Posts Tagged ‘Don Domanski’

Leon Retief. Minder bekende digters van Canuckistan, deel 3

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Windfall crab apples in ons buurman se tuin



Jammer maar ek het geen idee wat “windfall crab apples” in Afrikaans is nie, maar makie sakie – gesien die laaste sin van die eerste gedig gaan ek dit net so los.

Domanski kan nie juis beskryf word as ’n onbekende digter in sy eie vaderland nie, maar dit wil my voorkom asof hy buite Kanada se landsgrense minder bekend is as wat hy behoort te wees. Aangesien ek voorheen reeds biografiese besonderhede van hom hier geplaas het, gaan ek dit nie weer doen nie.



first light of day inscribed on night’s gravity
sweet breath of noumena between the pines
this is the path of the unconverted
the unwashed
its pentimento showing through
the blood      showing through grass and weeds
briar and brush
I made camp just beyond the pond
where algae live happily in the continuous
loop of their wedding nights
just south of where the ravens are already flensing
bodies of the departed      and crickets live
with their glassine eyes      their lidless black paper
watching the world
all the night shinings go out like candles
two by two      certain eyes close while
others open      as a breeze braids through
the old growth of this hour      sun rising
ur-light giving the sense that everything
is in holy orders      that we all live
in the guise of ourselves      in a measure
of space under a monk’s cowl
pampered bacteria in the leaf mould
dead foxes in their vestments
the grasses’ heart stretching on for miles
swamp water living the life of tea steeped
to intelligence
the cursive pulse of everything in synch
like a geothermal cipher      warm as a deer’s core
and every footstep we take is just where
the world’s edge dips into infinite space
this morning I walk carefully there      knowing
that the husks of dead flies and twigs dust
all the rooms of Paradise      that every windfall
apple has come to change the world.



what we were meant to see we’ve seen ten thousand times
sunlight falling on its sword in a hayfield      a craze
of birdmaking in the trees
taxonomy of the sadhus drifting by cloud-like and deathless
white pebbles and dandelion globes      little fetishes
and their interwork      carrying our lives on their
small shoulders      those lives we build beyond the event
horizon      so no light or sound escapes from our desires
those contemplative days wrapped around our bodies
stellar hours leaning upon us
from out of the blue      from out of the Great Dissolve
what we have longed for we’ve longed for ten thousand times
no words for this weight upon our hearts
no name for this hospice which has taken us in
its gallery of illuminations opened wide
to our gaze      its rooms filled with inklings and quantum fields
our lodgings occupied and shining forth
out of a meadow’s breath      where we live in the ecstasy
of asterisms      in the accidental bliss of space-time
woolgathering flesh to bone      holding tight
to elementary particles      to remnants of thought scattered over
the circumference of a blood drop      over the mete of a vein.
whatever we’ve done will never be finished      whatever is named
is unnamed as soon as we turn away
beneath the sky’s sketchbook
we make our own plans      we imagine the future under the flyover of stars
lifting their names from a page      chandeliered high above our bodies
we are nothing more than brushwork and pillow talk
living beside the stone’s perpetual ascension       beside the moonlight
sipping water from the roots of things
lying down our heads to dream of stones and moonlight      every day
collecting dust on our sleeves      every night shaking dirt off our shoes.
we’d like to be a new parable      we’d like to be a bright fable in a dark
wood      to deepen the range and pulse of our lives      like shadows do
by merely tissuing radiance       colour-coordinated all the way
down to the river
unlike the revealed we burrow into our hiding places     unlike
the hidden we draw attention to ourselves      trying to find a niche
in the diminishing circles of our beliefs      following an apparition’s
prosthetic light just above the trees
we are beautiful and lost      our unknowing raising its hands in prayer
the scriptures of our bodies slowly peeling away in whispers      our words
like the secretive cries of grass torn over and over by the wind
always returning to our sorrow
always about to address it but only miming
those hieroglyphics      that melancholic scrawl half erased
those eroded depictions of our grief.



current of air stirring the hostas      cat asleep beneath
the warmth of a star      bees flying about with bouquets
and hypodermics      lazy hours spread out on the grass
like a thin green blanket      discoloured with minor
activities      with my thoughts and their moving pictures
this would be a good day for dogs to finally stand on their
hind legs and speak       for Fate to answer our questions
for the rapture of childhood to occur again      for God to
lift the veil and show us the inner workings of a stone
like I said lazy hours      nothing much happening      so I do
what I always do       watch things get on with their lives
a young sparrow circling the plastic red birdfeeder
toad on the uncut lawn      carrying its underlife and ashes
a millipede performing its custodial duties in the mulch
its legs in Times Roman       typing its message
into the earth as it walks along      always the same one
for over 400 million years      keep your feet on the ground
                                               keep your feet on the ground

© Don Domanski

Leon Retief. Waarheen gehasi?

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Die Large Hadron Collider


Matter and God Are not to be Trusted


Most of my time, now, I spend on

Useless pursuits of vanity.

Like probing the structure of matter

And the mind of God.


Whiskey was better for me.

An honest man’s devil.

