The Basic Con

- 1926-1971

Those who can’t find anything to live for,
always invent something to die for.

Then they want the rest of us to
die for it, too.

Monologue of One Whom the Spring Found Unaccompanied

It happens, at times,
That the route becomes beautiful
The incline gentle and the landscape rich
And on the heavy air the smell of growing things

We think the secret hidden in the land
Or month or year
Or traced upon the chart by which we go,
But do not tinker so with subtleties

You brush the secret with your hand,
As the arm swings, striding.

Gone, you’ll know how much more real her absence is
With sound of her that’s missing now in every sound
With walk of her that’s missing now in every passer-by

Who speaks incessantly
Speaks of how the buds unfold
Of how these days the twigs are fat
Of how all things begin to bloom

How every god-damned thing begins to bloom.

[Whenever I Make a New Poem,]

Whenever I make a new poem,
the old ones sound like gibberish.
How can they ever make sense in a book?

Let them say:
“He seems to have lived in the mountains.
He traveled now and then.
When he appeared in cities,
he was almost always drunk.

“Most of his poems are lost.
Many of those we have were found in
letters to his friends.

“He had a very large number of friends.”

[The Image, as in a Hexagram:]

The image, as in a Hexagram:

The hermit locks his door against the blizzard.
He keeps the cabin warm.

All winter long he sorts out all he has.
What was well started shall be finished.
What was not, should be thrown away.

In spring he emerges with one garment
and a single book.

The cabin is very clean.

Except for that, you’d never guess
anyone lived there.