an Elizabethan sonnet celebrating two years of Natalie

to wander aimless under desert skies
as infinite in sand as infinite
in stars, would be a blessing in disguise
were wet oasis of your love in it.

to dive in freezing undertow of sea,
enmeshed with salt and animals and things,
would waken deep the hidden warmth in me
were sharks your teeth and diving terns your wings.

to sit still, solemn, and serene upon
a boulder high to trace the solar race
would purify my shrouded soul if sun
were your eye’s light all darkness to erase.

deserts, beaches, sunsets are twinned in beauty—
for whom my love burns brightest—you only.

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how i voted in the November 4, 2014, General Election

GOVERNOR: Jerry Brown
CONTROLLER: Ashley Swearengin
TREASURER: John Chiang
YES TO ALL JUDGES EXCEPT: Kathryn Mickle Werdegar
BART DIRECTOR: Nick Josefowitz

PROP 1: No
PROP 2: Yes
PROP 45: Yes
PROP 46: No
PROP 47: Yes
PROP 48: Yes


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it is

sun rising, moon bright waning crescent sinking down from way high in the sky, and i already felt awake.

bladder unleashed, i returned to bed and just lay there, listening to Buffy Sainte-Marie belting out her passionate dirges of love, land, and codeine. when the side came to a close, i hadn’t yet dozed off, so i leapt out of bed, grabbed a large glass of water and rosquillas, and slipped into bed with Emily Dickinson.

she is so pleasing and deep:

Beauty — be not caused — It Is
Chase it, and it ceases
Chase it not, and it abides

Overtake the Creases

In the Meadow — when the Wind
Runs his fingers thro’ it
Deity will see to it
That You never do it

50 poems down and fresh cup of black tea in hand, i was about to move onto the Qur’an after many, many months of neglect when Cameron finally texted me. alright. no scripture today, it’s showertime.

scrubby clean, i spun Super Session, which lifted Xanthe from her stony slumber. but it wasn’t the quintessential New York City hip hop alarm i’d submitted her to the day prior, so she had no complaints. in fact, she dove right into the kitchen’s flames, toasting hash browns, tossing chopped onions and kale, and setting the kettle to work once more.

by the time Cameron arrived, we were already late, so i fried the fastest eggs of my life, swallowed my half breakfast whole (splitting the other half w my man), and we flew out the door.

we cruised in the massive black suburban down Ocean Ave, floating on the Velvet Underground breeze.

deep in the Sunset, we breathed in the crisp ocean air and absorbed the white bright light of the noontime sun. and there was the van. the guy from Craigslist selling it used to be in a band, and it surely looked like the best damn band van ever. skeezy little bed in back, high roof, beautiful trailer in tow. said he’d played bass for seven years and had used a Mesa Boogie stack to boot. alas, rust corroded not just the corners of the vehicle but also below the engine in crucial areas (according to Cameron). so he passed.

chatting about gear for my trip–i felt pressure from Cameron because he’s so much more experienced than me, and he sensed so too by calling out my uh’s and um’s–we passed on toward the Park, east toward the Haight, and then north again to Natalie’s place.

’twas just a transfer point. Cameron continued on to the deep east bay to check out another van while Natalie and i drove to yoga in the Mission, dropping off her younger sister at BART just before.















whether we’d overtaken the creases or not, nobody knew. class ended with F/A-18 Hornets boasting the biggest Om of them all by breaking the sound barrier right over our heads. though nobody articulated it, i sensed unease in the air: it is a great privilege to be able to freely practice peace at home while hearing the sound of those Hornets (F/A meaning Fighter/Attack) screaming their hellfire through the heavens. we can only imagine what it feels like to hear that roar in, for example, the Gaza Strip.

but i’m just a boy living in a San Francisco world, so out in the street i stared at the heavens in glee, scanning everywhere for those wonders of curved metal whenever i heard their humbling rumble crumbling through the air.

it was a beautiful day. the sun shone with intensity to match if not surpass the Angels themselves.

we didn’t know what to do with ourselves, so my lady and i ordered a couple iced coffees from Four Barrel, which we enjoyed on the streetside patio, a couple of sunbaked angelheaded hipsters. at peace–and now wired–we decided to dip even deeper in the savory San Francisco sauce by walking two blocks to Zeitgeist, where we met up with Chris and company. an old, brief coworker of mine–Molly–recognized me (though it took me a second or two put the name to her face) and she joined us in the backyard for a jolly drink, smoke, and conversation among best friends, friends, acquaintances, and strangers.

it was a beautiful day.

not long later, Chris and his company hopped to another bar for the Giants game, while Natalie and i rode the Blue Danube back home. we were high and happy as can be. and it didn’t take us long to get even higher. my own personal Venus sucked me deep into her twilight furs. a rainbow encircled everything.


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chronicle of a saturday walk in the city








Digital StillCamera

Digital StillCamera



the Paris one


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selections from The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville


sciatica (n.)
pain affecting the back, hip, and outer side of the leg, caused by compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back, often owing to degeneration of an intervertebral disk.
While the visit was ostensibly due to an attack of sciatica, it seems that Melville’s mental state was also under examination. (xiii)


It was as though Melville had taken over the strategy he had attributed to Shakespeare: ‘Through the mouths of the dark characters of Hamlet, Timon, Lear, and Iago, he craftily says, or sometimes insinuates, the things which we feel to be so terrifically true that it were all but madness for any good man . . . to utter.’ (xiv)


Emerson’s lofty ideal was that if you trusted someone, then the trust would be repaid. In ‘Prudence’ (1847) he wrote: ‘Trust men, and they will be true to you; treat them greatly, and they will show themselves great, although they made an exception in your favor to all their rules of trade.’ (Melville’s marginal comment in 1862 was, ‘God help the poor fellow who squares his life according to this.’) (xvii)


‘The greatest humbug of all is the man who believes — or pretends to believe — that everything and everybody are humbugs. We sometimes meet a person who professes that there is no virtue; that every man has his price, and every woman hers; that any statement from anybody is just as likely to be false as true, and that the only way to decide which, is to consider whether truth or a lie was likely to have paid best in that particular case. Religion he thinks one of the smartest dodges extant, a first rate investment, and by all odds the most respectable disguise that a lying or swindling business man can wear. Honor he thinks is a sham. Honesty he considers a plausible word to flourish in the eyes of the greener portion of our race . . . Poor fellow! he has exposed his own nakedness. Instead of showing that others are rotten inside, he has proved that he is.’ (xviii, from P. T. Barnum)


In fact, this fondness for being tricked by a clever hoaxer was seen by Baudelaire as a notable American characteristic: ‘Ces Américains qui aiment tant à être dupés,’ he wrote; Americans love so much to be fooled. (xviii)


It is unlikely that the cynical remark usually attributed to Barnum, ‘There’s a sucker born every minute’, was actually said by him, indicating as it does a disrespect for his audience that he never showed in his writings. (xix)


