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