Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Summer 1958

He shot a single round
into the silent wood
on a summer's eve.
The bullet smashed limbs
and something substantial fell
to the shadowed ground--
a great silhouette
shaded gray in the dusk.
He guessed it was a bird.
Night descended
and he thought
he heard weeping
in the woods.
He begged leave
to look
but it was late
and they refused.
The next morning
he searched
for spoor
but found nothing
but fallen limbs,
dead leaves,
and pine needles.
The darkness dressed
a dire drama;
the sun
a summer's day.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sins of the Father-A review of Gav Thorpe's "Malekith"

I was very anxious to read Gav Thorpe's new novel "Malekith." In fact, I haunted the bookstores until I found one in Austin at Book People. I quickly started it, although I was already two-thirds through a biography of Robert Frost. It was a good read and I quickly submitted a review to Here is the review.

Although Gav Thorpe's new novel is entitled, "Malekith," its scope is greater than the story of one man. Instead, it delineates the development of the Warhammer world as we know it and recounts the rise and fall of Malekith. In a sense, the story of Malekith is a tragedy rather than an epic. Although the novel has "epic" qualities--the expansion of the elves and the exploration of the unknown world--it is ultimately the story of one man's greed and lust for power. Like Macbeth, a great warrior is lured from the light to the dark by greed and the ministrations of a woman. In Malekith's case it is the greed and ambition of his Mother, Morathi, that taunts him, goads him, and tricks him. Thorpe's Malekith, however, is not one dimensional. Throughout the novel, the reader feels that the means, no matter how despicable, have within Malekith's twisted thinking a logical and noble end--to protect the elves from the Chaos gods. It is this element that raises Thorpe's novel from simply being a good Warhammer story to being a great Warhammer story.

The first novel of the planned trilogy begins with the end of Aenarion and concludes with the death of Bel Shanaar, the Phoenix King. The narrative involves four major set pieces: the expansion of the elves in the east and the alliance with the dwarves; Malekith's exploration of the west and the Chaos waste; Malekith's war against the cultists in Nagarythe; and the betrayal of the Phoenix King.

Thorpe handles the exploration of the east and the establishment of the elven colonies in the old world brilliantly. His description of the dwarven cities is meticulous in its detail. However, the dwarven segment is not simply a side show; it is important to the development of Malekith's character and to the reader's understanding of that character. Although Malekith's anger and ambition are apparent from the beginning of the novel, Malekith truly respects the dwarves and their king. At the end of Part One, Malekith mourns for his lost friend and intends to honor his oath to the Snorri Whitebeard. However, the next section of the novel finds Malekith on his way to the Chaos wastes in the west, where he discovers an ancient city of the Old Ones and discovers a magic circlet that imbues him with new power and insight into the threat of the Chaos gods. From this point on, Malekith moves toward his inevitable fate. His hubris ultimately leads him to the Shrine of Asuryan.

As I read the novel I was struck by several things: the psychological complexity of Malekith's character; the clear detailed descriptions of all the locations; the distinct personality and character of the various Warhammer races; an abiding continuity to Warhammer lore and fluff; and the lucid prose. I have read most of Gav Thorpe's work and I think this may be his best. I am quite anxious to read the second volume of the trilogy.

I highly recommend this novel to both fantasy lovers and gamers. The Warhammer intellectual property is so rich and so developed that it transcends tie-in fiction. With the Time of Legends series, it seems Black Library has decided to up the ante; to create epic works that can proudly compete with any non-IP fantasy fiction. As a companion piece to this work I recommend Graham McNeill's "Guardians of Ulthuan," and "Heldenhammer," Mike Lee and Dan Abnett's Malus Darkblade series, Mike Lee's "Nagash the Sorcerer," and Nathan Long's "Elfslayer."

