Singed Singers

What persists.

Sometimes we survived by finding points of comparison between one impossible situation and another in which the sufferer was redeemed––not, perhaps, by the story itself, and certainly not by the suffering, but somehow by the lens that framed their seeming isolation within an often-invisible chorus of others who had been singled out and separated with intention to erase. An old story: the slash and burn of innate acres of wild no-man’s land. So much is predictable about the murder of wilds. And yet, the endlessly inventive processes of emergence and renewal by which life manages to survive to sing another day––so frequently evokes such stunned awe that its witness will be left unable to describe what took my breath away––as if to remind us, bearers of these weary sighs, of the astonishing abundance that still lives, even now, even here in this burning place.

Constant Witness

For César Vallejo.

In the presence of endings, your imagination lifted, and death was never far. Where others ran away, you went to meet it. You waded into waters of long suffering, returning with the precious and unseen.

With death never far from where you rested, you rested only briefly. You knew waters deep and rough enough to drown the best of us, how they silenced, and the violence of a blow to stop the mouth.

Still, you spoke of longing and living in a fallen world. Beholding, for you, was a series of flashes. Each pierced you. You kept looking.


Early this morning, I spent time with the work of César Vallejo, whose life I mean to honor here.

The Flamekeeper

With Czeslaw Milosz.

You asked how to survive in a ruined world. Your answer was a series of confrontations: with experience, with history, with the paradoxes of humanness. You would hunt these, not to eat but to offer as food upon your return. If writing is faith, how can you do it amidst the screams of the tortured, the imprisoned, the babies? You meant to answer, keeping witness with your pen in the faint light of your constant faith in a city without a name, writing a song for the end of the world. In times of crisis, you said, everyone becomes a poet.


Inspired by the life and work of Czeslaw Milosz.