The masquerade might indeed be an appropriate analogy for American life. The confidence man who becomes a recurring figure in the American novel is related to the masquerader, the role-playing master of disguises. The very process of becoming an American is in part the making of a new self. ‘What then is the American, this New Man?’ asked De Crèvecoeur in 1782, and writers have often answered with novels of shifting identity. To become American is essentially to divest oneself of a past identity, to make a radical break with the past, and so the construction of identity becomes a significant theme in American writing, present as a recognizable tradition. It is there in the essays of Emerson, and in Hester’s rebellion and repentance in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. It is there in Thoreau’s move to Walden, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in The Great Gatsby, in Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories, in Jack Kerouac’s rides across the continent, in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, in the figure represented by Ken Kesey’s McMurphy. As Harold Beaver has put it, ‘America . . . seemed a stage set for masquerade, since Americans by their origins placed a peculiar insistence on rites of transition and metamorphosis. Identity is not something given and therefore fixed; it is something you create from within, something you can also adapt to fit the circumstances. This is more than being a confidence man; it is taking the ability to change – to be shifty – as the capacity to survive. The King and the Duke in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are entertaining, comic figures. Until the serious gulling of the Wilks family, when they play cruelly with the family’s grief, they are the standard rogues of the frontier. But the real confidence man is Huck, whose masquerade of changing identity ensures his survival. (Even the name on the title page, ‘Mark Twain,’ is a masquerade adopted by Samuel Clemens.)

If identity is fluid, needs to be changed for purpose of adaptation and survival, then Melville in The Confidence-Man goes further. Behind the masks we put on, under the fictions of self we create, there may be nothing; no individual, unique self. Everything is a masquerade and no one can stand outside. The fluid, shifting identity of the Confidence Man becomes a strategy of evasion. The deaf mute’s gesture of erasure at the novel’s beginning prefigures what happens to identity in the novel; character is repeatedly erased and written afresh. (xxiv – xxv)


However, if the reader sees that there is no choice between the Confidence Man as Devil and as God, something else may be implied: that in possibly being both, he becomes neither. Perhaps the real fear in the novel, the true terror, is not that the Devil walks on earth, or that Christ finds no true believers here below. It is that there is nothing; that there is no order to the universe; that Christianity is a comforting fiction which is, however, little different from an April Fool hoax. The very proximity of the commemoration of Christ’s passion, in springtime, to All Fool’s Day can provoke some discomforting thoughts for Christians. Indeed, in 1855, the year Melville began the novel, Passion Sunday itself fell on 1 April. This coincidence can readily be used to suggest either that Christians are gullible fools or that Christ himself was on a fool’s errand. As readers, we are left wondering if the Confidence Man is God or the Devil. Or perhaps there is no single unifying self under the series of identities; it is this sense of uncertainty in The Confidence-Man that has led to its being placed among postmodernist texts with their emphasis on the independent self as illusion. (xxxii)


If we lose belief in God or in any myth assigning meaning and purpose to the universe, then we fall back on fiction to make temporary sense and order, or we make a masquerade of identity. If we do not have myths we at least have fiction. (xxxiv)


prevaricate (v.)
speak or act in an evasive way.
For instance, the description of Charlie Noble (pp. 168-9) is almost a minor essay in prevarication, giving the reader virtually no impression of his appearance. (xxxv)


Reading The Confidence-Man closely is an unusual experience. To be caught in its web of complexity and uncertainty is stimulating and even exhausting. Yet trying to reduce that experience, say, to a paraphrase of the novel, or to fix the work’s evanescent meanings is often fruitless. Like the comic characters of Love’s Labour’s Lost, the reader goes to a great feast of language yet somehow comes away only with the scraps. (xxxvi)



bedizened (adj.)
dressed up or decorated gaudily.
The great ship-canal of Ving-King-Ching, in the Flowery Kingdom, seems the Mississippi in parts, where, amply flowing between low, vine-tangled banks, flat as tow-paths, it bears the huge toppling steamers, bedizened and lacquered within like imperial junks. (13)


embrasure (n.)
a small opening in a parapet of a fortified building, splayed on the inside.
Pierced along its great white bulk with two tiers of small embrasure-like windows, well above the water-line, the Fidèle, though, might at a distance have been taken by strangers for some whitewashed fort on a floating isle. (13)


As among Chaucer’s Canterbury pilgrims, or those oriental ones crossing the Red Sea towards Mecca in the festival month, there was no lack of variety. Natives of all sorts, and foreigners; men of business and men of pleasure; parlour men and backwoodsmen; farm-hunters and fame-hunters; heiress-hunters, gold-hunters, buffalo-hunters, bee-hunters, happiness-hunters, truth-hunters, and still keener hunters after all these hunters. Fine ladies in slippers, and moccasined squaws; Northern speculators and Eastern philosophers; English, Irish, German, Scotch, Danes; Santa Fé traders in striped blankets, and Broadway bucks in cravats of cloth of gold; fine-looking Kentucky boatmen, and Japanese-looking Mississippi cotton-planters; Quakers in full drab, and United States soldiers in full regimentals; slaves, black, mulatto, quadroon; modish young Spanish Creoles, and old-fashioned French Jews; Mormons and Papists; Dives and Lazarus; jesters and mourners, teetotalers and convivialists, deacons and blacklegs; hard-shell Baptists and clay-eaters; grinning negroes, and Sioux chiefs solemn as high-priests. In short, a piebald parliament, an Anacharsis Cloots congress of all kinds of that multiform pilgrim species, man.

As pine, beech, birch, ash, hackmatack, hemlock, spruce, bass-wood, maple, interweave their foliage in the natural wood, so these mortals blended their varieties of visage and garb. A Tartar-like picturesqueness; a sort of pagan abandonment and assurance. Here reigned the dashing and all-fusing spirit of the West, whose type is the Mississippi itself, which, uniting the streams of the most distant and opposite zones, pours them along, helter-skelter, in one cosmopolitan and confident tide. (14)


“The will of man is by his reason swayed.” (17, from Shakespeare)


asperity (n.)
harshness of tone or manner.
‘But why not, friend, put as charitable a construction as one can upon the poor fellow?’ said the soldier-like Methodist, with increased difficulty maintaining a pacific demeanour towards one whose own asperity seemed so little to entitle him to it: ‘he looks honest, don’t he?’ (20)


‘You fools!’ cried he with the wooden leg, writhing himself loose and inflamedly turning upon the throng; ‘you flock of fools, under this captain of fools, in this ship of fools!’ (21)


‘You see, sir, the mind is ductile, very much so: but images, ductilely received into it, need a certain time to harden and bake in their impressions, otherwise such a casualty as I speak of will in an instant obliterate them, as though they had never been. We are but clay, sir, potter’s clay, as the good book says, clay, feeble, and too-yielding clay. But I will not philosophize.’ (27)


pettish (adj.)
(of a person or their behavior) childishly bad-tempered and petulant.
These pettish words were breathed by a well-to-do gentleman in a ruby-coloured vest, and with a ruby-coloured cheek, a ruby-headed cane in his hand, to a man in a gray coat and white tie, who, shortly after the interview last described, had accosted him for contributions to a Widow and Orphan Asylum recently founded among the Seminoles. (37)


‘Does all the world act? Am I, for instance, an actor? Is my reverend friend here, too, a perforrmer?’