I miss it most when Jesus soothes my souls…

The clattering and clamour, you know?


Matter and God are fickle friends not to be trusted

Whiskey though, deals a straight hand.


(c) chris icarus


In die laat negentiende eeu het die hoof van die Amerikaanse patentekantoor glo bedank omdat hy van mening was dat niks nuuts meer ontdek, uitgevind of gepatenteer kon word nie. Die storie is nie waar nie maar ek begin wonder of teoretiese fisika deesdae nie tot ‘n mate in ‘n soortgelyke situasie is nie. En dalk ook baie aspekte van neurobiologie. Ek bedoel nie dat daar niks meer uitgevind kan word nie (verre daarvandaan, daar is altyd iemand wat iets nuuts en meestal nutteloos sal patenteer en vir ‘n paar miljoen of blljoen dollar sal verkoop) en vanselfsprekend is daar nog geweldig baie wat ontdek (en patenteer) kan word maar ek begin die ongemaklike gevoel kry dat eietydse teoretiese fisika stoom verloor het en nie meer aan ons dieselfde insigte kan gee as wat so tot die laat 1990’s die geval was nie.

Dis vir my asof moderne fisika ‘n grens oorgesteek het, ‘n gebied binnegegaan het waarvandaan dit nie maklik sal kan terugkeer nie – ‘n gedagtewêreld in sommige opsigte net so vol fantasievlugte soos dié wat die afgelope ongeveer honderd jaar deur psigoanaliste tot stand gebring is. Wel, darem nie heeltemal nie, teoretiese fisika het darem hier en daar, gering soos dit mag wees, tekens, van raakpunte met empiriese data.


Verafgeleë Sterrestelsels soos afgeneem deur die Hubble Teleskoop


Moontlik is daar rede vir my twyfel, moontlik ook nie, daar is gerekende fisici aan beide kante van die loopgrawe en ek sal poog om vlugtig altwee kante van die argument weer te gee – en ek weet nie of daar ‘n antwoord is nie maar dit maak dalk nie so baie saak nie, wat tel is om die vraag te vra.


A Bright Fable in a Dark Wood


what we were meant to see we’ve seen ten thousand times

sunlight falling on its sword in a hayfield    a craze

                                                            of birdmaking in the trees

taxonomy of the sadhus drifting by cloud-like and deathless

white pebbles and dandelion globes     little fetishes

and their interwork    carrying our lives on their

small shoulders     those lives we build beyond the event

horizon     so no light or sound escapes from our desires

 those contemplative days wrapped around our bodies

                                               stellar hours leaning upon us

from out of the blue     from out of the Great Dissolve

 what we have longed for we’ve longed for ten thousand times

no word for this weight upon our hearts

no name for this hospice which has taken us in

                                     its gallery of illuminations opened wide

to our gaze    its rooms filled with inklings and quantum fields

our lodgings occupied and shining forth

out of a meadow’s breath    where we live in the ecstasy

of asterisms     in the accidental bliss of space-time

woolgathering flesh to bone   holding tight

to elementary particles    to remnants of thought scattered over

the circumference of a blood drop    over the mete of a vein.

whatever we’ve done will never be finished    whatever is named

                                                is unnamed as soon as we turn away

 beneath the sky’s sketchbook

we make our plans     we imagine the future under the flyover of stars

lifting their names from a page     chandeliered high above our bodies

we are nothing more than brushwork and pillow talk

living beside the stone’s perpetual ascension    beside the moonlight

                                                sipping water from the roots of things

lying down our heads to dream of stones and moonlight   every day

collecting dust on our sleeves    every night shaking dirt off our shoes.

we’d like to be a new parable    we’d like to be a bright fable in a dark

wood    to deepen the range and pulse of our lives   like shadows do

by merely tissuing radiance   colour-coordinated all the way

                                                                             down to the river

unlike the revealed we burrow into our hiding places   unlike

the hidden we draw attention to ourselves    trying to find a niche

in the diminishing circles of our beliefs    following an apparition’s

                                                            prosthetic light just above the trees

we are beautiful and lost    our unknowing raising its hands in prayer

the scriptures of our bodies slowly peeling away in whispers    our words

like the secretive cries of grass torn over and over by the wind

always returning to our sorrow

                                                    always about to address it but only miming

those hieroglyphics    that melancholic scrawl half erased

                                      those eroded depictions of our grief.

(c) Don Domanski

As mens by wiskunde begin want hierdie vakgebied was nog altyd die penwortel van alle vertakkings van die natuurwetenskappe, alhoewel mens natuurlik kan argumenteer dat wiskunde op sig self nie ‘n natuurwetenskap is nie maar dit nou daar gelaat. Baie mense het die indruk dat suiwer wiskundiges nie veel meer benodig as ‘n pen en papier nie. Dit is geruime tyd nie meer heeltemal die geval nie. Wiskundiges begin al meer gebruik maak van bewyse wat gebaseer is op rekenaarprogramme wat vir my byna ‘n teken is van wat iemand, ek vergeet nou wie, bestempel het as “a loss of certainty and the end of conviction”. Daar word tans gewerk aan verdere programme om rekenaarbaseerde algortimes te ontwikkel wat op hul beurt weer die ander rekenaarprogramme se korrektheid of akkuraatheid al dan nie moet bewys. Mens begin wonder of menslike wiskundiges ooit nog nodig is.

