Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The crunch of the gravel road, coming home

While You Are in the Hospital

...If I could really love, I would take away
these tubes dripping lipids and glucose
into your blood. I would liquefy the things
you love and flood them through your veins:

our sleeping dogs' rhythmic breathing, huge
orange trumpets of the amaryllis we thought
would never bloom, the crunch of the gravel
road coming home.

If I could really love,
I would climb onto your narrow back
and wrap myself around, guarding like
a ladybug, or Achilles' mighty shield.

Laurie Cooper

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sweeping up Fallen Leaves

“….Most music tries to control its circumstances, just as most of us do. But there’s another way to live. Accept indeterminacy as a principle, and you see your life in a new light, as a series of seemingly unrelated jewel-like stories within a dazzling setting of change and transformation. Recognize that you don’t know where you stand, and you will begin to watch where you put your feet. That’s when a path appears.

“After a long and arduous journey a young Japanese man arrived deep in a forest where the teacher of his choice was living in a small house he had made. When the student arrived, the teacher was sweeping up fallen leaves. Greeting his master, the young man received no greeting in return. And to all his questions, there were no replies. Realizing there was nothing he could do to get the teacher’s attention, the student went to another part of the same forest and built himself a house. Years later, when he was sweeping up fallen leaves, he was enlightened. He then dropped everything, ran through the forest to his teacher, and said, “Thank you.”

Page 20, 'D.T.Suzuki', Section 1: 'Mountains are Mountains' from ‘Where the Heart Beats - John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists’, by Kay Larson, 2012.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Coming to This

We have done what we wanted.
We have discarded dreams, preferring the heavy industry
of each other, and we have welcomed grief
and called ruin the impossible habit to break.
And now we are here.
The dinner is ready and we cannot eat.
The meat sits in the white lake of its dish.
The wine waits.
Coming to this
has its rewards: nothing is promised, nothing is taken away.
We have no heart or saving grace,
no place to go, no reason to remain.

Mark Strand

Possible Life

Going There

Of course it was a disaster.
The unbearable, dearest secret
has always been a disaster.
The danger when we try to leave.
Going over and over afterward
what we should have done
instead of what we did.
But for those short times
we seemed to be alive. Misled,
misused, lied to and cheated,
certainly. Still, for that
little while, we visited
our possible life.

Jack Gilbert

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Morning, Thinking of Empire

We press our lips to the enameled rim of the cups
and know this grease that floats
over the coffee will one day stop our hearts.
Eyes and fingers drop onto silverware
that is not silverware. Outside the window, waves
beat against the chipped walls of the old city.
Your hands rise from the rough tablecloth
as if to prophesy. Your lips tremble ...
I want to say to hell with the future.
Our future lies deep in the afternoon.
It is a narrow street with a cart and driver,
a driver who looks at us and hesitates,
then shakes his head. Meanwhile,
I coolly crack the egg of a fine Leghorn chicken.
Your eyes film. You turn from me and look across
the rooftops at the sea. Even the flies are still.
I crack the other egg.
Surely we have diminished one another.

Raymond Carver

The little deaths you live

What's Left
How often now, raging weeping for the days
love gives then takes away, takes from you
the slightly chapped hand laid on the one
you’re pointing at a tree, and the voice
that breathes coffeeberry bush into your mouth. 

The finger that taps and feathers your ear
but the giggle’s gone before you turn around.
The sandalwood scent hanging in the room,
the auburn strand like a flaw in the porcelain,
the off-course nail clipping in the carpet.

The days eat into your stomach, knife you
with longing for relief from love
that you cannot leave or leave alone,
from its rings of fire where you won’t
burn down to ash or be transformed.
You become them, and they keep burning
and have a coffeeberry voice.

Listen how
their rhymes sing
the little deaths you live.

W. S. Di Piero

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Way, not the wayfarer

"To possess anything means to be possessed by it - the world enthralls those who possess some of its goods, whereas "the true faqir should not possess anything and thus not be possessed by anything".

"...Dervishhood in all its meaning is a metaphorical poverty, and amidst all its subordinate aspects there is a transcendent principle. The Divine mysteries come and go over the dervish, so that his affairs are acquired by himself, his actions attributed to himself, and his ideas attached to himself. But when his affairs are freed from the bonds of acquisition, his actions are no more attributed to himself. Then he is the Way, not the wayfarer, i.e, the dervish is a place over which something is passing, not a wayfarer following his own will."

