Hold It All


Category: Poets

The Good News, 3.3.2017

The Good News is … In 2016 Lindsey Trout Hughes took three on-line writing classes with me, and—to her surprise and my delight— embraced her poetic vocation. She has graced me with  epic emails, and scintillating postcards, notes, and texts. And most recently, she has shared a full draft of a play (she’s an actor by trade).  What to do in these nefarious times? Give birth. Thus practiceth Lindsey.


Tyler Caffall and Lindsey Trout Hughes, Bonneville Theater Company, NYC, 11.8.2016

Poem of the Day: Bertolt Brecht

Those who take the meat from the table
Teach contentment.
Those for whom the taxes are destined
Demand sacrifice.
Those who eat their fill speak to the hungry
Of wonderful times to come.
Those who lead the country into the abyss
Call ruling too difficult
For ordinary men.

Let’s Not Wait Till We’re Dead

Over poetry, you didn’t gush. You read it. You read it with the tongue. You lived it. You felt how it moved you, changed you. How it contributed to giving your own life  a from, a color, a melody. You didn’t talk about it and you certainly didn’t make it into the cannon fodder of an academic career.

Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

Wednesday 11 January 2017

Dear Carol,

Allen Ginsberg died in 1997 and still the books keep coming. 2016 saw a volume published of his uncollected poems, Wait Till I’m Dead. Ginsberg’s devoted archivist and biographer Bill Morgan provides extensive notes, Rachel Zucker adds an introduction (his poems encourage her “to keep writing, to write longer, to write messier, to write more authentically, with more ego and more humility, with everything I have and about everything I am”), and one of Ginsberg’s photographs grace each decade of poesy.

There are plenty of these poems that deserve only one read, never to return to again (unlike, for me, poems like his “Cosmopolitan Greetings,” “Yes and It’s Hopeless,” “Improvisation in Beijing,” “Peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina,” “War Profit Litany,” “Plutonian Ode,” “Howl,” and “September on Jessore Road”). Still, several may provide some consolation or a goad in these times when our war-making state and corporate predators show signs of ramping up their rapacity. Read the rest of this entry »

Hold It All/37

In the last thirty years of his life, [Jacob] Glatshteyn’s poetry became an incessant, internalized conversation on Jewish history, the lost world of European Jewry, the birth of Israel, assimilation in America, the tragic demise of the Yiddish language, and the loneliness of the poet.

–Benjamin and Barbara Harshav, American Yiddish Poetry: A Bi-Lingual Anthology



A Poem by Yael Diplacido-Eastman

A week after your death
I’m on my hot pink bike
Seeing every wooly caterpillar
On its way across my path
The trees above are leaning forward
Lamenting with a dance of
Falling leaves
Their shadows on the ground
Are telling stories
In languages beyond
Beyond grasp
The air is crisp and
Dry yellow and brown
And I cut through it
Paddling away
Salt on my face and
in my mouth
The song of
The bike trail is loud
With tones of crow
Spreads thick and sharp
Before me
As a message I can’t ignore
In life you were a man
Passing by quietly like
Those caterpillars on the ground
I navigate my bike around them
So we are barely noticed
By each other
In death you have commanded
The world
To live
And so it shall
And so it must
And so it does.

–Yael was in Israel in October visiting her sister and accompanying her brother-in-law in the last days of his life.

No Time for Literary Criticism

You are the voice of people with adhesive tape across their mouths
This is no time for literary criticism.
Nor for attacking the gorillas with surrealistic poems.
And what use are metaphors if slavery is not a metaphor,
If death in the river of the Dead is not a metaphor,
If the Squadron of Death is not?

–Ernesto Cardenal, from his Epistle to Monsignor Casaldáliga

Scan 43

Dom Pedro Casaldáliga

photo by Mev

For Laura Lapinski

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, “Poem Written on a Book of Mathew Brady Photographs”

Perhaps there’s something waiting in the moonlight
to show its face

I’m writing on an oversized book of Mathew Brady photographs
pictures of Lincoln and Walt Whitman
pictures of young men and boys bloated with
arms flung back and fat legs flung forward in
death forever once in the mud and millions of
times later as people riffle the pages of books of
Civil War photographs and wonder as I do how it could have
happened and only about a hundred and forty years ago
bodies in black and white casting shadows on battlefields that are
just rolling green fields now over local hills or down
grassy valleys but then there were

guns focused out of trees on anything that moved and
yells of pain and astonishment when anyone would get
shot no doubt rebel or union yells cut short in midair
heard again now from farther away as bombs and
shrapnel cut flesh and split open organs like fruit
on streets and sidewalks empty lots and blasted buildings
in Iraq

Poem of the Week: Untitled by Rob Trousdale


When biting into a baguette; or
Getting a back scratch from mom; or
Sipping on a Muddy Waters cocktail.

I remember the screams.
From hidden cells.
Inside the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility.

And it all just turns to shit.

Writing En Plein Air

Have you longed for the chance to sit outside and write while listening to the birds, smelling the sweetness of the grass and blooming trees, watching the beauty of the dancing trees, and feeling the warmth of the sun?  

Experience the joy of writing in the spirit of Mary Oliver, while surrounded by the beauty of our natural world during a class being hosted by Annie Fitzgerald and Chris Wallach.  During each class, time will be spent reading, writing, and sharing poetry outside.

 The Details:

-Four consecutive Saturdays:  Sept. 10, 17, 24, & Oct. 1

-Meeting from 2:00p to 4:00 pm with tea and snacks

-Chris W’s farm: 5 East Lake Rd.  Fenton, MO 63026  (a thirty minute drive from the city)

-Bring a notebook and pen for writing

-Tuition is $40 for 4 classes, or $12 for one class

-RSVP to Chris Wallach: cwallach@newcityschool.org  or Annie Fitzgerald: annmariefitzgerald@gmail.com  before the first class on September 10th.

Fenton Farmhouse Road


I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

–Mary Oliver, from “The Summer Day”

Home by Rob Trousdale

i knew the weekend was going to be trouble

too many white folks
too many Acura MDXs
too many of my fiancee’s friends
too many J.Crew swim trunks
too many Ralph Lauren dinner jackets
too many Notre Dame degrees
too many votes for Hillary
too much Daddy Warbuck’s chatter

it all buzzed like the 67′ Masters
it looked like Crazy Jim’s car dealership
it smelt like the Clove Club

i couldn’t take it
so i went to the bar
ordered a Hendrick’s
with blue cheese olives

reloaded the Bovada account
laid $240 on Federer (to win $200)
ordered some strawberries with cream
and felt right at home