skeleton of things

“Words are the skeleton of things and for that reason last longer than things do” is one of the unpublished “greguerias,” or aphorisms, of Spanish writer Ramon Gomez de la Serna, out of the 400 that Prof. Laurie-Anne Laget discovered and has now published in a book.


Also noted at All Aphorisms, All The Time, James Geary's blog.


I think I'll go on.


the close

In sales, when the close is spoken, we say the next one to speak loses. Don’t speak past your last line.


secret passage

Always there is a secret passageway behind the bookcase.


colored lights

A line should be a string of colored lights.


the cant in cantos

In certain sections Ezra Pound really put the cant into The Cantos.


critical ICU

A poem not viable but for an elaborate apparatus of critical life support.


found vispo

Those odd diagrams and schematics one encounters in various science and how-to books are a kind of ‘found visual poetry’.


obscure, original, or quaint

His rhapsodies are but rough notes—the stenographic memoranda of poems—memoranda which, because they were not all-sufficient for his own intelligence, he cared not to be at the trouble of writing out in full for mankind. In all his work we find no conception thoroughly wrought. For this reason he is the most fatiguing of poets. Yet he wearies in saying too little rather than too much. What, in him, seems the diffuseness of one idea, is the conglomerate concision of many: and this species of concision it is, which renders him obscure. With such a man, to imitate was out of the question. It would have served no purpose; for he spoke to his own spirit alone, which would have comprehended no alien tongue. Thus he was profoundly original. His quaintness arose from intuitive perception of that truth to which Bacon alone has given distinct utterance—“There is no exquisite Beauty which has not some strangeness in its proportions.” But whether obscure, original, or quaint, Shelley had no affectations. He was at all times sincere.

—Edgar Allan Poe, “Shelley and the Poetic Abandon,” The Unknown Poe (City Lights Books, 1980)


signal / noise

Only when the noise is organized in a pleasing fashion will we allow it to overwhelm the signal.


pauca sed bona

A poet, middle-aged, stated in his bio that he was ‘the author of over 30 collections’. Yet he was virtually unknown even in the rather small world of poetry. Would that he’d authored over 50 collections made a whit of difference to his reputation?


inertial queue

The poem was like being in a long snaking queue at a government office, each word hardly moving forward, and at the end getting to a window only to be told you don’t have the right form to transact your business.


eloquent silence

the pause—that impressive silence, that eloquent silence, that geometrically progressive silence which often achieves a desired effect where no combination of words howsoever felicitous could accomplish it.

—Mark Twain (from the autobiography)


long and lost

Those long lines ramble forward, forgetful or lost in thought, bumping their heads on the right margin and falling over.



Those short lines that strain to make more of what little there is.


earth prayer

The nature lyric as prayer for the earth.


self shelved

Note to self: Don’t get photographed with a background of books. Too obvious.


trunk you kept your life in

I hear you're driving
someone else's car now...
She said you came and
took your stuff away -
All the poetry, and the trunk
you kept your life in -
I knew that it would
come to that someday...
Like a sad hallucination,
when I opened up my eyes,
the train had passed the station,
and you were trapped inside...
Yet I never wonder where you went,
I only wonder why

Lyrics to "Caroline" by Concrete Blonde


complement not condition

Meter as complement to content, not as necessary condition.



Composted almost as soon as it was composed.