The Lady of the House Puts the Alarm Clock in a Drawer

Somewhere someone is sleeping, / somewhere the lady of the house / puts the alarm clock in a drawer / where she cannot hear it / then tells the children to be quiet / and stands there listening / to its tick.”

‘Lightly, Very Lightly’ by Mary Ruefle

It was raining.
I could hear the rain
taking the pins out of her mouth.
Soft rain became hard rain
so that hard things became soft things.
The wet leaves under the trees
became heavy as diapers,
the book left open
on the grass
could finally sink in her bath
without a word,
the way, after a hard day,
I rest my head on the edge
of the claw-foot tub and
my mouth falls open, empty
at last.
Actually I saw that in a painting
when I ducked into a gallery
because it was raining.
It is always raining somewhere,
somewhere the wells are filling
from above and from below.
Somewhere someone is sleeping,
somewhere the lady of the house
puts the alarm clock in a drawer
where she cannot hear it
then tells the children to be quiet
and stands there listening
to its tick.

Source: Ruefle, Mary. “Lightly, Very Lightly.” Dunce, Wave Books, 2020, pp. 52-53.

Photo: Gerace, Joe. “The Lady of the House Puts the Alarm Clock in a Drawer.” Nov. 7, 2020. JPG.

“Rosewater, Chicken Fat, and Pinecones”

Wikipedia Poem, No. 972

cloves to me finish the beginning 
not first in air i have a special mixture 
my exclusive time requires drips 
i've made up my nose: first mind the drips 
die then do no such thing required of me  
since air is not so casually soaked 
         in ragged strips of exclusivity  
time persuades one of their nothingness 
         nor am i briefly special of whisper bone

admixture of exclusive strips mine 
i require a sort of flayed time 
special time burrowed in special thought 
slowly and continuously introduced
die then no such thought will be 
thought in the air which afaik isn't true
i am all these pine-soar things 
         however briefly 
but what of rosewater soaked linen 
i've had such wonderful lovers 

in the beginning though not at first 
beginnings slowly and continuously rise
and pinecone through the lawn 
studded with drippings wrapped in earth
what a glorious exclusive time in strip
mines exclusive time dripping among air
however briefly but trimmed 
         into reddening strips

Source: Ruefle, Mary. “Resin.” Dunce, Wave Books, 2019, p. 15.

‘When Adults Talk’ by Mary Ruefle

Broken Lance, Joseph M. Gerace, 2019

I am not even vaguely interested,
though for a quarter I could be.

I was not allowed to move but when my leg went dead
I cheered it on in the first place.

When they whisper they ought to wear a lead vest.
Their lips look like personified oysters.

When they shout it is usually addressed
to the dead body who owned it before us.

We can safely assume one of them is born
every minute of the day.

When my rabbit ran away it was a great relief.
I could not say so—who would understand?—

So I cried for a week.

Source: Ruefle, Mary. “When Adults Talk.” Selected Poems. Seattle: Wave Books, 2011. Print.

Wet Thoroughly with Product and Allow to Dry Without Wiping

Wikipedia Poem, No. 628

“My mind is made up / of so many cuts / of meat.” David Tomas Martinez

survive this bridge
say nothing intrinsically 
unnecessary superfluous       and suppose 
that a poet who advises that little-better speak 
he whose role is it to enfeeble language speak 
a little looser 
better advised and thereby unnecessary 
and superfluous and superfluous        
and suppose as a poet who advises     
the deep-seated one day 
countess of deepseats thereby 
unnecessary unhelpful and superfluous but lawful
always within the arms of the law           
can a poet dance his sweet wine
therebys in all their wiggling forms within 
unintentionally unnecessary and helpful           
but how can a poet 
among his people's trusts 
become a poet-king? 

