Monday, December 06, 2021

Borges/Short Animation/Coletti/Agnosticism/Joe Cottonwood's "Poetic License"/


Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

Here is an excellent Poetry Foundation bio of Borges this giant of writers, probably the most remarkable, readable and thoughtful author of the twentieth century.  Borges recently has been returned to prominence by Jay Parini's  superb inspirational and witty best selling memoir Borges and Me.

Then check out the following short animation nicely introducing the short Borges stories or Ficciones.

The Compass

All things are really only words in a tongue of endless gobbledegook that someone or something is writing in a book that is the history of the world. In herds, you, I, everyone, Carthage, Rome travel, and my unfathomable life too, and this stigma of having been an accident, a cipher, an enigma, of being all the unmelodious dialects of Babel. But behind every name is what has no name. Today, I felt its shadow flicker and take aim in the blue compass needle, lucid and light, that points far away across seas that gleam, something like a timepiece glimpsed in a dream, or the stirring of a bird in the middle of the night.

Translated from Spanish by Paul Weinfield

Fragments from an Apocryphal Gospel – Jorge Luis Borges


Fragments from an Apocryphal Gospel

3. Wretched are the poor in spirit, for under the earth they will be as they are on earth.
4. Wretched is he who weeps, for he has the miserable habit of weeping.
5. Lucky are those who know that suffering is not a crown of heavenly bliss.
6. It is not enough to be last in order sometimes to be first.

7. Happy is he who does not insist on being right, for no one is or everyone is.
8. Happy is he who forgives others and who forgives himself.
9. Blessed are the meek, for they do not agree to disagree.
10. Blessed are those who do not hunger for justice, for they know that our fate, for better or worse, is the work of chance, which is past understanding.
11. Blessed are the merciful, for their happiness is in the act of mercy and not in the hope of reward.
12. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see God.
13. Blessed are those who suffer persecution for a just cause, for justice matters more to them than their personal destiny.
14. No one is the salt of the earth; and no one, at some moment in their life, is not.
15. Let the light of one lamp be lit, even though no man see it. God will see it.
16. There is no commandment that cannot be broken, including the ones I give and those the prophets spoke.
17. He who kills for a just cause, or for a cause he believes just, is not guilty.
18. The acts of men are worthy of neither fire nor heaven.
19. Do not hate your enemy, for if you do, you are in some way his slave. Your hate will never be greater than your peace.
20. If your right hand should offend you, forgive it; you are your body and you are your soul and it is hard if not impossible to fix the boundary between them…
24. Do not make too much of the cult of truth; there is no man who at the end of a day has not lied, rightly, numerous times.
25. Do not swear, because every oath is bombast.
26. Resist evil, but without shock and without anger. Whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him, as long as you are not moved by fear.
27. I do not speak of revenge nor of forgiveness; oblivion is the only revenge and the only forgiveness.
28. To do your enemy a good turn can be the work of justice and is not difficult; to love him, a job for angels and not men.
29. To do good for your enemy is the best way to gratify your vanity.
30. Do not accumulate gold on earth, for gold is the father of idleness, and it, of sadness and boredom.
31. Believe that others are just or will be, and if it proves untrue, it is not your fault.
32. God is more generous than men and will measure them by a different standard.
33. Give what is holy to dogs, cast your pearls before swine; the important thing is to give.
34. Seek for the pleasure of seeking, not of finding…
39. The door, not the man, is the one that chooses.
40. Do not judge the tree by its fruits nor the man by his works; they may be worse or better.
41. Nothing is built on stone, everything on sand, but our duty is to build as if sand were stone…
47. Happy are the poor without bitterness and the rich without pride.
48. Happy are the brave, who accept applause or defeat in the same spirit.
49. Happy are those who hold in memory words of Virgil or Christ, for these will brighten their days.
50. Happy are the loved and the lovers and those who can do without love.
51. Happy are the happy.

Borges also said: "Being an agnostic means all things are possible, even God, even the Holy Trinity. This world is so strange that anything may happen, or may not happen. Being an agnostic makes me live in a larger, a more fantastic kind of world, almost uncanny. It makes me more tolerant."

On Agnosticism 

by Ed Coletti

 I don’t know

 What’s   True


Do you?


the person who

you most need to impress

with the quality of your work

  is yourself. 


— Ed Coletti May 2012



Official Licensed Poet

I go to the hiring hall for poets
but a bouncer at the door demands to see my license.
“What license?” I ask.
Don’t play dumb, he says. No license, no entry.
“But I’m a poet,” I say.
Lemme ask, he says. You got poems in the New Yorker?
“No,” I say.
You got the MFA?
You got awards? Prizes?
“Just a bowling trophy,” I say. “How do I get a license?”
You got to take classes, conferences, workshops taught
by Official Poetry Teachers. Then, the license.
So: no hire, I’m illegit.
Oh well. The pay was shit.

