Thursday, June 30

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
Alive Together

Wednesday, June 29

"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

Tuesday, June 28

"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

Monday, June 27

"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."
 - Wendell Berry
Brother Tom

Sunday, June 26

A Name
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
The Carrying

Friday, June 24

"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

Thursday, June 23

"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

Wednesday, June 22

The Conditional
Say tomorrow doesn't come.
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

Tuesday, June 21

I step out and suddenly notice this: summer arrives, has arrived, is arriving. Birds
less than leaves although they cheep, dip, arc. A call across the tall fence from an invisible neighbor to his child is heard
right down to the secret mood in it the child
also hears. One hears in the silence that follows the great
desire for approval
and love
which summer holds aloft, all damp leeched from it, like a thing floating out on a frail but
perfect twig end. Light seeming to darken in it yet
glow. Please, it says. But not with the eager need of spring! Come what may, says summer. Smack in the middle I will stand and breathe. The
future is a super fluidity I do not
taste, no, there is no numbering
here, it is a gorgeous swelling, no emotion, as in this love is no emotion, no, also no memory - we have it all now, & all
there ever was is
us, now
 - Jorie Graham
from Later In Life

Friday, June 17

"Here we are, we the people of the United States: the greatest people on earth, so we think. We have everything - everything it takes to make people happy. We have land, water, sky and all that goes with it. We could become the great shining example of the world; we could radiate peace, joy, power, benevolence. But there are ghosts all about, ghosts whom we can't seem to lay hands on. We are not happy, not contented, not radiant, not fearless."
 - Henry Miller
The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

Thursday, June 16

The Elephant in the Room
The room is
almost all
Almost none
of it isn't.
Pretty much
solid elephant.
So there's no
room to talk
about it.
 - Kay Ryan

Wednesday, June 15

"To be is to have mortal shape, mortal conditions, to struggle, to evolve. Paradise is, like the dream of the Buddhists, a Nirvana where there is no more personality and hence no conflict. It is the expression of man's wish to triumph over reality, over becoming. The artist's dream of the impossible, the miraculous, is simply the resultant of his inability to adapt himself to reality. He creates, therefore, a reality of his own - in the poem - a reality which is suitable to him, a reality in which he can live out his unconscious desires, wishes, dreams. The poem is the dream made flesh, in a two-fold sense: as work of art, and as life, which is a work of art. When man becomes fully conscious of his powers, his role, his destiny, he is an artist and he ceases his struggle with reality."
 - Henry Miller
The Wisdom of the Heart

Tuesday, June 14

Beasts bounding through time
Van Gogh writing his brother for paints
Hemingway testing his shotgun
Celine going broke as a doctor of medicine
the impossibility of being human
Villon expelled from Paris for being a thief
Faulkner drunk in the gutters of his town
the impossibility of being human
Burroughs killing his wife with a gun
Mailer stabbing his
the impossibility of being human
Maupassant going mad in a rowboat
Dostoevsky lined up against a wall to be shot
Crane off the back of a boat into the propeller
the impossibility
Sylvia with her head in the oven like a baked potato
Harry Crosby leaping into that Black Sun
Lorca murdered in the road by the Spanish troops
the impossibility
Artaud sitting on a madhouse bench
Chatterton drinking rat poison
Shakespeare a plagiarist
Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head against deafness
the impossibility the impossibility
Nietzsche gone totally mad
the impossibility of being human
all too human
this breathing
in and out
out and in
these punks
these cowards
these champions
these mad dogs of glory
moving this little bit of light toward
 - Charles Bukowski
You Get So Alone at Times That it Just Makes Sense

Monday, June 13

"I believe our survival demands revolution, both cultural and political. If we are to survive the disasters that threaten, and survive our own struggle to make it new - a struggle I believe we have no choice but to commit ourselves to - we need tremendous transfusions of imaginative energy. If it is indeed revolution we are moving toward, we need life, and abundantly - we need poems of the spirit, to inform us of the essential, to help us live the revolution. And if instead it be the Last Days - then we need to taste the dearest, freshest drops before we die - why bother with anything less than that, the essential?"
 - Denise Levertov
The Poet in the World

