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

Category: Language

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 – “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 m├ętro 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.

Peas in a Bag

Whispers like solid stone
and my mouth fills with cement powder.
She picks up a shovel, saying
“I just need to flatten out your teeth.”

Broke a few keys in the process
of typing out her autobiography.
It sounded better than mine–
Hers had kids, mine didn’t.

She said a poem is like a quilt–
you can cut it up and start over with the old pieces.
But I laid out words in lines
and that’s the way she treats everything anyway.

Swallowing the City Again

The train rides past cement arms,
arches under bridges under cars
like empty door-frames.
Floating landscapes roll
through stone hands
as if time is tearing
canvas from paint.

Then empty boxes–
trucks jut from one-eyed warehouses,
windows broken or shaded in dirt
making stained glass
the way rubble makes a mosaic.

The meadowlands are still
grass and winding rivers shrunken.
Boots sink, knees, toes–
the familiar fear of mud.

Imagine, quicksand or something like it
so close to New York–
a city of always wet cement,
names and fingerprints
lined-up stones
leaving slow ripples, solid bubbles,
the choke-in-throat of words forgotten
as they melt into cement.