About Me

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As the resident poet at EcoHealth, my verse finds inspiration these days in the specter of future pandemics. For my dissertation at LMU's Amerika-Institut, I'm anatomizing the poetics (especially the prosody) of E. A. Robinson's sonnets. I also teach at Münchner Volkshochschule and lead the Amerikahaus Literary Circle.

20170821

August Rain, after Haying

by Jane Kenyon

Through sere trees and beheaded
grasses the slow rain falls.
Hay fills the barn; only the rake
and one empty wagon are left
in the field.  In the ditches
goldenrod bends to the ground.

Even at noon the house is dark.
In my room under the eaves
I hear the steady benevolence
of water washing dust
raised by the haying
from porch and car and garden
chair.  We are shorn
and purified, as if tonsured.

The grass resolves to grow again,
receiving the rain to that end,
but my disordered soul thirsts
after something it cannot name.

20170820

A Solar Eclipse

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

In that great journey of the stars through space
     About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
     The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
     Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
     Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.
Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
     Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
     Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
     See only that the Sun is in eclipse.

20170813

What Will Your Verse Be?

Words matter; they genuinely affect the course of the world and the welfare of its inhabitants, which is why they must be carefully wroughtthis week alone, we witnessed how the words of President Trump horrifyingly raised the specter of nuclear holocaust and ghastily tendered political cover for domestic terrorists. Indeed, Mr. Keating, we do not read and write poetry because it is cute: We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. Fellow wordsmiths, what will your verse be?



20170807

Paradox

by Willa Cather

I knew them both upon Miranda's isle,
Which is of youth a sea-bound seigniory:
Misshapen Caliban, so seeming vile,
And Ariel, proud prince of minstrelsy,
Who did forsake the sunset for my tower
And like a star above my slumber burned.
The night was held in silver chains by power
Of melody, in which all longings yearned—
Star-grasping youth in one wild strain expressed,
Tender as dawn, insistent as the tide;
The heart of night and summer stood confessed.
I rose aglow and flung the lattice wide—
Ah, jest of art, what mockery and pang!
Alack, it was poor Caliban who sang.

Note: A recitation can be heard here.

20170714

Sonnet to Chatterton

by John Keats

O Chatterton! how very sad thy fate! 
Dear child of sorrow—son of misery! 
How soon the film of death obscur'd that eye, 
Whence Genius mildly flash'd, and high debate. 
How soon that voice, majestic and elate, 
Melted in dying numbers! Oh! how nigh 
Was night to thy fair morning. Thou didst die 
A half-blown flow'ret which cold blasts amate. 
But this is past: thou art among the stars 
Of highest Heaven: to the rolling spheres 
Thou sweetly singest: naught thy hymning mars, 
Above the ingrate world and human fears. 
On earth the good man base detraction bars 
From thy fair name, and waters it with tears.  


Note: A recitation can be heard here.

20170623

Sonnet

by William Wordsworth

Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned, 
Mindless of its just honours; with this key 
Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody 
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound; 
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound; 
With it Camoëns soothed an exile's grief; 
The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf 
Amid the cypress with which Dante crowned 
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp, 
It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land 
To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp 
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand 
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew 
Soul-animating strains—alas, too few! 

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20170622

On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

by John Keats


Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold, 
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; 
Round many western islands have I been 
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. 
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told 
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne; 
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene 
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: 
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies 
When a new planet swims into his ken; 
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes 
He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men 
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise— 
Silent, upon a peak in Darien. 

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.