Aug 272015


Purchase from Amazon

“Tiou, tiou, tiou, tiou- Spe, tiou, squa- tio, tio, tio, tio, tio, tio, tio, tix- Coutio, coutio, coutio, coutio- Squo, squo, squo, squo- Tzu, tzu, tzu, tzu, tzu, tzu, tzu, tzu, tzi- Corror, tiou, squa, pipiqui- Zozozozozozozozozozo-zozo, zirrhading- Tsissisi, tsissisisisisisisis- Dzoree, dzoree, dzoree, tzatu, dzi- Dlo, dlo, dlo, dio, dlo, dlo, dlo, dlo, dlo- Quio, trrrrrrrrrrr- Lu, lu, lu, lu, ly, ly, ly, ly, lie, lie, lie, lie- Quido didl h lulyfie- Hagurr, gurr, quipio- Coui, coui, coui, couri, qui, qui, qui, gai, gui, gui, gui- Goll, goll, goll, goll guia hadadoi- Conigui, horr, ha dia diadill si- Hezezezezezezezezezezezezezezezeze couar ho dze hoi- Quia, quia, quia, quia, quia, quia, quia, quia, ti Ki, ki, ki, io, io, io, ioioioio ki- Lu ly h le lai la leu lo, didl io, quia- Kigaigaigaigaigaigaigai guiagaigaigai couior dzio dzio pi.”
~~transcription of a Nightingale’s song made by a French Composer

Gregg Glory

Published by BLAST PRESS

The Night Orchard

Petal falling followed falling petal
Till all apple trees held was sky above;
Such a burst of sweetness discharged from air
Put mind out of reckoning for its cares.
We walked laughing through the snowing grove
Whirling the fallen in splashes back up,
Widening soft confusions in our wake,
Chapleted in blossoms that all spring throve,
Like trees ourselves glowing with tree-petals.--
Earth and air to a fantastic whiteness blown,
Shining as puddles from yesterday's shower.
Yet trees, for all their loss, did not look to be sad.
To rely on having is to be had.
New leaves yattering new green to new leaves
Talked for all the world about the breeze,
As if blossoms had kept them quieted as snow
And, having shaken off their winter calm to play,
They did not know what to say or know
And so said everything in a single day.
Evening found them standing solemn with the stars
Thinking how little they were themselves
Beneath bright things hung up so far.
Starlight cast down starlight like sky decayed.
All the night orchard stood restored to blaze
As if no single petal of them all
Had suffered earthward a single fall.

The Wind Trees Keep

Trees that have it in them to be a wood
Gather dark thoughts where bare hilltop stood.
Branch to branch entreats, and root goes out to root
Entangling dirt with movement deliberate
As worms, and mix their living sinews
With cold dead earth, its coldness to renew
And above the burning hilltop bring
A shadowy wing never alighting.
Starless night hovers where noon once reigned
And exiles grass, and laughing feet detains
With extricating minuets of wait
And then pass on,-- a guardless garden gate
Forever shuddering in the wind trees keep,
Murmuring night-long while the world's asleep.

The Black Pony

A pony came whose coat was black as pitch,
Whose blood was broody as water in a ditch.
Her eyes were saucers of red command,
Her teeth grew square on the taste of hands.
Wildflowers grew more wild at her passing scent;
Like nerves through skin she raced where she went.
There was more than strangeness in what made her so.
There was more of night in her hooves than men know.
Proud, unobeying breed of tameless hills,
Storm of strength with a godless guideless will.
What light burned behind her being may 
Not have been heaven sent, but burned to stay.
An inner star served as her only lamp:
None took her, none kept her, none triumphed. 

The Old Quarry

The old quarry's flooded echo came back
To him almost exact, but left a blunted blank
For song, a lack of deadened cold echo
In so much dank; the quarry air was too
Soft and queer to sough a song out right,--
Yet still the listening stone, it seemed, white, uptilted,
Knew that song might be meant, to judge by crevice
And shadowed device and looks that meant no peace
Nor gave advice beyond the dusty tans
Rained down on singing man. One saw then,
The quarry was all quivered walls and rocks
A mocking water swallowed at the bottom.
It resembled nothing so much as a tomb.
Man's voice rolled all against the abandoned lot,
Echoing himself his repeated tune again
Like nothing else in nature that to voice pretends;
He was his own superior echo then
While song pursued its end as if never begun,
And time dilated some in jarring after-echo,
Or made itself felt as one,-- as dark burns on in coal
While fire unfolds fire. Here, some soft after-noise
(As in the mare the moaning foal) made some alloy,
Forging voice and form alive in the willful quarry
To totter and rejoice alone where dead water stayed,
-A second singing voice came from bland clay,
And was heard some way. It seemed, for once,
The offence of voice had persuaded voice
To once not stay remanded in veined marble
But grace half-garbled, but half-audible,
The silent singer's startled ear, and speak
Some talk of the theme he'd followed half-awake
Into the choked dark of the watery quarry.
What he caught of what came back made him wary.
"I won't be sorry. I won't, I won't--"
He straightened up half-sighing, as if he'd meant
Never to hear his own want in song he'd given
All his graven morning to, and that, if spent above,
Would have vanished less riven into eve
Than the grave day that the quarry gave.

