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Archive for the ‘learn’ Category

Reading Biographies

Perhaps Frost was poking his secretary,

The apple core of his good-living chewed

To the bitter seed. Perhaps he buttoned up,

Disgusted with the dead lizard cupped in his palm.

And his woman? She was as large as Gilbraltar,

A chunk of cheese in each armpit.

She took a deep breath

And wiggled the goose of her tasty fanny

Into the kitchen. There, she poured pancakes

Onto a skillet as old as this country,

And Frost, a pioneer for all writers,

Picked up his beaver-thrashed pencil and proclaimed,

O Sweet Youth, etc.

I don’t know how to read

Biographies, the dead words of dead writers

Etched on my eyes, then gone. I read them,

And drive my car recklessly through leaves,

The cushion for my own eventual death.

Sure, I reflect, like a chip of mirror,

And then I forget them, these subjects,

These writers with lungs and straight-A penmanship.

They’re of no use. I’m not saved

By the repetitions of jealousy and all-day drinking.

Wind frisked the trees, hair fell like wheat,

And the liver, saddlebag of disease,

Bulged with inoperable knots.

I touch my own hip, then hobble home

Where a pumpkin glows in a window.

Birds shrug into their coats of dirt.

Crickets stop the violin action of their thighs.

A fire is built, and I’m lit in the living room.

I’m a democrat, I slur to the couch,

And add, Venus is a star and fly trap.

Thank God, I’ve learned nothing.

– Gary Soto

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To Have Without Holding

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can’t do it, you say it’s killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.

-Marge Piercy

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