By Mark Strand
I was stretched out on the couch, about to doze off, when I imagined a small figure asleep on a couch identical to mine. “Wake up, little man, wake up,” I cried. “The one you’re waiting for is rising from the sea, wrapped in spume, and soon will come ashore. Beneath her feet the melancholy garden will turn bright green and the breezes will be light as babies’ breath. Wake up, before this creature of the deep is gone and everything goes blank as sleep.” How hard I try to wake the little man, how hard he sleeps. And the one who rose from the sea, her moment gone, how hard she has become—how hard those burning eyes, that burning hair.
By Mark Strand
Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end, Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end, Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back. When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat, When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead. When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight, Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.
By E.B. White
The spider, dropping down from twig, Unwinds a thread of her devising: A thin, premeditated rig To use in rising. And all the journey down through space, In cool descent, and loyal-hearted, She builds a ladder to the place From which she started. Thus I, gone forth, as spiders do, In spider’s web a truth discerning, Attach one silken strand to you For my returning
By E.B. White
The time for little words is past; We now speak only the broad impertinences. I take your hand Merely to help you cross the street (We are such friends), Choosing the long and formal phrase Deliberately. At dinner we discuss, rather intelligently, The things one should discuss at dinner. So. How well we are in tune -- how easy Every phrase! The long words come, fondling the ear, Flattering the mind they come. Long words Enjoy the patronage of noble minds, The circumspection of this sanity. How much is gone! How much went When the little words went: peace, Sandwiched in the space between madness and madness; The quick exchange of every bright moment; The animal alertness to the other’s heart; The reality of nearness. Those things went With the words. Suppose I should forget, grow thoughtless -- What if the little words came back, Running in upon me, running back Like little children home from school? Suppose I spoke -- oh, I don’t know -- Some vagrant phrase out of the summer! What if I said: “I love you”? Something as simple And as easy to the tongue as that-- Something as true? I’m only talking. Give me your hand. We must by all means cross this street.
by John Keats
Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness, Thou foster-child of silence and slow time, Sylvan historian, who canst thus express A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape Of deities or mortals, or of both, In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd, Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve; She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair! Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; And, happy melodist, unwearied, For ever piping songs for ever new; More happy love! more happy, happy love! For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd, For ever panting, and for ever young; All breathing human passion far above, That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd, A burning forehead, and a parching tongue. Who are these coming to the sacrifice? To what green altar, O mysterious priest, Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies, And all her silken flanks with garlands drest? What little town by river or sea shore, Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? And, little town, thy streets for evermore Will silent be; and not a soul to tell Why thou art desolate, can e'er return. O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede Of marble men and maidens overwrought, With forest branches and the trodden weed; Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! When old age shall this generation waste, Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
by John Donne
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery. Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell, And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
Finally got around to watching this classic. The director, William Friedkin, really keeps thing moving. Lost of action, lots of quick cuts, cursing, shooting etc. It’s always mentioned in any list of classic movies, and I can see why. Won Best Picture in 1971. I’d say Friedkin really deserves most of the credit for the movie’s quality, since it’s pretty much a standard good guys/bad guys thing. The pacing, realism really make it. He also made the Exorcist.
A Japanese documentary about the 1964 Olympics. The review I read called it “poetic.” True dat.
by William Wordsworth
There is a change–and I am poor;
Your love hath been, nor long ago,
A fountain at my fond heart’s door,
Whose only business was to flow;
And flow it did; not taking heed
Of its own bounty, or my need.
What happy moments did I count!
Blest was I then all bliss above!
Now, for that consecrated fount
Of murmuring, sparkling, living love,
What have I? Shall I dare to tell?
A comfortless and hidden well.
A well of love–it may be deep–
I trust it is,–and never dry:
What matter? If the waters sleep
In silence and obscurity.
–Such change, and at the very door
Of my fond heart, hath made me poor
a slow thoughtful spontaneous poem
I am 32 years old
and finally I look my age, if not more.
Is it a good face what’s no more a boy’s face?
It seems fatter. And my hair,
it’s stopped being curly. Is my nose big?
The lips are the same.
And the eyes, ah the eyes get better all the time.
32 and no wife, no baby; no baby hurts,
but there’s lots of time.
I don’t act silly any more.
And because of it I have to hear from so-called friends:
“You’ve changed. You used to be so crazy so great.”
They are not comfortable with me when I’m serious.
Let them go to the Radio City Music Hall.
32; saw all of Europe, met millions of people;
was great for some, terrible for others.
