A n n e   W a l d m a n :   K e e p i n g   T h e   W o r l d   S a f e   F o r   P o e t r y

N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 5 :   S p e c i a l   E d i t i o n






August Valentine


for Anne Leslie Waldman



Asymptotic rays play her changes—

Anne’s necking with her best breaths yet

Beneath &/or above our ears where

Treeish thoughts twine as vibrantly as DNA.


Lushly oval or orally ornate

accidents keep pace in spheric musics. Her timing

divines Steinian, while white, green, red, blue Taraesque

buzzing liquids camp out on an Eastern slope.

The surprise come continually in

pink weather. Her six seasons consist


of Upper Thaw, Rose Mist, Stirring Panther,

Bee Bomber, Sacred Rain and Cobalt Song.

Transmission loves a vessel or letter,

unseemly, pushed through the slot—so

your poems fetch my pleasure as I

embed your name via a spread room. You

travel such a continental divide.





an associational gloss:

This poem appeared in my very first book, Polyverse and was written in the late 80‘s

sometime soon after I first encountered Anne and her energizing poetic presence. I met

Anne when I went to study at the Naropa Institute in the summer of 1985, and

subsequently was inspired to follow in her footsteps and go to New York City in 1987 to

work with the Poetry Project. I vividly remember sitting on her couch at her Boulder

home and in answer to her urging to start a magazine I immediately knew to start my

own press, Tender Buttons, the first two books of which were Bernadette Mayer’s

Sonnets (1989) and Anne’s Not a Male Pseudonym (1990).  Her vision and practice of

powerful collaboration with poets living and “in eternity” is foundational to my

practice, as is her commitment to performance in collaboration with music and visual

arts. This poem takes its form from Edgar Allan Poe’s “A Valentine” to ______   ______ 

______ a diagonal acrostic in which the name of his beloved (Frances Sargent Osgood) is

spelled out, hidden, throughout the poem as follows: trace the name through the

first letter of the first line, (“A”), the second letter of the second line (“n”), third letter of

the third line (“n”) and so on. I hint to the name’s presence in the lines “I embed your

name via a spread room” where “room” also means “stanza” mirroring Poe’s teasing

hints:  “Search well the measure —/ The words — the syllables! Do not forget / The

trivialest point, or you may lose your labor!”


The allusion in “August Valentine” to Stein is there after hearing Anne tell of her

pilgrimages to the Beinecke Library to spend time with Stein’s many unpublished

manuscripts and cahiers––back to the source!  The “six seasons” listed allude to hearing

that San Francisco really experienced six seasons instead of four and that they should be

named. Every time I reread this line I picture the film clip in Nathaniel Dorsky’s Hours

for Jerome where Anne is typing poetry and looks up and back at her manual

typewriter filmed in the midst of composition, and I am eternally grateful for all the

connections, inspiration and infusion of poetic energies she has offered me and so many

others or so many levels. 


Writing a “diagonal acrostic” is like a splice between a Gordian knot and a crossword

puzzle. Now you try it — with Anne’s or some other beloved’s name!