Category Archives: Issue No. 6: “The Barn Partitas” and “In Memory”



In September 2013, I visited a village 30 minutes by car from Bayonne in southwest France. One day, declining an excursion to the coast, I stayed behind and began writing sonnets that I called, from the start, “The Barn Partitas,” both in homage to Bach’s clavier partitas, a favorite, and to acknowledge the shed in Berkeley, the “barn,” where I usually write.

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Much that could not be written: the look back,
often in company—small wonder, then,
her wariness. He scanned the long horizon:
roads sinuous and tree-lined, shrines, chapels,
terraces, rooms with views, cars and ferries—
all the possible venues that figure
when someone else is the journey’s purpose.
Can one explain the road as lived? Reason
has no answer. When questioned about it,
the I Ching gave him “Splitting Apart,” apt
and to him optimistic: things must break
so something new can gather force, appear.
“Things must”: how fate permeates the road!
And each one sees it as it is for her.

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He tore himself open
like a star falling through heavens.

Neither death nor madness could contain you.
We reason and we feel, and neither thing
was enough for you.
Yet once, secure in your long dress,
you laughed and tossed a shuttlecock
over the net.
The clairvoyant said your journey
now is separate.
Your path and his divided years ago,
although the same roof enclosed you.

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