to encounter a tree.

Go tell the president that the kingdom moved to the other side of the river, leaving nothing but old maps and racing forms.

We don’t talk as much about the unified field theory as we used to, though I believe the search continues.

What I dislike about some poems is that they lead one to believe (in their extension and in their enactment) that the world is finally explainable. I find that not to be the case in my experience of the world. How one stands on the question of the world as finally explainable or not makes all the difference.

Art must coincide with the world. Must be in tune with a conception of things.

The taken-for-granted is the only interesting place to investigate.

“We must do away with all explanation and allow only description in its place.”
—Wittgenstein PI 109

The bars down there only serve whiskey.

The limits of what language may touch, and if thought may go further.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Oil Field Girls - Jerry Bywaters

Oil Field Girls
Jerry Bywaters 1940

One would think there would be more to say,
with these women at the roadside,
looking down on a billboard for Coca-Cola.

One might think that what is
will always be more complex
than what we can say of it.

And so here they are. They could turn
all our thinking, the way the road turns,
the way the signs point.

Count the signs.

And maybe you could spend the rest of your life
tracing that horizon
with black smoke, which is how the highway will curve,
and these women beside the curve
of the highway,
looking off to their left.

Count the posts. It could be an occupation.
Count everything there is.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Life Draws a Tree...

I was reminded of this poem yesterday and had to search to find it again. So, for April, a drawing lesson from Argentinean poet Roberto Juarróz, translated by W.S. Merwin:

Life Draws a Tree . . .

Life draws a tree
and death draws another one.
Life draws a nest
and death copies it.
Life draws a bird
to live in the nest
and right away death
draws another bird.

A hand that draws nothing
wanders among the drawings
and at times moves one of them.
For example:
a bird of life
occupies the death’s nest
on the tree that life drew.

Other times
the hand that draws nothing
blots out one drawing of the series.
For example:
the tree of death
holds the nest of death
but there’s no bird in it.

And other times
the hand that draws nothing
itself changes
into an extra image
in the shape of a bird,
in the shape of a tree,
in the shape of a nest.
And then, only then,
nothing’s missing and nothing’s left over.
For example:
two birds
occupy life’s nest
in death’s tree.

Or life’s tree
holds two nests
with only one bird in them.

Or a single bird
lives in the one nest
on the tree of life
and the tree of death.