The Ridge Farm by A.R. Ammons

 
1

The lean, far-reaching, hung-over sway
of the cedars this morning!
vexed by the wind and working tight

but the snow's packed in, wet-set
and puffed solid: the cedars nod to
an average under gusts and blusters:

yesterday afternoon cleared the
sunset side of trees, the hemlocks
especially, limbering loose, but
the morning side, the lee, sunless
again today, overbalances:

the grackles form long strings
of trying to sit still; they weight
down the wagging branchwork snow stuck
branch to branch, tree to shrub,
imposing weeds



2

last night, the wind clunked
the icy heads of shrubs
against the house--
a long night of chunk-money spilling


3

a poet hands me his poem and says,
this is not my true voice, only a
line or so:
good, I say, but he is
disappointed,
having found a self, if still reticent,
in himself he likes or would like to like
but is his true
voice more interesting
than the one in the poem and, anyway,
isn't the one in the poem, if untrue,
truly untrue:
I know what he means:
he wants to write by the voice, to
separate out the distinctive
in himself, a distinctive, and write to it:
that is not the way, the way
is to say what you have to say
and let the voice find itself
assimilated from the many tones and sources, its
predominant and subsidiary motions
not cut away from the gatherings
but that is passive, he says:
no, I retort (for effect), it is passive
to do the bidding of the voice you have
imagined formed: freedom engaged,
or choose not to, what in the world is
to be engaged


4.

if nature could speak
would it have something
to say right where it says nothing:
that is, be like me, reticent,
patient, waiting and slowly the
progressions will find progressive gears
(even now backsteppings are being wound
forward) and the wind seek key other
than the caves-key: nature would say,
be still, that is to say, indifferent
like me, only to say so would
motion difference:
probably this is why nature says nothing--
it has nothing to say


5

knowledge, perception, this action
is so endless it might well be
avoided, as on edoes not care to take
down just because it happens what happens, the play
of light on an inlet, bay, sea:

worked so far in, knowledge mingles
with its source
so as to give up reefs, shoals, shores
of resistance, to unwind
the embracing curvatures of line,
shelf, lagoon

recalcitrance, fluency: these:
too far with one and the density
darkness, the mix slows, and bound
up with hindrance, unyielding, stops:
too far with the other and the bright
spiel of light spins substanceless
descriptions of motion--

always to be held free this way,
staggering, jouncing, testing the
middle mix,
the rigid line of the free and easy


6.

there is no tedium, apparently
to mere things in eternity: sunset,
now underway with rosy ruffles,
deep glows becoming space effects,
all that, so fresh and vanishing,
so old, the sun itself simultaneously
setting and rising continuously
on this or that sea or mountain range,
gorilla troop or small nation: Lord
god, I cry out (hear me), hear us:
but the Lord God changes before our minds
and becomes a listening device
four warps and a reach (woof) deep into
space: we cry out, bending an umbrella
of focus His way to penetrate
nothingness, signals, arbitrary, noticeable, intelligible


7

some branches, the
birch's, end bushy
but the squirrel,
no aerial rail to catch, will
leap into the vague
net and, bounding, finding
route to hard wood


8

we went for a raw walk in the
high middling of the afternoon, the
wind getting into and up our coats
and even gently into our pants:
nevertheless, we would not be daunted,
the rain also, though sparsley and
smallishly, prickling us, it being
forced forward stingingly by the gusts:
the evergreens and clouds rolled:
we heard the rough, rattling burr of
highwind in the hardwoods and the softer muffle
of cedar boughs: we noticed the
forsythia standing half-out: we
noticed the honeysucklebushes filled
with tiny green lotus temples where last
week ice had hung cold-dry or rattled loose:
Bernie said he wasnt' much interested
in nature but if we didn't have it we'd have to
think of something to take its place

cauliflowers are either real or
illusory, ditchbanks shed inward into their
courses old cattail fuzz, fern
fiddleheads, sporophyte flimsy either
appearance or verifiability:
gravy runs down the chin and forms
brothy drops that can't or can favor stain:
why test mind on the reality stone:
nothing will be determined but that
mind, too, terribly flows and stalls, holds
and gives way: if you don't
eat the imaginary potato (brown in an
imaginary field, baked in an imaginary
oven) your real capacity
to imagine illusion lessens:

hug thighs to thighs, sit broken with clarity
of delight and children
in the early afternoon sun, hold
on to some specification of curvature
the "flavor" of a mind that once informed
a love face, let nothing vanish that has not
proved out a firm roundaway
miss the kingdom of feelings
or find it too much and it is
indifferent who made the world or what
it was made of, stone or vision