‘Yes, don’t you both perform acts? To do is to act; so all doers are actors.’ (41)


‘You two green-horns! Money, you think, is the sole motive to pains and hazard, deception and devilry, in this world. How much money did the devil make by gulling Eve?’ (42)


lucre (n.)
money, esp. when regarded as sordid or distasteful or gained in a dishonorable way.
Lucre those bills might be, but as yet having been kept unspotted from the world, not of the filthy sort. (47-8)


nabob (n.)
a person of conspicuous wealth or high status.
‘By the way, from the manner in which you alluded to the world’s census, it would appear that, according to your world-wide scheme, the pauper not less than the nabob is to contribute to the relief of pauperism, and the heathen not less than the Christian to the conversion of heathenism.’ (51)


‘Experience, sir,’ originally observed the sophomore, ‘is the only teacher.’ (62)


connubial (adj.)
of or relating to marriage or the relationship of husband and wife; conjugal.
[B]ut if the unfortunate man liked connubially to rejoice his soul with such chimeras, much connubial joy might they give him. (75)


coxcomb (n.)
a vain and conceited man; a dandy.

persiflage (n.)
light and slightly contemptuous mockery or banter.

Years ago, a grave American savan, being in London, observed at an evening party there, a certain coxcombical felow, as he thought, an absurd ribbon in his lapel, and full of smart persiflage, whisking about to the admiration of as many as were disposed to admire. (78)


If reason be judge, no writer has produced such inconsistent characters as nature herself has. (85)


Procrustean (adj.)
(esp. of a framework or system) enforcing uniformity or conformity without regard to natural variation or individuality.
Procrustean beds, on whose hard grain humble worth and honesty writhed, still invoking repose, while but torment responded. (89)


surtout (n.)
a man’s overcoat of a style similar to a frock coat.
‘I saw his long, snuff-coloured surtout.’ (91)


hussar (n.)
a soldier in a light cavalry regiment that had adopted a dress uniform modeled on that of the Hungarian hussars.
The sun comes out, a golden hussar, from his tent, flashing his helm on the world. (94)


hyssop (n.)
(in biblical use) a wild shrub of uncertain identity whose twigs were used for sprinkling in ancient Jewish rites of purification.
‘True Indian doctors, though not learned in names we are not unfamiliar with essences – successors of Solomon the Wise, who knew all vegetables, from the cedar of Lebanon, to the hyssop on the wall.’ (96)


gallipot (n.)
a small pot made from glazed earthenware or metal, used by pharmacists to hold medicines or ointments.
‘For years I have been but a gallipot for your experimentizers to rinse your experiments into, and now, in this livid skin, partake of the nature of my contents.’ (97)


But, insensible to their coldness, or charitably overlooking it, he more wooingly than ever resumed: ‘May I venture upon a small supposition? Have I your kind leave, ladies and gentlemen?’

To which modest appeal, no one had the kindness to answer a syllable.

‘Well,’ said he, resignedly, ‘silence is at least not denial, and may be consent.’ (103)


‘I was saying what, since you wish it, I cheerfully repeat, that the Samaritan Pain Dissuader, which I here hold in my hand, will either cure or ease any pain you please, within ten minutes after its application.’

‘Does it produce insensibility?’

‘By no means. Not the least of its merits is, that it is not an opiate. It kills pain without killing feeling.’

‘You lie! Some pains cannot be eased but by producing insensibility, and cannot be cured but by producing death.’ (107)


‘Well, suspect first, and know next. True knowledge comes but by suspicion or revelation. That’s my maxim.’ (112)


pavior (n.)
a person who lays paving stones.
As bad luck would have it, there was trouble near, between a gentleman who had been drinking wine, and a pavior who was sober. (115)


‘Think it will cure me?’ coughed the miser in echo; ‘why shouldn’t it? The medicine is nat’ral yarbs; yarbs must cure me.’

‘Because a thing is nat’ral, as you call it, you think it must be good. But who gave you that cough? Was it, or was it not, nature?’

‘Sure, you don’t think that natur, Dame Natur, will hurt a body, do you?’

‘Natur is good Queen Bess; but who’s responsible for the cholera?’ (129)


‘Picked and prudent sentiments. You are the moderate man, the invaluable understrapper of the wicked man. You, the moderate man, may be used for wrong, but are useless for right.’ (136-7)


‘”The child is father of the man.”‘ (144)


‘But truth is like a thrashing-machine; tender sensibilities must keep out of the way.’ (145)


‘Suppose a boy evince no noble quality. Then generously give him credit for his prospective one. Don’t you see? So we say to our patrons when they would fain return a boy upon as unworthy: “Madam, or sir (as the case may be), has this boy a beard?” “No.” “Has he, we respectfully ask, as yet, evinced any noble quality?” “No, indeed.” “Then, madam, or sir, take him back, we humbly beseech; and keep him till that same noble quality sprouts; for, have confidence, it, like the beard, is in him.”‘ (148)


‘He who loves not bread dotes not on dough.’ (148)


‘Ah, you are a talking man – what I call a wordy man. You talk, talk.’

‘And with submission, sir, what is the greatest judge, bishop, or prophet, but a talking man? He talks, talks. It is the peculiar vocation of a teacher to talk. What’s wisdom itself but table-talk? The best wisdom in this world, and the last spoken by its teacher, did it not literally and truly come in the form of table-talk?’ (151)


guerdon (n.)
a reward or recompense.

ostler (n.)
a man employed to look after the horses of people staying at an inn.

Had you but kept that thirtieth boy – been patient with his sickly virtues, cultivated them, hoed round them, why what a glorious guerdon would have been yours, when at last you should have had a St. Augustine for an ostler.’ (153)


vicissitude (n.)
[literary] alternation between opposite or contrasting things.
To what vicissitudes of light and shade is man subject! (156)


splenetic (adj.)
bad-tempered; spiteful.
Admonished by which, he thinks he must be a little splenetic in his intercourse henceforth. (157)


‘Who in the name of the great chimpanzee, in whose likeness, you, Marzetti, and the other chatterers are made, who in thunder are you?’

‘A cosmopolitan, a catholic man; who, being such, ties himself to no narrow tailor or teacher, but federates, in heart as in costume, something of the various gallantries of men under various suns. Oh, one roams not over the gallant globe in vain. Bred by it, is a fraternal and fusing feeling. No man is a stranger. You accost anybody. Warm and confiding, you wait not for measured advances. And though, indeed, mine, in this instance, have met with no very hilarious encouragement, yet the principle of a true citizen of the world is still to return good for ill. – My dear fellow, tell me how I can serve you.’

‘By dispatching yourself, Mr Popinjay-of-the-world, into the heart of the Lunar Mountains. You are another of them. Out of my sight!’

