Two Roads

after Robert Frost

I don’t have to wait
for the ages and ages hence.
One will do, it’s been enough.

Though the lights were yellow
I thought were green
when I told you I knew what awaited,

I went, we go, it’s what we do.
We’re not made as sentries stand,
but split the flame in every word,

Take two for every one,
the first in every last,
in every waving hand.

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The Beauty of the Book

The universe (which others call the Library)….

I take a profoundly Borgesian pleasure in the book. Continue reading

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The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume II

…. being in [the world] discourages you from talking about it and not being in it disqualifies you from talking about it.
—Samuel Beckett to Georges Duthuit, March 2, 1949 (p 131)

I am no longer capable of writing in any sustained way about…. anything. I am no longer capable of writing about. (p 141)

Volume II purports to cover the period 1941 to 1956 but the first letter is from 1945. There are no letters from 1941 to 1945, the period during which Beckett lived in hiding from the Nazis and wrote his first masterpiece, the novel Watt. By 1947 Beckett had begun writing directly in French and within a few years produced the works that would make him famous: the great trio of novels, Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable, and the play Waiting for Godot. Continue reading

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The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume III

Holes in paper open and take me fathoms from anywhere.
—Samuel Beckett to Nancy Cunard, January 26, 1959 (p 193)

The late 1940’s are often singled out as a peak in Samuel Beckett’s writing life. Indeed, that’s when he produced the works—principally Waiting for Godot—that put him on the map. But by 1951 he had reached a creative impasse and it wasn’t until 1957 that he began to see a way out of it. Volume III covers the years 1957-1965, the period of Beckett’s career we might describe as his great second act, involving multiple genres: the novel, plays for stage, television and radio, and his one and only film script. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Continue reading

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Poetry and Music

The Poeming Pigeon: Poems about Music brings together 88 poems by 88 poets. The collection starts with a bang, as Michael T. Coolen tells us

the cosmic background radiation that was created
resonates throughout the universe

it is a D flat fifty-seven octaves below middle C
it is the source of all music

and it ends with a beauty, Kenneth Salzmann’s What But the Music, which asks

What but the music underscored every presumed
triumph and defeat, drew us into church basements
and into cheap apartments in bad neighborhoods,
ripped down walls, egged us on, played us out?

and my poem, Moonwalker falls somewhere in the middle (clue: it’s not about The Police although they’re pretty great).

There’s a pantoum and a sestina, poems that reference Bach, Puccini, Hendrix and Leonard Cohen, poems about country music and jazz music, poems about remembering music, playing it, dancing to it, and more. Another beauty is Deborah J. Meltvedt’s First Songs, about the music that plays while we’re in the womb, like

your mother’s voice sewing your bones.

It doesn’t matter what kind of music you like. I’ve never been a huge fan of Pete Seeger, but one of my favorites is Jane Yolen’s Singing with Pete, in which Yolen likens music to food:

You never left his concerts hungry, but carried those tunes
home in a tote sack, to snack on all the rest of your life.

Here are 88 reasons why we love music so much.

Get it from The Poetry Box

or from Amazon



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The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume IV

We shall never any of us know what we are worth, and it is the last question we should be asking.
—Samuel Beckett to Robert Pinget, May 24, 1966 (p 30)

On the 25th of November 1981, in thanking a friend for the gift of a pen, Samuel Beckett wrote,

If with it I fail to fail better worse I only deserve to succeed. (563)

It’s a sentence that only Beckett, whose idea of success was anything but ordinary, would have written Continue reading

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Election Day was Yesterday

Ram On

“Oh the lines are long
And the fighting is strong
And they’re breaking down the distance
Between right and wrong”

– Bob Dylan from Ring Them Bells

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