Page 119, 'The Path', from 'The Mystical Dimensions of Islam', Annemarie Schimmel

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A single finger outstretched, like a tiny flame

This Was Once a Love Poem

This was once a love poem,
before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short,
before it found itself sitting,
perplexed and a little embarrassed,
on the fender of a parked car,
while many people passed by without turning their heads.

It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement.
It remembers choosing these shoes,
this scarf or tie.

Once, it drank beer for breakfast,
drifted its feet
in a river side by side with the feet of another.

Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy,
dropping its head so the hair would fall forward,
so the eyes would not be seen.

It spoke with passion of history, of art.
It was lovely then, this poem.
Under its chin, no fold of skin softened.
Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat.
What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall.
An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks.

The longing has not diminished.
Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat,
the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus.

Yes, it decides:
Many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots.
When it finds itself disquieted
by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life,
it will touch them—one, then another—
with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame.

Jane Hirshfield

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Just look at September, look at October!

A time to remember the Zenrin poem again, that this moment is enough. And a time to watch the light of October.

The Light of October:

Just look at September, look at October!:


When did your name
change from a proper noun
to a charm?

Its three vowels
like jewels
on the thread of my breath.

Its consonants
brushing my mouth
like a kiss.

I love your name.
I say it again and again
in this summer rain.

I see it,
discreet in the alphabet,
like a wish.

I pray it
into the night
till its letters are light.

I hear your name
rhyming, rhyming,
rhyming with everything.

Carol Ann Duffy

In Defense of Joy

Defending joy like a trench
defending it from scandal and routine
from misery and the miserable
from absences both transitory
and definitive

Defending joy like a principle
defending it from fright and nightmares
from neutrality and neutrons
from sweet infamy
and grave diagnoses

Defending joy like a flag
defending it from lighting and despair
from the guileless and the guilty
From rhetoric and cardiac arrests
from the endemic and the academic

Defending joy like a destiny
defending it from fire and firemen
from the suicidal and the homicidal
from holidays and oppression
from the obligation to be joyful

Defending joy like a certainty
defending it from rust and filth
from the popular patina of time
from relentment and opportunism
from panderers of laughter

Defending joy like a right
defending it from God and the winter
from capitalization and death
from last names and regrets
from chance
…and from joy itself.

Mario Benedetti

Touching back to Wonder

The Beautiful Changes
Richard Wilbur

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides  
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies
On water; it glides
So from the walker, it turns
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you  
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.
The beautiful changes as a forest is changed  

By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;  
As a mantis, arranged
On a green leaf, grows
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves  
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.

Your hands hold roses always in a way that says  
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes  
In such kind ways,  
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose  
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Manner of Searching

“Drawing is anyway an exercise in orientation and as such may be compared with other processes of orientation which take place in nature.

When I’m drawing I feel  a little closer to the way birds navigate when flying, or to hares finding shelter when pursued, or to fish knowing where to spawn, or trees finding a way to the light, or bees constructing their cells.

I’m aware of a distant, silent company. Almost as distant as the stars. Company nevertheless. Not because we are in the same universe, but because we are involved – each according to his own mode – in a comparable manner of searching.

Drawing is a form of probing. And the first generic impulse to draw derives from the human need to search, to plot points, to place things and to place oneself."

Page 149, ‘Bento’s Sketchbook’, John Berger

Hold everything dear

Hold Everything Dear
For John Berger

....the paths they make towards us and how far we open towards them

the justice of grass that unravels palaces but shelters the songs of the searching

the vessel that names the waves, the jug of this life, as it fills with the days
as it sinks to becomes what it loves

memory that grows into a shape the tree always knew as a seed

the words
the bread

the child who reaches for the truths beyond the door

the yearning to begin again together

the people in the room the people in the street the people

hold everything dear

19th May 2005, Gareth Evans
From 'Hold Everything Dear, Dispatches on Survival and Resistance', John Berger

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A bend in the river


This is as far as the light
of my understanding
has carried me:
an October morning
a canoe built by hand
a quiet current

above me the trees arc
green and golden
against a cloudy sky

below me the river responds
with perfect reflection
a hundred feet deep
a hundred feet high.