‘Is the sight of humanity so very disagreeable to you then? Ah, I may be foolish, but for my part, in all its aspects, I love it. Served up à la Pole, or à la Moor, à la Ladrone, or à la Yankee, that good dish, man, still delights me; or rather is man a wine I never weary of comparing and sipping; wherefore am I a pledged cosmopolitan, a sort of London-Dock-Vault connoisseur, going about from Tehran to Natchitoches, a taster of races; in all his vintages, smacking my lips over this racy creature, man, continually. But as there are teetotal palates which have a distaste even for Amontillado, so I suppose there may be teetotal souls which relish not even the very best brands of humanity.’ (159-60)


Life is a pic-nic en costume; one must take a part, assume a character, stand ready in a sensible way to play the fool. To come in plain clothes, with a long face, as a wiseacre, only makes one a discomfort to himself, and a blot upon the scene. (161)


sot (n.)
a habitual drunkard.
Let me tell you – en confiance – that while revelry may not always merge into ebriety, soberness, in too deep potations, may become a sort of sottishness. (161)


tipple (v.)
drink alcohol, esp. habitually.
Which sober sottishness, in my way of thinking, is only to be cured by beginning at the other end of the horn, to tipple a little. (161)


shoat (n.)
a young pig, esp. one that is newly weaned.
The story of the worthy old woman of Goshen, a very moral old woman, who wouldn’t let her shoats eat fattening apples in fall, for fear the fruit might ferment upon their brainns, and so make them swinish. (161)


‘Ah, did you but know it, how much pleasanter to puff at this philanthropic pipe, than still to keep fumbling at that misanthropic rifle.’ (165)


‘The pick-pocket, too, loves to have his fellow-creatures round him. Tut, man! no one goes into the crowd but for his end; and the end of too many is the same as the pick-pocket’s – a purse.’ (165)


catamount (n.)
a medium-sized or large wild cat, esp. a cougar.
Nerve like a catamount’s. (169)


amanuensis (n.)
a literary or artistic assistant, in particular one who takes dictation or copies manuscripts.
In every company being called upon to give this history, which none could better do, the judge at last fell into a style so methodic, you would have thought he spoke less to mere auditors than to an invisible amanuensis. (171)


“‘The backwoodsman is a lonely man. He is a thoughtful man. He is a man strong and unsophisticated. Impulsive, he is what some might call unprincipled. At any rate, he is self-willed; being one who less hearkens to what others may say about things, than looks for himself, to see what are things themselves. If in straits, there are few to help; he must depend upon himself; he must continually look to himself. Hence self-reliance, to the degree of standing by his own judgment, though it stand alone. Not that he deems himself infallible; too many mistakes in following trails prove the contrary; but he thinks that nature destines such sagacity as she has given him, as she destines it to the ‘possum. To these fellow-beings of the wilds their untutored sagacity is their best dependence. If with either it prove faulty, if the ‘possum’s betray it to the trap, or the backwoodsman’s mislead him into ambuscade, there are consequences to be undergone, but no self-blame. As with the ‘possum, instincts prevail with the backwoodsman over precepts. Like the ‘possum, the backwoodsman presents the spectacle of a creature dwelling exclusively among the works of God, yet these, truth must confess, breed little in him of a godly mind. Small bowing and scraping is his, further than when with bent knee he points his rifle, or picks its flint. With few companions, solitude by necessity his lengthened lot, he stands the trial — no slight one, since, next to dying, solitude, rightly borne, is perhaps of fortitude the most rigorous test. But not merely is the backwoodsman content to be alone, but in no few cases is anxious to be so. The sight of smoke ten miles off is provocation to one more remove from man, one step deeper into nature. Is it that he feels that whatever man may be, man is not the universe? that glory, beauty, kindness, are not all engrossed by him? that as the presence of man frights birds away, so, many bird-like thoughts? Be that how it will, the backwoodsman is not without some fineness to his nature. Hairy Orson as he looks, it may be with him as with the Shetland seal — beneath the bristles lurks the fur.

“‘Though held in a sort a barbarian, the backwoodsman would seem to America what Alexander was to Asia — captain in the vanguard of conquering civilization. Whatever the nation’s growing opulence or power, does it not lackey his heels? Pathfinder, provider of security to those who come after him, for himself he asks nothing but hardship. Worthy to be compared with Moses in the Exodus, or the Emperor Julian in Gaul, who on foot, and bare-browed, at the head of covered or mounted legions, marched so through the elements, day after day. The tide of emigration, let it roll as it will, never overwhelms the backwoodsman into itself; he rides upon advance, as the Polynesian upon the comb of the surf.’” (173-4)


‘”‘As the twig is bent the tree’s inclined.’”‘ (175)


arrant (adj.)
complete, utter.
While, on the other hand, those red men who are the greatest sticklers for the theory of Indian virtue, and Indian loving-kindness, are sometimes the arrantest horse-thieves and tomahawkers among them. (176)


calenture (n.)
feverish delirium supposedly caused by the heat in the tropics.
He would relate instances where, after some months’ lonely scoutings, the Indian-hater is suddenly seized with a sort of calenture. (181)


calumet (n.)
a North American Indian peace pipe.
‘One moment,’ gently interrupted the cosmopolitan here, ‘and let me refill my calumet.’ (181)


chyle (n.)
a milky fluid consisting of fat droplets and lymph. It drains from the lacteals of the small intestine into the lymphatic system during digestion.
It is said that when the tidings were brought him, he was ashore sitting beneath a hemlock eating his dinner of venison – and as the tidings were told him, after the first start he kept on eating, but slowly and deliberately, chewing the wild news with the wild meat, as if both together, turned to chyle, together should sinew him to his intent. (183)


tyro (n.)
a beginner or novice.
Master of that woodland-cunning enabling the adept to subsist where the tyro would perish, and expert in all those arts by which an enemy is pursued for weeks, perhaps months, without once suspecting it, he kept to the forest. (184)


‘Charity, like poetry, should be cultivated, if only for its being graceful.’ (187)


‘You rather jumble together misanthropy and infidelity.’

‘I do not jumble them; they are coordinates. For misanthropy, springing from that same root with disbelief of religion, is twin with that. It springs from the same root, I say; for, set aside materialism, and what is an atheist, but one who does not, or will not, see in the universe a ruling principle of love; and what a misanthrope, but one who does not, or will not, see in man a ruling principle of kindness? Don’t you see? In either case the vice consists in a want of confidence. (188)


‘Ours is friendship at first sight, ain’t it?’