Monday, December 29, 2008

An Aphorism

Order and doing
purchases peace
for the purblind
who fear idleness.
Age bears sorrow,
silence and sin
through memory--
misplaced then made.
Doing and order
youth as imagined,
existing in chaos's
thinks not
nor dreams.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Fox-clock has no face,
no hands, no springs,
no gears. And yet, the fox
awakes with the morning sun,
hunts under the moon's mellow light,
dines on chickens, ducks, and eggs,
dozes in the forest's green shadow,
mates in the farmer's glen,
births in a shallow hidden den,
and dies without fear
or imminent dread
of its inevitable end.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter Hunts

Wolf-words weary elk-bulls
worrying them until they fall,
their hamstrings sprung,
their feet odd,
and their rhythm dead.
Ground squirrels sleep
silent under leaf and moss,
while bears birth cubs
in shallow caves
and snow blankets
the north face of a higher glen.
Inertia is the greenest god
draining words white.
Gasping glossolalia
surfeits all sentence sense
until the silver thread
of their dying sibilance
stretches as far back
as forward. Only fatigue
traps the line at full stop.
Only spring or hunger
wakes the hibernating beasts.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Wolves hunt in packs
but they weary
of the long chase.
Others never tire.
Their will,
fueled by desire,
drives them on,
until their prey
falls helpless,
its heart
from the run.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sound Considered

on the fringe
of the palms’
and ponders
the sense
and sound
of wind
and surf

Monday, November 24, 2008


The jackdaw,
born Kavka
in Prague,
a semiotic
that sounds
not Greek
and festers
like a Chow's

Proper Study

red fox
in winter
rather than Caliban,
and discover
what nature
in an unnatural
to be.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Shipwreck's Dream

The shipwreck dreams of Abraham's sacrifice.
He awakens with a cough and these words:
"Abraham walks on the edge of his knife."
Meanwhile, the monkeys gambol in the palms;
the stream rushes to the sea;
snails flourish under red leaves;
and turtles lay eggs in the sand.
The night passes;
the moon wanes;
the mountain's gray silhouette
casts its shadows over the beach.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snail Math

A mathematical design:
a line
from Alpha to Zed
to illustrate
the silver thread
that shimmers
at dawn,
and marks
the finitude
of the snail's
between the grass
and the leaf.

Island Dwelling

Within the shipwrecked,
the island dwells.

Below clouds salt
a tremulous sky
and coral embraces
as jungles
mountain roots.

Four-fold divinities
gibber like ghosts
on Pentecost
and flying fish
like ox tongues
on a hot griddle.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Shipwreck's Agenda

Ten years
from the day
of the shipwreck,
the shipwrecked
a glimpse
of a gray sail
on green horizon.
As he cleared
his pale dwelling
of pink shells,
buried bottles,
sour weed
and fetid fish,
he brushed
away the vision
like a fly
near his ear
or an ant
on his leg.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Furnace Talk

To tap
the vein
a pick
and ax,
a shovel
and a crowbar.
as ore
out of the furnace,
before the steam.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Man who Walks on his Head

Even though the year 1967, was dark and disastrous for Paul Celan, it was also a year of doing and creating, of writing and translating; it was a year of poetry that continued and built upon the "breathturn," which he demonstrated in his work produced in 1963 and 1964.

The year began with the publication of the French translation of the presentation he made in Darmstadt in October 1960, upon his receipt of the Georg Buchner Prize. The essay, entitled "The Meridian," is about art generally and poetry specifically. In the essay or speech, Celan writes, inter alia, that "a man who walks on his head, ladies and gentlemen, a man who walks on his head sees the sky below, as an abyss."

I postulate that much of Celan's poetry is about the vision of the abyss seen when we adjust our point of view. This adjustment can be drastic--for instance, when we stand on our head--or minor, when we turn our head and gaze out of the far corner of our eye. The change in perspective alters our view and refreshes our vision. This refreshment may be pleasing or shocking. It doesn't matter; it awakens the mind to the strangeness of the new and the different.

When something is new and different, the reader tends to concentrate. It is the concentration or attention that Celan believes the poem seeks. Quoting Kafka, he says: "attention is the natural prayer of the soul." Consequently, is he saying obliquely that poetry is soul-involving? Isn't it true that when soul is activated it grows, strengthens, and deepens. Poetry that arrests our attention, I postulate, deepens soul.

Celan's concept of arrest is described metaphorically as a "breathturn." He writes: "Who knows, perhaps poetry goes its way--the way of art--for the sake of just such a turn?"

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Paul Celan and Amenta

While re-reading Paul Celan’s book of poetry, Lightduress, I was quite taken with the five line poem-- Die lehmigen Opfergüsse/ the loamy offering downpours. This poem, evocative of fall, seems to turn geography upon its head. From its image cluster I intuited that loam, crawling with snails, formed a ceiling and that a fallen blackberry leaf flies against gravity toward heaven. Consequently, I imagined a world where the earth was above, and heaven was below.

This intriguing and somewhat numinous image seemed familiar. Had I heard it before?