Teoretiese fisika, so lyk dit vir my, is besig om ‘n grens oor te steek waarvan terugkeer moeilik mag wees in die opsig dat teoretici ly aan wat genoem is ‘n “grand delusion”, te wete dat hulle die fisiese werklikheid wat ons omring en waarvan ons ook deel is met wiskunde en wiskunde alleen kan beskryf met geen fondament in wat ons as empiriese bewyse kan bestempel nie.

Die ontdekking van die Higgs boson wat reeds dekades gelede voorspel is was ‘n triomf vir teoretiese fisika want dit het aspekte van fisiese realiteit beskryf in terme van die massa wat hierdie boson aan partikels gee. Die opwinding wat heel tereg met hierdie ontdekking gepaard gegaan het is egter getemper deur die besef dat die standaard model van partikelfisika nie allesomvattend is nie – ons het steeds geen verklaring waarom partikels die massas het wat hulle wel besit nie, ons weet eintlik maar niks van donker materie of donker energie nie en ons kan kwantumfisika steeds nie met gravitasie versoen nie. Fisika staar tans na my mening ‘n groot probleem in die gesig: ons weet dat die teorieë, alhoewel akkuraat, onvoldoende en/ of onvolledig is. Daar is niks daarmee verkeerd is nie – trouens, mens behoort dit te beskou as ‘n goeie ding want dis juis hierdie besef wat tot verdere ontdekkings lei maar daar is tans geen data hoegenaamd wat aandui hoe hierdie teorieë verbeter of uitgebou kan word nie. Die lyk lê daar met ‘n mes in sy hart, daar is vingerafdrukke op die hef, bloedspatsels oral en genoeg DNA om te analiseer – baie informasie maar die motief is duister- waarom is die moord gepleeg? Oftewel, waarom lyk elementêre partikels soos hulle lyk?

Teoretici is dus lekker aan die spekuleer en dis waar ek dink die grens oorgesteek is: snaarteorie, versteekte dimensies, ‘n multi-heelal (multiverse) en tot ‘n groot mate supersimmetrie is nie gevestig op empiriese bewyse nie en behalwe vir supersimmetrie word daar nie toetsbare voorspellings gemaak nie. Mens kan tot ‘n groot mate beweer dat hierdie teorieë nie wetenskap is nie.

Einstein het so lank terug soos 1950 in ‘n artikel in die Scientific American geskryf: “Time and again the passion for understanding has led to the illusion that man is able to comprehend the objective world rationally by pure thought without any empirical foundations – in short, by metaphysics.” Sy bedoeling was dat daar geen wetenskap kan wees sonder bewyse of ten minste die belofte van moontlike bewyse nie.

Die Higgs boson is ‘n uitstekende voorbeeld van ‘n toetsbare teorie. Toe Peter Higgs en sy medewerkers hierdie partikel in 1964 voorspel het is dit deur Steven Weinberg gebruik om die massas van die W en Z partikels te bereken. Hierdie deeltjies is in 1993 eksperimenteel gevind en die Higgs boson is inkorporeer in die standaard model van kernfisika. Mens moet egter soos Einstein vra: is daar onder hierdie empiriese werklikheid ‘n onafhanklike realiteit van “dinge op sig self”? So ‘n onafhanklike realiteit is noodgedwonge heeltemal metafisies want ons kan nie ‘n werklikheid waarneem of meet wat buite observasie of meting geleë is nie. Werner Heisenberg het geskryf dat ons altyd moet onthou dat dit wat ons waarneem nie die natuur op sig self is nie maar die natuur soos blootgelê deur ons manier van ondersoek en hy was heeltemal reg.

Om snaarteorie eksperimenteel te kan ondersoek sal ‘n versneller benodig wat ongeveer so groot soos die melkweg is. Ek het ‘n sterk vermoede dat ek nie so ‘n apparaat in my leeftyd sal sien nie.

‘n Onafhanklike metafisiese werklikheid is iets wat filosowe probeer ondersoek maar filosowe is nie wetenskaplikes nie. Hulle benodig nie bewyse nie, vir hulle is dit voldoende as hul interpretasies rasioneel gevestig, logies gestruktureerd en samehangend is. By gebrek aan empiriese onderbou het teoretiese fisici al meer oor die grens van empirisisme na metafisika begin beweeg – nie dat daar noodwendig iets mee verkeerd is nie, dis wat teoretici al eeue lank doen maar met dié voorbehoud: hulle probeer om so gou moontlik weer terug emigreer vanuit die land van metafisika na hul vaderland van empiriese wetenskap. Mens kan argumenteer dat Einstein se twee relatiwiteitsteorieë hul oorsprong gehad het in metafisiese spekulasie oor die aard van ruimte en tyd, maar hy het baie seker gemaak dat hy gou weer die grens terug oorgesteek het.