‘It is,’ was the placidly pleased reply: ‘and the same may be said of friendship at first sight as of love at first sight: it is the only true one, the only noble one. It bespeaks confidence. Who would go sounding his way into love or friendship, like a strange ship by night, into an enemy’s harbour?’ (191)


catholicon (n.)
a universal remedy; a panacea.
At any rate, this same humour has something, there is no telling what, of beneficence in it, it is such a catholicon and charm – nearly all men agreeing in relishing it, though they may agree in little else – and in its way it undeniably does such a deal of familiar good in the world, that no wonder it is almost a proverb, that a man of humour, a man capable of a good loud laugh – seem how he may in other things – can hardly be a heartless scamp. (194)


drouth (n.)
dialect or poetic form of drought.
‘Ha, ha, ha!’ laughed the other, pointing to the figure of a pale pauper-boy on the deck below, whose pitiableness was touched, as it were, with ludicrousness by a pair of monstrous boots, apparently some mason’s discarded ones, cracked with drouth, half eaten by lime, and culed up about the toe like a bassoon. (194-5)


‘True, it is said that a man may smile, and smile, and smile, and be a villain; but it is not said that a man may laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and be one, is it, Charlie?’ (195)


‘If Truth don’t speak through the people, it never speaks at all; so I heard one say.’ (195)


escutcheon (n.)
a shield or emblem bearing a coat of arms.
‘As false, fatal, and calumnious,’ exclaimed the other, with a degree of ardour befitting one representing a stigma upon the family escutcheon, ‘and for a father to give his son – monstrous.’ (202)


hortatory (adj.)
tending or aiming to exhort.
Is there anything in it hortatory to high, heroic, disinterested effort? (203)


grapnel (n.)
a grappling hook; a small anchor with several flukes.
‘Really and truly,’ cried the other with a kind of tickled modesty and pleased concern, ‘mine is an understanding too weak to throw out grapnels and hug another to it. (204)


fatuous (adj.)
silly and pointless.
The discreet, decorous, old dotard-of-state; senile prudence; fatuous soullessness! (206)


riband (n.)
a ribbon.
The ribanded old dog is paralytic all down one side, and that the side of nobleness. (206)


Strange, that in a work of amusement, this severe fidelity to real life should be exacted by any one, who, by taking up such a work, sufficiently shows that he is not unwilling to drop real life, and turn, for a time, to something different. Yes, it is, indeed, strange that any one should clamour for the thing he is weary of; that any one, who, for any cause, finds real life dull, should yet demand of him who is to divert his attention from it, that he should be true to that dullness. (217)


It is with fiction as with religion: it should present another world, and yet one to which we feel the tie. (218)


‘Deep melancholy overspread the cheery face of Charlemont; he sat for some moments tremulously silent; then pushing a full decanter towards the guest, in a choked voice, said: “No, no! when by art, and care, and time, flowers are made to bloom over a grave, who would seek to dig all up again only to know the mystery? – The wine.”‘ (220-1)


‘And here we have another beautiful truth. When any creature is by its make inimical to other creatures, nature in effect labels that creature, much as an apothecary does a poison. So that whoever is destroyed by a rattlesnake, or other harmful agent, it is his own fault. He should have respected the label. Hence that significant passage in Scripture, “Who will pity the charmer that is bitten with a serpent?”‘

I would pity him,’ said the cosmopolitan, a little bluntly, perhaps.

‘But don’t you think,’ rejoined the other, still maintaining his passionless air, ‘don’t you think, that for a man to pity where nature is pitiless, is a little presuming?’

‘Let casuists decide the casuistry, but the compassion the heart decides for itself.’ (225)


pellucid (adj.)
translucently clear.
‘Is a rattlesnake accountable?’ asked the stranger, with such a preternaturally cold, gemmy glance out of his pellucid blue eye, that he seemed more a metaphysical merman than a feeling man; ‘is a rattlesnake accountable?’ (226)


‘What are you? What am I? Nobody knows who anybody is. The data which life furnishes, towards forming a true estimate of any being, are as insufficient to that end as in geometry one side given would be to determine the triangle.’ (227)


‘Pharaoh’s poorest brick-maker lies proudlier in his rags than the Emperor of all the Russias in his hollands,’ oracularly said the stranger, ‘for death, though in a worm, is majestic; while life, though in a king, is contemptible. So talk not against mummies. It is a part of my mission to teach mankind a due reverence for mummies.’ (229-30)


‘Sir,’ with calm energy, ‘man came into this world, not to sit down and muse, not to befog himself with vain subtleties, but to gird up his loins and work. Mystery in the morning, and mystery in the night, and the beauty of mystery is everywhere; but still the plain truth remains, that mouth and purse must be filled.’ (234)


‘Egbert is both my disciple and my poet. For poetry is not a thing of ink and rhyme, but of thought and act, and, in the latter way, is by any one to be found anywhere, when in useful action sought.’ (235)


‘Through tears never did man see his way in the dark.’ (241)


‘Boys are little men, it is said.’ (242)


‘Oh, Charlie! you talk not to a god, a being who in himself holds his own estate, but to a man who, being a man, is the sport of fate’s wind and wave, and who mounts towards heaven or sinks towards hell, as the billows roll him in trough or on crest.’

‘Tut! Frank. Man is no such poor devil as that comes to – no poor drifting sea-weed of the universe. Man has a soul; which, if he will, puts him beyond fortune’s finger and the future’s spite. Don’t whine like fortune’s whipped dog, Frank, or by the heart of a true friend, I will cut ye.’ (243)


jeremiad (n.)
a long, mournful complaint or lamentation; a list of woes.
This inscription raised some talk in the town, and was rather severely criticized by the capitalist – one of a very cheerful turn – who had secured his loan to China Aster by the mortgage; and though it also proved obnoxious to the man who, in town-meeting, had first moved for the compliment to China Aster’s memory, and, indeed, was deemed by him a sort of slur upon the candlemaker, to that degree that he refused to believe that the candlemaker himself had composed it, charging Old Plain Talk with the authorship, alleging that the internal evidence showed that none but that veteran old croaker could have penned such a jeremiade – yet, for all this, the stone stood. (259-60)


I tell you, Frank, true friendship, like other precious things, is not rashly to be meddled with. (261)


tonsorial (adj.)
of or relating to hairdressing.
‘For instance, now,’ flinging aside his neckcloth, throwing back his blouse, and reseating himself on the tonsorial throne, at sight of which proceeding the barber mechanically filled a cup with hot water from a copper vessel over a spirit-lamp, ‘for instance, now, suppose I say to you, “Barber, my dear brother, unhappily I have no small change by me to-night, but shave me, and depend upon your money tomorrow” – suppose I should say that now, you would put trust in me, wouldn’t you?’ (267)


‘Because, I recalled what the son of Sirach says in the True Book: “An enemy speaketh sweetly with his lips”; and so I did what the son of Sirach advises in such cases: “I believed not his many words.”‘ (278)


Where does any novelist pick up any character? For the most part, in town, to be sure. Every great town is a kind of manshow, where the novelist goes for his stock, just as the agriculturist goes to the cattle-show for his. (281)