To take a cup of this river
to drink its purple and gray
its golden and green

to see
a bend in the river up ahead
and still

Julie Cadwallader-Staub

A thousand leaves

“Love is an attempt to penetrate another being, but it can only be realized if the surrender is mutual.”

Octavio Paz, 'The Labyrinth of Solitude and Other Writings'


The tree still bends over the lake,
And I try to recall our love,
Our love which had a thousand leaves.

Sheila Wingfield, Collected Poems: 1938-1983

Friday, October 19, 2012


"What is Sufism? He (Rumi) said: "To find joy in the heart when grief comes."

Page 17, 'Mystical Dimensions of Islam', Annemarie Schimmel

Carl Sandburg

Let a joy keep you.
Reach out your hands
And take it when it runs by,
As the Apache dancer
Clutches his woman.
I have seen them
Live long and laugh loud,
Sent on singing, singing,
Smashed to the heart
Under the ribs
With a terrible love.
Joy always,
Joy everywhere--
Let joy kill you!
Keep away from the little deaths.


Not conscious
that you have been seeking
you come upon it

the village in the Welsh hills
dust free
with no road out
but the one you came in by.

A bird chimes
from a green tree
the hour that is no hour
you know.  The river dawdles
to hold a mirror for you
where you may see yourself

as you are, a traveller
with the moon's halo
above him, who has arrived
after long journeying where he
began, catching this
one truth by surprise
that there is everything to look forward to.

R. S. Thomas, Later Poems (1983)

From here:

Not what you meet on the way

"Then I will speak plainly, like a man. No hero can be destroyed by the world. His reward is to destroy himself. Not what you meet on the way, but what you are, will destroy you, Heraclitus."

Page 27, 'Weight, The Myth of Atlas and Heraclitus', by Jeanette Winterson

Huck's Salvation

"What do people remember about Mark Twain?  For one thing, they remember the stories he told.  One that has stuck with me for a long time was about a boy faced with a conflict about doing the right thing.

The written rule was for Huck Finn to turn Jim in for being a runaway slave.  But as Huckleberry came to terms with Jim’s humanity same as his own, he found his salvation, even though he was certain he’d have to go to Hell for it.

Where do we ever find such integrity as that even among our bravest adults?"

Ask Me

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made.  Ask me whether
what I have done is my life.  Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait.  We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

William Stafford, Stories That Could Be True (1977).

From here:


We were talking about magic
as we drove along a crowded
Sunday highway
when the whirl of wings
made me turn
and a flock of geese
flew over our car
so low I could see
their feet tucked under them.

For a moment the rustle
of their presence over our heads
obscured everything
and as they disappeared
you said,
"I see what you mean."

Jenifer Nostrand

To be Desired

"In the Louvre in Paris there is a Bathsheba painted by him (William Drost, Rembrandt's disciple) which echoes Rembrandt's painting of the same object painted in the same year.

She is not looking at the spectator. She is looking hard at a man she desired, imagining him as her lover. This man could only have been Drost. The only thing we know for certain about Drost is that he was desired precisely by this woman.

I was reminded of something of which one is not usually reminded in museums. To be so desired - if the desire is also reciprocal - renders the one who is desired fearless. No suit of armour from the galleries downstairs ever offered, when worn, a comparable sense of protection. To be desired is perhaps the closest anybody can reach in his life to feeling immortal."

Page 26, 'Bento's Sketchbook', John Berger

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

So this is how

Five A.M in the Pinewoods

I'd seen
their hoof prints in the deep
needles and knew
they ended the long night

under the pines, walking
like two mute
and beautiful women toward
the deeper woods, so I

got up in the dark and
went there. They came
slowly down the hill
and looked at me sitting under

the blue trees, shyly
they stepped closer and stared
from under their thick lashes and even
nibbled some damp

tassels of weeds. This
is not a poem about a dream,
though it could be.
This is a poem about the world

that is ours, or could be.
one of them - I swear it! -
would have come to my arms.

But the other
stamped sharp hoof in the
pine needles like
the tap of sanity,

and they went off together through
the trees. When I woke
I was alone,
I was thinking:

so this is how you swim inward,
so this is how you flow outward,
so this is how you pray.

Page 32, 'House of Light', Poems by Mary Oliver


Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,
the dancer, the potter,
to make me a begging bowl
which I believe my soul needs.

And If I come to you,
to the door of your comfortable house
in unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails
will you put something into it?

I would like to take this chance.
I would like to give you this chance.

