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Sunday, June 29, 2014


In Praise of Coldness                        Jane Hirshfield

“If you want to move your reader,”
Chekhov wrote, “you must write more coldly.”

Herakleitos recommended, “A dry soul is best.”

And so at the center of many great works
is found a preserving dispassion,
like the vanishing point of quattrocento perspective,
or the tiny packets of desiccant enclosed
in a box of new shoes or seeds.

But still the vanishing point
is not the painting,
the silica is not the blossoming plant.

Chekhov, dying, read the timetables of trains.
To what more earthly thing could he have been faithful?–
Scent of rocking distances,
smoke of blue trees out the window,
hampers of bread, pickled cabbage, boiled meat.

Scent of the knowable journey.

Neither a person entirely broken
nor one entirely whole can speak.

In sorrow, pretend to be fearless. In happiness, tremble.


"Act so that there is no use in a center." Gertrude Stein

Peach                                            Catie Rosemurgy

The head, the mouth, the fruit, the eating.
The pit, the teeth, the branch, the fall.
The wet, the swollen, the light, the seeing.
The picking, the washing, the cutting, the quartering.
The sweet, the having.

The juice. The holding it in your hands
beautiful and then ruined. The forms of devouring. The remaining empty.
What’s inside.

The excitement of the definite article. What’s inside
one thing is analogous to what’s inside another.
The ceremonial names

of what is done to them. What is unknown requires a new way of cutting.
What we’re left with.

How we make an object ours, make it disappear.
How we become the object and are food.
How we are delicious and dead at the center in so many ways.
How that is wrong and it is stillness, moon-like at the core.
How what we are is what reflects off it. How we are light produced earlier
by other things.


Tempest                                                       Emma Howell

It's storming, pounding out there.
Rain breaks and falls like the mismatched
halves of haloes.
Luminescent drops arc above the wind's dips and joints.
This is the division of virtues through their centers.
Whole waters submit, are split and capped,
sectioned like tangerines into mouth-shaped crescents
and then auctioned into thunder.

The rain marks its weight in deep
forgiving streaks.
The storm is tight around all things
and in rope fingers of light
water cracks into marbled, complex structures,
less like a chandelier, hanging vows above our heads,
than like the mezuzah we kiss when we step outside.
It shelters a scrolled blessing against leaving God
at home.
We break Him into pieces and carry Him along.


"To Forget Its Creator Is One of the Functions of a Creation"
—E. M. Forster

(Poem by Gilbert Allen)

So memory is the absent
letting things slip
out of mind and sight
to make discovery

And God is no
which is the why
of these strange, awful creatures
whose creator would envy
their lost footprints, if He could.


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