Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

Silent Tsunami

May 6, 2019

Explain this to me. Hamlet has been here
for two months now, shuffling around in
the gloomy recesses of Elsinore—dreaming of
a giant wave in a sea of troubles—and now,
all he wants to do is get the swords out and duel
in the surf. It seems he’s been taking lessons—
The better to smite you with, my dear—
and he will practice with Satan himself
if it will make his mind congenial to ghosts.
He wants to become a force majeure , my silent friend,
the waves of which might blow the sea into an eerie calm,
the gulls of which might fly far overhead in patterns
known only to themselves—flying lonely,
in a chariot of salts, pirouetting night
and day and backwards from day to night.


The sea withdraws its breath. The sand becomes
a dry protracted grave. All the living creature
flee back into the mountains—birds and dogs,
butterflies and bees. Those that remain

are lost in a single, silent perception.



A Dumb Show

April 3, 2019

Horatio is braggadocio
Personified. It’s hard to believe.
One minute, he’s cool as a mule,
The next it’s like he has invented silence—
But it’s a good silence, a probing silence
A void devoid of what Claudius needs—
A good cheerleader. When All the King’s Men,
Get together again to play the play,
The Murder of Gonzago—a play proforma—
When they come to castle—yes, you could say
It was like a chess move—they find
A king, lost in a world of choices, open to love
Open to time, to history, whatever.
Horatio, don’t brag, this brave new world
Could be a beautiful place if we could
Let it become a dumb show. Let it be
The quest itself. Let it be linked to a certain
detour.  Let it be like a troop of drooping
Crusaders marching back to England
Just in time for a new Crusade. \

This Jolly Rogue (A Dream Language)

March 23, 2019

Just as sleep can become a rock, only
A jolly rogue can become a dream language
large enough for what a nightmare stands for.
For what are dreams if not the ground
We stand and fight for, eh Horatio?\
And what a stone is, is what a rock can be
When divided too many times—pebbles, sand,
Infinity’s poundage, even a sea of waves—
To make no man a man, or at least to make
A man ground, porous and abiding.

 Horatio, our voyage is poised by the sea.
Its purpose is to provide a resting place

For me (that is, as secure as Claudius’ wife.)
We shall not be allowed a whip or whale
For a while…Besides it’s only pirates who can
Save us both from the pirated souls of
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. So, stand
Abaft the stern, Horatio. This Jolly Rogue
Will sink all of Denmark; it will let me bury and\
redream a kingdom yet to come. 


Staged Fight

February 23, 2019

Enter Hamlet, stage right. To be or not,
He has never acted in a play before.
And Horatio thinks he looks tired and wan,
Too worn down to murder Gonzago, much less
Kill Claudius. He looked more a model for

A stage hand than he did an avenging angel.
Still, a play is a play, and to sell them his version—
To grapple with them— along with
A wandering act of provincial players—
To Horatio seemed an odd way to convict a king

Or to believe a ghost. ‘Your honor,
He over reacted. He must be guilty.’
—of something, for the king could quickly claim
Innocence because of nonsense, a crime
Brought in churlish spite to play in a play.

Yes, the players could speak trippingly on the tongue.
And, sure, they could incorporate certain changes
In the text…. Or hold a mirror up to nature… but…
What of it? Listen: The angels are weeping, and King
Claudius was entertaining, and he is still the host.


April 5, 2016

I have begun with thyme again. I did not start it from seed this time; it seemed unpropitious. I got some cuttings from my greengrocer and started them in some sort of growing medium, I’m not sure what, mica chips or something. Anyway, here they are. Come spring I shall plant them in the old garden, well-tended by my Aunt Breath until she died, in the hope that not only will this be the beginnings of thyme but the reimagining of the garden as well. Next year I shall add some roses and maybe mint. I like a good mint tea.

Now it is reasonable to ask, what do I think I’m doing here, planting anything in my dear aunt’s garden? I don’t own the land. It was sold soon after her death at age 87, two years ago, to a nice family with two nice kids.

So, I won’t be able to tend it. I won’t be able to watch it grow. Or sit in the evening and smell its fragrance. Or anything. I repeat: what do I think I’m doing here?

Here’s my answer: I shall enter the garden invisibly. Like the philosopher John Wisdom in his essay Gods does; who simply posits the existence of a gardener and lets the curious try to find him. I will let the new owner try to find me. There will be no one that curious. The thyme will simply appear one morning, as if someone planted it, someone invisible. As I return each night I shall become harder to see.


We get up early in the hospital. The bright lights come on at 5:00 am. The lights are never off, only dimmed. Breakfast comes hours later, after the doctors have made their rounds. This morning I am waiting for the surgeon. The brain surgeon. He’s a tough man to pin down. He’s tough to figure out. Sometimes he’s the first one to arrive; sometimes he doesn’t come at all.

While I wait, I tend to my thyme clippings, examining all the roots as if they were flowers. They are  white filament-like structures that specialize in getting nutrients from the moisture of the soil.   Just the opposite of flowers. A hydrotrope, not heliotrope.

In my room I have a copy of the Philosophical Investigations, by Ludwig Wittgenstein—a second hand copy, handed down from Aunt Breath. I find I have an annotation right next to the opening paragraph, the one from Augustine’s Confessions, that reads ‘Don’t think, look!’ which is all right insofar as it goes, but it goes not far enough. The argument as I understand it runs like this.

Though Augustine has thought out his little picture what language is, he has not studied language. He has not looked at it. He was lead therefore to a dangerous picture of language, that nouns were the whole story, that language connected to t Read the rest of this entry »