Two-Edged Liberty

Liberty has two edges still,
One to keep free, one to kill.



Clear-headed time at a touch
Shows all too much.

The resentful body grows old;
Youth and strength have gone
Disgraced from the stage.
Vague as a notion,
The room swims into view;
Dawn stutters into motion.

Time has done to you
Things time shouldn't do.

An old man stares out
From an oval steel mirror,
Your face in one clout
The face of a stranger:
Cataract-eyed, his blind
Grip gone round a razor.

The Thrush at the Sill

Bright beyond belief the morning sun
Presents a double blazing image
Above the sink, bewitching just enough of dawn
For me to throw both windows back in homage.
I went forgetful about my round of chores,
Touching openness neither less nor more
Than I was bid by my round of chores.

Sunset had sun exit as it had come,
In doubled glory. A thrush burst out at once
Loudly loud, as if woods and house were one
And eaves leaves.-- And thank, yes, forever thank
Such song for how it came and its coming in
To wake indoor woods beside my sink.
Thank thrush for landing home in homing in.

A Late Milking

The upper pasture gate creaked padlocked.
A wading lantern to show the latch
Flared where invisible things attach,
Carrying light snatched up for open use
To home a tricky key and save a curse.
To burn out opposing night and burn day back,
And give dark description where words must lack,
Light's concern was kept narrow as the lock.

At a click, light soon waded on to earthy dark,--
Swung wondering in a guideless hand
Familiar with the black of pasture lands;
Sudden cow or knoll indifferently stood stark.
I followed from below as I was, restless
To see how aimless light in darkness does. 

The Broken Boxcar

At an unsteering speed of stoppage,
Detourned from straight tracks and wages
Into a listless field gone over 
Mostly to pale thick-blossomed clover,
A boxcar keeps still its steel rails
Going both ends nowhere in parallel.
At the blackness of the door
A bandit gathers gold once more,
Pulling yellow raspberries
From some single spray above the weeds,
Reaching the rarewire richness
With nimble hands and quickness,
Palming sunset tears from thorns;
The racoon drinks them one by one.
Nothing comes to the rusted hitch
Clawing air above a gopher ditch,
No iron hand arrives to steer
And with knuckled coupling make a pair,
To clasp its open mate from the clearing
Into a sky of tear-streaked stars
Where time would hoist a husky boxcar
From its slatted stall and decay
To paradise, all the way.

Yet in the eye of a ruffed robin,
On her hopeful nestful throned within
Where the red roof caves in
From leakage and mineral rain,
Glints a hint of levitation--
In her high eye alone it seems
A flying boxcar bursts with wings
Like eyelashes; below it, everything
Lies amiably disordered,
Earthbound and solemnly sordid,
While heavenly visitors to her nest
Feed her safe chicks, and she rests.
So much of vision came to eye, and awed.
A unpersuaded caw cawed
From the litter of the field
The hunching crow refused to yield,
A black bold spot that picked for trash
In weeds gone bright to whiteness.
Now only time, for what it's worth
Flying still on its changeful path,
Turns the structure in its soft clutch
Like a moody sleeper back to earth.

Lakeside Sketch

Where a single steeple keeps the sky
And a scribbled wet of charcoal darks
Laps lapsing to meet the day,
--Crosshatched by wind's artistic lark,--
Monday quiet's come, as quiet may
Upon one meditation-taken;
After-silence serves some way
For all the echo left the lake.

The boathouse goes down to dock
On knees of battered pilings.
Suppliant to greet common rock,
The dock goes flat as filings.
Astute, the musing rock
Lets the mirror water watch
What it has mind enough to mock:--
Searchers who seek a latch.

