Saturday, May 31, 2014


Salmon Run, Kagawong, September 2013


Lovers who met in our forties, we decided not to have a child.
A year later, we hold hands along this teeming river, where the cold
is already prying a few flushed leaves from the maples.
I want my wife's breasts. She undoes a button and takes my hands
into the warmth under her clothes, against the living skin,
and I waver near regret, never knowing if the choice was wisdom
or cowardice, unwilling to risk chaos, unwilling to pay the time,
our melancholy, grown-up caution before the violence of desire ---
but, as if her body were knowledge, I touch
her beside this water and tell myself I know our child,
curled hank of vein and bone swimming through her
that would have knotted our temporary blood to all this falling and surge.


I have never seen this before:
the traveled fish thrash uphill,
stubborn as hammered spikes,

hovering to fan their gills
in the lucid pools, then bursting out,
tails beating the ice-water

over ruffling shoals,
urgent toward reproduction
and death. When one loses

its grip on the water, the current
sweeps it far back, until it catches
somehow and climbs again,

each a thick, single-minded
sleeve of flesh pulsing
like a horse's thigh muscle.

The untiring, convulsive salmon
whip themselves over
the slick, algae-green stones,

against the also stubborn
invisible current, yellow-
black ripples of shimmer and

thrust --- or, each a fist
clenched on roe or milt,
they punch a tunnel through water

to quiet where they will gasp
and drop their milky heat
into the dangerous chill of this world.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

art is fidelity to failure (as beckett says, and holub repeats here)

Certainly a poem is only a game.

Certainly a poem exists only at the moment of origin and at the moment of reading. And at best in the shadow-play of memory.

Certainly one can't enter the same poem twice.

Certainly a poet has the impression from the beginning that no purpose exists, as Henry Miller has said.

Certainly art becomes generally acceptable only when it declines into a mechanism and its order becomes a habit.

But in its aimlessness, in its desperate commitment to the word, in its primal order of birth and re-birth, a poem remains the most general guarantee that we can still do something, that we can still do something against emptiness, that we haven't given in but are giving ourselves to something.

The most general guarantee that we are not composed only of facts, of facts which, as Ernst Fischer says, are deeds withered into things.

Provided a poem, which is the poet's modest attempt to put off disintegration for a while, is not regarded as the philosopher's stone, bringing salvation and deliverance to stupefied mankind.

For art doesn't solve problems but only wears them out.

For art is fidelity to failure.

For a poem is when nothing else remains.

Although ...

-- Miroslav Holub
from "Although"

Friday, May 16, 2014

does even photography kill, like words, like thought?

The Bird

--- Bird, what are you after here, fluttering over my books?
Everything in this narrow room is foreign to you.

--- I know nothing of your room, and I am far from you.
I have never left my wood. I perch on the tree
Where I have hidden my nest, so reinterpret
Whatever you are seeing. Forget about a bird.

--- But I see you right here, your feet, your beak.

--- Doubtless you can span the distances.
If your eyes have found me, it's not my fault.

--- But you are here, since you answer.

--- I am answering the fear of man I always feel.
I feed my little ones and have no other diversion.
I guard them in secret in the dark of a tree
That I believed as dense as one of your walls.
Leave me on my branch and keep your words.
I fear your thought like the shot of a gun.

--- Calm the heart that hears me under your feathers.

--- Ah, what horror your feigned kindness was hiding!
You have killed me. I fall from my tree.

--- Well, I need to be alone, and even the gaze of a bird ....

--- But I was far away, in the deep heart of my wood!

-- Jules Supervielle
(my translation)

my gratitude to Roxana, who showed me this poem

Thursday, May 1, 2014