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.)


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.

Poem Recognizing Someone in the Street

March 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

e   y   ?   h
e   ?   h   e
h   e   y   !

– Aram Saroyan

Saroyan modulates three letters and two punctuation marks to turn the most quotidian of events into a sparkling and surprising play of language.

One can buy Complete Minimal Poems, which contains this poem and is neither complete nor, at almost 300 pages, very minimal, from Ugly Duckling Press.

Egyptian Sun God Cheer

February 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Ra Ra
Ra Ra Ra

– Edmund Conti

It is currently mid-February and the temperature is, yet again, in the mid-50s. Five cheers for an eerie, endless summer.

Siesta of a Hungarian Snake

February 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

s sz sz SZ sz SZ sz ZS zs ZS zs zs z

– Edwin Morgan

Not just a dance of fricatives, but a concrete poem as well: the capital letters represent the snake’s bulging stomach after a midday snack.

Fishing Boats in Martigues

February 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Around the quays, kicked off in twos
The Four Winds dry their wooden shoes

– Roy Campbell

An imagistic gem.

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