There is no back or access side
To such a thing that is all is;
And if you say inside,
And take inside out to see what 'tis,
I'll say, 'tis better far to glide
Whatever offered surfaces
And decode what pleasure there resides
In such interstices

Than creep through dark, however wide
The open crosshatch seems or is,
To pull apart, to peer at tides
Whose motives are their business,--
And trouble them enough alive
To wash our prayers with their sighs.

Something Like

I longed for something something like too long.
My ablest eyes had two ears of seems--
Each tree I heard, I heard shake some human song;
Two eyes never looked but I saw two stars along,
No weather raved but trailed some inner storm.
My analogizing mind knew but what it deemed.
Nothing brought what it had meant to bring,
No shape manifest but in related form.
Of what I'd been gifted I got nothing, no thing.
Alone in life's simulacrum I saw or heard
Less than one third of every third's third.
All my blessings blessed transformed.
Ready at last to be, no matter being's marr,
I'm satisfied with sighing is and are.

Something Put

Like the flower near at hand I grow
Upwards by light into all I know;
Buried in ignorant dirt by a downward thumb
I bend dumb beneath rain into what may come.
Like a flower in summer now I grow tall,
Concentrate a seed out of all I've been,
Put half my something into that seed to fall,
Drop it unseen on wide ground, and then
Name that something put my all.
Is that something put experience gathered in?
Or is ignorance all when any all begins?
My ignorance decides me-- I cannot tell
What seed, in growing there, may yet become
Besides new ignorance beneath the sun.

The Burning Anvil

My breast is a burning anvil
Cannot hammer a likely shoe
Stern enough to trace unglued
A racing lifetime through and through.

My breast is a burning anvil
Full of causal smokes and coughs,
More than youth at times had thought,
Between hammer and anvil caught.

My breast is a burning anvil
That sparks with the loss of heat
When edge and edge, hard and hard, compete
To shape each and each to mate.

My breast is a burning anvil
Cannot cease to pause or cool,--
As industrious, dedicate a tool
As any I'd forgot I forged.

My breast is a burning anvil
Full of tragic din and error
As any beating thing that mirrors
The hotness of my terror.

My breast is a burning anvil
Cannot pound out a likely star
As real as evening's first clear
At whose clarity I stare.


Something about where the pebbled path in day
Splits, or in evening even trines,
Makes me wonder about the purpose of the way.

How many must have used their footsteps just to come,
And in coming here pass on in time,
As if all wheres we go are comparable to when.

And yet, time's a path more linearly ordered,
One whose steps will not divide,
No matter at what shady banks or grasses we loiter--

We may not, cannot, no matter how tried,
Reverse the going flow, or, breaking it, abide.


How small a snapshot lies in hand
That held such grandness in its lens.
A perspective granted only once and when.
What we see of what is just depends.

Bounded by a regular white of lack,
I look at the detailed littleness;
A thumb occludes a mountain in the west
Like a painter perhapsing a sketch on scrap.

Snapped charm of vistas that had turned my head,
Develops charms of Time new-enlisted
To re-focus a moment visited.

Out of the frame winces one of my dead;
I turn the flat for date, and recognize
How loss and tears consume what's snapped by eyes.


A spider, web, and alderberry bush
Arranged December in a quiet crèche;
The spider's stitching straw was soft and fine
As anything that ties us to the divine;
An afternoon of hidden breaths condensed,
Strung with dew as if of dew composed,
A blazing cobweb out of cold mist--
Dew-prism looked on prism, all in all,
And saw summer's wonder from before the Fall
Until every thread of light was put out by the loss
Of sun. Twilit dews sparkled into frost.
Each gentle juncture hardened to a cross.
Stiff additions of still more strength and grace
To dropleted water, by increments erased
Weave's living give and left a stony place
To which the chapel spider was not accustomed.
A rigid web in an alderberry niche,
Still and silver as a collection dish.
From her holy central belly it spiraled out,--
A frozen wheel or prayer-mat to invite
Chilly fervors of the not-yet devout.
You couldn't think such religion altruistic,
And could only thank it if a mystic
And believed all troubled birth a pause
Between our cyclings back to Cause.
The spider didn't think it mercy, that's certain.
She rushed behind her tautened curtain
To lay a landed fly into her winter stock
And knit the praying fly a little silver lock
That has only a mystic key.
She sought to bead a new dew to see,
Since day had gone blinded down to night,
And one more dark into her web was caught.
But even a spider with her sticky tricks
Can find occasion to make a slip
On such transparency gone slick;
The icy wire and her dainty claw-tip
Met without resistance, though her weight was there,
And that gave a tumbled feeling of unfair
And brought spider slipping past the fly
Who looked at her with all of his eyes,
Gave an inch leap, and was gone.
The diamond web with ice was diamonded.
The spider threw a line to save her pride
And back toward the frozen center slid.
She poised unpleased, ready for dark dispatch,--
A philosopher at a damaged treasure-latch,
Meditating what Fate might have brought
In the richness of the fly near-caught,
And then what wealth of blood denied,
The treasure chest a blank inside.
Perhaps the spider, if she had tried,
Might have persuaded the praying fly
He'd be in for blessings if he died.
(Too bad he'd already taken off on his
Aerodynamic errand or business.)
Wheels within wheels and layer upon layer.
Death would rank him up a rung, 
Nearer You and I as human beings
-- Or two rungs up. Yes. To convince the buyer,
Persuades more than a hundred prayers,
Thought this spider to herself, cool and sly.
But there was no nimble buzzer skating by
To heed the sales-pitch of the spider,
Save those flies already saved inside her.
With eight great eyes and eight great arms,
And well-equipped to deal out harm,
She resumed half-folded her coldly central position
As ready for Fate as anyone
Defeat had bruised and brought
Hungrier for what she had not caught.

