At a Forest Pool

November 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Here sad self-lovers saw in tragic error
Some lovely other or another sky;
In your reversing yet unlying mirror
  I saw I was I.

– John Hollander

This neat little poem plays off of the Narcissus myth while employing a literary trick, the palindrome, so appropriately as to almost rescue that particular form of wordplay from the realm of kitsch. A man, a plan: John Hollander!


the Secret Sits

November 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

– Robert Frost

“The Secret Sits” is an unusual poem for Frost, being more elusive than usual; a metaphysical teaser, it reads like a passage from an ancient Eastern religious text.

Reflections on Ice Breaking

August 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Is dandy
But liquor
Is quicker.

– Ogden Nash

For Nash’s birthday, here is his most quoted, most famous poem. By now, these four little lines have shed their title and author to become one of the great aphorisms of the English language. Once, in some terrible shopping outlet on the Delaware shore, I saw an Abercrombie & Fitch selling shirts spouting “Liquor Is Quicker”, and I wondered if anyone there knew the source. Cheers, Mr. Nash, for not only cementing my love of poetry, but for leaving such an indelible mark on language and the public consciousness.

Summer Haiku

June 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

  P o o l
P e o p l
  e   p l o p!
  C o o l.

– Edwin Morgan

Summer strikes. People plash. Basho nods. (Someone pees in pool.)


May 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

“A planet doesn’t explode of itself,” said drily
The Martian astronomer, gazing off into the air–
“That they were able to do it is proof that highly
Intelligent beings must have been living there.”

– John Hall Wheelock

Peruse through Wheelock’s Collected and you won’t find another poem as memorable or as good as this. As Einstein said:

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”


April 15, 2012 § 1 Comment


– bpNichol

Ulysses uses 30000 distinct words. The Oxford English Dictionary lists over a quarter million. Urban Dictionary holds 6.5 million entries. Language contains multitudes.

Small Song

March 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

The reeds give
way to the

wind and give
the wind away.

– A. R. Ammons

A moment of insight, a wisp of wordplay, a perfect title.

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