Thursday, October 30, 2014

it is difficult to speak of the night













It is difficult to speak of the night.
It is the other time. Not
an absence of day.
But where there are no flowers
to turn away into.
There is only this dark
and the familiar place of my body.
And the voices calling out
of me for love.
This is not the night of the young:
their simple midnight of fear.
Nor the later place to employ.
This dark is a major nation.
I turn to it at forty
and find the night in flood.
Find the dark deployed in process.
Clotted in parts, in parts
flowing with lights.
The voices still keen of the divorce
we are born into.
But they are farther off,
and do not interest me.
I am forty, and it is different.
Suddenly in mid passage
I come into myself. I leaf
gigantically. An empire yields
unexpectedly: cities, summer forests,
satrapies, horses.
A solitude: an enormity.
Thank god.


Jack Gilbert








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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Becoming







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Nowhere is it the same place as yesterday.
None of us is the same person as yesterday.
We finally die from the exhaustion of becoming.
This downward cellular jubilance is shared
by the wind, bugs, birds, bears and rivers,
and perhaps the black holes in galactic space
where our souls will all be gathered in an invisible
thimble of antimatter. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Yes, trees wear out as the wattles under my chin
grow, the wrinkled hands that tried to strangle
a wife beater in New York City in 1957.
We whirl with the earth, catching our breath
as someone else, our soft brains ill-trained
except to watch ourselves disappear into the distance.
Still, we love to make music of this puzzle.


–Jim Harrison
Saving Daylight
 





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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Samhain







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In the season leaves should love,
since it gives them leave to move
through the wind, towards the ground
they were watching while they hung,
legend says there is a seam
stitching darkness like a name.

Now when dying grasses veil
earth from the sky in one last pale
wave, as autumn dies to bring
winter back, and then the spring,
we who die ourselves can peel
back another kind of veil

that hangs among us like thick smoke.
Tonight at last I feel it shake.
I feel the nights stretching away
thousands long behind the days
till they reach the darkness where
all of me is ancestor.

I move my hand and feel a touch
move with me, and when I brush
my own mind across another,
I am with my mother’s mother.
Sure as footsteps in my waiting
self, I find her, and she brings

arms that carry answers for me,
intimate, a waiting bounty.
“Carry me.” She leaves this trail
through a shudder of the veil,
and leaves, like amber where she stays,
a gift for her perpetual gaze.


–Annie Finch








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saturnrising

Michiel Mulder's Autumn
thingsthatsing

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower









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Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.



–Rainer Maria Rilke
from Sonnets to Orpheus, II - 29








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clipped from an interview with Krista Tippet
via
ayearofbeinghere














Sunday, October 26, 2014

Passage







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He who
took the steps
by two
now pauses
on each tread
and I
who love him so
am filled
with dread.


–Marilyn Donnelly





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Saturday, October 25, 2014

nothing but death








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There are cemeteries that are lonely,
graves full of bones that do not make a sound,
the heart moving through a tunnel,
in it darkness, darkness, darkness,
like a shipwreck we die going into ourselves,
as though we were drowning inside our hearts,
as though we lived falling out of the skin into the soul.

And there are corpses,
feet made of cold and sticky clay,
death is inside the bones,
like a barking where there are no dogs,
coming out from bells somewhere, from graves somewhere,
growing in the damp air like tears of rain. 

Sometimes I see alone
coffins under sail,
embarking with the pale dead, with women that have dead hair,
with bakers who are as white as angels,
and pensive young girls married to notary publics,
caskets sailing up the vertical river of the dead,
the river of dark purple,
moving upstream with sails filled out by the sound of death,
filled by the sound of death which is silence.

Death arrives among all that sound
like a shoe with no foot in it, like a suit with no man in it,
comes and knocks, using a ring with no stone in it, with no
finger in it,
comes and shouts with no mouth, with no tongue, with no
throat.

Nevertheless its steps can be heard
and its clothing makes a hushed sound, like a tree.
I'm not sure, I understand only a little, I can hardly see,
but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets,
of violets that are at home in the earth,
because the face of death is green,
and the look death gives is green,
with the penetrating dampness of a violet leaf
and the somber color of embittered winter.

