The “poetics of possibility” refers to poetry that expresses and inspires aliveness, awakening, connection, fulfillment, insight, presence, realization, transformation, and so forth. In the words of the Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), it is about “the possibility of being.”


As expressed by the Japanese Haiku poet Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), “No matter what we may be doing at a given moment, we must not forget that it has bearing on our everlasting self, which is poetry.” And, following the Greek Nobel Laureate Odysseus Elytis (1911-1996), “I consider poetry a source of innocence full of revolutionary forces. It is my mission to direct these forces against a world my conscience cannot accept.” In this spirit, we may imagine The Poetry Conspiracy (TPC).

From the Preface to Leaves of Grass (1855)/Walt Whitman (1819-1894)

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.

Sometimes a man stands up…/Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

Sometimes a man stands up during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.

And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.

And another man, who remains inside his own house,
dies there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,
so that his children have to go far out into the world
toward that same church, which he forgot.

(Translated by Robert Bly)

The Peace of Wild Things/Wendell Berry (b. 1934)

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Clambering up the Cold Mountain path…/Hanshan (9th century)

Clambering up the Cold Mountain path,
The Cold Mountain trail goes on and on:
The long gorge choked with scree and boulders,
The wide creek, the mist blurred grass.
The moss is slippery, though there’s been no rain.
The pine sings, but there’s no wind.
Who can leap the word’s ties
And sit with me among the white clouds?

(Translated by Gary Snyder)


Drinking Song 5/Tao Qian

I built my hut in the human realm,
But there is no noise of carriages or horses.
You ask how I can accomplish this—
With mind far away, place naturally becomes remote.
Picking chrysanthemums by the eastern hedge,
I catch sight of the distant South Mountain.
The mountain air is amazing at sunset
And flocks of birds return home together.
In these things there is real meaning—
But when I try to express it, words fail me.

(Translated by Louis Komjathy)

The Guest House/Jalal ad-Din Rumi (1207-1273)

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

(Translated by Coleman Barks)

This Is Just to Say/William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Walking Around/Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

It happens that I am tired of being a man.
It happens that I go into the tailor’s shops and the movies
all shrivelled up, impenetrable, like a felt swan
navigating on a water of origin and ash.

The smell of barber shops makes me sob out loud.
I want nothing but the repose either of stone or of wool.
I want to see no more establishments, no more gardens,
nor merchandise, nor glasses, nor elevators.

It happens that I am tired of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It happens that I am tired of being a man.

Just the same it would be delicious
to scare a notary with a cut lily
or knock a nun stone dead with one blow of an ear.
It would be beautiful
to go through the streets with a green knife
shouting until I died of cold.

I do not want to go on being a root in the dark,
hesitating, stretched out, shivering with dreams,
downwards, in the wet tripe of the earth,
soaking it up and thinking, eating every day.

I do not want to be the inheritor of so many misfortunes.
I do not want to continue as a root and as a tomb,
as a solitary tunnel, as a cellar full of corpses,
stiff with cold, dying with pain.

For this reason Monday burns like oil
at the sight of me arriving with my jail-face,
and it howls in passing like a wounded wheel,
and its footsteps towards nightfall are filled with hot blood.

And it shoves me along to certain corners, to certain damp houses,
to hospitals where the bones come out of the windows,
to certain cobbler’s shops smelling of vinegar,
to streets horrendous as crevices.

There are birds the colour of sulphur, and horrible intestines
hanging from the doors of the houses which I hate,
there are forgotten sets of teeth in a coffee-pot,
there are mirrors
which should have wept with shame and horror,
there are umbrellas all over the place, and poisons, and navels.

I stride along with calm, with eyes, with shoes,
with fury, with forgetfulness,
I pass, I cross offices and stores full of orthopedic appliances,
and courtyards hung with clothes on wires,
underpants, towels and shirts which weep
slow dirty tears.

(Translated by W.S. Merwin)

a litany for survival:: audre lorde 

For those of us who live at the shoreline 
standing upon the constant edges of decision 
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge 
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going 
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours: 

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads 
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive. 

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid 
of indigestion 
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid 
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish 
when we are alone we are afraid 
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid 
our words will not be heard 
nor welcomed
but when we are silent 
we are still afraid 
So it is better to speak 
we were never meant to survive 

What They Don’t Know/Juan Gelman (1930-2014)

dark times/luminous/with sun
the sun covers the city split
by unexpected sirens/the police search/night falls and we
will make love under this roof/the eighth roof

in a month/they know almost everything about us/except
this plaster ceiling under which
we will make love/nor do they know about
the old pine furniture under the last roof/nor

the window the night is beating against as it shines like the sun nor/
the beds on the floor where
we made love last month/surrounded by faces like the sun
that covers the city with sun

(Translated by Joan Galeano)

Wait/Galway Kinnell (1927-2014)

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

I Am Waiting/Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919-2021)

I am waiting for my case to come up 
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder 
and I am waiting 
for someone to really discover America 
and wail
and I am waiting 
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier 
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle 
to really spread its wings 
and straighten up and fly right 
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety 
to drop dead 
and I am waiting 
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe 
for anarchy
and I am waiting 
for the final withering away 
of all governments 
and I am perpetually awaiting 
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming 
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep through the state of Arizona 
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored 
and I am waiting
for them to prove 
that God is really American 
and I am waiting
to see God on television 
piped’ onto church altars 
if only they can find 
the right channel 
to tune in on 
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again 
with a strange new appetizer 
and I am perpetually awaiting 
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called 
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over 
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth 
without taxes and I am waiting 
for forests and animals 
to reclaim the earth as theirs 
and I am waiting 
for a way to be devised 
to destroy all nationalisms 
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain 
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers 
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed 
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered 
by an obscure general practitioner 
and I am waiting
for the storms of life 
to be over 
and I am waiting 
to set sail for happiness 
and I am waiting 
for a reconstructed Mayflower 
to reach America 
with its picture story and tv rights 
sold in advance to the natives 
and I am waiting 
for the lost music to sound again 
in the Lost Continent 
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day 
that maketh all things clear 
and I am awaiting retribution 
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer 
and I am waiting 
for the American Boy 
to take off Beauty’s clothes 
and get on top of her 
and I am waiting 
for Alice in Wonderland 
to retransmit to me 
her total dream of innocence 
and I am waiting 
for Childe Roland to come 
to the final darkest tower 
and I am waiting 
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms 
at a final disarmament conference 
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting 
to get some intimations 
of immortality 
by recollecting my early childhood 
and I am waiting 
for the green mornings to come again 
youth’s dumb green fields come back again 
and I am waiting 
for some strains of unpremeditated art 
to shake my typewriter 
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture 
and I am perpetually waiting 
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn 
to catch each other up at last 
and embrace
and I am waiting 
perpetually and forever 
a renaissance of wonder 

Ways to Disappear/Camille Rankine

In the dark
Down a stairwell
Through the doorway
Gone west
With a new wish
In daylight
Down the sidewalk
In a wool coat
In a white dress
Without a name
Without asking
On your knees
On your stomach
Gone silent
In the backseat
In the courtroom
In a cage
In the desert
In the park
Gone swimming
On the shortest night
At the bottom of the lake
In pieces
In pictures
Without meaning
Without a face
Seeking refuge
In a new land
Gone still
In the heart
With your head bowed
In deference
In sickness
In surrender 
With your hands up
On the sidewalk
In the daylight
In the dark

may my heart always be open…/e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secret of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

Imaginarium Doorway