Archive for the ‘life’ Category

In the Next Galaxy

Things will be different.

No one will lose their sight,

their hearing, their gallbladder.

It will be all Catskills with brand

new wrap-around verandas.

The idea of Hitler will not

have vibrated yet.

While back here,

they are still cleaning out

pockets of wrinkled

Nazis hiding in Argentina.

But in the next galaxy,

certain planets will have true

blue skies and drinking water.

-Ruth Stone


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The purpose of this writing is to pluck the fruit. Les fruits. Des fruits. Fru-its.

Leave me alone, Nietzsche, your aphorisms telling me one way, then the next, your contradictory sentiments, your unphilosophical philosophy, your hardness, which I love too well. I gave my hardness to a bourgeois boy with a doctor wife. Do all rejected people secretly feel they are superior to the one rejecting them?

I came out here, six months ago, in bliss, to write by my parent’s poolside. There was a novel. It was happening.

Oh, good thing no one has married me. Wouldn’t I be the saddest wife? No one wants a sad wife.

My name would be nested at the middle of the table. My big fat father would hover in his muscle shirt. The legs of the tables would attach to my mother in law and sister in law and I would be sacrificed to the family, like a turkey.

I would come here, from across a far distance, to tell you something. I am the voiceless voice, the sin of sons, I am joy in your bosom.

In this time of psychic excesses, what else to do but siphon it into art?

I have heard the call of the miracle cure. It was coming down the long hall. It was effervescent, ever ready. It had a hard hat and hard timing of staying afloat. It couldn’t look at us. It did not have coordinates for directed movement. It was a mass of particles. We did not know where to put it or where to hide it. I was coming, unconsciously, down the corridor of images.

And progress wept. In me. The last of the long gods disappeared, following out a gray cloud to the West. I stood in a field of bodies and screamed my hollow hole to the last chroniclers. They were dancing the dance of Baccus, but had no joy. I felt how still the earth was, and forever would be from this moment.

I felt how good, how golden, I had planned to be. And how the gray skin seemed instead to say, “No one may be golden in a gray world.”

I have no eyes, save the eyes that see particles and parts.

Do you know how important you are to this world? How much they need you? You are not just some schmuck sitting in a suburb and contemplating death. You have the Grand Mission to them. The voice, the help, the responsibility. Sweet succor. Nietzsche said people needed to suffer more, not less.

Beware the handsome voice, the courteous voice, the nascent voice.

Beware the pleasant afternoon, the pleasant morning, the pleasant fuck.

Beware the dream that doesn’t awake you in cold steam, or with hate in your heart.

Beware the dogged doggerel of egolessness.

Beware technique. Beware trend. Beware answers.

The pretty small palms by the blue kidney shaped pool in Seminole, FL are not suburban trees, no suburban water, not suburban sky, but the same self-composed solar system of grandeur as the nebulae and must not be assumed to be pleasant.

The rest of the world cuts out for me.

I waver between jealousy and disdain of those happy actors who act their parts so well.

In cities, love is more intense, because the pain of daily living is nearly excruciating.

I don’t know where to go, or why life should be such a game of shifting floors.

-Nina Alvarez

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Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

-Robert Frost

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Sally’s Hair

It’s like living in a light bulb, with the leaves
Like filaments and the sky a shell of thin, transparent glass
Enclosing the late heaven of a summer day, a canopy
Of incandescent blue above the dappled sunlight golden on the grass.

I took the train back from Poughkeepsie to New York
And in the Port Authority, there at the Suburban Transit window,
She asked, “Is this the bus to Princeton?”—which it was.
“Do you know Geoffrey Love?” I said I did. She had the blondest hair,

Which fell across her shoulders, and a dress of almost phosphorescent blue.
She liked Ayn Rand. We went down to the Village for a drink,
Where I contrived to miss the last bus to New Jersey, and at 3 a.m. we
Walked around and found a cheap hotel I hadn’t enough money for

And fooled around on its dilapidated couch. An early morning bus
(She’d come to see her brother), dinner plans and missed connections
And a message on his door about the Jersey shore. Next day
A summer dormitory room, my roommates gone: “Are you,” she asked,

“A hedonist?” I guessed so. Then she had to catch her plane.
Sally—Sally Roche. She called that night from Florida,
And then I never heard from her again. I wonder where she is now,
Who she is now. That was thirty-seven years ago.

