Friday, March 30, 2012

The only sins

"Graham (Greene) loved to write and talk of brothels, paid companions, and it was one of the habits that put off many an otherwise sympathetic reader, or convinced friends that they were dealing with an adolescent. But underneath the wished-for bravado there always seemed to lie something quieter and more sincere than simply a wish to shock. He really did appear to hold that kindness is more important than conventional morality and the things you do more telling than merely the things we claim to believe.

In one play he barely acknowledged - it was never published in his lifetime - he portrays the girls in a whorehouse as earthly angels of a kind, listening to men's confessions and offering a form of absolution, as elsewhere priests might do.

The only crime in such a place, he suggests - the play is called A House of Reputation - is to feel shame about one's presence there (as a dentist does) or to complicate the exchange  with the talk of love (as one "sentimental ignorant fool" does, falling for a hardheaded girl as if he's confusing the woman with her office). When the boy in love gets the brothel closed down, in a fit of too-simple righteousness, he strips the girl he loves of her home and her living and deprives the world of a much-needed hospital of the heart. The only sins in the Greene universe are hypocrisy and putting a theory - even a religion - before a human being."

Page 33, 'The Man Within My Head', Pico Iyer

Remember Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday? Is kindness the common denominator of all great writers?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Almanac of Last Things

In this season of falling seeds, a parrot shook a whole podful of snowflake-like seeds in my path this morning.

The Almanac of Last Things

From the almanac of last things
I choose the spider lily
for the grace of its brief
blossom, though I myself
fear brevity,

but I choose The Song of Songs
because the flesh
of those pomegranates
has survived
all the frost of dogma.

I choose January with its chill
lessons of patience and despair--and
August, too sun-struck for lessons.
I choose a thimbleful of red wine
to make my heart race,

then another to help me
sleep. From the almanac
of last things I choose you,
as I have done before.
And I choose evening

because the light clinging
to the window
is at its most reflective
just as it is ready
to go out.

Linda Pastan

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Help me decide

I somehow love the idea of living on an island and someone coming to meet me, and me waiting at the dock for the boat. Surely a memory from Henning Menkell, or one of the Scandinavian writers.

To Happiness
by Carl Dennis

If you're not approaching, I hope at least
You're off to comfort someone who needs you more,
Not lost wandering aimlessly
Or drawn to the shelter of well-lit rooms
Where people assume you've arrived already.

If you're coming this way, send me the details—
The name of the ship, the port it leaves from—
So I can be down on the dock to help you
Unload your valises, your trunks and boxes
And stow them in the big van I'll have rented.

I'd like this to be no weekend stay
Where a single change of clothes is sufficient.
Bring clothes for all seasons, enough to fill a closet;
And instead of a single book for the bedside table
Bring boxes of all your favorites.

I'll be eager to clear half my shelves to make room,
Eager to read any titles you recommend.
If we've many in common, feel free to suggest
They prove my disposition isn't to blame
For your long absence, just some problems of attitude,

A few bad habits you'll help me set to one side.
We can start at dinner, which you're welcome
To cook for us while I sweep and straighten
And set the table. Then light the candles
You've brought from afar for the occasion.

Light them and fill the room I supposed I knew
With a glow that shows me I was mistaken.
Then help me decide if I'm still the person I was
Or someone else, someone who always believed in you
And imagined no good reasons for your delay.


Sweet Darkness

...Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognise its own.
There you can be sure
... you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

David Whyte


by Michael Ryan

Fragile, provisional, it comes unbidden
as evening: the children on the block
called in to dinner that for tonight
is plentiful, as if it had cost nothing
either in money or worry about money.

Then evening deepens and the street
turns silent. There may be disasters
idling in driveways, and countless distresses
sharpening, but all that matters
most that must be done is done.

"Contentment" by Michael Ryan, from 'This Morning'

Monday, March 26, 2012


Now and then
it's good to pause
in our pursuit of happiness
and just be happy.

