Ghazal, On the Fullness of Time

“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him…” ~ Ephesians 1:10

When the reedy voices of need and jealousy, resentfulness and greed
start up, O give me the strength to imagine the fullness of time.

What is it like, in such amplitude of ease? Will I finally be allowed to wander
in the vineyards, glass in hand, toasting the sheen of the fullness of time?

And having quaffed my first one, will there be more from which it came, streams
of vino pouring like water from a machine dispensing the fullness of time?

Look, you know I’ve paid my dues, didn’t take shortcuts, scrubbed the decks not just
once but several times, cleaned the latrines for a chance at the fullness of time.

And I hate to find fault, but I’ve had it with this culture of complaint, the misplaced
sense of noblesse oblige, of privilege— Do the mean also get their fullness of time?

Yeah, yeah— Do your best. Turn the other cheek. Sacrifice. Love conquers all. So how come I don’t get to lie in the sun in Belize, do the scene in Paris, in the fullness of time?

Summer is long and days grow short. Everyone comes and goes. Meanwhile I throttle
the engine, stop and start, clean my windscreen; I keep aiming for the fullness of time.


In response to Via Negativa.

Ghazal, Beaded with Rain

This entry is part 6 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012


Forms and strictures, rules. Fill in the blanks, shade in the bubbles, color inside
the lines. For instance, use green for this picture of a lizard beaded with rain.

Dry and veined, presaging October: maple leaves cover one side of the porch.
Dull browns, yellows, reds— a leafy blizzard in June, unbeaded with rain.

In art class, one of the girls from Peru is blind in one eye. She’s come to America
to see the doctor wizards; and by summer’s end, a whole windshield beaded with rain.

Which chef was being interviewed on the radio this morning? A woman’s voice woke me—
she spoke of being excited by caramelized gizzards; of summer picnics beaded with rain.

Nearly unbearable heat today. And night air thicker than butter; no relief from water
or cricket sounds— But what can you expect? Not even a lizard, back beaded with rain.

Scorched earth smell, sky shimmering like the surface of a lake or a mirage. Dementor-
like, a buzzard circles overhead. Not one poetic prickle, no beaded sound of rain.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Ghazal, Between the Lines

This entry is part 5 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012


The gap, the space, the state of neither here nor there, the hazy interval that
hasn’t quite revealed what it contains: it makes you want to read between the lines.

A bridge suspends across two spans of earth: a flimsy thing, woven of rope and slats
that rattle when we walk. We do not need to peer too closely between these lines.

Space yawns beneath, drops deep from blue into yet more blue. Behind, perhaps
the generosity of sand; ahead, the unparsed trees to read between the lines.

But I grow weary of traveling to and fro, of leveling the way then finding it un-
tenable when I’ve turned around. Hard work: deciphering between the lines.

How hard is it to understand what the heart really wants? The body’s feathered
with nostalgic veins resembling lines. Listen hard, read between each line.

No, the butterfly exploring your palm with its proboscis isn’t necessarily
a symbol for anything else. You cannot read too much between the lines.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

The Fullness of Time

This entry is part 19 of 29 in the series Conversari


I crouch down to get a book from a low shelf
& the room swims
I steady myself with both hands

at that very moment on the other side of the ocean
you are waking from a five-hour nap

it’s 1:00 a.m.
a cat or a fox has just screamed in your garden

your dog wakes with you
follows you downstairs

we talk
the five hours between us momentarily erased

you ask what the bible means by the phrase
in the fullness of time

your hair’s still in a bun
pierced by a pair of chopsticks


See the photographic response by Rachel Rawlins: “Door.”

Asking the big questions

I have two new, short posts up in the Brewing section of my eponymous website: “What is gruit?” and — even more basic — “What is beer?” In both cases, I kind of feint and dodge. Beer terminology, like brewing itself, is gloriously imprecise, and that’s one reason why I like it. I tried winemaking for a little while, but the results were not too impressive. It turns out that you need a fanatic attention to detail to make decent wine. With brewing, as I proved to my own satisfaction last October, you can avoid measuring anything, throw in extra ingredients on a whim, and still end up with a drinkable beer.

How are these “big questions”? Let the Raramuri — these guysexplain:

“God taught the Raramuri how to make corn beer,” says Guadalupe Espino Palma, the traditional governor of the Norogachi district. “We make offerings of tesguino to God himself, and He drinks it also. We use tesguino for dancing, and we enjoy drinking it.” Even getting drunk is a spiritual act, he explains.


And during this corn beer communion, in place of “happy Easter,” the Raramuri will say to one another “bosasa” — “fill up, be satisfied, be contented.”

Sorry for my absence around here. I’ve been setting up a new author’s site — take a look. I wasn’t sure I really needed such a thing, but the domain was available and the previous owner (another Dave Bonta, naturally) didn’t want it back, so I thought, what the hell. As I say on the current front page of the site, I never wanted Via Negativa to be primarily about me, and it felt good to move my bio page over there. I’ve also set up a books page, something I’ve needed for a while, and have added a few gruit ale recipes to a brewing section. (Eventually that may bud off and become its own website, but probably not for a few years.)

I’m trying to be selective in what I put up there, because I think too much information is of no use to anybody. The Elsewhere page, for example, contains only those websites and social media sites where I regularly post new content. Google works perfectly well for those who, for some perverse reason, would want to find every site where I’ve ever had a presence. What Google can’t do as well is tell readers, editors, and other folks with an interest in my work what I consider important. As an editor myself, I’ve been frustrated by writers who don’t have easy-to-find, easy-to-navigate author sites (though sites that are simply online business cards without any originality and quirk can be disappointing, too).

I’ve been inspired by three friends who have recently launched or completely over-hauled personal websites (which are all worth checking out, by the way): Steven Sherrill at, Will Buckingham at, and Swoon Bildos at My new site isn’t as pretty as any of theirs, but you know me — I like the minimalist look. That, and I’m way too cheap to pay a web designer. But I love the typography of the theme I’m using.

There’s something refreshing about setting up what will be, aside from occasional updates, a static site. It makes one’s life feel more meaningful, somehow — more precisely delineated and, you know, complete. So unlike a blog, where you’re only as good as your next post.