Tag Archives: Existentialism

natural method

natural method


resolve, to capture

the renegade story,

the “r” that drops without effort;

hum an imprecise self,

hover above a wood floor as a

ghost—between adobe, a window, and a phrase

invented to keep away

from raging impermanence,

undertow of the closest light source

to bang our bodies against










to start, to walk



at the cusp


where is she founded?





flesh around the bones

belongs to her



better her than the wind




this segment of the woods—

does not disperse

with the breath


sensitive to thought

noise and the wide open aperture

at noon



(an imperceptible hinge–starts


the continuous now








small beings


from an echo





we read them in their bones







collects around an edge—





all, all the sky

the brush

the ribs



all, woven-in






one step


one step



in the sand









there are no masters

no tether

no never

no lonely stone





when at the end,



keep walking









three o clock

three o’ clock



a clean root system

for ease of transport




only short range



a longing–

for nectar of one

thousand years’ sleep

and dream




I walk from here

to the edge of indifference,

all the talk—diverged

to an abstract


to the sound—is–

the sound of small creatures

within the thicket





flexing of the wind





thought pulls at underlying meaning



now stacked and labelled




pre-reflective traveler

in the onset of winter afternoon

stands at a gradient



as the gender assigned to an hour



now in between where identity,



decisions draw on for hours




the fabric


the fabric




within the stone



is where



to move

solve for x

solve for x


in the aftereffect,

too much noise—

the trucks came and emptied

all our variables


since, reassigned


a lack of concurrency

is now the main line




it’s the bystanders

with questions to answer,

lacking warrant to enter the site


you decided not to—

frequency of story—

line broken by intermittent



but it was a decision?

among all possible decisions

the sky seemed bigger than it is,

at least as conjured


pull it down tight,

to limit the options




as drawn from a photograph,

lines lock depth


to know tricks

at the lock, to know

atmosphere, to know

by hand the image

rejected by the object


a confession, ok,

continues, regardless


for someone else to unravel—it’s not

the size, it’s the overwhelming


are we inside

the number?


please speak your name


the pause

is that which–

we are inside

the number

Cesar Vallejo’s Trilce

Truly original poetry written in 1929, considered by those who know and love this work as a cornerstone for experimental or “avant-garde” poetry in the modern literary tradition.

You can find information about Cesar Vallejo online, or in the prefaces to the reprinted books of poetry. In this post I will proceed, as philosopher of poetic imagination, Gaston Bachelard says: “without worrying about the poet’s ‘complexes’, without rummaging about in the history of his life” thus, free to explore the original power of his images, to search for the poetic imagination in the poems themselves which, ultimately, are more than enough.

The poems in Vallejo’s Trilce have been described as the great avant-garde poetry of the Latin American world, but I claim him as a great and truly original poet, period. The only kin to the power and originality of this work, in my opinion, is Paul Celan’s challenging and deeply moving Breathturn (Atemwende, 1967) for its emotional power and inventive expression.

I believe that each poet wrote these works not to write experimental work, but to express the depths of an existentially anguished soul using words which are, by nature, limiting and meager, as the poet faces his soul and attempts to transcribe what he hears and sees there. Though Vallejo employs elements of daily life in his poems, he is poet of Humanity, searching, longing, striving, and at times, tongue-tied with the bubbling out of the vastness of existence through his pen.

From Trilce (1929)


I sdrive to dddeflect at a blow the blow.
Her two broad leaves, her valve
opening in succulent reception
from multiplicand to multiplier,
her condition excellent for pleasure,
all readies truth

I strive to ddeflect at a blow the blow.
To her flattery, I transasfixiate Bolivarian
at thirty-two cables and their multiples,
hair for hair majestic thick lips,
the two tomes of the Work, constringe,
and I do not live absence then,
not even by touch.

I fail to teflect at a blow the blow.
We will never saddle the torose Trool
of egotism or of that mortal chafe
of the bedsheet,

since this here woman
—how she weighs being general!

And female is the soul of the absent-she.
And female is my own soul.



I escape with a feint, fluf by fluf.
A projectile I know not where it will fall.
Incertitude. Tramontation. Cervical articulation.

Zap of a horsefly that dies
in midair and drops to earth.
What would Newton say now?
But, naturally, you’re all sons.

Incertitude. Heels that don’t spin.
The page knotted, factures
five thorns on one side
and five on the other: Ssh! Here it comes.

Vallejo, César. The Complete Poetry: A Bilingual Edition (pp. 181-182, 189-190). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.

Vallejo’s work, and Trilce emphatically, pulses and surges with neologisms, numbers, abstract and sudden links between the poet’s experiences and imaginations. It would be tempting to read either of these passages with a lens that searches for meaning in male/female psychology, however this would lead us on a fruitless surface interpretation. Besides, what joy could it possibly bring us to analyze the poet’s psychology? Let’s read his words.

In “IX”, we experience humanity in the poetic persona’s stuttering. We experience awe-struck sensuality in a world that centers on deeply-felt experience with a woman. We feel complete immersion and release into what I can only describe as the mysterious dark matter that holds existence together. The reader continually feels tension between what the poet wants to express about his felt experiences, and the limitations of language as we know it, a tension that results in imbalance, where invented words and stutters break through the cracks.

I feel childlike joy in Vallejo’s invented words in “XII”, yet tension in what seems to be anticipatory avoidance of something coming, something beyond his control. His playful allusion to Newton, the spontaneous and urgent hushing at the end of the poem, the knotted page and balance of five thorns with five thorns; I interpret this poem as a poet, attempting to write, the “incertitude” of channeling the poetic imagination on command, and the crushing awe the poet feels once the poetic imagination is channeled.

I am moved by his poems, especially the poems in Trilce, which unfolds as an energetic and at times tortured struggle between personal  or familial experience and worldly conventions, the unattainable “ideal”, between neverending questions.

I encourage you to read the poems in Spanish; Clayton Eshleman, translator, is loyal to Vallejo’s artistic vision, but you can only truly benefit from the profundity of this work by reading the original in Spanish side by side with the translation.

This lengthy post is a meager effort to pay homage to a great poet, a deep and brilliant human being whom I very humbly acknowledge as a mentor for my own work.