* the influence wrecking ball via Robinson Jeffers

To the Stone-cutters – Robinson Jeffers

Stone-cutters fighting time with marble, you foredefeated
Challengers of oblivion
Eat cynical earnings, knowing rock splits, records fall down,
The square-limbed Roman letters
Scale in the thaws, wear in the rain.  The poet as well
Builds his monument mockingly;
For man will be blotted out, the blithe earth die, the brave sun
Die blind and blacken to the heart:
Yet stones have stood for a thousand years,
and pained thoughts found
The honey of peace in old poems.

* a rocky poet *
* rockin’ poet *

If that don’t wake you up on a Friday morning I don’t know what will!

I’ve been wanting to do a post on Jeffers for a while.  He’s definitely been an influence.  I first got into his work back during my MFA – which resulted in my poor workshopmates being inundated with a Jose poem that was needlessly dark and unnecessarily long.

To keep it short, the influence wrecked me for a bit.

Which is the way it works sometimes.  So much of writing is born out of reading, and sometimes we walk away from things we read with only a glimpse of how the writer got there but fully convinced we can get there too.  I want to believe it’s a youthful hubris but I would be kidding myself.

To get back to Jeffers: he is famous for his longer works, but there is a lot of heart and insight in his shorter poems.  After getting over my initial impulse to take after his way with the line (and getting away from myself in the process), I spent some time with the shorter lyrics learning a thing or two about compression and conciseness.

The poem below is a rare note not only in its brevity but also in his use of another’s voice.

Cremation – Robinson Jeffers

It nearly cancels my fear of death, my dearest said,
When I think of cremation.  To rot in the earth
Is a loathsome end, but to roar up in flame – besides, I am used to it,
I have flamed with love or fury so often in my life,
No wonder my body is tired, no wonder it is dying.
We had great joy of my body.  Scatter the ashes.


Happy scattering!


* gratitude with Marilyn Nelson

* words in the Slipstream *
* words in the Slipstream *

The above is a photo of the latest issue of Slipstream – which I am happy to say includes my poem “Burial Clothes”.  A quick leaf through upon opening the package the issue came in introduced me to fine poems by Terry Godbey and Rita Moe.  I’m waiting until the weekend to dig into the rest.

Contributor’s copies are one of the unique treats of getting a poem published.  You get to see who’s in the neighborhood, whose poem lives next door to yours.  The whole thing is humbling as you realize that every page contains a bit of aspiration and a whole bunch of effort.

In that spirit, this week’s poem is all about gratitude.  Marilyn Nelson takes us from chore to genuflection down on a microscopic level, showing how life takes us where life is.


Dusting – Marilyn Nelson

Thank you for these tiny
particles of ocean salt,
pearl-necklace viruses,
winged protozoans:
for the infinite,
intricate shapes
of submicroscopic
living things.

For algae spores
and fungus spores,
bonded by vital
mutual genetic cooperation,
spreading their
inseparable lives
from equator to pole.

My hand, my arm,
make sweeping circles.
Dust climbs the ladder of light.
For this infernal, endless chore,
for these eternal seeds of rain:
Thank you. For dust.


Happy thanking!


* what I don’t know – with Hayden Carruth & Joseph Massey

Swept – Hayden Carruth

When we say I
miss you what
we mean is I’m
filled with

dread.  At night
alone going
to bed is
like lying down

in a wave.  Total
absence of light.
Swept away to


This week I am sharing poems by Hayden Carruth and Joseph Massey.

The thread between them is how nuanced the lines are – both in terms of line breaks as well as pacing – in order to work their magic.  Read Carruth’s poem too fast and you miss the power of like lying down // in a wave – how the stanza break opens up after lying down and places you in a wave as you read.

A similar thing happened for me in the following poem by Massey in the second stanza.  The phrasing of I know/them, not/knowing their/names is tricky.  It took me a few readings to really cotton to what was happening there at the level of language.  More than an admission of not knowing the names of the things in spring, it elevates that not knowing into a knowing all its own.

I feel it in terms of this: what I don’t know could fill libraries – and does!

Hear – Joseph Massey

The field
throbs.  Early
spring splits
a few things

open; I know
them, not
knowing their

— my only
Here at the

it’s all said


Happy illegibling!


* new poems up at Apple Valley Review

Just a quick post to announce the latest issue of Apple Valley Review – featuring my poems “Dog-eared” and “Happiness” – check it out here.

At the end of the second poem, there’s a bit of an author’s note too.

Special thanks to Leah Browning for giving my work a chance!

Happy weekend!


p.s.  Look me up on my new Twitter account @JoseAraguz if you do that kind of thing.

* finding autumn with T. E. Hulme

Autumn – T. E. Hulme
A touch of cold in the Autumn night—
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.
* road to autumn *
* road to autumn *

Moving to a new part of the country means getting accustomed to a new set of seasons.  It is newly October, and while the leaves are turning, the weather seems to be fighting the season change here in Cincinnati.

Or maybe this is the season change.

This kind of indefinite feeling – which only comes from rooting one’s self up and relocating to a new context – is very much the kind of place poetry comes from.

There’s a term we use in teaching English Composition when talking about feeling one’s way through unknown material, that instead of fighting it one must wallow in complexity – I love that!  It’s like advice for life.

And for seasons, too.

Happy wallowing!


* new poem up at Right Hand Pointing


Just a quick post announcing the publication of my poem “Barback” in the latest issue of Right Hand Pointing!  Read it here.

Other highlights include “Adoration #33” by Darren C. Demaree, “I’d dissolve diamonds” by Michael Holme, & Ellen McGrath Smith’s “Whip.”

The whole issue is pretty sharp – check it out here.

Special thanks to Dale Wisely for giving my work a chance!

See you Friday!