U

 Unreal City.           Rosy used to say that New York is a fairground. “You will know when it’s time, when the fair is over.” —Hannah Sullivan’s “You, Very Young in New York” Back to the ever-curt and oft respectful transactions of New York City delis, markets, and bodegas—the equivalent of the steering wheel finger-lift on rural … Continue reading U

T

Turn the screw once more—see how far in it digs before the threads lose grip and the whole assemblage rips itself up by its own penetrative power. “Screw your courage to the sticking place”—that kind of thing. Three months ago, in August, I most recently tried to write this essay. I only got this: There … Continue reading T

S

So, the bizarreries of Mirabell and Scripts, their sometimes beautiful poetry, their sometimes agonizing poetry, their sometimes not-even-poetry; the fact that Merrill succumbed to New Age thinking even in the act of trying to bypass or circumvent it, and that poetry didn’t, in the end, provide any kind of guaranteed immunity from it: a certain … Continue reading S

R

Reading Merrill again these days is like coming back to your childhood house as an adult. To all appearances, things are not really changed—the walls and ceilings and windows remain as they were. Perhaps even (let’s imagine) there was no one else at home while you were away, so all the decor and so forth … Continue reading R

Q

Quarantine.  Self-imposed isolation.  Today’s terms apply to yesterday’s poets.  How to occupy oneself when stuck at home all day?  Pull out the Ouija board, have a small party with non-corporeal and therefore non-infectious guests.  While away the hours in conversation.  Cardboard, Sharpie, teacup.  Batteries not required, screens not involved.  Pen and paper will do.  Zoom … Continue reading Q

P

Pillows of snow have come down, the first real snowfall of the winter, a heavy, wet flatness over everything in sight. It sags beneath its own weight: an icicle I plunged like a flag into the railing’s drifts now leans at a crazy angle over empty space, pulled almost to a horizontal by the slow … Continue reading P

O

[Many thanks to Erika Birkeland for this guest post!] On September 20, 2019, 16-year-old activist Greta Thurnburg declared in an Instagram post: “Change is coming, whether you like it or not” (“Greta”). While poet James Merrill could not have foreseen the rise of Instagram or the global climate strikes that prompted this post, in 1991 … Continue reading O

N

November has turned into December.  Keegan and I each have multiple small roles in a dramatic adaptation of A Christmas Carol.  We are phantoms of the past and people of the present.  Ebenezer Scrooge first threatens us, then showers us with munificence.  I haven’t been in a play in decades.  It’s intimidating to share the … Continue reading N

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