In View of the Fact
wife is baking for a funeral, a 60-year-old who
died suddenly, when the phone rings, and it's
Ruth we care so much about in intensive care:
it was once weddings that came so thick and
fast, and then, first babies, such a hullabaloo:
now, it's this that and the other and somebody
else gone or on the brink: well, we never
thought we would live forever (although we did)
and now it looks like we won't: some of us
are losing a leg to diabetes, some don't know
what they went downstairs for, some know that
a hired watchful person is around, some like
to touch the cane tip into something steady,
so nice: we have already lost so many,
brushed the loss of ourselves ourselves: our
address books for so long a slow scramble now
are palimpsests, scribbles and scratches: our
index cards for Christmases, birthdays,
Halloweens drop clean away into sympathies:
at the same time we are getting used to so
many leaving, we are hanging on with a grip
to the ones left: we are not giving up on the
congestive heart failure or brain tumors, on
the nice old men left in empty houses or on
the widows who decide to travel a lot: we
think the sun may shine someday when we'll
drink wine together and think of what used to
be: until we die we will remember every
single thing, recall every word, love every
loss: then we will, as we must, leave it to
others to love, love that can grow brighter
and deeper till the very end, gaining strength
and getting more precious all the way . . .
- A. R. Ammons
Bosh and Flapdoodle
"I would like you to show me, if you can, where the line can be drawn between an organism and it's environment. The environment is in you. It's passing through you. You're breathing it in and out. You and every other creature."
"We all want to do something to mitigate the pain of loss or to turn grief into something positive, to find a silver lining in the clouds. But I believe there is real value in just standing there, being still, being sad."
- John Green
"I would say that there exist a thousand unbreakable links between each of us and everything else, and that our dignity and our chances are one. The farthest star and the mud at our feet are a family; and there is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list. The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves - we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together. We are each other's destiny."
does not seethe, does not breathe the scent of carob trees.
Flee, you hear it everywhere, the taxi driver, the farmer at the laiki
tell you, Go! and are puzzled that you are still here,
you who could actually leave with your American passport.
Pack your clothes, leave behind the ruined lives, translate home into
longing, elsewhere you might lift your chin, live unburdened.
The government, the Americans . . . no one cares, the taxi driver complains,
and the farmer at the laiki selling you the sweetest pears, advises
to keep them fresh, Eat them cold, nearly frozen.
He shakes his head, murmurs Ellada . . . . this ancient land of rock cliffs,
seas that bleed their myths, Greece with its tales of flight
and light, returns and rebirths, keeps teaching the stubborn human lesson
still: the gods won't save you, neither will you stop wishing it of them.
After all, you are human and they are not.
- Adrianne Kalfopoulou
whiskey makes the heart beat faster
mind and isn't it funny how you can ache just
from the deadly drone of
- Charles Bukowski
The People Look Like Flowers at Last
Place to Be
in the endless sky,
the clouds drifting by
The winter's snow,
but the faces, the people,
all the things they do
'spite of heaven and hell
or city hall -
Nothing's wiser than a moment.
No one's chance
is simply changed by wishing,
right or wrong.
What you do is how you get along.
What you did is all it ever means.
- Robert Creeley
If I were writing this
"The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world - and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end - is being destroyed."
- Hannah Arendt
"Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end."
- Henry Miller
"It is a curious psychological fact that the man who seems to be "egotistic" is not suffering from too much ego, but from too little. When the ego is strong and well developed, there is no nagging need to impress others - by money, by rudeness, or by any other show of false strength."
It is a dark fall day.
The earth is slightly damp with rain.
I hear a jay.
The cry is blue.
I have found you in the story again.
Is there another word for ‘divine’?
I need a song that will keep sky open in my mind.
If I think behind me, I might break.
If I think forward, I lose now.
Forever will be a day like this
Strung perfectly on the necklace of days.
Your jacket hanging in the hallway
Next to mine.
- Joy Harjo
"If you cannot find a good companion to walk with, walk alone, like an elephant roaming the jungle. It is better to be alone than to be with those who will hinder your progress."
"At first I couldn't see anything. I fumbled along the cobblestone street. I lit a cigarette. Suddenly the moon appeared from behind a black cloud, lighting a white wall that was crumbled in places. I stopped, blinded by such whiteness. Wind whistled slightly. I breathed the air of the tamarinds. The night hummed, full of leaves and insects. Crickets bivouacked in the tall grass. I raised my head: up there the stars too had set up camp. I thought that the universe was a vast system of signs, a conversation between giant beings. My actions, the cricket's saw, the star's blink, were nothing but pauses and syllables, scattered phrases from that dialogue. What word could it be, of which I was only a syllable? Who speaks the word? To whom is it spoken? I threw my cigarette down on the sidewalk. Falling, it drew a shining curve, shooting out brief sparks like a tiny comet.
I walked a long time, slowly. I felt free, secure between the lips that were at that moment speaking me with such happiness. The night was a garden of eyes."
- Octavio Paz
translated by Eliot Weinberger
from The Blue Bouquet
"Despite the astonishing things that humans are capable of doing, we remain unsure of our goals and we seem to be as discontented as ever. We have advanced from canoes to galleys to steamships to space shuttles - but nobody knows where we're going. We are more powerful than ever before, but have very little idea what to do with all that power. Worse still, humans seem to be more irresponsible than ever. Self-made gods with only the laws of physics to keep us company, we are accountable to no one. We are consequently wreaking havoc on our fellow animals and on the surrounding ecosystem, seeking little more than our own comfort and amusement, yet never finding satisfaction. Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don't know what they want?"
