Tuesday, January 30, 2024

30 January 2024

Winter is likewise context; yesterday, I could hardly see to drive home in the downpour, the mountains so whited out. As if snow were its only marker. Hold a droplet to the light; it’s as translucent and still as ice. Winter acts like winter, except when it doesn’t. To define is to act, holding a word up in light and dark to see what it becomes. Mountains are still there; they have to be.

In England, townspeople mourn the death of a 700 year old tree. That day's weather was good, the sun was out, but the oak fell anyway. They had a meeting to ask what to do with the tree’s corpse; some suggested pieces of it be placed around town for children to climb on. A child might remember her scuffed knee in the way a historian touching a pedestal at a slave market remembers the 1820s. Time is tactile. No more growth, no more dying--presence in a dead form resurrected by a child’s knee.

From above, the tree is less a body than a circuitry of branches, arteries and capillaries laid across the Green. I can see mountains through trees, but after trees fall, I better see the ground. The question of post-meditative action is one that bothers me. If mind spreads out cleanly, without a map, where is the ghost of a tree to mark my entry back to the world? A man and a woman now sleep beside the Walgreen’s across from my dentist’s office in Kailua. Tents like mushrooms testify to rottenness. A broken log becomes nursery to ferns. Ferns hold hands up like Ringo his cymbals after a death threat. Another person claims to protect us, but he can only sit beside.

If Jesus had an AK-47, what might he do? Clear out the money-lenders, but leave a carpet of blood and intestines? Answer back to God’s order that he be crucified? The white man’s teeshirt can’t solve this word problem, though he holds these two concepts together as if they rhymed. “Yes, we need a dictator, and he needs to be Trump,” they say, beaming beneath their red caps. Agent of order disguised as chaos. He must be acting so that we can be real. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

28 January 2024


The Palestinian writer is suspicious of “witness,” which he sees as an outgrowth of craft, meaning poetic and legal form. I write about the helplessness of witness, if it’s imagined as watching atrocities on a screen; in what form do I inscribe such an inability to act? If I keep writing and writing without finding an exit, have I “published too much,” or tested the theory that repetition gets the words into my reader’s bones? The writer’s argument turns toward violence, mandating an explosion of old forms in favor of the “rubble couple” of re-origination. But the explosion of my paragraphs yields me little, if anything; my legal brief, set on fire, still offers nothing more than ash. My seeing, like my reading of his argument as flawed, simply doesn’t matter. Norman ended his dharma talk with an optimism that resembled duct tape stuck over a broken engine. Even a Bodhisattva can’t take in the dusty kids of Gaza, the city tombs of Ukraine. Let us parcel out our spots of time to usher us into a room where the shape of the table is not in question.

The poetry of witness is learned helplessness, no matter the form we inscribe it in. The arc a baby makes in air before it’s shot follows a beautiful geometry that hollows us out. Even a rainbow is ugly in war-time.

Just as Lennon put his A string against an amp to create feedback, so should we lean the instruments of our art against the nearest power source. But making a racket hardly suffices when Israeli citizens place their chairs neatly at a high point to watch the bombing of Gaza. No amount of “fascia flossing” will soften the muscles of that hatred. If I could shoot them, would I? But I can't, so all I do is talk into this screen’s void or voice, assuming it to have the depth a reader can lend to it. Don’t take an Uber to the court’s transcript; ride your bike into its turbulence. The transcriber shakes like a frond in a Kona storm, or a “frawn,” as the sign at Punalu`u read.

Kindness doesn’t do the work of justice, though there must be a map here somewhere to show me how one can lead to the next. We learned the triviality of kindness as children; it’s nearly too late to start again. My daughter’s boyfriend puts out his hand to support her knee as she naps. The arc of that reach appears perfect. My mother’s pilot friend saw a girl fleeing a bombing run and said he’d never drop his bombs again without seeing her face with his eyes.


Note: references to "Notes on Craft: Writing in the Hour of Genocide," by Fargo Nissim Thakhi in Protean Magazine and to Susan Howe's "rubble couple." The shape of the table was at issue in the Vietnam peace talks.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

27 January 2024


Nothing comes more naturally to men than murder. A Palestinian woman approaches the camera, clutching her grandson’s hand and a white flag; she is shot dead. A man collapses on a street beside his son’s dying body. He crouches, screams. The passive voice is no help; it confers anonymity of name only. It’s the rhetorical strategy of steam, wreathing incident with mist. We gaze into a well at the Holocaust Museum to see video not permitted to children. We look into the well of a steam vent, our faces warming to the task. “A well of living waters” can’t be ruined with your coins; they glint upward like my daughter’s eyes, markers not of material but of illumination. My writing becomes more spiritual as the world becomes less so. Look between the sidewalk seams for what’s green; if it’s a weed, eat it.