10

the clumps and small reservoirs of
snow (as in forks of big trees where
honeysucklebush sometimes starts or
moss or fern finds aerial pond)
are gone and no rain
worth troubling the soil has fallen
lately: the early morning brook is dark,
its rock shale bottom showing through,
the water dawn-clear at last, filtered
black diamonds: the stump of a giant
dutch elm stands by: its bark warps
off in swales of curvature: splits
enter radially closer
and closer to the heart: the meat
mush-sodden feeds mushrooms, big
whiteheaded and brackets respond
vigorously to the softening:
various mechanisms appropriate,
necessary, useful, even beautiful
will do away with it in time and then
the mechanisms will find other work,
earth's supply of dutch elm stumps run out


11

rather than the play of the mind as
wind on tidal or other creeks or
streams or even runlets developed in
gravel by macadamways, why not
dwell the mind on mushrooms till the several
kinds define themselves, select their habitats,
go through a few life cycles, and reach their
roots into where they come from and
of what and how they go and get
back from there: attend to mushrooms and
all other things will answer up:
while you flick off (leaping like light)
all the scallops of a broad scape to keep it
noted and active, you may not in your own
summaries add much up


12

how to exclude the central,
exclusive reductions, the narratives
that consume the enviornment
transparent into their symmetries:
how to get out into the looser
peripheries where the roots of
specific trees hold them away from
the maelstrom and birds
have occasion to fly: but, of
course, not too far out, away, from
the controlling knots

everything is established even all
the motions: een the revolutions
turn with the gears of necessity
and even the little motion that
gets away into some lost or possible
refiguring is figured on: there is
no cause for alarm: and no joy except
in buying everything


13

I like the ridge, its rolls my fixed ocean:
not my, I don't own an inch of it:
and not theirs, either, the ones who
do own it, for they don't see it or
their part in it:
I'm part of the ridge they see in the
east, their morning place: nearly in
the height of the summits around here
I see the sun come out of flat
land, nearly, lingeringly interfered
with by ordinary trees: for evening
though the sun has gained space over
the lake, its setting among trees
no more than fuzz from here: it
encounters rockswales sharp on:
fire and stone flare together and the fluid
yields and sinks past, burning, darkened, out:
but I like the ridge: it was a line
in the minds of hundreds of generations
of cold Indians: and it was there
approximately then what it is now
five hundred years ago when the white
man was a whisper on the continent:
it is what I come up against:
it regularizes my mind though it has
nothing to do with me intentionally:
the shows that arise in and afflict
nature and man seem papery and
wrong when wind or time tears
through them, they seem not only
unrealistic but unreal: the ridge,
showless, summary beyond the trappings
of coming and going, provides a
measure, almost too much measure,
that nearly blinds away the person's
fragile joys from more durable woes


14

I've had all the apples out of my
basket (or tossed them out, whole
or spotty-rotten) I couldn't
wait to see the empty basket,
light, structurally transcendent:
but some mornings I get up and can
make nothing of it: it is empty:
I fall into it and vanish: other
mornings it is the very starvation
I have longed for so long to chide
and mock the world with:

but then it is a wastebasket and I
put it out to the use of the world:
it collects trash of the thoughty:
others (the litter litterers) give
theirs to the wind, the chance and
random boys: but I don't think
there's much distinction between
saved and spent trash: trash is what
you make of it: if you throw it away
you are rid of the problem--unless
a little bit is waiting to greet you
your next day round: and there is
no way, of course, finally to
throw anything away to