At first, I thought the image came from the I Ching but with a little digging I found it in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. In Amenta, the land of the dead, the earth is above and the sky below. Suddenly, the poem opened up and I had a clue in which to begin my explication of the text.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Toad

The toad
in black ooze
as the Nile
and rotted,
attracting green
the toad speared
with a sticky

Oskar as Athena; Günter as Zeus

The two sipped their aperitifs; one gazed outward, while the other turned inward. Günter noted a tall, thin woman with dyed blonde hair and red lips entering the brasserie with a short rotund man, wearing a black suit, black tie, and a white shirt. His thinning hair was pulled back and shining from pomade and reflected light. She placed a manicured hand on his round shoulders and pouted. Her nails glimmered red against his gray skin and Günter thought of Athena springing forth from Zeus’ head. Her imagined armor gleamed in the light of the Lipp and he sighed, wishing for her attention. He decided to use her in his novel that was percolating to the surface of his conscious mind. He imagined sitting at his typewriter tapping the scene out beneath the single electric light that hung from his dingy ceiling on the Rue d'Italie. He prayed for the gods of modernism to aid him in his creation.

Paul did not notice the woman; instead, he reflected on the phrase “head-birth;” his black eyes glazed over as he turned his vision inward, tracing the roots of the expression, seeking the source of the myth of the birth of the parthenogenic goddess. He immediately thought of Hermes as mid-wife and imagined Athena, as a reincarnation of Neith, the Egyptian goddess of war, who nursed a crocodile at her breast. Paul was a master of slow-reading and metaphors. Already his mind hopped from stone to stone of the mephitic scree of archaic images that lay submerged in his memory. Already, he was cataloging images to produce a poem of disparate associations. He etched crocodiles and ankhs, goddesses and shields, into a fabric of metaphors to express his vision of being. He sank deeper, looking for original images in the ooze of the Nile. He scraped his poem onto papyrus; he employed hieroglyphs to strike the flint. Embers and sparks flew in the summer night and mosquitos buzzed through the marshes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gunter Arrives Before the Flood

The rain stopped for a minute or two and the sun seeped through a break in the clouds to illuminate a slice of the pavement in front of the Brasserie Lipp. Paul experienced a glint of light in the corner of his left eye and raised his head from his notebook to glimpse a momentary illumination in the street. Then, thunder rumbled, shaking the foundation of the old building, and the rain returned in iron sheets.

Before returning to his notes on the shipwrecked, Paul recognized a short figure in a wrinkled beige raincoat running across the wide boulevard. The man, with a large pipe clenched between his teeth, dodged cars and jumped puddles, heading inexorably toward the entrance of the Lipp. It was Günter, late as usual, he thought, running to catch up with a deadline he had already missed.

Günter stopped outside the restaurant, underneath its awnings, and peeled off his wet coat. He shook it several times before he folded it over his left arm. He faced the glass door and Paul watched as Günter’s dark eyes blinked, owl-like, twice behind black horn-rimmed spectacles. The well-lit Lipp and the dark rain-soaked night created a mirror out of the front door and Paul knew Günter could not see into the restaurant. Instead, he stood before the mirror and prepared himself for his late entrance. Gazing at his image, he ran a fat hand through his thick black hair, removed his wooden pipe, and deposited it into the right-hand pocket of his gray suit. Beside the crumpled suit, Günter wore a pale blue shirt, unbuttoned at the collar, gold cufflinks, and scuffed brown shoes. For finishing touches, he rubbed his left hand over his thick Nietzsche-like mustache and pulled the suit forward at the labels, as if to make room for his bullish neck and shoulders.

Once inside, the maître’d moved forward, his hand outstretched, as if Hemingway himself had entered the room. He took Günter’s coat and pulled out the banquette table to allow him to edge onto Paul's left. The two now sat like an old couple, ensconced in their place of honor, near the door. The placement was significant to all cognoscenti; the two mattered. Their place had been earned. The management placed them to see and be seen.

“May I have towel, Maurice?” asked Günter in his heavily accented French.

The maître’d snapped a finger and a middle-aged waiter with thinning hair dyed coal-black rushed forward with a linen towel. Günter rubbed his head down roughly and then asked for Paul’s comb. He pulled the thick hair back in several rough movements. Paul noted his hands were stained black and yellow from ink and nicotine.

“Your hands look as if you have been writing.” Paul said in German.

