Clouds and Trees

"Nothing ever goes away enough or arrives enough,/ and I want to cry when I think of my heart,/ muscle pounding in muscle, greedy always for joy." – 'A Warning', Eric Anderson

Month: September, 2013

Relevant Etymology Time!

I feel it is somehow my responsibility to post today’s word of the day.



Apparently in Greek mythology Mt. Parnassus is the home of the muses. Which is how the Montparnasse area of Paris, the artistic center of the world for the beginning of the 20th century, got its name. I’ve learned so much today! Happy Friday all!


Erasure Project #1, pt. 3: “Love is words”


Another piece of my current erasure project!


Love is words
there are many



we are
a web of

love is
a reflec-
love is called,
love is called



locked in language.

Favorite Poem of the Day – “The Play of Light and Shadow” by D. Nurkse

This poem is by my first teacher and adviser during my undergrad studies at Sarah Lawrence College. Technically he’s my ‘Don’; I’ll leave it to all of you to discern what that means. I’ve always felt incredibly lucky to have a personal relationship with this guy because besides being a brilliant, universally wonderful (or to use a word I’ve only ever heard him use, numinous) person, he’s also become one of my favorite poets in the world.

The Play of Light and Shadow

We want to give ourselves away utterly
but afterwards we resent it, it is the same
with the sparrows, their eyes burn so coldly
under the dusty pines, their small chests swell
as they dispute a crumb, or the empty place
where a seed was once: this is our law too,
to peck and peck at the Self, to take turns
being I, to die in a fierce sidelong glance,
then to hold the entire forest in one tilt
of a tufted head, to take flight suddenly
and fuck in midair, tumbling upward.

Erasure Project #1, pt. 2: “The Science of Loving”


I have been working on an erasure project! This is the second part. You can see the first part here and an apology to the Hare Krishnas who gave me this great book. The transcript below is a meager representation of the original; WordPress is not forgiving when it comes to line spacing and word placement.


the science of loving

The method is very simple,

it is very easy

supply     food to one’s stomach

when we eat something
the energy

created is
the largest tree.                                     water the
tree                          feed
the body

Favorite Poem of the Day – “Scary, No Scary” by Zachary Schomburg

Time for my favorite poem of the day to be a little more modern. Here’s a great example of something that a lot of modern poetry does well — using ‘conceptual distance’ to invoke deep emotion.

This poem isn’t quite telling a story, but it is. Notice it’s in the second person. The poem creates a fictional reality in which the main character is you, and the emotion is the decay of the idea of ‘home’. It is very real and yet, not real at all.

Also, what do you think of Schomburg’s use of linebreaks? It helps create that sense of decay I think.


One night, when
you return to your childhood
home after

a lifetime away,
you’ll find it
abandoned. Its

paint will be
completely weathered.

It will have
a significant westward lean.

There will be
a hole in its roof
that bats fly
out of.

The old man
hunched over
at the front door
will be prepared
to give you a tour,
but first he’ll ask
Scary, or no scary?

You should say
No scary.

(*Other news* You may have noticed that the domain of this blog has changed! I’ve always wanted to update the lengthy and hard to remember URL which came from my mishearing of the lyrics of The Beatles’ “Two of Us”. Enjoy this new, easier to type and remember URL, It has been the title of the blog for quite awhile and some of you will recognize it from a recently posted Czeslaw Milosz poem. It is also a real domain name without the ‘’ which is exciting! Don’t worry, if you’re really attached to the old URL, it’ll still forward you here.)

Erasure Project #1: “The Principles of Regulation”


I’ve been working on an ‘erasure’ project (since yesterday). I’m pretty excited about it so I thought I’d post some samples in the next few days until I finish and post the whole thing. The original book is “bhakti-yoga: The Art of Eternal Love”. DISCLAIMER: The unfortunate nature of erasure is that it involves…erasing. I don’t mean any insult to any Hare Krishnas out there! I have only the greatest respect for these very kind people, a few of whom I encountered yesterday and who gave me this book (for a dollar). Art is love y’all!

Maybe I should transcribe here:

the principles of regulation

The basic principle                                                     is that

everyone can become happy.
society teaches one

how to be situated

a child

grows up               to love

perfectly            until
fully satisfied

Favorite Poem of the Day – “Esse” by Czeslaw Milosz

I realized just now that I’ve never posted this poem, the last line of which was the original tagline for this blog. It is my favorite poem of all time.

I found this in Czeslaw Milosz’s (Cheh-shwah Mee-lohsh is my impression of how to pronounce it) Nobel Prize portfolio. Milosz is a polish poet who is particularly fond of attempting to describe the indescribable nature of things. He is astonishingly successful at this hilariously ironic enterprise, and captures absolute beauty as he does it. I love him because he has come closer to describing anything than anyone I’ve ever read.

As a lure into more of his work I’m going to quote the last couple lines of his poem “Earth Again” which I read in his book “Unattainable Earth”. These are the lines that first made Milosz one of my favorite writers of all time.

“…for a short moment there is no death
And time does not unreel like a skein of yarn
Thrown into an abyss.”

Also search youtube for videos of him speaking/reading if you want an example of a great poet voice.

If you’re interested in other Polish poets check out Zbigniew Herbert.


I looked at that face, dumbfounded. The lights of métro stations flew by; I didn’t notice them. What can be done, if our sight lacks absolute power to devour objects ecstatically, in an instant, leaving nothing more than the void of an ideal form, a sign like a hieroglyph simplified from the drawing of an animal or bird? A slightly snub nose, a high brow with sleekly brushed-back hair, the line of the chin – but why isn’t the power of sight absolute? – and in a whiteness tinged with pink two sculpted holes, containing a dark, lustrous lava. To absorb that face but to have it simultaneously against the background of all spring boughs, walls, waves, in its weeping, its laughter, moving it back fifteen years, or ahead thirty. To have. It is not even a desire. Like a butterfly, a fish, the stem of a plant, only more mysterious. And so it befell me that after so many attempts at naming the world, I am able only to repeat, harping on one string, the highest, the unique avowal beyond which no power can attain: I am, she is. Shout, blow the trumpets, make thousands-strong marches, leap, rend your clothing, repeating only: is!

She got out at Raspail. I was left behind with the immensity of existing things. A sponge, suffering because it cannot saturate itself; a river, suffering because reflections of clouds and trees are not clouds and trees.

On the Steps Ahead


Tchaikovsky, like this other side
of lostness, is incomplete again.
I lean into violin on the train

To hear it absolutely. I want
to make purpose of, complete,
ugliness. My era. I see beauty

if I crane my neck enough
somewhere back there in the rain.
Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35, I know

is behind the mis-colored sky.
I hear it pushing subway cars.
Spilling out as umbrellas open.


I have been living under skyline.
In the negative space. The only place
For pieces of you, Tchaikovsky,

a leaf caught on the raincoated
concrete step. The life we have yet
To live. In windows, wall-less

if I could paint them, if I had paint-
buckets of rain and you
over and over again, every step

ever upwards. When I carry you
I am together with my discomfort.
I am walking so close beneath beauty.