Guillaume Apollinaire

The art of losing

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

-- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.

Elizabeth Bishop

Sunday, March 25, 2012

And wave after wave

"This sky like an infinite tenderness, I have caught
glimpses of that, often, so often, and never yet have
I described it, I can’t, somehow, I never will.

How is it that I didn’t spend my whole life being happy, loving
other human beings’ faces.

And wave after wave, the ocean smells like lilacs in
late August."

'Walking to Martha’s Vineyard', by Franz Wright


What you must forget

"We talk about survivor’s guilt, but not about observer’s guilt. For journalists this is particularly acute, as we are paid to watch suffering and paid more during war. For poets, it’s even worse. It’s Adorno for the twenty-first century. The incomparable horror of Auschwitz has given way to Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq.

    It is not what they built. It is what they knocked down.
    It is not the houses. It is the spaces between the houses.
    It is not the streets that exist. It is the streets that no longer exist.
    It is not your memories which haunt you.
    It is not what you have written down.
    It is what you have forgotten, what you must forget.
    What you must go on forgetting all your life.
    And with any luck oblivion should discover a ritual.

                      From “A German Requiem,” by James Fenton"

 Everyone is an Immigrant, Poetry and Reportage in Lampedusa, Eliza Griswold:

As branches reach

A Neruda-feel.

"You come to me quiet as rain not yet fallen.

...You come to me
Quiet as bulbs not yet broken
Out into sunlight.

...The fear I see in your now lining face
Changes to puzzlement when my hands reach
For you as branches reach..."

Brian Patten

I lived for those connections

Don't Use My Blood
Tim McBride

The Confidential Self-Exclusion Sticker lets the donor indicate anonymously that his/her blood should not be used for transfusion if he/she is donating under peer pressure or other strained circumstances.—The American Red Cross

Don't trust my smile
no matter how I gush
at you from the tilted chair
letting blood
run into your plastic bag.
My heart is sick. My pint is venomous.

Don't trust my words.
I lied to every question on your form.
I have "taken/given money in exchange for sex"
with men and women,
not "even once," but many times.
I've been "unprotected" in love
in despair, in loneliness—
in New York and Miami,
in Java and in Niamey, Niger.
I lived for those connections.
That's why I come to you.

Don't trust my eyes.
Though I look away from the quick stab
into the swabbed and swollen mainline
of my tied-off radial vein,
I'm not afraid. I share ungodly needles
all the time. Like yours
they make me feel giddy and generous,
light-headed and brave.
Unpunctured night
turns rank and malarial.
Rats have bitten me.
Such things leave their mark.

Don't use my blood.
I offer it for nothing,
a sacrament unfit for you to touch.
Tape that red cross
in the hinge of my arm.
Take the scarlet button,
pin it to my chest.
Change Be nice,
I gave blood today
Write Love me,
I have drained my heart


"I think we judge people we know personally in the context of their entire lives. Nothing else would make sense or seem fair. But we judge strangers and public figures by statements taken out of context. Removing context is what turns a non-story into a story. And it allows the news media to put a face on evil, which is a good way to attract eyeballs and sell advertising."

Scott Adams.

Friday, March 23, 2012


I used to love the rainbow
And I used to love the view
Another early morning
I pretend that it was new
But I caught the darkness, baby
And I got it worse than you.

Leonard Cohen, Darkness:

Telling its story, against the vanishing

The Enigma We Answer by Living

Einstein didn't speak as a child
waiting till a sentence formed and
emerged full-blown from his head.

I do the thing, he later wrote, which
nature drives me to do. Does a fish
know the water in which he swims?

This came up in conversation
with a man I met by chance,
friend of a friend of a friend,

who passed through town carrying
three specimen boxes of insects
he'd collected in the Grand Canyon-

one for mosquitoes, one for honeybees,
one for butterflies and skippers,
each lined up in a row, pinned and labeled,

tiny morphologic differences
revealing how adaptation
happened over time. The deeper down

he hiked, the older the rock
and the younger
the strategy for living in that place.