But death also goes through the world dressed as a broom,
lapping the floor, looking for dead bodies,
death is inside the broom,
the broom is the tongue of death looking for corpses,
it is the needle of death looking for thread.

Death is inside the folding cots:
it spends its life sleeping on the slow mattresses,
in the black blankets, and suddenly breathes out:
it blows out a mournful sound that swells the sheets,
and the beds go sailing toward a port
where death is waiting, dressed like an admiral.


–Pablo Neruda
Robert Bly translation








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Friday, October 24, 2014

last moment


 

 

 

Don't move.

Just die over and over.

Don't anticipate.  

Nothing can save you now,
because this is your last moment. 

Not even enlightenment will help you now,
because you have no other moments. 
With no future, be true to yourself
—and don't move.


–Shunryu Suzuki Roshi






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Thursday, October 23, 2014

how to watch your brother die








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When the call comes, be calm.
Say to your wife, "My brother is dying. I have to fly
to California."
Try not to be too shocked that he already looks like
a cadaver.
Say to the young man sitting by your brother's side,
"I'm his brother."
Try not to be shocked when the young man says,
"I'm his lover. Thanks for coming."
Listen to the doctor with a steel face on.
Sign the necessary forms.
Tell the doctor you will take care of everything.
Wonder why doctors are so remote.
Watch the lover's eyes as they stare into
your brother's eyes as they stare into
space.
Wonder what they see there.
Remember the time he was jealous and
opened your eyebrow with a sharp stick.
Forgive him out loud
even if he can't
understand you.
Realize the scar will be
all that's left of him.
Over coffee in the hospital cafeteria
say to the lover, "You're an extremely good-looking
young man."
Hear him say,
"I never thought I was good enough looking to
deserve your brother."
Watch the tears well up in his eyes. Say,
"I'm sorry. I don't know what it means to be
the lover of another man."
Hear him say,
"It's just like a wife, only the commitment is
deeper because the odds against you are so much
greater."
Say nothing, but
take his hand like a brother's.
Drive to Mexico for unproven drugs that might
help him live longer.
Explain what they are to the border guard.
Fill with rage when he informs you,
"You can't bring those across."
Begin to grow loud.
Feel the lover's hand on your arm
restraining you. See in the guard's eye
how much a man can hate another man.
Say to the lover, "How can you stand it?"
Hear him say, "You get used to it."
Think of one of your children getting used to
another man's hatred.
Call your wife on the telephone. Tell her,
"He hasn't much time.
I'll be home soon." Before you hang up say,
"How could anyone's committment be deeper than
a husband and wife?" Hear her say,
"Please. I don't want to know the details."
When he slips into an irrevocable coma,
hold his lover in your arms while he sobs,
no longer strong. Wonder how much longer
you will be able to be strong.
Feel how it feels to hold a man in your arms
whose arms are used to holding men.
Offer God anything to bring your brother back.
Know you have nothing God could possibly want.
Curse God, but do not
abandon Him.
Stare at the face of the funeral director
when he tells you he will not
embalm the body for fear of
contamination. Let him see in your eyes
how much a man can hate another man.
Stand beside a casket covered in flowers,
white flowers. Say,
"Thank you for coming," to each of the several hundred men
who file past in tears, some of them
holding hands. Know that your brother's life
was not what you imagined. Overhear two
mourners say, "I wonder who'll be next?" and
"I don't care anymore,
as long as it isn't you."
Arrange to take an early flight home.
His lover will drive you to the airport.
When your flight is announced say,
awkwardly, "If I can do anything, please
let me know." Do not flinch when he says,
"Forgive yourself for not wanting to know him
after he told you. He did."
Stop and let it soak in. Say,
"He forgave me, or he knew himself?"
"Both," the lover will say, not knowing what else
to do. Hold him like a brother while he
kisses you on the cheek. Think that
you haven't been kissed by a man since
your father died. Think,
"This is no moment not to be strong."
Fly first class and drink Scotch. Stroke
your split eyebrow with a finger and
think of your brother alive. Smile
at the memory and think
how your children will feel in your arms,
warm and friendly and without challenge.