Their guide started throwing lava rocks away from small piles, resembling altars. Tourists regard evidence of belief as a license to imitate; perhaps they recognize what’s holy in the lava fields where an eruption created a sculpture garden of buried trees. Abandonment is creation, Weil writes; here we note that what we can’t see (the tree) is beautiful (in its lava cloak). I felt something pass between my eyes and hers on the airplane before I left her and her friend at the E gates for her flight back. Glint of coin, otherwise hidden.

To reach the end of words goes beyond reaching the end of sentence or phrase. It suggests the impossibility of sentences, composed of words. There might be an essay in that group of photographs: tarp to cover a motorcycle, shadow resembling a gargoyle, black leaves on a fence in the sun. But the essay lacks opening or end, is only stream. Something about the way the literal becomes metaphorical, or how a name (Tortilla) becomes an object to be eaten (tortilla). So much in that capital letter.

My parents’ letters to me, found in a rusty file cabinet, moved me not for what they said, but for the shapes of their letters. Random sections of my mother’s neat cursive became photographs; they made no sense that wasn’t asemic. More of her in the imprint of blue ballpoint pen, less of her in complete words. Or: for her to have written sheer wisdom in the midst of anxiety seems to me ironic. Anxiety the scrambler; wisdom the thresher. I only described places, she said to me, not my feelings. Mutual anxieties built a wall that travels the country on a large truck to honor the dead. Moving Vietnam Memorial looking ominously like a Trump convoy, flags and motorcycles going by. Same signs, what context.


Note, first sentence by Simone Weil.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

23 January 2024


Whenever someone tries to suppress doubt, there is tyranny. Tell me not what you believe, but what you doubt. A white man in dreads stood in line at the Hilo KTA, wearing a shirt with an AR-15 on it and the word Jesus. Townspeople gathered to tell Jesus to leave. They were afraid of 1) his ability to rid a man of his demons, and 2) the effect on their economy of the loss of pigs to the demons. A homeless man in black tattered clothes wanders onto the highway near the airport. Are we afraid we might run him over, or see him as he might be, looking us in the eye? Perhaps it’s not illness that frightens us, but the chance that it might be taken away.

Fear the cure, for it’s a change of state. Fear the state, for it will enforce the cure. Jesus sent the man back to his townspeople to tell the truth. No guarantee they’d listen to him who lived so long in the tombs. Death and madness are comforts because they last.

So is the wind, though it moves, casting doubt like the sun writing on a brown fence in front of me. Fern hands, a patch of illegible writing, it all dances with the air. “Have you written your daily affirmation?” my daughter asks. I doubt it.


Note: the opening quotation is from Simone Weil. The Biblical passage is Mark 1-20.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

17 January 2024

It’s not the image I want, but the foreplay to image: “Awakened Mind is like.” The mind is like the sky, but is not the sky. To be like something is never to get there. That’s the entire openness of it.

“Awakened-Mind-is-like” is like an engine revving in the cold, waiting for the catch, the clutch, the act of pushing stick into reverse. (Some of us still drive stick.)

“Awakened-Mind-is-like” is like a compound German word, two objects transformed to a single idea. Shaft of knowing, Put the hand shoe in the cool cupboard before a day thief crosses the donkey bridge.

It’s like nothing else, like the smear of sunset on ocean at closing time, or like the freight train that rumbles before a gust of wind. It’s like the like of a like. We’re not even on social media, but I’m still liking things.

Like nothing else is not nothing, or is it? Like a phrase that leads to another phrase but never comes to a full stop. It’s the ground you stand on that shakes.


Awakened-Mind is like a parent looking to connect. Like a URL that promises connection, but takes you somewhere else like a shoe store. That links to soccer, hence Accidentally Awakened Mind. 

AwakenedMindIsLike is like a musical, set in Waikiki; buskers with their small speakers, a man holding a hand-scrawled sign that reads “I need a wife.”