how can a poet-king 
who advised so        
damn unnecessarily


Invest in Hydrangeas

Wikipedia Poem, No. 469

“I’ve seen thy spirit bending / In fond idolatry.” Emily Dickinson

         you don't like 
your opinions
a flatterer

      i loved

         it is 
      nothing to 
alter its dimensions 
         a flatterer
vested in hydrangeas
    something black 

       is that you 
afraid        of love simply because 
    i'm a flatterer
and have flattered before
  or is something black 
        and ravage
      	wielding the vest of hydrangeas
or something vested in hydrangeas
        something to 
         because you're flattered 
         by your opinions
or something 
  just like 

        me the altar in you
unwilling to be loved
show me
	and i will
	desecrate it

Mary Ruefle

think like that
no like that

sniff around a burrow
don’t hunt birds

think like this
no like this

raccoons yes groundhogs
yes opossum definitely yes

think for yourself
no not like that

not the robin though
nor the house sparrow

here give me the controller
let me have a go at it

nor the half dozen finches
gathered near the volkswagen

put your hands up
don’t move a muscle.

from ‘On Secrets’ by Mary Ruefle


“When you are walking down a city street and not paying much attention—perhaps you are downtrodden by some confusion—and come suddenly upon a rose bush blooming against a brick wall, you may be struck and awakened by the appearance of beauty. But the rose is not beautiful. You think the rose is beautiful and so you may also think, with sadness, that it will die. But the rose is not beauty. What beauty is is your ability to apprehend it. The ability to apprehend beauty is the human spirit and it is what all such moments are about, which is why such moments occur in places and at times that may strike another as unlikely or inconceivable, and it does not seem far-fetched to say that the larger the human spirit, the more it will apprehend beauty in increasingly unlikely and inconceivable situations, which is why there is such a great variety of art objects on earth. And there is something else we should say about the apprehension of beauty: it causes discomfort; and by discomfort I mean the state of being riled, which is a state of reverberation.

“What you carried inside you when you walked through the door was this ability. It is your ability to apprehend beauty, or the lack of it. It is your ability to listen. And change, or be changed. It has something to do with the secret of human existence, which is nowhere revealed, and nowhere concealed, and in front of which we remain, or become, infants.”



Recent Notes

“You ask, Aristippus, and I tell you / it’s in the waiting; that the moment, like a stag / may arrive at your doorstep as if from a cloud / and disappear before you know it, / not even the after-trace of a phantasm; / and you will have missed it for all your scheming, / your daydreaming about lofty verses and fame, / your lunging and casting about like a spaniel / barking his way into the middle of a slough, / then unable to get out.” Kleinzahler, from “Epistle XIV”, 2003


A couple of days worth of scribbles from one Google Doc. Much recent work is for publication elsewhere. The blog may be relatively quiet. Apologies. Enjoy my head turned inside out and gently browned.


In astronomy, the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters (Messier 45 or M45), is an open star cluster containing middle-aged, hot B-type stars located in the constellation of Taurus.

moving-words in sappho:

watched, go down, …

In linguistics, a compound verb or complex predicate is a multi-word compound that functions as a single verb. One component of the compound is a light verb or vector, which carries any inflections, indicating tense, mood, or aspect, but provides only fine shades of meaning. The other, “primary”, component is a verb or noun which carries most of the semantics of the compound, and determines its arguments. It is usually in either base or [in Verb + Verb compounds] conjunctive participial form.

In modern grammar, a particle is a function word that must be associated with another word or phrase to impart meaning, i.e., does not have its own lexical definition. On this definition, particles are a separate part of speech and are distinct from other classes of function words, such as articles, prepositions, conjunctions and adverbs. Languages vary widely in how much they use particles, some using them extensively and others more commonly using alternative devices such as prefixes/suffixes, inflection, auxiliary verbs and word order. Particles are typically words that encode grammatical categories (such as negation, mood, tense, or case), clitics, or fillers or (oral) discourse markers such as well, um, etc. Particles are never inflected.

there are about 200 irregular verbs;

The copula verb be has a larger number of different inflected forms, and is highly irregular.

[Pleiades] was later mythologised as the name of seven divine sisters, whose name was imagined to derive from that of their mother Pleione, effectively meaning “daughters of Pleione”. In reality, the name of the star cluster almost certainly came first, and Pleione was invented to explain it.