Eietydse teoretici het hulle egter in die metafisika-landskap gevestig en die terrein so matematies gedefinieer, omgedolwe en verwerk dat hulle dit moeilik vind om hul komplekse strukture te verlaat. Elementêre partikels het snare of membrane geword, volgens supersimmetrie het elke partikel ‘n “metgesel” partikel, daar moet ses (of meer) ekstra dimensies te wees wat sodanig gekompakteer is dat ons hulle nooit sal kan waarneem nie, daar is 10500 verskillende maniere waarin hierdie dimensies kompakteer kan word en elkeen beskryf ‘n verskillende tipe heelal. En so voorts en so voorts. My punt is dat al bogenoemde geheel en al op wiskundige modelle berus en dat dit nie op enige selfs eers moontlik empiriese onderbou kan staatmaak nie.

Aanhangers van snaarteorie en die veelvuldige heelal-teorie maak bogenoemde besware af. Nee wat seg hulle, die moontlikheid van veelvuldige heelalle is inherent aan kwantumfisika. Ons ken almal Schrödinger se kat wat sowel lewend as dood is (oftewel, die kat is in ‘n staat van superposisie) totdat die boks oopgemaak word, dan kollabeer die golffunksie en die kat leef of is dood. Dieselfde geld vir elementêre partikels onder andere met betrekking tot ‘n eienskap bekend as spin wat in superposisie kan wees: spin op of spin af.

Elektron spin

Die apparaat waarmee gemeet word wat die staat van die elektron is kan ook in superposisie wees en volgens hulle ook die omringende materie – die aarde self en die res van die heelal. Om hul standpunt meer as net ietwat te vereenvoudig kan al hierdie superposisies dus tot gevolg hê dat al hierdie superposisies onafhanklik van mekaar kan evolueer en is veelvuldige wêrelde dus nie net moontlik nie maar onafwendbaar. Ummm…

Daar is ook ander opinies wat mens kan beskryf as post-empiries. Richard Dawid, ‘n fisikus wat later filosoof geword het (en mens behoort net aandag te skenk aan filosowe van die natuurwetenskappe wat voorheen wetenskaplikes was) skryf:

I think that those critics (van snaarteorie) make two mistakes. First, they implicitly presume that there is an unchanging conception of theory confirmation that can serve as an eternal criterion for sound scientific reasoning. If this were the case, showing that a certain group violates that criterion would per se refute that group’s line of reasoning. But we have no god-given principles of theory confirmation. The principles we have are themselves a product of the scientific process. They vary from context to context and they change with time based on scientific progress. This means that, in order to criticize a strategy of theory assessment, it’s not enough to point out that the strategy doesn’t agree with a particular more traditional notion.

Second, the fundamental critics of string theory misunderstand the nature of the arguments which support the theory. Those arguments are neither arbitrarily chosen nor uncritical. And they are not decoupled from observation. String theory is indirectly based on the empirical data that drove the development of those theories string theory aims to unify. But more importantly for our discussion, the arguments for the viability of string theory are based on meta-level observations about the research process. As described before, one argument uses the observation that no-one has found a good alternative to string theory. Another one uses the observation that theories without alternatives tended to be viable in the past.

Die beste wat mens tot op hede kan sê – vir wat my mening werd is – is dat teorieë wat op ‘n betekenisvolle wyse bydraes lewer tot ons kennis oor die fisiese werklikheid en wat nie duidelik tot teenstrydighede lei nie beslis aandag verdien. Snaarteorie gaan beslis mank aan verskeie gebreke maar het tog baie interessante stof tot nadenke gelewer. Die groot vraag vir my is of teoretiese fisika en kosmologie ons enigsins nader gaan bring aan ‘n begrip van die materiële werklikheid wat ons omring en waarvan ons self deel is – en dan praat ek nie eers van neurobiologie nie. Ek hou nie my asem op nie.

Om een of ander rede laat hierdie betoog my dink aan ‘n skildery deur Vilhelm Hammershøi. Die leë vertrek met oop deure wat lei na wie weet wat…

Vilhelm Hammershøi


Biodiversity is the Mother of All Beauty


in memory of Judy Davis


when I think of blood drops and little hurts

entering a field    filling the field

when I think of dandelions off their leashes

and the Noh play of dragonflies    airborne

red and metallic blue    light as silk


when I think that one sigh was the progenitor

of all life    that the binding of oxygen

and hydrogen is the most erotic calligraphy

that every thought    human and otherwise

is an astronomical unit

that each is star-laced to its very core


when I think that inside every genome there

is a line of sight that surrounds the earth

that perception holds the evanescence

of all things within itself

that atoms are in a perpetual state of bliss


when I think that deer move elegantly between

trees like the great tea master Rikyū

did among his bowls    that a deep sea coral

off the Hawaiian Islands is 4000 years old


when I think of parallel universes colonizing

the edges of birdsong    when I think that

synaesthesia is the language of God

that flesh covers a wider and deeper pilgrimage


when I sit here knowing this is a dying world

nothing could be more effortless    more sacred

than this sleepy forest at dawn.


