Sunday, August 20, 2017

the blue house







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It is night with glaring sunshine. I stand in the woods and look towards my house with its misty blue walls. As though I were recently dead and saw the house from a new angle.
It has stood for more than eighty summers. Its timber has been impregnated, four times with joy and three times with sorrow. When someone who has lived in the house dies it is repainted. The dead person paints it himself, without a brush, from the inside.

On the other side is open terrain. Formerly a garden, now wilderness. A still surf of weed, pagodas of weed, an unfurling body of text, Upanishads of weed, a Viking fleet of weed, dragon heads, lances, an empire of weed.

Above the overgrown garden flutters the shadow of a boomerang, thrown again and again. It is related to someone who lived in the house long before my time. Almost a child. An impulse issues from him, a thought, a thought of will: “create. . .draw. ..” In order to escape his destiny in time.

The house resembles a child’s drawing. A deputizing childishness which grew forth because someone prematurely renounced the charge of being a child. Open the doors, enter! Inside unrest dwells in the ceiling and peace in the walls. Above the bed there hangs an amateur painting representing a ship with seventeen sails, rough sea and a wind which the gilded frame cannot subdue.

It is always so early in here, it is before the crossroads, before the irrevocable choices. I am grateful for this life! And yet I miss the alternatives. All sketches wish to be real.

A motor far out on the water extends the horizon of the summer night. Both joy and sorrow swell in the magnifying glass of the dew. We do not actually know it, but we sense it: our life has a sister vessel which plies an entirely different route. While the sun burns behind the islands.


–Tomas Tranströmer
Göran Malmqvist translation





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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Conscientious Objector





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I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death. 

I hear him leading his horse out of the stall; I hear the clatter on the barn-floor.
He is in haste; he has business in Cuba, business in the Balkans, many calls to
make this morning.

But I will not hold the bridle while he clinches the girth.

And he may mount by himself: I will not give him a leg up.
Though he flick my shoulders with his whip, I will not tell him which way the fox ran.
With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where the black boy hides in the swamp.

I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his pay-roll.
I will not tell him the whereabout of my friends nor of my enemies either.
Though he promise me much, I will not map him the route to any man's door.

Am I a spy in the land of the living, that I should deliver men to Death?
Brother, the password and the plans of our city are safe with me; never through me
Shall you be overcome.


–Edna St. Vincent Millay 




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Friday, August 18, 2017

An Improvisation For Angular Momentum







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Walking is like
imagination, a
single step
dissolves the circle
into motion; the eye here
and there rests
on a leaf,
gap, or ledge,
everything flowing
except where
sight touches seen:
stop, though, and
reality snaps back
in, locked hard,
forms sharply
themselves, bushbank,
dentree, phoneline,
definite, fixed,
the self, too, then
caught real, clouds
and wind melting
into their directions,
breaking around and
over, down and out,
motions profound,
alive, musical!

Perhaps the death mother like the birth mother
does not desert us but comes to tend
and produce us, to make room for us
and bear us tenderly, considerately,
through the gates, to see us through,
to ease our pains, quell our cries,
to hover over and nestle us, to deliver
us into the greatest, most enduring
peace, all the way past the bother of
recollection,
beyond the finework of frailty,
the mishmash house of the coming and going,
creation's fringes,
the eddies and curlicues.


–A. R. Ammons




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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

i am a little church






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i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
-i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
-i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

 

–E. E. Cummings
Complete Poems 1904-1962




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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

provision






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All morning with dry instruments
The field repeats the sound
Of rain
From memory
And in the wall
The dead increase their invisible honey
It is August
The flocks are beginning to form
I will take with me the emptiness of my hands
What you do not have you find everywhere

–W. S. Merwin



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thingsthatsing
merwinconservancy

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Eating Together







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In the steamer is the trout
seasoned with slivers of ginger,
two sprigs of green onion, and sesame oil.
We shall eat it with rice for lunch,
brothers, sister, my mother who will
taste the sweetest meat of the head,
holding it between her fingers
deftly, the way my father did
weeks ago. Then he lay down
to sleep like a snow-covered road
winding through pines older than him,
without any travelers, and lonely for no one.

–Li-Young Lee
Rose


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Friday, August 11, 2017

the fall






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There is no where in you a paradise that is no place
     and there
You do not enter except without a story.
To enter there is to become unnameable.

Whoever is there is homeless for he has no door
     and no identity
with which to go out and to come in. 

Whoever is nowhere is nobody, and therefore cannot exist
     except as unborn:
No disguise will avail him anything

Such a one is neither lost nor found.

But he who has an address is lost.

They fall, they fall into apartments and are
     securely established!

They find themselves in streets.  They are licensed
To proceed from place to place
They now know their own names
They can name several friends and know
Their own telephones must some time ring.

If all telephones ring at once, if all names are shouted at
     once and
all cars crash at one crossing:
If all cities explode and fly away in dust
Yet identities refuse to be lost.  There is a name and number
     for everyone.

There is a definite place for bodies, there are pigeon holes
     for ashes:
Such security can business buy!

Who would dare to go nameless in so secure a universe?
Yet, to tell the truth, only the nameless are at home in it.

They bear with them in the center of nowhere the unborn
     flower of nothing:
This is the paradise tree.  It must remain unseen until words
     end and arguments are silent.


–Thomas Merton
In the Dark Before Dawn




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