With no warning


Before we wake, the work begins:

ours and others, it dissembled as sleep.

Now stretches, hawk or valkerie

condoned-feathers into heavy day.

You are who, and you feel what?

Work takes a rasp to  your ears,

Work runs a saw across your fingers.

Work knows how you do it,

just testing your willingness

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You never see it coming

DSC00630 en SML

If you could see it coming

there would be no slow

motion in film, no Bernini

in the Villa, no “Grecian Urn”

for Keats, who tells you that, in the

 moment, all was slow time.

They are so practiced, like

 waterfalls that notice a man

 in a barrel cresting the lip,

forgetting that first time,

they never saw him coming;

like birds that decide

to romance airplanes.

As if gravity and ground

were generous, and impact

merely a slighted lover,

when the roaring in your

ears stops its mouth.


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Something pungent


Something pornographic

in the shallot’s disposition,

Indisposed to be an onion,

much less leek or chive,

It tempts not by strength

or intellect or subtlety

But preens and coils before

the eyes. “Scallion” charges he,

“Queen,” says she, “of Allium,”.

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How to be a Japanese Woman


“You have to admire the Japanese woman, because she does not commit suicide.
She has conspired against her ideals since she was a tender age. On the inside of her skull run sayings:
— If at the age of 25 you are not married, you have good reason to be ashamed.
— If you laugh, you will never be successful.
— If your face expresses an emotion, you are vulgar.
— If you mention the existence of a single hair on your body, you are immodest.
— If a man kisses you on the cheek in public, you are a whore.
— If you eat with pleasure, you are a pig.
— If you show any pleasure in sleeping, you are a cow.

These precepts might be told in stories, but they are taken to heart. Because, long story short, across these incongruous sayings runs the deeper feeling that you shouldn’t be hoping for anything good or beautiful. Don’t hope for pleasure, because your delight will be annihilated. Don’t hope to fall in love, because you are not worth the effort: those who might love you, would love the illusion of you, not what you are. Don’t hope that your life will bring you anything, because each year will take away something. Don’t even hope for anything as simple as peace, because you don’t have any reason to be at rest.”

Stupeur et Tremblements by Amelie Nothomb.

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Sutra of the Shiny Things


All sparkles beyond price may not suffice,  I vow to get ’em.

Endless constraining modesty, I say Be gone!

Bank accounts beyond measuring, empty ’em.

All beings, get out of my way!




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Boy with the Hood


This installation at the Barnes Collection in Philadelphia, by the French artist Mohamed Bourousissa, grew out of his time with the Fletcher Street Riding Club, one of the few black, urban stables in the United States. The panels, printed on European car parts, feature the people and scenes in the documentary that accompanies the show. It’s as if the practice of collage had been reborn, with 3D figures advancing on and receding from the viewer’s field of vision, but none of the fields are flat or square, so that images and scenes seem to roll into one another, or perhaps “gallop” is a better word. One wants to see what Bourousissa has done, or will do, working from his native Parisian banlieue.

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Ah, M. Jacob!


“Come in, we’re open”?

Really, M. Jacob, let’s stick to the old ways,

best ways, ways that match your saddle-bag

brown paint and flaking lettrisme.  I concede

the chandelier in the window and soft drink

machine in the back, but pain de tradition

needs no traduction. Only entrez.

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Must come down


Must tumble of its own weight, knowledge

so unorganized that its potential

for violence hangs over the imagination

like dynamite evaporating.

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Killers for UPicture

The best of the poems, photos, and meditations to appear on UPICTURE have now been collected in a book,  KILLERS IN TUTUS, available at Amazon.  Click here.  The cover photo appeared on November 2, 2012 in an essay on Fasching in Ulm, Germany.  The black and white does not do justice to the pink tutus on those guys, but I am working on a color edition that I hope to have out soon.  Below is the back cover blurb:

“How can we rescue and nourish a sense of wonder, especially if we live in chaotic and violent places like Beirut and New York City, which teach us to be skeptical?  This is the conundrum that courses beneath the poems, prose, photos, and art that William Marling composes in his seventh book.  In work that ranges from the Middle East to Middle America, from New York to Eastern Europe, Paris, and painting, Marling alerts us to the fallibility of the senses and the small victories of innocence and wonder.”



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You never see it coming


If you could see it coming
there would be no slow
motion in film, no Bernini,
no Grecian Urn for Keats.
Who tells you that, in the
moment, all was slow time,
they are so practiced, like
waterfalls that notice a man
in a barrel cresting their lips,
forgetting that first time,
they never saw him coming.

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