(c) Don Domanski


Fragment uit ‘n gedig wat binnekort in Domanski se jongste bundel gaan verskyn:


we are raised among lupines and atrocities

among insects and their lamentations

where there are no gods left in the clouds

no darkness apart from darkness

Leon Retief. Don Domanski

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

an axe is a piece of wood
with a scream fastened to one end
a man is a piece of flesh
with a storm fastened to one end
sometimes they meet at night in the street.


DON DOMANSKI (1950 – )

Domanski is gebore in Sydney, ‘n stadjie in Cape Breton Eiland, Nova Scotia en woon tans in Halifax in dieselfde provinsie. In 2007 het hy die gesogte Goewerneur-Generaal toekenning ontvang vir sy bundel All Our Wonder Unavenged. Die illustrasie op die omslag is deur Domanski self geteken. 

All our Wonder...

Ek het voorheen enkele gedigte deur Domanski op Versindaba geplaas, maar na ‘n onlangse herlees van sy poësie het ek besluit om meer van sy verse te deel.

My tuisdorp Moose Jaw het elke Juniemaand ‘n Festival of Words en in 2008 was hy een van die gassprekers by die geleentheid. Om hom ‘n “spreker” te noem is egter so bietjie misleidend want toe sy beurt aanbreek het hy met behulp van sy kierie na die podium gestap, van sy gedigte voorgelees, die boek toegemaak en dadelik na sy sitplek teruggekeer, finish en klaar. Dit was duidelik dat hy geen vrae oor sy werk gaan beantwoord nie en niemand het ‘n vraag gestel nie. Gelukkig het hy darem sy naam in my kopie van sy bundel geteken.  Ek verneem dat hy nie baie gretig is om oor sy werk te praat nie en kon op die internet slegs een onderhoud met hom opspoor. Aangesien dit altyd goed is om te hoor wat ‘n digter self te sê het plaas ek enkele aanhalings.

“It’s a very good feeling to have your work acknowledged by your peers. However, I have to temper that with the reality that awards are momentary gestures from a world of facts and opinions, which the poems themselves know nothing of. There’s no vox populi when it comes to poetry, nor should there be… Poetry has nothing to do with voting, it is not a democracy after all, but an act of nature.” (Laat al die rympiemakers wat hul versies op die internet rondstrooi en dink dat hulle met NP van Wyk Louw vergelyk kan word asseblief kennis neem.)

“To quote Annie Dillard: Your work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.”

Domanski het ‘n besondere vermoë om die skeidslyn tussen lewende en nielewende materie te laat vervaag, iets wat hy toeskryf aan herinneringe uit sy kinderjare – kinders gee per slot van rekening ‘n lewe en identiteit aan lewelose speelgoed:

My definition of life is isness, its elementary stance and grace, therefore everything is life, simply put being equals life. Now I know this isn’t the usual definition, but still it is an ancient one… among people of all cultures. I’m an animist when it comes to how I interact with the physical world…. (It is) the oldest religious/spiritual practice, the base experience out of which all the other ways of the sacred have grown… There’s a very deep truth there that strikes well below the thinking level, a connection richer than language, which can give words a more inclusive depth and reach.

Gegewe wat Domanski hierbo gesê het is dit seker te verwagte dat die Boeddhisme en Taoisme sterk in sy poësie figureer, maar anders as meeste mense wat hierdie begrippe aanhang het hy skynbaar ook ‘n stewige kennis van die natuurwetenskappe (geologie en paleontologie in die besonder) maar te oordeel aan een frase in sy gedig Slayer in a Told World ook van ander aspekte van die natuurwetenskappe:

“a phase transition

sweet as evaporation”

 Wanneer ‘n verbinding van een toestand na ‘n ander oorgaan, byvoorbeeld van ‘n vloeistof na ‘n vaste toestand of van ‘n vaste toestand na ‘n damp dan word dit deur fisiese chemici ‘n fase-oorgang (phase transition) genoem – op sig self ‘n fassinerende proses met bekoorlike wiskundige onderbou. Ooglopend ken Domanski hierdie term en weet hy wat dit beteken.

“The natural sciences are also sacred texts, when read beyond the mere accumulation of facts. It helps to show us our place in the scheme of things, to enlarge our point of view beyond the merely human. For example, if you stand with your arms outstretched… from the tip of your middle finger on your left hand to the tip of middel finger of your right represents a timeline for all life on earth. Now is someone comes along and takes a nail file and runs it along the nail of your middle finger of your right hand all of human history is erased. Just once. Now that puts things in perspective.”

As ek reg onthou het wyle Carl Sagan die eerste keer hierdie vergelyking gebruik en dit toon dat Domanski wyd lees in te minste sommige aspekte van die natuurwetenskappe.

Ek het nogal besondere waardering vir sy siening dat die natuurwetenskappe nie net ‘n siellose akkumulasie van starre feite is nie maar dat dit ook aan enigeen wat daarin belang stel ‘n geheelbeeld gee van die materie wat ons omring sowel as die materie waaruit ons bestaan.

