Monthly Archives: December 2014






Descriptive Hollowness

“My songs are written with the kettle drums in mind / a touch of any anxious color…with a melodic purring line of descriptive hollowness”

–Bob Dylan

Leave it to Dylan to describe his art better than anyone else.

Half Truths

About poetry we can only utter half truths.

–Theodore Roethke

Isolation, Solitude and Loneliness

“The medium of poetry isn’t language, really; its human loneliness, a loneliness that poets, having received it themselves from earlier poets, transfer to their readers. Like bees in a honeycomb, writers and reader experience isolation and solitude communally and collaboratively.”

–from Dan Chaisson’s review of Olena Davis’s new book of poems in The New Yorker, December 8, 2014

Chaisson gets his underlying idea from Harold Bloom who says that poets create an “otherness” such that loneliness is “created and alleviated at once.”

I’m not sure I agree with this narrow definition. However, and without getting too far into the weeds, I would add that our frenetic culture has given the idea of loneliness a bad rap.



Art is not a mirror to reflect the world but a hammer with which to shape it.

–Bertholt Brecht

Software Engineer

We watched you die in a New York hospital
from our engineering lab here in Oregon

There you were in our system log files
your cardiac alarms ringing off the hook

Ventricular tachycardia!
Nurse! Come quick! I want to live!

And your impossibly brave heart tried
to hold on–for twenty minutes

But nobody came until it was too late
Shit hit the fan later. The usual inquiries

and finger pointing. We hooked you up
but your friends weren’t there

And everybody needs friends
on this cold blue ball

Neruda on the Poet’s Pact

“Poetry is a deep inner calling in man; from it came liturgy, the psalms, and also the content of religions. The poet confronted nature’s phenomena and in the early ages called himself a priest, to safeguard his vocation. . . . Today’s social poet is still a member of the earliest order of priests. In the old days he made his pact with the darkness, and now he must interpret the light.”

–Pablo Neruda