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A Few Swimmers Appear

Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto.

A few swimmers appear in a huge whirlpool.


sleep vanishes

When sleep vanishes
then you swim.

Awake is no island
merely swift stroke and breath.

The moon is not the sun’s skull
day is not what night forgets.

on seeing a wasp in a mountain stream

Come, look with me
a small thing spins
with delicate legs and delicate wings
soon not to be intact
among the rapids and the rocks.

Who will kneel to pick it out?

If it stings it must
unlike us.

to a virgin

As you weep, so shall you learn
on being entered, first it burns.

It all depends which way you breathe
whether you come or whether you bleed.


I’ve an uncle who builds houses
and he tells me I don’t write poems
that what I write is vile and useless
not good for anyone.

There was a time I believed him
his words allowed crippling all mine
until I saw a word’s a board
each nail succeeding nail.
Something comes even if quite small
and finds shelter there.

an invitation to approach me across the impossible

Fish will make fish, bread is bread
Hunger’s the same mouth, craw and pain
gathered in so many on the hillside.

Then come but not fearing
with white knuckles clinging
to a wooden heaving boat.
Those weren’t Galilee’s
you saw me still
but the wild waves in my soul.

Empty buoys you like the land.
Leave all behind is all that matters.
Here, I’ll hold out my hand.


He was so fucked up he stumbled
and fell down then someone
helped him to the microphone.
He didn’t sing, he spoke
rhymed, indiscriminate.
He didn’t care what I thought.
The same beat he repeat
like waves of sea
make us cease the struggle
giving up our bubbles
flow in the push pull
toss and tumble of its surf.
Mindless, forgotten
as the just begotten
I’m the rhythm of him.

The Blues

Listening to the Blues
with Trammel and Ruth
I hear a harmonica
and say, “Isn’t that beautiful?”

They agree
Trammel on the guitar
right away
Ruth I know
follows the piano.

at the Duchamp Exhibit

I don’t want to only come
look at what’s accomplished
and already done
but end all words
all objects inanimate, nailed and hung
in the eyes of anyone
without game or shameful need
write the last poem, Me
then nothing more
I’ll simply leave
unnoticed among canvases
the peephole where a cunt is
with a waterfall and lantern.

before two sculptures

Stone boy, stone girl everlasting kiss.
Everfalling wax fingers has Icarus.

Let artists speak: they mean no harm.
But promised comes the dawn
to shine on rough stone as the hewn.

O Night, your crickets prophesy.
Heard but not seen in black nothing
Sound grows, outlines and glows
Aurora’s pink and jagged edge.

Then in the hedge sweet meet the legs to sing
“What’s art is dead, all choice is dust
when minds are light, the light is just
and you’re as beautiful as all is beautiful
when shone upon enough.”

the grass

Out of the skin of a rabbit
unbending shoots in eye sockets
cover the valley and mountain’s
impenetrable darkness
as I write upon them
crushing, cushioned by them.
They rise again soon as I leave.

the watersnake

In the South Mountain along a road
that goes from an ocean to a great lake
not far from my parents’ home
I walked up to a water snake
whose lower end a car had crushed
revealing in blood its smooth intestines
where a cluster of flies flew up and remained
filling themselves.

It hissed, mouth pinkest flesh
flayed and reached out
trying to leave itself
still, now moving
tip of its nose along the road
mouth so silent, open
I thought it was dead
till it twisted closed unclosing
constant agitation without rest.

I thought, “You are a poem,”
and crushed its head with a warm flat stone.

A Few Swimmers Appear was my first published book of poems, a chapbook printed by Philadelphia Eye and Ear Press in 1980 under the direction of Stephen Spera.



  1. Maya Dearth

    All terrific poems … the Duchamp Exhibit … marvelous! I had similar experience going to Surrealist Exhibit to write! Your poem profound! About expression each from our own inspired! … reading everything!

  2. Maya Dearth

    I shall go to more art exhibit now with new inspiration and write my own! 🙂

  3. per Swimmers:. So many lines and subter-fugal rhymes were still after going on 4 decades present in this moment I find… I discover them by heart ag’in! And much gratitude for your having given access to these to one so far gone!

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