There are cases were poetry creates itself. […] Let us take the title of one of the most famous books in the world, El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha. […] “De la Mancha” – now this sounds noble and Castilian to us, but when Cervantes wrote it down he intended the word to sound perhaps as if he wrote “Don Quixote of Kansas City” […]. You see how those words have changed, how they have been ennobled.

Jorge Luis Borges in “The Riddle of Poetry” segment of his Norton Lectures. File under Borges.

At twilight nature becomes a wonderfully suggestive effect, and is not without loveliness, though perhaps its chief use is to illustrate quotations from the poets.

No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.

This is all the life there is.
It is good enough for me.
Worry won’t make another.
Or make this one last longer.
The flesh of man wastes in time.
Today there’s wine and dancing.
Today there’s flowers and women.
We might as well enjoy them.
Tomorrow—nobody knows.

Palladas. (via me)


“Work,” by John Engman, from Temporary Help

I wanted to be a rain salesman…but…I am paid
to make the screen of my computer glow

Mary Karr on John Engman (she excerpted “Work” in her great memoir, Lit):

In prosperous America, the poet’s economic reality usually involves working a crap job while scribbling nightly in a cheap apartment. Before my pal John Engman suffered a brain aneurysm in his 40s, he toiled in such obscurity. He lived in Minnesota, bussed tables, did standup comedy for a while, taught a class or two at a local community center, but only published two books. From his long-time job as an aide in an adolescent psych ward came poems rich in pathos, each tinged with his signature irony.

Sext by W.H. Auden

Stumbled across this in Dan Pink’s book, Drive:

You need not see what someone is doing

to know if it is his vocation,

you have only to watch his eyes:
a cook mixing a sauce, a surgeon

making a primary incision,
a clerk completing a bill of lading,

wear the same rapt expression,

forgetting themselves in a function.

How beautiful it is,
that eye-on-the-object look.

Sext by W.H. Auden

LOVE BEGINS A PICTURE: An Anthology of Google Voice Transcriptions Formatted and Annotated As Poetry

“Since the transcript/poem often bears little resemblance to the actual words spoken, who are the real authors – the Voice, the callers, or some synergistic combination of forces beyond our limited understanding?” (via).

WHATEVER THIS IS (Caller: My friend Christina)

Hey mister
it’s Christina
just left you a message and then
I got your message and realized
you’re stuck out

but I’ll try you.

But yeah, just trying to be tomorrow
(if you get the chance)
And if you’re a few Karen in China the next day
Council lot more
eating minnows on the step
and give me a little

I’ll be hanging around then and I am
whatever this is.

See also the found poetry of Shatner/Palin, Rumsfeld, and Clinton/Lewinsky.
LOVE BEGINS A PICTURE: An Anthology of Google Voice Transcriptions Formatted and Annotated As Poetry

When people look at my pictures, I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.

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William Shatner reads Palin’s speech as poetry (via @davehyndman):

And getting up here I say it is the best road trip in America soaring through nature’s finest show. Denali, the great one, soaring under the midnight sun. And then the extremes. In the winter time it’s the frozen road that is competing with the view of ice fogged frigid beauty, the cold though, doesn’t it split the Cheechakos from the Sourdoughs?
And then in the summertime such extreme summertime about a hundred and fifty degrees hotter than just some months ago, than just some months from now, with fireweed blooming along the frost heaves and merciless rivers that are rushing and carving and reminding us that here, Mother Nature wins. It is as throughout all Alaska that big wild good life teeming along the road that is north to the future.

See also the poetry of Donald Rumsfeld and the Clinton/Lewinsky Poetry Under Oath.