sense controls


Not Pastoral Enough
Veronica Forrest-Thomson
homage to William Empson
It is the sense, it is the sense, controls,
Landing every poem like a fish.
Unhuman forms must not assert their roles.

Glittering scales require the deadly tolls
Of net and knife. Scales fall to relish.
It is the sense, it is the sense, controls.

Yet languages are apt to miss on souls
If reason only guts them. Applying the wish,
Unhuman forms must not assert their roles,

Ignores the fact that poems have two poles
That must be opposite. Hard then to finish
It is the sense, it is the sense, controls,

Without a sense of lining up for doles
From other kitchens that give us the garnish:
Unhuman forms must not assert their roles.

And this (forgive me) is like carrying coals
To Sheffield. Irrelevance betrays a formal anguish.
It is the sense, it is the sense, controls,
“Unhuman forms must not assert their roles”.

lichen not moss


Lichen… always with love for Terra

Robert Wrigley
Not moss, but slower, a kind of lumpenproletariat
fungus comes in bunches no one keeps an eye on.
Grandmother ones, grandfathers, though where they’re at
they’re babies, half-birthed among a thousand tiny generations

And lacy they are, tightly massive as minimal forests,
but always more amazing the closer you look.
And holding the dew in billions of pinprick droplets,
they drink their fill and wait, the very name meaning to lick.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

skewed tunnels


Night Driving
William Matthews
You follow into their dark tips
those two skewed tunnels of light.
Ahead of you, they seem to meet.
When you blink, it is the future.

Photo by Peter Forster on Unsplash



The First Night
Billy Collins
“The worst thing about death must be the first night.” -Juan Ramón Jiménez

Before I opened you, Jiménez,
it never occurred to me that day and night
would continue to circle each other in the ring of death,

but now you have me wondering
if there will also be a sun and a moon
and will the dead gather to watch them rise and set

then repair, each soul alone,
to some ghastly equivalent of a bed.
Or will the first night be the only night,

a darkness for which we have no other name?
How feeble our vocabulary in the face of death,
How impossible to write it down.

This is where language will stop,
the horse we have ridden all our lives
rearing up at the edge of a dizzying cliff.

The word that was in the beginning
and the word that was made flesh—
those and all the other words will cease.

Even now, reading you on this trellised porch,
how can I describe a sun that will shine after death?
But it is enough to frighten me

into paying more attention to the world’s day-moon,
to sunlight bright on water
or fragmented in a grove of trees,

and to look more closely here at these small leaves,
these sentinel thorns,
whose employment it is to guard the rose.

Photo by Joshua Harris on Unsplash