‘True; but look, now, what my doubt is. I am one who thinks well of man. I love man. I have confidence in man. But what was told me not a half-hour since? I was told that I would find it written — “Believe not his many words — an enemy speaketh sweetly with his lips” — and also I was told that I would find a good deal more to the same effect, and all in this book. I could not think it; and, coming here to look for myself, what do I read? Not only just what was quoted, but also, as was engaged, more to the same purpose, such as this: “With much communication he will tempt thee; he will smile upon thee, and speak thee fair, and say What wantest thou? If thou be for his profit he will use thee; he will make thee bear, and will not be sorry for it. Observe and take good heed. When thou hearest these things, awake in thy sleep.”‘

‘Who’s that describing the confidence-man?’ here came from the berth again. (286)


Apocrypha (n.)
biblical or related writings not forming part of the accepted canon of Scripture.
‘Look,’ turning the leaves forward and back, till all the Old Testament lay flat on one side, and all the New Testament flat on the other, while in his fingers he supported vertically the portion between, ‘look, sir, all this to the right is certain truth, and all this to the left is certain truth, but all I hold in my hand here is apocrypha.’ (287)


‘No, sir, I am not surprised,’ said the old man; then added: ‘from what you say, I see you are something of my way of thinking – you think that to distrust the creature, is a kind of distrusting of the Creator.’ (288)


congé (n.)
an unceremonious dismissal or rejection of someone.
‘Yes, child – yes, yes,’ said the boy, with which roguish parody, by way of congé, he scraped back his hard foot on the woven flowers of the carpet, much as a mischievous steer in May scrapes back his horny hoof in the pasture. (292)


‘In short, I never forget that passage of Scripture which says, “Jehovah shall be thy confidence.”‘ (296)

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mosquito inspiration

munch munch munch.

mosquito-munched and irritated, i awoke in the dead of night, tossing and turning, seeking solace from flitting, fluttering, blood-sucking bodies of dust and disease–unseen in the dark of my room. no solace could i find.

already, the vampire flies had done decent work. legs, arms, shoulders throbbed w singular pain and annoyance, these being both symptoms in of themselves as well causes of a paranoia that the mosquitoes would seek still more fertile plots of body upon which to greedily execute their aims. and so i tossed and turned and tossed and turned.

until i couldn’t take it anymore. i arose with a plan.

first, i lit a large candle in the dark like a costco-sized can of pork beans. then i stumbled around the house’s shadows for both a bottle of moisturizer and a single stick of incense. after lighting the incense next to my bed, i switched on some Portuguese folk music from the early 70s–a time of political dissent for the musician and his allies–and set some water to boil.

pressing the warm compress to my face, i reflected on Saṃsāra.

more to the point, i considered the extent to my night’s suffering–the trifling work of a few bugs, if that many–while vaguely imagining the surely far deeper, far more hurtful, far more insidious pain and irritation suffered by this musician of Portugal and his family, friends, and fans. we know something of incompetent leaders here in this country, but we know little of dictators–except that we have a history of replacing foreign ones w bloodier versions of their preceding incarnations. and here in my bedroom, the only blood lost is infinitesimal.

but back to the plan.

though over the past half hour, i’ve looked up the musician, a word to describe the area around the eyes (not quite), Saṃsāra, and the Buddhist term for suffering, i (for whatever reason) refuse to look up what deters mosquitoes. i’m simply assuming that closing my window (it was only open a sliver), lighting some incense (they don’t like that, right?), and moisturizing my body down (that’s not just marinating me for them, is it?) will do the trick.

but maybe it’s just four hours past midnight and i’m still dreaming.

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selections from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (1912)

The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it. They cannot spell it because they have nothing to spell it with but an old foreign alphabet of which only the consonants — and not all of them — have any agreed speech value. Consequently no man can teach himself what it should sound like from reading it; and it is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman despise him. (3)


A complete and exact phonetic script is neither practicable nor necessary for ordinary use; but if we enlarge our alphabet to the Russian size, and make our spelling as phonetic as Spanish, the advance will be prodigious. (6)


I wish to boast that Pygmalion has been an extremely successful play, both on stage and screen, all over Europe and North America as well as at home. It is so intensely and deliberately didactic, and its subject is esteemed so dry, that I delight in throwing it at the heads of the wiseacres who repeat the parrot cry that art should never be didactic. It goes to prove my contention that great art can never be anything else. (6-7)


Happy is the man who can make a living by his hobby! (17)


THE NOTE TAKER [explosively] Woman: cease this detestable boohooing instantly; or else seek the shelter of some other place of worship.

THE FLOWER GIRL [with feeble defiance] Ive a right to be here if I like, same as you.

THE NOTE TAKER. A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere — no right to live. Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespear and Milton and The Bible: and dont sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon. (18)


THE NOTE TAKER. Yes, you squashed cabbage leaf, you disgrace to the noble architecture of these columns, you incarnate insult to the English language: I could pass you off as the Queen of Sheba. (18)


laryngoscope (n.)
an instrument for examining the larynx, or for inserting a tube through it.
In this corner stands a flat writing-table, on which are a phonograph, a laryngoscope, a row of tiny organ pipes with a bellows, a set of lamp chimneys for singing flames with burners attached to a gas plug in the wall by an indiarubber tube, several tuning-forks of different sizes, a life-size image of half a human head, shewing in section the vocal organs, and a box containing a supply of wax cylinders for the phonograph. (23)


HIGGINS [becoming excited as the idea grows on him] What is life but a series of inspired follies? The difficulty is to find them to do. Never lose a chance: it doesnt come every day. I shall make a duchess of this draggletailed guttersnipe. (29)


LIZA. Whood marry me?

HIGGINS [suddenly resorting to the most thrillingly beautiful low tones in his best elocutionary style] By George, Eliza, the streets will be strewn with the bodies of men shooting themselves for your sake before Ive done with you. (31)


PICKERING [in good-humored remonstrance] Does it occur to you, Higgins, that the girl has some feelings?

HIGGINS [looking critically at her] Oh no, I dont think so. Not any feelings that we need bother about. [Cheerily] Have you, Eliza?

LIZA. I got my feelings same as anyone else.

HIGGINS [to Pickering, reflectively] You see the difficulty?

PICKERING. Eh? What difficulty?

HIGGINS. To get her to talk grammar. (32)


MRS PEARCE. Mr Higgins: youre tempting the girl. It’s not right. She should think of the future.

HIGGINS. At her age! Nonsense! Time enough to think of the future when you havnt any future to think of. No, Eliza: do as this lady does: think of other people’s futures; but never think of your own. Think of chocolates, and taxis, and gold, and diamonds. (33)


PICKERING. Excuse me, Higgins; but I really must interfere. Mrs Pearce is quite right. If this girl is to put herself in your hands for six months for an experiment in teaching, she must understand thoroughly what she’s doing.

HIGGINS. How can she? She’s incapable of understanding anything. Besides, do any of us understand what we are doing? If we did, would we ever do it? (33-34)


PICKERING. Excuse the straight question, Higgins. Are you a man of good character where women are concerned?

HIGGINS [moodily] Have you ever met a man of good character where women are concerned?

PICKERING. Yes: very frequently.