And I’m too old to be surprised again. The days are open,
Life conceals no depths, no mysteries, the sky is everywhere,
The leaves are all ablaze with light, the blond light
Of a summer afternoon that made me think again of Sally’s hair.

-John Koethe

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Mirabeau Bridge

Under Mirabeau Bridge the river slips away

And lovers

Must I be reminded

Joy came always after pain

The night is a clock chiming

The days go by not I

We’re face to face and hand in hand

While under the bridges

Of embrace expire

Eternal tired tidal eyes

The night is a clock chiming

The days go by not I

Love elapses like the river

Love goes by

Poor life is indolent

And expectation always violent

The night is a clock chiming

The days go by not I

The days and equally the weeks elapse

The past remains the past

Love remains lost

Under Mirabeau Bridge the river slips away

The night is a clock chiming

The days go by not I

-by Guillaume Apollinaire (Translated by Donald Revell)

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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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Poem at Thirty

The rich little kids across the street

twist their swings in knots. Near me,

on the porch, wasps jazz old nesting tunes

and don’t get wild over human sweat.

This is the first summer of my middle life.

I ought to be content. The mindless harsh

process of history; with its diverse murders

and starvations, its whippings, humiliations,

child-tyrants, and beasts, I don’t care for

or understand. Nor do I understand

restlessness that sometimes stops my sleep.

Waking, those mornings, is like being thrown from a train.

All you know comes to falling:

the body, in its witless crooning for solidity,

keeps heading for the ground.

There is no air, no sound, nothing

but dumb insistence of body weight

coming down, and there is no thought of love,

or passing time, or don’t want to be alone.

Probably one hundred thousand impressions

wrinkle the brain in a moment like this,

but if you could think about it

you’d admit the world goes on in any case,

roars on, in fact, without you, on its endless iron track.

But most mornings I ease awake:

also a falling,

but delicate as an agile wing

no one may touch with hands,

a transparent wing like a distant moan

arriving disembodied of pleasure or pain,

a wing that dissolves on the tongue,

a wing that has never flown.

Because I’ve awakened like this,

I think I could love myself quietly

and let the world go on.

So today I watched a pudgy neighbor

edge her lawn, and heard the small blade whine;

I saw her husband, the briefcase man,

whiz off in his Mercedes without a glance.

I believe I’m beginning to understand

that I don’t know what such things mean:

stupid pain or pure tranquillity,

desire’s dull ache or conquering the body,

the need to say we and be known to someone

or what I see in myself as I sit here alone.

The sun glares most mornings

like an executive’s thick pinky diamond,

and slowly the dark backs off

This is one reason this morning I awakened.

No one can tell you how to be alone.

Some fine people I’ve known swirl to me

in airy forms like just so much hot dust.

They have all moved through in dreams.

A lover’s smell, the gut laugh of a friend,

become hard to recall as a particular wind.

No one can tell you how to be alone.

Like the deep vacuum in sleep, nothing

holds you up or knocks you down, only

it doesn’t end in waking but goes on and on.

The tangles of place, the floating in time,

you must accept gently like a favorite dream.

If you can’t, and you don’t, the mind

unlocks the mind. Madness, with his lewd grin,

always waits outside the window, always

wanting to come in. I’ve gone out before,

both to slit his throat and to kiss his hand.

No one can tell you how to be alone:

Watch tiny explosions as flowers break ground;

hear the children giggle, rapid and clean.

It’s hard to care about ordinary things.

Doesn’t pain expand from lack of change?

I can’t grasp exactly the feelings of anyone.

No one can tell you how to be alone.

At thirty the body begins to slow down.

Does that make for the quiet on this porch,

a chemical ability to relax and watch?

If a kid bounces her pelvis against a chain-link fence,

bounces so metal sings

and it seems she must be hurting herself

how old must I get before I tell her to stop?

Right now, I let her do it.

She’s so beautiful in her filthy T-shirt

and gym shorts, her hair swings with each clang,

and she can do no wrong.

I let her do it as background music

to storm clouds moving in like a dark army.

I let her do it as a fond wish for myself

I feel the vibration of the fence

as a wasp feels voices on a pane of glass.

The song in it I can’t make out.

This day, then, ends in rain

but almost everyone will live through it.

Tomorrow’s thousands losing their loved ones

have not yet stepped into never being the same again.

Maybe the sun’s first light will hit me

in those moments, but I’d gladly wake to feel it:

the dramatic opening of a day,

clean blood pumping from the heart.

-Michael Ryan

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