Saturday, April 30, 2016

"The only darkness we should allow into our lives is the night,/for even then, we have the moon." #whatweown

Friday, April 29, 2016

"We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.

When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.

It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.” 
"An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us."
Adrienne Rich
"Remove the veils so I might see what is really happening here and not be intoxicated by my stories and my fears." 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Symptoms of Prophecy by Camille Rankine

In the new century,
we lose the art of many things.
For example, at the beep, I communicate
using the wrong machine.
I called to say we have two lives
and only one of them is real.
When the phone rings: you could be anybody.
In the evening: you are homeless
and hunting for good light, as safe a place
as any to make a bed for the night.
In both my lives, my nerves go bust.
I’m certain that I’m not
as I appear, that I’m a figment and
you’re not really here.
The struggle
is authenticity.
I have a message.
You must believe me.

The Current Isolation by Camille Rankine

In the half-light, I am most
at home, my shadow
as company.
When I feel hot, I push a button
to make it stop. I mean this stain on my mind
I can’t get out. How human
I seem. Like modern man,
I traffic in extinction. I have a gift.
Like an animal, I sustain.
A flock of birds
when touched, I scatter. I won’t approach
until the back is turned.
My heart betrays. I confess: I am afraid.
How selfish of me.
When there’s no one here, I halve
the distance between
our bodies infinitesimally.
In this long passageway, I pose
against the wallpaper, dig
my heels in, catch the light.
In my vision, the back door opens
on a garden that is always
in bloom. The dogs
are chained so they can’t attack like I know
they want to. In the next yard
over, honeybees swarm
and their sound is huge.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"There is nothing so strong or safe in an emergency of life as the simple truth." Charles Dickens


Monday, April 25, 2016

Neruda's Ode to an Onion

Onion, luminous flask,
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grew round with dew.
Under the earth
the miracle
and when your clumsy
green stem appeared,
and your leaves were born
like swords
in the garden ...

Someday I'll Love Ocean Vuong by Ocean Vuong

Ocean, don’t be afraid.The end of the road is so far aheadit is already behind us.Don’t worry. Your father is only your fatheruntil one of you forgets. Like how the spinewon’t remember its wingsno matter how many times our kneeskiss the pavement. Ocean,are you listening? The most beautiful partof your body is whereveryour mother’s shadow falls.Here’s the house with childhoodwhittled down to a single red tripwire.Don’t worry. Just call it horizon& you’ll never reach it.Here’s today. Jump. I promise it’s nota lifeboat. Here’s the manwhose arms are wide enough to gatheryour leaving. & here the moment,just after the lights go out, when you can still seethe faint torch between his legs.How you use it again & againto find your own hands.You asked for a second chance& are given a mouth to empty into.Don’t be afraid, the gunfireis only the sound of peopletrying to live a little longer. Ocean. Ocean,get up. The most beautiful part of your bodyis where it’s headed. & remember,loneliness is still time spentwith the world. Here’s the room with everyone in it.Your dead friends passingthrough you like windthrough a wind chime. Here’s a deskwith the gimp leg & a brickto make it last. Yes, here’s a roomso warm & blood-close,I swear, you will wake—& mistake these wallsfor skin.

The Price of Shame


"Shame cannot survive empathy."
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” 

Friday, April 22, 2016

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

The Self Slaved by Patrick Kavanagh

Me I will throw away.

Me sufficient for the day

The sticky self that clings

Adhesions on the wings

To love and adventure,

To go on the grand tour

A man must be free

From self-necessity

See over there

A created splendour

Made by one individual

From things residual

With all the various

Qualities hilarious

Of what

Hitherto was not:

A November mood

As by one man understood;

Familiar, an old custom

Leaves falling, a white frosting

Bringing a sanguine dream

A new beginning with an old theme

Throw away thy sloth

Self, carry off my wrath

With its self-righteous

Satirising blotches.

No self, no self-exposure

The weakness of the proser

But undefeatable

By means of the beatable

I will have love, have love

From anything made of

And a life with a shapely form

With gaiety and charm

And capable of receiving

With grace the grace of living

And wild moments too

Self when freed from you.

Prometheus calls me: Son,

We’ll both go off together

In this delightful weather

"Fear is boring."

Thursday, April 21, 2016

seven poems for marthe, my wife by Kenneth Rexroth - I


In my childhood when I first
Saw myself unfolded in
The triple mirrors, in my
Youth, when I pursued myself
Wandering on wandering
Night bound roads like a roving
Masterless dog, when I met
Myself on sharp peaks of ice,
And tasted myself dissolved
In the lulling heavy sea,
In the talking night, in the
Spiraling stars, what did I
Know? What do I know now,
Of myself, of the others? 
Blood flows out to the fleeing
Nebulae, and flows back, red
With all the worn space of space,
Old with all the time of time.

