M

M: mid-point, center, middle of the line. Halfway through the alphabet. I can only think of something my dad once told me: Once you’re halfway into the forest, the quickest way out is forward. — Months have gone by, and for those months those lines sat on my desk, were typed up, were shuffled here … Continue reading M

L

Life keeps hitting the stands.  Having spent the weekend in Boston, I’m now in the small town of Stonington, CT, five miles east of Mystic and just west of the Rhode Island border, on a small peninsula that gestures towards the Block and Long Island Sounds, staying in an Airbnb just around the corner from … Continue reading L

K

Killing time is more difficult than one might imagine, perhaps not because of the imagined final authority we have ordained it with, not because of its assumed position preexisting and outlasting humanity, and indeed all creation – on the contrary, perhaps it is that time is nothing but a fabric, sheer artifice woven of words, … Continue reading K

J

Jazz on too loud—A Love Supreme. The library is quiet in the edges of my vision—all is rolling cymbal, a haze of notes from Coltrane’s saxophone, and then an insistent, driving bass which is overtaken by piano; a rolling horn line like a snake. People move quietly about, but they are as distant as a … Continue reading J

I

Imagine with me, for one moment, a brilliant “SAPPHIRE BREAST[ED]” cosmic peacock with a “SPREAD TAIL” and “EYES BURN[ING] RED / IN [A] FEATHERED MASK.” Imagine now, a peacock of equal beauty and celestial mystique, but in white with charcoal ocelli. The white peacock, reminding me, rather obviously, of a D.H. Lawrence novel title, appeared … Continue reading I

H

Here and now I sit, and never truly can. My mind is awash with contemplations of where I have been, what I have been through, and the many trials of the future that I must yet wade in, unfurling before me like Hydra’s heads. It is not my story alone, but all of ours, and … Continue reading H

G

Ghosts in dim light—me and the cat. The heating is out, and my roommates are either abroad or ensconced in the warm houses and arms of their partners. The curtains on this northern side of the house are closed in a meager attempt to hold heat. I, in full thermals and boots, clomp restlessly from … Continue reading G

F

Frederick Buechner, a prep-school classmate, gifted Merrill his first Ouija board in 1952, one year after First Poems was published. Timothy Materer, author of James Merrill’s Apocalypse, suggests that “Merrill’s friend found a backdoor way to encourage the poet’s spiritual interests” (81), but, reflecting on Merrill’s earlier work, it becomes apparent that this motif had … Continue reading F

E

Every reader of James Merrill’s poetry is a detective by another name. Frequently, accessing the meanings of Merrill’s poems requires the exercise of the science of deduction, or good close reading, the two being not dissimilar from one another. There will be regular “Eureka!” and “Aha!” moments for the patient reader, as a connection is … Continue reading E

D

"Beacon in a Dark Fog" by Adam Strauss Deep haze and dreamscapes penetrate my waking-states, almost daily. It’s been about a year since I “quit” drinking; I would have expected more clarity. Then again, I still have a cocktail once every month or so. Still, I never would have expected (relative) sobriety to be a … Continue reading D

C

Cold nights. Some storm’s come whirling down from Canada, and Bozeman’s streets are pale and clear—a skiff of snow over white ice. The wind is bitter, raw, and hollowly cold, fringed with humid frost. I’ve been stuck inside all day. Merrill’s Fire Screen is open next to me—mocking me, I suddenly think. His face peers … Continue reading C

B

Before sunrise on an unspecific day last week, I was asked by one of the three most important women in my life to give her a lift to work, seeing as her vehicle has been decommissioned for nearly three months now. The morning began at 4:15 a.m., when I opened my eyes and saw the … Continue reading B

A

A selfie of Merrill and Friar at Amherst, from Langdon Hammer's James Merrill: Life and Art A black and white photo snapped in 1945 at Amherst College depicts the face of a  man, dark hair receding, gaze appearing somewhat drowsy, the deep marks of time carried in crow’s feet parenthetically framing his mouth.  Next to him a boy, lighter … Continue reading A