Monday, September 30, 2013

Love and Understanding


Of all the gifts you offer me, the ones
   I dread the most are love and understanding.
They are Hope’s allies, and the only guns
   Deadly enough to halt Fear’s D-Day landing.
Your love will kill my lonely certainty
   That I’m unworthy of true happiness.
Your understanding will forgive the me
   Who thinks he’s nothing but a shameful mess.
Beware: this is a man who’ll never trust
   A dream that’s been awakened with a kiss.
Tell him his fears are groundless, if you must;
   But if you’d know the truth of them, know this:
      Devotion never gives me what I need.
      You want to win me?  Hurt me till I bleed.

Copyright 2013 Matthew J Wells



Friday, September 27, 2013


Woman, if we lived in a simpler age,
   You would have poets for your retinue.
There would be books in which, page after page,
   Sages would try and fail to fathom you.
To win your smile, there would be temples built;
   Kings would compete to lie in your embrace,
Wars would end with your kiss; and blood be spilt
   Each time a frown flashed on your perfect face.
But these days, when all coins have been debased
   And value is a fraction of its worth,
Each rare ability with which you’re graced
   Goes all untreasured on this sorry earth
      And goddesses like you must sadly be
      Ignored by all but worshippers like me.

Copyright 2013 Matthew J Wells

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Because Why

I live in the small principality
   That stands between the great Kingdom of Whys
And the Republic of Because.  The key
   To my continued independence lies
In making sure I never put my trust
   In either neighbor, for they covet me. 
Each says “I am your friend,” but they are just
   Two enemies who hate that I am free.
So, since Whys tell me answers are all lies,
   And, to the great Because, questions are traitors,
I play at friends, work out a compromise,
   And squirm like virtue trapped between two satyrs:
      Because I know, questions will grow like cancer;
      Because I ask, I'll never trust the answer.

 Copyright 2013 Matthew J Wells

Monday, September 23, 2013

Jottings from the notebook

INTERVIEWER:  Do you have any advice for young writers starting out?
JAMES TATE:  No—if a writer is going to get anywhere, he doesn’t listen to anybody.

Write as if you live in an occupied country.
     —Edwin Rolfe

We’re not calling them “divorced” anymore—we’re calling them certified pre-owned spouses.

Still, repression’s
got a lot going for it: from the repressed mind
comes beautiful stories, whereas from the liberated mind comes
websites that show women having sex with vegetables.
      — David Kirby, “Pink is the Navy Blue of India”

Weepers choose the music.
     —Vera Pavlova

Every birth a crime, every sentence life.
     —Basil Bunting

I try to surround myself with people who can never disappoint high expectations.

We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and a mystery.
     —HG Wells

A liberated woman is a fish that has fought its way ashore.
     —Karl Kraus

The lesser of two evils: a choice that evil always demands we make, revealing itself in the demand.
     —Clive James

The dawn has to kill
A universe of stars every morning
Just to get born.

Most people are other people.
     —Oscar Wilde

The sea depends on the drop of water. 
      —Franz Kafka

Kings do not touch doors.
     —Francis Ponge

Inside is the only kind of baseball in poetry, which is why it’s so hard to keep score.
     —Michael Robbins

Nobody walks away from an argument thinking “I lost.”

A muse inspires when she comes.
A wife inspires when she leaves.
A mistress inspires when she does not come.
     —Vera Pavlova

There are two sets of principles: power and privilege, and truth and justice.  If you pursue one, it is always at the expense of the other.
     —Julien Benda

The simplest way to stop a revolution?
Give it an office in the institution. 

The opening line of a poem is like finding a piece of fruit on the ground, a piece of fallen fruit that you’ve never seen before.  The poet’s task is to create the tree from which such a fruit would fall.
     —Paul Valery

We each really only speak one sentence in our lifetime.  If you are blessed, it is heard by someone who knows you and loves you and will be sorry to hear the sentence end.
     —Ernest Fenollosa to Ezra Pound

A girl has her dreams; a boy has his fantasies.
     —Teo Pozzi

Every good joke must be a small revolution.
     —Peter Barnes

No intelligent idea can gain general acceptance unless some stupidity is mixed in with it.
     —Fernando Pessoa




Friday, September 20, 2013

The Morning After

Sweet angel with a devil in her tongue,
   What do I think of as I wake beside you?
—Why couldn’t we have met when I was young
   —Dear God, I hope to hell I satisfied you
—The way your belly slaloms to your hips
   —The brush of stubble on your inner thighs
—How yes and no lie teasing on your lips
   —How passion makes a lighthouse of your eyes
 —And even though I know your heart’s a shore
   With footprints everywhere, I will die trying
To be for you what no one’s been before:
   A sheltered harbor full of love undying—
      Empty of all but safety, rest and ease
      Where you can anchor any time you please.


