Lonely Night

Lonely Night
“My solitary watch I keep,”
Bill Monroe sings high lonesome.
“So fare-thee-well I’d rather make
My home upon some icy lake
Where the southern sun refused to shine
Than to trust a love so false as thine.”
a pile of yellow
toenail clippings
thought I threw
those things
with the nonchalance
of god
Yet, why be so theatrical
in your desolation.
In this way
the floor
speaks to me.
I think it means
and I think it is
the floor
            Castaneda asks, What is going to happen now, don Juan?
            Nothing. You won your soul back. It was a good battle.
            You learned many things last night.
(So perhaps that’s where it stands.)
Anna Chamberlain has us going to the edge of meaning and sanity for tonight’s dVerse prompt. Well, anyway, that’s how it seemed to me, as we discovered a variety of experimental poetry techniques. Take the time to read the article—Anna did a great service in providing all the information, and there’s really no good way to summarize it here.

I tried to write spontaneously, piecing together many disparate, jarring sources and images in service of a single theme; however, I think there may be more flow, or at least more noticeable meaning, than one would expect to find in experimental poetry. I couldn’t help it. Hopefully there is enough here to make it fit the prompt. (The quotations are from Bill Monroe’s song “Midnight on the Stormy Deep” and Carlos Castaneda’s book The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge.)

Ezra Pound: Alba

(Photo: Franz Larese from here)

So, Ezra Pound’s birthday today. He would have been . . . never mind, I don’t feel like doing the math. He was a little crazy, no doubt about it. Probably even a lot crazy. But still.

As cool as the pale wet leaves
                                       of lily-of-the-valley
She lay beside me in the dawn.

                                –Ezra Pound

Jane Kenyon: In the Grove

(Image from: http://www.aprweb.org/author/jane-kenyon)

In the Grove: The Poet at Ten

She lay on her back in the timothy
and gazed past the doddering
auburn heads of sumac.

A cloud–huge, calm,
and dignified–covered the sun
but did not, could not, put it out.

The light surged back again.

Nothing could rouse her then
from that joy so violent
it was hard to distinguish from pain.

              –Jane Kenyon

Allen Tate: Emblems II

(Image credit: Paul Bishop 1955)


When it is all over and the blood
Runs out, do not bury this man
By the far river (where never stood
His fathers) flowing to the West,
But take him East where life began.
O my brothers, there is rest
In the depths of an eastward river
That I can understand; only
Do not think the truth we hold
I hold the slighter for this lonely
Reservation of the heart:

Men cannot live forever
But they must die forever
So take this body at sunset
To the great stream whose pulses start
In the blue hills, and let
These ashes drift from the Long Bridge
Where only a late gull breaks
That deep and populous grave.

          –Allen Tate, from “Emblems”

John Berryman: Dream Song 46

(John Berryman: Oct. 25, 1914-Jan. 7, 1972.
Image credit: www.english.illinois.edu )

I am, outside. Incredible panic rules.
People are blowing and beating each other without mercy.
Drinks are boiling. Iced
drinks are boiling. The worse anyone feels, the worse
treated he is. Fools elect fools.
A harmless man at an intersection said, under his breath: “Christ!”

                          –John Berryman, from The Dream Songs, 46

On Our Last Day

On Our Last Day
On our last day, a backyard swing
Ka-reeked and squawked. You took the ring
   I’d given you, a promise made
   Before our love began to fade
Like some forgotten sun-struck thing,
And threw it. The last day of spring—
A fine time for abandoning
   This ever-sickening masquerade.
                        On our last day,
The kids outside began to sing
Some rhyming song. (“Bye Baby Bunting”
   I think it’s called.) And while they played
   I gripped your neck and pulled the shade,
Heard Daddy’s gone a-hunting,

                        on our last day.


Tony Maude hosts tonight’s dVerse Form For All with an invitation to write a rondeau. I hadn’t written this form in years, but Tony’s excellent article gives the pertinent information. With so many matching rhymes the form is a challenge: R(efrain)aabba-aabR-aabbaR. I stayed pretty traditional throughout; however, I did take some slight liberties with meter in the last stanza since it seemed to fit the unsettled, degenerating mindset of the narrator. 

Denise Levertov: Passage

(Oct. 24, 1923-Dec. 20, 1997)


The spirit that walked upon the face of the waters
walks the meadow of long grass;
green shines to silver where the spirit passes.

Wind from the compass points, sun at meridian,
these are forms the spirit enters,
breath, ruach, light that is witness and by which we witness.

The grasses numberless, bowing and rising, silently
cry hosanna as the spirit
moves them and moves burnishing

over and again upon mountain pastures
a day of spring, a needle’s eye
space and time are passing through like a swathe of silk.

                                            –Denise Levertov