*Suggestion to a Young Poet: the great themes are Eros, Finitude, Song: make them your own. #onionskinaphorism #poetry 30 Jan 2015

*”Yes and we have gifts at one with the Other.” Geoffrey Hill. Once over the hill, there’s no going back. #onionskinaphorism #poetry 29 Jan 2015

*Poems Model Minds

A poem’s value depends on the mix and proportions of the various sources/voices blending into one unique sound. Poems model minds. #poetry 15 Dec 2014

*Regarding Form: metaxyturn, or non-identical return, reveals the reserved origin/void (depending).

–Onionskinaphorism tweeted 14 December 2014.

So: a poem gradually builds a world, then it turns. When it turns, that world is seen from a distance (emptiness, for the Daoist, as a lack of subjectivity). Just what kind of between depends on the ethos of the poet. Does the world of the poem — that poetic whole — depend on a transcending open whole (fertile void), as logic suggests it must? Creation (God) in its reserve, to borrow Desmond’s terminology? That would be Metaxy. Or does the turn return to a lack of such an open-whole, Nothingness. Waste land.

The “flatness” of many contemporary poems reflects the emptiness of the ethos of the writer or the irony.

* The primal energy of friendship is ontological surprise, sheer gratitude for the other.

*What is ontological surprise in poetics? That there is anything at all. A poem, if made well, carries this charge.

*Inscape refreshed! Each dappled thing is different, and this difference is its double “no-thingness” in which it signs origin, creaiton.

*The turn to religion in, say, Wittgenstein, is not a failure to deal with complexity but a willingness to embrace it.

*We have Heaney’s Beowulf. And we now have Alice Oswald’s Iliad. Non-indential return. Now think the meaning of history.

*Writing a poem one struggles with a host of “as ifs,” only to be rescued, if at all, by a simple “as.”

*At either end, a fertile void. In between, a liquid matrix.

*Reading poetry has many rewards, but the greatest reward is to fulfill a need we do not know we have.

*Some people — even poets, who should know better– cling to words as their ship goes down.

*Reality is real, not a concept. You can find it, say, between sentences.

*Form is the unity that holds a poem together. It sways our reading of the poem’s words. The poetry is in the tension.

*When I read a poem, I listen to the songlines that lead me to the great, ever-fresh distinction: matter is full of forms; God is formless.

*No matter what I write these days, I end up saying the same thing: a poem is a moving picture of eternity. But didn’t Plato say that, or something else like that? So, I’m writing the “same” thing? So: onionskin aphorism! Palimpsest. Rub though I might, the “past” shows through. Non-identical return.

*Poems pay attention to arrivals and departures. Some poems — the great ones — make us more aware of the unmoved mover.

*Poems are wonderful. The deeper ones show that poetry is not the thing. There’s always more where this came from.

*Poems are known for “overflow”–a clash of perspectives. Some frame the clash in an even wider perspective: the astonishment that there is anything at all.

*We say, I am not a believer — not in THAT! As for our capacity for wonder, we may believe we are creative, and find our creations wonderful, but original creation is other, ex nihilo and all that. We may not know how to “believe” in THAT!

*A good laugh is a sign of the freedom at the source of human being.

* Reality is real, not a concept. You can find it, say, between sentences.

*Poems are “open wholes” — each independent but dependent for significance on outside sources. The way of open wholes is the Metaxy. OK?

OLDER APHORISMS (some will be culled)

Perhaps writers grow tired of themselves. They look at the page and it doesn’t help unless they can do a little editing.

The often thankless task of thinking about poems always involves an aporia: is it true as many believe that a poem is not meant to think?

We do NOT have it in our power to begin the world over again, pace Thomas Paine, Bill Moyers, Chris Matthews et al.

Split vision: the distinction between origination and objects; the process of understanding, which transcends the subject (June 23, 2014)

Poetry is a happening–a sudden opening toward what Desmond calls the intimate strangeness of being.

Let us have peace between us, my soul, I accept the distant look in your eyes as excitement to see me.


The creative act exposes self to the other of creation, to which self must yield if the act is to result in artwork.

When I read a poem, I listen for songlines that lead me to the great, ever-fresh distinction: matter is alive with form; God is formless.

To be mindful is to contemplate the seemingly impossible community of God and man.

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