Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From A Universal History of Infamy, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni


"This glad reunion -- which seems somehow to belong to a tradition of the classical stage -- might well have crowned our story, rendering certain, or at least probable, the happiness of three parties: the real mother, the spurious son, the successful plotter."

From Tom Castro, the Implausible Impostor, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Clerihew for the Victims of a Faddish Effeminancy


Frances Hodgson Burnett
Apologized to every male she met
For making him a whipping boy
When he was dressed like Fauntleroy.

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Book of Sand, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Norman Thomas di Giovannie


"As far as possible, we did away with grammar and with those exercises concocted for the beginner, and we found our way directly into poetry, whose forms demand brevity."

From The Congress

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Doctor Brodie's Report, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni


"This, and a lot that we don't know, helps us understand the close ties between them."

From The Intruder

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Collected Poems, by Vita Sackville-West


The greater cats with golden eyes
Stare out between the bars.
Deserts are there, and the different skies,
And night with different stars.
They prowl the aromatic hill,
And mate as fiercely as they kill,
To roam, to live, to drink their fill;
But this beyond their wit know I:
Man loves a little, and for long shall die.

Their kind across the desert range
Where tulips spring from stones,
Not knowing they will suffer change
Or vultures pick their bones.
Their strength's eternal in their sight,
They overtake the deer in flight,
And in their arrogance they smite;
But I am sage, if they are strong:
Man's love is transient as his death is long.

Yet oh what powers to deceive!
My wit is turned to faith,
And at this moment I believe
In love, and scout at death.
I came from nowhere, and shall be
Strong, steadfast, swift, eternally:
I am a lion, a stone, a tree,
And as the Polar star in me
Is fixed my constant heart on thee.
Ah, may I stay forever blind
With lions, tigers, leopards, and their kind.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Collected Poems, by Marie Ponsot


A new embroidery of flowers, canary color,
dots the grass already dotty
with aster-white and clover.

I warn, "They won't last, out of water."
The children pick some anyway.

In or out of  water
children don't last either.

I watch them as they pick.
Still free of  what's next
and what was yesterday
they pick today.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter, by Peter Singer


"There is a view in some philosophical circles that anything that can be understood by people who have not studied philosophy is not profound enough to be worth saying.  To the contrary, I suspect that whatever cannot be said clearly is probably not being thought clearly either."

From the Introduction.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World, by Amir Alexander


"The Leviathan is the be-all and end-all, and exists for itself alone."

From Chapter 6

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Snow Hunters, by Paul Yoon


"In the corner stood the umbrella that was given to him a long time ago.  He tilted it away from the wall until it found the window light, and he held it there, reminding himself to mend the tear in the blue canopy."

From Chapter 8

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Collected Poems, by R. S. Thomas


'Listen, now, verse should be as natural
As the small tuber that feeds on muck
And grows slowly from obtuse soil
To the white flower of immortal beauty.'

'Natural, hell! What was it Chaucer
Said once about the long toil
That goes like blood to the poem's making?
Leave it to nature and the verse sprawls,
Limp as bindweed, if it break at all
Life's iron crust. Man, you must sweat
And rhyme your guts taut, if you'd build
Your verse a ladder.'
'You speak as though
No sunlight ever surprised the mind
Groping on its cloudy path.'

'Sunlight's a thing that needs a window
Before it enter a dark room.
Windows don't happen.'
So two old poets,
Hunched at their beer in the low haze
Of an inn parlour, while the talk ran
Noisily by them, glib with prose.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Breakfast at the Bookstore with Brad and Nick # 111

Daily Dose

From Collected Poems, by R. S. Thomas


Looking upon this tree with its quaint pretension
Of holding the earth, a leveret, in its claws,
Or marking the texture of its living bark,
A grey sea wrinkled by the winds of years,
I understand whence this man's body comes,
In veins and fibres, the bare boughs of bone,
The trellised thicket, where the heart, that robin,
Greets with a song the seasons of the blood.

But where in meadow or mountain shall I match
The individual accent of the speech
That is the ear's familiar? To what sun attribute
The honeyed warmness of his smile?
To which of the deciduous brood is german
The angel peeping from the latticed eye?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Caricature

Clerihew for a Gutter Bard


Irvine Welsh
Rhymes best with "belch".
Seems ainlie fair
Fur sae muckle het air.

Daily Dose

From Porno, by Irvine Welsh

"Ah'm tryin tae keep ma heid up, tryin tae be brave fir thaim, but the pain's everywhaire n everything is spinnin slowly n ah feel masel gaun under and blacking oot, fawin intae a whirlin dark pit..."

From 64 Just Playing

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Clerihew for Croatia

Dubravka Ugrešić
Never so much as dropped a stitch
When forced into exile among the Dutch,
She's still needling the fascists just as much.

A Caricature

Dail Dose

From The Last Day of a Condemned Man, by Victor Hugo


"Civilization is nothing but a series of successive changes.  Which one are you going to help?"

From The Preface

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Breakfast at the Bookstore with Brad and Nick #110

Daily Dose

From Merrill Poems, edited by Langdon Hammer


Death took my father.
The same year (I was twelve)
Thanási's mother taught me
Heaven and hell.

None of my army buddies
Called me by name—
Just 'Styles' or 'Fashion Plate'.
One friend I had, my body,

And, evenings at the gym
Contending with another,
Used it to isolate
Myself from him.

The doctor saved my knee.
You came to the clinic
Bringing War and Peace,
Better than any movie.