Awakened Mind refuses metaphor entrance. Metaphor's a big bully who waits at the door and scampers in during a moment of inattention. Metaphor demands that it is what it is, except that it’s not. One cannot say that Awakened Mind is Metaphor.

Simile comes along, wearing a cloak. That would be a real cloak, would it not? Between the cloak and its body is a layer of warmth; outside the cloak is another story. The wet suit of metaphor squeezes all the oxygen out.

Is simile like Awakened Mind, or does the equation work only one way? Simile’s more versatile than that! It can also be Sleepy Head, for instance, or a Single Issue Voter. It’s all in the (mis)translation: Awakened Mind is like Insomniac Brain, like Sleepless Skull. How do you sleep? Like a log.

Awakened Mind is like a runway plagued by potholes. Shut it down for a night and in the morning land your plane. It's not the sky, nor is it like.


Note: inspired by the Awakened Mind is Like sutta. Thank you to Mary Grace Orr.

A google search yielded some good German words.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

16 January 2024


To perceive is to be both objective and subjective. It is to be in the process of becoming one with whatever it is, while also becoming separate from it. We witness the death of migrants in the river only in words, but words also drown. My friend tells me care for the homeless was his day job; the park was not his home. His mentor took sex workers into her apartment, fed and counseled them. I take in images on my television; people suffer in my living room. But I can turn them off (again). You could put up cubicles to push back the light. A shoji screen testifies to what is shadowed, not what is most bright. I have a free app that alters photos to draw out shadow and contrast. “Application” covers a lot of bases: we apply ourselves to a task; we write applications for school and jobs; we apply a coat of paint. All of these mark changes by which our lives are improvised. But the app revises directly, only appears spontaneous. Another app announces my “new” memories to me, as if it were my subconscious. Proust in a phone. Who needs accident, when you have algorithms?

If witness were an app, we’d need to spend less time on our phones. At random moments in the day, they’d flash atrocities at us (you have a “new atrocity!” it would announce), or just the smaller traumas of private life. Despite his privilege, my friend understands that he’s been traumatized. The trick is to translate that back into daily practice. Trauma as hat trick; stick it up your sleeve and it comes out a rabbit. The dead is as soft as the live, and that’s a hint as to the afterlife. It’s not our afterlife we look for, it’s another’s. To touch the dead rabbit is to participate in its life beyond its breathing. We wish that for ourselves. Paul wished he could hold John for a day, but he was decades too late. Regret witnesses love. Write a song to bring the afterlife to silence.

The psalm is a koan. We knead it like dough, rolling and teasing it into the shape of a loaf. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. The mystery is not silence, but speech. Screech goes the bird outside my sliding door. Wind shifts like a curtain. I can know these things by listening to them. A word’s only true if your embouchure’s right. 


Note: quotation by Etel Adnan of Anne O'Hanlon; line from Psalm 19. 

Saturday, January 13, 2024

13 January 2024

To have to deal directly with things frees the spirit. Including pain. My hips are like a suburban living room, expanded for better acoustics. Speakers say nothing, though they project a thing like music. Still not the thing itself, which only replays another thing. The man’s cave has only shadows of music resonating from its walls, things divorced from the workmanship that made them. A perfect box constructed for a perfect imitation. Something’s off, despite the mad drive to make it. I took a photograph of two shadows bending on a fence nearby; I called it “Twins,” but didn’t consider whether the shadows were twins of each other, or their sources, men hidden by bushes. Echo varies from imitation. The man at the pool didn’t imitate himself, though his image echoed back. The woman nearby saw her voice reiterate itself as it fell apart. “If I fell,” a frequent Lennon phrase, suggests a possibility answered by collapse into love or concrete. Post-cure, he appeared a zombie.

But where’s the free spirit in this? More spirit on the payment plan, a little this month, and then the next. You rent to own, but by the time it's yours, your spirit is shackled. You break it, you buy it. His sickness felt like freedom to us, and we loved him for it. Decades later, the pit of the stomach testifies that we were duped. Strip your belief, but remember its intensity; that was never false. Followers need their idol, but only as a target. In the hands of a literalist, he became one. We’re left with interpretive energies without form, like word clouds lacking sentences. Word fields reach for grammar, which is not cloud but two by fours prepared for a pour of concrete. The setting is beautiful, but having set, darkness fills in. How quickly it all becomes rigid, words acquiring anchors, unable to adjust to the new weather.