And in my dining room the universe
found its way into this man
bent on cataloguing each innovation,

though he knows it will all disappear-
the labels, the skippers, the canyon.
We agreed then, the old friends and the new,

that it's wrong to think people are a thing apart
from the whole, as if we'd sprung
from an idea out in space, rather than emerging

from the sequenced larval mess of creation
that binds us with the others,
all playing the endgame of a beautiful planet

that's made us want to name
each thing and try to tell
its story against the vanishing.

Alison Hawthorne Deming

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What lasts

For Tess

Suppose I say summer,
write the word for "hummingbird",
put it in an envelope,
take it down the hill
to the box. When you open
my letter you will recall
those days and how much,
just how much, I love you.

Five O'Clock in the Morning

As he passed his father's room, he glanced in at the door,
Yevgraf Ivanovitch, who had not taken off his clothes or gone
to bed, was standing by the window, drumming on the panes.

"Goodbye, I am going." said the son.
"Goodbye...the money is on the round table," his father
answered without turning around.

A cold, hateful rain was falling as the laborer drove him
to the station...The grass seemed darker than ever.

Anton Chekov, "Difficult People"

"What lasts is what you start with."

Charles Wight, from "A Journal of Southern Rivers'

From 'All of Us', Collected Poems, Raymond Carver

Monday, March 19, 2012

To stop time

My Life’s Sentences
Jhumpa Lahiri

"In college, I used to underline sentences that struck me, that made me look up from the page. They were not necessarily the same sentences the professors pointed out, which would turn up for further explication on an exam. I noted them for their clarity, their rhythm, their beauty and their enchantment. For surely it is a magical thing for a handful of words, artfully arranged, to stop time. To conjure a place, a person, a situation, in all its specificity and dimensions. To affect us and alter us, as profoundly as real people and things do."

(You still do. You type them down. You store them on this blog. Which is all that remains.)

Full article, here

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A song-cousin, a counterpart, a reflected image

"...But I got none of these responses from the Ihalmut. The unadorned fact that I, a white man and a stranger, should voluntarily wish to step across the barriers of blood that lay between us, and ask the People to teach me their tongue, instead of expecting them to learn mine - this was the key to their hearts. When they saw that I was anxious to exert myself in trying to understand their way of life, their response was instant, enthusiastic, and almost overwhelming. Both Ootek and Ohoto, who was called in to assist in the task, abruptly ceased to treat me with the usual deference they extend to white strangers. They devoted themselves to the problem I had set them with the strength of fanatics.

To begin with, Ootek taught me the meaning of the word Ihalmut. When I had mastered its meaning by the aid of devious drawings executed in sand, Ootek stood Ohoto in one place, then placed me a few feet away to the south. Now he pointed to Ohoto, and repeated "Ihalmut" over and over again with a remarkable excess of emotion in his voice as he spoke. At last he came over, took me by the arm, and led me to the side of Ohoto. Both men now beamed at me with the anxious expressions of people who hope their acts have been understood, and fortunately I did not disappoint them. I understood. I was no longer a stranger; I was now a man of the Ihalmut, of the People who dwell under the slopes of the Little Hills.

It was an initiation so informal, so lacking in the dramatic gestures, that for a little while its deep significance was not clear to me. It was some time before I discovered that this simple ceremony of Ootek and Ohoto had not only made me an adopted man of the land, but had also given me a relationship with both men. I became their song-cousin, a difficult relationship to define, but one that is only extended on the most complete and comprehensive basis of friendship. If I wished, I might have shared all things that Ootek and Ohoto possessed, even to their wives, though this honor was not thrust upon me. As a song-cousin I was a counterpart of each man who had adopted me. I was his reflected image, yet cloaked in the full flesh of reality.

