maybe said too much

You can’t walk back that line.


noise of the soul

He sits in a cramped attic,
The candle stub stings the eye
While the pencil in his hand
Converses with him in private.

He writes a song of sad thoughts,
Catches the shadow of the past within his heart,
And this noise…this noise of the soul…
He will sell tomorrow for a ruble.

—Sergei Yesenin, The Last Poet of the Village: poems by Sergei Yesenin (Sensitive Skin Books, 2019), translated by Anton Yakovlev


first where

Avant-gardists arguing over who got there first, never questioning if there was any there there (or was it like Stein’s Oakland).


double bind

He had to discipline his mind to resist restraint in his art.


not a couplet

The cathedral towers of Chartres don’t rime.


preemptive strike

Draft cover note:

Dear Editor,
I both suspect your capacity and reject your right to pass judgement on the merits of my poetry, thus you must accept the accompanying poems forthwith.


bottomless feeling

In terms of language, leaping is the ability to associate fast. In a great poem, the considerable distance between associations, that is, the distance the spark has to leap, gives the lines their bottomless feeling, their space, and the speed (of association) increases the excitement of the poetry.
We often feel elation when reading Homer, Neruda, Dickinson, Vallejo, and Blake because the poet is following some arc of association that corresponds to the inner life of objects he or she speaks of, for example, the association between lids of eyes and the bark of stones [de Nerval’s poem "Golden Lines"]. The associative paths are not private to the poet, but are somehow inherent in the universe.
The poet who is “leaping” makes a jump from an object soaked in conscious psychic substance to an object soaked in latent or instinctive psychic substance. One real joy of poetry—not the only one—is to experience this leaping inside a poem.

—Robert Bly, “Looking for Dragon Smoke,” American Poetry: Wildness and Domesticity (Harper & Row, 1990)


i is i

To use the term ‘speaker’ when talking about the ‘I’ in a poem offers a useful distancing from the poet—but even in a persona poem or dramatic monologue the personal ‘I’ pervades the poem.


deep ink

All I can say is his best poems were his tattoos.


like orpheus

Poet, go down singing.


is it live or memorex

Even the present tense is recorded and merely played back as though live.


something to show for it

Workshop was cancelled, so he may not have had the benefit of consultation but he had the consolation of a poem written.


used to the stars

But poets have never grown used to the stars; and it is their business to prevent anybody else ever growing used to them.

—G. K. Chesterton, Chaucer (Farrar & Rinehart, New York, 1932)


interior design

The saddest books are those used as d├ęcor by interior designers.


language zones

Like climate zones the poem’s language may be lush or spare, or either in different places.


still hungry

A manifesto is a menu with nothing to eat.


sit satisfied

There are times when after much searching and consideration we must be satisfied just to sit with the poem's mysteries.


desire to try

However complex and difficult the poem may be, it should engender in the reader a desire to unravel its mysteries.


quaker meeting

A poem should be composed like a Quaker meeting: With much sitting in silence until provoked from an unknown source to speak.