Showing posts from July, 2010

The Jackson Pollock Fractal

"My concerns are with the rhythms of nature. I am nature."

Jackson Pollock died in 1956. Fractals were not discovered until 1975.

In Further Pursuit of Elegance

A great piece of art is composed not just of what is in the final piece, but equally what is not. It is the discipline to discard what does not fit -- to cut out what might have already cost days or even years of effort -- that distinguishes the truly exceptional artist and marks the ideal piece of work, be it a symphony, a novel, a painting, a business, or most important of all, a life.

-- Matthew E May

John Whitworth

The Examiners

Where the house is cold and empty and the garden’s overgrown,
They are there.
Where the letters lie unopened by a disconnected phone,
They are there.
Where your footsteps echo strangely on each moonlit cobblestone,
Where a shadow streams behind you but the shadow’s not your own,
You may think the world’s your oyster but it’s bone, bone, bone:
They are there, they are there, they are there.

They can parse a Latin sentence; they’re as learned as Plotinus,
They are there.
They’re as sharp as Ockham’s razor, they’re as subtle as Aquinas,
They are there.
They define us and refine us with their beta-query-minus,
They’re the wall-constructing Emperors of undiscovered Chinas,
They confine us, then malign us, in the end they undermine us,
They are there, they are there, they are there.

They assume it as an impost or they take it as a toll,
They are there.
The contractors grant them all that they incontinently stole
They are there.
They will shrivel your ambition with their quality control,
They will d…
A Word on Verbs

It's often those
who talk a streak

on world affairs
and love and peace

who seem to love
and peace the least.

(first appeared in Poetry)
My Moses

Big Jack and his walking stick
live on the ridge. Kokapelli’s
orphan kids dance for him,
bobcat urine's in the weeds,
the shotgun barrel's up his sleeve,
a Persian coin is on the wind.
The Chinese Mountains smell the moon
and arch their backs. I tell him, Jack,
sometimes I wish I was living in
canvas France, the old west,
a picture book, the Sea
of Tranquility, or even in
the den near the hot spring.
He says, kid, to hell with

phantom limbs; spring is a verb,
a wish is a wash, a walking stick
is a gottdam wing.

(first appeared in Poetry)
Pooh ?

Yes, Piglet ?

I just wanted to be sure of you.


Quadrant, Australia's leading literary journal, is currently running a seven-line dimeter poem of mine. They maintain an online presence, and the poem can be accessed here:

God Speed and Bon Voyage, Alan Sullivan

Ask not, Leuconoe—we cannot know—
what waits for you or me before we go.
Cast no Chaldean horoscopes, my love,
but take whatever comes. The will of Jove
may grant us more winters or just this one
which now dashes the gray Tyrrhenean
to weariness against our Tuscan cliff.
Wiser to pour the wine: our life is brief
and while we speak the moment flits away.
Place no faith in the future. Seize the day.

Horace, Odes 1:11, trans Sullivan/Murphy


Alan Sullivan, naturalist, literary critic, poet, novelist, co-translator of Beowulf and the Psalms, seeker of the seas and the mountains, pilgrim of the word and the soul, lover of knowledge and wonder, died yesterday. The natural world and the literary world are poorer for his passing. Alan was a fierce critic and a surprising advocate of my work many years ago when I was an active workshopper. His influence on my work remains. I shall miss his unique voice, his passionate views, and his many paradoxes. Strength and courage to his long time partner, Timothy …
This life is just spume on the depths... - Alan Sullivan
To be interested in the changing seasons is, in this middling zone, a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring. .-- George Santayana
Now all my teachers are dead except silence.

~W.S. Merwin