15

considering mutability and much,
transforming compositions and
decompositions, ups and downs, comings
and goings, you have, sir, passed
from a thousand orifices, some
beneath you on the evolutionary
scale: visibly moved, the gentleman
got some roll-on ban deodorant
and tried to rub me off (or out):
shit sticks: its fragrance in the old
days confirmed the caveman he was coming
home: a man's shit (or tribe's) reflects
(nasally) the physical makeup of the man
and the physiologies of those others
present, plus what they have gathered
from the enviornment
to pass through themselves

the odor of shit is like language,
an unmistakable assimilation of a
use, tone, flavor, accent hard to
fake: enemy shit smells like the enemy:
everything is more nearly incredible
than you thought at first


16

nature that roots under us
thrusting us up and out
flows through assembling
us but eventually
the structures of the mouth
crack down to incontinent corners
moist, the eyes weeping
air's mere burn

(the waste in a woods gives
off the best heat and brightest
illumination: all growing is
gourd green: but the fallen
lie about dry and light, lightwood,
ready at a click of fire to
rage response, its fast undoing its
best revelation)
flows through
taking us apart, returning fine knots
to recycling's fuzzy frays
and chunks: can we not,
then, find in these majestic
necessities
room for consideration,
notice of the sacred, an
overriding working steady
in care and keeping: look
elsewhere or go on paying close attention

sap, brook, glacier, spirit
flowing, these are sacred but
in a more majestic aloofness
than we can know or reason with:
we can participate in it only
imaginatively, even as we are
assembling to prevent the giving
way under us: a sacredness above
the sacredness we needed, which
would direct some arc, preferably
a towering tower, some band or
quality of concern to
recognize us here in the
first case, being concerned,
different by that concern
but we should not expect
easy sacredness that
turns aside to us when we wish
and leaves us alone to whole joys: we should
expect that the sacred, too, will
try, elude, abandon us
so as to show something
high to realize, recalcitrant,
unyielding to makeshift in
its quality, something we could
miss altogether even while it
sustained us throughout until the
carrying off or away

we assemble the variable materials until
balance begins
defining out, then we explore the
validity of the balance, collecting and
testing in cooperation with it, then
its fullness approaching satisfactory
disposition, we test it down to see if
it can give or crack: if it holds we
come into a high, intricate consideration
of the balance, the branches and
embranchments so fine, the recalcitrant
solidity of the mass or number and
justice begins to appear, the distance
that lets the wold run and kill and the
caribou mosey on: starved crows
showing up for hide shreds: the wolverine
cagey, careful, capable on the
periphery of astonishing kills:
snow eaten for blood salt: so
many things to consider, undoing so
unlikely, assent follows, the wide band
of the mind shifting to acceptance,
finding the staying place amid
horror, lust, need, necessity, that
which is, a small
place to walk in a system of others


17

we live again in teh bellies
of worms, fly again (?) with
winged worms: we come sponging
back to the tables of our children
to be swatted since this
is one place,
going is coming, ending beginning,
individual shape shed
like exoskeletons of spiritual flies


18

I go to nature not because
its flowers and sunsets speak
to me (though they do) or
listen to me inquire but

because I have filled it with 
unintentionality, so that I
can miss anything personal in
the roar of sunset, so that

I can in beds of flowers hold
my head up, too: whereas, 
the forms of intention, the
faces swept chill-firm with conviction

can assemble and roll down 
streets and declare divisions
that save or kill: I go to 
nature because man is scary,

his mercilessness not like
the jaguar's which can be evaded
but like one's own mercilessness,
inescapable as one's own intellect

and devising, the mercilessness
from which there is no appeal


19

I wouldn't give up a hair of
the beautiful
high suasions of language,
celestial swales, hungering the
earth up into heaven, no,
I would just implicate
the language with barklike beeps,
floppy turf
of songsound, I would lift up so much 
of the whatnot
it would pull the heavens down
commingling with things and us

I would give up nothing
if I had my way: I would just
idle a belt or two of trees over here
a while and turn aside a river or
so there, and keep a few continents
waiting a second, and I would 
go from one thing to another until
I had the impression I could tell what 
was going on and I would sing it all 
up, like lassoing, and tie it down


20

when the hand falls apart it makes
a handful of bones, a
spill or smallest cairn: no matter
how much the hand taught
of love or how many times it flew
upward to catch the raiments of heads
of hair or how busy it seemed in water
quick fish or how it was the strongest
shoal many a death could reach or how
much it seemed to assume the forms of
its tasks
here it is now a fact, neutral, 
plain, open for inspection, the cutest
collection, a peak white as a 
peak tip, take some into your hands,
take them with you, hold them up to the light
to see, roll them, throw them,
conjure up the wind's chances with them


