First there was the blue wing
of a scraggly loud jay tucked
into the shrubs. Then the bluish-
black moth drunkenly tripping
from blade to blade. Then
the quiet that came roaring
in like the R. J. Corman over
Broadway near the RV shop.
These are the last three things
that happened. Not in the universe,
but here, in the basin of my mind,
where I’m always making a list
for you, recording the day’s minor
urchins: silvery dust mote, pistachio
shell, the dog eating a sugar
snap pea. It’s going to rain soon,
close clouds bloated above us,
the air like a net about to release
all the caught fishes, a storm
siren in the distance. I know
you don’t always understand,
but let me point to the first
wet drops landing on the stones,
the noise like fingers drumming
the skin. I can’t help it. I will
never get over making everything
such a big deal.
Having watched/listened to today’s hearings and reflecting back on the Kavanaugh nomination and vetting process as a whole I’ve come to a few general conclusions. While in some sense both Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford provided testimony that was emotionally gripping and at least partially compelling, leaving the Senate Judiciary committee with the “he said”/”she said” that we were warned of, it seems to me that there were key differences in the testimony of the two witnesses that ought to be decisive for assessing the appropriateness of putting Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.
It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be undertaken backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards. And if one thinks over that proposition it becomes more and more evident that life can never really be understood in time because at no particular moment can I find the necessary resting-place from which to understand it.
Christ says: “Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” The Pharisee answers correctly, “The one who showed mercy to him” (Luke 10:36). This means that by doing your duty you easily discover who your neighbor is.… He towards whom I have a duty is my neighbor, and when I fulfill my duty, I prove that I am a neighbor. Christ does not speak about recognizing our neighbor but about being a neighbor yourself, about proving yourself to be a neighbor, something the Samaritan showed by his compassion. Choosing a lover, finding a friend, yes that is a long, hard job, but your neighbor is easy to recognize, easy to find – if you yourself will only recognize your duty and be a neighbor.
The poem, as it starts to form in the writer’s mind, and on paper, can’t abide interruption. I don’t mean it won’t but that it can’t. When writing, as nearly as is imaginatively possible (and that is very near indeed), one is undertaking the action, or has become the character (think of what Keats said), in the unfolding scene or action of the poem. To interrupt the writer from the line of thought is to wake the dreamer from the dream. The dreamer cannot enter that dream, precisely as it was unfolding, ever again because the line of thought is more than that: it is a line of feeling as well. Until interruption occurs, this feeling is as real as the desk on which the poet is working. For the poem is not nailed together, or formed from one logical point to another, which might be retrievable—it is created, through work in which the interweavings of craft, thought, and feeling are intricate, mysterious, and altogether “mortal.” Interrupt—and the whole structure can collapse. An interruption into the writing of a poem is as severe as any break into a passionate run of feeling. The story of Coleridge dreaming his way through Kubla Khan until the visitor from Porlock rapped upon his door is equally understandable whether Coleridge was actually asleep dreaming a dream, or dreaming-working. The effect is the same.