I wonder, did I deal with dementia directly, or as a shadow? Was my mother herself, or my character? Or was she neither, having forgotten her lines? Did taking it all down as dictation preserve anything but my sense of myself in an ash field? Was my spirit freed in witnessing her decline and fall (no if about it). From this distance, I’m dealing with echo; I don’t witness her but my attempts to take her down in words. The man with the perfect stereo lost his sons to bitterness.

Note: based on an article in today’s Washington Post. The first sentence is from Simone Weil.

Friday, January 12, 2024

12 January 2024


To shed light, not to take it off like a coat, but to send it out, like a lamp. To make a small enclosure of one’s tears, then transcribe them in words that come off later like a rind. To be the pit of light, rather than its outreach, to find substance before dispersal. To sit in a structure without walls, faced by a view of the Pacific. Turn ocean off and on with a light, or a cloud. The boy in the plane that lost its door plug shed a layer of his skin. Skin is the one organ we shed; others require surgery to come out of their bodies. An enclosure that loses itself, like a cataract after meditation. The red of the flower shed its screen, popped open like an eye, ogling mine. Achilles’ shield may have been mere skin. The image of a skinned knee lasts as residue from last night’s TV viewing. I’ll have to reconstruct the fuller image of the boy whose knee it was, though it only acted like a knee for the camera. An onion, shedding its, enables us to cry (Tin Drum).

As I shed my dose, it's easier to sense feelings, like the pulse of a dying animal, without the nausea of it. To shed is to get closer. St. John writes that meditation takes us only partway; contemplation is where we shed imagination and reason. “He wore armor,” was said of John Lennon, his wit. Not skin flint, but skin wit; it doesn’t go deep, but surfaces suffer, too. Today’s news is too predictable to hold to: war spreads like a bruise, reticulated only at its edges. I put my skin between the world and me. Fear and acceptance come together. “It is what it is,” is either cliché or wisdom, cliché as wisdom that’s grown skin. To be callous comes from this. Make sure your skin flutters, though it stays in place, like a cat surfing on a shower curtain.


Note: Reference to Ascent of Mt. Carmel, by St. John of the Cross. Image Books. 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

11 January 2024


Why are we in conversation and not at it? We converse with each other, not through. My cat beside the keyboard is not on top of it, but she’s in the frame my glasses hold up. Half clear, half a blur, her head a ginger topography, old stream beds between her ears. The podcast is at it, certainly, conversation you can’t join in, small talk at high volume, filling the space between my ears. It’s between us, without any invitation to respond except as Anonymous. There’s an old telephone center in my skull, an underpaid worker pushing pegs into holes to connect us, though only our sound waves touch. Her cousin was on the boundary of life and death, my friend says, realizing she had no photos. You can’t see now what was so clear then, clarity as both not-seeing and a seeing-through. The woman of ash emerges from a crevice to visit those who are bereaved; what happens next is Netflix suspense. Is grief a form of question posed without immediate answer? Is the question rhetorical? My conversations with my ghosts feel two way, though I only hear myself. Reincarnation is image, memory, someone standing in your skull’s sculpture hall. The writing is on their wall.

I say things to them now I kept from them then, and hold back on facts that might kill them now. If they were killed again by Trump on day one, could we not take him to court? Only if other ghosts impeached him. Trump renders us all ghostly, wandering the corridors of a building that no longer exists. When I went back to my apartment in London, it wasn’t there, and no one remembered its having been there, one floor over a damp garage. Lennon’s death is, in part, contained in that leaky flat. The podcast on his life is spoken through my phone, earth’s chatterer, like a waterfall. Asked why he never called back, he said he was too “self-involved.”

I hear wind before it hits the palms, like sound waves breaking before speech. An object bangs outside, as if to give the wind sounds form. Another wind-set approaches; it’s a kind of suspense that’s usually solved, except in a typhoon. Bird songs sound static inside. I’m talking to myself again, cat now on my lap, a container ship of memories in my head. In bad weather, containers fall off their ships. A river of Nikes runs through it. A boy found a piece of plastic on a Big Island beach. He vowed to learn what the writing said in Japanese. 


