depth cues

depth cues


half in the sun, half

out, the right leg in halves,



implies divisions are tactile,

set in motion by an Ur

gesture, breathing in,

out, to let go,

as the declination



we can agree

the horse stands

at the far side of the blue

fence—we agree


but inclined, his nose

on the near side, reaches

for hours—


and the eye in residual

motion sees only

a crossing


I see motion

only after you move—

thought surfaces

across your face

a second before


I feel in my heart

a depth charge


I used to think wild

berries grew as the fruit

of dreaming; from within

the green and the dark,

such sweet, and bitter gestures


so knowing the circuitous

route of a songbird, the way

the other animals move

without obligation

or codes of reason


you can never trick your mind

to undo what’s done; objects

absorb as much as they can,

and reject the rest, which is

where we find ourselves





Drawn from defects

Drawn from defects


Riots of reject hues

minute vi

brations against the intercept


loving interpretation or

distrait wonders through




Best to love deeply as a flaw

than to skim pretty-pretty—

even as depth

inflicts the spiral


into scrap-heaped un

shining moments


Love the defect deeply as the only

sure thing


Please, reflect for now

one, a pool

of defects, as if chosen

by you for specifically



Please accept mirrors at pressure,

pretend you imagined them first,

not the interlope we share

through transduced zones

of winnowed light

and false starts which are

the only



Paint brush number 12—broad

and simple—with its own hand,

a series of force from source

to source


Listen: anonymous

translation in process

captures the original voice,

at a volume, multiplicative

so brush size

rarely a factor

Concurrent proofs

Concurrent proofs


“Each life is an encyclopedia, a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly shuffled and reordered in every way conceivable.”

“Natural languages always involve a certain amount of noise that impinges upon the essentiality of the information.”

–Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millenium (“Multiplicity”, “Exactitude”)


“. . . Here we are, without a doubt, still having doubts!”

–Wang An-Shih (1021-1086)




External messages complicate woven patterns—trade routes change

as people change, as substance moves outward to peripherals



Hands steady

on the trembling,

ongoing attempts

to find the



as route




Growth circles expand,

synthetic threads

looped loosely

around sign posts


Hands reach

through interior

net, the shape

and texture

of Deep Space



Aerial perspective: air,

water, smoke, millions

of molecules crowd the skyline

of light, agitative



What truth, what proof,

travels deep in molecular



Paul Celan: Breathturn

From Breathturn by Paul Celan, 1967


In the rivers north of the future

I cast the net, which you

hesitantly weight

with shadows stones





above the grayblack wastes.

A tree-

high thought

grasps the light-tone: there are

still songs to sing beyond





(I know you, you are the deeply bowed,

I, the transpierced, am subject to you.

Where flames a word, would testify for us both?

You–all real. I–all delusion.)


From section I. of Breathturn (Atemwende) by Paul Celan, 1967.

Please read more from this great poet, one of the greatest German language poets of the 20th century. Celan was born in Bukovina, lived in Bucharest, Vienna, and Paris; he survived the Nazi labor camps, but both parents were killed by Nazis in the deathcamps. His later poetry is characterized by a compressed language, with composite words (the German language allowing for grafting and “telescoping” of words). These poems are the work of a great mind, inventing a new method of poetry based on a deeply personal world philosophy and poetics.


Loop topology

Loop topology


Born in a small town, walking paths

on imagined maps. Grown where margins

meet green fields, within seed coats

and insect rinds.


A screen, to protect

nocturnal animals from our thoughts.

Which must not be documented, only

half-breathed into sheets.


To sink into plum bark,

moth wing, a loop to lean into. An imprint

echoes through top soil, between layers

of sun and water, where our voices

leave deposits too faint

to dig up.


In that way,

the fields incubate an opening, a closing,

a flowering underground.


Very faint vibrations, very

faint, and at home, the blades

of grass have started to count again,

counting faintly but just enough to extend

space beneath story lines.


The way space

evolves between roots

growing toward hardpan,


the way limits

create novelty

in iterations.



Sometimes we feel obligated to “schedule” our day (even weekend days). Try to find time to be alone today, to observe the wonders of the world around you in solitude, for the benefit of your soul. . . and enjoy a short passage about the subject of daydreaming, from The Poetics of Reverie by French philosopher, Gaston Bachelard:

What a lot of proper nouns come to wound, rag, and break the anonymous child of solitude! And in memory itself, too many faces come back to prevent us from finding the memories of times when we were alone, very much alone in the profound boredom of being alone, free to think of the world, free to see the sun setting, the smoke rising from a roof, all those great phenomena which one sees badly when he is not looking at them alone.