I remember my 31st year when I cried:
“To think I may have to go another 31 years!”
I don’t feel that way this birthday.
I feel I want to be wise with white hair in a tall library
in a deep chair by a fireplace.
Another year in which I stole nothing.
8 years now and haven’t stole a thing!
I stopped stealing!
But I still lie at times,
and still am shameless yet ashamed when it comes
to asking for money.
32 years old and four hard real funny sad bad wonderful
books of poetry
—the world owes me a million dollars.
I think I had a pretty weird 32 years.
And it weren’t up to me, none of it.
No choice of two roads; if there were,
I don’t doubt I’d have chosen both.
I like to think chance had it I play the bell.
The clue, perhaps, is in my unabashed declaration:
“I’m good example there’s such a thing as called soul.”
I love poetry because it makes me love
and presents me life.
And of all the fires that die in me,
there’s one burns like the sun;
it might not make day my personal life,
my association with people,
or my behavior toward society,
but it does tell me my soul has a shadow.
What a boring book. But I learned a lot about Thoreau’s life.
The seem to be growing much slower this year. It’s now well into July, and they are just now starting to bloom steadily. I got them in the ground a bit later than usual, but I don’t that that explains it all.
The picture below show the current height, which I’m pretty sure is way shorter than previous years. For the first time, the potted plants seem to be doing better than the ones in the yard. That makes me think the soil is the issue. I’ll compost for next year.
by Gegory Corso
by Chelsea Handler
A kind of trashy autobiography written by the comedian Chelsea Handler. I want to read more about the Enneagram, the psychological test she said helped her understand herself better.
by Ron Padgett
We don’t look as young as we used to except in the dim light especially in the soft warmth of candlelight when we say in all sincerity You’re so cute and You’re my cutie. Imagine two old people behaving like this. It’s enough to make you happy.
by Ron Padgett
A documentary about the life of Peter Norman, an Australian runner who won a silver medal in the 1968 Olympics. Americans John Carlos and Tommie Smith, the other two medalists in Norman’s race, raised their hands in a black-power fist during the awards ceremony, setting off a tremendous world-wide ruckus.
On the medal stand, Norman wore a Human Rights packet to show his support for the cause of Carlos and Smith. For his efforts, his life was turned upside down. The highly racist and vindictive Australian officials basically banned Norman from the 1972 games.
The movie seemed pretty low-budget, but definitely worth a watch.
Indie director Lynn Shelton died recently. I hadn’t heard of her, thought I should checkout her films.
The plot of this movie is a man getting out of prison and trying to get back to his life. He was young when he was sent to prison, and when he gets out, he rides his bike around town, same bike he must had when he was a child. It’s an effective image.
He wants to start a relationship with the woman who helped him get out of prison, his old high school teacher. Instead, he ends up getting in a platonic relationship with her daughter.
I liked movie a lot. I thought both the acting and the writing were high quality. It was an interesting idea.
By Susan Olds
The ambulance men touched her cold
body, lifted it, heavy as iron,
onto the stretcher, tried to close the
mouth, closed the eyes, tied the
arms to the sides, moved a caught
strand of hair, as if it mattered,
saw the shape of her breasts, flattened by
gravity, under the sheet
carried her, as if it were she,
down the steps.
These men were never the same. They went out
afterwards, as they always did,
for a drink or two, but they could not meet
each other’s eyes.
Their lives took
a turn-one had nightmares, strange
pains, impotence, depression. One did not
like his work, his wife looked
different, his kids. Even death
seemed different to him-a place where she
would be waiting,
and one found himself standing at night
in the doorway to a room of sleep, listening to a
woman breathing, just an ordinary
by Sharon Olds
A week after my father died suddenly I understood his fondness for me was safe – nothing could touch it. In that last year, his face would sometimes brighten when I would enter the room, and his wife said that once, when he was half asleep, he smiled when she said my name. He respected my spunk – when they tied me to the chair, that time they were tying up someone he respected, and when he did not speak, for weeks, I was one of the beings to whom he was not speaking, someone with a place in his life. The last week he even said it, once, by mistake. I walked into his room ‘How are you’ and he said ‘I love you too.’ From then on, I had that word to lose. Right up to the last moment, I could make some mistake, offend him, and with one of his old mouths of disgust he could re-skew my life. I did not think of it much, I was helping to take care of him, wiping his face and watching him. But then, a while after he died, I suddenly thought, with amazement, he will always love me now, and I laughed – he was dead, dead!
I potted the plant in mid-April this year. The vast majority sprouted. About six did not.
