This blog ran for more than two years with no graphics--and it received about 50 page views. I was advised to add graphics; after seeing the huge public that followed blogs dedicated to homoerotic images, I decided to use that kind. The result was a dramatically increased number of monthly page views, and the number has remained fairly steady. Most of the images were found on the internet; although they are assumed to be in the public domain, they are identified as far as possible. They are exhibited under the "Fair Use" protections of United States copyright law: their function is simply to attract readers to the poems--I receive no economic benefit from them or from the blog. Nevertheless, they will be removed if they are copyrighted and the owner so desires.

Sunday, July 15, 2018


En un ángulo de los muros
bajo el Alcázar de Toledo,
en frente de un postigo oscuro,
me saludó un anciano tuerto:

—¡Bienvenido! Este es mi huerto,
del que tanto ha hablado la gente.
Tengo aquí manzanas crujientes,
de carne blanca teñida de rosa,
melocotones de néctar espeso,
naranjas esféricas, esponjosas,
cuyo jugo es como jarabe, y otras        
especies, de los más raros injertos:
peras rojas, blandas y empalagosas
por sudar chorros de su propio almíbar,
y uvas negras en racimos espesos,
que rezuman gotas de miel y azúcar...  

—Mas cuando yo intenté pasar,
se sonrió, dulce.

                                         Ay, disculpa,
yo te he detenido en la entrada,
y ¡ahora mismo voy a cerrar!

                            —Mientras hablaba,
me encontré en la calle temblando
entre esparcidos copos blancos. 
Ya había empezado a nevar.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018


The kingdom of God is within you.    Luke 17:21 

In our time, the world powers characterized by the monotheistic “Abrahamic” religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), as well as Russian and Chinese atheism, are waging a war to the death among themselves for supremacy over human minds and for control of the resources of the earth.  Because the consequences of this struggle may include the destruction of most of humanity, it seems worthwhile to analyze their common, though mutually exclusive, claims of supremacy.  (I will focus on the belief in God because we are all born believers, and monotheistic beliefs lack inner logical consistency, whereas atheism does not, and therefore at some future point may be open to reason.)

In relation to the idea of God, two things are almost universal: first, our tendency to produce or figure to ourselves images of at least one overwhelmingly powerful supernatural personality who is, at least in the Abrahamic religions, perfect: omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent; and second (because from birth we depend on others), the human need to believe in that power as a source of things that we cannot obtain for ourselves, and as an explanation for why things happen beyond our control and expectations.  (These things include the origin of the world as well as accidents, tragedies and the suffering caused by evil people.)  Human beings cannot prevent themselves from asking “Why?” and in the absence of any clear natural explanation, they resort to a supernatural one: it is God's will, which must not be questioned. 

That is why all cultures have practiced religions: a religion is the set of beliefs, values and practices through which an individual or a group relates to its god or gods.  Throughout history, different social groups have espoused different religions, and every society has believed that only it possesses the one true religion.   This belief is especially true of the monotheistic religions, each of which has attempted repeatedly to eradicate all other religions and to exterminate their adherents, in obedience to a supposed divine command.  (The polytheistic Greeks and Romans of Antiquity were probably the only exceptions to the rule of exclusivity—on a few occasions they welcomed foreign cults.)    

But the fact of multiple exclusive religions presents a problem: If there were only one God, what reason would this divinity have for allowing many disparate concepts of Him/Her/Itself to exist?  Necessarily, if one of these concepts is true, then all the other concepts must be false.  Why would the one true divinity allow numerous false concepts about itself to exist?  And yet they do exist. 

If there were only one real, objectively existing God, wouldn't there be only one religion that correctly worshiped the one true deity?  Wouldn't all human beings share that same religion?  What reason would the one true God have for creating or permitting mutually hostile religions, only one of which would be true and acceptable, and for setting social groups against each other and fomenting cruel “holy wars” throughout human history, like those that we see emanating from the Middle East today?  What would an all-wise and all-powerful God gain by causing such conflict?  Unless God were a perverse, sadistic power that wanted to cause conflict, and enjoyed the suffering that results from it, wouldn’t all people share the same religion?  But we don't.   

