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Fall Reading List

Each morning we retrieve ourselves and go
If only in a bathrobe to the door
And open it to smell the autumn air,
Collecting if it’s come the newspaper,
And yet behind ourselves we’ve been remote,
Distracted by some words we would recall
As having read them once, remembering
A certain aptness in them, gracious words
That made us half suppose that we discerned,
Within the words and through them, eloquence,
As if of speeches tumbling on the wind.

Or say again: not speech but we ourselves
Have stumbled in our memory and hear
Indelicate clatter of falling spoons
And hinged instruments, and everything
Is lying on the ground and indistinct,
Except that now and then the curtains stir
As imperceptibly as long-lost scenes
Return unbidden to unguarded thought
And intimate in whispers that we might
Be better off to heed the distant sound
Of branches bending under wind’s assault.

The shadows of the branches on the wall
Engage the eye where never figure stood
And mingle in one’s memory with those
Of other limbs that waved in other years.
A page of eloquence and urgency
Is guttered and dissolving like leaf slime,
Pulped and mushy, chilled and soggy mire,
Clogging the valves and channels of our thought.
The studious of heart have listened long
To colloquies of whisperers like leaves,
The endless innuendo of the trees.

That murmur substitutes as plausibly
For consciousness on any unmade day
As in the passageways of reverie
Is spilling rain for lovers in the park,
And as predictable as that a limb
That held us once should warp into its wood
And turn into something unrecognized,
Ambiguous of gesture in the shade.
The rules we know don’t govern what we love
Or how it is transfigured in a storm
As empty clothes run laughing to the trees.

  Robert Daseler __

Heidegger in Provence

This world as it’s supposed to be would blush
If unexpectedly its clothes were damp
And sticking to its body in the crush
Of tourists wandering through les Alyscamps.
The world of our philosophy can wait
Forever for its inconsistencies
To reconcile, and it can meditate
On Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Socrates
As monarchs of the mind. We will dream
Coherently, each dream a figured cloud
Pursuing us through known estates that seem
Ingenious, incongruous, and spare,
As if the universe could speak out loud
To minds that dream in integers and air.

  Robert Daseler__

© Belinda Subraman: Dali Desert

Prinzessin Frederike von Preussen

Could she be prettier, with her small mouth
And overbite, that ribbon in her hair?
What man, not yet abstracted from his youth
Would fail to fall in love with her?
Her terra cotta head, by J.G. Schadow,
Preserves her for our scrutiny, apart,
A blossom isolate in a meadow,
Awaiting only the untimely heart.

Were you ever loved, my dear, as you deserved?
(Is anybody?) Let me digress:
How we’ve lived and loved, when and whom we’ve served
Is indifferent matter to a princess,
And so in reverence before you stands,
In adoration and humility,
One who would fain have obeyed your commands
Down to the last bleat of eternity.

  Robert Daseler__