Page 37, To Begin With, the Sweet Grass, from 'Evidence', Poems by Mary Oliver

Friday, October 12, 2012

Who could have known?

The Exam
Joyce Sutphen

It is mid-October. The trees are in
their autumnal glory (red, yellow-green,

orange) outside the classroom where students
take the mid-term, sniffling softly as if

identifying lines from Blake or Keats
was such sweet sorrow, summoned up in words

they never saw before. I am thinking
of my parents, of the six decades they’ve

been together, of the thirty thousand
meals they’ve eaten in the kitchen, of the

more than twenty thousand nights they’ve slept
under the same roof. I am wondering

who could have fashioned the test that would have
predicted this success? Who could have known?

So many ways

Jane Hirshfield

A thing too perfect to be remembered:
stone beautiful only when wet.

*     *     *
Blinded by light or black cloth—
so many ways
not to see others suffer.

*     *     *
Too much longing:
it separates us
like scent from bread,
rust from iron.

*     *     *
From very far or very close—
the most resolute folds of the mountain are gentle.

*     *     *
As if putting arms into woolen coat sleeves,
we listen to the murmuring dead.

*     *     *
Any point of a circle is its start:
desire forgoing fulfillment to go on desiring.

*     *     *
In a room in which nothing
has happened,
sweet-scented tobacco.

*     *     *
The very old, hands curling into themselves, remember their parents.

*     *     *
Think assailable thoughts, or be lonely.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Immaculate, bereft, deserving to be found

To go with it, John Cage's "In a Landscape", Piano Solo.

Sleep Cycle
Dean Young

We cannot push ourselves away
from this quiet, even in our sprees
of inattention, the departing passengers 
stubbing out their smokes, arrivees in tears, 
lots of cellophane, the rumpus over parking.

Wind scrapes leaves across the road, 
first flashes of snow, it is dark then
it’s really dark. Forgive me for not
writing for so long, I’ve been
right beside you, one of the vaguer
divinities blocking your way with its need 
to confess all its botched attempts at love, 
what started the whole mess.

I love this place, 
its absurd use of balustrade, the chairs 
that dig into the spine, motorcyclists 
propping their drunk girlfriends in the sun, 
men playing timed chess with themselves, 
the guarantees and warnings that entice us 
to the brink of what they warn about.

But we can do no more than pass through 
these rooms and their sudden chills 
where once a plea was entered almost 
unintentionally that seemed at last 
to reveal ourselves to ourselves,
immaculate, bereft, deserving to be found.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Disjointed unbelonging

"Perhaps the best urban October poem of all is TS Eliot's The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, with its dark evening, yellow fog and overall air of the fall of the year and of man in equal measure. Eliot only mentions the month once, but that one naming is enough to place the poem irrevocably in the time of the year most suited to its tone of disjointed unbelonging. Prufrock is, perhaps, the October poem par excellence."

Poster Poems: October

I never tire of this. A perfect poem to read aloud. The sheer incantatory rhythm of it, the gravity...

The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock:


"He descended the small hill to the vault, in a corner of the graveyard, just as Jean had described it, so long before. Along the rough stone building was a wooden bench. He sat, leaning back, his head against the wall. He looked out to the adjacent field, empty, without even the single black horse from Jean's childhood. He imagined her as a young girl with her father, almost as if it were his own memory, reading together by the thick oak door.

Jean's childhood, her web of memory and unconscious memory, had once been her gift only to him. Now it had been given to another. This was the loss that overwhelmed him the most. Our memories contain more than we remember: those moments too ordinary to keep, from which, all our lives, we drink. Of all the privileges of love, this seemed to him the most affecting: to witness, in another, memories so deep they remain ineffable, glimpsed only by an intuition, by an illogical preference or an innocent desire, by a sorrow that arises out of seeming nothingness, an explicable longing."

Page 328, 'The Winter Vault', Anne Michaels


"We value sensitive machines. We spend billions of pounds to make them more sensitive yet, so that they detect materials deep in the earth's crust, radioactivity thousands of miles away. We don't value sensitive human beings and we spend no money on their priority.

As machines become more delicate and human beings coarser, will antennae and fibre-optic claim for themselves what was uniquely human? Not rationality, not logic, but that strange network of fragile perception, that means I can imagine, that teaches me to love, a lodging of recognition and tenderness where I sometimes know the essential beat that rhythms life."

