EppsNet Archive: Poetry

Overheard (Samuel T. Coleridge Edition)

22 Sep 2015 /

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

HIM: Sir Leoline, the Baron rich– Hath a toothless mastiff bitch–
HER: Which.
HIM: I beg your pardon.
HER: Which, not bitch.
HIM: We’ll look it up.

“Nature” is What We See

18 Sep 2015 /

Emily Dickinson

“Nature” is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse—the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.

How Can You Ever Be Sure?

1 Sep 2015 /

W.S. Merwin

I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can’t

you can’t you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don’t write

— W.S. Merwin, “Berryman”


25 Aug 2015 /

Photo by Siderola

Guess what, Dad and I finally figured out Pandora,
and after all those years of silence, our old music
fills the air. It fills the air, and somehow, here,
at this instant and for this instant only
—perhaps three bars—what I recall
equals all I feel, and I remember all the words.

— Rebecca Foust, “Abeyance”

All Joy Wants Eternity

26 Jul 2015 /

O man, take care!
What does the deep midnight declare?
“I was asleep—
From a deep dream I woke and swear:—
The world is deep,
Deeper than day had been aware.
Deep is its woe—
Joy—deeper yet than agony:
Woe implores: Go!
But all joy wants eternity—
Wants deep, wants deep eternity.

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

e e cummings wishes you a happy fathers day

21 Jun 2015 /

e. e. cummings

my father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give,
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height

this motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here;
that if (so timid air is firm)
under his eyes would stir and squirm

newly as from unburied which
floats the first who, his april touch
drove sleeping selves to swarm their fates
woke dreamers to their ghostly roots

and should some why completely weep
my father’s fingers brought her sleep:
vainly no smallest voice might cry
for he could feel the mountains grow.

Lifting the valleys of the sea
my father moved through griefs of joy;
praising a forehead called the moon
singing desire into begin

joy was his song and joy so pure
a heart of star by him could steer
and pure so now and now so yes
the wrists of twilight would rejoice

keen as midsummer’s keen beyond
conceiving mind of sun will stand,
so strictly (over utmost him
so hugely) stood my father’s dream

his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
no hungry man but wished him food;
no cripple wouldn’t creep one mile
uphill to only see him smile.

Scorning the Pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain

septembering arms of year extend
less humbly wealth to foe and friend
than he to foolish and to wise
offered immeasurable is

proudly and (by octobering flame
beckoned) as earth will downward climb,
so naked for immortal work
his shoulders marched against the dark

his sorrow was as true as bread:
no liar looked him in the head;
if every friend became his foe
he’d laugh and build a world with snow.

My father moved through theys of we,
singing each new leaf out of each tree
(and every child was sure that spring
danced when she heard my father sing)

then let men kill which cannot share,
let blood and flesh be mud and mire,
scheming imagine, passion willed,
freedom a drug that’s bought and sold

giving to steal and cruel kind,
a heart to fear, to doubt a mind,
to differ a disease of same,
conform the pinnacle of am

though dull were all we taste as bright,
bitter all utterly things sweet,
maggoty minus and dumb death
all we inherit, all bequeath

and nothing quite so least as truth
—i say though hate were why men breathe—
because my Father lived his soul
love is the whole and more than all

— e.e. cummings, “my father moved through dooms of love”

Summer Triptych

12 Jun 2015 /

The world is water
to these bronzed boys
on their surfboards,
riding the sexual waves
of Maui
like so many fearless
cowboys, challenging
death on bucking
broncos of foam.

On the beach at Santorini
we ate those tiny silverfish
grilled straight from the sea,
and when the sun went down
in the flaming west
there was applause
from all the sated diners,
as if it had done its acrobatic plunge
just for them.

Swathed from head to toe
in seeming veils of muslin,
the figure in the Nantucket fog
poles along the shoreline on a flat barge.
It could be Charon transporting souls
across the River Styx, or just
another fisherman in a hoodie,
trolling for bluefish
on the outgoing tide.

— Linda Pastan, “Summer Triptych”
Ho'okipa Beach Surfing Maui

Ho’okipa Beach Surfing Maui 

Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

1 Jun 2015 /

William Butler Yeats

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

— W. B. Yeats, “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”


1 Feb 2015 /

Be still,—be still!
Midnight’s arch is broken
In thy ceaseless ripples.
Dark and cold below them
Runs the troubled water,—
Only on its bosom,
Shimmering and trembling,
Doth the glinted star-shine
Sparkle and cease.

Be still,—be still!
Boundless truth is shattered
On thy hurrying current.
Rest, with face uplifted,
Calm, serenely quiet;
Drink the deathless beauty—
Thrills of love and wonder
Sinking, shining, star-like;
Till the mirrored heaven
Hollow down within thee
Holy deeps unfathomed,
Where far thoughts go floating,
And low voices wander
Whispering peace.

— Edward Roland Sill, “Serenity”


15 Jan 2015 /

I will mix me a drink of stars,—
Large stars with polychrome needles,
Small stars jetting maroon and crimson,
Cool, quiet, green stars.
I will tear them out of the sky,
And squeeze them over an old silver cup,
And I will pour the cold scorn of my Beloved into it,
So that my drink shall be bubbled with ice.

It will lap and scratch
As I swallow it down;
And I shall feel it as a serpent of fire,
Coiling and twisting in my belly.
His snortings will rise to my head,
And I shall be hot, and laugh,
Forgetting that I have ever known a woman.

— Amy Lowell, “Vintage”


3 Jan 2015 /

Carl Sandburg

Out of your many faces
Flash memories to me
Now at the day end
Away from the sidewalks
Where your shoe soles traveled
And your voices rose and blent
To form the city’s afternoon roar
Hindering an old silence.