Note: some references are to the podcast Another Kind of Mind, about the Beatles. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

9 January 2024

Lilith and I returned to Eucalyptus this morning. When we got close, reds and greens shone through black sap. A face looked back at us, two knot holes for eyes, one for nose; a brown streak fell perpendicular, running into the black nose hole. Owl, someone thought. If we assign wisdom to owls, why not to a tree? They're certainly more wise than Trump’s lawyers.

A portrait of an owl in a tree; both happen according to chance, the eucalyptus from a seed, the face in my eyes only. No one else gets close enough to see Eucalyptus staring back by way of owl. If abstraction in a tree is dubious (who creates its shapes?), then what is realism on the same tree? It’s a realism that comes of audience, not author. Tree is not author but gallery wall, painting by anonymous--not “by,” but “from.” Eucalyptus owns authority without authorship, a gallery space without curator. It’s as if art appeared by chance, so we took authorship in a photograph. I’ve made a work of art of the owl in the tree, but it’s still a photograph of something that has no intended origin. The tree’s subconscious hooks into mine like an invisible umbilical.

Witness is similar: the photograph of a young girl in Gaza intends her not as art, but as historical moment, becoming art. If that sounds cruel, it is. How the girl got to this point of extremity involved another's intention, Israel’s destructive authorship. How photographer got to girl (without themself getting bombed) is also intentional. But this girl in this ruin evades anyone's intention. The girl is not art to herself, nor to Israel, but as image she reaches out to us with her eyes. Our eyes in her eyes can be no contrivance.


Saturday, January 6, 2024

6 January 2024

There is no system to perception. Systems are coercive, perception an escapee. Pain lacks system, though the cures, rife on social media, suggest a method of release. My hips are recidivists this morning, muscles sending Morse code I can’t comprehend. I’m a weak tripod, even with my stick. Sangha suggests I sit in the road and look through binoculars at the plants, but then I wouldn’t see the tether that reads New Haven or young webs of the trumpet plant striking out on their own. We traded an outfielder today, Sangha tells me, and I wonder if perception isn’t also a trade. Even if I make a discipline of looking out my window, I miss what lives outside its frame. Simone Weil loved the creatures who exist by chance. All of this is chance, except in our inventories.

The television was our intermediate witness; we sat in the living room three years ago, witnessing systemic anarchy at two removes. “Where is the National Guard?” I kept demanding of the air between me and the screen. Later, we saw insurrectionists enter the Capitol dome and walk between rope lines. Today, someone blamed Nancy Pelosi. The incoherence of our witness is part of the problem; what you saw differs from my seeing in more than vocabulary. Pull the knob on a word that works now, because the future's to be written later. A historian who’s used to whitewash history is not a good witness, though others call him “revisionist.” A rioter most wants his Daddy.

We look to see if what is most stable is still there. Compared to Mt. Tamalpais, this rain forest is chaotic; drum beats of rain carry no rhythm, just unorganized splats. One musician played the sax, while the other used brushes to drum the beat. His drum was a vinyl album cover by Steve Miller. No matter, material. You could try to monetize the white sap from inside a cacao bean, but there’s better money in making chocolate. Poets can’t change the world, because—however sweet--they aren’t cost effective. You might demand that I care, but not what I care about. The preposition qualifies, like a loan.

A small boy had been caught in traffic in Alexandria, Virginia, his eyes fearful, cars weaving around him. I cared about him, without being able to care for him. Covid showed us that gulf between caring and touching. The doctor touched her patients through latex, prophylactic against care’s consummation. And now they’re telling us all to have babies again.

Note: Debts are owed to Etel Adnan's "Journey to Mt. Tamalpais."

Friday, January 5, 2024

5 January 2024

We know by means of our intelligence that what the intelligence does not comprehend is more real than what it does comprehend. Religion is more than ritual; intellect is often less. A ritual without content might be best, bonfire without meaning. Isn’t grief a process of learning not to know? We set it, like liquid chocolate, inside a mold, give it air and heat, watch it congeal into a square we can eat. Not body and blood, but sugar and cacao, because grief—if well cultivated—can sweeten over time. And still, tasting is not comprehension, but taking in without scale from 1 to 5. Give me a number, and I’ll tell you it’s not wrong. My pain was 8, even at times 10, but I lacked understanding of it.