I keep the day job. Go around the city. Open mics.
Reciting poems to small groups.
Out loud. For free.
The audiences, they never ask to see a license.
After the reading a few men, always men,
come up to me and say
I don’t really like poetry but I like your stuff.
Always, they call it stuff.
Women say they like it, too, but without
the disclaimer and they don’t call it stuff.
Face it, guys are uncomfortable with poetry.
Me, too.

I find a wise woman. She’s got the MFA,
the publications, the awards.
An Official Licensed Poet if ever there be.
She says, I met that same bouncer.
Everybody meets the bouncer.
She walks with me to the Hiring Hall.
The bouncer blocks the door.
With a quick move, martial art,
she flips the bouncer to the floor.
She says, A poet is a verb, not a noun.
A person writing a poem is a poet.
A person not writing a poem is something else.
You’ll find her poems in anthologies of Great Lit.
She says, By the way, the pay is still shit.

So listen, bouncer: I write stuff, therefore I am.
My license. Now scram.


- Joe Cottonwood 


By day, Joe Cottonwood has worked as a carpenter, plumber, and electrician for most of his life. By night, he is the author of nine published novels, three books of poetry, and a memoir. He lives in the coastal mountains of California where he built a house and raised a family under (and at mercy of) giant redwood trees.

Your responses to anything in this blog are most welcome and
invited.  I've decided to switch away from  using the Blogger
interface for this purpose.  Instead, please email me
edjcoletti(at)  I look forward to hearing from you.


Friday, August 20, 2021

Celebrating Amy Trussell RIP June 3, 2021/Robert Graves & The Illusion of Writing Poetry For a Living Wage/ Advice From Amy Dickinson

First of all,  thank you Eddie Rosenthal* for removing the dastardly "ghost box" from this blog*   

*Higher Source Sites
websites since 2001


Goodbye, Amy Trussell but for your place in our hearts, minds, and on the page. 

Amy Trussell  

(June 15th, 1959 – June 3, 2021

                                                                    by Ed Coletti


           She dwelled in worlds of

moonlit deer and upon her

own habitable moon as well


Perpetually dancing she

in several parallel worlds

flourished through suffering

diversely alchemical effects


Amy uncomplaining

so kind and such a poet

who could make anything

real while she suffered

in and out of doors and

she later did write of doors

with the wolves sniffing at them


Amy trailing the veils she wore

like numerous troubles blown

behind by ever lengthening stride

and by dancing visibly and invisibly into

her numerous fierce winds and milder breezes


She gently cultivated fruits and flowers

in Martin’s community garden

along a stretch of Yulupa behind

the Methodist Church where she with

her frayed fingers dug in the dirt


Amy worked both to feed the hungry

and simply to work the earth-given soil

on her native planetoid equally as authentic

as other worlds she created and where

she likewise thrived and the evidence

endures in the verses she’s produced

Poems by

Amy Trussell

Poems by Amy Trussell

Blade apples

Aggie was like a mangrove tree
                           Legged into the reflecting pool
All black eyes and non cooperative tresses
      "The old man will reveal himself to you soon"
                     curing bat wing     nailed upon the door
looked into her windows
gypsy moth alighting
                          hot paste of poke root
will help you turn the corner
                pods of black medic     hang from the rafters
                                    grimalkin died last February
shakes the brass candlestick
                               while I am in there bathing   never getting clean
Oya with her blasting gelatin
                anger coming back at me     little urchins in the yard
Setting traps with cords and blade apples
                          If you dig any closer to the grave
You'll be neutralized
hopefully the flesh has been entirely consumed
      and there's a nice neat skeleton in there
If you bury near water, you bury deep
                     Rusty knives of the landlord come up in the flood
Why do the hawks sound so lonely today?
There are three of them, they should keep each other company
Its because the leaves die in the bowery
                Alongside the green thumb that fed them
with fish blood and meal
card of several pentagrams in the umbra's cape
Shade Lady come out with me tonight
           forked mother tongue
                     embrace me each way
"I'm healthy except for this" he said
                               The last time they saw him



Science and Dumb Luck

Science and Dumb Luck

Looking beyond the veneer of strife
for a door, real or conjured.
Or if  I'm to remain on this
lopsided planetoid, the search
goes on to find what's right and holy
in this crumbling civilization.
Essential co-mingling of science,
and what mother called dumb luck.
But made with simple ingredients
on its journey from the larder to hearth .
Yes the yeast is part of our DNA
and therefore familiar when you
smell it tumbling from the oven
or mixed in barley malt for a sour mash.
It's properties are as dependable
as the wolves sniffing at the door. 
The cleansing of the hands to bring forth
an edible sculpture, and meditative bend
toward measuring and sifting.
Invigoration of breath upon smelling the risen.
Please bury me with several golen loaves
like my foremothers of the matriarchal days
in the valley beside the Danube.