Friday, June 10

"One of my teachers at Columbia was Joseph Brodsky, who's a Russian poet, wonderful, amazing poet, who was exiled from the Soviet Union for being a poet. And he said look, you Americans, you are so naïve. You think evil is going to come into your houses wearing big black boots. It doesn't come like that. Look at the language. It begins in the language."
 - Marie Howe

Thursday, June 9

"For it must be cried out, at a time when some have the audacity to neo-evangelise in the name of the ideal of a liberal democracy that has finally realized itself as the ideal of human history: never have violence, inequality, exclusion, famine, and thus economic oppression affected as many human beings in the history of the earth and of humanity. Instead of singing the advent of the ideal of liberal democracy and of the capitalist market in the euphoria of the end of history, instead of celebrating the 'end of ideologies' and the end of the great emancipatory discourses, let us never neglect this obvious macroscopic fact, made up of innumerable singular sites of suffering: no degree of progress allows one to ignore that never before, in absolute figures, have so many men, women and children been subjugated, starved or exterminated on the earth."
 - Jacques Derrida

Wednesday, June 8

"Once upon a time there were mass media, and they were wicked, of course, and there was a guilty party. Then there were the virtuous voices that accused the criminals. And Art (ah, what luck!) offered alternatives, for those who were not prisoners to the mass media.

Well, it's all over. We have to start again from the beginning, asking one another what's going on."
 - Umberto Eco
Travels in Hyperreality

"Out there people are working and arguing and laughing, living their beautiful, terrible lives, falling in love and having babies and being bored out of their skulls and feeling depressed, then being consoled by some little thing like watching the patterns the light makes through the leaves of trees, casting shadows on the sidewalks."
 - Kim Addonizio
Little Beauties

Tuesday, June 7

"Once I knew, then I forgot. It was as if I had fallen asleep in a field only to discover at waking that a grove of trees had grown up around me.
"Doubt nothing, believe everything," was my friend's idea of metaphysics, although his brother ran away with his wife. He still bought her a rose every day, sat in the empty house for the next twenty years talking to her about the weather.
I was already dozing off in the shade, dreaming that the rustling trees were my many selves explaining themselves all at the same time so that I could not make out a single word. My life was a beautiful mystery on the verge of understanding, always on the verge! Think of it!
My friend's empty house with every one of its windows lit. The dark trees multiplying all around it."
 - Charles Simic
The World Doesn't End

Monday, June 6

Canto Nine
It must have been raining a hundred days,
and the water that saturated
the roots of all the plants
Reached the library and soaked all the holy words
which were closed up in the convent.

When the good weather came,
Sajat-Novà, who was the youngest monk,
got a ladder and took all the books up to the roof,
out in the sun. Then he waited for the warm air
to dry the wet paper.

There was a month of good weather
and the monk kneeled down in the courtyard
waiting for the books to give some sign of life.
And finally one morning the pages started
to rustle slightly in the breeze.
It sounded like a swarm of bees had arrived on the roof
and he started to cry because the books were talking.
 - Tonino Guerra
translated by Adria Bernardi
Abandoned Places

Friday, June 3

"A second truth of equal weight contradicts the first, proclaiming through art, religion, philosophy, science and even war that human life, in some way not easily definable, is significant and unique and supreme beyond all the limits of reason and nature. And this second truth we can deny only at the cost of denying our humanity."
 - Edward Abbey
Desert Solitaire

Thursday, June 2

"The ugliest thing in America is greed, the lust for power and domination, the lunatic ideology of perpetual Growth - with a capital G. 'Progress' in our nation has for too long been confused with 'Growth'; I see the two as different, almost incompatible, since progress means, or should mean, change for the better - toward social justice, a livable and open world, equal opportunity and affirmative action for all forms of life. And I mean all forms, not merely the human. The grizzly, the wolf, the rattlesnake, the condor, the coyote, the crocodile, whatever, each and every species has as much right to be here as we do."
 - Edward Abbey
Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast

Wednesday, June 1

The difference between what's whole

and what's held, what's withheld
or revealed, what's real and what's

revelation - that's what I seek,
rest of my life spent in search

of little epiphanies, tiny sparks surging
out of the brain during the clumsiest speech.
 - Allison Joseph
from Little Epiphanies

  • ". . . as I have said often enough, I write for myself in multiplicate,
    a not unfamiliar phenomenon on the horizon of shimmering deserts."
    - Vladimir Nabokov