Iris Vision

It's been a well-worn
Year since my iris has gone
Whose dark-headed heightened grace
Had tripleted heart's pace
And made the threatening waters
Irradiate the lighter
For her being something darker.
She brought her blue-black laughter
Like an aftereffect of thunder
When lightning rare as wonder
Makes a landscape dark as murder
By its too-much light, and, lighter,
Touches earth and sky together.
Now the garden, disused and mossed,
Grieves green, and I am lost
As rain that runs away,
As a thought that will not stay,
Or childhood song that refuses to play.
My iris in her wonted place,
Sensed through broken mist and lace,
In tree-shadows lifts her face.--
I see her here returned,
Nor may I this wish unlearn
As long as dew in dawn's-light burns;
Every shady curl of worth
That my flower had leased from earth
In sable richness reappears,
Full of rampant ribbon-shapes,
Taking all of root and stalk
To reach to light, and, silent, talk.

Unmask Us

I come to stare at leaves as deep as snow,
That have sent the roots to sea, that know
A restlessness I, restless, know.
I come to stare at leaves as deep as snow.

I turn the rake, send tines upended
Not to use as I intended
But to lean and stare as if deep in snow
And hear the restless things I know:

Too many things put aside or shunted
That had been centered when I started,
Too many things a life must ask us,--
So quick a quiet moment will unmask us.

A moment's thought, and all disguise
Resolves itself into surprise;
A moment more of wonder, even more,
And ignorance the disguise restores.

Leaves unsheltered by the coming wind
Rub the half-bare trees where they began;
They move as they would there once again
Climb to be leaves returned by wind.

Deep behind the mask, a whisper knows
There's an old hole of light to show
Just where we've come, and yet may go,
Among restless leaves as deep as snow.

My conscience is grass

My conscience is grass surrounding every side
Whispering, whispering. No help, no guide.
When I at last lie down, it will lie by my side,
Never saying do or go, but only: be, abide.

The Wounded Woodsman

I passed a knoll and passed it every day
Along the same soft deserted loam
Until a track as bare as bone
Followed along my way.

It was in its going I saw it first:
Narrow willows in a lovely copse
Where the wounded woodsman lops
The last to lay with the first.

I had not noted the knot of wood,
Or taken the view to do myself good--
Although the fresh-cut white of the willow-ends
Made some temporary amends.

[Versioned from Edward Thomas' 
 "First Known When Lost"]

Boardwalk Bonfire

Build the storm-brought wood till its right to burn
--A civilization, an amended word;
Completion and destruction turn
A dead-end rhyme as mated words.

The long matchstick cracks, a broken finger,
A wail to salt the self-subsuming wood;
--As if no injury could make ginger
Our conscience to aid the good.

I know myself, and play my hand
Shadowless in the flame and briny fire
Until a new pink hurt like stinging sand
Bids hand withdraw, and I perspire. 

