Bitter Lemons

bitter lemons art

painting by Rachel Mould


Here’s a poem by Lawrence Durrell:


Bitter Lemons
by Lawrence Durrell

In an island of bitter lemons
Where the moon’s cool fevers burn
From the dark globes of the fruit,

And the dry grass underfoot
Tortures memory and revises
Habits half a lifetime dead

Better leave the rest unsaid,
Beauty, darkness, vehemence
Let the old sea-nurses keep

Their memorials of sleep
And the Greek sea’s curly head
Keep its calms like tears unshed

Keep its calms like tears unshed.



<a href="">Bitter</a>


<a href=””>Bitter</a&gt;

Exposed on the cliffs of the heart

Christian Schole Portrait of a heart

painting by Christian Schloe:  Portrait of a Heart

Here’s a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:


Exposed on the Cliffs of the Heart

Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Look, how tiny down there,
look: the last village of words and, higher,
(but how tiny) still one last
farmhouse of feeling. Can you see it?
Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Stoneground
under your hands. Even here, though,
something can bloom; on a silent cliff-edge
an unknowing plant blooms, singing, into the air.
But the one who knows? Ah, he began to know
and is quiet now, exposed on the cliffs of the heart.
While, with their full awareness,
many sure-footed mountain animals pass
or linger. And the great sheltered birds flies, slowly
circling, around the peak’s pure denial. – But
without a shelter, here on the cliffs of the heart…

<a href="">Exposed</a>

I can see him better


Hummingbird Girl     painting by Rick Beerhurst


Here’s a poem I wrote about twenty years ago:





Although the eye doctor’s chart

melted sadly into the wall ,

I can see this minute before me,

like a snowbird in the feeder

eighteen inches from my face.

We stare at each other through the window.

His black beady eye is watchful.


I also can see nouns and ruins,

hairs on my arms,

wrinkles on my hands,

pulls in my stockings and pills in my sweaters.


I can see the ocean, near me in my mind.

that same bedroom window at Cape May

every summer for 14 summers,

can see it better than the snow squeezing the field.


I can see the hummingbird from five summers ago

better than I can see the finches this morning.

And I can see you, nearby,

on my clothes,

see you with warmth

that lingers.

My glasses

are adjectives,

they clarify,

they make my sight specific

even when they are smudged.




Cape May June5 2012 002





<a href=””>Better</a&gt;


The vagrant gypsy life

stormy sea

Here’s a poem by John Masefield:

Sea Fever


I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.


I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.


I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.


lighthouse Maine


<a href=””>Lifestyle</a&gt;

to soothe a panicked child



Here’s a poem by Richard Wilbur,  about a parent soothing a panicked child in the night, and the irony of domesticating a fear that really is deeply archetypal:

A Barred Owl

The warping night air having brought the boom
Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that all she heard
Was an odd question from a forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
“Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?”
Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
Can also thus domesticate a fear,
And send a small child back to sleep at night
Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.


Richard Wilbur




<a href=””>Panicked</a&gt;

none of these will bring disaster


Elizabeth Bishop is one of my favorite American poets, and here is one of my favorite poems by her:


One Art           By Elizabeth Bishop


The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.



Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.



Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

places, and names, and where it was you meant

to travel. None of these will bring disaster.



I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or

next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.



I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.



—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident

the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.




lotas house brazil




<a href=””>None</a&gt;

the person in the back controls the speed

in tandem

Here’s a poem I wrote about thirty years ago:


In Tandem

The fact is: when you ride in front, you steer.

The person in the back controls the speed.

The pedals go as quickly as they need

to keep one’s partner accurate with fear.

A panic on the handlebars will clear

confusion as to who will take the lead.

The person who relinquishes is freed

to stabilize the pair, and mere

agreement brings a rush of calm and peace

as widely round the corners they can glide,

adjusting speed and vision with each turn.

Exhilaration, energy, release

accompany their willingness to ride;

reward them with the pace for which they yearn.


Anne Higgins     published in  At the Year’s Elbow, 2000

bicycle built for two



<a href=””>Control</a&gt;