"At least a flash of sanity: the momentary realization that there is no need to come to certain conclusions about persons, events, conflicts, trends, even trends toward evil and disaster, as if from day to day and even from moment to moment I had to know and declare (at least to myself): This is so and so, this is good, this is bad; we are heading for a "new era" or we are heading for destruction.
What do such judgments mean? Little or nothing. Things are as they are, in an immense whole of which I am a part, and which I cannot pretend to grasp. To say I grasp it is immediately to put myself in a false position, as if I were "outside" it. Whereas to be in it is to seek truth in my own life and action, by moving where movement is possible and keeping still when movement is unnecessary, realizing that things will continue to define themselves - and will be more clear to me if I am silent and attentive, rather than constantly formulating statements in this age which is smothered in language, in meaningless and inconclusive debate, and in which, in the last analysis, nobody listens to anything except what agrees with his own prejudices."
- Thomas Merton
the hammock papers
Because we time-travel into the future
at a blistering sixty minutes an hour,
I ask you to sit down and write me
one beautiful sentence I might carry
in my pocket on the journey when I go,
and in the window of the train unfold
O you were the best of all my days.
Never knowing if the thing is broken
or the door between us is still open,
you would like me to sit down and write
you one beautiful sentence you might
carry in your wallet when you leave,
and in the cab you take it out and read
Permit me voyage, love, into your hands.
Depending where one stands, each circle
back is a possible fall, a fail, a spiral,
and I would like you to take a few seconds
to write me out one beautiful sentence
to carry now across the night and ocean,
and held up at the gate I sit down and open
Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.
- Nick Laird
Note: Includes lines by Frank O'Hara, Hart Crane and Kurt Vonnegut.
Five Branch Tree
The world you see is just a movie in your mind.
Rocks don't see it.
Bless and sit down.
Forgive and forget.
Practice kindness all day to everybody
and you will realize you're already
in heaven now.
That's the story.
That's the message.
Nobody understands it,
nobody listens, they're
all running around like chickens with heads cut
off. I will try to teach it but it will
be in vain, s'why I'll
end up in a shack
praying and being
cool and singing
by my woodstove
- Jack Kerouac
"Read poetry every day of your life. Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don't use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition. It keeps you aware of your nose, your eye, your ear, your tongue, your hand. And, above all, poetry is compacted metaphor or simile. Such metaphors, like Japanese paper flowers, may expand outward into gigantic shapes.
What poetry? Any poetry that makes your hair stand up along your arms. Don't force yourself too hard. Take it easy. Over the years you may catch up to, move even with, and pass T. S. Eliot on your way to other pastures. You say you don't understand Dylan Thomas? Yes, but your ganglion does, and your secret wits, and all your unborn children. Read him, as you can read a horse with your eyes, set free and charging over an endless green meadow on a windy day."
- Ray Bradbury
Zen in the Art of Writing
From the window I saw the horses.
I was in Berlin, in winter. The light
had no light, the sky had no heaven.
The air was white like wet bread.
And from my window a vacant arena,
bitten by the teeth of winter.
Suddenly driven out by a man,
ten horses surged through the mist.
Like waves of fire, they flared forward
and to my eyes filled the whole world,
empty till then. Perfect, ablaze,
they were like ten gods with pure white hoofs,
with manes like a dream of salt.
Their rumps were worlds and oranges.
Their color was honey, amber, fire.
Their necks were towers
cut from the stone of pride,
and behind their transparent eyes
energy raged, like a prisoner.
There, in silence, at mid-day,
in that dirty, disordered winter,
those intense horses were the blood
the rhythm, the inciting treasure of life.
I looked. I looked and was reborn:
for there, unknowing, was the fountain,
the dance of gold, heaven
and the fire that lives in beauty.
I have forgotten that dark Berlin winter.
I will not forget the light of the horses.
- Pablo Neruda
Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon
translated by Stephen Mitchell