–Michael Lassell
For Carl Morse©









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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Canticle







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What death means is not this—
the spirit, triumphant in the body’s fall,
praising its absence, feeding on music.
If life can’t justify and explain itself,
death can’t justify and explain it.

 

–Wendell Berry






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Monday, October 20, 2014

look








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You Don't Have to Act Crazy Anymore -
We all know you were good at that.
 
Now retire, my dear,
From all that hard work you do
Of bringing pain to your sweet eyes and heart.
 
Look in a clear mountain mirror -
See the Beautiful Ancient Warrior
And the Divine elements
You always carry inside
That infused this Universe with sacred Life
So long ago
And join you Eternally
With all Existence - with God!



–Hafiz
Daniel Ladinsky translation







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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Not as a Foreign Tourist Does, excerpt







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As for me, I will enter the mulberry trees
where the silk worm makes me into a silk thread,
then I’ll enter a woman’s needle in
one of the myths,
then I’ll fly like a shawl with the wind …


–Mahmoud Darwish
Fady Joudah translation,
Michigan Quarterly Review Summer 2005







 










Thursday, October 16, 2014

East Coker V, excerpt







 
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Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.



–T. S. Eliot
Four Quartets
 





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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mud







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God made mud. 
God got lonesome. 
So God said to some of the mud, "Sit up!" 
"See all I've made," said God, "the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars."

And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around. 
Lucky me, lucky mud.

I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done. 
Nice going, God. 
Nobody but you could have done it, God! I certainly couldn't have. 
I feel very unimportant compared to You. 
The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud
that didn't even get to sit up and look around. 
I got so much, and most mud got so little. 
Thank you for the honor!

Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep. 
What memories for mud to have! 
What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met! 
I loved everything I saw! 
Good night.


–Kurt Vonnegut
(Cat's Cradle)






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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

the way









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Friend, I have lost the way
The way leads on.

Is there another way?
The way is one.

I must retrace the track.
It's lost and gone.

Back, I must travel back!
None goes there, none.

Then I'll make here my place,
(The road leads on),

Stand still and set my face,
(The road leaps on),

Stay here, for ever stay.
None stays here, none.

I cannot find the way.
The way leads on.

Oh places I have passed!
That journey's done.

And what will come at last?
The road leads on.


–Edwin Muir
Collected Poems









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Friday, October 10, 2014

when one has lived a long time alone







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1
When one has lived a long time alone,
one refrains from swatting the fly
and let’s him go, and one hesitates to strike
the mosquito, though more than willing to slap
the flesh under her, and one lifts the toad
from the pit too deep to hop out of
and carries him to the grass, without minding
the poisoned urine he slicks his body with,
and one envelops, in a towel, the swift
who fell down the chimney and knocks herself
against window glass and releases her outside
and watches her fly free, a life line flung at reality,
When one has lived a long time alone.

2
When one has lived a long time alone,
one grabs the snake behind the head
and holds him until he stops trying to stick
the orange tongue – which splits at the end
into two black filaments and jumps out
like a fire-eater’s belches and has little
in common with the pimpled pink lumps that shapes
sounds and sleeps inside the human mouth -
into one’s flesh, and clamps it between his jaws,
letting the gaudy tips show, as children do
when concentrating, and as very likely
one does oneself, without knowing it,
when one has lived a long time alone.

3
When one has lived a long time alone,
among regrets so immense the past occupies
nearly all the room there is in consciousness,
one notices in the snake’s eyes, which look back
without giving any less attention to the future,
the first coating of the opaque, mikly-blue
leucoma snakes get when about to throw their skins
and become new – meanwhile continuing,
of course, to grow old – the same bleu Passe
that bleaches the corneas of the blue-eyed
when they lie back at the end and look for heaven,
a fading one knows means they will never find it
when one has lived a long time alone.

