Ode on a Grecian Urn

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?

Steady Digression to a Fixed Point

A rose can’ t change the world. It can only open or close.

A rose drives the world like an enormous gear.

It pushes a schooner east of Borneo.

When a body has been rearranged, it is held together with a rose.

A rose is a weapon, a guide, a compass.

It shatters the glass to explain a spilled blue shore. This is how we know we are in the presence of tragedy.

You shouldn’ t have. You couldn’ t have. You did. You are.

We piece together an aftermath.

Elegiac Stanzas Suggested by a Picture of Peele Castle in a Storm, Painted by Sir George Beaumont

I was thy neighbour once, thou rugged Pile!
Four summer weeks I dwelt in sight of thee:
I saw thee every day; and all the while
Thy Form was sleeping on a glassy sea.

So pure the sky, so quiet was the air!
So like, so very like, was day to day!
Whene'er I looked, thy Image still was there;
It trembled, but it never passed away.

How perfect was the calm! it seemed no sleep;
No mood, which season takes away, or brings:
I could have fancied that the mighty Deep
Was even the gentlest of all gentle things.

Brian Age Seven

Grateful for their tour
of the pharmacy,
the first-grade class
has drawn these pictures,
each self-portrait taped
to the window-glass,
faces wide to the street,
round and available,
with parallel lines for hair.

I like this one best: Brian,
whose attenuated name
fills a quarter of the frame,
stretched beside impossible
legs descending from the ball
of his torso, two long arms
springing from that same
central sphere. He breathes here,

An Arundel TombAn Arundel Tomb

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd —
The little dogs under their feet.

Yves Tanguy

Is it a weightless pistol —
your hand.

The tail of smoke
like a limitless conversation
risks blooming and death.
The head of a desert.
A blank crawls parallel to lines of combed hair.
A barometer pursued its dream
without even blinking.
A released piglet
pricked up its rose petal ears
and vanished like a star.

waits for everyone
on an unknown
but familiar
infinite chessboard.

Translated from the Japanese

Cy Twombly, "Beyond (A System for Passing)"

To say how much I've missed you, I offer this,
at most mist, at least assorted letters, lists,
numbers I insist tell stories. I kissed you
last, Dad, in the casket in which you passed on,
to some next place, but last listened for your voice
last night, these long years after, will listen next
when next oppressed by blue-gray, as I am now,
as I, thus lost, am always by your absence.

Studies of an Ox’s Heart, c. 1511 – 13


The long incision. The incipient voyage from aortic arch to thoracic inlet. Small-particled is the corpuscled city. (Bustling opuscula.) A city of animal electricity. A lowing cycling mass. Calm the cowed heart. Still the browbeating heart. Cool the controversial hearthstone. Let the blade intervene where the divine intersects bovinity.


Painting A Wave

“Painting a wave requires no system,”
The painter said, painting a wave.
“Systems may get you flotsam and jetsam,
Seaweed and so forth. But never a wave.”

There was a scroll or fine-lined curve
On the canvas first, and then what looked
Like hair flying or grayish nerves,
Which began to move as the painter worked.

“Painting the sea is a lot of trouble;
It never stops still for a moment, so
I try to make it internal, mental,
As though I stopped it, then let it go.”

In Eight Parts


I grew up an anxious painting by my dad’ s shaking hand.
In the painting of my dad, a quiet hole beats
through the dull, black night. I’ m heir to an orange heart
in the rhythmic black where a man leans quietly
and wonders. I wonder about my dad, a hole
in my painting. I used to think my dad was dull,
but his shaking hand gave rhythm to my body.
In my dad’ s painting, a hole glows orange in the dull night
where I sit beneath the canvas looking up.
My dad looks down and laughs.