Gorgeous Nothings

Poems on used envelopes. New England frugality.

Never meant for someone. Meant for everyone.

Answering mail with verse. And remaining silent.

Crossings-out, dashes, spaces, columns, and overlapping planes.

One poem for each of fifty-two weeks.


These two books present the later writings of Emily Dickinson – the 52 envelope poems. Click images for Amazon links.

envelope poem

You can also view a digital collection of these envelope poems on the Amherst College website at https://acdc.amherst.edu/browse/collection/ed

Scarlet Experiments

It’s what we do to birds, poems,
relationships – we cut them open – to expose
inner secrets and try to figure out
how it works or why it doesn’t.
In the end, we murder to dissect.


bird skull

Bird skull image by Ian Lindsay from Pixabay

Emily Dickinson’s poem “Split the Lark” refers to the “scarlet experiment.” I had to look up that reference. It is a term applied to when scientists destroy a bird or any creature in order to learn more about it. As Emily says, you can’t find the music inside the bird.

“Split the Lark – and You’ll find the Music –
Bulb after Bulb, in Silver rolled –
Scantily dealt to the Summer Morning
Saved for your Ear, when Lutes be old –
Loose the Flood – you shall find it patent –
Gush after Gush, reserved for you –
Scarlet Experiment! Skeptic Thomas!
Now, do you doubt that your Bird was true?”
(Dickinson 391)

I read about this in Scarlet Experiment: Birds and Humans in America which also looks at how some writers, including Emily, use birds in their literature.

“We murder to dissect” comes from a poem by William Wordsworth, “The Tables Turned”

“Sweet is the lore which nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Misshapes the beauteous forms of things;
—We murder to dissect.”

Both poems consider how we analyze to the point of destroying things in nature. In my poem, I consider how we also do it with relationships.

Nine Months

pen writingI have been writing my daily poems on this site for 8 months. I am into the ninth month with four months left in this yearlong practice.

This site doesn’t get big numbers of visitors. I write several other blogs and one, Serendipty35 about technology and learning, regularly gets 2-4 million “hits” per month. My Weekends in Paradelle site has far less activity, but I’m happy that those longer weekend essays have had over 243,000 visitors in its online life.

Writing the Day doesn’t get anywhere near either of those sites in visitors. But I probably feel closer to There are two links on the right sidebar that allows someone to follow the poems if you also have a WordPress blog and you can also reblog any of the poems. Another widget let’s you “subscribe” by eNine Months8 months of poems; 4 months to gomail to the poems and currently 997 people are getting that email. I suppose those folks don’t visit the site, but read the poems in their email.

Of course, I am happy, as are all poets, that anyone reads the poems and I will continue the ronka poem project for September, October, November and December as long as I remain on the planet and have Internet access.

I checked the stats behind the site today on which poems have had the most hits during the year. (Another widget on the sidebar tells me/you which poems have been popular today.)  I embarrassingly admit that when I looked at the list of the top ten posts, I had forgotten what several of the titles were about.  Some titles bring the poem right back to me – her photo, Emily Dickinson’s poems, reading Moby Dick.  I had to click a few and reread them though to recall what I had written.  (Don’t tell my wife that I forgot that “35 Years” was our anniversary poem. At least I remembered our anniversary.)


The Top 10 Poems Read So Far

  1. Finding a photo of her
  2. Nothing Is the Force That Renovates the World
  3. The Pequod and the Rachel
  4. Writing the Day Into Night
  5. 35 Years
  6. Night Cafe
  7. Giotto Blue
  8. Colored Pencils
  9. August
    On the eve of 2014
    and  The Ronka were also in that top group, but are posts about the poems and project, not poems.

Thanks for reading!

Pillow Book

Day book, night book, pillow book, diary.
A collection of poems written in sunlight,
moonlight, electric light, candlelight and in darkness.
This volume of mine waits for dreams
to be remembered, days to be told.

Sei Shōnagon, author of The Pillow Book, a book of observations and musings recorded by her during her time as court lady to Empress Consort Teishi during the 990s and early 11th century in Heian Japan. The book was completed in the year 1002.