Copyright 2013 Matthew J Wells

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Weight of Time and Grief

It feels like years.  It feels like yesterday.
   The loss.  So close I smell its frantic breath
Against my face, and yet so far away
   It looks like rubbed-out chalk, and not a death.
Sometimes grief beats on me like I’m his drum;
   Sometimes I ache as if it just took place—
And then, a moment later, I grow numb
   And it’s light years away in outer space.
Like a black hole, Death too has gravity:
   It weighs Time down into an endless crawl,
Then speeds it up, and crams eternity
   Into an instant’s shell—and through it all
      Time avalanches as it drips like tears.
      It feels like yesterday.  It feels like years.

Copyright 2013 Matthew J Wells


Monday, September 16, 2013

I know my death's the end my birth foretold

I know my death’s the end my birth foretold;
   But sometimes, in the dark, I hear the telling
And feel the moment of it manifold
   Itself inside me like a black bell knelling
Till my soul shudders to its fatal beat
   And I know—know with total certainty—
Not only that my end and I will meet
   But it’s so near now that it answers me
With doom’s irrevocable vertigo
   Down to a black hole full of empty laughter—
With Nowhere when I cry “Where will I go?”—
   With Nothing when I wail “What happens after?”
      Each time we meet, Death leaves one more harpoon
      In me, then sails away and whispers: “Soon.”

Copyright 2013 Matthew J Wells

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Time stole another day from me this week

Time stole another day from me this week.
   I turned around twice and it disappeared.
It’s like Time’s got a razor that’s so sleek
   I only feel it after I’ve been sheared.
And then sometimes I wake up and the day
   Will flesh out like a light year, and I’ll be
Ambered in moments, lost in the array
   Where fading instants kiss infinity.
Time’s like a weepy alcoholic friend
   Who steals my scotch and then buys me champagne—
A pawnbroker who promises to lend
   Me all, then zip—a door to joy, then pain—
      Who’ll rob and bless me day by day, because
      Time is a thief who's also Santa Claus.

Copyright 2013 Matthew J Wells

Monday, September 9, 2013

Death is not sleep

Death is not sleep; sleep takes me unawares,
   Cutting away the anchor chains that keep
My mind from drifting off, before it dares
   To board me and then sail me to the deep.
In sleep, my consciousness fades long before
   My body can succumb to slumber’s kiss.
In death, I’ll feel it all from skin to core
   As my soul plummets from Life’s precipice.
That fall will be the final thing I feel,
   And when I hit the bottom, it will break
My self from this frail shell it calls the real
   With that one shuteye from which none can wake
       And in which all that I have ever done
       Will fall with me into oblivion.


Copyright 2013 by Matthew J Wells


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Prodigies are a cinch to make your heart Gallop like Secretariat

Prodigies are a cinch to make your heart
   Gallop like Secretariat around
That last turn at the Belmont—looks apart,
   Perfection always winds up triple-crowned.
But it’s not like you have to be real deep
   To love the loveable.  Hell—love like that’s
Like dreaming—you can do it in your sleep.
   What gives me coronary pitapats
Is when I know someone who’s flawed and real
   And still commit my heart eternally,
Hoping that she’ll be deep enough to feel
   True love in spite of what is false in me.
      To love because is effortless and trite;
      Love is more loving when we love despite.

Copyright 2013 Matthew J Wells

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Last night I dreamed you called me on the phone

for Meir Ribalow

Last night I dreamed you called me on the phone
   To talk about both versions of The Killers
The brilliant way Lee Marvin dies alone;
   How Ava Gardner should have done more thrillers.
“I got her new book and I thought of you,”
   I said, and you replied, “You’ll have to tell
Me what you think of it.”  I said, “Will do.”
   And then we talked Wilde (Oscar and Cornell),
Till you asked me what I was working on.
   After I told you, you said, “Good, but why?
Because you want to be Fame’s Myrmidon?
   That’s a low goal for anyone.  Aim high.”
      “And then,” I said, “shoot higher, right?  I knew it.” 
      And you said, "Good.  Stop dreaming now and do it."
Copyright 2013 Matthew J Wells