It is my blood. I cannot
Taste in it as it leaves me
More of myself than on its
Return. I can see into it
Trees of silence and fire.
In the mirrors of its waves 
I can see faces. Mostly
They are your face. On its streams
I can see the leaf shadows
Of the plane trees on the deep
Fluids of your eyes, android the
Golden fires and lamps of years.


marthe away

All night I lay awake beside you,
Leaning on my elbow, watching your
Sleeping face, that face whose purity
Never ceases to astonish me.
I could not sleep. But I did not want 
Sleep or miss it. Against my body,
Your body lay like a warm soft star.
How many nights I have waked and watched 
You, in how many places. Who knows?
This night might be the last one of all.
As on so many nights, once more I
Drank from your sleeping flesh the deep still 
Communion I am not always strong
Enough to take from you waking, the peace of love.
Foggy lights moved over the ceiling
Of our room, so like the rooms of France
And Italy, rooms of honeymoon, 
And gave your face an ever changing
Speech, the secret communication
Of untellable love. I knew then, 
As your secret spoke, my secret self,
The blind bird, hardly visible in
An endless web of lies. And I knew
The web too, its every knot and strand,
The hidden crippled bird, the terrible web.
Towards the end of the night, as trucks rumbled
In the streets, you stirred, cuddled to me,
And spoke my name. Your voice was the voice 
Of a girl who had never known loss
Of love, betrayal, mistrust, or lie.
And later you turned again and clutched
My hand and pressed it to your body.
Now I know surely and forever,
However much I have blotted our
Waking love, its memory is still
There. And I know the web, the net,
The blind and crippled bird. For one heart beat the
Heart was free and moved itself. O love,
I who am lost and damned with words,
Whose words are a business and an art, 
I have no words. These words, this poem, this
Is all confusion and ignorance.
But I know that coached by your sweet heart,
My heart beat one free beat and sent
Through all my flesh the blood of truth.


Marthe Lonely

To think of you surcharged with
Loneliness. To hear your voice
Over the recorder say,
"Loneliness" The word, the voice,
So full of it, and I, with
You away, so lost in it-
Lost in loneliness and pain,
Black and unendurable,
Thinking of you with every
Corpuscle of my flesh, in
Every instant of night
And day. O, my love, the times
We have forgotten love, and
Sat lonely beside each other.
We have eaten together,
Lonely behind our plates, we
Have hidden behind children,
We have slept together in
A lonely bed. Now my heart
Turns toward you, awake at last,
Penitent, lost to the last
Loneliness. Speak to me. Talk
To me. Break the black silence.
Speak of a tree full of leaves,
Of a flying bird, the new
Moon in the sunset, a poem,
A book, a person-all the
Casual healing speech
Of your resonant, quiet voice. 
The word freedom. The word peace.



Lying here quietly beside you,
My cheek against your firm, quiet thighs,
The calm music of Boccherini
Washing over us in the quiet,
As the sun leaves the housetops and goes
Out over the Pacific, quiet-
So quiet the sun moves beyond us,
So quiet as the sun always goes,
So quiet, our bodies, worn with the
Times and the penance  of love, our
Brains curled, quiet in their shells, dormant,
Our hearts slow, quiet, reliable
In their interlocked rhythms, the pulse
In your thigh caressing my cheek. Quiet.


A Dialogue of Watching

Let me celebrate you. I
Have never known anyone
More beautiful than you. I,
Walking beside you, watching
You move beside me, watching
That still grace of your hand and thigh,
Watching your face change with words
You do not say, watching your
Solemn eyes as they turn to me,
Or turn inward, fully of knowing,
Slow or quick, watching your full 
Lips part and smile or turn grave,
Watching your narrow waist, your
Proud buttocks in their grace, like
A sailing swan, an animal,
Free, your own, and never
To be subjugated, but
Abandoned, as I am to you,
Overhearing your perfect
Speech of motion, of love and
Trust and security as
You feed or play with our children.
I have never known any
One more beautiful than you.


Marthe Growing

Who are you? Who am I? Haunted
By the dead, by the dead and the past and the
Falling inertia of unreal, dead
Men and things. Haunted by the threat
Of the impersonal, that which
Never will admit the person,
The close world of things. Who are
You? Coming up,out of the
Mineral earth, one pale leaf
Unlike any other unfolding, 
And then another, strange, new,
Utterly different, nothing
I ever expected, growing
Up out of my warm heart's blood.
All new, all strange, all different.
Your own leaf pattern, your own
Flower and fruit, but fed from
One root, the root of our fused flesh.
I and thou, from the one to
The dual, from the dual
To the other, the wonderful
Unending, unfathomable
Process of becoming each 
Our selves for each other.