Domanski is ‘n meester van die metafoor en van verbeeldingryke woordgebruik. Hy word soms deur hierdie talent op sleeptou geneem – hy is geneig om sy metafore bietjie te oordadig op te stapel na my smaak (vir wat my smaak werd is) en by tye vind ek dit moeilik om te ontrafel. Desnieteenstaande spreek sy verse tot my soos geen ander Kanadese digter nie.

Nogtans slaag hy daarin om alledaagse ondervindings met die onverwagte te jukstaponeer. Sy gedigte versinnebeeld ‘n intense interaksie tussen die digter en die natuur in mistieke ondervindings met verbeeldingryke woordgebruik wat mens nie dikwels by ander digters teenkom nie.

Kanada is ‘n baie waterryke land, maak nie saak waar mens is nie, ry of stap vyf kilometer en jy kom af op ‘n dam, meer, rivier of baai. Sowat tien persent van die 750 000 vierkante kilometer van ons tuisprovinsie Saskatchewan se oppervlak word deur mere beslaan. Domanski woon in Nova Scotia wat nog meer waterryk is en dus is dit te verstane dat water prominent in sy poësie sal voorkom.





in the waterdrop

hanging from the gingko leaf

there’s just enough moonlight

and sailors

to make a woman miserable.




the pond is ectoplasm   I walk on ghosts

apparitional gatherings carry me along

spook quilted to spook quilted to hunger

and the sighs of glassworts to lead me

I am mothered by phantoms everlasting

I am fathered by a rocking distance

beneath and above the water


my body sheds its strides behind me

I am coir-headed with thatched eyes

with mandibles deposited at the corners of light


I put myself through margins

slide across my own jumps

the film under the covers a shadow

as calm as a hunter risen to flesh


I glide reaches to mosquito larvae

I feed and return to voracity


skidding along wraiths I come to no end

nothing teaches me more than once

all doctrine is edible      digestible

whatever pain I feel is less than failure

all death is incomprehensible

all hurt draws a luminosity

all wounds close as night come





the shadows of rabbits sleep among hounds

snow falls      calling      in its light from the hills


underfoot the road passes the darkness along

while all the lower worlds climb to higher ground


overhead clouds continue their single thought

which is accessible to everyone but them

they think of a deity     a phase transition

sweet as evaporation    cool as mist


the God of Clouds drifting through the forest

bearded in the movements of deer

ever-returning to the edges of things


I walk feeling the weight of snow above me

the untranslatable whispered off like vapour

the nudge of extinction     clench of nativity

a knowledge lost in signatures

in the signing of cells throughout the body


we are lonely for whatever abides

in the calluses of ice on bark

and among roots thrown carelessly beneath trees

a weathering of gods against the trunks

withstanding supplications     all the night’s prayers

the ending of prospects     where all the solitude goes


we long for falling snow     its iconography

enshrined at the velocity of instinct

just within sight   outstretched and taken

to its weight at the horizon


each flake standing for the myriad things

that live well beyond our language

silence of the animal mind descending

that longevity    that slayer in a told world







particles of evening warm themselves in the afternoon sun

pieces of solitude gather slowly     one under each gingko leaf


I sit on a rock of saddlebacked granite

                                                      I sit in a world of abundance

a handful of bees goes down to the river     two handfuls return

you deadhead the dog rose and two stray curs appear


you deadhead a memory and two more appear

longer and deeper and more alive than the last


I remember my mother seated at the kitchen window

her cat’s-eye glasses staring out into the night

trying to find divinity and divinity’s reasons


my mother believed God moved the sparrows around day after day

as  a teenager I believed the sparrows moved God around

all the inexhaustible crutches He leaned upon

all the underweights of silence to find His way


now the only god I believe in are the sparrows themselves

                                                              unaltered by my belief

their wings contain hollow bones where a pantheon could pass through

and they do     hundreds pass through at every moment

this is how they fly     by allowing passage to earth’s beliefs

the little deities of the big thunder and the rain that falls




at my feet black ants run about     looking for a great storehouse

                             a little panic    a little headhunting in the grass

they drink the dew and as far as I know curse nothing


I would like to curse nothing     to move about practising quietism

perhaps find the great storehouse     do some headhunting

stick to a regime     the discipline of a feather falling

                                                                       from a sparrow’s back

I would like to be called out and fall to the furthest limits of the finite

To a resting place among the relativity of all attributes

which would be home surely     where I began     where I no longer dwell

feeling time and space upon me now     a little dust in my eye




a few clouds move in    riding the intersections of ancient thought

across the sky     old ideas that floated upward    Confucian dialogues

Sumerian rumours    prayers to Pallas Athena   Persian satires

Druidical ethics    not gone    not absorbed    not forgotten    just there

Influencing is still    carrying out lighter burdens and the clouds


from where I sit clouds cast shadows on the flowerbeds

perennials along the fence that bloom like glossy photographs

of themselves    bright flowers stripped from shining pages

from catalogues that never mention the plant that doesn’t exist

the imagined yarrow that the mind owns

                              that has neither root nor stalks    leaf  nor flower


all my thoughts are a divination with yarrow-sticks

and a mere filament of flame    a single mouse hair burning

deep in a canyon    lighting up less than an inch of dead embers

the bog fire    the full consciousness having moved on immediately

travelling constantly    never resting while in nature

while under Heaven’s luminous regard




I’ve been seated here for three hours I think     difficult to be sure

without a watch or a column of diminishing sand

or a dog that scratches her head at ten minute intervals


