Walter Benjamin at the Spanish Border (September 26, 1940)
But for the guard I would have docked in America and killed myself there. Here, I am closer to Paris. The last of the Europeans, what would I have done in New York, an exhibit in the classroom cage of The New School? Mourned the library I left behind? Choked among the bourgeois working class? …
One Sunday Night
One Sunday night at home all alone in the century just before this one I read in the Tribune‘s science section the universe is endless, here forever, but the earth will be destroyed, whether by burning or freezing I don’t remember, and I felt so alone I had to call you and you were home alone too, and …
1. to sleep … I always keep my eyes shut … & I never move … to awake … I always keep my eyes open … & I never move 2. then, to sleep … I always keep my eyes shut … & I never move … then, to awake … I always keep my …
I used to breathe in water, somewhat salty. I saw dim shapes, felt wobble and jolt the constant companion of a beat, a soft mallet on a stretched skin I thought I wanted to evade until it became part of me and I panicked when it seemed to fade. Sometimes a long hum, a sigh …
has no formula; it’s a composition of too many elements: oxygen greed, lust, iron, despair, hope, water, and minerals cells exchange with their permeable membranes, envy, grief…. How many times have some cried silently wanting the little candles to be more than wax, fire, and smoke, that the small red cups not be among so …
My Guardian Angel
I don’t have one. But I imagine his voice, singing O Bel’ Alma Innamorata And I am Lucia, utterly beloved Then his softest feathers dry my eyes And firmer ones take my arm We dance till I am Zizi Jeanmaire Lovely as he knows I want to be. When I am shy he twinkles And …
Silence has reclaimed the desert. Only a chain-link fence separates the site From the rest of the desert scene; The Sacramento mountains rise to the east. Juniper and sage dot the sand. All that remains of the iron tower That rose one hundred feet in the air Is one twisted three-foot leg. The green glass …
Love and Time
(originally dedicated to Michel Leiris) Revue Européenne, August 1923 Les Pénitents en maillots roses, 1925 When a white arm slips off its glove You recall an absent love When like a breeze in a field of wheat A skirt rustling near your feet Brushes against your dancing shoe Something lightly troubles you. When someone sings …
Romantic Allusions to Mardi-Gras
(Action, vol. 1, n. 2, March 1920; Le Laboratoire central, 1921) No, Monsieur Gambetta, Bolivar’s taken his leave We saw his top hat and his meteorite Under the jet of the gas lamp’s flare Pierrot companion and cascade. His smock at the end of the quay betrayed I’m dining at home tonight. The Seine has …
Tree of Life
1. once I came … in my dream … to Paradise … when you came with me 2. the closer I came inside to the Garden … in my dream … the closer you became 3. and when I walked all through Paradise … you came closer still 4. yet when I stood near the …
Show It to Them 7 Times
Find ten people slap them 3 times each, per cheek. Walk 5 dogs sit on 2 of them and let the others shit on Sean’s lawn. Ride 12 horses whipping none but dabbing 6 with your own blood. It’s all about percentage, and probability, and need. Unclog 7 sinks look up how for all of …
This will work out I’ll drive no hiccup perhaps the rotation will undo itself will turn on its nose I’ll just walk there It won’t take that long It must be so, if I say it is But then, when I get there fools in a circle and I on the floor I’ll need some …
1. who read … the greatest devotion … greater than learning … consists in accepting the world … exactly as it happens to be 2. who said … the greatest devotion … greater than learning … consists in accepting the world … exactly as it happens to be 3. who read it … to us …
Things, they are no fools. They tableau. The trees pose, too, as the yogini know. And my trousseau of objects rearrange themselves each night. They want to be still- lives, to be of record. The time they change changes because letting me watch would sacrifice their modesty. The slender jug switches shelves with the Bakelite …
Encounter with a Neighbor
I met him on the empty cattle walk. We knew that he had planned to go away. I was surprised when he began to talk To me with sorrow that he could not stay, That he was going to Jerusalem Where he would live and work on a kibbutz and learn from people who would …
This evening we examine The Koran Where the Prayer of the Cataclysm explains How in the aftermath of the great deluge “Each soul shall know what it has done and what It has failed to do.” The few familiar words Weigh heavy in my throat till it constricts. They show, like stones across an endless …
Each night at midnight, a northern wind finds the bedroom window and strikes the harp’s strings to awaken King David. He calls God, “midnight.” Chopin wrote 21 of them. Ignace Leybach remembered only for his fifth. Faure, Scriabin, Satie, Poulenc. Debussy. Shostakovich. Mendelssohn. Have a secure grasp of the long phrases. Whistler painted a series …
Even before the Easter candles were lit, Illuminating the grainy lines of their faces There in the darkened church, I knew how tired And weighted down those immigrant laborers were, And just by hearing the creak of their crowded pews. At stroke of midnight, when everyone rose to sing Christos Anesti, and I could believe …
That brute dull thud of its lumpy leather pelt. An exercise in oblivion’s blunt obtuseness. No wonder you turned around so I could see How you rolled your eyes, still sharp enough to know That this was dementia, and it was time to pass The medicine ball around in a mind- less circle, Wheelchair by …
Because two buildings are going up, both across the street from where I live, I get a stereo effect.
The Ages of Man (After Hesiod)
Homer: the song
An olive tree the bed
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel
Oh God is.
Oh God is great.
I have no picture of you—
oh, how do we die
This is your lone atheist crouching / In her foxhole / Not so many of us, it appears
Poem: Outside the House of Learning / I said to Sol: / what does it mean
Neversend post to my everlasting salvation
Poem: Dear now-I-lay-me-downs, Dear tight-white shoes, Dear if-I-dies…
Whatever she grew / In the flower box / by the front door…
It Crawled from the Swamp
It emerged from the swamp”ooze / And crawled onto land;
Poem: For years before he died, grandfather kept / stacked in his basement, every can, every / lidless jar and pastry tray that came / his way
if not what can’t be felt—allow— / perhaps / another feeling altogether
In Good We Trust
Oh, what a difference an “O” makes / In this land where separation of church and / State
Poem: The religious long tried to silence science…
An Abandoned Church
Poem: The abandoned church stood / In an open field / Where lately not a soul had trod.
The snowflake makers’ union said, “We’re going out on strike Against the rule that tells us no Two flakes can be alike. “Every water molecule Is more or less the same, So when we cobble them together, Why in Heaven’s name “Can we not turn out multiples Of the patterns we like best? The one-and-done …
Short poem about death from a secular humanist perspective.
A poem from the August/September 2015 issue of Free Inquiry.
A poem from the April/May 2015 issue of Free Inquiry.
The Blessing of Animals
A poem from the February/March 2015 issue of Free Inquiry.