Monthly Archives: February 2011

Of fools, of sages…

‘Oh, beauty! Come! Move nearer to me,
that by sleight of words I may net you
to lead you before the avid sense of men.
Dearest life! Come! Linger here,
that in this vial of poetry I may seal you,
to ever pour your fire into mortals’ weary guts.
Oh, love! Come! Lie between these sheets
patterned with consonants and vowels,
that I may pander you to the world’s lusting heart.’

‘Let me approach you, beauty, so
you may net me in the slight of your being,
for me to flee this world’s avidity.
Let me linger long here, life, so
that you may seal me in yourself –
pour me forth to do your bidding!
Let me lie here with you, love,
for of lust I’ve had my fill.
I need rest in your calm madness.’

*             *             *

(c) Gregory V Driscoll 2011


Steam Heat

Those of us whose homes still have steam heat with those old, clunky cast iron
radiators standing in the corners of rooms like reticent and mutant miniature Bactrian camels are treated every winter to the wonder of the musicality of inanimate things.

Listen to the slow knocking, then the quicker banging and the cocky clanking of the pipes, the rattling of the valves as the heat starts, and rises, rises… A subtle clinking in the valves gets brasher and louder…

The pressure builds. Hear the cycling flat notes of the steam and then its half serious, half playful hissing, followed by its ribald whistling through the valves, pushing the air out at higher and higher compression.

Go with the steam’s sibilance, the valves’ jingling and jangling, the pipes’ clanging syncopation and the spasmodic whooshing sounds…

You can almost hear Peggy Lee or Patti Page, Ella Fitzgerald or the Pointer Sisters intoning I got steam heat… I got steam heat – but I need your love to keep away the cold…

Hsssss…  Klink…  Psssew…

*           *           *

© Gregory V Driscoll 2011

Oh, Say Can’t You See by the Dawn’s Early Light…

Hypocrisy streaming…

President Barack Obama: By any measure, Muammar Gadhafi’s government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable.

Bush / Cheney et al.?  Iraq?  Guantanamo?  Torture?  Extraordinary Rendition? “AfPak”? — I could go on but I won’t…

Instead,  I’ll give the Prince of Peace the last word, as reported in Matthew 7:3 –

Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but fail to notice the beam in your own eye?

Oh! I’m sorry – that last is for Sundays. Today’s Saturday…

~ Greg Driscoll


The word wildness comes from the old English roots, wilde and –ness, together meaning: state of being untamed, uncultivated, undomesticated.

The typical synonyms listed in thesauruses and online are: fury, unconstraint, abandon, wantonness, violence, vehemence, furiousness, ferocity, fierceness, turbulence, barbarity, savagery – all terms denoting lack of control, restraint, rules or limits.

Rather than these, though, I thought of the following: state of being unfettered, freedom, openness, lack of confinement – terms that have a less negative connotation, that have less of the derogatory about them.

This little exercise shows how language can easily color thought, how language many times has imprinted in it certain perceptions – perhaps from time immemorial – that may not be true or fitting in all cases or circumstances – and that it can sometimes be stifling or deadening; that choosing certain words over others can change the whole intent or direction of a piece of writing, of what one is saying, or how it is perceived by the reader or the listener.

Looking at those standard synonyms again, one gathers that wildness is something we should always seek to avoid. It’s filled with uncertainty; it may bring us to places or states of being or courses of action that we may not be able to handle or understand, or that aren’t civilized, predictable, artful, wise or prudent– at least in a cultured sense – the way that language itself is managed and manageable, controlled and controlling.

Well then, I thought, long live wildness!

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(c) Gregory V Driscoll 2011

Morning at Crooke’s Point

Relentlessly yielding, the beach
lay supine in its sandiness,
as the waves in their ceaseless toil
of lust for the land kissed the shore.
The sun struggled to push its way
between the clouds crowding the sky.

It was early Spring and we were here
burgling the sands for shells. Razor clams, whelks,
quahogs, mussels, oysters, scallops – all
offered up their vacant calcareous homes.
But the stubborn periwinkles eluded us.
We walked and walked crisscrossing the sands,
the beach heather chortling in the breeze.
The gulls looked down at us quizzically.

I got one, Daddy, he shouted against the wind.
What? I hollered.  I found one, he answered.
He came running toward me, his arm held high,
grasping the little trophy for his project.
He put the shell gently into the bag I carried,
next to our other treasures of that morning.

We trod up the dunes past the beach plum plants,
their white blossoms dancing in the wind.

*           *           *

© Gregory V Driscoll 2011

In the distance

Before that day, that hour unknown
with its stark guilelessness,
its silent mindlessness,
there’ll be another and another,
dancing or running or singing,
walking quickly or sitting calmly,
drinking, laughing, snoring,
kissing, touching, extending
from this hour or two when we sit
trading stories, bartering visions,
swapping images and phrases
while the runner, during a pause,
hands out keen remembrances
of all our childhoods, and we bite
into their hardness, their sweetness,
their substance receding like galaxies
quickly and more quickly until they are
barely sensible in the distance…

*           *           *

© Gregory V Driscoll 2011

Save the image

Save the image, the scene, I said
to myself, standing at the window
watching the snow settle like confectioner’s sugar
on the dark, gnarled bark of the old tree
in Richard’s yard, its wild branches twisted
like so many vegetal serpents quavering
to the wind’s soft music, cobras in the dawn
anointed with powder, and ready to strike.

The sky was a muslin sheet without wrinkle
stretched over this world turning just as white.
But then the tiny flakes changed into blank
crystal colossi, wide as blanched cream puffs,
so I knew from my memory of too many storms
that this was the sign of this storm’s ending.

Just then another image flashed quickly
through my snow-blind mind: the little face
of Abigail, granddaughter, peeking
over her mother’s shoulder as I came into the house
having returned from my errand.  She smiled,
as if to say, Welcome home, old man!

*           *           *

(c) Gregory V Driscoll 2011