Archive for January, 2009

Waste is not possible
Like molding bread
What we do not eat
we are not fed

Choose large portions
more to savor

Choose  company now
Solitude later

Make more words
long, willowy wands

And dance with the dharma
on samsara ponds

-Nina Alvarez

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Among the Multitude

AMONG the men and women the multitude,
I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine signs,
Acknowledging none else, not parent, wife, husband, brother, child, any nearer than I am,
Some are baffled, but that one is not–that one knows me.
Ah lover and perfect equal,
I meant that you should discover me so by faint indirections,
And I when I meet you mean to discover you by the like in you.

-Walt Whitman


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At the beginning of my life, all dwelt in orange. I swear the womb, my first room, my mother, my eyes were orange. I used to call out to the places on that warm light surface, depth was in the surface, surface and depth, one.

Yet how is it that we think we can articulate childhood at all? It was a different country, a different eon. We lived in fascination always. Fascination of the breast, of orange walls, of mother, of the enormous house, the back porch that rocked like a high ship, the front door to the outside where jungles and strange playfellows grew.

Fascination of tadpoles and small frogs, minnows and silver light in the creek, rainbows in oily puddles. Fascination of the hill that fell for years of running down the long back of our house. Fascination of grasshoppers and never any real separation, never outside of me, never me other than it.

In this way children are like animals: in love with their prey.

They say it is practical and imperative to structure the singularity of childhood, when god was an enormous distant white man who loved me even more than my parents. It is practical to structure God, ask why he never showed up but never stopped floating around the rafters of our church.

I have a mind to go back to the haunts of my first six years and sit as silently as possible, make myself stiller and stiller until the chaos of my eons since distills and I can hear the echos of my original thoughts. That hunger that knows no separation from the plate.

-Nina Alvarez

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I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
discovers in
it after all, a place for the genuine.


-Marianne Moore

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The Subalterns


“Poor wanderer,” said the leaden sky,
“I fain would lighten thee,
But there are laws in force on high
Which say it must not be.”


–“I would not freeze thee, shorn one,” cried
The North, “knew I but how
To warm my breath, to slack my stride;
But I am ruled as thou.”


–“To-morrow I attack thee, wight,”
Said Sickness. “Yet I swear
I bear thy little ark no spite,
But am bid enter there.”


–“Come hither, Son,” I heard Death say;
“I did not will a grave
Should end thy pilgrimage to-day,
But I, too, am a slave!”


We smiled upon each other then,
And life to me had less
Of that fell look it wore ere when
They owned their passiveness.

-Thomas Hardy

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The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.
I have spent my days in stringing and in unstringing my instrument.
The time has not come true, the words have not been rightly set; only
there is the agony of wishing in my heart.
The blossom has not opened; only the wind is sighing by.
I have not seen his face, nor have I listened to his voice; only I have
heard his gentle footsteps from the road before my house.
The livelong day has passed in spreading his seat on the floor; but the
lamp has not been lit and I cannot ask him into my house.
I live in the hope of meeting with him; but this meeting is not yet.

-Rabindrinath Tagore

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It’s because of the Colosseum
of class
of certain phrases and
fixed looks.

It’s because of books.
Not the thought of books-
or the feel of books-
but the real of books.

It’s because the mind can go
many ways- but they’ll
only honor one.

It’s because other voices
on other days
flickered from my tongue.

-Nina Alvarez

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