Thursday, June 22, 2017


(actually, the finest essay 
in the book
 is about the loss of a
little one-eyed cat)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


One more terrific tale in the Applewood Books series of
attractively designed and sized hardbound books
that you can fit into the back pocket of a pair
of jeans and hike all day and read
a tale such as The Bear around
the campfire at night.
People still do that, right?
I do.

Applewood Books
PO Box 27
Carlisle, MA.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017



A glorious collection in softcover that I once discovered, used,
but after holding the book in my hand, with a healthy crease down
the cover and throughout the text, much as I wanted the book, hated to leave it
behind, I waited and hunted up another copy in short time. For $1 less!
Ideal condition, never read, and guided by the gifted hand
of Lewis Hyde.
If you are looking for a treat companion volume of Thoreau's essays,
this one would be my choice.

Monday, June 19, 2017












Quite A Cat

At night

when everything in the house

grows quiet the later it becomes

even the refrigerator almost

stops humming and I am done

with writing and crumble my

last piece of paper into a ball

thinking to toss it into the fire

the cat comes to me at the sound

of the paper crumbling and

knows there is a paper ball

in my hand to crouch down

on the kitchen floor planks

with him to play catch —

yes, I toss and he fetches

like a dog, so he isn't

quite a cat

Perfect Birthdays

she gave to 

me a book I

already have

a pair of bib-

overall rain

gear I already

have and for

my lover a pair

of blue earrings

she’ll always have

What She Brings
From Town

A fat clear bag

of dried cranberries

ready to burst

Bob Arnold

Saturday, June 17, 2017


The Library of America

One more excellent collection from the
stellar Library staff. It could have
been a cooler cover design but
the editors come to the rescue
with a rockin' line-up of authors —
Luc Sante's essay on Dylan will
stop you in your tracks if you want to rush to the back 
of the book (I didn't, I like savoring)
in the meantime there is Hentoff on early Dylan
Amiri Baraka on R & B
Lester Bangs bangs in (we'd miss him)
Christgau on Prince, Ellen Willis on Janis
of course Tosches on Jerry Lee Lewis
Nelson George swims with Marvin Gaye
Babitz beds Morrison
Robert Palmer shows us Sam Cooke
Klosterman clangs with heavy metal
John Jeremiah Sullivan wastes time with Axl Rose
Wald knows top to bottom The Beatles
Hilton Als gives forth Michael Jackson
Kelefa Sanneh hits on Jay Z
Greil Marcus must end the tome
but one simply shouldn't omit
Paul Nelson squarely with The
New York Dolls
Lillian Roxon
Richard Meltzer
Paul Williams
Evelyn McDonnell
David Hajdu
my goodness
Peter Guralnick!
and I'm still leaving good people out
and so did the editors
not meaning to
but dig

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


The Girl Who Married the Reindeer


When she came to the finger-post
She turned right and walked as far as the mountains.

Patches of snow lay under the thorny bush
That was blue with sloes. She filled her pockets.
The sloes piled into the hollows of her skirt.
The sunset wind blew cold against her belly
And light shrank between the branches
While her feet shifted, bare,
While her hands raked in the hard fruit.

The reindeer halted before her and claimed the sloes.
She rode home on his back without speaking,
Holding her rolled-up skirt,
Her free hand grasping the wide antlers
To keep her steady on the long ride.


Thirteen months after she left home
She travelled hunched on the deck of a trader
Southwards to her sister's wedding.

Her eyes reflected acres of snow,
Her breasts were large from suckling,
There was salt in her hair.

They met her staggering on the quay;
They put her in a scented bath,
Found a silk dress, combed her hair out.

How could they let her go back to stay
In that cold house with that strange beast?
So the old queen said, the bridegroom's mother.

They slipped a powder in her drink,
So she forgot her child, her friend,
The snow and the sloe gin.


The reindeer died when his child was ten years old.
Naked in death his body was a man's,
Young, with an old man's face and scored with grief.

When the old woman felt his curse she sickened,
She lay in her tower bedroom and could not speak.
The young woman who had nursed her grandchildren nursed her.

In her witch time she could not loose her spells
Or the spells of time, though she groaned for power.
The nurse went downstairs to sit in the sun. She slept.
The child from the north was heard at the gate.


Led by the migrating swallows
The boy from the north stood in the archway
That looked into the courtyard where water fell,
His arm around the neck of his companion —
A wild reindeer staggered by sunlight.
His hair was leached, his skin blistered.
He saw the woman in wide silk trousers
Come out of the door at the foot of the stair,
Sit on a cushion, and stretch her right hand for a hammer.
She hammered the dried broad beans one by one,
While the swallows timed her, swinging side to side:
The hard skin fell away, and the left hand
Tossed the bean into the big brass pot.
It would surely take her all day to do them all.
Her face did not change though she saw the child watching.

A light wind fled over them
As the witch died in the high tower.
She knew her child in that moment:
His body poured into her vision
Like a snake pouring over the ground,
Like a double-mouthed fountain of two nymphs,
The light groove scored on his chest
Like the meeting of two tidal roads, two oceans.


Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Selected Poems
Wake Forest University Press

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Blue Octavo Haiku

Related Poem Content Details

           after Kafka

In fat armchairs sat
indolence and impatience,
plotting my downfall


A wicked cage flew
across the long horizon
searching for a bird.


I burned with love in
empty rooms, I sternly turned
knives within myself.


“Behold the bright gate,”
the keeper said. “I am now
going to shut it.”


Hardly was the road
swept clean when ah! there appeared
new piles of dry leaves.


But nothing could kill
a faith like a guillotine,
as heavy, as light.


Happiness? Finding
your indestructible core;
leaving it alone.


Into the heavens
flew a breathless legion of
impossible crows.

Rachel Wetzsteon
from Sakura Park
Persia Books 2006

Monday, June 12, 2017



Today is my sister's birthday

My sister who took her life

It's the first time since she died

That I have remembered this day of her birth

When she was alive, I always remembered, it's what

You do when someone is living, you think of them

Now that she is dead I have no way of getting to her

That couldn't have been her intention at taking her life —

She always wanted someone to call her, visit her, be by her side

But now we can't get to her

Death is after all a failure

To see all that I saw today and she hasn't

Who first taught me where to look


After the flood

a true flood

where houses

and forests

and people

were washed

away, truly a flood,

I worked on an island

lodged of full trees that

were lodged with large stones

lodged with mud lodged with

sewer grasses lodged with more

trees and I cut and cut for weeks on

end until I had piles of wood back

at home, and I cut through all

these trees to get to the river

a most beautiful river

In A Hollow

We've walked from the center of town

to this park on private property

donated by the people who own

the land as a tribute to their son

who died 20 years ago

there is no one here but us

no part of the neighborhood seems awake

a new trophy home is being built down the way

the lumber piles, the dirt piles, the open shapes 

   where windows will be

the boy died at age 20 so now he would be 40 no longer a boy

the park is a hollowed retreat of woodlands and streams

ideal pathways that curl and go hidden

some mother or father or both have put a great

deal of thought and wonder into this place

and the boy is dead but not to them and not even to me

I walk a stone staircase of well chosen flat stone up a rise

to a structure where inside one can sit on handmade seats

around a handmade table where a notebook has been

left to write down any handmade thoughts

I write in there that this boy is very lucky

I know the place is natural and left simple and loved

where any spirit or being just couldn't resist returning

I've been there twice

I've felt the boy twice  


Bob Arnold