4
When one has lived along time alone,
one holds the snake near the loudspeaker disgorging
gorgeous sounds and watches him crook
his forepart into four right angles,
as though trying to slow down the music
flowing through him, in order to absorb it
like milk of paradise into the flesh,
until a glimmering appears at his mouth,
such a drop of intense fluid as, among humans,
could form after long exciting at the tip
of the penis, and as he straightens himself out
he has the pathos one finds in the penis,
when one has lived a long time alone.

5
When one has lived a long time alone,
one falls to poring upon a creature,
contrasting it’s eternity’s-face to one’s own
full of hours, taking note of each difference,
exaggerating it, making it everything,
until the other is utterly other, and then,
with hard effort, possibly with tongue sticking out,
going back over each difference once again
and canceling it, seeing nothing now
but likeness, until … half an hour later
one stares awake, taken aback at how eagerly
one drops off into the happiness of kinship,
when one has lived a long time alone.

6
When one has lived a long time alone
and listens at morning to mourning doves
sound their kyrie eleison, or the small thing
spiritualized upon a twig cry, “pewit-pheobe!”
or at midday grasshoppers scratch the thighs’
needfire awake, or peabody birds send schoolboys’
whistlings across the field, and at dusk, undamped,
unforgiving chinks, as from marble cutters’ chisels,
or at nightfall polliwogs just burst into frogs
raise their ave verum corpus – listens to those
who hop or fly call down upon us the mercy
of other tongues – one hears them as inner voices,
when one has lived a long time alone.

7
When one has lived a long time alone,
one knows that consciousness consummates,
and as the conscious one among these others
uttering their compulsory cries of being here -
the least flycatcher witching up “che-bec!”
or red-headed woodpecker clanging out his music
from a metal drainpipe, or ruffed grouse drumming
“thrump thrump thrump thrump-thrump-
thrump-thrump-rup-rup-ruprup-rup-r-r-r-r-r-r”
deep in the woods, all of them in time’s unfolding
trying to cry themselves into self-knowing -
one knows one is here to hear them into shining,
when one has lived a long time alone.

8
When one has lived a long time alone,
one likes alike the pig, who brooks no deferment
of gratification, and the porcupine, or thorned pig,
who enters the cellar but not the house itself
because of eating down the cellar stairs on the way up,
and one likes the worm, who by bunching herself together
and expanding works her way through the ground,
no less than the butterfly, who totters full of worry
among the day lilies, as they darken,
and more and more one finds one likes
any other species better than one’s own,
which has gone amok, making one self-estranged,
when one has lived a long time alone.

9
When one has lived a long time alone,
sour, misanthropic, one fits to one’s defiance
the satanic boast, it is better to reign
than submit on earth, and forgets
one’s kind – the way by now the snake does,
who stops trying to get to the floor and lingers
all across one’s body – slumping into its contours,
adopting its temperature – and abandons hope
of the sweetness of friendship or love,
before long can barely remember what they are,
and covets the stillness in inorganic matter,
in a self-dissolution one may not know how to halt,
when one has lived a long time alone.

10
When one has lived a long time alone,
and the hermit thrush calls and there is an answer,
and the bullfrog head half out of water repeats
the sexual cantillations of his first spring,
and the snake lowers himself over the threshold
and disappears among the stones, one sees
they all live to mate with their kind, and one knows,
after a long time of solitude, after the many steps taken
away from one’s kind, toward the kingdom of strangers,
the hard prayer inside one’s own singing
is to come back, if one can, to one’s own,
a world almost lost, in the exile that deepens,
when one has lived a long time alone.

11
When one has lived a long time alone,
one wants to live again among men and women,
to return to that place where one’s ties with the human
broke, where the disquiet of death and now also
of history glimmers its firelight on faces,
where the gaze of the new baby looks past the gaze
of the great granny, and where lovers speak,
on lips blowsy from kissing, that language
the same in each mouth, and like birds at daybreak
blether the song that is both earth’s and heaven’s,
until the sun has risen, and they stand
in the light of being made one: kingdom come,
when one has lived a long time alone.


–Galway Kinnell








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2bfamily
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