21

heaven can be as purified as your
consciousness demands, I suppose, but
think of a heaven with people only in it,
gorillas missing, not worthy of soul,
but if all things are soulful and kept 
why then will we meet as well as our 
old friends the chickens we've killed
and / or eaten, sows and piglets, shoats
and boars and other animals, quite
an extensive catalog in our freezers and
refrigerators, will they be there grunting 
at us or, indeed, rushing 
us, gobbling our souls up


22

once you've caught the notion,
perceived the evidence, raked it
up, sorted through it, the recurrent
from the fortuitous, meanwhile casting
out the merely repetitious, bundled
sortings up, clumped certain ones into
bags, tied strings around the bags,
heaved the whole business up on your
shoulders and jostled around till
you've found the balance point in
it--what an amazement
as you stand there searching stillness,
not yet having decided where to go 
with it all, if anywhere, to realize
that the balance, is a found piece of permanence
in the disposition of things (look how 
many of's), a still place, primordial
form, and that every shiftless thing
it took to find
the point is mere change's shifting


23

slice thirty degrees off the summer
summit eighty and the windy ridge
that's left can change your summer
clothes: it's April and
glory is still uncertain and death
not:
     the air is so clear and the
     sky fine blue this morning,
     small showers having given
     fringes to the front coming
     through last night:
a V of about forty geese, late,
and working nearly into the NW
wind, struggled through, haggling:
I've seen geese that waited early
for the right high wind go over
like they were skating, the wings'
strokes covering apparent distances
(real distances, but not real air
distances) only gliding could acct for


24

last year we got this strawberry
jar, a ceramic bulge-bellied vase with open
ears all around it and a strawberry plant
growing in each ear: winter came and I
put the affliction in the garage where
naturally the temperature fell below
zero, though sometime during the day
the window found a ray that caught
the jar (not warming it much): the leaves,
cold-scorched quickly dead, remained green
all winter but when put out this
spring turned burnt brown, you can just
imagine:
   this story is too short for a long
     story and too long for a short story:
     anyway, today I observed two green serrated
     feelers oozing up into each of two ears
     and thought to my self "my word"
the plants didn't die: by then, that is
by this morning, since I had thought the
plants dead and stopped watering them,
the jar was shrunk dry: so I went to
get the plastic wateringcan that has
been sitting all winter under the outside
faucet catching, since thaw, drops: leaks:
I noticed last fall's leaves in the
can and thought well that will improve
the juice but I thought it did smell
funny: I poured water into the jar-top
and most of it, drought-refused, ran over or
out: so I waited for the soak to take and
began to think something really
smelled: I poured some more rich brown 
juice into the jar and then upended 
the can to let the leaves fall out and
out plunked this animal clothed in
leaves so I couldn't tell what he was 
except his thick tail looked thicker 
than a rat's: mercy: I'd just had
lunch: squooshy ice cream: I nearly 
unhad it: I expect the crows will come
and peck it up, up, and away, the way
they do squirrels killed on the
streets: pulling at the long, small
intestines and getting a toehold on
small limbs to tear off the big flesh


25

the rat was a mole: the arctic air
yesterday afternoon dried him out and
the freeze last night stiffened him much
reduced in size and scent: so 
I broke out the shovel, dug up a
spade, dumped in the mole: there let 
him rot, the rat: I can see how
something blind could get into my 
wateringcan: but with those feet!
I can hear him scratching up the side:
to get in, or out: but also I can hear him
sloshing, the blind water darkened by
night, till nobody came


26

there is something about
a redbird flying down
into
the brook bed, the stone-deep ditch,
and lighting on a washed-out root,
the brook meanwhile throwing mirrors
everywhere--light, mirror, bird, stone