HIGGINS [dogmatically, lifting himself on his hands to the level of the piano, and sitting on it with a bounce] Well, I havnt. I find that the moment I let a woman make friends with me, she becomes jealous, exacting, suspicious, and a damned nuisance. I find that the moment I let myself make friends with a woman, I become selfish and tyrannical. Women upset everything. When you let them into your life, you find that the woman is driving at one thing and youre driving at another.

PICKERING. At what, for example?

HIGGINS [coming off the piano restlessly] Oh, Lord knows! I suppose the woman wants to live her own life; and the man wants to live his; and each tries to drag the other on to the wrong track. One wants to go north and the other south; and the result is that both have to go east, though they both hate the east wind. [He sits down on the bench at the keyboard.] So here I am, a confirmed old bachelor, and likely to remain so. (37-38)


Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves is as true of personal habits as of money. (40)


PICKERING. Have you no morals, man?

DOOLITTLE [unabashed] Cant afford them, Governor. Neither could you if you was as poor as me. (45)


MISS EYNSFORD HILL [who considers Higgins quite eligible matrimonially] I sympathize. I havnt any small talk. If people would only be frank and say what they really think!

HIGGINS [relapsing into gloom] Lord forbid!

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [taking up her daughter's cue] But why?

HIGGINS. What they think they ought to think is bad enough, Lord knows; but what they really think would break up the whole show. Do you suppose it would be really agreeable if I were to come out now with what I really think?

MISS EYNSFORD HILL [gaily] Is it so very cynical?

HIGGINS. Cynical! Who the dickens said it was cynical? I mean it wouldnt be decent.

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [seriously] Oh! I’m sure you dont mean that, Mr Higgins.

HIGGINS. You see, we’re all savages, more or less. We’re supposed to be civilized and cultured — to know all about poetry and philosophy and art and science, and so on; but how many of us know even the meanings of these names? [To Miss Hill] What do y o u know of poetry? [To Mrs Hill] What do y o u know of science? [Indicating Freddy] What does h e know of art or science or anything else? What the devil do you imagine I know of philosophy?

MRS HIGGINS [warningly] Or of manners, Henry? (58)


HOSTESS. Oh, nonsense! She speaks English perfectly.

NEPOMMUCK. Too perfectly. Can you shew me any English woman who speaks English as it should be spoken? Only foreigners who have been taught to speak it speak it well. (71)


morganatic (adj.)
of or denoting a marriage in which neither the spouse of lower rank nor any children have any claim to the possessions or title of the spouse of higher rank.
Not necessarily legitimate, of course. Morganatic perhaps. But that is undoubtedly her class. (72)


HIGGINS. You might marry, you know. [He bites a large piece out of the apple and munches it noisily.] You see, Eliza, all men are not confirmed old bachelors like me and the Colonel. Most men are the marrying sort (poor devils!); and you’re not bad-looking: it’s quite a pleasure to look at you sometimes — not now, of course, because youre crying and looking as ugly as the very devil; but when youre all right and quite yourself, youre what I should call attractive. That is, to the people in the marrying line, you understand. You go to bed and have a good nice rest; and then get up and look at yourself in the glass; and you wont feel so cheap. (78)


LIZA. I sold flowers. I didnt sell myself. Now youve made a lady of me I’m not fit to sell anything else. I wish youd left me where you found me. (78)


dudgeon (n.)
a feeling of offense or deep resentment.
He turns on his heel and is about to go in extreme dudgeon. (80)


I have to live for others and not for myself: that’s middle class morality. (89)


The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated. (95)


HIGGINS [seriously] The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls: in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, where there are no third-class carriages, and one soul is as good as another. (99)


HIGGINS. Would the world ever have been made if its maker had been afraid of making trouble? Making life means making trouble. Theres only one way of escaping trouble; and thats killing things. Cowards, you notice, are always shrieking to have troublesome people killed. (101)


LIZA. Every girl has a right to be loved. (102)


HIGGINS. Can he m a k e anything of you? That’s the point.

LIZA. Perhaps I could make something of him. But I never thought of us making anything of one another; and you never think of anything else. I only want to be natural. (102)

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half pipe

clutter, clutter, clutter.

at some point–a few years ago–my cousin Rich and i faced the same dilemma. both wannabe-minimalists, we sought a solution to the never-ending clutter that continually stacked up around us. for him, it was birthday cards, graduation cards, christmas cards, all the well-meaning cardboard letters of love from abuelitas and tias and primas and all the rest of the world, a goddamn menagerie of cards. for me, it was concert programs.

to varying degrees, greeting cards and concert programs represented things that should be kept, but served no real purpose in lying around. they just collect dust.

so, we digitized. we scanned all the things, then tossed their material representations. 0s and 1s are good enough, we deemed.

i only bring this up because i feel this desire to trash semi-important things rising in me. the walk looms, and i don’t want to pay a ton of extra money to store boxes of bullshit for half a year. so, before i throw it away, this is the story of why there’s a fucking foot-and-a-half long half pipe of bamboo sitting on the mirror in my bathroom.




seven years ago, i moved into the Harwood Tower.

it was my sophomore year of college and, thanks to my abysmal room draw number and some very good friends, i moved into the tiniest room of a third-story suite with Allison, Devi, James, and Nick. my room was 99 square feet in the shape of a rectangle with large windows lining the long edge, and i fucking loved it.

none of that is really relevant to this story, but hey.

so one night, Allison, Micah, my girlfriend Meryl, and i took a little something called 2C-B. or at least that’s what my friend back in the Bay had told me it was. he had also told me that because it was so incredibly powerful, it had completely floored him, and so he was going to be careful to give me not-so-massive-but-still-meaningful doses. and so that was the story i told my three comrades as we smiled nervously into this strange new oblivion.

but oblivion never came. we all considered ourselves relatively experienced in this area, and we could all agree: it was nothing more than a heavy drunkenness with a dash of extra-high consciousness. nothing to be afraid of.

curiously enough, we came to this conclusion while standing in the middle of the farm, a peaceful wonderland of dirt and organic growth on the southeastern corner of our little campus. we stared at the stars and swung our bamboo around.


some time earlier, we’d stumbled in the dark upon a bunch of bamboo, and we’d each selected one stalk (or two, in Meryl’s case) to our liking. later we realized how much our choices perfectly reflected ourselves:

Allison had selected a tall and thin stalk, Meryl had selected two pieces to bang together like drum sticks, Micah’s stood robust and wide in girth like a staff for a grizzly bear, and mine… was a foot-and-a-half long half pipe.

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Emily Dickinson favorites (301-500)

at long last, i have returned to ED. here are my favorites from the last 200:


I reason, Earth is short –
And Anguish – absolute –
And many hurt,
But, what of that?

I reason, we could die –
The best Vitality,
Cannot excel Decay,
But, what of that?

I reason, that in Heaven –
Somehow, it will be even –
Some new Equation, given –
But, what of that?


