To hear the poet read “Quotations,” click here.

Renoir, whose paintings I don’t much like,

Says what survives of the artist is the feeling he gives by means of objects.

I do like that, however,

The feeling put in as much as the feeling received

To make a work distinctive,

Though I’m not sure it’s true,

or even it’s workable.


When Chekov died, he died at dawn,

a large moth circling the lamp,

Beating its pressed wings.

Placed in a zinc casket, the corpse, labeled Fresh Oysters,

Was sent to Moscow in a freight car from Germany.

His last words were, Has the sailor left?,

I am dying, Ich sterbe.


My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me

Job says. They change the night into day–

The light is short because of darkness …

I have said to corruption,

thou art my father, to the worm,

Thou art my mother and my sister–

They shall go down to the bars of the pit,

when our rest together is in the dust.


That’s all. There’s nothing left after that.

As Meng Chiao says,

For a while the dust weighs lightly on my cloak.