Amy Trussell


There's no money in poetry, but then, there's no poetry in money either. - Robert Graves


Hence, as always, the title of my blog is "No Money In Poetry."  While some folks consider it to be somewhat negative, I expect that most of my readers fully get the drift of it. (see below)

The concept of writing poetry for a living wage is illusion. I write poetry for the sheer passionate joy of creating a poem which pleases me and perhaps others. I do know when I am accomplishing this. Secondarily, I also feel the satisfaction of publishing and thus sharing where I can. This pretty much has been my modus operandi for fifty some-odd years. My accountants advise me that I should be deducting business expenses. I choose not to since that would feel like I am nourishing the illusion.  Furthermore, having run my own consulting business for thirty years, I've developed s healthy distaste for the bookkeeping involved in operating a "business" particularly a sham enterprise tailored to reflect miniscule revenues in order to get write-offs.

Emily Dickinson

Tell all the truth but tell it slant —Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind — (Emily Dickinson)

Thanks to Dave Holt for this.

Your responses to anything in this blog are most welcome and
invited.  I've decided to switch away from  using the Blogger
interface for this purpose.  Instead, please email me
edjcoletti(at)  I look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

SARCASTIC WILLY W./Edward Arlington Robinson/ON PUNCTUATION REDUX/Ed Coletti "Underground During Ages of Autocracy"/


David Madgalene
wanted me to post this quote from Edward Arlington Robinson.

                "I starved for twenty years and, in my opinion, no one should write poetry


                he is willing to starve for it." 

On first reading, I felt that Robinson perhaps was being a wee bit disingenuous and overly dramatic.  However, his quotation does fit in well with the rhetorical sentiment of Sarcastic Willy above!

Here is a fine old poem by his eminence.

Mr. Flood's Party

Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night
Over the hill between the town below
And the forsaken upland hermitage
That held as much as he should ever know
On earth again of home, paused warily.
The road was his with not a native near;
And Eben, having leisure, said aloud,
For no man else in Tilbury Town to hear:

"Well, Mr. Flood, we have the harvest moon
Again, and we may not have many more;
The bird is on the wing, the poet says,
And you and I have said it here before.
Drink to the bird." He raised up to the light
The jug that he had gone so far to fill,
And answered huskily: "Well, Mr. Flood,
Since you propose it, I believe I will." 


I trust that frequent readers of NMIP will recall me on the subject of how limiting punctuation affects the connotative functions of poetry. Yes, the reader (not to mention the writer who rereads his own poems) might have to work a bit harder but will be rewarded by discoveries in lines that refer to themselves and to other lines in different and fuller directions.

W.S. Merwin, by no means unique among poets who've increasingly turned away from the barriers imposed by punctuation, became my beacon in this regard.  The poet who first spoke with me specifically on the subject was Pat Nolan at the Big River Coffee 
Shop in Santa Rosa, CA.  While I did not adopt all of his ideas on the subject, I have, for roughly five years now, been a practitioner of poetry utilizing precious few of such stop-points in my verse. 

This linked article on the subject appeared in a recent issue of POETRY MAGAZINE. 


If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools.  Plato


Underground During Ages of Autocracy

where all the writers and artists who depart

facebook twitter instagram and even email

begin painting and reciting in caves catacombs

and other hidden chambers from which

their material work emerges clandestinely   

being distributed by hand subversively

much the same as the works of

Gallileo Voltaire Pussy Riot Ai Wei Wei

Pasternak Solzhenitsyn Thamsanga Mnyele

Wally Serote Thomas Paine Mayakovski   


whose creations became entwined with struggle

as ferns with mosses and mushrooms surviving

even thriving in the cool obscurity of caves

where these poets of truth and even hope expanding

as ocular pupils beyond restraint by the iris

enabling oversight engendering action

more substantial than  the statesmen politicians

and silenced effigies of incendiary leaders


while all the more of us in our catacombs

study and write our muses continuing in us


Diogenes Socrates Plato Sappho Pindar

Hypatia of Alexandria Hildegard Von Bingen

Thomas Merton Teresa of Avila Salman Rushdie


No one knows how it all ends

with a bang a whimper a sigh

something there is senses an ending

to the all there is was or won’t be

the scent from funereal blossoms waving


          Ed Coletti in So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (Fall 2020)

Your responses to anything in this blog are most welcome and invited.  I've decided to switch away from  using the Blogger interface for this purpose.  Instead, please email me edcoletti AT  I look forward to hearing from you.

Borges/Short Animation/Coletti/Agnosticism/Joe Cottonwood's "Poetic License"/

  Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Here is an excellent Poetry Foundation bio of Borges  this giant of writers, probably the most remarkable, r...