A Summer Prayer

All our hours vacillate
Like summer clouds gone sliding by
Clotted, vein-veiled and late,
Froward or deadly shy
Apparitions of the empty,
The essentially empty sky,
To dissipate in an hour's downpour.
All our hours, all our hours.
Our most famous nimbus
And more hallowed halo are
Our only blessings, bare and lent
By God, devil, or doubtful goal
In dance of dread amusement.
Each day we eat and ache,
Something dark for its own sake
Laughs at our glittering fate;
We tend our hours like a wish,
Alone but for some softer guess--
Our heart-happiness uncertain
As divinity's parted curtain.
What remains of marvel here
Of all that drifts to dust
Beneath a sky irremediably clear
Is the irascible particular;
The him of him, the her of her.

Listen to the wind and to me--
Let lending lend in leniency
An open, ageless, real reprieve
(In which unsafe hearts may yet believe)
To all our human tenancy
Defined by that proscenium
Under which we're born and moan
Full of voice and softness,
Full of whispers and of curses.
With the individual soul,
--With that and that alone,--
Wherever soaring moves above
Or going goes in having went,
Be thou communicant.
And this as well I wish and say
To one and all or the all-in-one:
Touch whatever in touching comes,
And, -brave beyond what may be saved
By what such touching has engraved,--
Never one instant's kissing shun.

Chain Chain Chain

[sonnet version]

Once upon a time, I had bruised slightly
Erend in ty-
Unneedful knots too brutally. 
The knots were sonnets, rhy-
Not gracefully, 
Bout by 
Bout despite my 
Careful tying. 
I had not thought writing 
Was so much like fighting. 
I stay-
Ed at it relentlessly 
Tying tying tying 
blossom stylistically.
The daisy-
Chain was for no one particularly
(Or perhaps I am lying). 
You know how things 
Get tangly 
When we practice firstly.... 
The leng-
Of words got too stringy 
And self-involved in singing
That should have taken flight more singly 
And not too self-consciously.

Chain Chain Chain

[sonnet format]

Once upon a time, I had bruised slightly
My fingerend in tying unneedful knots 
Too brutally. The knots were sonnets, 
Rhyming not gracefully, losing bout by bout
Despite my careful tying. I had not 
Thought writing was so much like fighting. 
I stayed at it relentlessly tying tying tying 
Every musing, bruising blossom stylistically.
The daisy-chain was for no one particularly
(Or perhaps I am lying). You know how things get tangly 
When we practice firstly.... The lengthening string 
Of words got too stringy and self-involved in singing
That should have taken flight more singly by whistling 
Unconcernedly and not too self-consciously. 

Gifts Assembled

It was summer's atmosphere of doubt,
I said, made me uncertain what I was about;
Earth was warm and sure, I was not.
I made myself feel the closeness of the crypt.
To be by so much richness troubled
When wavery air gave me me myself doubled
In the very nothingness I breathed and stumbled
Was to curse a wealth of gifts assembled.
I did not have what I had wished;
Nothing did as I did insist.
Summer's ripeness came to a million ifs,
I had nothing but summer's million gifts.
All the lauded grace of giving was Time's;
All grace crowded close as living rhymes.

New Wilderness

Who incised this river here by writing hard
Forgot to leave with wetted alphabet
The charm of a cipher. The river rambles on,
Until caught up by the roots that shade
My going on in woods, although my coming here
Where river spells and spills into hard wood
Was open plain enough. And that's another kind
Of hard-to-see from too much looking:
Field and sky-- at night, earth-dark and stars--
Flat each to each like paired mirrors with
Nothing caught between. So I'd crawled here
Morning long, the weather hugger-mugger nothing
And the fields off-rotation for bearing crops,
And, so, lively with wildflower wilderness'
Play-day maybe and beginning mischief
Of sorting out itself without the help of hands.
I thought, once, coming this way years back
On a similar sort of errandless errand,
I had caught, once, some evidence of pride
Running through the wild wood gone half-back
From cultivation to dark unplowed bewilderment.
I saw a line as straight as a forearm
Run a hundred yards between two equal
Tangles of trees-- fair straight-- the way
A stick will write out a line and raise a rim
In level leaf-mold chewed even by the time.
All this before a hidden storm the weather folk
Had laid odds against, and, so, I had dismissed.
And then a thinnest silver filter fell
And brought already damp woods as wet....
And I stood in the turn of atmosphere
As sunset brought a gold to all the air,
Infecting silver with light's last despair,
The way a fever brightens sickness to a shine
In eyes and cheeks, and brows grow dewed
With inner causes. I stood thus and wiped my face,
Interested to see such simple changefulness,
And not knowing why I displayed such interest,
Nor indeed why I had such interest to gift
To new wilderness come up since man had left.
But, slowly, as winter eaves will gather ice,
This line fallen before my feet, uncrossed,
Became a trough for an element not itself,
And rose cupping changeful water until dark,
And past dark, myself become as sodden
As my coat, my hands gone home to pockets
Like squirrels asleep in leaves,-- until overfull
Of rain and moonlight. The line laid out
A silver bar, shining from end to end
Like some fresh first cuneiform stroke in clay;
You know how clarity can come on after storm,
No matter how minor the stirrings warned.
But I wondered, as I would. I wondered anyway.
What had taught the line to be, when clouds
Cleared away to re-present the moon to me?
What straightness lay here inherited?
Nothing came to drink of what had swollen,
A revelation strange as rain that'd left it
To puzzle one who seeks for things in things
And wants to know just what to tell himself,
Forgetting weather's made by being out in rain.