time is a controversial work about which no one agrees

time’s a bugger my grandmother said and she would know


time’s a bugger and finitude a fluid state without a source


anyway time is passing for me and my piece of granite

no point in thinking about it     separating it out

Cling to unity  the Taoists said over and over

till the nettles repeated it generation to generation

till you hear it on the breeze sweeping across fields and ditches


I’d rather contemplate nettles     follow their leaves

back to Culpepper’s herbal     to the tonics of Hildegard on Bingen

I’d rather make nettle tea and drink to Lao-Tzu

but a shadow glides by and I have to look up


a bald eagle flies over     making his way down to the river

to fish the afternoon away     calendrical wing beats

time’s wordless doctrine upheld and maintained

the wounds of salmon like minutes cradled in the hour’s arms




late afternoon and the western sun-door still ajar

some hours to go before it closes     shadow hours

for the food gatherers to return to their mounds

for chickadees to follow the old ways

                                              fables without end


cosmologies of shadows gather up the light

                                                from under hostas and azaleas

many stories to be joined into one before night comes


only one story after the sun slips over the horizon

                                                                    the one and the manifold

My face is the face of the Disk  this is the deceased speaking from

The Egyptian Book of the Dead     from the other side of darkness

the bright side and its holy office trying to give us a hint

                                                                     an initiation into eternity

so we might find the eternal in perceptual experience


so we might find our way in the world    and the oncoming twilight

is the perfect time to find our way     so the Celts believed

that sacred in-between time    between worlds     betwixt night and day

when all crossings are possible     freeing us from reality

Dharma Path the Buddhists call it

Pollen Path of Beauty to quote the wisdom of the Navaho

And the bees would agree returning once more from the banks of the river




I sit on my rock watching dragonflies hover by

with their wings sheathed in calligraphy

listening to feral cats on the move

                                     spreading their Tantric cries


while shadows grow taller and taller like adolescent boys


and dogs bark and dogs bark and I almost understand

their Indo-European tongues    their slang for sex     for death

their reasons for biting their masters     for venerating

the chase through the thickets    their unlimited awe

their wonder unavenged     all our wonder unavenged

all of it left hanging in the fetish-shine of the moment

a longing     a bit of animal-shine along our skin


they are nations the Koran says of animals

and I believe it     a kinship of being and knowing

                                                            as deep as ours


as ancient as breath on the lips

and any meditation on this deepens our own being

humbles us before the cricket’s leg and the badger’s eye

and we should be humbled     fall to our knees


then comes stillness and listening

                                                              comes with kneeling

and listening is the language of the soil

                                                               Latin of the hawkweed

so I sit quietly without moving     while buried all around me

seeds lie on their sides     longing upwards to visible air

while dusk is falling     honeymooning the shadows

darkening the medicine     the metaphysics of the grass

whole microbes repeat their silent mantras to themselves

soundless and drifting     all woebegone and woken

                                       all Buddhas of Immeasurable Light.




time to go indoors     drink from the glass

                                                           eat from the plate

move the pages of the book around

or watch the news sway in its cradle of light


a few stars are up and Venus in her silks at the horizon

                                                fresh from the underworld

a tracery of myths hammered onto her body

passing our lives night after night

where we all sit at a dark gate waiting for it to open

dreaming of lifting the latch of Morning Star

and stepping through to redemption


redemption is a dark game someone once said and muffled

I would add     like the whisperer inside the fox

calling to whisperer inside the varying hare

                                                   a dark and distant game


too distant for me as I walk to the house


the moon is rising     cabbaging light from the weeds

full moon     full sides short of breath from the long climb


I walk and I could sleep in it     in the footsteps

in the motion given     jewel-given of the fireweed

scent-give of the lilies trying to keep all of summer down


I walk and birds are settling in for the evening

among the pine boughs     their small calls from tree to tree

like the voice of Proteus across his many forms


Fata Morgana

you’re walking alone in the forest
the moon is directly overhead
eating her supper of astronomy
and wedding-gifts

there’s a thousand miles of trees
in every direction
which means there’s just
enough blood to go around
so you mustn’t spill a drop

of course every second tree
is the Tree of Death
every third one
the Tree of Life
while all the others
are doors to atonement
but you mustn’t knock

you’re like me
and want a straight line
through everything
but there aren’t any here
no path from A to B
no A or B

you’re not lost
this is the earth
you’re not human
but a fox or a rabbit

your life behind a desk
was an illusion
the shining city a madness
brought on by fatigue
there aren’t any cars or telephones
there never were
not a single clothesline or shoelace
in all the world

your heartbeats are so many
peapods being cracked open
between a finger and a thumb
your footprints swallow themselves
as you walk along

what I said about the moon was a lie
there were never any weddings
or any gifts
not an astronomer to be found

the moon is devouring you
just you tonight
with your long ears pricked up
in their sad salute to fear

this hour is called Abandonment
this night Bottomless
I would call you Insignificant
if you weren’t already named Essential
if you weren’t the very centre of the world.