Page 112, 'Art Objects, Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery', Jeanette Winterson


We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Saturday, October 6, 2012



You know how it is waking
from a dream certain you can fly
and that someone, long gone, returned

and you are filled with longing,
for a brief moment, to drive off
the road and feel nothing

or to see the loved one and feel
everything. Perhaps one morning,
taking brush to hair you'll wonder

how much of your life you've spent
at this task or signing your name
or rising in fog in near darkness

to ready for work. Day begins
with other people's needs first
and your thoughts disperse like

In the in-between hour, the solitary hour,
before day begins, all the world
gradually reappears, car by car.

Deborah Ager

Marvin. And Zaphod

"It gives me a headache just trying to think down to your level." Marvin
Zaphod stared at them in astonishment.
‘Hey this is terrific!” he said. ‘Someone down there is trying to kill us!’
‘Terrific’, said Arthur.
‘But don’t you see what this means?’
‘Yes. We’re going to die.’
‘Yes, but apart from that.’
‘Apart from that?’
‘It means we must be on to something!’
‘How soon can we get off it?’
'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', Douglas Adams


"We look almost happy out in the sun,
while we are bleeding fatally from wounds
we don't know about."

Tomas Transtromer, 'Streets in Shanghai

Too Much of the Air: Tomas Tranströmer   
Tom Sleigh 

Without need of meaning...

A Dedication to my Wife

To whom I owe the leaping delight
That quickens my senses in our wakingtime
And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime,
the breathing in unison.

Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other
Who think the same thoughts without need of speech,
And babble the same speech without need of meaning...

No peevish winter wind shall chill
No sullen tropic sun shall wither
The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only.

But this dedication is for others to read:
These are private words addressed to you in public.

T.S. Eliot

Verse gets worse on Fridays

I must go down to the sea again,
To the lonely sea and the sky,
I left my vest and socks there,
I wonder if they're dry ?

Spike Milligan

But this takes the cake - let me know if you can find anything worse than this! Worthy of being part of the Vogon arsenal, for their death-by-poetry sessions. Don't forget the audio.

The Loch Ness Monster's Song:

To think that Edwin Morgan, who wrote “Strawberries”, also wrote this! There is hope for us all.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


At Blackwater Pond

You know how it feels,
wanting to walk into
the rain and disappear-
wanting to feel your life
brighten and grow weightless
as a leaf in the fall.

And sometimes, for a moment,
you feel it beginning - the sense
of escape sharp as a knife-blade
hangs over the dark field
of your body, and your soul
waits just under the skin
to leap away over the water.

But the blade,
at the last minute, hesitates
and does not fall,
and the body does not open,
and you are what you are-
trapped, heavy and visible
under the rain, only your vision
delicate as old leaves skimming
over the mounds of the seasons,
the limits of everything,
the few shaped bones of time.

Page 49, 'Twelve Moons', poems by Mary Oliver

Ah, come with me!

You Are Tired (I Think)

You are tired,
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.

Come with me, then,
And we’ll leave it far and far away—
(Only you and I, understand!)
You have played,
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
Just tired.
So am I.

But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight,
And I knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart—
Open to me!
For I will show you places Nobody knows,
And, if you like,
The perfect places of Sleep.
Ah, come with me!

I’ll blow you that wonderful bubble, the moon,
That floats forever and a day;
I’ll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream,
Until I find the Only Flower,
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.

e.e. cummings

The loneliness that roams

"There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship’s, smooths and contains the rocker. It’s an inside kind — wrapped tight like skin. Then there is the loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive. On its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one’s own feet going seem to come from a far-off place."

Toni Morrison,  in 'Beloved'

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Micchami Dukkadam

Every year in August, a dear friend calls up to say "Micchami Dukkadam". 'I am sorry".  The Jain ritual of asking for forgiveness, to all your dear ones, everyone whom you may have wronged, knowingly or unknowingly, on the last day of the festival of Paryushana. Though you always joke about it, it moves you deeply, every single time. (Probably you joke the most about things that move you deeply, and do not want to acknowledge?)

For we cause the deepest hurt to the ones we care about the most, those whom we wished cared for us more, to complete the circle of reciprocity. For we suffer the most when we inflict suffering on them, seemingly with nonchalance.