27

I like, as I have said before,
maximum implication and

registration of fact and tension before
integration catches on as to how

it is to work and the point it 
catches on to the finish what a war

between what will and will not be 
captured by design, bent to a larger

rule, made to serve, expand, elaborate:
it is not right until the design

at once insists on itself and accommodates
itself to the material all the way out

to the tricky coincidental! for if
the central, controlling design will

not submit to the chippy alteration of 
the surprising appearance, the fortuitous

bit, its control will be perfect, a
nonplace, emptiness: but the integration

that tests itself, adjusting, sorting,
out to the limit why it holds because

there is nothing to loosen it, garrisons
and amassings of questioning having
meanwhile overturned the perfect


28

it doesn't matter to me if issues 
overload a line: 
or if real poetry shrugs shucking
bugs of small intentions
off the shoulders of its purer
streams--what the fuck--everybody
has to eat, nature overfilling
everything to fill it: 
yesterday was one day, today is
another, tomorrow still one more:
the creeps:
the sun is bright but can never
squint fine enough to count time
by my span:
it is unavailing: everyone knows
that when we die we wake up
elsewhere from the dream life into
life, hop over a fence and
walk off across nobody's pasture


29

I wake from a nap
in a room I have worked 
so many hours and years
in, made long poems & 
dinky ones in, read and
answered letters and
thrown some out unread
or unsent and I cannot
remember ever having been
here before, this place,
the woods
out the window, what does
it mean, and then I recall
a trace, but nothing I 
couldn't throw away, and
that trace fits with a 
recent time that blocks
out into fullness of
being and then the walls
settle, the house 
takes disposition
with the street, the
town, oh, yes, the lake, ridges,
I yawn a couple of times
and pick up the latest 
thing to do


30

words cast up
to see if light
will pick anything out in them

like sand and trash
a winnowing:
though I cast up true

words as far as I know
(words that truly 
occur) I cannot be

held wrong when I range
into winnowing chaff,
truly chaff: I am

seeing: I am looking to make
arrangements: is th eland
rich, are the children

well, the mind, is it
well-stocked and with what, 
fish: has a grain

of hope or grain been
found: is there, going
this way or that, any

increase in increase or
any falling off: is, at
this time, any direction

worth finding: I said
the words in the time
of themselves: I said the

words as truly as I could
say them, according to 
themselves: the words

are not responsible: they
are not the truth: they
caught the swerve, they

revealed the glint: the
mind opens--it is so
delightful, glaring--many

times before it finds a 
room worth finding:
but chaff will show

you "which way the wind
blows" truly: my words
are, of course, chaff

as assertions are:
but the motions: as
the wind blows, so blows

the world: in the 
innerwork of the
motions one reads what will

be aright and turns here or
there as he can (ashcan) to get 
away or be there with it:

I speak to show not
the substance but
the curvature of the going

the substance may change often
but the curvature has a glacial 
pace, seeming, to tell the truth,

out of kilter with substance: 
but probably, though we can't
wait too long to see, it comes
out right eventually


31

I was this
morning affrighted past loafing
by the small blood
lining the squirrel's mouth
where he lay on the highway's edge
his legs spraddled stiff into space
the high eye full of the morning sun
the other
scrinching wide open on grainy macadam

oh, me, I said, myself affected, cars
are our worst predators
getting more
than crows can hawk (hocking &
spitting) into shreds even
(though it's good
that some things clear things away--
in the old caves
dying men
shoved into backroom fissures, split trenches
found quickened way to rigid ease)

a young couple bicycling came up the 
hill past the squirrel and though the 
girl's eyes cast it a slight shake
her talk didn't break and they went on
by with the tribute of being glad to get
by:

the car itself, the kill recent, had
gone on, notifying no one--why notify,
or how, a different species: we never
tell mules we're dead, though they say
Uncle Asa's great-horned owl knew the 
afternoon, changing, he died because his
hooting skirled or whatever and he
wouldn't stop moaning, the thriving
throat croak, and dogs out under the
lean-to's of barns know when their 
masters lie dying