“I have. But not just writing, though. I am producing a baby, a monstrous baby. It’s something different from anything else I have written.”

The waiter re-appeared and asked if they wanted an aperitif.

Günter said, slapping his meaty hands together, “Let’s have two Kir Royales. I feel like celebrating the head-birth of my baby.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Paul at the Brasserie Lipp

Paul arrived at Brasserie Lipp around 18:30, about thirty minutes before his agreed meeting with Günter.

As the maître’d seated him in one of the banquettes in the entrance, cold rain drizzled down on the gray sidewalks, driving the tourists back to their hotels. He smiled wryly because he didn’t like tourists, especially American tourists; their congregating in front of the café to soak up the remaining DNA of the lost generation somehow offended him.

Paul was not immune to the allure of past writers’ haunts nor absorbing their DNA. That was why he was at the Lipp rather than some more modest café in his neighborhood. Perhaps that was the real reason why he looked down on the tourists huddling beneath the awning, rain dripping off their noses, waiting for a table that the haughty maître’d may or may not grant them, because he knew he was not much different from them. The only difference, he rationalized, was that he had published a handful of poems in Germany. Somehow that legitimized him, whereas these others were simply that-the others.

As he waited for Günter he extracted a moleskin notebook from the inside pocket of his tweed jacket and a Pelikan fountain pen he bought in a shop in the center of Frankfurt. He was working on something he believed might be important: a metaphysical conceit he thought of while reading Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. He summarized the conceit easily and succinctly: poetry is a message in a bottle, cast into the sea by the poet, to float alone and find its own fate.

Of course, like every conceit, he built upon it and refined it. He even imagined writing a whole series of poems about a shipwrecked and his struggle to live within the confines of a deserted island.

In fact, this morning while shaving he thought of a corollary image, which he thought opened up a new avenue of philosophical development, an avenue which he wanted to discuss with Günter. Suppose a young, idealistic shipwreck throws a bottle into the sea and then over the years forgets about it. He goes about his work on the island, doing everything he can to survive. Years later, he is walking on the beach at dusk, when he sees a glint in the sand. He hurries to it and digs it out with his staff. He uncovers a blue-green glass bottle. He examines it and discovers its mouth is sealed with beeswax; he peels the seal back with his long yellow nails and extracts a piece of rolled bark. On the bark he reads a message in smoky charcoal: “I sailed on the HMS Manifest Destiny in 1952. The ship sank in the China Sea; all hands were lost except me. Shipwrecked.”

The man is startled. He pities the poor man, who, so many years ago, became shipwrecked at the same time as he. A man just like him cast a message into the world but unfortunately his message landed on another deserted island. He wonders if he still lives, and then it dawns on him that he is the shipwrecked. With this realization, his hope crumbles and he begins to sob; tears stream down his face. He is alone and the message in the bottle has “unconcealed” his condition in the world. He is a shipwrecked on a deserted island. The sea surrounds him and marks his boundaries. The sky forms his roof and he is mortal, fated to die alone. The help he waited for will not come. With the truth now revealed, he returns to his life on the island, where he dwells.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Message in a Bottle

The blue message
in a clear bottle
by a layer
of yellow beeswax
chewed slowly
in the green spring
in black winter
my red shipwreck
to the other.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thoughts on the Primal Word

The primal word arrests our attention when it arrives in our conscious mind unbidden and unexpected. It appears first as glyphs or images that one may understand through emotion.

The primal word once risen exists for a brief moment-like the may fly-in a world similar to Babel, a mythical city where all spoke the language of the one.

The primal word appears as an emotional hieroglyph that the one translates; just as the ancient Egyptian priests translated the hieroglyph into demotic.

The primal word is soaked in emotion and meaning, which the one must distill in order to imbibe and then understand the message intellectually.

The primal word over time and through translation loses its emotional power; however, it may carry an intellectual power thereafter.

Sometimes the primal word is adopted by the one and concretized into a religion or an ideology.

In order to remain authentic the one must avoid the concrete image and seek new appearances of the primal word.

The story of the Babel Tower is an object lesson on the concretization of the primal word. Its destruction is a metaphor for a methodology to revive the emotion and meaning of the word. Sometimes neologisms are necessary to revive thoughts and shatter concrete ideas.

Heidegger's language and Celan's poetry are examples of a movement to make an opening for the primal word and to re-make old language.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


on Ouroboros' tail
and greets
in his biremes
and Cleopatra
in her rug.