No Learning

There is no learning but to yearn and yearn,
And by wanting see what we think we are
(Composed of stuff from a farther star).--
Desire deep-in to recklessly burn;
Desire to assemble what all we are
By partial parts into one whole complete;
To work out the sum where integers meet
And write an answer without a scar,
Without a stitch where kissing incompletes
Tell-out by telltale the nightly labor
Used to unify our dawning wonder
That recklessly burns with day's own heat--
Until our in-dark echo cries for night,
Cool and apart, and all away from sight.

Down to Clouds

I'd thought life without Love no life at all,
And my life like a parachutist's fall
Had readied-up with a silken snarl
And without a parachutist's safety-pull.
I was dead-ready to meet the all-in-all;
I had all needed: gravity and a fool.
My heart never mistrusted God was cruel.

On my way down to clouds, through clouds to clods,
I thought how the silk weight on my belly pulled,
How silk and air stretched tight would make a shroud,
And what an act, inordinate and proud,
Living on would be -just as if allowed--
Before the cruel throne and crowded face of God,
My life one long fall as if dead and mourned.

By Shadow Known

I did not know how clouds could crowd
The weathered Earth by blowing round,
Or drop deep shadows by their light,
Too much lightness in sun's too much light.

'Til one day their dark put me dark--
Crowded me out by high-shadowed marks
From old communion with the sun;
Daily now my darkness comes.

I, who had been a burning cloud,
Now in noon-night perform my rounds.
Were I to shred their silver dark,
New light would blind by being stark. 


The wandering mind that wanders far and late
And wanders where from causal clouds the lightning breaks
And rivers thunder from blank riven air
Unhouseled by light. The mind is there.

Deep and deeplier, into the most low lightless grotto
The mind pursues its darkness unaware
Of how it does increase the dark it brings and bares
Where still the shark sleeps. The mind is there.

Out beyond this room, beyond the moon, beyond, beyond,
Behind the seeping dark that inhearses every darting star,
Beyond pale planets, back beyond where shooken concepts jar
And Time is dead. The mind is there.


A snake
The yard and

As haze 

Of bees
In leaves

He list
And cease

They sing
Of Spring,
The beautiful, 

And mutual

Is bringing
To yard and

The snake
The song--

As one 

Through slashing
Stale grass;

With burn

The garden

S asleep and full.

Walk in the Hush

The wind that tenses in the hollow
And re-weaves what grass I kick,
Goes over my length for pillow,
Weary of crags and dirt.

As I approach a higher place,
Barren and brown, the dust
Wind-blown into my onward face
Fingers my eyes and hurts.

I less and less the height approach
That further and further
Recedes; all that I now closer touch
Is the push of Other.

Why has wind come, why a stranger,
So close and harsh to me,
Who has no wish, no wish, to linger,
Held by what he cannot see.

When over the lapsing hilltop's crest
At last came sudden rest,--
I knew not who I was in the hush
When no gust pressed. 

To What

Was it sudden ease, or the sudden cost,
That made us most feel we were not all lost,
That step and step had still some place to go,
That all the world wasn't but wilderment of snow?

For my part, I did not gauge the cost
(Or rounded figures down at worst or most).
I had no interest in what interest others took.
For my sole self my dual eyes do look.

I see the thing itself as it appears to be,
Visible from somewhere on vague reprieve;
Then I look where eyes look eyes-closed
And seem to hunt up a memory of shape at most

That rises toward some overwhelming feeling,
Rising, rising, as all else fades out failing--
Rising to what I always call my meaning.

