Sunday, August 31, 2014


When life lowers the hammer, when it starts raining heavily and darkly and metaphorically, when the kinds of grief that cannot be measured or explained tangle into Gordian Knots, and I cannot seem to find a way out that doesn't involve being someone other than myself, there is only one place to turn to. Poetry.

Unfortunately I only know, like, three poems.

My first two poems will not work for this. There is The Duino Elegies

"Who, if I shouted out among the hierarchy of angels, would hear me, and even if one of them took me to his heart I would perish before his stronger existence. For what is beauty but the beginning of a terror we can just barely endure." 

This is good if you are feeling that it's just all too beautiful and you're not sure how you feel about that. It is not so good for when it feels like your life is knee deep in bleak.

My second poem won't do either. 

 "There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold. The arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold."

This, The Cremation of Sam McGee, is good for a campfire, but not for a whole lot else. Fortunately it is very, very good for a campfire. 

So thank god that the third and last poem goes:

"Once, if I remember rightly, my life was a feast where all hearts opened, and all wines flowed."

It gets darker from there. 

It is fortunate that that one will do because it is all I've got left. I can just cuddle up with A Season in Hell. I keep that one line going and going. Me and A Season in Hell together through life. And I think my own dark thoughts in between.


  1. And three mighty poems you have. Here is a go-to one for Grape in the dark times:

    In a Dark Time

    In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
    I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
    I hear my echo in the echoing wood—
    A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
    I live between the heron and the wren,
    Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

    What’s madness but nobility of soul
    At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
    I know the purity of pure despair,
    My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
    That place among the rocks—is it a cave,
    Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

    A steady storm of correspondences!
    A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
    And in broad day the midnight come again!
    A man goes far to find out what he is—
    Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
    All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

    Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
    My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
    Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
    A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
    The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
    And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

    1. Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.

      Thank you.

  2. Every librarian needs e.e. cummings's "Jehovah buried, Satan dead" for those days when the patrons are just too much and you're losing hope for humanity.

    1. I'm floored by this too. Here then for curious onlookers. I now know five poems.

      Jehovah buried,Satan dead,
      do fearers worship Much and Quick;
      badness not being felt as bad,
      itself thinks goodness what is meek;
      obey says toc,submit says tic,
      Eternity's a Five Year Plan:
      if Joy with Pain shall hand in hock
      who dares to call himself a man?

      go dreamless knaves on Shadows fed,
      your Harry's Tom,your Tom is Dick;
      while Gadgets murder squack and add,
      the cult of Same is all the chic;
      by instruments,both span and spic,
      are justly measured Spic and Span:
      to kiss the mike if Jew turn kike
      who dares to call himself a man?

      loudly for Truth have liars pled,click;
      where Boobs are holy,poets mad,
      illustrious punks of Progress shriek;
      when Souls are outlawed,Hearts are sick,
      Hearts being sick,Minds nothing can:
      if Hate's a game and Love's a fuck
      who dares to call himself a man?

      King Christ,this world is all aleak;
      and lifepreservers there are none:
      and waves which only He may walk
      Who dares to call Himself a man.

  3. You'd regaled the Cremation of Sam McGhee from memory about 25 years ago. Was it around a campfire? I fondly remember your animation and my feelings of good fortune. Thanks! ^_^

    1. How nice of you to say. I think I mostly still know it by heart and would tell it to you again if you just give me an hour to prepare.

      Was it around a campfire?

      Wherever The Cremation of Sam McGee is spoken, there a campfire is. Or something like that.


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