Category Archives: Poetry

After Amergin, by Michael Longley

I am the trout that vanishes
Between the stepping stones.
I am the elver that lingers
Under the little bridge.
I am the leveret that breakfasts
Close to the fuschia hedge.
I am the stoat that dances
Around the erratic boulder.
I am the skein of sheep’s wool
Wind and barbed wire tangle.
I am the mud and spittle
That make the swallows’ nest.

From Michael Longley’s poem, After Amergin.

For the image at the top, click here.

To the Evening Star

Hesper! Sweet Aphrodite’s golden light!
Hesper! Bright ornament of swarthy Night,
Inferior to the Moon’s clear sheen as far,
As thou outshinest every other star;
Dear Hesper, hail! And give thy light to me,
Leading the festive shepherd company.
For her new course today began the moon,
And is already set–O much too soon!
‘Tis not for impious theft abroad I stir,
Nor to way-lay the nightly traveller.
I love; and thou, bright star of love! shouldst lend
The lover light–his helper and his friend.

Bion of Smyrna, 2nd to 1st century AD

(Image is Rising Star by Traemore on DeviantArt)


Jacques Bonhomme Complains of the Useless Stars

I see on high the Milky Way,
But here’s a rougher road.
The Sacred Oxen shining stand;
They do not draw our load.

The Sieve is sparkling in the South,
But good and ill come through.
The Ladle opens wide its mouth,
And pours out naught for you.

At dawn the Weaving Sisters sleep,
At dusk they rise again;
But though their Shining Shuttle flies,
They weave no robe for men.

Translated from Chinese by Helen Waddell


Quick Black Hole Spin-Change

I don’t like it–

two massive Black Holes
each twirling at the core of
two merging galaxies

get close enough
to fuse together

then quick as a wink
just as they are melting into a New Black Hole Blob

they undergo something called a “spin-flip”

they change the axes of their spins
and the fused-together Black Hole Blob
gets its own
quick as a cricket’s foot

Don’t like it at all

And then the new Black Hole Blob sometimes
bounces back and forth inside
its mergèd Galaxy

till it settles at the center

but sometimes a “newly” up-sized Black Hole
leaves its Galaxy
to sail out munchingly on its own
into the Universal It

I don’t like it

Nothing about it
in the Bhagavad Gita
the Book of Revelation
Shakespeare, Sappho, or Allen Ginsberg

Edward Sanders


Do you still remember: falling stars

Do you still remember: falling stars,
how they leapt slantwise through the sky
like horses over suddenly held-out hurdles
of our wishes—did we have so many?—
for stars, innumerable, leapt everywhere;
almost every gaze upward became
wedded to the swift hazard of their play,
and our heart felt like a single thing
beneath that vast disintegration of their brilliance—
and was whole, as if it would survive them!

-Rainer Maria Rilke


Twelfth Song of Thunder (Navajo)

The voice that beautifies the land!
The voice above,
The voice of thunder
Within the dark cloud
Again and again it sounds,
The voice that beautifies the land.

The voice that beautifies the land!
The voice below,
The voice of the grasshopper
Among the plants
Again and again it sounds,
The voice that beautifies the land.

(Anonymous, from the Poetry Foundation website)

The Mountain Chant: A Navajo Ceremony
(Forgotten Books, 2008)


Foggy, Foggy Blues

There is a morning fog here
That rises from the snow
To inhabit head-tall space
In a lightless glow.
Shapes normally well known
Allow themselves to flow,
To merge, to flux. strange change
Distorts the landscape into something we don’t know.
Houses bulk and loom to presume
A fearsomeness to destroy their square
Solidity; they lean in overhangs
Precarious as if to leap from there
To here, to pounce on our fragility
With agile smokey grace on reptile legs
And crunch our bones with jagged window panes.
Dragon cars with laser eyes growl the streets
And sweep from murk to murk.
Dogs go berserk to howl and bark
At lumps that skoot around the dark
In swift retreats that leave no mark.
A garbage can gets kicked and tipped
And rolls to clang against a lamp post.
Silence picks the click of heels that tacks
A path to intersect our spot – this way comes
God knows what. Better now to retreat
Back to our well known street to sit
Windowside and wait the Sun
To burn away the haze
And disentangle streetwise maze.

Jan Sand


But Men Loved Darkness Rather Than Light

The world’s light shines, shine as it will,
The world will love its darkness still.
I doubt though when the world’s in hell,
It will not love its darkness half so well.

Richard Crashaw

Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines

Light breaks where no sun shines;
Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart
Push in their tides;
And, broken ghosts with glowworms in their heads,
The things of light
File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones.

A candle in the thighs
Warms youth and seed and burns the seeds of age;
Where no seed stirs,
The fruit of man unwrinkles in the stars,
Bright as a fig;
Where no wax is, the candle shows its hairs.

Dawn breaks behind the eyes;
From poles of skull and toe the windy blood
Slides like a sea;
Nor fenced, nor staked, the gushers of the sky
Spout to the rod
Divining in a smile the oil of tears.

Night in the sockets rounds,
Like some pitch moon, the limit of the globes;
Day lights the bone;
Where no cold is, the skinning gales unpin
The winter’s robes;
The film of spring is hanging from the lids.

Light breaks on secret lots,
On tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain;
When logics die,
The secret of the soil grows through the eye,
And blood jumps in the sun;
Above the waste allotments the dawn halts.

Dylan Thomas


Flora of the Boreal Forest

The child insisted on being carried
to touch the pine, the oak, oak, pine,
and I grew numb under that adamant voice.
My arm throbbed as she tried to decide:
Cone? Acorn? Needle? Leaf?

It’s only thanks to the half light
that we can go home, she prancing
on my shoulder, trying to braid
my wisp of hair, singing absently.

Thrush or vireo, loud and invisible,
slurring two manic notes:
wherever it calls from is the center.

Lake behind the scrim of alder
like a plenitude you long for
all of your life, most of all at the end.

Lit window like a force
you can’t imagine knowing you
but it consumes you without reflection.

World like a hole to fall into
forever, or else a curtain
you might stick your hand through.

Soon even she will tire of her song,
how it meets itself coming and going,
the vast spaces between notes,
the snarky refrain, Damariscotta,
the first faint stars, and she’ll put
her sticky hand over my eyes: pine.

– D. Nurkse