- new installment in current poem (Autumn Door, tentatively) -

San Leonardo al Lago, c. 1370

Four sides of a barrel-vaulted ceiling
are filled with angels singing - playing
archaic, bulbous instruments, leaning
upward (past vermilion-winged

seraphim) to the apex of the vault.
Presentation, Betrothal, Annunciation and
Assumption. Dense vein├Ęd marble (amended
by dream). Revolving riddle (spectral salt).

Magnetic occlusion of an infant kiss
seals the fate of the Chosen One
(matrix of surprise design -
absolute one-day fresco, this)

on the nether half of the altarpiece, the cross-
hairs of the children's stories (crown
of the skull). When he comes into his own
(the worm quartet, the limbs of Lazarus).


Still trying to figure out what I'm doing. Sincerely sorry for all the comings & goings of this blog. I love this medium but I'm in a creative miasma-turmoil-block. Will continue to try to be quiet...

Annoyed with both Jim Harrison & William Logan pieces in NYTBR last weekend. Logan tries to knock Crane off his always-shaky pedestal. Harrison the successful bon-vivant novelist makes fun of academic poets. They are fair game (I've done it myself occasionally), but when he writes "Vallejo... a grander poet than any now living on this bruised earth"... fooey. Excuse me, Jim, but how would you know?? Stick with hunting quail, buddy. Poetry's out of your league.

Reading H.L. Humes, The Underground City. He's better than Pynchon, John (speaking as one who hasn't read Pynchon).

Here's a new chapter from untitled fresco-in-progress.


Like the famous rose out of the dried-up swimming pool
the thought of you comes to me with the approach
of your birthday. The planet spins just out of reach
of the sun (path of a dizzy potter's wheel)

still warming with evening light the flaking fresco
(framed by gilded oak) in the old Town Hall
where the phantom image of a pax municipal
is captured in a ring of dancing girls... come & go,

come & go with me
they sing, in their clear soprano
silence of pastel. And so I would indeed...
out of my fated rounds (Providence, decreed
in faded characters - Dante Street, Hope, Gano...)

and across the squared improbable city
harbored in every heart - toward you
(my dancing absence, skipping beat, blue
J). From shallow deeps and minor bays to blazing C.


Essay in progress over here : "How to Read a Long Poem" (responding, in part, to Reginald Shepherd's recent post on the subject).


yet once more unto the breach my friends


I'll probably be going quiet here at HG Poetics, for a while. That's the plan for now, anyway.

Had a clear realization today (& I don't get many clear realizations) that I'm not really the same person I was when I started this blog 4 years ago, or when I wrote my long poems, or my short poems...

Please understand, this is not related to the fact that I've posted more recently about faith & religion here. It's related to the thought that I need to make some practical changes.

I'm treading water, not writing or doing what I'd like in that vein. Not really taking part in any poetry scene, even in the small ways I once thought I did. And it's not enough, anymore, to observe & comment on other poetry blogs, fascinating and fun as some of them are.

I need to find another way to write, or not-write. It's a big world out there, beyond the library. I must try to shake myself out of old patterns.

Thanks for visiting, friends.

(p.s. am reading interesting Russian novel - Life and Fate, by Vasily Grossman.)
more porch music

It's been dark
gettin little lighter now
waitin on the Jubilee

It's been long
gettin little brighter now
waitin round to be free


Yadda da deeda day (variation from last year)

from winter solstice a year ago

Yes, that's me, in New Orleans, after Katrina. Lucky to be there.


Chet Baker on a bad night, trying to sound like Henry.

chance chords (re)discovered by ignorant musician

I repeat myself too much. The Moevs book is very, very good (Metaphysics of Dante's Comedy). It helped me understand certain deep & complex ideas. Let's leave it at that.


Here's more strange stuff that nobody will understand, from Autumn Door. (I re-post this in order to rid my blog of what appears to have been a spam comment, which has showed up on several poetry blogs. Have to figure out comment moderating, I guess. My apologies to Andrew Shields, who sent an authentic comment to the same post.)


The murmur of the tree, the consolation
of the air. When you've finished all your assignments,
after the last test. It rustles through the tents
of Abraham (your dream)... the Shekinah, the One.

I too am a jealous guy – I too have a heart
(corrupt desperado). Heap dust on your brow,
then, princely one – no time like now
for self-abasement
, snarls the shopping-cart

lady, she of Lebanon cedars, whose twin
towers (swelling roses in her blouse) navigate
the raging, reckless nations. Her familiar fate.
Deliver us (Virgin, Saena Julia) from our vapid sin.

A flowerpot fashioned on the fastest wheel
in the West or on the Nile goes into the kiln
for the kill – by kinfolk driven (everyone
wondering, Everyman). Your Achilles, heel.

When you lose your job. When the air
feels clammy, absent. When you lean your head back
and peer up toward pinpoints in the black night,
on the prairie, on the steppe. Cold, bare.