We had an unusually cold spring. I had to bring the inside the garage about five times. The last time was on (or about) May 12th. !
I bought one new one this year from Breck’s. Purple. Kenora Macob. We’ll see how it does. It sprouted quickly, good sign.
by Allen Gingsberg
Cool black night thru redwoods cars parked outside in shade behind the gate, stars dim above the ravine, a fire burning by the side porch and a few tired souls hunched over in black leather jackets. In the huge wooden house, a yellow chandelier at 3 A.M. the blast of loudspeakers hi-fi Rolling Stones Ray Charles Beatles Jumping Joe Jackson and twenty youths dancing to the vibration thru the floor, a little weed in the bathroom, girls in scarlet tights, one muscular smooth skinned man sweating dancing for hours, beer cans bent littering the yard, a hanged man sculpture dangling from a high creek branch, children sleeping softly in their bedroom bunks. And 4 police cars parked outside the painted gate, red lights revolving in the leaves.
by Allen Ginsberg
I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and sat down under the huge shade of a Southern Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the box house hills and cry. Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of machinery. The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that stream, no hermit in those mounts, just ourselves rheumy-eyed and hung-over like old bums on the riverbank, tired and wily. Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust——I rushed up enchanted—it was my first sunflower, memories of Blake—my visions—Harlem and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the past— and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset, crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye— corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face, soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sunrays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried wire spiderweb, leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear, Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then! The grime was no man’s grime but death and human locomotives, all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black mis’ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance of artificial worse-than-dirt—industrial—modern—all that civilization spotting your crazy golden crown— and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what more could I name, the smoked ashes of some cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs & sphincters of dynamos—all these entangled in your mummied roots—and you there standing before me in the sunset, all your glory in your form! A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden monthly breeze! How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your grime, while you cursed the heavens of the railroad and your flower soul? Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a flower? when did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive? You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower! And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me not! So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck it at my side like a scepter, and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack’s soul too, and anyone who’ll listen, —We’re not our skin of grime, we’re not dread bleak dusty imageless locomotives, we’re golden sunflowers inside, blessed by our own seed & hairy naked accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our own eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sitdown vision. Berkeley, 1955
by Allen Ginsberg
America I've given you all and now I'm nothing. America two dollars and twentyseven cents January 17, 1956. I can't stand my own mind. America when will we end the human war? Go **** yourself with your atom bomb. I don't feel good don't bother me. I won't write my poem till I'm in my right mind. America when will you be angelic? When will you take off your clothes? When will you look at yourself through the grave? When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites? America why are your libraries full of tears? America when will you send your eggs to India? I'm sick of your insane demands. When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks? America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world. Your machinery is too much for me. You made me want to be a saint. There must be some other way to settle this argument. Burroughs is in Tangiers I don't think he'll come back it's sinister. Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke? I'm trying to come to the point. I refuse to give up my obsession. America stop pushing I know what I'm doing. America the plum blossoms are falling. I haven't read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for murder. America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies. America I used to be a communist when I was a kid I'm not sorry. I smoke marijuana every chance I get. I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet. When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid. My mind is made up there's going to be trouble. You should have seen me reading Marx. My psychoanalyst thinks I'm perfectly right. I won't say the Lord's Prayer. I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations. America I still haven't told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over from Russia. I'm addressing you. Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Time Magazine? I'm obsessed by Time Magazine. I read it every week. Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore. I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library. It's always telling me about responsibility. Business- men are serious. Movie producers are serious. Everybody's serious but me. It occurs to me that I am America. I am talking to myself again. Asia is rising against me. I haven't got a chinaman's chance. I'd better consider my national resources. My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles an hour and twenty-five-thousand mental institutions. I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underprivileged who live in my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns. I have abolished the ****houses of France, Tangiers is the next to go. My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I'm a Catholic. America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood? I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his automobiles more so they're all different sexes. America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe America free Tom Mooney America save the Spanish Loyalists America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die America I am the Scottsboro boys. America when I was seven momma took me to Com- munist Cell meetings they sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the workers it was all so sin- cere you have no idea what a good thing the party was in 1835 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have been a spy. America you don't really want to go to war. America it's them bad Russians. Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians. The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia's power mad. She wants to take our cars from out our garages. Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Readers' Digest. Her wants our auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingsta- tions. That no good. Ugh. Him make Indians learn read. Him need big black ****s. Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help. America this is quite serious. America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set. America is this correct? I'd better get right down to the job. It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway. America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.