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
What We Miss
Who says it's so easy to save a life? In the middle of an interview for
the job you might get you see the cat from the window of the seven-
teenth floor just as he's crossing the street against traffic, just as
you're answering a question about your worst character flaw and lying
that you are too careful. What if you keep seeing the cat at every
moment you are unable to save him? Failure is more like this than like
duels and marathons. Everything can be saved, and bad timing pre-
vents it. Every minute, you are answering the question and looking
out the window of the church to see your one great love blinded by
the glare, crossing the street, alone.
- Sarah Manguso
The Captain Lands in Paradise
"I do not know what you are supposed to do with memories like these. It feels wrong to want to forget. Perhaps this is why we write these things down, so we can move on."
"I live in a well. I live like smoke in the well. Like vapor in a stone throat. I don't
morning, and I see the sun. And sometimes I sing old songs of this world when it was
young. How can I tell you what I am when I don't know? I cannot. I am simply
waiting. I am mist and moonlight and memory. I am sad and I am old. Sometimes I
fall like rain into the well. Spider webs are startled into forming where my rain falls
fast, on the water surface. I wait in cool silence and there will be a day when I no
- Ray Bradbury
The One Who Waits
For a Coming Extinction
Now that we are sending you to The End
That great god
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing
I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day
The bewilderment will diminish like an echo
Winding along your inner mountains
Unheard by us
And find its way out
Leaving behind it the future
When you will not see again
The whale calves trying the light
Consider what you will find in the black garden
And its court
The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas
The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless
And fore-ordaining as stars
Join your word to theirs
That it is we who are important
- W. S. Merwin
"The best thing about time passing is the privilege of running out of it, of watching the wave of mortality break over me and everyone I know. No more time, no more potential. The privilege of ruling things out. Finishing. Knowing I'm finished. And knowing time will go on without me.
Look at me, dancing my little dance for a few moments against the background of eternity."
- Sarah Manguso
Ongoingness: The End of a Diary
"For six days I didn't get up except to make a cup of tea, or fry an egg, or lie in the skinny bath gazing at a cracked ceiling. The days punished me with their slowness, piling up the hours on me, spreading their joylessness about the room.
A doctor would have said I was suffering from depression. Everything I have read since suggests this was the case. But when you are in the grip of something like that it doesn't usefully announce itself. No. what happens is you sit in a dark, dark cave, and you wait. If you are lucky there is a pinprick of light, and if you are especially lucky that pinprick will grow larger and larger, until one day the cave appears to slip behind, and just like that you find yourself in daylight and free. This is how it happened for me."
- Lloyd Jones
If You Knew
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line's crease.
When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn't signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won't say Thank you, I don't remember
they're going to die.
A friend told me she'd been with her aunt.
They'd just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt's powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.
How close does the dragon's spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?
- Ellen Bass
The Human Line
"They talked about it but they did not realize it but now everybody knows it everybody that the one thing that everybody wants is to be free, to talk to eat to drink to walk to think, to please, to wish, and to do it now if now is what they want, and everybody knows it they know it anybody knows it, they want to be free, they do not want to feel imprisoned they want to feel free, even if they are not free they want to feel free, and they want to feel free now, let the future take care of itself all they want is to be free, not to be managed, threatened, directed, restrained, obliged, fearful, administered, they want none of these things they all want to feel free, the word discipline, and forbidden and investigated and imprisoned brings horror and fear into all hearts, they do not want to be afraid not more than is necessary in the ordinary business of living where one has to earn one's living and has to fear want and disease and death. There are enough things to be afraid of, nobody wants to be afraid, just afraid, afraid of things people should not be afraid, they do not. This is true in October 1943, it is true. In 1914 - 1918, it was still the nineteenth century, and one might still think that something that would happen might lead one to higher and other things but now, the only thing that any one wants now is to be free, to be let alone, to live their life as they can, but not to be watched, controlled, and scared, no no, not."
- Gertrude Stein
Wars I Have Seen
"Our world is in danger by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness. And so to whatever degree any one of us, can bring back a small piece of the picture and contribute it to the building of the new paradigm, then we participate in the redemption of the human spirit, and that after all is what it's really all about."
life is full of beauty
"It's clearly a crisis of two things: of consciousness and conditioning. We have the technological power, the engineering skills to save our planet, to cure disease, to feed the hungry, to end war; But we lack the intellectual vision, the ability to change our minds. We must decondition ourselves from 10,000 years of bad behavior. And, it's not easy."
- Terence McKenna
I haven't written a single poem
I've lived humbly, reading the paper,
pondering the riddle of power
and the reasons for obedience.
I've watched sunsets
I've heard the birds grow quiet
and night's muteness.
I've seen sunflowers dangling
their heads at dusk, as if a careless hangman
had gone strolling through the gardens.
September's sweet dust gathered
on the windowsill and lizards
hid in the bends of walls.
I've taken long walks,
craving one thing only:
- Adam Zagajewski
Mysticism for Beginners
Self-centered merit brings the joy of heaven itself,
When the force is exhausted, it falls to the earth,
And then everything goes wrong.
- Cheng Tao-Ko
from the Song of Enlightenment