At the last moment. At the midnight hour.
Up (down). To you (alone).
Keening wind. Frozen
lake. Weeping willow. Empty tower.

So shape up your conjecture (17-mile donut-
loop under the Alps) – Kaluza-Klein
gluino squarks, or sleptons for the winos in
dark matter horns (Swiss chocolate, Big Bang).

The cosmos whispered in a willow branch.
It was the timbre of your crooning voice,
compagnevole Jonah-tree – sweetness
in the creaking of a rusted latch.

As every wheel reiterates itself
so I rekindle your itinerant ellipse.
Vagrant heart... feminine apocalypse...
your potter's clay my zed, aleph.


There is more time experienced in an individual life than in the whole span of history. Un paradoxe, n'est-ce pas? Proust had an inkling of this, which is why his novel runs to 8 volumes. It could have been so much longer.


Despite the severe practical problems and existential suffering I experience as a low-level unionized library worker in an Ivy League University on the Eastern Coastline of the United States of America (just kidding), I continue my heroic (kidding) effort to produce new episodes of my epic (kid) poem Autumn Door. Thus :


That which is infinitely far is also infinitely
near. Beguile me, then, with your
singular aspect, Gypsy songster - for
two is only one in the mirror, so.

Across the remoteness of a frigid lake
two skaters, gliding, arm in arm
who leave their breath behind, still warm
in crystal form (with streaks of icy wake).



Yet more debate today about Ron Silliman's critical terminology.

Branding/pigeonholing is truly an inversion of literary criticism. A poem is something new constructed out of shared materials. Criticism relies on catholic taste, common sense, careful discernment. These are requirements for any fair judgement of poems, bodies of work, stylistic trends. On such basis, the critic evaluates the new thing that the poet has made out of shared materials.

The aim of the polemicist and pigeonholer, on the other hand, is to fit individual works into a pattern, an abstraction. The poem is not a new thing, but merely an "example" of a "trend" in a predetermined (and determinist) literary cosmology. The work is thus belittled in the very act of being "named" (though "to brand" - that marketing practice derived from cattle-herding - should not be confused with the dignified verb "to name").

We all generalize - we all draw general conclusions based on particulars; but if our evidence has no grounding in honest criticism, or if it merely serves as fodder for some kind of polemical agenda, of what real value is it for appreciating the qualities of individual works? It's nothing more than a pretentious form of name-calling.



That poem you love is an excerpt from the poem of Reality.


You thought of form as shape or design; now think of form as (informing) principle.


Twilight world.

nice poem today by Mairead Byrne, straight from little olde Providence
... but it's not about me & my story, ultimately. Poetry has to do with expressing truth - through feeling, sensibility. All the poems in the world are just scraps of paper, little piles of litter, old signs, that accumulate and drift around the psyche-life and its memories, its thoughts, that deep round well.


A new essay over here : My Quietude.
Yes, today I feel ready to curl up in dream-song land, negative capability land, give up the "irritable reaching after fact and reason"...

If I come across these days as some kind of Preacher McDunderhead, it has partly to do with the fact that lately I have been on a very local campaign to help the struggling little church across the street from me, and my mind is preoccupied with these questions - how to talk about faith to people on a mental fence...

& of course partly to do with the fact that I am a Preacher McDunderhead...
I like this review of Richard Dawkins's anti-religion screed, by Terry Eagleton, which Mark Scroggins pointed me toward. Eagleton's defense argues for the reasonableness of faith, against the carping of rationalism and (pseudo-)scientific positivism. This review is actually an example of ordinary, good old Western humanist thinking - though I would quibble with the somewhat simplistic re-presentation of the Jesus vs. "legalism" story, the Jesus the political radical, etc. Theologian Amy-Jill Levine's new book, The Misunderstood Jew, might be an antidote for some of that.

But this is not a religion blog. I promise to get back to poetry one of these days. I'm starting to miss it myself.


I guess this remains the Manifesto of Quietude.

Invention is the mother of necessity.


Poets are painters and should be treated as such (rubbing alcohol).


Critics ought to approach poetry the way Teddy Roosevelt approached the River of Doubt.


People generally believe poetry is made of words. Nothing could be further from the truth.


A poem is a ziggurat.


A poet is a rat.


The best poetry is always in translation. One discovers this after the native tongue has turned to gibberish.


Poets are deaf-mutes surrounded by packs of gossip hounds.


Poems are made out of pure lead.


American poetry - an oxymoron. Some have lived and died (simultaneously) for an oxymoron.

Changed the blog header a little bit. Got tired of looking at myself. That's Henry Thunder Winnebago, recording songs in a grove.


Happy new year, friends. HG Poetics is 4 yrs old. I've been busy lately with un-literary things. Setting up a lecture series at my church, etc. Hope to get back to poetry & all one of these days. Toodles.