I should be in awe of the living

an illustration of a bird with a minnow and a dear and another bird inside of it.
Art by Kristina Closs

“Litany for the Animals Who Run from Me”

Anything can be a bird if you’re not careful.
I should say something nice about the weather.
I should be in awe of the living, but the world dulls
when I step into it. The squirrels scatter, the branches
lift. Sure, I’ve hurt the ones I’ve loved
by not paying attention. Not alone — never alone
is a lesson I need to understand. It was you who said that.
It’s you still. You who says, Look! You who points
to the sky. You who tilts my chin toward the heron,
who cups the minnow in your hands,
who spots the deer miles ahead, who dulls
the world with your absence. You who says, Look!
& when I look, you are gone, replaced
by the whitetail’s hind legs, fading into the bush.

by Hieu Minh Nguyen

All that glitters isn’t music.

After a dear friend lent me Eduardo Corral’s 2012 debut collection, Slow Lightening, it took me months to return it–and for good reason


“To the Angelbeast”

for Arthur Russell

All that glitters isn’t music.

Once, hidden in tall grass,
I tossed fistfuls of dirt into the air:
doe after doe of leaping.

You said it was nothing
but a trick of the light. Gold
curves. Gold scarves.

Am I not your animal?

You’d wait in the orchard for hours
to watch a deer
break from the shadows.

You said it was like lifting a cello
out of its black case.

They bring me tokens of myself

Happy Earth Day from the one and only Walt Whitman (1819-1892), one of the most fervent lovers of our planet and its multitude of creatures that I’ve ever encountered on the written page. I usually post this section from Leaves of Grass, but this year I’ll share a different part that I love.


from “Song of Myself”


I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d;
I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied—not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.

So they show their relations to me, and I accept them;
They bring me tokens of myself—they evince them plainly in their possession.

I wonder where they get those tokens:
Did I pass that way huge times ago, and negligently drop them?
Myself moving forward then and now and forever,
Gathering and showing more always and with velocity,
Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them;
Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers;
Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on brotherly terms.

A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my caresses,
Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears,
Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground,
Eyes full of sparkling wickedness—ears finely cut, flexibly moving.

His nostrils dilate, as my heels embrace him;
His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure, as we race around and return.

I but use you a moment, then I resign you, stallion;
Why do I need your paces, when I myself out-gallop them?
Even, as I stand or sit, passing faster than you.