32

today Jerry, Fran, Phyllis and I went
to see the high farm out by Mecklenberg:
the farm starts high and keeps getting
higher: the brook runs way up and
on the way is the low pond but further
up, the larger high pond and then
there are a couple of fields of
ascension and then the old woods of
the ridge, preciptious in climb, not
available to hassling lumbermen:
along the ridge is a long march
you don't have to sweat once you're
there: wild turkey, deer, grouse
inhabit the inaccessibilities and make
do: I would buy a whole 130-acre farm
for one hermit lark, his song,
especially his song at evening by a
pond: right now there are some shabby
sheep, eight cocks (henless): I heard
one cock crow, and sound I've been as hungry
for as the lean throats of cockerels:
one dog, the master not around, three or four
scrubby cattle: an apple tree a hundred
years old looking better in spring
leaf than the house a hundred years
old: it's got so the only place you
can appreciate won't appreciate: the
silence was ineluctable: I heard it
& heard it: it reminded me of the 
ground: noise is motion: silence
deepens down and picks up ground
boulders and deepens down to springwater


33

I'm split but not
in two, I bough
into ramification,
I break out into
peripheries of leaf,
mist informs my
rondures: I go more 
than halfway one way
and crosslash back
away: my
splits overlace:
the complication
strengthens me,
interweaving my
fragmentation, so
that I include
in a sweep of singleness
as much singleness
as one needs and
more than enough
sweep


34

don't think we don't
know one breaks
form open because he fears
its bearing in on him
(of what, the accusation,
the shape of his eros, error,
his guilt he must buy
costing himself)
and one hugs form because
he fears dissolution, openness,
we know, we know:
one needs stanzas to take
sharp interest in and
one interests the stanza
down the road to the wilderness:
life, life: because it is
all one it must be divided
and because it is 
divided it must be all one


35

whereever mortality sets up a net
or responsibility's strictures harden
I mount into a whirlwind and 
buzz off, clearing a streak 
I spend the night in sonnets but the
next morning pack my bag with free verse
the road is my winding song sheet
the rivers, branches, brooks purl 
my uneasy pleasures:
leaving everything behind, I stick to
nothing
I will not hear the terms of arraignment 
or appear in the marble courts
I will not bear the sophistry,
subtle ramification, of the arguments
for and against:
yet the guilt sharp as jails has gotten through:
the air dissolves and absorbs,
oceans dissolve and absorb,
the imagination changes things
whose change, the hell of things, comforts me


36

straitened narrow, river-wound
through the pass, bluff walls misty
with moss-like trees,

doing what is worth doing is worth
what doing it is worth
but doing what is not worth doing
that can really be worth doing
often when one is denied access
to reality
imagination will rise to the occasion
and body
forth the vivid thing as if itself
so the deprived
may be given all but touch of the
form, color, line
or will produce the very presence of
the thingitself itself but with 
shadowy reservation to please the mind
but not the solid body

lawn full of goldfinches eating
dandelion seeds, the headful whipped
over, held by a perchfoot--the yellows
nearly interchangable


37

everyone watches the world end once
or if one is asleep
the roots of his dreams loosen and
brain soil crumbles down the slopes 
or if a coma has risen right into the 
shallowest waters of awareness
why then the world may as a skim of light end


38

I don't care if I don't tell the truth
the she-spider hangs to the ceiling
of the backporch as if, dead since last
November, alive: by her hang five
egg sacs, waiting: the she-spider
flares there, dead and dry, guarding still:
or I don't care if I tell the truth
the way the struck squirrel in his fifth
day by the roadside begins with perfect
accuracy to advertise his whereabouts: the truth
is none of my business: I don't care if
I tell a little: my business is to make
room for the truth, to bust the couplet,
warp the quatrain, explode the sonnet,
tear down the curvatures of the lengthy:
the truth is commodious, abundant: we
must make a room so sufficient it will
include till nothing will be left
over for walls, merely the thinning away 
to the numb, great vacancy visible


39

in the small walks & chasms
of despair one seeks to find and
pretends to build enledgments to
plateaus of staying and view but
these unfound, pretended become high
lake surfaces of chagrin, false, of
course, in themselves but,
worse, too brilliant for common use


40

the honeysucklebushes already weighty
with new leaf and blossoms can hardly
bear the most recent foilage, snow:

the branches separate in the dome and
fall all ways, in the angle of falling
catchment for snow amply provided,

the bent bent, the bush crushed,
a great ground flower:
                      the desert

mouse twitches under the rule of the 
rattler flash or owl appearing unheard:
                           and

the rattler under the flare of the 
redhawk which destroys the head first,
plucking out eyes and tongue: how

worrisome the yew-snow to the
she-cardinal, all day yesterday,
Sunday, stirred from her nest by boys playing

basketball, here this morning greeted by
another hassle: I hardly believe I don't
have to teach this morning: the first

