“Moments: beware the poetry of moments. Many of those moments are literary, remember. They have a past, a dreary past.” ~ Theodore Roethke, from “The Poet’s Business”

In the Japanese
tongue of the
mind’s eye one
two syllable word
tells of
the fringe of rain
clinging to the eaves
and of the grey-green
fronds of wild parsley. ~ Denise Levertov, “Grey Sparrow Addresses the Mind’s Ear”

Here are a few of Ohara Hale’s illustrations of Denise Levertov’s poems as part of a Brain Pickings collaboration with 92Y:

Listen to Denise Levertov read her poems:

Love Song

Your beauty, which I lost sight of once
for a long time, is long,
not symmetrical, and wears
the earth colors that make me see it.

A long beauty, what is that?
A song
that can be sung over and over,
long notes or long bones.

Love is a landscape the long mountains
define but don’t
shut off from the
unseeable distance.

In fall, in fall,
your trees stretch
their long arms in sleeves
of earth-red and

sky-yellow, a little
lop-sided. I take
long walks among them. The grapes
that need frost to ripen them

are amber and grow deep in the
hedge, half-concealed,
the way your beauty grows in long tendrils
half in darkness.

The ache of marriage:

The ache of marriage:

thigh and tongue, beloved,
are heavy with it,
it throbs in the teeth

We look for communion
and are turned away, beloved,
each and each

It is leviathan and we
in its belly
looking for joy, some joy
not to be known outside it

two by two in the ark of
the ache of it.

City Psalm

The killings continue, each second
pain and misfortune extend themselves
in the genetic chain, injustice is done knowingly, and the air
bears the dust of decayed hopes,
yet breathing those fumes, walking the thronged
pavements among crippled lives, jackhammers
raging, a parking lot painfully agleam
in the May sun, I have seen
not behind but within, within the
dull grief, blown grit, hideous
concrete facades, another grief, a gleam
as of dew, an abode of mercy,
have heard not behind but within noise
a humming that drifted into a quiet smile.
Nothing was changed, all was revealed otherwise;
not that horror was not, not that killings did not continue,
but that as if transparent all disclosed
an otherness that was blessed, that was bliss.
I saw Paradise in the dust of the street.

Open Secret

Perhaps one day I shall let myself
approach the mountain—
hear the streams which must flow down it,
lie in a flowering meadow, even
touch my hand to the snow.
Perhaps not. I have no longing to do so.
I have visited other mountain heights.
This one is not, I think, to be known
by close scrutiny, by touch of foot or hand
or entire outstretched body; not by any
familiarity of behavior, any acquaintance
with its geology or the scarring roads
humans have carved in its flanks.
This mountain’s power
lies in the open secret of its remote
apparition, silvery low-relief
coming and going moonlike at the horizon,
always loftier, lonelier, than I ever remember.

The Certainty

They have refined the means of destruction,
abstract science almost
visibly shining,
it is so highly polished. Immaterial weapons
no one could ever hold in their hands
streak across darkness, across great distances,
threading through mazes to arrive
at targets that are concepts—

But one ancient certainty
remains: war
means blood spilling from living bodies,
means severed limbs, blindness, terror,
means grief, agony, orphans, starvation,
prolonged misery, prolonged resentment and hatred and guilt,
means all of these multiplied, multiplied
means, death, death, death and death.


Music by Hozier, “Take Me to Church”

Music by


“There is one thing rarer than genius. That is radium. Mme. Curie illustrates the combination of both.” ~ Dr. William Lyon Phelps of Yale


English: Marie Curie‘s birthplace in Warsaw, P...A non-traditional July 4th post (reblogged from Brain Pickings):

On July 4, 1934, legendary Polish-born physicist and chemist Marie Curiesage of science, reconstructionist, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only person to date to win a Nobel in two different sciences — took her last breath. The following day, The New York Times published a lengthy obituary for Curie, which began on the front page and spilled over into the interior of the paper — a rare outlier in mainstream media’s recently bemoaned severe gender bias in notable deaths, amidst the travesty of opening a remembrance for a female rocket scientist with her Beef Stroganoff recipe. Curie’s obituary, however, was a true masterpiece of the genre, celebrating Curie’s spirit and legacy in a beautifully dimensional way:

PARIS, July 4. — Mme. Marie Curie, whose work alone and with her husband on radium and radiology has been one of the greatest glories of modern science, died at 6 o’clock this morning in a sanitarium near Sallanches in Upper Savoy. Her death, which was caused by a form of pernicious anemia, was hastened by what her physicians termed “a long accumulation of radiations” which affected the bones and prevented her from reacting normally to the disease.



Living in the earth-depositis of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
her wounds came from the same source as her power

~ Adrienne Rich

“Peace, serenity, and integration are unknown to me. My familiar climate is anxiety. I write as I breathe, naturally, flowingly, spontaneously, out of an overflow, not as a substitute for life.” ~ Anaïs Nin Nin*

"Sea Mist" (nd, oil on canvas)by Sir Kyffin Williams
“Sea Mist” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Sir Kyffin Williams


“I change every day, change my patterns, my concepts, my interpretations. I am a series of moods and sensations. I play a thousand roles. I weep when I find others play them for me. My real self is unknown. My work is merely an essence of this vast and deep adventure.” ~ Anaïs Nin

Saturday afternoon. Sunny and cold, 40’s.