Therefore, given the almost universal religious conflicts throughout the last three thousand years or more, with their persecutions, enslavements, massacres and genocides, we are faced with a dilemma: either there is no single all-powerful, benevolent God who is to be worshiped in one correct way—or the one existing true God desires that humanity suffer the internecine conflicts, the destruction and the physical and emotional pain that historically it has suffered.  In the absence of any factual evidence except human suffering, which alternative is more probable or believable?  

The traditional attempt to deny God’s responsibility for human destruction and suffering claims that an evil, demonic entity, Satan or the Devil, causes them either directly or through his manipulation of gullible and self-centered people; but this is to advance an idea that contradicts the doctrines that God is all-powerful and all-good.  If the Devil causes human suffering without the consent of God, then the Devil’s power defies that of  God—that means that God has little or no power over the Devil—and therefore God is not all-powerful.  It could even mean that in effect we have not one God, but two, for the Devil would be a powerful evil god, as in Manichaeism or as hinted at in late Zoroastrianism.    

On the other hand, if God is omnipotent, then the Devil (if there is one) operates only with God’s permission, as in the Book of Job.  And if God gives permission to cause destruction and suffering, then God is not exclusively benevolent; God is not all-good.  This is the conclusion at which the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung arrived, as explained in his  Answer to Jobalthough as a scientist, to avoid scandal, he referred only to “the God-image in the human psyche.”  It is not surprising, because Jung was descended from a family of clergymen of the Calvinist Swiss Reformed Church; and his conclusion is what Calvinism simultaneously implies and denies.  (Logically, if the word “good” is to have any meaning at all, a God that creates sentient beings who have no power to choose good over evil, after having foredoomed them to eternal torment in Hell, is not quite “Good.”)  

A typical theological attempt to evade Jung’s conclusion claims that God wants to “test” us through our suffering—but that claim involves a denial of the doctrine that God is omniscient as well as the one that God is all-good: a person is tested when the tester does not know something, and needs to use the test to obtain information.  If God tests us, that means that God does not know something, and in that case, God is not all-knowing.  

A clever apologist might try to evade the latter conclusion by claiming that God tests us in order to make us find out something about ourselves—but God’s tests involve severe suffering, emotional as well as physical.  Why would a benevolent God go to this extreme?  Furthermore, an all-powerful God could achieve anything simply by willing it.  What would an all-powerful God gain by requiring and inflicting suffering?  Once again, God would have demonstrated that God is not all-good.  Tanswer that “there is no other way,” is to admit that God is not all-powerful.  

There is another possible solution to the dilemma, although I hesitate to mention it, because to do so in areas of the world accessible to fanatics of the Abrahamic religions is to increase one’s risk of being slaughtered by savages: I refer to polytheism, the idea that there are many gods, not just one.  Many ancient religions worshiped more than one god, and Hinduism and a number of other Asian and some African religions, like Voodoo, still do.  The existence of numerous divinities, each with its own nature, preferences and aims, would explain perfectly the existence of the many conflicting religions and the other conflicts in the world.  I am not proposing polytheism as the true explanation, but I ask: Which theology, of those proposed above, is the most probable or believable?  

Perhaps none of them are.  In that case, how can these questions be answered?  How can these logical objections be met?  How can religious belief be justified?  What follows here is the best that I can do; if anyone has a better answer that can be demonstrated, I would like to know it.  

Perhaps the solution to the problem is to be sought not in a theology, but in the study of the human mind.  At present this is dominated by two schools of psychology; one, Freudian psychoanalysis, is frankly atheistic, locating the source of all human behavior in the sexual instinct, and all psychological problems specifically in early sexual trauma or sexual frustration.  The other school, the analytical psychology of Carl Gustav Jung, posits a drive toward self-realization, called “individuation.”  This involves a progressive reconciliation and integration of the various conflicting impulses that move us.  In relation to the idea of God, Jungian psychology seems more reasonable, since it embraces more than the simple biological urge.       