Monday off: snow, free to draw winter
lines in the stickwork of tree and bush
inconvenienced inconveniences the midMay

boughs, so full and thin, catchy:
problem solvers subsidized with subsidies
and grants approach solutions but artists
dwell penniless with the central problem


41

we were talking about our MFA program
(pogrom) in Creative Writing when I said

should we, can we, professioinalize
delight

and what better way to point up need
than by superflous

I said something like that, others
were saying other things, like why

not teach creative seeing or theory or the
voice of tone, or point-of-view

what I said was disrespectfully inane
and consequently useful to those

needing an angle offsight to true
up against, the clearing into range

of a blur: by the time my blur had
taken on the definition of balanced

variations and compromises it was
no longer delightful, and I turned

down everything clear, arranged for
small game: I do not care to hunt

if I cannot be run over by
an elephant or flushed out of the bushes

by an inquisitive lion or buttressed
with speed from the rear by a forward

waterbuffalo: I wouldn't want to kill 
anything innocent unless it had

weaving in ranks before it a ridge of
cobras or dashing crocodiles: my

walking stick, I hope I said how it
makes me feel wooden about the

shanks when I go walking and dogs zoom
out to brag on their teeth: but it is

the very thing to challenge a dog or
man to violence: and if a man snatched

it away, it would become his weapon,
so effective and sufficient, against

me: what was said on this subject of
swords works for walkingsticks as well:

the moral nature of the North is such
it is considered indecent to be decent:

united we stand, divided we sit down:
once a month about I put everything

away, stickeraserbrush, paper, drafts,
inks, watercolors, clips, everything

away, clean up my room and walking out
declare, I am done with creativity,

only to discover the next day or hour
that everything cut down to

creativity everything goes with
that: I cut the grass, take up or

put in tulips, consider puttying up
the windowpanes, hack off some live or

dead branches here and there--but
come back to creativity and break

out all its gear again and set to
doodling: thank the Lord: home is

where the doodle is: today cleared
so bright blue one felt the offer,

this is it, take it, and trying to
take it found no way to do so: today

was a complete chance, a chance at the 
complete, the adequate satisfaction

how painful beauty is that gets away
full and unbesmirched and how comfortable

the rainy day that publishes your 
lesser failures: life is roundabout

and roundabout and we are, with ups
and downs, linear: the round goes on

but we break in and out: the squirrel
killed 11 days or so ago, chucked off

the road by crow or cop, was chucked 
back but right on the road's edge,

by the man cutting his lawn: several
days were cold and nothing touched

the squirrel and then the snow filled
his ear and tallied his tail out to

the feather bone: so he
is doing pretty good but the old

killing is still sketched on his face
and one wishes for the warm days,

the worms rising up under him and 
draining him off into flight: I have

mourned him so many times I grow angry
at his self-ful staying on: disditches


42

minutiae is a fussy word
matrix is too perfect
often is often mispronounced 
irregular suggests constipation 
irregardless is one of those things
mucous is the nastiest slick on la lange
I like strut as in strutted veins
varicose moleways
  some people say they don't like
  thought flowing through illustrative 
  images (they can't catch much)
  they prefer to dwell in one place into
  revelation unsuspected

everybody these days mixes up
lie and lay and mispronounces forehead

43

the high farm beseeches my mind,
thought, my mind soars up the hard
climb to the ridge but then 
feels the backing of the ridge
to the sweep, the high passover
so laborious, everything under it
gentled, the still ponds, swallows
plinking them with fine lines, flies
spinning to burr shook into the surface 
tension, nipper fish catching a
chink in the mirror informative as
a web: the earth is so fearful
and beautiful! ticks, mites,
flukes, spilldiddlings from the 
assholes of filthy sheep--O
troubled shepherds--
I love nature especially if there's
a hospital nearby and macadam or
glass in between: or
the way it survives as cuttings 
or seedlings in claypots or plastic
furrows cut off from the true ground: how
our forefathers hated woods and sex,
so much of both to deal with,
cut down or back: but now the
coonyus surrounded by taming
equations of the pill, the sperm
rage, such a wilderness, shot wild,
why we can horse deeply in with
irresponsibility's ease: that's what
they say: I'm afraid nature's going
to send the bill: it usually does:
ferocious tallywhacker