Smoke rising from a roof! . . . a hyphen uniting the village with the sky . . . In memories it is always blue, slow light. Why?

When we are children, people show us so many things that we lose the profound sense of seeing. Seeing and showing are phenomenologically in violent antithesis. And just how could adults show us the world they have lost!

They know; they think they know; they say they know . . . They demonstrate to the child that the earth is round, that it revolves around the sun. And the poor dreaming child has to listen to all that! What a release for your reverie when you leave the classroom to go back up the side hill, your side hill!

What a cosmic being the dreaming child is!


To my lovely readers: have a wonderful, daydreaming Sunday!


Excerpt from The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood, Language, and the Cosmos; Gaston Bachelard, trans. Daniel Russell. Translation by Grossman Publishers, 1969. Originally published in 1960 as La Poetique de la Reverie.


Phase transitions

Phase transitions


Facial gesture

interprets the room changes—

after 5am noise increases

in thought, hearing only

the transition zones


estuaries increase

transmission, whereas deep

sea rift keeps to itself, marks

divide between left

and right handed continents—


were we not heard

when longing for longer days

for travel through canyons and hands

opening to light, but stuck

with shorter days, interrupted

by paperwork transfusion


and the overseas network

of gifts, the remains

relegate to slag


through phase transition, rock

floats becomes serpentine

beyond routine forms;

transduced forces become

systems that precurse avenues

and small talk


storefront transition zones

hold answers that surface

every few million years—same face

reflected, but unsettled


George Oppen: The Pursuit of Clarity

George Oppen: The Pursuit of Clarity
“Truth is also the pursuit of it.”–George Oppen

More than anything, the best advice there is for aspiring poets is to read. Read, read, read. Read poetry dissimilar to your own, pick up one end of a daisy chain of poets and follow the links to poetry movements, poets whose work will eventually influence your own.

George Oppen (1908-1984) is generally known for his association with the Objectivist group, Modernist poets who collaborated starting in the 1930’s and were influenced by Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams.

Williams’ effort to write in an “American” vernacular is significant, and created openings for poets like Oppen to express ideas that prior to 1920 would not have been expressed. Williams (as contrasted with T.S. Eliot) preferred a colloquial voice and spare, open style with a natural rhythm, with the intention to take poetry “out of the classroom”. Oppen and his contemporaries like Luis Zukofsky and, later, Lorine Niedecker share the philosophy of “looking clearly at the world”. Their work is sincere, intelligent, approachable, honest, but also demonstrates inventiveness that inspired later groups of poets.

(As a parallel in visual art, I suggest studying  Cy Twombly’s work; though he was not a contemporary of these poets the philosophy, style, and approach is similar, as is his allusion to ancient history, expressed with modern sensibility; analogies such as this lead to deeper understanding.)

Oppen’s published work (written between 1934 and 1978) is fiercely individual, human, and skeptical of the values and structures in place during his time. My interpretation of his work is that he is constantly aware and accepting of an overarching unity or “original state of being” while “present in the immediate world”. I see a tension in his work between collaboration and solitary reflection, individual and political/communal, and above all a meta-cognitive awareness (and critique—including self-critique) of conventional reality.

From: Of Being Numerous (1968):


There are things

We live among ‘and to see them

Is to know ourselves’.


Occurrence, a part

Of an infinite series,


The sad marvels;

Of this was told

A tale of our wickedness.

It is not our wickedness.


‘You remember that old town we went to, and we sat in the

ruined window, and we tried to imagine that we belonged to

those times—It is dead and it is not dead, and you cannot

imagine either its life or its death; the earth speaks and the sala-

mander speaks, the Spring comes and only obscures it—‘




Obsessed, bewildered


By the shipwreck

Of the singular


We have chosen the meaning

Of being numerous.




The roots of words

Dim in the subways


There is madness in the number

Of the living

‘A state of matter’

There is nobody here but us chickens




He wants to say

His life is real,

No one can say why


It is not easy to speak


A ferocious mumbling, in public

Of rootless speech




Only that it should be beautiful,

Only that it should be beautiful,


O, beautiful


Red green blue—the wet lips



Or the curl of the white shell


And the beauty of women, the perfect tendons

Under the skin, the perfect life


That can twist in a flood

Of desire


Not truth but each other


The bright, bright skin, her hands wavering

In her incredible need


(and on, there are 40 sections total)

From George Oppen: New Collected Poems, 2008; ed. Michael Davidson.

In short, read! Find the poets who opened new paths, so that now you can write freely. Write in context of the poets who came before, and write Yourself. Oppen’s sincerity, humility, and intelligence is personally inspiring to me. I hope that you will read his work. Coming soon, I will write about a very different poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, one of my uber-inspiring influences.