Falsifying Fire

Our sullen retreat into the ever-there,
Our reliance on the invisible
Or recourse to given revelation,
Brightens my minute's thought to crucible
And pulls some lasting gold from my flame's care,
As if we knew our wishing and the wish were one.
What do we need of what seems infinite?
The partial glare of being here, just here,
Is enough of heaven to round our minute
And puts a light, however lone and bare
We cry for things more determinate,
Into all we seem to see and share.
I will not falsify my fire, but answer all and one:
No answer yet but becoming to become. 

Assembling the Earth

Look with me at what we call,
Substantial or ephemeral,
All of Earth, where we must end,
And all of sky's over-awning All:
Sense the sub-stratum and the theme
Dawning out of sincerer dream.
Note how dark must always end,
How Earth's quickened sharps of light
Coalesce by pixels until we see
Lightly lightninged twig-ends,
Dew-draped, shiver and invite
Greater light, or light's dark reverse
The odor of more crowded trees
Blends with the musk of night.
I sort my knowledge into verbs:
I did, I can, I do, I can't.
And other more what-ifs I list:
I shall, I wish, I shan't, I want.
And a thousand thousand others 
Unvoiced, unheard.

All that puts a soul at ease
Enough to stammer and confess
The inconvenient, the gulped absurd,
Or to think a something mystic
Rather too simplistic,
Brings the daunting Earth to words,
And helps to carry, as you guess,
Our everything to is.

I kept a million themes beside my bed
In a rosewood box with a turtle,
With one working tin hinge beside
The turtle decaled spread-eagled;
I left the springed hinge untried,
And added blanks to the map
On the warm rosewood back 
Of the rose-boned wooden turtle.
It was better, or so I deemed,
To live unknowing and to dream
Than know every meaning's means.
I kept the box beside me a thousand days,
An indian symbol of the Earth,
Unopened save as a question may
Discover unbidden worth,
The way a kiss becomes a question,
A new-burned feeling without borders,
A meeting, this meeting, --here,--
Solemnly together without a seam
In loving and in waking dream

A part or portion 
Of the natural order,
Opening and answerless,
In a realness of air.

The Wild Hunt

A reindeer head and human breast
Prove hunger no mere beast
But a yearning, foreign fire all, great
To least, carry to life's living feast.
Tarry constellations stoop to whisper
In ears sharp as fine feathers on a shaft
What makes the unbrave whimper
And holds the brave man fast:

Undulant hills are too lonely
To have what raves in every heart--
Too unready to live solely
And nurture the dark feast that lasts.
Eat my starry heart, my body and my brain!
Nothing in Nature's self-renewing fast
Can feed what hungering thought may gain
From imagination's last and least.

With a light, clipped clop
Dunning into bright bell the dull rock,
The man with reindeer-headed top
Hunts the night, nor heeds the cock
Rawing dawn into existence,
The one near star whose agony stoops
To burn us hungry out of inward pense
With overwhelming wilderness for crop.

The Timid Leaper

Where an ArrowLine desert bus
Came exhausted to a standstill,
And made small swirls in the greater dust,
A long-eared hare on a hill
Listened to the engine's cooling clatter,
Saw pasty faces at grimy sills
Look out at what was the matter.

With fingerfine lips, from a cactus,
A stolen blossom became the hare
In the open purview of the bus, 
One-sided with a crowd of stares.
Almost the timid leaper started,--
Taken by a kisser's shyness
To see so many lips half-parted.

Stilly as a waiting blossom does,
The hare attended the airy all
That sighed a quiet from the bus
(Attentive now as if stalled),
The arrow mastered enough to wait
For what the desert deemed or willed.
At unbidden wind, from dead-still 
Into dead dust
                       the leaper leapt.

Interrupted Night

Two eyes followed me out of sleep and dream.
I could not dream what seeing things could mean.
I had deemed all an oblivion unabated,
A sordid compost of all I loved or hated.
Such was all, and all I knew of what
Dreaming sleep to wakeful reason brought.
But now these howling eyes unsocketed by pain,
That did not bear any look of ease or rest,
Stared green indelible thoughts into my brain
And came, unofficed officers, to my arrest.
The sheets I turned in, on me had turned,
As if in skins and grave-shrouds I had been wound--
My blinded body moved unmoored beyond my sight
And turned to return to dream in interrupted night.


No Effigy

A tree must burn to be.
When summer's fellow ardor
Comes, they sway up, the trees,
The way that flame and flame
Combine in a making game
When what they are is brought too near,
And are pulled apart by wind
Playfully alone again.
A large sweet-smelling cedar
Held itself all summer
As constant-shaped as flame,
With a slow, slow burning sound
Of leaves, and the settling tick
Of branch that knocks on branch.
Where the woods blaze thickest
There comes a woodsey whoosh
That undoes my breath;
All the leaves alloyed sun-molten.
The fall will show them golden.
What have trees but trees
To prove that inside fire might be?
Trees have no effigy to burn.