I remember lean ones among you,
Throats in the clutch of a hope,
Lips written over with strivings,
Mouths that kiss only for love,
Records of great wishes slept with,
Held long
And prayed and toiled for:

Written on
Your mouths
And your throats
I read them
When you passed by.

— Carl Sandburg, “Passers-by”

Within the Circuit of this Plodding Life

28 Dec 2014 /

Within the circuit of this plodding life,
There enter moments of an azure hue,
Untarnished fair as is the violet
Or anemone, when the spring strews them
By some meandering rivulet, which make
The best philosophy untrue that aims
But to console man for his grievances.
I have remembered when the winter came,
High in my chamber in the frosty nights,
When in the still light of the cheerful moon,
On every twig and rail and jutting spout,
The icy spears were adding to their length
Against the arrows of the coming sun,
How in the shimmering noon of summer past
Some unrecorded beam slanted across
The upland pastures where the Johnswort grew;
Or heard, amid the verdure of my mind,
The bee’s long smothered hum, on the blue flag
Loitering amidst the mead; or busy rill,
Which now through all its course stands still and dumb
Its own memorial,—purling at its play
Along the slopes, and through the meadows next,
Until its youthful sound was hushed at last
In the staid current of the lowland stream;
Or seen the furrows shine but late upturned,
And where the fieldfare followed in the rear,
When all the fields around lay bound and hoar
Beneath a thick integument of snow.
So by God’s cheap economy made rich
To go upon my winter’s task again.

— Henry David Thoreau, “Within the Circuit of this Plodding Life”

Old Wine

7 Dec 2014 /

If I could lift
    My heart but high enough
    My heart could fill with love:

But ah, my heart
    Too still and heavy stays
    Too brimming with old days.

Margaret Widdemer, “Old Wine”

Attention Deficit

3 Dec 2014 /

Focus for
us was a thing hard to
come by. We would have to make due with

we had: these
were pills and a pencil,
blue earplugs to block out the voices
inside of

our heads, which
would tell us time passed and
these thoughts that would shine like soft lights on
our brains would

one day fade
into invisible
relief. We would write in our binders,
pass classes,

allow for
a moment of grief. We
were deeply aware we would have to
make up for

lost time, but
when we took our pills, the
world would seem fine, seem as if it had
always been

fine. Once we
had adequate supplies
we’d sell, but until then we decid-
ed to re-

fill. We had
determined that we would
not brood. Instead we charted out our
moods and light-

ened up our
loads. Before the rest of
time unfolds, we would like to hold on-
to this life,

feel like it’s
beating, there, deep inside
of our chests, not out of fear. We are
just children.

— Katy Lederer, “Attention Deficit”


2 Dec 2014 /

The crimson dawn breaks through the clouded east,
And waking breezes round the casement pipe;
They blow the globes of dew from opening buds,
And steal the odors of the sleeping flowers.
The swallow calls its young ones from the eaves,
To dart above their shadows on the lake,
Till its long rollers redden in the sun,
And bend the lances of the mirrored pines.
Who knows the miracle that brings the morn?
Still in my house I linger, though the night—
The night that hides me from myself is gone.
Light robes the world, but strips me bare again.
I will not follow on the paths of day.
I know the dregs within its crystal hours;
The bearers of my cups have served me well;
I drained them, and the bearers come no more.
Rise, morning, rise, for those believing souls
Who seek completion in day’s garish light.
My casement I will close, keep shut my door,
Till day and night are only dreams to me.

Elizabeth Drew Stoddard, “Closed”

This Magic Moment

21 Nov 2014 /

Bravery is doing
            the same thing every day when you don’t want to.
Not the marvelous but the familiar, over and over again.
            Do that, and the magic will come.

— David Kirby, “This Magic Moment”

The Lowlight of My Weekend

14 Oct 2014 /
Robert Hass

Robert Hass

I had lunch over the weekend with Robert Hass — Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, UC Berkeley professor and former Poet Laureate of the United States. When I say I had lunch with him, I mean he was one of five people seated at our table.

I asked to take a photo with him, which he graciously consented to. I don’t have any photos of myself with Pulitzer Prize winners and still don’t because the photo didn’t come out at all. I completely botched it somehow.

So that was probably the lowlight of my weekend, except for Cal getting blown out by Washington on the gridiron 31-7, while four Husky fans sat directly behind us screaming the whole game.

Football at Cal unfortunately is like academics at Washington: not terribly distinguished.

Books, Writers, Bookstores, Libraries

27 Jul 2014 /

If You Quote Poetry at My Death, I Will Haunt You

12 Sep 2013 /

If you know me, and you outlive me, and you want to say something on the occasion of my demise, please do not quote a snippet of poetry or other literary material, e.g., “He did not go gently into that good night.” Or: “I think Wordsworth said it best . . .”

Portrait of William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

Bullshit . . . Wordsworth did not say it best. Wordsworth didn’t know me. You knew me. Go ahead and say something from the heart if you have something. Keep it real.

He was not a good person.

He had the most appalling social skills, which is why he had no close friends.

After his son moved out, he just unraveled like an old sock.

I remember at Jackie O’s funeral, her kids — was it just one kid, or both? I think both — read a poem. A poem! That’s when you really know that your life was not well-lived, when your own children have nothing to say about you.

Don’t you hope to god that your children at least will have some personal remembrance to share after you’re gone?

I remember when we used to go to the park and he pitched baseballs to me.

He spent a year of his life helping me with algebra homework.

He always believed in me.

To anyone tempted to eulogize me with a literary reference, I swear I will rise from the grave — in spirit if not in body, although body will be my preference — and cast a shadow upon your soul.

Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

31 Aug 2013 /
Seamus Heaney

The way we are living,
timorous or bold,
will have been our life.

— Seamus Heaney, “Elegy”

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