… goes, am

In about 300 BC, a doctor was summoned to diagnose the illness afflicting Antiochus, crown prince of the Seleucid empire in Syria. The young man’s symptoms included a faltering voice, burning sensations, a racing pulse, fainting, and pallor. In his biography of Antiochus’ father, Seleucus I, Plutarch reports that the symptoms manifested themselves only when Antiochus’ young stepmother Stratonice was in the room. The doctor was therefore able to diagnose the youth’s malady as an infatuation with her. The cause of the illness was clearly erotic, because the symptoms were “as described by Sappho.” The solution was simple: Antiochus’ father divorced Stratonice and let his son marry her instead.

Sappho has probably had more words written about her in proportion to her own surviving output than any other writer.


“If the repression is not completely effective, then a state of anxiety can be stimulated by the unconscious mind producing threatening feelings without the patient being aware of the reason for the anxiety. This is where the descriptions of the demons may help the incantation treat the sufferer. The process of denial can be influenced by focusing on the demons as the cause of the anxiety, particularly if it remind the patient of those intimate feelings which were originally repressed. Repression, as explained by Freud, takes many forms, some of which can clearly be detected in Mesopotamian incantations.” Freud, Magic and Mesopotamia: How the Magic Works


jacobus: “Just as literal or symbolic acts of erasure challenge the authority of iconic images, Dadaist techniques of collage overturn received narratives and subvert aesthetic hierarchies.” 19

Processed with VSCO with kk2 preset


“more equal” montfort 85


“I maintain my Twitter and Facebook for professional purposes.”
“I’m not allergic to mold.”


When I wrote of the women in their dances and
wildness, it was a mask,
on their mountain, gold-hunting, singing, in orgy,
it was a mask; when I wrote of the god,
fragmented, exiled from himself, his life, the love gone
down with song,
it was myself, split open, unable to speak, in exile from

There is no mountain, there is no god, there is memory
of my torn life, myself split open in sleep, the rescued
beside me among the doctors, and a word
of rescue from the great eyes.

No more masks! No more mythologies!

Now, for the first time, the god lifts his hand,
the fragments join in me with their own music.

”Emily Dickinson’s strictness, sometimes almost a slang of strictness, speaks with an intellectually active, stimulated quick music.” Rukeyser

“leveling of man” masons, heard in doc on burns

My favorite Queen song is, BY FAR, Princes of the Universe. What does that say about me?


Salcedo examines world violence and talks about the experiences of the victims. Refuses to let them be forgotten. Elevates them. The goal here is what? … So that we don’t forget? So that we can empathize… and change? So that in the split second before the sword meets flesh the executioner can pull up, pull out, disengage?


Reading Ruefle’s On Sentimentality: The internet as “Great Puddle of Sentimentality”. No time to expand on that right now, but good idea for an essay. Use her bibliography as a starting point. (John Gardner: “causeless emotion.”)

Bestowing upon one the permission to “see better”/”perceive better”/”sense better”/feel better” is the greatest gift a poet can convey. This is said in some form by Mary Ruefle in several sources. (Muck, a YouTube video from the Library of Congress where she speaks with Ron Charles, probably elsewhere…)


“singing of black despair is some consolation for having to endure it.” Badiou, Black, 5


I have a weird relationship with brilliant and eccentric people. I think a lot about how brilliance and that powerful cult-of-personality persona exhibited by a lot of religious/cult leaders a/o self-help gurus, celebrities, political figures, etc etc, are connected. I’ve been close to a few really brilliant people who can’t get along with others. is it a choice? a gift? a curse?


“Poetry is never encoded–it is never a convert operation whose information is ciphered and must be deciphered–and yet it does incline toward self-concealment, insofar as it concentrates intently on what words conceal, or, to put it another way, on what language seeks to reveal. // It concentrates on the inside in an attempt to reverse the situation; to turn it inside out. // Every word carries a secret inside itself; it’s called etymology. // It is the DNA of a word.” Mary Ruefle, p91

from ‘On Theme’ by Mary Ruefle

“You are poets, I assume you think metaphorically. Isn’t that the way you read? True or false: the subject or topic of a poem is never really its subject or topic. Robert Frost never wrote a nature poem. He said that. Meaning: there’s more to me than trees and birds. Meaning: there’s more to trees and birds and I know that, so that means there’s more to me, too.”