This quick collection saved my life.

June 29th - July 28th 2001

Aug 312011

Preface to The Timid Leaper

Catastrophes and Trophies
Report from a Victor and Victim

This collection is actually the combination and slight rearrangement of four separate volumes of verse; almost all of these poems were written in the calendar year 200I. It’s not much to show for a year of human life–that rich mystery we are twisted into by such a resolute hand. The main emphasis of this collection (as I hope will be quite clear) is Nature. Nature and Naturalism are not quite the same thing, however, and I have always had my own disagreements with those who took too dogmatically Thoreau’s painful premise “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” The Timid Leaper sets the keynote of this mixed approach. I hope this collection achieves some grace while trying to attain such goals. It is the beauty of man’s reach exceeding his grasp. The Timid Leaper leaps, not from any discernible goal he might attain, but from some more subtle cause, some interpenetration of events that defies analysis and germinates poesy. The sub-title is “inner nature poems,” and that is to help show that the weather for humans is never merely a matter of what’s over our heads it’s what’s in our hearts as well.

A victim of depression during the composition of these verses, I noticed an inability or unwillingness to assign purpose within myself. I was lax and ready to suffer unmitigated disasters with little more than a shrug and a tear. This is really a rather hopeless state of affairs, as a number of the poems outline. I remained staunchly impressed, however, with Dame Nature’s capacity to excite the recognition of meaning within myself. As meaningless and adrift as I may have been, I could not help but notice that Nature still evoked in me the wry acknowledgement of a more masterful hand in the pictures I kept seeing both before me and within me. “No Wood to Sing Through” shows the adaptability of natural instincts and impulses. It was inspired by my observation of a catbird still thriving without its native habitat, and by my own reflection that I was seeing something meaningful even when my depression had revoked my self as any inherent source of meaning. Something was helping meaning to survive even in the brain of someone who refused the acknowledgement of meaning. Something in me wanted, at least, for meaning to survive or, more exactly, for the expression and acknowledgement of meaning to continue happening, despite my conscious wishes. This is a form of nature’s nurturing weather that is both harsh and humbling. Can’t I be meaningless if I want to? Don’t take that shred of self-definition away from me! But, opposite of Sartre perhaps, it seems that meaning remains contiguous with essence, even when that essence wishes to exile meaning. It is this co-created weather of inner and outer that is charted in this volume of verses.

Full of wily wit and a bastard’s bravado, The Sword Inside was the first burn and purge preparing a place for a new self to take up residence. I had to be rid of old hopes that I had harbored too long. Hopes are the white lilies of the soul, and when their time is past, they fester as fast. There were reconciliations to be made here as well, and rueful acknowledgement followed hard upon the heels of aptly rapid self-wit. Well-rooted weeds and lingering things were burned out, or hacked at with a saber. Some villainy of habit and temperament had to be acknowledged and integrated, a black sheep returned to the fold. Such traceries of whim explored and displayed in The Sword Inside were the iron rungs I used to clamber back from the void.

The section entitled “The Soft Assault” stands apart for its being the documentation of a very severe personal storm and so shows the purely human side of the weather. Nature purists and vegans of nature poetry may safely skip this section if they do not want their nature poetry too irredeemably mixed up with the human roots of that poetry in the poet. This section is the fever chart of one of love’s bitterest victims. The natural phenomenon of the “inner weather” gives these poems their place in this collection. My retreat into nature, and nature’s “soft pursuant touch” of my capacity to keep seeing meaning no matter what, are a direct result of the catastrophes alluded to within these poems.

Indeed, it was nature’s “soft, pursuant touch,” that I could not shake off, and that led me back to myself as more than a recording barometer of outside events. Nature creates great art, but she uses dirty fingers. Soon enough, I was actively pursuing designs and meanings of my own in the material that Nature had fauceted upon me. I was ready to assign parts to clouds and prompt the trees with dialog. When this hubris expressed itself too heavy-handedly, the poems themselves rebelled and those poems have been expelled from this collection as a complete botch. But, as I now think significant, I was saved. And more than saved, I had become a victor from being a victim. Out of my personal catastrophe, I have extracted this volume of verses, which will serve as well as anything for a trophy.

Gregg Glory
[Gregg G. Brown]