Tuesday, January 2

angelus novus

A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History"

Thursday, June 29

i before e except after c

As it turns out, for every “ceiling” there's a “concierge,” a “conscience” and some “celibacies.” For every “deceit,” there are “deficiencies,” “delicacies” and a “dicier.” The iciest glaciers make idiocies out of the conceit of “except after c.”

Christopher Ingraham, "The ‘i before e, except after c’ rule is a giant lie"

Sunday, June 18

What has done you, lady? What has bitten you? What cuts you? What has ten years 
          on you? What has onwardness? What calms

Your gin brain? Your cold rage? What cruel absurdity your cut? What tender ague you 
          shamed slut, you

Wing nut, harsh lady, paradox of glut, difficult nut, you slut’s slut. Puzzle-slut puzzle-
          slut, what a peak you

Underburn a brush up, up, a tenderness of tin heart. Her art, you are all barren 
          perfection, a silent must. 

Tell me, tell me, will I grow? Will I be happy? Will I know? Tell me, tell me, will I 
          unburden I, a legion of anger born of a slim burn? 

Out of a shallow grave comes ivy. Out of a misbehave comes a placebo. Out of 
         chimera comes green velvet. Out of difficult comes a you. 

A you? What you? What of your nine lives is new? A new who? A you who? A cut 
          you? What orange glint of a you

Steams ahead like a knife? What luck cuts like a silk wife? Not a luck cut. No lucky 
         strut, you. You lost you once. We lost twice, 

You is a lost we. We are better with you. You under the yew. You ewe. You only 
          knew you, if only there could be a new you, a thicker halogen night

Shade you—do you give shade, you? Are you shade? My wrists shake thinking of 
          you. My breasts ache you

Swallow a hole where sleep glints. I am a dark clown blown. I am an umlaut in a 
          grim gown. I affirm 

My parody of power in a tight scrim under a hollow, melting elides my flayed walls, 
          anger burns  

You. No I am not your sliver, faux man. Gingerbread Man. Slippery as a fox you
          a here not here, a body with a hole.

Sina Queyras, "I am no Lady, Lazarus"

seine of leafshadow

Robot on his knees, the Abbé sat in the red rain of light that trembled through the shelved leaves of the great tree in the place. Ravidat sat at his feet in a seine of leafshadow. Monsieur le Maire in his high collar and the tricolor across his breast rolled the wine in his glass. Agnel and Estreguil stood on each side of Maurice Thaon, whose hands rested on their shoulders.

Guy Davenport, "Robot"

Wednesday, May 10

clever animal

On the one hand are warm fingers with a fine light of moisture glistening in the crosswise cracks, fine shades of age in the lengthwise wrinkles that belong to you or to someone whom you know and whom you now touch -- or if you wish, throw in the finger of a chief petty officer I once knew who lost it to a buzz saw and then to his dog, who picked it up and disappeared with it, clever animal. On the other hand are bones and nerves, chemical compositions, exactly connected to spine and brain in relations that can be diagrammed and formulated with a clarity like that of topographical isobars on an ordinance survey map or of a coordinated grid containing an analysis of stresses. These are measures destined also for our contemplation.

Joseph McElroy, "Neural Neighborhoods and Other Concrete Abstracts (1974)"

Friday, March 24

Of the dry grasses.

Of the denaturing blaze.

The trans- to all my inactions
or the trance of conflagration?

One never knows which.

The ventricles do open
and shut with such vengeance.

Emily Wilson, "Radical Field"

for night.

                What urgency are the ruins
at Arromanches, those slow-molded, half-

submergible moons and the combs
of tidal verdigris you are come to.

Emily Wilson, "Via Dolorosa"

Saturday, March 18

where to England rous'd

ignorant, her inane
Midas-like hunger: smoke
engrossed, cloud-cumbered,

a spectral people
raking among the ash;
its freedom a lost haul
of entailed riches.

Geoffrey Hill, "Dark Land"

Sunday, February 19


Lekman's romanticism and indeed sexuality have always had a lot of agape in it, hinting at social consciousness only insofar as agape is social consciousness's engine and embodiment. I believe that's because he's Swedish. Be grateful there's still a nation where a fellow can preach an ostensibly apolitical humanism with a clear conscience.

Robert Christgau, "Expert Witness with Robert Christgau"