Sir Kiffin Williams Barclodiad Y Gawres
“Barclodiad Y Gawres” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Sir Kiffin Williams

Well, the world didn’t end. Boehner didn’t get his Plan B. Westboro creeps were kept from grandstanding at Sandy Hook funerals by Hell’s Angels. And the NRA didn’t disappoint in the “We Know You are a Bunch of Myopic Assholes” category by suggesting that having guns in schools would keep violence out of schools.

Yep. The world continues to turn on its axis, and the inherent stupidity of people marches on.

Heavy sigh . . .

My other boy dog Alfie is dying. We used to refer to him as Mr. Muscle because of his swagger; he walked like a European body-builder in a Speedo. And I am once again filled with guilt because I know that I have not loved him as much as I loved Shakes, but I have loved him still, in spite of the fact that he’s psycho and goes off at the drop of a hat. How to resolve the guilt and the anguish? Probably not possible, nor should it be as it never is.

“I have no confidence in myself and great confidence in others. I need love more than food. I stumble and make errors, and often want to die. When I look most transparent is probably when I have just come out of the fire. I walk into the fire always, and come out more alive.” ~ Anaïs Nin

And because I am bereft and gloomy, I have chosen to populate today’s post with quotes from Anaïs Nin. You’ll forgive me, I hope.

Sir Kyffin WIlliams St Davids Head
“St. David’s Head” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Sir Kiffin Williams

Guilt is an insidious creature. It compels us to make bad decisions, to pursue avenues we would under different circumstances never trod. Guilt wipes from our consciousness any semblance of logical thinking. Its tentacles wrap themselves around our cerebellum and squeeze until the frontal lobe is incapable of choosing between good actions and bad actions.

Guilt resides within the brain but is born in the heart, where it develops on a continuous diet of losses and betrayals. Guilt is weaned on slights and slurs, and it festers on perceived injustices and imagined iniquities.

Guilt dusts the edges of every planned revenge and gilds each false sentiment that leaves our lips.

Guilt is perhaps the progenitor of imbalance in the heart, the mind, and the soul because it works against the Aristotlean Golden Mean. It is impossible to ride the middle when consumed by guilt, and so we fall prey to extremes.

“I think life tragic, not comic, because I have no detachment. I have been guilty of idealization, guilty of everything except detachment. I am guilty of fabricating a world in which I can live and invite others to live in, but outside of that I cannot breathe.” ~ Anaïs Nin

If I had to choose one overriding emotion to define my life, it would most certainly be guilt:

  • I have not done enough
  • I have not loved enough
  • I have loved wrongly

    Sir Kyffin Williams Morfa Conwy
    “Morfa Conwy” (nd, oil on canvas)
    by Sir Kyffin Williams
  • I have lived cravenly
  • I have put myself before others
  • I have not considered myself enough
  • I have not considered the consequences
  • I have been paralyzed into inaction by the possible consequences
  • I have hidden behind false modesty
  • I have worn the cloak of aggression
  • I have watched when I should have acted
  • I have acted when I should have watched
  • I have proclaimed impartiality when it has not existed
  • I have decided when I should have bided

“I am apparently gentle, unstable, and full of pretenses. I will die a poet killed by the nonpoets, will renounce no dream, resign myself to no ugliness, accept nothing of the world but the one I made myself.” ~ Anaïs Nin

And no, this is not a timely post for the holidays. I know that, and I would apologize, but that would be unseemly as I am not at all certain that I would be sincere.

Sir Kyffin Williams Porth Dafarch
“Porth Dafarch” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Sir Kyffin Williams

I am sorry if you have come here expecting folderol (falderal) and instead were met with oblique attempts at rationality. I have no control over the trails my mind will take on any given day, or even at any given hour. The term flighty is especially fitting on days such as these.

I began this post thinking about how the big Mayan prediction (or rather interpretation of the Mayan calendar) did not come to pass (as I never thought it would) and how life continued to march on inexorably, how the madness of our society continues to spiral, how the cheapness of a human life continues to be met with indifference. And then I alit on my other boy dog, which took me down an entirely different road, and unfortunately for you, that particular road is well-trod for me.

And so, I do apologize for that.

“I create a myth and a legend, a lie, a fairy tale, a magical world, and one that collapses every day and makes me feel like going the way of Virginia Woolf. I have tried to be not neurotic, not romantic, not destructive, but may be all of these in disguises.” ~ Anaïs Nin

And so Christmas will be here in three days, and I am completely without the sense of wonder and delight that I hope to capture each year, which makes me wonder when I will grow up and realize that life is simply what is and not what may be.

Sir Kyffin Williams Sunset, Penmon nd
“Sunset, Penmon” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Sir Kyffin Williams

And in spite of my misgivings, I will plant a smile upon my face come Christmas morning, and somehow, I may be able to move from a false face into a real one, if I can just let go of my guilt long enough.

You must wonder how someone such as myself can possibly move through life, how someone paralyzed by deep emotions can traverse the minefield that is life, and my reply is that I try, and on some days, I succeed, and on others, not so much, and today is a not so much day, but life insists on being attended to, so I will leave this page in a moment, and I will spend the next several hours wrapping presents in beautiful paper and adorning those packages with ribbons and bows because that is what I do, and I hope, I really and truly hope, that I can forget about myself for a while.

More later. Peace.

All quotes are taken from a December 1946 letter from Anaïs Nin to Harper’s Bazaar editor Leo Lerman who had asked Nin for a short auto-biography to use in a profile feature. She declined. (as found on Brain Pickings)

Music by Ane Brun, “The Light from One”


Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

~ Robert Hayden