Why are you smiling?
I fought fair, I fought well,
Not hurting my opponent,
To win this black belt.

Why are you silent?
I've brought you a white cheese 
From my island, and the sea's
Voice in a shell.

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Caricature

Clerihew for a Late Centenarian


Jacques Barzun
Was, bar none,
The longest working critic alive
'Til the day he died at 105.

Daily Dose

From Selected Poems, 1968 - 2014, by Paul Muldoon


As he knelt by the grave of his mother and father
the taste of dill, or tarragon-
he could barely tell one from the other-

filled his mouth. It seemed as if he might smother.
Why should he be stricken
with grief, not for his mother and father,

but a woman slinking from the fur of a sea-otter
In Portland, Maine, or, yes, Portland, Oregon-
he could barely tell one from the other-

and why should he now savour
the tang of her, her little pickled gherkin,
as he knelt by the grave of his mother and father?


He looked about. He remembered her palaver
on how both earth and sky would darken-
'You could barely tell one from the other'-

while the Monarch butterflies passed over
in their milkweed-hunger: 'A wing-beat, some reckon,
may trigger off the mother and father

of all storms, striking your Irish Cliffs of Moher
with the force of a hurricane.'
Then: 'Milkweed and Monarch 'invented' each other.'


He looked about. Cow's-parsley in a samovar.
He'd mistaken his mother's name, 'Regan, ' for Anger';
as he knelt by the grave of his mother and father
he could barely tell one from the other.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Clerihew in Hope of an Unlikely Resurrection


Alfred Noyes
Rests apoise
Beneath his weighty, three-volume epic
Waiting the return of readers sympathetic.

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Collected Poems, Volume Two, by Alfred Noyes


'I want to be new,' said the duckling.
'O, ho!' said the wise old owl,
While the guinea-hen cluttered off chuckling
To tell all the rest of the fowl.

'I should like a more elegant figure,'
That child of a duck went on.
'I should like to grow bigger and bigger,
Until I could swallow a swan.

'I _won't_ be the bond slave of habit,
I _won't_ have these webs on my toes.
I want to run round like a rabbit,
A rabbit as red as a rose.

'I _don't_ want to waddle like mother,
Or quack like my silly old dad.
I want to be utterly other,
And _frightfully_ modern and mad.'

'Do you know,' said the turkey, 'you're quacking!
There's a fox creeping up thro' the rye;
And, if you're not utterly lacking,
You'll make for that duck-pond. Good-bye!'

'I won't,' said the duckling. 'I'll lift him
A beautiful song, like a sheep;
And when I have--as it were--biffed him,
I'll give him my feathers to keep.'

Now the curious end of this fable,
So far as the rest ascertained,
Though they searched from the barn to the stable,
Was that _only his feathers remained_.

So he _wasn't_ the bond slave of habit,
And he _didn't_ have webs on his toes;
And _perhaps_ he runs round like a rabbit,
A rabbit as red as a rose.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Clerihew of of the Well Traveled New Englander


Amy Lowell
Went for a stroll
'Round some ancient Japanese temples
And thought, "Brookline, Mass. this closely resembles."

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Selected Poems, by Amy Lowell


At Matsue,
There was a Camellia Tree of great beauty
Whose blossoms were white as honey wax
Splashed and streaked with the pink of fair coral.
At night,
When the moon rose in the sky,
The Camellia Tree would leave its place
By the gateway,
And wander up and down the garden,
Trailing its roots behind it
Like a train of rustling silk.
The people in the house,
Hearing the scrape of them upon the gravel,
Looked into the garden
And saw the tree,
With its flowers erect and peering,
Pressed against the shoji.
Many nights the tree walked about the garden,
Until the women and children
Became frightened,
And the Master of the house
Ordered that it be cut down.
But when the gardener brought his axe
And struck the trunk of the tree,
There spouted forth a stream of dark blood;
And when the stump was torn up,
The hold quivered like an open wound.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From William Blake Poems, selected by Patti Smith


O thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Thro' the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!

The hills tell each other, and the listening
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turned
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth,
And let thy holy feet visit our clime.

Come o'er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumed garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our love-sick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languished head,
Whose modest tresses were bound up for thee.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Long Dry, by Cynan Jones


"The cow went for a walk.  She got up in the night and just walked and she was tired and slow by the time the sun came up, but a long way from the farm, for a cow.  She just didn't want to be in the barn."

From The Sedge

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry, edited by Rita Dove


I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

-- Theodore Roethke

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Songs of Unreason, by Jim Harrison


I sit up late dumb as a cow,
which is to say
somewhat conscious with thirst
and hunger, an eye for the new moon
and the morning's long walk
to the water tank. Everywhere
around me the birds are waiting
for the light. In the world of dreams
don't let the clock cut up
your life in pieces.

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Decanting: Selected and New Poems 1967 - 2017, by Stuart Friebert


That's the quiet patch between
heavy breakers, just outside

the mouth of a narrow inlet to
the sea.  You'd better bide your

time, maneuver just beyond the
rough water, pick a slatch, gun

your boat right through or you'll
be washed to a place where

just a single candle's lit.  Amen.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Habit of Art, by Alan Bennett


"Well, I agree he's a bit on the big side, but this is theatre, darling.  It's not about appearance."

From Part One

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Breakfast at the Bookstore with Brad and Nick #109

Daily Dose

From Les Miserables, Volume One, by Victor Hugo, translated by Isobel Florence Hapgood


"He always took his meals alone, with an open book before him, which he read."

From Book Fifth, III