Of course, under the law, it was assumed that  I would reciprocate to the fullest, and had I been born an Ihalmio I would have given the reciprocity without any thought. Yet as a white man I unconsciously refused it to both Ohoto and Ootek times without number, but never did they feel the need to retaliate by withdrawing any of the privileges of the relationship they had so freely extended to me."

Page 120, 'People of the Deer', Farley Mowat


"But even now, as I walk down the street with a reminder of my ex-fiance wrapped up in my purse, I am reminded that that’s what life’s like: A shark attack. Just when you think you’ve got away, it comes back to drag you back under again......"

Classic Mercedes Requires Garage. Short story, by David Milligan-Croft:

And then

And Nothing Is Ever As You Want It To Be

You lose your love for her and then
It is her who is lost,
And then it is both who are lost,
And nothing is ever as perfect as you want it to be.

In a very ordinary world
A most extraordinary pain mingles with the small routines,
The loss seems huge and yet
Nothing can be pinned down or fully explained.

You are afraid.
If you found the perfect love
It would scald your hands,
Rip the skin from your nerves,
Cause havoc with a computered heart.

You lose your love for her and then it is her who is lost.
You tried not to hurt and yet
Everything you touched became a wound.
You tried to mend what cannot be mended,
You tried, neither foolish nor clumsy,
To rescue what cannot be rescued.

You failed,
And now she is elsewhere
And her night and your night
Are both utterly drained.

How easy it would be
If love could be brought home like a lost kitten
Or gathered in like strawberries,
How lovely it would be;
But nothing is ever as perfect as you want it to be.

Brian Patten

The Trail of Genghis Khan

The most beautiful and mind-blowing travelogue I've ever seen. Tim Cope's solo journey across the steppes from Mongolia to Hungary, recreating the journey of Genghis Khan and his soldiers, with 3 horses and a dog for company, a journey that lasted three and a half years. Stunning landscapes, and encounters with the most amazing people, making all the unimaginable hardships more than worthwhile. Above all, a great history lesson, and a lesson in being human.

6 stunning videos of 26 mins each. I couldn't stop.

"From the former Mongol capital Karakorum to the Danube, young Australian adventurer Tim Cope retraced the path of the first nomads and followed the route taken by legendary Genghis Khan as he forged his great empire. Over three and a half gruelling years, and guided by an old Kazakh wisdom - "to understand the wolf, you must put on the skin of a wolf and look through its eyes" - Tim lived just as the ancient nomads did.

Tim travelled 10,000kms alone on horseback across the Eurasian steppe through Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Hungary..."

The Trail of Genghis Khan:

I never saw light that way again

The Two Times I Loved You Most In A Car
Dorothea Grossman

It was your idea
to park and watch the elephants
swaying among the trees
like royalty
at that make-believe safari
near Laguna.
I didn’t know anything that big
could be so quiet.

And once, you stopped
on a dark desert road,
to show me the stars
climbing over each other
like insects;
like an orchestra
thrashing its way
through time itself.
I never saw light that way

Friday, March 16, 2012

The comfort of strangers

"Henry had written a novel because there was a hole in him that needed filling, a question that needed answering, a patch of canvas that needed painting - that blend of anxiety, curiosity and joy that is the origin of art - and he had filled that hole, answered the question, splashed colour on the canvas, all done for himself, because he had to.

Then complete strangers told him that his book had filled a hole in them, had answered a question, had brought colour to their lives. The comfort of strangers, be it a smile, a pat on the shoulder or a word of praise, is truly a comfort."

'Beatrice and Virgil, a novel' by Yann Martel, Author of 'Life of Pi', Winner of the Man Booker Prize

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Tundra Book

The Tundra Book: A Tale of Vukvukai, the Little Rock

Director: Aleksei Vakhrushev
Russia I 2011 I 105 minutes I Russian and Chukchi with English subtitles


The Tundra Book: A Tale of Vukvukai, the Little Rock presents a rare and stunning documentary about the lives of the Chukchi people who inhabit a remote Russian peninsula in the Arctic Circle, leaving them virtually isolated from modern life.

