Sunday Morning with Hayden Carruth

Carruth_bright wings

Today I woke and tried
to write some poetry.
As usual the words
wouldn’t behave themselves–
I gave up writing
to drink mimosas
and watch the soft rain
bead up on the driveway,
run off into the yard.

It dawned on me that I’ve seen
a lot of news video clips
of the Middle East
and in nary a one is it raining.
A lot of dead bodies bleeding
into the sand, but no rain.

I don’t want to see it anymore.

The dead bodies, that is.
The rain I can live with.

After the rain stopped
I picked up your book and read,

“Bright wings disappearing,”
and it reminded me why

against all logic,
against my better judgment,
against the way of the world,
I still write my quiet lines.




Wasteful finches at the feeder
scatter seed over the front porch,
costing me more money than I
have to spend for the mere pleasure
of simple watching. 
                                   Yet I want
them here, I need to see that some
act of foolish kindness can still
bring joy in this world of hatred,
greed, and our endless bloody wars.

Wendell Berry: We Need Something New

230ea-wendellberrybyguymendesThe aim and result of war necessarily is not peace but victory, and any victory won by violence necessarily justifies the violence that won it and leads to further violence. If we are serious about innovation, must we not conclude that we need something new to replace our perpetual “war to end war”?

–Wendell Berry, from “Thoughts in the Presence of Fear”

Edna St. Vincent Millay: Apostrophe to Man

(Library of CongressPrints and Photographs DivisionVan Vechten Collection)

Apostrophe to Man
(On reflecting that the world is ready to go to war again)

Detestable race, continue to expunge yourself, die out.
Breed faster, crowd, encroach, sing hymns, build bombing airplanes;
Make speeches, unveil statues, issue bonds, parade;
Convert again into explosives the bewildered ammonia and the distracted cellulose;
Convert again into putrescent matter drawing flies
The hopeful bodies of the young; exhort,
Pray, pull long faces, be earnest, be all but overcome, be photographed;
Confer, perfect your formulae, commercialize
Bacteria harmful to human tissue,
Put death on the market;
Breed, crowd, encroach, expand, expunge yourself, die out,
Homo called sapiens.

                       –Edna St. Vincent Millay (Feb. 22, 1892-Oct. 19, 1950)

Chris Hedges: War’s Crusade

Once we sign on for war’s crusade, once we see ourselves on the side of the angels, once we embrace a theological or ideological belief system that defines itself as the embodiment of goodness and light, it is only a matter of how we will carry out murder.   

                       –Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

Stephen Crane: There Was a Crimson Clash of War


There was a crimson clash of war.
Lands turned black and bare;
Women wept;
Babes ran, wondering.
There came one who understood not these 
He said, “Why is this?”
Whereupon a million strove to answer
There was such intricate clamour of 
That still the reason was not.

                                             –Stephen Crane, from Black Riders and Other Lines

Herman Melville on Butchers of the Bloodiest Badge

(Herman Melville, died Sept. 28, 1891)

Doubtless one leading reason why the world declines honoring us whalemen, is this: they think that, at best, our vocation amounts to a butchering sort of business, and that when actively engaged therein, we are surrounded by all manner of defilements. Butchers we are, that is true. But butchers also, and butchers of the bloodiest badge have been all Martial Commanders whom the world invariably delights to honor.


There they are again.
Faint thuds, incessant,
demanding attention
like an unlatched
barn door banging
in the winter wind.
Perhaps that’s all it is,
a door ajar;
or a pile-drive pounding
columns for the overpass
that will (we are promised)
help us navigate
the snarling traffic;
or the boy two streets down,
imagining a game
on the line, dribbling slowly
as he readies for the
final shot.
But I deceive myself.
I know if I travel
a few miles southwest,
past the spoiled Ogeechee
and twisted pines,
I’ll see mangled earth,
I’ll feel air crinkle
with concussive
power. Ft. Stewart
trains for death.
they’ll set their sights
on flesh, on foreign
barns and bridges,
just as hopeful as
my neighbor kid that
practice pays off.
This is a second draft of an earlier poem–still not fully satisfied with it, but it seemed to fit tonight’s prompt over at dVerse, where poets Victoria Slotto and Pamela Sayers have us writing about our places of residence. I live in Savannah, GA. I could have written about a lot of things, for Savannah is a city of wonderful beauty and history. It is also a military town, with three bases within close driving distance. I chose to write about that.

Charles Simic: My Weariness of Epic Proportions

My Weariness of Epic Proportions

I like it when
Gets killed
And even his buddy Patroclus–
And that hothead Hector–
And the whole Greek and Trojan
Jeunesse doree
Is more or less
Expertly slaughtered
So there’s finally
Peace and quiet
(The gods having momentarily
Shut up)
One can hear
A bird sing
And a daughter ask her mother
Whether she can go to the well
And of course she can
By that lovely little path
That winds through
The olive orchard

–Charles Simic