The Old Song and Dance

You, because you love me, hold
Fast to me, caress me, be
Quiet and kind comfort me
With stillness, say nothing at all.
You, because I love you, o
Am strong for you, I uphold
You. The water is alive
Around us. Living water
Runs in the cut earth between
Us. You, my bride, your voice speaks
Over the water to me.
Your hands, your solemn arms,
Cross the water and hold me.
Your body is beautiful.
It speaks across the water.
Bride, sweeter than honey, glad
Of heart, our hearts beat across
The bridge of our arms. Our speech
Is speech of joy in the night
Of gladness. Our words live.
Our words are children dancing
Forth from us like stars on water.
My bride, my well beloved,
Sweeter than honey, than ripe fruit,
Solemn, grave, a flying bird,
Hold me. Be quiet and kind.
I love you. Be good to me.
I am strong for you. I uphold
You. The dawn of ten thousand
Dawns is afire in the sky.
The water flows in the earth.
The children laugh in the air.

What The Mirror Said

you a wonder.
you a city
of a woman.
you got a geography
of your own.
somebody need a map
to understand you.
somebody need directions
to move around you.
you not a noplace
mister with his hands on you
he got his hands on

Lucille Clifton 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Speech is Designed to Persuade

Here we are, my dear, so near we could touch
if touch were what was wanted. A pleasant event
accruing. A view into leaves will move the mind
back slightly. Dunderheaded hindrances.
They kept us apart. Is this what you meant
to have happened? I have taken up bad habits
in your absence. I have taken the tablets
you left on the dresser. I have dressed myself
in feathers fit for flight. I am flight but did not not melt
as some do when they try too hard to fly. A fraction
of four is only saying a small thing oddly.

Fine then, they said, let the tree be Knowledge. Let the leaf
be Nature. Let the dog take a name we give it — Pupper.
Let the string be knotted on its linear axis.
And now the sun comes up. The machinery hum
of a pheasant flutter. They were galled by the gift
of a clock, its inconsistent clatter. They looked over a book
of prints taken from frescoes, decorative specimens.
Smitten, relaxed, they took a shower, using only a cup
of water. Uppermost was bliss’s peculiarity.
Six was a cipher, although didn’t they eagerly agree
to let numbers mean nothing?

Eventually the text began to explain itself.
Written out, the code was easier to decipher.
They devised a strategy, frequent division,
occasional subtraction. One fragment kissed another.
A sexual innuendo of sorts. Distance was not kind.
They understood the adage that omissions can be cruel
so a system of substitution was concocted. A three was used
to connote a blank space. A blanket was thrown
over the bed but only because it was very, very cold.
It was all in an evening’s amusement.
All a moment’s distraction.

Now then, she said, come closer. He allowed her
so little. And she made do. That can be said in her favor.
She was his favorite. He said so.
She dragged her nails along the surface soundless.
No abominable chalkboard emanation. In the quiet,
a clock. A dog scratching resignedly at a door.
That night she dreamed she lived in a laundry
where everything came clean. She was all
she was going to mean. Let touch be a time-tested image.
Let speech be designed to persuade. Let fragments hold a space.
Let the bell for waking keep breaking in.

Mary Jo Bang

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Monday, April 4, 2016

I Don't Miss It by Tracy K. Smith

But sometimes I forget where I am,
Imagine myself inside that life again.
Recalcitrant mornings. Sun perhaps, 
Or more likely colorless light
Filtering its way through shapeless cloud.
And when I begin to believe I haven’t left,
The rest comes back. Our couch. My smoke
Climbing the walls while the hours fall.
Straining against the noise of traffic, music,
Anything alive, to catch your key in the door.
And that scamper of feeling in my chest,
As if the day, the night, wherever it is
I am by then, has been only a whir
Of something other than waiting.
We hear so much about what love feels like.
Right now, today, with the rain outside,
And leaves that want as much as I do to believe
In May, in seasons that come when called,
It’s impossible not to want
To walk into the next room and let you
Run your hands down the sides of my legs,
Knowing perfectly well what they know.

Uncouplings by Craig Arnold

There is no I in teamwork
but there is a two maker

there is no I in together
but there is a got three
get to her

the I in relationship
is the heart I slip on
a lithe prison

in all communication
we count on a mimic
(I am not uncomic

our listening skills
are silent killings

there is no we in marriage
but a grim area

there is an I in family
also my fail