The story centers on Vukvukai and his community. Vukvukai, the Little Rock, is Chukchi from eastern Russia and lives along the Bering Sea region. He has lived his lifetime as a reindeer herder and thus is known in his community as a true man of the tundra whose life is inseparable from the reindeer. The Chukchi herd more than 14,000 reindeer. Vukvukai lives in one of the harshest climate zones in the world, the Arctic Circle.

His story and that of the Chukchi is one of a nonstop struggle for survival, but the people believe that following the practices of their ancient, nomadic, cultural traditions contributes to the perseverance of their survival in the unyielding, frozen tundra. The film presents a glimpse into a land, culture, and people that few have ever dared to capture, since it is so remote. For now, the nomadic Chukchi culture remains virtually intact away from the influx of modernity.

By the All Roads Film Project:

 All Roads Seed Grant

This grant funds film projects by or about indigenous and underrepresented minority cultures from around the world and seeks to support filmmakers who bring their community stories to light through first-person storytelling.

*Photo from Google Images

Call and get a Sparrow House

"As part of this campaign, we are distributing nearly 10,000 'Sparrow Houses' for free. You can put it up in your balconies and verandahs. You can hang it down from pergolas, or even put it up on a tree if you have one. We will also give shrubs, seed balls, and a small packet of grains to facilitate a proper nesting atmosphere for these birds.

If you are in Bangalore, please call: 9686456287 / 9686192739 to find out where you can pick up your 'Sparrow House' from!"

An initiative of Zed Habitats (
BCIL, Poonam Chambers, Opp Food World,
397, 13th Cross, Sadashivanagar Main Road, Bangalore
Tel: 080-4018 4018. Cell: 91-96864 56287.

*Sandhya, who works at, says they have changed the design into horizontal now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

People of the Deer

After ages, a book where you feel at home, a book which is a crucifix against the world, a book which carves a cave into which you can retreat, when incomprehension rages outside. Once in Canada, you wanted to go to Hudson Bay, with a one-way ticket. Actual isolation, perhaps, more bearable, than that within the crowd?

"In 1886, the Ihalmiut people of northern Canada numbered seven thousand; by 1946, when Farley Mowat began his two-year stay in the Arctic, the population had fallen to just forty. With them, he observed for the first time the phenomenon that would inspire him for the rest of his life: the millennia-old migration of the Arctic's caribou herds. He also endured bleak, interminable winters, suffered agonizing shortages of food, and witnessed the continual, devastating intrusions of outsiders bent on exploitation.

Here, in this classic and first book to demonstrate the mammoth literary talent that would produce some of the most memorable books of the next half-century, best-selling author Farley Mowat chronicles his harrowing experiences. People of the Deer is the lyrical ethnography of a beautiful and endangered society. It is a mournful reproach to those who would manipulate and destroy indigenous cultures throughout the world. Most of all, it is a tribute to the last People of the Deer, the diminished Ihalmiuts, whose calamitous encounter with our civilization resulted in their unnecessary demise."

Peru bans GM Foods

Peru Passes Monumental Ten Year Ban on Genetically Engineered Foods

"In a massive blow to multinational agribiz corporations such as  Monsanto, Bayer, and Dow, Peru has officially passed a law banning genetically modified ingredients anywhere within the country for a full decade before coming up for another review. 

Peru’s Plenary Session of the Congress made the decision 3 years after the decree was written despite previous governmental pushes for GM legalization due largely to the pressure from farmers that together form the Parque de la Papa in Cusco, a farming community of 6,000 people that represent six communities. They worry the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will compromise the native species of Peru, such as the giant white corn, purple corn and, of course, the famous species of Peruvian potatoes. Anibal Huerta, President of Peru’s Agrarian Commission, said the ban was needed to prevent the ”danger that can arise from the use of biotechnology.”

