The Star-Spangled Banner Marks 200th Anniversay


O! say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?

And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there —

O! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

This is the famous first stanza of the four-stanza song/poem by Francis Scott Key.

For Ikkyu


Spoon strikes cup,

Sound made flesh


Each time the door opens

Something is given and given up




Upon waking: The corpse dances

In the empty casket


Rock on the ground

Moon in the cosmos –

Breathe this.


Leonard Cohen’s Poem: It Was Almost Like The Blues

I saw some people starving. There was murder, there was rape. Their villages were burning. They were trying to escape. I couldn’t meet their glances. I was staring at my shoes. It was acid, it was tragic. It was almost like the blues.

I have to die a little between each murderous thought. And when I’m finished thinking I have to die a lot. There’s torture and there’s killing. There’s all my bad reviews. The war, the children missing. Lord, it’s almost like the blues.

I let my heart get frozen to keep away the rot. My father said I’m chosen. My mother said I’m not. I listened to their story of the Gypsies and the Jews. It was good, it wasn’t boring. It was almost like the blues

There is no G-d in heaven. And there is no Hell below. So says the great professor of all there is to know. But I’ve had the invitation that a sinner can’t refuse. And it’s almost like salvation. It’s almost like the blues.

See below to hear Cohen perform the poem/song in concert.

Ernest Hemingway: Revealing, New Edition of The Sun Also Rises


Simon & Schuster has published a new edition of Hemingway’s first novel, which includes generous portions of early drafts, deleted passages, and self-musings about the role of the author’s voice in a novel. Here’s an article from The New Yorker looking at how the editing process, with crucial suggestions from Scott Fitzgerald, saved the book’s structure and offered warnings about inserting Hemingway’s authorial presence directly into the story.


Tomdispatch: The Website We All Need


Here’s the website that I’ve been looking for…it draws events together in articles that outline (the most we can hope for) how our intwined world has lurched into a frightening brew of churning events that largely eludes comprehension. 

Leonard Cohen: Still Writing and Rolling

cohen30075The poet Leonard Cohen, one of the originals who came out of the ’60s, is still writing and performing at 80 years old. A poem/song from his new album is linked here.


The Ghost of Poetry

In 1968, Roger Waters of the rock band Pink Floyd borrowed lines from the poetry of Li Ho as lyrics for the song “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” from the band’s second album A Saucerful of Secrets. Li Ho died at 26. His mother said, “This boy will spit out his heart.” One of the “crazy poets” of the T’ang era, his poetry avoided the traditional Chinese metaphors, opting for lines which jumped from his tongue. More of his poems are here. For a good article on T’ang poetry, Li Ho, and others, see Eliot Weinberger’s article here.

The Southern hills, how mournful!

A ghostly rain sprinkles the empty grass.

In Ch’ang-an, on an autumn midnight,

How many men grow old before the wind?

Dim, dim, the path in the twilight,

Branches curl on the black oaks by the road.

The trees cast upright shadows and the moon at the zenith

Covers the hills with a white dawn.

Darkened torches welcome a new kinsman:

In the most secret tomb these fireflies swarm.


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