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Wednesday, August 27, 2014


A monk isn’t supposed to need all kinds of surroundings. We’re supposed to have a beautiful inner landscape. Watching a storm pass from horizon to horizon fills your soul with reverence. It makes your soul expand to fill the sky.   From Kathleen Norris’s Dakota: A Spiritual Geography

Genesis                 Herman de Coninck, tr. By Laure-Anne Bosselaar and Kurt Brown

It was the sixth day. Adam was ready.
He saw the oaks firmly rooted
in the void. Power is a matter of branching.
He had seen the mountains, vast storerooms holding
only themselves, high empty cellars.
And deer. With legs as thin as stethoscopes
they stood listening to the breast of the earth,
and as soon as they heard something, they ran away,
inventing pizzicato as they fled the horizon.
And he had seen the sea, the busy swelling and receding
that makes one calm. And the empty, provocative gestures
of the wind, come along, come along, though no one followed.
And the depths, gulfs that make one uneasy. And being silent,
because that's what everything was doing, and being too big.
Then God said: and now you. No, said Adam.


The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second;
and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end.
It is the highest emblem in the cipher of the world.
 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: First Series, "Circles" (1841)

I Trade My Family for Junk                     Travis Wayne Denton
The older I get, the more of my family
I trade for junk. This rusting lawn chair
belonged to my wife's mother
when she was a child.
We've had it ever since she sailed over the horizon.
I've spent hours in discomfort,
watching ground squirrels hiding pecans in the weeds
or listening to the neighbors party on their deck.
Crossing one leg, then the other,
leaning forward and back.
I can't bring myself to throw it away.
Like the half-sister I used to have,
strange, insane they said—
perhaps involved in the occult,
but oddly a part of the family.
We didn't get anything for her.
On a hot day, March of `9S,
we traded my grandmother
for a purse full of used kleenex.
In the shed is what we got for
grandad, a hoe with a broken handle.
Before long, the house and yard
will be covered in junk.
We take what we can salvage
of their lives. The stuff of rummage sales—
jars of buttons, knitting needles,
three-legged chairs, polyester pant suits.

The relics become oddly a part of the family.

Certainly it did not matter to me where I was when I read such a book as The Expanding Universe. The greatest success of this enterprise, which I call my vertical search, came one night when I sat in a hotel room in Birmingham and read a book called The Chemistry of Life. When I finished it, it seemed to me that the main goals of my search were reached or were in principle reachable, whereupon I went out and saw a moved called It Happened One Night which was itself very good. A memorable night. The only difficulty was that though the universe had been disposed of, I myself was left over. There I lay in my hotel room with my search over and yet still obliged to draw one breath and then the next. But now I have undertaken a different kind of search, a horizontal search. As a consequence, what takes place in my room is less important. What is important is what I shall find when I leave my room and wander in the neighborhood. Before, I wandered as a diversion. Now I wander seriously and sit and read as a diversion.  Walker Percy, from The Moviegover
The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.  Ralph Waldo Emerson


Former Automotive Plant     Alison Titus
What poor moon deserves this night,
drab corset of grief.

I know there's a harmonica
somewhere, some chicken

feathers and cord grass that might hold
the dark apart from the body.

But tonight the twilight tethers its husk
to October's horizon and bears down, until even here

at the edge of this concrete field,
epic maze of rust and chain link,

there is nowhere to go
that isn't slowly subtracting its ache,

each long white hour,
from decades of unribboning.

Art Class by James Galvin

Let us begin with a simple line,
Drawn as a child would draw it,
To indicate the horizon,

More real than the real horizon,
Which is less than line,
Which is visible abstraction, a ratio.

The line ravishes the page with implications
Of white earth, white sky!

The horizon moves as we move,
Making us feel central.
But the horizon is an empty shell--

Strange radius whose center is peripheral.
As the horizon draws us on, withdrawing,
The line draws us in,

Requiring further lines,
Engendering curves, verticals, diagonals,
urging shades, shapes, and figures...

What should we place, in all good faith,
On the horizon? A stone?
An empty chair? A submarine?

Take your time. Take it easy.
The horizon will not stop abstracting us.

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