Die Welt

The world
like bread
is made fresh
each day.
it lasts
no longer
than memory.
with reason
it blackens
and crumbles.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The silver trout,
like a slender thread,
through an oblong eye
of a brass needle,
and threads
an Egyptian done
to a Greek's doing
beyond the edge
of a Roman sea.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hiking in Germany

Two strangers stroll
side by side.
Dappled light dances
on raspberry leaves.
Autumn threatens
to turn green into gold.
What thoughts
do they share
when their hands touch
and then recoil
like purple surf
on Ireland's shadowed shore?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I have uploaded my fantasy novel--Okeanus--on HarperCollins new beta site--Authonomy--at

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Inked Clay

Silence elevates hermetic supplicants
on feast days and summer solstice.
From dreams they dance
on darkened feet across scree
to the daemon's dire door.
Silver shamans blow rams horns
to succor the winged spirit.
They present him glazed pots
reddened with tattooed sigils,
signifying the poet's primordial words.
He says:
Doing writ, heralds done.
They repeat it
on percussive sand
burned green into glass.
They seal it
like preserves;
the wide mouth of the mason jar
covered with mother's cheese cloth.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


For his birthday, she gifted
him with a raven fetish,
which, when held,
ensorcelled him
in a shadow
of elder thoughts.
Its shadow spread
and draped
across his shoulders
like Balzac's cloak
cast in bronze
by Rodin,
the French mage.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


He sat and read
his long poems
on a wooden stool
he carved from pine.
His lips purpled
as he scanned
primordial words
and his tongue
like a Chow's.


He yearned to be seen;
she hungered to be read.
It was as simple as that.
He published a little magazine;
she wrote sinister poems.
It was as simple as that.
He was twenty two and lonely;
she was eighteen and sly.
It was as simple as that.
She became pregnant
and killed herself.
He lived a long life
in her shadow.
It was as simple as that.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Hunter

qui perd gagne, qui gagne perd

He left on the hunt three days ago,
with three dogs, a bundle of spears,
and a leather bag, hanging at his side.
Now, he sits on a red rock,
watching a crimson sun
sink into a purple sea.
She stood with a child balanced
on her right hip, her left hand
chiding him for waiting so late
in the season; the burnt orange
leaves falling in the background
crowned her strawberry hair,
and freckled brow.
He hesitated,
he now thought,
because he dreaded the killing,
the washing of his spear tips
in the white bull’s blood.
Did she not understand his soul
attached to the dying beast’s
last breath and that the curved hook
left a pain so sharp in his left
arm he saw only black?
With his head bowed,
he turned toward home,
his spears clean and dry,
while the first flakes floated
down and melted on his shoulders.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


to Julia and Ira

Fifty years ago, she was my sole companion.
When she became sick, they prescribed sulfa drugs,
which damaged her kidneys.
I was alone so they sent me to the woods,
where the old man appeared on a mule,
carrying a rifle in his right hand.
He wore a straw hat and overalls
he ordered from a Sears catalogue.
He chewed tobacco,
while he read the Bible.
There was no place for me,
so I slept on an army cot in the parlor,
where I dreamed of wolves.
Each night I looked deeply into their eyes
and read their thoughts
until finally my eyes turned yellow
and my nose resembled a snout.
For fifty years I have run with the pack.
Not long ago I faltered and fell
and ended up in a hospital,
lying next to a man who was dying.
In a febrile dream a gray wolf ate my liver
and I felt an excruciating pain.
When I awoke my roommate was dead.
The nurses whispered prayers
in Spanish as they removed his body.
When I was alone I sniffed
and caught the rank smell of the wolves
that had come that night and taken him.
I could feel them watching me
with their yellow eyes,
asserting their dominance,
asking when I would give up
and leave the pack.
I barred my teeth
and raised my head
and howled.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Icarus's Lament

At the journey's end
he awoke to find
a pile of feathers
beneath his perch.
The heat
of the summer
melted the wax
that secured
his ivory pinions,
freeing the crow
to fall
like frozen flakes
in winter.
Thus his childhood
ended with a failed
of flight.
Days of toil
stretched before him.
Ravens laugh
and crows caw
their ridicule.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


The circle closes
and centers
all within.
Soon all food
will be eaten,
all fuel consumed,
all contact
Then cannibals appear
where men
formerly stood
and fear
and flays
a flutist's
Grey bones
and marrow
bleach white
and mix
with snow.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Next ten stanzas of Deutschland Sommer 2008


and obsession
with greed
as a father
to flee

The patrimony
places form
a strategy
of lifelong


during Prussia's
culture's norms.

in shining ranks
as winter
like wolves
on dying sheep.


