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

sloppy mold


f.s. yousaf
I stare at my reflection to see
Who I have become.
I am a sloppy mold
Of past memories,
Present struggles,
And future worries.

Photo by Michael Weidner 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

the snow man


The Snow Man
Wallace Stevens
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Photo by Vlad Fara on Unsplash

permission space


Comfort is a strange and bizarrely entitled expectation. How did we arrive at this place where we feel angry, entitled, unreasonable and demanding when we must experience just moments of discomfort? I think about this a lot, but there are moments when it takes over entirely.

I was stepping off a train in Stockholm not so long ago when I saw an older woman descending the one or two very narrow and steep steps to disembark the train, and she slipped and fell, hard, her leg sliding between the train step and the platform. She screamed out, and her leg bent the wrong way completely. People gathered around to help. After wincing and thinking about what I could possibly do, I decided to just walk away, but the violence and suddenness of the moment stuck with me for days. What this has to do with comfort isn’t exactly clear. But such moments jar me from my walking cocoon and being in my own world to question all these things, like what right we think we have to being comfortable all the time.