For we expect so much more from them, than from random people who cut us in the queue or nearly hit us in the traffic. For it is on their approval, their validation, that we hang the meaning, the purpose of our lives, whatever else it is that we seemingly chase, in the mad scramble of our blind seeking. All roads, finally, lead to them, though we think we are firmly headed in the opposite direction. As always, intelligence, displaying its feet of clay, its powerlessness.

In the moments when you have jumped off the trapeze and are sailing through the air, and know for sure there's no one on the other side sending you a swing to hold on to, and no safety net below, this is what you would like to say:

Micchami Dukkadam.


The Ten of Swords

"..This is the ultimate manifestation of the Swords suit and its negative, destructive power. Even though only one sword would be needed to kill this man, ten were used: he has not simply been killed, but annihilated."

The Tarot

And talked of never-ending things....

Continual Conversation With A Silent Man

The old brown hen and the old blue sky,
Between the two we live and die--
The broken cartwheel on the hill.

As if, in the presence of the sea,
We dried our nets and mended sail
And talked of never-ending things,

Of the never-ending storm of will,
One will and many wills, and the wind,
Of many meanings in the leaves,

Brought down to one below the eaves,
Link, of that tempest, to the farm,
The chain of the turquoise hen and sky

And the wheel that broke as the cart went by.
It is not a voice that is under the eaves.
It is not speech, the sound we hear

In this conversation, but the sound
Of things and their motion: the other man,
A turquoise monster moving round.

Wallace Stevens

Cinder and Smoke

Iron & Wine: Cinder and Smoke

Cinder and smoke
You’ll ask me to pray for rain
With ash in your mouth
You’ll ask it to burn again


I never run into anyone from the old days.
It's summer and I'm alone in the city.
I enter stores, apartment houses, offices
And find nothing remotely familiar.

The trees in the park - were they always so big?
And the birds so hidden, so quiet?
Where is the bus that passed this way?
Where are the greengrocers and hairdressers,

And that schoolhouse with the red fence?
Miss Harding is probably still at her desk,
Sighing as she grades papers late into the night.
The bummer is, I can't find the street.

All I can do is make another tour of the neighbourhood,
Hoping I'll meet someone to show me the way
And a place to sleep, since I've no return ticket
To wherever it is I came from earlier this evening.

From 'That Little Something', Poems by Charles Simic


The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes -
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands -
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

Louis MacNeice

Monday, October 1, 2012

This responsibility tires me

"I write a little about my life in Delhi to A-1 and he says, "Wow! You get to do whatever you like. No family responsibilities." I smile and switch off the computer, asking myself if there is any other way of living alone.

When you have no one around you, it is not so hard to regulate your life around your own needs. I do not think he realizes that it has taken me all my life to reach this free space, or that not having anyone is also a huge responsibility. One slip and there is no one to hold me. It will be a steep fall. I will labour to rise from the abyss. The responsibility tires me.

No, I do not get to do what I want. I just do what I need to do to get by."

Page 42, 'Roll of Honour', Amandeep Sandhu


"That's all we need to do in this life - find the single feature in  each friend, the one really essential quality and then love them for it. When my mother checked to make sure the door was locked, even after she'd already checked a dozen times, even when she was at last sitting in the front seat of the car, in her place in the passenger seat next to my indulgent father, still she always had to get out and check the door one more time - and it wasn't good enough to watch my father do it, she had to do it herself.

How that set my teeth on edge, I'd wait in the backseat literally grinding my jaws together. But she'd grown up with nothing and now she had a nice house full of nice things - of course she would have to make sure the door was locked again and again. Who in their right mind would trust such luck? The important thing is not that she checked the lock, but that she was once so poor and she never, never forgot it. You'd have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by that. Think of all the anger I wasted on locks when I should've been thinking about poverty.

But that's just the way it is with the truth, it's never in the same room with you, it's never in the backseat with you, it's never there when you need it. It always bobs up years later like a waterbird that dives in one part of the lake and pops up in another. You grab for the truth with both hands and it pops up behind you..."

Page 151, 'The Winter Vault', Anne Michaels


 You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications.

Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.

Anaïs Nin in The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947


If you look for the truth outside yourself,
It gets farther and farther away.

Today walking alone, I meet it everywhere I step.
It is the same as me, yet I am not it.

Only if you understand it in this way
Will you merge with the way things are.


The Night

"I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does."

Jorge Luis Borges

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