About Me

My photo
Thanks to a residency at EcoHealth, my verse these days finds inspiration in the specter of future pandemics; for my dissertation at LMU München, where I tutor composition and edit a poetry weekly, I'm anatomizing the prosody of E. A. Robinson's sonnets—I also teach at MVHS and lead the Amerikahaus Literary Circle.

20180122

The Clerks

by E. A. Robinson

I did not think that I should find them there
When I came back again; but there they stood
As in the days they dreamed of when young blood
Was in their cheeks and women called them fair.
Be sure, they met me with an ancient air,
And yes, there was a shop-worn brotherhood
About them; but the men were just as good,
And just as human as they ever were.

And you that ache so much to be sublime,
And you that feed yourselves with your descent,
What comes of all your visions and your fears?
Poets and kings are but the clerks of Time,
Tiering the same dull webs of discontent,
Clipping the same sad alnage of the years.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here. 

20180119

Sonnet—To Science

by Edgar Allan Poe

Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art! 
   Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes. 
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart, 
   Vulture, whose wings are dull realities? 
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise, 
   Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering 
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies, 
   Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing? 
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car, 
   And driven the Hamadryad from the wood 
To seek a shelter in some happier star? 
   Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood, 
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me 
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree? 

Note: A recitation can be heard here.

The World Is Too Much with Us

by William Wordsworth


The world is too much with us; late and soon, 
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;— 
Little we see in Nature that is ours; 
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! 
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; 
The winds that will be howling at all hours, 
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers; 
For this, for everything, we are out of tune; 
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be 
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; 
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, 
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; 
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; 
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Note: A recitation can be heard here.

20180115

Declaration

by Tracy K. Smith



He has

            sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people.

He has plundered our

                                        ravaged our—

                                                               destroyed the lives of our—

taking away our—

                               abolishing our most valuable—

and altering fundamentally the Forms of our—

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for

Redress in the most humble terms:

                                                         Our repeated

Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.


We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration

and settlement here.

       
                                   —taken Captive

                                                               on the high Seas

                                                                                           to bear—

Note: A recitation can be heard here.

20171204

The Passionate Poet to His Love

by James Agee

Come live with me and be my love
Provided you think little of
Such stodge encumbrances as friends
Who keep their means for their own ends;

Granted we mutually agree
That yours was never a mother’s knee,
Or, if the spiteful slime should bud,
Will nip the foetus while it’s mud;

Provided you can smoothly be
Wife, mother or nonentity
As metamorphic moods require;
Provided, also, you admire

Nor ever dare to criticize
Each syllable that I devise,
And shall apprise me (though I know it)
Of my majority as a poet,

And, like four angels each with sword
Will guard the Inception of the Word—
If such persuasions aught can move,
Then live with me and be my love.

Note: A recitation can be heard here.

20171201

Hospital Writing Workshop

by Rafael Campo
Arriving late, my clinic having run
past 6 again, I realize I don’t
have cancer, don’t have HIV, like them,
these students who are patients, who I lead
in writing exercises, reading poems.
For them, this isn’t academic, it’s
reality:  I ask that they describe
an object right in front of them, to make
it come alive, and one writes about death,
her death, as if by just imagining
the softness of its skin, its panting rush
into her lap, that she might tame it; one
observes instead the love he lost, he’s there,
beside him in his gown and wheelchair,
together finally again.  I take
a good, long breath; we’re quiet as newborns.
The little conference room grows warm, and right
before my eyes, I see that what I thought
unspeakable was more than this, was hope.
Note: A recitation can be heard here.

The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower

by Dylan Thomas
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.
Note: A recitation can be heard here.