In numerous books and papers, Jung disseminated his evolving concepts of the psyche—among them the collective unconscious, the archetypes, the complexes, and the tendency to produce or perceive spontaneous visual and other manifestations.  As I understand it, the word “psyche” is Jung’s term for the total human cognitive (mental) and affective (emotional) functioning, comprising an individual’s consciousness, the personal unconscious (everything a person has forgotten) and the collective unconscious (literally everything that is not in the individual consciousness or the personal unconscious, but is the result of the evolution of the human race: all the ideas that it is possible for people to have, all the forms of energy that determine the ways in which the human race functions).  An archetype is the potential for the human mind to function in a particular way, the mental equivalent or aspect of an instinct—as impossible to ignore or escape as the seven colors of the spectrum and the scale of audible vibrations that humans perceive, and innate like the faculty of human language and the spontaneous and irresistible sexual instinct.  

These concepts are relevant to religious belief in the following way:  Jung warned that it is impossible to make valid, verifiable statements about the objective existence of God, the God of the theologians and believers; all that we know, he claimed, is that we perceive spontaneously-produced symbols of the central, dominant archetype of the collective unconscious—the archetype that he called “the Self.”  They may appear as images in the conscious mind in dreams, visions, fantasies, and hallucinations; they may also be manifested as voices or other physical sensations, as in kundalini yoga.  Jung said that he was following the earliest Christian theologians when he called these things “the God-image in the human psyche.”  

I do not make the same distinction as Jung, although what I write here is based on a few of his ideas.  I present my reasons below.   

To say that an archetype is all that we know of God is to say that what we call “God” is a factor or a function of the human psyche.  One aspect of this is that we cannot avoid thinking of God as a personality; we see and hear people doing this all around us every day.  For example, the fact that we pray demonstrates that we conceive of the deity as a personality that can be moved by our actions.  In spite of the fact that we define “God” as an omnipotent, omniscient and exclusively benevolent supernatural entity (at least in Judaism, Christianity and Islam), this divinity is perceived or imagined as a personality like ours: we ascribe to it a sense of identity, various desires, sympathies and antipathies, irritability, feelings that can be offended or pleased, and vengefulness (which we call “punishment for sin” or Divine Justice”).  As a description of the supposed all-wise, all-powerful, transcendent creator of the universe, that is a very limited and anthropomorphic conception.  (Strangely, both the description and the fulsomeness of the approved formulae for addressing the Deity seem to suggest the attitude that an abused child is forced to adopt toward its abusive parent.)  And yet that is how we conceive of God.  

But this personality can be recognized as a special case of our evident archetypal tendency to personify almost everything: as children we personify dolls; we recognize our pets as personalities; as adults we give personal names to boats, ships, airplanes, other vehicles, and even to weapons; we create “smily faces” (yellow circles that are interpreted as human faces because they contain two dots above a short curved line) and we personify cartoon animals and stuffed cloth animals, and even topographic features (the “Old Man of the Mountain,” or the “Sleeping Giant” of so many landscapes; the Lorelei; the “face” on Mars); and many Christians claim to see Jesus or the Virgin Mary in clouds, tree trunks, walls and screen doors.  And of course the apparitions at Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, and Medjugorje have all appeared as persons, as have angels.  

This idea is suggested even by the phenomenon of ghosts—under certain circumstances that evoke fear, suggestibility or belief, images and sensations arise in the minds of susceptible people, from the tendency of the unconscious mind to produce personalities.  If ghosts were an objective, external phenomenon, everyone would see the same ones in the same places.  Actually, very few do.  For example, of the hundreds of thousands of tourists who troop through the Tower of London every year, very few claim to have seen that old stand-by, the ghost of Anne Boleyn.  We read or hear the same half-dozen stories over and over in books, magazines and online websites, but no one comes forward with a personal assertion of a new sighting of the ghost.  And this is true of all ghost stories.  It is logical, therefore, to conclude that ghosts are mainly subjective psychic phenomena perceived as personalities.    

All this means that we cannot avoid being confronted with non-ego personalities that emerge from the unconscious; this fact is the origin of the life-like characters in novels and plays as well as in bedtime and campfire stories—personalities, each with its own definite traits.  Indeed, I would go so far as to say that we recognize other people as persons only through the faculty of personifying.  The archetype is inside us.  

It may be that what we call “God” is a result of this tendency of the unconscious to produce something, some energy that the conscious mind perceives as personalities, or images of personalities, and is ultimately a result of our evolution as social animals with fathers and mothers on which, as infants, we helplessly depend.  The phenomenon would be analogous to that of “imprinting” among the young of many species: the first living thing or simulacrum that the new-born sees is taken as the parent and model, and unquestioningly bonded with.

