The poet Robert Kelly has been a LH favorite for a long time (see here and here); via wood s lot I’ve discovered a new poem of his called “Bliss” that I like a lot. Here’s the start of it:

that’s a snow word a loaded word
gone west in our sinister acropolis
(in shadow of Ionic columns
rubbed her back on a pilaster)
because it is always appropriate
to walk slowly around a thing
holding a twig of pear tree in your fingers
lightly as if you’d gone to dowse
the intentions of the Coming Beast
(roll over, you’re snoring)
I need my coffee, religion
is too far from here in human weather
(teeth of ancient rhetoric, zeugma thee
with me or is it a much bigger bird
strouthos to hoist thy chariot to me)
pelt of a virgin, torque of a Celt
(what is gold? answer at the back of the book)
in fact love is exactly like algebra
but I can’t at the moment say why can you
liberty has something to do with it, solving
for two unknowns, but why in Arabic?

His obsession with language chimes with mine, and his refusal to indulge the seeker after paraphrasable “meaning” celebrates what makes poetry different from prose. He may not be your cup of tea, and that’s fine, but his short, agile lines tickle my brain in a way that nobody else’s do.


  1. It’s rather delightful. Thank you.

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