As Scholl's father,
Paulus creates
the white rose.
His fear
the three hundred thousand
to their fate
and emboldened students
say what others dare not.

Personal fear
subjected to madness
the string
of heresy.

What did he fear?
Frozen steppes,
Russian camps,
or a madman's rage.
Did he imagine
the blade falling
onto children's necks?


He defended
beyond human limit.
caused him
to wait
as dying men
from bones.


Fear brings bravery,
as a man screams
and pounds his fist
against fist.


Childhood traumas
these men
of the present,
who obsess
the hidden past.


He defends order
in a chaotic rant,
the other
in chaos.

Severed heads
and spurt
as leaflets fall
from Liberators.


Constructed dreams
as long
as dreamers sleep.

Awake the dreamer
with the real.


Madness protects
the most fearful
in an ordered


The guillotine
light from dark,
shuts the eyes,
and stills all thoughts.

and efficient
it falls
like entropy,
as the discarded corpse
begins the journey

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Next Ten Paragraphs---Deutschland Sommer 2008


Can I not release
the arrow from the composite bow
and drive the iron shaft
deep into the stag’s
crimson flesh?


Drinking weissen Bier
mixed with lemonade
on Zurich’s boulevard,
I feel the girl’s brown hand
on my back
pushing me north
toward Suttgart’s
valley and Freud’s
dark tunnel.


Wolves run in the Schwarzwald.
While time ticks away,
wolf-girls in Dirndls
dance down wind
of the lone wolf.


A cannibal sees only edible parts;
wolf-girls seek status in the pack.
Will the ordered
share the same plane with daemons?


Do not seek the cannibal’s
soul in his eyes.
He sees only flesh
and tastes only blood.


The Paulus effect
defines the fact
that honorable men
receive lies from weak men
humbled by the reality
of their lives.

corrupts us
and wolf-girls
bind us,
as ravens
stay our hand.


The snail slides
along the frozen edge
of the fennel’s
leaf as the funicular
flees the flatland.

Wolf-girls follow
the scent of the raven’s wing
and light a candle
in Montmartre.


The brightest persona
hides the darkest shadow.


From Dali
he stole the snail
and from Jung
he followed the raven
to the wolf’s door.

He lived alone
in a world
growing darker.


Deutschland soured
the madness
in his blood.

He left the cannibal
hungering for more,
as the wolf-girl
into his shadow’s

Friday, June 27, 2008

Deutschland Sommer 2008

I just returned from Germany, where I had a burst of poetical energy. The result is a very long poem, influenced by my eternal fascination with the theme of order verses chaos. Here is the first ten parts.

Deutschland Sommer 2008

to Detlef


In a moment of doing,
the anxiety
of not doing
a dangerous
and restless sigh.


Chaos balances
a guilty respite
beneath lacquered trees,
forged out of gray
on an estate
in Frankfurt.

Porsches parked
under linden trees
await the patrons
of the sculpture garden.

Deutschland defeats Portugal
in a solid press
against the goal,
unexpected by the Latins
with their vibrant stance.

Turkey awaits their turn.


Dynamic chaos
as quality
espouses darkness,
while a static embrace
affects the old regime
years before the Chancellor.

Bismarck creates a social order,
which challenges the Victorians.


The white rose stands
against the stones
of the Mariensplatz,
while rain
falls on Bogenhausen
greening the oily boots
with slime.

The waitress in the dirndl
howls like a wolf
and for the first time
the sign of the wolf-girl
appears as a sigil
in the sky.


The city of the white rose
awaits the return
of Celan’s bane
and Grass
history’s verdict
with slick


as theme
in most dreams;
its images
speak real
in existence’s fantasy.


Parker Posey
told me
in a dream
to read Pirsig’s Lila
and I did,
thus the flow
from the center
toward the surface
forces me to ford
the unconscious
that wets
my leg.


The museum
featured the myth
of Marsyas,
an old theme,
that reminds me
the puer
reeks of dynamic
while the Senex
into static mud
and stinks like
a sty
before it hardens
into rock
that forms
the base for all launches
into primal space.