This idea is supported by the fact that the structure of the mythological divine family around a patriarchal figure and a matriarchal figure is almost universal, although the descriptions of these figures vary greatly from culture to culture.  In some polytheistic religions, the matriarchal figure may be subordinate, and in others she may be dominant, reflecting the social structure in which she arises; in monotheistic religions she is revered though denied divine status (the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus in Catholicism’s “Holy Family” and one or two of the Prophet Muhammed’s wives in Islam), or she is reduced to a metaphysical or mystical metaphor (the Holy Wisdom in some strains of Christian mysticism and in the Kabbalah of Judaism, or the Immaculate Conception in Catholicism).   An educated Westerner has only to think of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Norse and Hindu myths as well as Christianity; the basic pattern exists in myths all over the world.  Again, which of the possibilities mentioned above is the more believable?  

For me the most credible existing religion is Buddhism, which (strictly speaking) has no objective transcendent Godhead personality, but does have an idea of the universe that is both more logical and more compatible with contemporary astronomy and astrophysics than are the creation fables of the Abrahamic religions.  It is also more compatible with our understanding of our daily needs and desires.  (Think of the many taboos of the Abrahamic religions—sexual taboos, dietary taboos, taboos on dress, taboos that limit freedom of thought, of expression, of association, and even of movement.)  Other than Buddhism, my answer to the question of credibility is, “None.”  

Unfortunately for us, every one of our social groups (except perhaps the Buddhists) believes that it must impose its own religion on the rest of the human race, even if that means subjugating, torturing and slaughtering masses of people simply because the beliefs and religious practices of one group differ from those of another.  I trace this characteristic to the “Us-against-Them” instinct or archetype in humanity, a result of the need to belong to a group in order to survive, because we are born into a food chain as predators who are individually weak,  and therefore need the group to dominate those around us and exploit them before they can dominate and exploit us.  Among religions, the drive to dominate and exploit is especially true of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, each of which justifies its violence and cruelty as obedience to a supposed divine command to reduce the world to conformity with its God.  I have read that it was also true of the ancient Egyptians; this is a reasonable idea, given that the Egyptians and the ancient Hebrews clashed and interacted with each other; and given the claims of some historians that the Hebrews’ monotheism was inspired by that of the Egyptian pharoah Akhenaton.    
The line of reasoning followed here constitutes, for me, sufficient evidence that the God of the Abrahamic theologians is the personification of an internal, subjective, psychic factor—it is not an external, objective, non-psychic, transcendent entity.  The conclusion is based on demonstrable reality—that human beings cannot resist personifying things, and cannot avoid interpreting the personified images and symbols of the great archetype, the “Self,” as an objectively existing (and demanding) God.  (And, of course, if God is an internal, subjective, psychic factor, then the Devil is one too.  The Devil is also inside us.)  

Failure to understand this has caused, and continues to cause, horrible suffering.  Conversely, if every group and individual could understand this, there would be much less conflict and suffering in the world. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018


No debí huirte, Apolo,
el roce de tus dedos
en mi espalda, el vaho fantasmal
de tu aliento sobre mi pecho, tus manos
eléctricas entre mis muslos sueltos...

Me pasmaba el relámpago de tus ojos,
el zumbido de tu voz en mis oídos me espantaba,
tu presencia invisible me bañaba
en sagrado horror.

No debí eludirte entre la hojarasca
del bosque,
ni esconderme dentro de la áspera
corteza de los árboles.

Tendida la carne cobarde
contra la dura fibra,
me desgarra el potro de tormento
de la naturaleza dividida—
como a un brote de enebro
en un peñon batido por el viento—
por el sol abrasado de día,
de noche agachado bajo las estrellas frías.

Libérame, Señor Apolo,
de la guerra encarnizada
de cielo y tierra; libérame
de los terremotos y las granizadas,
de las tormentas repentinas y las sequías sofocantes.

Libérame, sobre todo, de los hombres, 
que andan con filos largos,
buscando cualquier cosa que puedan derribar.

