response in reverse to Auden’s “A Walk After Dark”

we find our minds turned
to minor categorizing, as of birds
or stars, planets, plants—
though we still would count ourselves young
we discover how set in our ways
and full enough of age

overfull of death and decay
(the broken always with us)
as another crisis enwraps the world—
we want to feel and do more
with no guilt about it
or being called hypocrite by the young

or worse, a Victorian, having passed
beyond the ability to impress them
with our decent, ordered lives—
so I find at dinner nothing
but exhausted, plummeting defeat
more clouds in the forecast

Playing with today’s prompt from I used only the first three stanzas of Auden’s poem.


For poetry makes nothing happen

Don’t say you have never asked yourself
if the world needs beauty as much as it needs
food. May I toil not as a lily of the field,
starscattered while you trudge upright
acknowledged paths, useful.

Like train tracks we need not touch
to hum; with practical passion, quiet
prayer, you swim south as I arrow north
shivering, surviving, a drop-in-this-ocean
way of happening


Title and last line borrowed from W. H. Auden’s “In Memory of W. B. Yeats.”

The sudden recurrence of grief

When I shouldn’t be wasting my time, he is before me
in the funny thing that aches his disappearance all over
again. Now convinced that the closing of my heart
dates to that winter day, along with all the distance
and shell-layers of brittle lacquer, the lack of warmth
in laughter, the need to say again in print it’s not fair
how we each carry in our cells some pain that spreads
dark cold


This morning thinking of my dad, not exactly related to but folding in with last night’s reading of W. H. Auden’s “In Memory of W. B. Yeats.” I used three lines from his poem as a kind of word list:
1) He disappeared in the dead of winter
2) The day of his death was a dark cold day.
3) And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,


The desires of the heart are as crooked as corkscrews—
waiting for the bite, the catch, the hook we dig in
all muscle, tug and trudge. We turn and turn. If I were

to say, beauty along the spiraling length of days
is all I want, and wine at the well—is that a heartless
if earnest lie? The pearl of our earth in black space
can’t reply


First line is from W.H. Auden’s poem, “Death’s Echo.”

The labyrinth is safe but endless

You think you stroll
a straightforward path
bits of thread-meaning only
someone has been before
(you) until at dead-center
end and broken
in the circle of dreams
the third fox appears

you begin to imagine
messages, force weary words

O Sly One, what problem
must I solve, task
perform to win
the prize, or
merely live?


Title from W. H. Auden’s poem “Casino.”

Starting with a Line by Auden

And daytime is the loss of this
yet should old lovers, constant
lovers have cause to regret
the dawn, the low insistent glow
of a phone alarm? No, although
with the rising from your arms
I must now wear these petty cares
as clothes to cover what in the dark
belonged to you. Have a nice day
we say in the light, all the night
put away in its proper place.
We dissociate from our bodies
fill them with coffee, take for granted
that the shielded heart still beats
that again tonight we might, with the gift
of knowing what the day has cost—
debts held, paid, forgiven—sweep all aside
in returning tide of love, loose-limbed sleep

First line from W. H. Auden’s “This Lunar Beauty” (actually two lines in his poem: And daytime is/the loss of this;). Prompt from Quickly; also an aubade for Yeah Write’s January poetry slam.