Intelligence takes a moment of spirit and pronounces it an art world ploy. If you gaze into my eyes in a public place, it’s the public that matters, not the dual act of witness being witnessed. To witness witness takes us past the scale as scale, places us in a room of special effects, where the word “special” means contrived. But not all witness is. There’s honesty in my gaze at a girl in Gaza, her eyes emptied, body darkened with dust, even if I can’t comprehend her experience. But honesty without comprehension feels powerless.

At a street corner in Hilo, a large SUV turned left, then stopped. Out stepped a woman with an aluminum covered dish, note attached at the top. A plate for you, aunty, she said to a homeless woman in a wheel chair. The woman’s back was to Hilo, her face turned toward the harbor. I thanked the woman who brought food, but said nothing to the woman in the wheelchair.

Note: The first sentence is from Simone Weil's Gravity and Grace.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

3 January 2024

We see either the dust on the window or the view beyond the window, but never the window itself. If the glass is thick, you don’t see through, so much as with, ti plants and ferns bent toward patches of sun. The glass makes everything appear older, even as it’s only the glass that is. Memories appear larger than they are, when you look through this pane. Complete memory is trauma, past selves eating present ones like popcorn. Be present in the past, it tells you, grinning like a child passed from father to mother, or a coyote loping through a murder of angry crows. For it’s here (there) that you feel most comfortable, not because the past was easy, but because it returns to us as film. To watch an experience as re-watching; it’s not that you were present then, either.

My father stands outside a gate at Dulles Airport, not knowing for sure if I’m arriving. I do, astonished. The airport has changed but he hasn’t, still standing on what is now the other side of security, still waiting for me to arrive, or not, still in his sweater. The curve of the window offers him movement, like the “live” button on the iPhone, just a shudder before the image stills. When I turned his old photo around and placed it on a window frame, he changed. But now the name and address of the studio came visible, as if to reassure us this was just a photograph, not resurrection. Closer were those two moments I looked at my son in his stroller and saw my father, white haired and wordless.

Note: Italicized sentence from Simone Weil's Gravity and Grace

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

2 January 2024

Having posted a TRO against her ex, a woman needs her gun. Guns save people; only in open carry states, says a man, do bad guys only shoot bad guys, because they know the good guys have guns. Mass shootings only happen where there are a lot of anti-gun activists, aka liberals. No good guys ever die by suicide, because that’s selfish. If you have a gun, don’t waste it on yourself, save it for that intruder in the dark, there to kidnap you and your family, Don’t blame the good guys with guns for the bad guys with guns. And besides, bad guys would jump off roofs or start their car in a closed space anyway, and we can’t ban roofs!

Circles require only themselves to keep circulating--better than good, perfect circles. Circles the shape of thought’s suicide. And besides, how would you hunt deer?

Monday, January 1, 2024

1 January 2024

An almost hallucinatory presence: mist rolls off the roof, a murmuration of light between us and the ferns. It is movement that doesn’t hurt, unlike scrolling through images apparently not disturbing enough to hide. A fellow academic and I talked about the damage incurred at our workplaces, the signals sent silently that you must yourself be muted (and not by accident). The fear painted on the sides of corridors so that walking to class borders on imageless nightmare. Fear’s affect is more frightening than its content. I can be scared of a bear in the woods, but still feeling afraid without seeing him is more frightful yet. Shunning is all question without answers. You wonder why you inhabit others’ silences; their not saying why is part of the plan. So long as you’re afflicted, you’re safe.

There’s someone in every workplace who’s gifted with cruelty. The rest of us would have to work at it, sometimes happen upon it, but Cruel Royalty has its protocols. Silence would seem to protect us from tragic certainty; we who are afraid still do not want the spell undone. We might climb on Icarus’s back, the way a tourist mounts a baby whale in distress, and witness the fall in making it. Distress brings us closer, even as it’s delivered by one and the other is obliged to accept. Eventually, the sea takes us in.

I advise a student not to make abstract statements, but to ground them in the clarity of objects. Neither she nor I are Simone Weil, pursuing her abstractions until history breaks on them, like glass on tile, thoughts so real they sound. (Which is glass and which is tile I leave to you.) My take on this student is that she’s a lyric poet in a world that can’t sustain lyricism. Don't try to return to the beginning of the poem as it ends, because that beginning is now gone. Poetry extinction has to do with more than time’s dissolution. It’s hard to dissolve when you know bombs are falling somewhere. The poem will not sing us to its end, but push us off its shelf. Black lava surrenders to blue water. I answer my student’s butt call by wishing her a happy new year--