Static quality
traps wolf-girls
in a singular,
sinister madness.

Dynamic quality
like an iron-tipped
shot forward
into the hollow blackness
of the universe.


To proceed forward
we must grasp
dangerous toys
like a child.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

An Aphorism

and doing
buy peace
for the troubled
who fear
Age breeds
and memory--
lost and found.
and order
youth imagined,
in chaos's
thinks not,
nor dreams.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Harald Hardradi

In conducting some research for my next book, I spent some time reading about the Norse King Harald Sigurdsson or Harald Hardradi. Three things about him impressed me. One, he was a poet, writing both poetry and sagas; two, he was a traveler and a mercenary, who served in the Varangian Guard in Byzantium and with the Normans in the war against the Arabs in Sicily in 1038; and, three, he possessed an indomitable spirit.

At the age of fifteen, Harald fought with his half-brother, King Olaf the Saint at the battle of Stiklestad. Olaf died in battle and Harald was severely wounded. During his convalescence, he wrote the following poem:

From copse to copse
I crawl and creep
now, worthless.
Who knows
how highly
I'll be prized
some day.

Even in the face of defeat, wounded and hounded, Harald intuits he will be a great man. I find this psychologically and historically interesting primarily because some men blind to their fate and future, facing overwhelming odds and convincing evidence that they are at an end, defeated and despoiled, still have not only hope but the temerity to foresee their future greatness.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Two Short Poems about Circles


With her back
against mine
the word

The Compass

The steel
a center
and spreads
its legs
until the hollowness
the nothingness
of something
within the circumference
of the compass'
fleshy reach.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Circle Man

He runs in circles,
while circles turn within me:
wheel upon wheel,
gear meshed into gear,
speared spokes
in whiteness;
my shadow
the center
and feeds
off the mechanized
that times
like a German

Monday, May 12, 2008

To Do Not

It has been a long time since I posted here. There is no real reason why; however, I do have some excuses. First, I wrote a story for the Warhammer short story contest, liked it, and then wrote thirty-five thousand words of a Warhammer novel on spec, which I have been serializing to my friends. Second, I wrote a story for the Robert A. Heinlein Centennial contest. In order to do that story justice, I had to re-read a couple of Heinlein novels. Third, I am writing a historical novel about a disaffected Norman Knight that accompanies William the Bastard on his invasion of England in 1066. Fourth, Murder of Crows is putting out a second edition of The White Bull and I have been working with their editors. Fifth, I have become addicted to writing reviews on Amazon. Finally, my poetic muse went underground; however, something floated up from the unconscious this morning. So here it is--"To do not."

The doing
that does
not release
the anxiety
of the not-doing
does not
the experience
of the doing
that does.
To do
that which is done
is the Shaman's
of the sleep
that awakes
the bright cusp
of the world
of done, do
and doing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


He trapped
within their nylon
Without a clue
he had floundered
up a sandy river
bed, flipping
his fins
against the course
of his nature,
far removed
from the Anglican Cathedral.
His hook
curved within,
not without,
as he espoused
to all women
he attracted.
They, in blindness,
embraced him
like worms
on this ingrown
while he whined
about nightmares
he dreamed
each night
before curtain call.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

An Emerging Theory

I am troubled by the fact that all art is artifice, no matter how hard we try to "keep it real." The beginning of any artistic endeavor soon evolves or devolves into artifice. The artifice arises because of the limitation of our perception, our natural desire to bring order to chaos, the inherent structure of the narrative, and the level of our consciousness. In that regard, the greatest artifice is found at each end of the spectrum of human consciousness. The primitive mind desires magic, whereas the refined consciousness seeks the symbol, the numinous, the archetype. Ironically, the quotidian mind is content to reside in the fact, the so-called real, which is an artifice of culture. As a result of this battle with artifice, which is inevitable, I find myself letting go of the real and moving more to the fantastic. In this movement I find solace in the fiction of Paul Auster, Peter Ackroyd, John Crowley, and Franz Kafka and the poetry of Paul Celan, Bill Knott, Gunter Grass, and Charles Simic.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Snail Silence

The order within him
was so black
it absorbed the sun’s rays.
Bright auras, like moths,
fluttered toward this darkness
until he could no longer
stand the weight
of their anxious
In despair,
he cried out to the snail
that slid past on silver thread:
“Why do they press against me so?
What have I done to deserve
such dreadful desire?”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Myth of the Snail