Fresno me llaman, hecho para talar;
cedro me nombran, fácil de tallar;
ciprés me dicen, o pino o roble,            
leña para romper y quemar.
Así me acechan todos
sin siquiera saber mi verdadero nombre.



Sunday, April 8, 2018



An Anthology of French Poetry from Nerval to Valéry, in English Translation. Edited by Ángel Flores. Garden City, N. J.: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1958.

After due consideration,
I tried reading a translation
Of French poets from Nerval to Valéry;

And although the Gallic nation
Holds them all in veneration,
I confess that they are not my cup of tea.

It's as dreadful as the antics
Of the German High Romantics,
And it goes about as farabout as deep

In that dark and bulgy wood
Where the moonlight drips like blood
And the bushes stretch and clutch at you, and creep,

And where flowers that devour
Yawn open by the hour,
And monsters pursue you and weep.

They were all full of spleen,
If you know what I mean,
And if you read the volume you will see

Forty stanzas of angoisse
Ladled out like vichyssoise
As the entrée to a long course of ennui,

And the endless, sad complainte
That the living are all dead
In the head,
And the dead
Really ain't.

And their stories: Jules Laforgue
Ended up inside a morgue—
Couldn't pay for a burial place;

Stephane Mallarmé
Faded mystically away,
Like his symbols, into some inner space.

Poor Gérard, dit de Nerval,  
Suffered from le petit mal, 
And in his seizures entertained the ghost

Of a talking dead geranium
That resided in his cranium;
Then he hanged himself beneath a streetlamp post.

Enter Evil: Charles Baudelaire,
Who proclaimed himself the Heir
Of the Devil, after reading Edgar Poe;

Worst of all, Paul Verlaine,
Like Van Gogh, went insane,
And tried to kill his lover, Rimbaud.

(Save for jaunty, debonair
Prince Guillame Apollinaire,
They were really not the sort you'd want to know.)

Now Baudelaire may have been
Quite the specialist in Sin,
And Rimbaud as Rambonctious as could be,

But after reading this anthology,
I can say without apology,
It offered no Illuminations for me.

Author's note:

The reader, like the author, should consider himself free
To side with the Reviewer—or with les poètes maudits.


Tuesday, March 6, 2018



Deepest thanks to HG SANTTOS, who posted it.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


From the wide meandering drive
you look away, beyond the lines 
of white anonymous markers, 
down to where the barges 
are pushing past the piers,
each as slow as the hour hand of a clock, 
while tiny speedboats whine
like mosquitoes as they skip up and down,
skimming the water 
to better their times.

The digital tour guide at Fort Hill 
makes it a point to say 
that the River isn't what you see
—“the River” around here 
always means the Mississippi—
but the Yazoo Diversion Canal, 
an artificial waterway
created by the Army Corps of Engineers
after the River shifted away
and left Vicksburg behind. 

The real Mississippi winds, 
like a snake uncoiling, on the other side 
of the shifting sandbars and temporary islands
that lie in the distance, looking like solid ground
crowded with undergrowth, cypress, willow, and pine.

Several hours farther down, 
at New Roads in the Parish of Pointe Coupée,
the River once twisted itself out this way.
On the Louisiana side
they made the old bed into a resort,
a playground for aquatic sports, 
called False River Lake.
They have sail-boating and water-skiing there,
and trolling and fishing from the shore,
lined now with substantial real estate. 

It all sounds pretty dull and safe,
and perhaps it is.
Perhaps there’s a point to be made
for complacency, though: The Chinese say,
with Mandarin politesse, 
May you live in interesting times,”
when they don’t mean to bless. 

More than once the River has 
struck at a town; 
of that rip-roaring sinful place, 
there isn’t much left now;
and at Grand Gulf,
half an hour south of here,
fifty-six blocks of busy, sleepy people
sloughed off into the water
bit by bit, without a sound. 

Only a few minutes away,
antique and beautiful,
the clock-faced steeples of Port Gibson wait,
set back decorously not-too-near 
the soft slopes of the Little Bayou Pierre,
a minor tributary that every one there 
calls “By a Pier.”
They watch the town’s two bridges—
the skeletal old one, mostly sucked down
in the great storm of  ’Fifty-Four,
and the squat, heavy new one, that brute mass and weight
have held in place so far.