the old masters



Musee des Beaux Arts

W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree. 

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

found poem

Scott Rothstein and John McCain

(no guilt by association implied)

From the transcript of the deposition of Scott Rothstein via Bob Norman's blog:


Q Let me ask you about Melissa Lewis. Melissa

Lewis was a lawyer in your firm, right?

A Yes, ma'am.

Q And at some point you were sleeping with her?

A When she was a student of mine, yes.

Q She was Debra Villegas' best friend, right?

A She was.

Q The same Debra Villegas that would do just

about anything for you if you asked her?

A Yes. We already discussed that.

Q The same Debra Villegas that knew about your

crimes or some of them and who participated in them with


A That's correct.

Q At some point Debra Villegas' best friend and

then your former lover was murdered?

A That's correct. She was.

Q She was murdered because she knew too much,


A Excuse me? Are you attempting to insinuate

that I had something to do with that poor girl's death?

Have you lost your mind?

Q You would deny that?

A I would deny it?

You're disgusting. Everyone knows that I

wasn't involved in it. That's disgusting.


Read the rest here.

goodbye, dear friend


The Miami Herald has a remembrance of our friend Jeffrey. And here's a poem from his forthcoming book.




The snake that binds your feet together

Is not the one you were born with.

It is, rather, the extended tragedy of

Living forever on a flat world.


The rapture of enlightened ecstasy

Knocks on your door like a country without mothers

The electric trains under the blanket

Give you away at night.


If I could find you in the long lost dream

Of silent storms and nightmare fragments

The executioner’s smile would extend and groan

But it is long overdue.


ring out, wild bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
		--Alfred, Lord Tennyson
                   (from In Memoriam)

the old year

The Old Year's gone away
     To nothingness and night:
We cannot find him all the day
     Nor hear him in the night:
He left no footstep, mark or place
     In either shade or sun:
The last year he'd a neighbour's face,
     In this he's known by none.

All nothing everywhere:
     Mists we on mornings see
Have more of substance when they're here
     And more of form than he.
He was a friend by every fire,
     In every cot and hall--
A guest to every heart's desire,
     And now he's nought at all.

Old papers thrown away,
     Old garments cast aside,
The talk of yesterday,
     Are things identified;
But time once torn away
     No voices can recall:
The eve of New Year's Day
     Left the Old Year lost to all.
		--John Clare


mary bonina

A review of my friend Mary Bonina's poetry collection, Living Proof, in Prick of the Spindle: "Each poem reads like a miniature story, stabbing at the heart of memory and nostalgia, capturing lifetimes in a single moment or turn of phrase."  You can buy a copy here.

found poem #2


I would not flush a dog's ear unless . . .

Duncan, I'm so proud of my big man!

Do the ears have an odor to them when

            you flip them back?

Sweetie Weenies

pretty much make up the whole Congress;

dust bunnies cannot evolve into dust rhinos

when disturbed.

Duncan, I'm so proud of my big man!

My friend helped build me a page

to help him get the surgery; neither he

nor his ex-wife are able to


Mist the air lightly; never poke into the ear canal.