The rest here.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Jesus Meets the Women

They bump into Him shopping in Bloomfield.
It's how many years? He's skin and bone.
The hair. The beard. Some kind of radical.
But still He shows respect, kisses each one,
inquires about their health, tells them to pray,
ask anything in His name and it's theirs.
They laugh. He's probably on drugs, they say.
His poor widowed mother. Thirty-three years
old, a grown man, and still can't settle down.
The little bit He makes He gives away,
while poor Mary sits in one room downtown,
practically on welfare, day after day.
They don't mention the thorns or bloody cross.
He's not a bad kid, just a little lost.

Joseph Bathanti


"But even so, every now and then I would feel a violent stab of loneliness. The very water I drink, the very air I breathe, would feel like long, sharp needles. The pages of a book in my hands would take on the threatening metallic gleam of razor blades. I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning."

Haruki Murakami, 'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle'

Trying to say it

Saying It
Philip Booth

Saying it. Trying
to say it. Not
to answer to

logic, but leaving
our very lives open
to how we have

to hear ourselves
say what we mean.
Not merely to

know, all told,
our far neighbors;
or here, beside

us now, the stranger
we sleep next to.
Not to get it said

and be done, but to
say the feeling, its
present shape, to

let words lend it
dimension: to name
the pain to confirm

how it may be borne:
through what in
ourselves we dream

to give voice to,
to find some word for
how we bear our lives.

Daily, as we are daily
wed, we say the world
is a wedding for which,

as we are constantly
finding, the ceremony
has not yet been found.

What wine? What bread?
What language sung?
We wake, at night, to

imagine, and again wake
at dawn to begin: to let
the intervals speak

for themselves, to
listen to how they
feel, to give pause

to what we're about:
to relate ourselves,
over and over; in

time beyond time
to speak some measure
of how we hear the music:

today if ever to
say the joy of trying
to say the joy.


I want to tell what the forests
were like.

I will have to speak
in a forgotten language.

W.S. Merwin, from 'The Rain in the Trees'


Todd Davis

Try telling the boy who’s just had his girlfriend’s name
cut into his arm that there’s slippage between the signifier
and the signified. Or better yet explain to the girl
who watched in the mirror as the tattoo artist stitched
the word for her father’s name (on earth as in heaven)
across her back that words aren’t made of flesh and blood,
that they don’t bite the skin. Language is the animal
we’ve trained to pick up the scent of meaning. It’s why
when the boy hears his father yelling at the door
he sends the dog that he’s kept hungry, that he’s kicked,
then loved, to attack the man, to show him that every word
has a consequence, that language, when used right, hurts.


"It's the birthday of science fiction writer Douglas Adams born in Cambridge, England (1952-2001). He was unemployed, depressed, living in his mother's house, when he remembered a night from years before. He was a teenager traveling around Europe with his guidebook The Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe, and that night he was lying in a field in Innsbruck, drunk, looking up at the stars, and he thought somebody should write a hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy as well. And so years later, he wrote the radio play The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, chronicling the adventures of the kindly and boring Arthur Dent, who is still wearing his dressing gown when he is whisked away from his suburban English home just in time to escape Earth being demolished by an interstellar highway."

Thank you, Adams. It is only your insanity that keeps me sane on some days.

"Sir Isaac Newton, renowned inventor of the milled-edge coin and the catflap!"
"The what?" said Richard.
"The catflap! A device of the utmost cunning, perspicuity and invention. It is a door within a door, you see, a ..."
"Yes," said Richard, "there was also the small matter of gravity."
"Gravity," said Dirk with a slightly dismissed shrug, "yes, there was that as well, I suppose. Though that, of course, was merely a discovery. It was there to be discovered." ...
"You see?" he said dropping his cigarette butt, "They even keep it on at weekends. Someone was bound to notice sooner or later. But the catflap ... ah, there is a very different matter. Invention, pure creative invention. It is a door within a door, you see."