Like Some Old fashioned Miracle
When Summertime is done –
Seems Summer’s Recollection
And the Affairs of June

As infinite Tradition
As Cinderella’s Bays –
Or Little John – of Lincoln Green –
Or Blue Beard’s Galleries –

Her Bees have a fictitious Hum –
Her Blossoms, like a Dream –
Elate us – till we almost weep –
So plausible – they seem –

Her Memories like Strains – Review –
When Orchestra is dumb –
The Violin in Baize replaced –
And Ear – and Heaven – numb –


Give little Anguish –
Lives will fret –
Give Avalanches –
And they’ll slant –
Straighten – look cautious for their Breath –
But make no syllable – like Death
Who only shows his Marble Disc –
Sublimer sort – than Speech –


He fumbles at your Soul
As Players at the Keys
Before they drop full Music on –
He stuns you by degrees –
Prepares your brittle Nature
For the Ethereal Blow
By fainter Hammers – further heard –
Then nearer – Then so slow
Your Breath has time to straighten –
Your Brain – to bubble Cool –
Deals – One – imperial – Thunderbolt –
That scalps your naked Soul –

When Winds take Forests in their Paws –
The Universe – is still –


I know that He exists.
Somewhere – in Silence –
He has hid his rare life
From our gross eyes.

‘Tis an instant’s play.
‘Tis a fond Ambush –
Just to make Bliss
Earn her own surprise!

But – should the play
Prove piercing earnest –
Should the glee – glaze –
In Death’s – stiff – stare –

Would not the fun
Look too expensive!
Would not the jest –
Have crawled too far!


Perhaps I asked too large –
I take – no less than skies –
For Earths, grow thick as
Berries, in my native town –

My Basket holds – just – Firmaments –
Those – dangle easy – on my arm,
But smaller bundles – Cram.


‘Tis Opposites – entice –
Deformed Men – ponder Grace –
Bright fires – the Blanketless –
The Lost – Day’s face –

The Blind – esteem it be
Enough Estate – to see –
The Captive – strangles new –
For deeming – Beggars – play –

To lack – enamor Thee –
Tho’ the Divinity –
Be only
Me –


I gained it so –
By Climbing slow –
By Catching at the Twigs that grow
Between the Bliss – and me –
It hung so high
As well the Sky
Attempt by Strategy –

I said I gained it –
This – was all –
Look, how I clutch it
Lest it fall –
And I a Pauper go –
Unfitted by an instant’s Grace
For the Contented – Beggar’s face
I wore – an hour ago –


What I can do – I will –
Though it be as little as a Daffodil –
That I cannot – must be
Unknown to possibility –


Heaven is so far of the Mind
That were the Mind dissolved –
The Site – of it – by Architect
Could not again be proved –

‘Tis vast – as our Capacity –
As fair – as our idea –
To Him of adequate desire
No further ’tis, than Here –


A precious – mouldering pleasure – ’tis –
To meet an Antique Book –
In just the Dress his Century wore –
A privilege – I think –

His venerable Hand to take –
And warming in our own –
A passage back – or two – to make –
To Times when he – was young –

His quaint opinions – to inspect –
His thought to ascertain
On Themes concern our mutual mind –
The Literature of Man –

What interested Scholars – most –
What Competitions ran –
When Plato – was a Certainty –
And Sophocles – a Man –

When Sappho – was a living Girl –
And Beatrice wore
The Gown that Dante – deified –
Facts Centuries before

He traverses – familiar –
As One should come to Town –
And tell you all your Dreams – were true –
He lived – where Dreams were born –

His presence is Enchantment –
You beg him not to go –
Old Volumes shake their Vellum Heads
And tantalize – just so –


I know lives, I could miss
Without a Misery –
Others – whose instant’s wanting –
Would be Eternity –

The last – a scanty Number –
‘T would scarcely fill a Two –
The first – a Gnat’s Horizon
Could easily outgrow –


I saw no Way – The Heavens were stitched –
I felt the Columns close –
The Earth reversed her Hemispheres –
I touched the Universe –

And back it slid – and I alone –
A Speck upon a Ball –
Went out upon Circumference –
Beyond the Dip of Bell –


There is a flower that Bees prefer –
And Butterflies – desire –
To gain the Purple Democrat
The Humming Bird – aspire

And Whatsoever Insect pass –
A Honey bear away
Proportioned to his several dearth
And her – capacity –

Her face be rounder than the Moon
And ruddier than the Gown
Of Orchis in the Pasture –
Or Rhododendron – worn –

She doth not wait for June –
Before the World be Green –
Her sturdy little Countenance
Against the Wind – be seen –

Contending with the Grass –
Near Kinsman to Herself –
For Privilege of Sod and Sun –
Sweet Litigants for Life –

And when the Hills be full –
And newer fashions blow –
Doth not retract a single spice
For pang of jealousy –

Her Public – be the Noon –
Her Providence – the Sun –
Her Progress – by the Bee – proclaimed –
In sovereign – Swerveless Tune –

The Bravest – of the Host –
Surrendering – the last –
Nor even of Defeat – aware –
When cancelled by the Frost –


I had not minded – Walls –
Were Universe – one Rock –
And far I heard his silver Call
The other side the Block –

I’d tunnel – till my Groove
Pushed sudden thro’ to his –
Then my face take her Recompense –
The looking in his Eyes –

But ’tis a single Hair –
A filament – a law –
A Cobweb – wove in Adamant –
A Battlement – of Straw –

A limit like the Veil
Unto the Lady’s face –
But every Mesh – a Citadel –
And Dragons – in the Crease –


The dropped like Flakes –
They dropped like Stars –
Like Petals from a Rose –
When suddenly across the June
A wind with fingers – goes –

They perished in the Seamless Grass –
No eye could find the place –
But God can summon every face
On his Repealless – List.


You’ll know it – as you know ’tis Noon –
By Glory –
As you do the Sun –
By Glory –
As you will in Heaven –
Know God the Father – and the Son.

By intuition, Mightiest Things
Assert themselves – and not by terms –
“I’m Midnight” – need the Midnight say –
“I’m Sunrise” –Need the Majesty?

Omnipotence – had not a Tongue –
His lisp – is Lightning – and the Sun –
His Conversation – with the Sea –
“How shall you know”?
Consult your Eye!


Could – I do more – for Thee –
Wert Thou a Bumble Bee –
Since for the Queen, have I –
Nought but Bouquet?


‘Tis little I – could care for Pearls –
Who own the ample sea –
Or Brooches – when the Emperor –
With Rubies – pelteth me –

Or Gold – who am the Prince of Mines –
Or Diamonds – when have I
A Diadem to fit a Dome –
Continual upon me –


I had no time to Hate –
The Grave would hinder Me –
And Life was not so
Ample I
Could finish – Enmity –

Nor had I time to Love –
But since
Some Industry must be –
The little Toil of Love –
I thought
Be large enough for Me –


To One denied to drink
To tell what Water is
Would be acuter, would it not
Than letting Him surmise?

To lead Him to the Well
And let Him hear it drip
Remind Him, would it not, somewhat
Of His condemned lip?

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the day i ran a 25-minute 5K





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