Each day it journeys
from the rose leaf
to the yard's loam
Without the help of any god,
it carries a shell
that grows evenly
through the years,
marking the limits
of its world.
Its boundary of being
measures the stretch of silver
between the rose leaf
and the grass blade.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Life on the Under Leaf

They emerge from darkness
crawling across the cement
on the way to the rose garden.
They find their way to the under leaf,
where they sleep through the day
to appear at dusk, to work
their way back to the yard
and the trees. Not once
do they repeat their mathematical
purpose nor speak of their twin
that fades into dark history,
nor do they lecture
on verticality
or the ultimate fate
that awaits the horizon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Vertical until Horizontal

to Ferdinand Hodler

Anxiety rises like the tide,
overflows its banks,
covers the causeway,
and drowns the rose field.
He grabs his board
and rides the waves,
hanging ten, screaming
all the way to the western shore
where bait shops and trailer parks
sit nestled in contentment.
He runs the board ashore
and stands barefoot
in the white sand,
wiggling his toes.
Two pelicans fly to Cuba.
He studies the horizon,
ready to pit his verticality
against its horizonality
until it delivers
him in the end.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Günter’s Secret

With his left hand
stained yellow
from Schwarzer Krauser,
he pounded stone
and smoothed wet clay
into starving nudes
and granite head stones.
This sinister activity,
he later wrote, emerged
from his singular German virtue:
hard work, everyday, to the end.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Snail's Tale

A snail on a mirror,
smuggled onto a Russian truck,
one snowy night passes
through the American lines.
That morning it had been a Communist;
by nightfall, it crawled from the polished glass
onto a silk table cloth in Salzburg,
speaking German and telling a strange tale.
It said, “there are two snails:
the one that speaks here to you
and the other, my twin, that lives
on the other side of the projection.
In that alternate world of thrown light,
my double slithers on slime
along a razor’s edge of time
that flows in reverse toward Romania,
where snow buries frigid bodies
crumpled on the side of a ditch,
their eyes perfect calcified shells.”

Günter and Paul in Clichy

A break in the gray skies over the gray stones of Montmartre illuminates Sacre Coeur, which shines like a beacon above the snail shaped map of Paris.

Two men walking on the Rue Lepic look up at the beacon. The short, stout one, with a massive black mustache, makes the sign of the cross, while the tall, handsome one, pulls deeply on his cigarette, a Gauloise. They continue down the street, searching for a clean well lit café where they can share an espresso, a cigarette, and a chat about modern German poetry.

They stop in front of a café that the short stout man sniffs. He enters and walks about smelling the kitchen door, the entrance to the toilette, and the bar. He looks under the tables and runs a fat finger along the edge of the window sill. He grunts his acceptance and takes a booth near the window.

A waiter with a vulpine face, arrives with a huff, and frowns when he hears the German accented French of the stout one. He turns to the other who speaks perfect French, showing his disdain for the boche. The stout one ignores the man’s rudeness; he has accepted the French’s hatred of the Germans. Instead, he pulls a small moleskin sketchbook from his pocket of his tweed jacket and a pelican pen and quickly sketches the man’s fox like face with a few clear lines.

The other, the handsome one, extracts a thick wad of folded papers from the inside pocket of his jacket and places them on the table. They order espressos and a carafe of water and place their cigarettes on the table. The stout one pushes his drawing aside and reaches into his left pocket and produces another moleskin notebook. This one is lined and full of scribbles.

The waiter places the coffees in front of them with a bill, which they both ignore. They intend to order another later. The handsome one with the sad dark eyes begins to read in German, while the stout one watches a woman bend over in the doorway of shop across the way to pour some milk into a saucer for a sick kitten mewing on the sidewalk.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Snail's Pace

The snail steps on command
and slides along the razor’s edge.
Its day’s work ends well and small.
The hare celebrates,
as it rests
on its racing laurels,
waiting for the tortoise
to bisect
the line of slime
that shines
silver in the sun,
reflecting brown fur
and green shell.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Seeking Celan 1968

The gray stone absorbs
her black lace as silver flakes fall
on the cobblestones near the museum.
Her perfumed thighs
spread by his warm fingers
define the degree
of their digress toward the word,
defined against polished phrases
reflected from Venetian glass.
Its sound like a laural leaf
caught in the fall breeze
soars above a serpentine Seine.
Beginning at La Manche
it arrests itself
beneath the bridge
of his mounting distress.