Friday, March 9, 2012

Write to me

Agha Shahid Ali

The moon did not become the sun.
It just fell on the desert
in great sheets, reams
of silver handmade by you.
The night is your cottage industry now,
the day is your brisk emporium.
The world is full of paper.

Write to me.

Tell me again

"I know people who can tell
The future or the pain of your past
Just by looking at all the lines
In the palms of your hands.
The human hand is a book
Where suffering
Is written in wordless lines.

Tell me again
About the necessity of language."

Page 23, "Knowledge: The Hand of Another"
'The Book of What Remains', Benjamin Alire Saenz

Photo: In Cambodia, a hill outside Phnom Penh

The moment

"It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?"

Vita Sackville-West


"Near a shrine in Japan he'd swept the path
and then placed camellia blossoms there.
Or - we had no way of knowing -
he'd swept the path
between fallen camellias."


Set Fire to the Rain:

The sound of certain voices, certain words. Meaning is not everything.

Yet within, it must be cool and quiet

Charles Simic

Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger's tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.

From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
And listen.

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill--
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

By leaves we live

"This is a green world, with animals comparatively few and small,
and all dependent on the leaves.
By leaves we live.
Some people have strange ideas that they live by money.
They think energy is generated by the circulation of coins.
Whereas the world is mainly a vast leaf colony,
growing on and forming a leafy soil,
not a mere mineral mass:
and we live not by the jingling of our coins,
but by the fullness of our harvests."

Patrick Geddes

Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) was a Scottish biologist, sociologist, philanthropist and pioneering town planner. He is known for his innovative thinking in the fields of urban planning and education.

“Geddes’ great achievement has been the making of a bridge between Biology and Social Science,” wrote his biographer Lewis Mumford. His idea now seems simple: just like plants and other animals, people thrive in healthy conditions. Patrick considered how people could improve these conditions and in so doing, established town planning.”

“His ideas were novel: cities must be planned with respect to their surrounding villages, he said, in a ‘conurbation’. Industrial development, if left unchecked, would damage the air, water and land upon which all life relies. Little wonder that today’s environmentalists consider Patrick a prophet of land stewardship and sustainable activity.”


"How many losses can you take before you break?"

"And there is no use in pretending that there are days when your heart
Can hold nothing but your grief. Take a breath. Cry for all you're worth.
But don't forget, everyone else is crying, too. There is plenty
Of misery to go around. Don't let the smiles fool you. We're all living
In exile - it's just that some of us don't know it. You think the guy
On the freeway who's tailgating you and flipping you off isn't
In some serious pain? He wants you off the road, which is
Another way of saying he'd like to exile you from the fucking freeway
Of life. Forgive him. He's only doing what he's been trained to do.
He doesn't know where to put his pain and has mistaken it for rage."

From 'The Book of What Remains',  Benjamin Alire Saenz


"We all indulge in the strange, pleasant process called thinking, but when it comes to saying, even to someone opposite, what we think, then how little we are able to convey! The phantom is through the mind and out of the window before we can lay salt on its tail, or slowly sinking and returning to the profound darkness which it has lit up momentarily with a wandering light."

"Thus when I come to shape here at this table between my hands the story of my life and set it before you as a complete thing, I have to recall things gone far, gone deep, sunk into this life or that and become part of it; dreams, too, things surrounding me, and the inmates, those old half-articulate ghosts who keep up their hauntings by day and night ... shadows of people one might have been; unborn selves."

Virginia Woolf

Sunday, March 4, 2012

And a time to share water

36 degrees. Time to keep water for the birds and the squirrels, in your balconies/gardens.

Watching birds happily drink/splash about in water is a great joy - don't deprive your kids of it. You can use the waste water to water your plants, when you refill.

So what if it is going to be really hot, this could also be a season to bond with birds?

How to Make  a Recycled Bird Bath:

*Photo from Google Images.

And the best bird photos, and the most lyrical bird stories, here.

Blog Archive