44

sweeps of space haunt the slopes,
the ridge starved to the wind that
skins it: boulders like springs
spill winter's coolth, residuals:
stones will not have warmed to summer
before frost cuts back: brook
stones cast shadows underwater,
deep in small falls' flow holes:
upland marshes, flow-slows, in them
logs idle, fallen den trees, turtles
big and little angle up the ascents
and sun and chill that won't come off

45

the thought that
so much is not wasted but is
the wellspring
of the tight usages we take
and spill! downridge from some spot
any way is ten miles, so much beneath 
one one feels the invitational
unlidded, the not-held-down:
what smart fright! dive into the
fringes of houses on dirt roads, and
then paved narrow roads, and then
the main arteries, flowing a lot more
quickly, to the holding spleens of
towns by lakeshores low as you can get

46

culture, hardened to shellac's empty
usage, defines in definitions 
hoaxdoms of remove from the true life
which
is smaller, leaner than a brook, no
louder, variable as, to the true rain:
the true life feels about its small
shoulders the traces and burdens of
death and turns for relief to berries,
bushes bent in abundance,
to dives into fell pockets of streams,
to musings on the clean forward edging
of the moon, to the eye of the other,
consolation, what there is, in the small
humbling touch

47

peeling the bark off crabapple
cane, the purplepink woodskin,
I heard
the loud oriole overhead in the maple
(looking for worms, I bet--we don't 
have many this year, wonder why that
is, last year he could have opened
his mouth and a 
bellyful would have crawled in, instead
he searched bough on bough, flying
and emitting scarves of music in
between, and never I think found a 
thing)

worms ending in song

(except in the oriole's ease one would
just as soon they didn't)

48

at dusk rabbits settle
out of the air and crop
the plumequill stems of blown dandelions
nibbling them up like drunk drinking straws
and then in the most delicate, short-range
leaps get over to the quince leaves
and trim the bush hind-leg high

49

little showers yesterday evening, quiet
as rabbits emerging into dusk to feed,
darkened the macadam except where

overhanging shower-holding trees drew their
negatives in dry ground: but this morning, 
fog has built up drops in the branches and dripped

wet images of trees on ground otherwise dry:
needles and leaves collect until 
their points bulge to drop and then if
 
the wind riffles a small shower will erupt
and rustle: fellow said he was so weak he 
couldn't throw a shadow: maybe fog has

the multiplicity to deal with pollen, that
is, touch it in the air, grain to mist-drop,
and bring it down: but

on the first breeze that stirs
under a lifted fog, weavements and
shimmerings of pollen unlace

50

a light catches somewhere, finds human 
spirit to burn on, shows its magic's 
glint lines, attracts, grows, rolls
back space and dark, stands dominant
high in the mindsphere, and reality
goes into concordance or opposition, the
light already dealing with darkness
designating it darkness, opposition by
naming, and the intensity of the source
blinds out other light: reason
sings the rightness but can do nothing
to oppose the brilliance: it dwells:
it dwells and dwells: slowly the light,
its veracity unshaken, dies but moves
to find a place to break out elsewhere:
this light, tendance, neglect
is human concern working with
what is: one thing is hardly better
or worse than another: the
split hair of possible betterment makes
dedication reasonable and heroic:
the frail butterfly, a slightly
guided piece of trash, the wind takes
ten thousand miles

51

I like nature poetry
where the brooks are never dammed up or
dammed to hauling dishwater or
scorched out of their bottoms by acids: 
the deep en-leafing has now come and
the real brook in certain bends dwells, its
stone collections dry-capped, shale shelves
in shade, leaves and falls murmuring
each to the other--and yesterday I 
looked upbrook from the highway and
there flew down midbend a catbird to
the skinny dip, found a secure 
underwater brookstone and began, in a 
dawnlike conclave or tranquility, to
ruffle and flutter, dipping into and 
breaking the reflective surfaces with
mishmashes of tinkling circlets. 








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