But because being here means so much, and because all
and strangely concerns us. Us, the first to vanish.
Once each, only once. Once and no more. And us too,
once. Never again. But to have been
once, even if only once,
to have been on earth just once - that's irrevocable.
And so we keep on going and try to realize it,
try to hold it in our simple hands, in
our overcrowded eyes, and in our speechless heart.
- Ranier Maria Rilke
from The Ninth Elegy
"As they say 'to be in the world, but not of the world.' You can go to the Himalayas and miss it completely, and you can be stuck in the middle of New York and be very spiritual. I mean, I noticed in certain places, like New York, it brings out a certain thing in myself. If I go to some place like Switzerland, I find a lot of uptight people because they're living amongst so much beauty there's no urgency in trying to find the beauty within themselves. If you're stuck in New York you have to somehow look within yourself - otherwise you'd go crackers. So, in a way, it's good to be able to go in and out of both situations. Most people think when the world gets itself together we'll all be okay. I don't see that situation arriving. I think one by one, we all free ourselves from the chains we have chained ourselves to. But I don't think that suddenly some magic happens and the whole lot of us will all be liberated in one throw."
- George Harrison
Poetry as Insurgent Art [I am signaling you through the flames]
I am signaling you through the flames.
The North Pole is not where it used to be.
Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest.
Nemesis is knocking at the door.
What are poets for, in such an age?
What is the use of poetry?
The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.
If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic.
You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, you are Neruda and Mayakovsky and Pasolini, you are an American or a non-American, you can conquer the conquerors with words....
- Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Poetry as Insurgent Art
It's where you are in your imagination
Is a shadow's life, that leaves you by yourself, alone and scared.
Why can't we just move on? The light up ahead is soft
And seems to beckon us, glowing with a promise of beginning
Once again, as if there were still time.
- John Koethe
"Don't become a spiritual zombie, devoid of passion and deep human feeling. Let spirituality become a celebration of your uniqueness rather than a repression of it. Never lose your quirkiness, your strangeness, your weirdness - your unique and irreplaceable flavor. Don't try or pretend to be 'no-one' or 'nothing' or some transcendent and impersonal non-entity with 'no self' or 'no ego', 'beyond the human' - that's just another conceptual fixation and nobody's buying it any more. Be a celebration of what your unique expression is and stop apologizing. Fall in love with this perfectly divine, very human mess that you are. There is no authority here, and no way to get life wrong. So get it all wrong. Fail, gloriously."
Falling in Love with Where You Are
"I'm the one into whose arms you fall when you fall through all of space. The one who tells you infinity is another hoax. I'm the being who has no manners, or mannerisms. I have no style. I settle on nothing; I decide nothing. This is not a final place. There is no such place. I am the being who whistles to you and distracts you from self-absorption. I am the mosquito in your ear, an iridescent fly, a lightning bug. This clearing is full of false lights, flickers that stop when you look. I'm the being that's tricky because you try to make me conform to your senses. You have no senses here. You have nothing."
- Alice Notley
Certain Magical Acts
In a solitary space in which the soul can breathe
But by creating it, by giving it a self-sustaining
Atmosphere of depth, both in the architecture,
And in the unconstructed life that it contains.
In a late and very brief remark, Freud speculates
That space is the projection of a "psychic apparatus"
Which remains almost entirely oblivious to itself;
And Wright extols "that primitive sense of shelter"
Which can turn a house into a refuge from despair.
I wish that time could bring the future back again
And let me see things as they used to seem to me
Before I found myself alone, in an emancipated state -
Alone and free and filled with cares about tomorrow.
There used to be a logic in the way time passed
That made it flow directly towards an underlying space
Where all the minor, individual lives converged.
- John Koethe
from Falling Water
North Point North
"Life will eventually bring you to your knees. Either you'll be on your knees cursing the universe and begging for a different life, or you'll be brought to your knees by gratitude and awe, deeply embracing the life that you have, too overwhelmed by the beauty of it all to stand or even speak. Either way, they're the same knees."
- Jeff Foster
Falling in Love with Where You Are