‘n Frase in die volgende gedig het my laat dink aan wat Joan Hambidge onlangs hier gesê het oor die digkuns as die algebra van nood. Toe ek die gedig die eerste keer gelees het moes ek gaan naslaan wat Acehron is – vir die enkele lesers van Versindaba wat ewe onkundig is oor die Griekse mitologie, dis die rivier van pyn. Ash-keys is die gevleuelde saad van die “ash tree” – weet nie wat dit in Afrikaans is nie.







I walk along a road leading down to the river

underfoot hieroglyphs from the Devonian Age

sealed tightly in flat grey stones     overhead

clouds ease back from the horizon     into one

continuous shadow of Destiny’s resolve


a cool day in June     house finches handing out the sky

the earth lying like a grain of wheat in a great barn

                        the moon whispering under straw


a light drizzle keeping time with the pollen

coyotes wandering the hills     God in their legs


how quietly the senses move between the pine trees

like vapour through the needling of light.




I remember last summer finding a pond near here

spending an afternoon watching dragonflies hover

their every heartbeat fastened with pins

one to the next to the final one outside the world


I knelt down and touched the water     barely

like an old appointment scarcely kept     the surface

pulse of the pool pushing back against my fingers

which I knew was you     dead and set to music

you in a hymn darkly spread    a way and placeless


I recalled that part of the Heart Sutra where it says

The infinitely far away is not only near, but it’s infinitely

near. It’s nowhere, and nowhere it is not. I was certain

I could live with that    just that and the tension of the water

                                                            against my fingertips.




today there’s the walk to the river     rounded corners

of the phantasmal     the shifting plurality of matter

rocks and trees     the brassy oaths of grackles

the subsoil underslung with the respiration

of Heaven     foxes with amulets ribbing their physiques

luck of spring and full bellies     and my small ghost

making its way through

                   continuously emptying flesh into breath


today there’s my shadow on the summits of dandelions

on damp weeds     on the figureheads of stumps

there’s the ache that goes before me   wraithing

around turns in the path     that desire for deliverance

the soul’s nudge     that little jinx in the body


a good idea to ignore it     to look the other way

watch granite boulders dog-eared in the earth

count the trees     the fallen ones     about to fall still

further into Acheron and be carried away like mist

acknowledge the tamarack clotted into flower

the plantain     all the grasses of no fixed address


notice the sun’s appearance over the treetops

over each darkness turning in its resting place

over the far-off sound of the river maffling

like the voices of the ancients sealed in hives

open-mouthed     a fathom down in the honey




a good time of day to attend to all the details

keep an eye on the clouds holding their great fires

notice the days curled up in the tracks of deer

watch a pair of mourning doves walk back and forth

along the banks of the river     like two lame girls

stopping at intervals to circle the absence of a third


it’s that third dove the soul is always seeking

some part of us always looking for what can’t be seen

                                                    what won’t be revealed


I’ll take comfort in the river coursing along its stones

flowing east through its fetishes     faded embraces

miming connections at the eddies     doubling back

on them selves like thought     every vortex thinking clear

as bright water     speeds polished by atom-fall through

the crossings     their circuits of pure light


I’ll console myself with the flowering-rush growing

along the shoreline     with its rhizomes in deep nativity

with speckled trout steadying themselves in the current

each fin a hunch that the world is still there

each move of their tails a doubt     a push of suspicion


I’ll take solace now in this snail crossing my path

its horns pressing into the solitude of God     just there

where it hurts     where grief begins.




I’ll sit here with slender kingdoms for awhile

with the planetary houses of seeds and pollen

to watch the river take on its serpent form

bringing forth an old sleep

from the bottom of things     things darkened

by a little light     heartbreakingly visceral

the luminous unseen threading through


meanwhile above me the wasps enter and leave

their paper convent     Sisterhood of the Vespids

their contemplations severe

their shine leaning down into their dark eyes


other insects drifting about like ash-keys

wings hitched to whispers coming

from over the horizon

                             lifting them along

carrying them through the algebra

which we’re always certain never adds up


I’ll sit with arithmeticians in the moss

millipedes and the red-backed salamander

wait with them for the hour that comes eventually

to un-number things     to unthink the grand design

quietly as the sound of time settling into pearls

or paper pavilions unfolding just inside the mind


at moments like this I think of the Underworld

you seated there on your silver chair


all the walls stuffed with beards from the prophets

to keep in the sound     all that longing

all those goodbyes beside the water


at moments like this I think of you

                                  walking down to Acheron

your secrtes crossing over     where the sign

beside the river reads I flow with grief.


Domanski se gedigte spreek tot my en een of ander tyd sal ek nog van sy poësie hier plaas. Of julle dit nou wil lees of nie…


Jindrich Pilicek: Window

Jindrich Pilicek: Window