thin thing

Slide a poem under the door.


no afterlife

Often the poems will die with the poet. And sometimes the poems go first.


decibel level

No deep truth has ever been shouted.

—Juan Ramon JimĂ©nez, The Complete Perfectionist: The Poetics of Work, translated and edited by Christopher Maurer (Doubleday, 1997), p. 150.


four-legged audience

Being a poet, sometimes he found himself reading to empty chairs.


author of itself

A poem should have the virulent integrity of Coriolanus.


untouched by any other

An image so whole and complete unto itself, that it would forever ignore the attraction of metaphor.


new worlds

After a youth spent leafing through thick dictionaries, after so many years of reading across various genres, how is it I’m still discovering new words? Which is to say new worlds, as though a telescope trained on deep space as the faintest and most distant of stars slowly become visible.


last words

The last line was epitaph of the poem.


fighting up

That lyric could lick almost any long poem.


wood product

It has been speculated that the English word “book” in fact comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for beech (boc), the favored material from which the panels of tablets were fashioned.

—Matthew Battles, Library: An Unquiet History (Norton, 2003)


of another language

When the words become foreign to me.


too soon

The blood hadn’t dried and already the poet tried to memorialize the terrible event.


long and strong

A long poem with the influence of the Old Testament.


neither here nor there

The words are never where they're supposed to be.


hit send

A post-mo email-quality epistle.


no arbitrary boundary

He [Edgar Allan Poe] was so much against slavery that he had begun to include prose and poetry in the same book, so that there would be no arbitrary boundaries between them.

—Ishmael Reed (epigraph to Paul Metcalf’s Both, p378 in Collected Works, vol. II.)

[n.b.: Quote encountered while browsing a reading area in the Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center in Asheville, NC.]


tell ail

Confessional poetry: Dire diary.


thus said

A statement of taste spoken as though a truth statement.


hard pressed

Oppression makes poets. In the land of perfect liberty songs are not pressed out of the heart.

Elia Peattie


no turning away

He’d set out to write manifestly great poems: The dream of writing poems that upon first reading drew a devoted audience.