A Sleepless Night

April, and the last of the plum blossoms
scatters on the black grass
before dawn. The sycamore, the lime,
the struck pine inhale
the first pale hints of sky.

An iron day,

I think, yet it will come
dazzling, the light
rise from the belly of leaves and pour
burning from the cups
of poppies.

The mockingbird squawks
from his perch, fidgets,
and settles back. The snail, awake
for good, trembles from his shell
and sets sail for China. My hand dances
in the memory of a million vanished stars.

A man has every place to lay his head.

Philip Levine (1928-)


The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.

Denise Levertov (1923-2012)


To loosen with all ten fingers held wide and limber
And lift up a patch. dark-green, the kind for lining cemetery
Thick and cushiony, like an old-fashioned doormat,
The crumbling small hollow sticks on the underside mixed with
And wintergreen berries and leaves still stuck to the top,--
That was moss-gathering.
But something always went out of me when I dug loose those
Of green, or plunged to me elbow in the spongy yellowish moss of
the marshes:
And afterwards I always felt mean, jogging back over the logging
As if I had broken the natural order of things in that swapland;
Distrubed some rhythm, old and of vast importance,
By pulling off flesh from the living planet;
As if I had commiteed, against the whole scheme of life, a

Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)

In Praise of Self-Deprecation

The buzzard has nothing to fault himself with.
Scruples are alien to the black panther.
Piranhas do not doubt the rightness of their actions.
The rattlesnake approves of himself without reservations.

The self-critical jackal does not exist.
The locust, alligator, trichina, horsefly
live as they live and are glad of it.

The killer-whale´s heart weighs one hundred kilos
but it other respects it is light.

There is nothing more animal-like
than a clear conscience
on the third planet of the Sun.

Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012)