“Saw a poem float by just beneath the surface.”

– Jim Harrison


to Nancy Wilson Portrait
on the jazz station – hypnotic
bass backing trumpet, piano.

on Hardy’s The Self-Unseeing, faint
pencil marks on the page,
my eyes have worn
the ink faint –
this small
three quatrain piece.

I consider again the magic.  Here
is a slow-simmering, steady
build-up –
how beautiful the scene,
family in the drawing room, warm
fire; father, mother, child.

The payoff is the final line.

Not so easy as it looks;
nor so difficult.

Then, not knowing
I’d cast
I pull quickly,
set the hook, begin
the work of landing it.


* * *


Day 24 of Jilly’s “28 Days of Unreason” challenge.


“We all know that Art is not truth.
Art is a lie that makes us realize truth,
at least the truth that is given us to understand.
The artist must know the manner whereby
to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.”

― Pablo Picasso






“His mind’s all black thicket and blood.”

– Jim Harrison


It was your rabbit
courage that led
you into the brambled
city – a hutch
in which you’d find
refuge.  Your bobbing
nose smelling
out danger and garden-
like safety.  You followed
the carrot before

Why couldn’t you smell
the spilled blood
an untimely demise?

Better you’d stayed
in the country.


* * *


Day 23 of Jilly’s “28 Days of Unreason.”


“We all know that Art is not truth.
Art is a lie that makes us realize truth,
at least the truth that is given us to understand.
The artist must know the manner whereby
to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.”

― Pablo Picasso





“The world that used to nurse us
now keeps shouting insane instructions.
That’s why I ran to the woods.”

– Jim Harrison




Subj:      Request for more information

Mr. Harrison –

With only three days remaining in Jilly’s 2016 “28 Days of Unreason” challenge, I have ran up hard against this tercet, and I have just these few questions:

  1. When did the world ever nurse any of us, and how?
  2. When you say “now” it implies that the insane instructions are novel. How do they differ from all the previously insane instructions the world has shouted at us?
  3. Do you really expect the woods to be any quieter in its unreasonable demands?

Please respond, with documentation, within the next five business days.  If we have not received a response in this office by the deadline stated you will contacted via text messaging from the woods (better safe than sorry).

Thank you.

Charley (Life in Portofino)


* * *


Day 22 of Jilly’s “28 Days of Unreason” challenge, and I am forced to go to the source.  Hey, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.  Poetry isn’t pretty.



Ways to Look at the Summer Solstice


Ian Hennes (5 years ago) — “This is a 6 month pinhole photo taken from solstice to solstice, in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. We are one of the sunniest cities in Canada, and this shows it nicely.


Straight on and go blind; or stare
at your shadow, imagine what’s behind.

6:07 this morning, I live in Eastern
time zone; no sun watched a lesser tern.

Clouds all day, and cooler than the four
preceding days; now it’s summer – huh.


* * *


Posted to d’Verse Poets Pub, where Frank Hubeny is hosting Meeting the Bar.  Tonight we are asked to write couplets (optionally in response to the Summer Solstice).



Triolet: Möbius


M. C. Escher – Pinterest


“I see today that everyone on earth
wants the answer to the same question
but none has the language to ask it.”

– Jim Harrison


Dumb-struck, blind.  Never knowing why.

Not able to articulate

the question.  Why, oh, why am I

dumb?  Struck blind.  Never knowing.  Why

can’t I?  How very hard I try

to verbalize in a bad state.

Dumb struck.  Blind never.  Knowing why.

Not able to articulate


* * *


Day 21 of Jilly’s “28 Days of Unreason” challenge.  Oh, man!  That means we only have seven more days of unreason!

…oh, okay… anyone who knows me, or has been by for a read, knows that I live by unreason.





“Love is raw as freshly cut meat,
mean as a beetle on the track of dung.”

– Jim Harrison


okay, attraction,
sure, and romance.

that you hope to keep
against dread that the other won’t.

But with you, with you, love is
filled with life’s juices.  Freshly cut
meat, sure.  Raw – a cut that’s still beating.

Love is, with you, green, greener, blood-soaked
green, dark and unvariegated – unalloyed – that lies
with us in the shadowed space out of the sun –
yet we shine!

Your love is mean, ardent, single-minded, unwavering.
One purpose, one outcome lives in your love.

Has anyone else ever felt
a beetled love such as this?


* * *


This prompt was a real challenge.  Make a love poem out of raw meat and dung beetles.  Sure!  No problem!  It’s the 20th Day of Jilly’s “Days of Unreason” challenge.

Survivalist poetry: What can you make out of this prompt?  Your life depends upon the results!  (Sounds rather like a reality show….)




When the Crazy Child* Blurts


“I’m quite tired of beating myself up
to write.  I think I’ll start letting
the words slip out like a tired child.
‘Can I have a piece of pie’ he asks,
and then he’s asleep back on the cusp of the moon.”

– Jim Harrison



Yes, on the cusp of the moon,
guiltless youngster.

While I find myself hanging
on the horns of a dilemma
(yes, I know it’s overused,
cliché…) staring
down at the scorched
parchment, the fountain pen still smoking.

The child, any child –
whether physically or emotionally immature
or bone-achingly creeping
toward the Great Divide –
seldom has filters… decorum.

The words have indeed slipped out…
like murder.

Now I am faced with (fill
in an appropriate metaphor
from your favorite mythology,
Bible passage, or Shakespearean gem).

Do I publish?


do I take my latest writing in hand, fold
it – as a child would – and fly
it in the direction of the cusp?


* * *


Harrison strikes again!  It’s Day 19 of Jilly’s “28 Days of Unreason.”  We are faced with this insurmountable prompt that double-god dares us to write something… anything!

So I wrote anything.

*To understand the Crazy Child reference, click here.

Deeper Knowledge


“We’ll know as children again all that we are
destined to know, that the water is cold
and deep, and the sun penetrates only so far.”

– Jim Harrison


How long can I hold
my breath?

I sink — muffled
silence of water.

The Sun’s dapples

A pressured ring –
white noise in a dark place.

I understand now.

I want to reach

The sun is forgotten.
Pain is assuaged.
An absence of light.

No Sun to light my way.
No moon.

Pluto is here; I’ve crossed
to the shore.  Without permit,
the oarsman takes me back.

I am all flutters
as my heart tries to beat again.

You are here, waking
me – can I tell it so you’ll understand?

* * *


Today is Day 18 of Jilly’s “28 Days of Unreason,” celebrating the creative insanity of the late poet, Jim Harrison.  As we approach each prompt, we are told to run as free and as crazy as the rivers that served as part of his muse….  We won’t go into the rest of what gave him inspiration!



“You can’t write the clear biography
of the aches and pains inside your skull.”

– Jim Harrison


“I imagine one of the reasons people cling
to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense,
once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

– James A. Baldwin


The icons erected before the altar
are triune: Anger, Hate, and Prejudice.
And every keeper of every altar
know that they are righteous in their keeping.

Each morning and every evening
the devout enter their private sanctuary –
they enter, every one of them, on their knees –
and bow and pray and praise them;
for they are graven in each worshipper’s image.

At the end of their devotions, they offer
petitions in the name of each image –
Anger, Hate, and Prejudice –
and they wave a censor, wafting holy smoke.

Before the censor is lit, the penitent takes
a square of paper which they will light
on the flame of a candle of willful ignorance.
On that paper will be written their greatest fear.

* * *


Day 16 of Jilly’s “28 Days of Unreason,” where we respond to prompts culled from the writings of poet, Jim Harrison.