There Are Mornings
Even now, when the plot
calls for me to turn to stone,
the sun intervenes. Some mornings
in summer I step outside
and the sky opens
and pours itself into me
as if I were a saint
about to die. But the plot
calls for me to live,
be ordinary, say nothing
to anyone. Inside the house
the mirrors burn when I pass.
- Lisel Mueller
"Despite all the talk about freedom of speech, freedom of the press, electoral freedom, and so on, I dare say it would be a shock to know what the common man thinks about the problems which confront the world. The common man is always cleverly set off one against the other, children are always ruled out, young people are ordered to conform and obey, and the views of the wise, the saintly, the true servers of mankind, are forever scorned as impractical."
- Henry Miller
Stand Still Like the Hummingbird
"There are many out there who have never been on a 7:30 a.m. freeway or punched a timeclock or even had a job and don't intend to, can't, won't, will die first rather than live the common way. In a sense, each of them is a genius in his or her way, fighting against the obvious, swimming upstream, going mad, getting on pot, wine, whiskey, art, suicide, anything but the common equation. It will be some time before they even us out and make us say quits.
When you see that city hall downtown and all those proper precious people, don't get melancholy. There is a whole tide, a whole race of mad people, starving, drunk, goofy, miraculous. I have seen many of them. I am one of them. There will be more. This city has not been taken. Death before death is sickening. The strange ones will hold, the war will continue. Thank you."
- Charles Bukowski
"Obviously there is some risk in making affection the pivot of an argument about economy. The charge will be made that affection is an emotion, merely "subjective," and therefore that all affections are more or less equal: people may have affection for their children and their automobiles, their neighbors and their weapons. But the risk, I think, is only that affection is personal. If it is not personal, it is nothing; we don't, at least, have to worry about governmental or corporate affection. And one of the endeavors of human cultures, from the beginning, has been to qualify and direct the influence of emotion. The word "affection" and the terms of value that cluster around it - love, care, sympathy, mercy, forbearance, respect, reverence - have histories and meanings that raise the issue of worth. We should, as our culture has warned us over and over again, give our affection to things that are true, just, and beautiful. When we give affection to things that are destructive, we are wrong."
When Eve walked among
the animals and named them -
nightingale, red-shouldered hawk,
fiddler crab, fallow deer -
I wonder if she ever wanted
them to speak back, looked into
their wide wonderful eyes and
whispered, Name me, Name me.
- Ada Limón
"A summer day - I was twelve or thirteen - at my cousins' house, in the country. They had a fox, collared and on a chain, in a little yard beside the house. All afternoon all afternoon all afternoon it kept -
Once I saw a fox, in an acre of cranberries, leaping and pouncing, leaping and pouncing, leaping and falling back, its forelegs merrily slapping the air as it tried to tap a yellow butterfly with its thin black forefeet, the butterfly fluttering just out of reach all across the deep green gloss and plush of the sweet-smelling bog.
- it kept running back and forth, trembling and chattering."
- Mary Oliver
"Can you explain why it is that there are, at last count, sixteen schools of psychotherapy with sixteen theories of the personality and its disorders and that patients treated in one school seem to do as well or as badly as patients treated in any other - while there is only one generally accepted theory of the cause and cure of pneumococcal pneumonia and only one generally accepted theory of the orbits of the planets and the gravitational attraction of our galaxy and the galaxy M31 in Andromeda? (Hint: If you answer that the human psyche is more complicated than the pneumococcus and the human white-cell response or the galaxies or Einstein's general theory of relativity, keep in mind that the burden of proof is on you. Or if you answer that the study of the human psyche is in its infancy, remember then this infancy has lasted 2,500 years and, unlike physics, we don't seem to know much more about the psyche than Plato did.)"
- Walker Percy
Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
Say the moon becomes an icy pit.
Say the sweet-gum tree is petrified.
Say the sun's a foul black tire fire.
Say the owl's eyes are pinpricks.
Say the raccoon's a hot tar stain.
Say the shirt's plastic ditch-litter.
Say the kitchen's a cow's corpse.
Say we never get to see it: bright
future, stuck like a bum star, never
coming close, never dazzling.
Say we never meet her. Never him.
Say we spend our last moments staring
at each other, hands knotted together,
clutching the dog, watching the sky burn.
Say, It doesn't matter. Say, That would be
enough. Say you'd still want this: us alive,
right here, feeling lucky.
- Ada Limón