Sunday, November 15, 2015

Laden branches, bright rivers

Seeing, in Three Pieces

Somehow we must see
through the shimmering cloth
of daily life, its painted,
evasive facings of what to eat,
to wear? Which work
matters? Is a bird more
or less than a man?


There have been people
who helped the world. Named
or not named. They weren't interested
in what might matter,
doubled over as they were
with compassion. Laden
branches, bright rivers.

When a bulb burns out
we just change it--
it's not the bulb we love;
it's the light.

Kate Knapp, 'Wind Somewhere and Shade'

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Slow Dance

Some days I can go nearly an hour
without thinking of the taste
of your mouth. Right now, I’m at school
watching teenagers fidget through a test.
Outside, the sky is smoky and streets are wet
and two grackles step lightly in yellow grass.

Two weeks ago in Atlantic City
I stood on the boardwalk
and looked out across the water –
the railing was cool, broken shells
dappled the beach – I had been
playing the slot machines
and lost all but a dollar. I
tried to picture you in Paris,
learning the sound of your new country
where, at that moment, it was already night.

I thought maybe you’d be out
walking with the street lights
glossing your lips, with your eyes
deep as this field of water.
Maybe someone was looking at you
as you paused under the awning
of a bakery where the smell
of newly risen bread buttered the air.

I remember those suede boots
you wore to the party last December,
your clipped hair, your long arms
like the necks of swans. I remember
how seeing the shape of your mouth
that first time, I kept staring
until my blood turned to rain.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Don't Worry

Things take the time they take. Don't worry.
How many roads did St.Augustine follow
before he became St.Augustine?

'Felicity', Mary Oliver

What's wrong with Maybe?

The World I Live In

I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of
reasons and proofs.
The world I live in and believe in
is wider than that. And anyway,
what's wrong with Maybe?

You wouldn't believe what once or
twice I have seen. I'll just
tell you this:
only if there are angels in your head will you
ever, possibly, see one.

Mary Oliver, 'Felicity'

Phone Therapy

I was relief, once, for a doctor on vacation
and got a call from a man on a window sill.
This was New York, a dozen stories up.
He was going to kill himself, he said.

I said everything I could think of.
And when nothing worked, when the guy
was still determined to slide out that window
and smash his delicate skull

on the indifferent sidewalk, “Do you think,”
I asked, “you could just postpone it
until Monday, when Dr. Lewis gets back?”
The cord that connected us—strung

under the dirty streets, the pizza parlors, taxis,
women in sneakers carrying their high heels,
drunks lying in piss—that thick coiled wire
waited for the waves of sound.

In the silence I could feel the air slip
in and out of his lungs and the moment
when the motion reversed, like a goldfish
making the turn at the glass end of its tank.

I matched my breath to his, slid
into the water and swam with him.

"Okay," he agreed.

Ellen Bass

There is nothing more pathetic than caution


There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.
Like, telling someone you love them.
Or giving your money away, all of it.

Your heart is beating, isn't it?
You are not in chains, are you?

There is nothing more pathetic than caution
when headlong might save a life
even, possibly, your own.

'Felicity', Mary Oliver

How can this be, but it is



From 'Felicity', Mary Oliver

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I will meet you there.


Everything That Was Broken

Everything that was broken has
forgotten its brokenness. I live
now in a sky-house, through every
window the sun. Also your presence.
Our touching, our stories. Earthy
and holy both. How can this be, but
it is. Every day has something in
it whose name is Forever.

I Don't Want to Lose

I don't want to lose a single thread
from the intricate brocade of this happiness.
I want to remember everything.
Which is why I'm lying awake, sleepy
but not sleepy enough to give it up.

Just now, a moment from years ago:
the early morning light, the deft, sweet
gesture of your hand
reaching for me.

No, I'd Never Been to this Country

No, I'd never been to this country
before. No, I don't know where the roads
would lead me. No, I didn't intend to
turn back.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A bridge in the familiar dark neighborhood of my mind

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Last summer I found a small box stashed away in my apartment, a box  filled with enough Vicodin to kill me.

I would  have sworn that  I'd  thrown it away years earlier,  but apparently not.

I stared at the white pills blankly for a long while, I even took a picture of them,  before  (finally, definitely)  throwing  them away. 

I'd been sober  (again)  for  some years  when  I found that box, but every addict  has  one — a  little  box,  metaphorical  or  actual — hidden away.

Before I flushed them  I held them in my palm,  marveling that  at  some  point in  the  not-so-distant  past it seemed a good idea  to  keep a  stash of  pills on hand. 

For an emergency, I told myself.  What kind of emergency? What  if  I needed  a root canal on  a  Sunday  night? 

This little  box  would  see me through until the  dentist  showed  up  for  work  the next  morning. 

Half  my brain  told  me  that,  while  the other half  knew that  looking into that  box  was  akin  to  seeing  a photograph of myself standing on the  edge of a bridge, a bridge in the familiar dark neighborhood of  my mind,  that  comfortable  place  where  I  could  somehow believe that fuck it was an adequate response to life.

Nick Flynn, "Philip Seymour Hoffman" from My Feelings, 2015

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