[identity profile] two-grey-rooms.livejournal.com
I ask you, how much beauty
can a person bear? It is
heavier than ugliness, even the burden
of emptiness is nothing beside it.
---Louise Glück, "Baskets"


"I shall never forget the occasion when I was visiting a school as a writer and the whole place suddenly fell into an uproar because the school tomboy - a most splendid Britomart of a girl - had beaten up the school bully. Everything stopped in the staffroom while the teachers debated what to do. They wanted to give the tomboy a prize, but decided reluctantly that they had better punish her and the bully too. They knew that if, as a child, you do pluck up courage to hit the bully, it is an act of true heroism - as great as that of Beowulf in his old age. I remember passing the tomboy, sitting in her special place of punishment opposite the bully. She was blazing with her deed, as if she had actually been touched by a god. And I thought that this confirmed all my theories: a child in her position is open to any heroic myth I care to use; she is inward with folktales; she would feel the force of any magical or divine intervention."
---Diana Wynne Jones


"Because children grow up, we think its a child’s purpose to grow up. But a child’s purpose is to be a child. Nature doesn’t disdain what lives for a day. It pours the whole of itself into each moment. We don’t value the lily less for not being made of flint and built to last. Life’s bounty is in its flow, later is too late. Where is the song when its being sung? The dance when its being danced? It’s only humans who want to own the future, too. We persuade ourselves that the universe is modestly employed in unfolding our destination. We note the haphazard chaos of history by the day, by the hour, but there is something wrong with the picture. Where is the unity, the meaning, of nature’s highest creation? Surely those millions of little streams of accident and willfulness have their correction in the vast underground river, which, without a doubt, is carrying us to the place where we’re expected! But there is not such place, that’s why it’s called utopia. The death of a child has no more meaning than the death of armies, of nations. Was the child happy while he lived? That is the proper question, the only question. If we can’t arrange our own happiness, it’s a conceit beyond vulgarity to arrange the happiness of those who come after us."
---Tom Stoppard


"A poem is a glass, through which light is conveyed to us."
---Susan Howe, "Vagrancy in the Park"


"To love does not mean to surrender, dissolve and merge with another person. It is the noble opportunity for an individual to ripen, to become something in and of himself. To become a world in response to another is a great immodest challenge that has sought him out and called him forth."
---Rainer Maria Rilke


"The Sermon on the Warpland"
“The fact that we are black
is our ultimate reality.”
—Ron Karenga


And several strengths from drowsiness campaigned
but spoke in Single Sermon on the warpland.

And went about the warpland saying No.
“My people, black and black, revile the River.
Say that the River turns, and turn the River.

Say that our Something in doublepod contains
seeds for the coming hell and health together.
Prepare to meet
(sisters, brothers) the brash and terrible weather;
the pains;
the bruising; the collapse of bestials, idols.
But then oh then!—the stuffing of the hulls!
the seasoning of the perilously sweet!
the health! the heralding of the clear obscure!

Build now your Church, my brothers, sisters. Build
never with brick nor Corten nor with granite.
Build with lithe love. With love like lion-eyes.
With love like morningrise.
With love like black, our black—
luminously indiscreet;
complete; continuous.
---Gwendolyn Brooks


"The Second Sermon on the Warpland"
For Walter Bradford

1.

This is the urgency: Live!
and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.


2.

Salve salvage in the spin.
Endorse the splendor splashes;
stylize the flawed utility;
prop a malign or failing light—
but know the whirlwind is our commonwealth.
Not the easy man, who rides above them all,
not the jumbo brigand,
not the pet bird of poets, that sweetest sonnet,
shall straddle the whirlwind.
Nevertheless, live.


3.

All about are the cold places,
all about are the pushmen and jeopardy, theft—
all about are the stormers and scramblers but
what must our Season be, which stars from Fear?
Live and go out.
Define and
medicate the whirlwind.


4.

The time
cracks into furious flower. Lifts its face
all unashamed. And sways in wicked grace.
Whose half-black hands assemble oranges
is tom-tom hearted
(goes in bearing oranges and boom).
And there are bells for orphans—
and red and shriek and sheen.
A garbageman is dignified
as any diplomat.
Big Bessie’s feet hurt like nobody’s business,
but she stands—bigly—under the unruly scrutiny, stands in the
     wild weed.

In the wild weed
she is a citizen,
and is a moment of highest quality; admirable.

It is lonesome, yes. For we are the last of the loud.
Nevertheless, live.

Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.

---Gwendolyn Brooks


"This then, I thought, as I looked about me, is the representation of history. It requires a falsification of perspective. We, the survivors, see everything from above, see everything at once, and still we do not know how it was."
---W.G Sebald, The Rings of Saturn


"If power were never anything but repressive, if it never did anything but to say no, do you really think one would be brought to obey it? What makes power hold good, what makes it accepted, is simply the fact that it doesn’t only weigh on us as a force that says no, but that it traverses and produces things, it induces pleasure, forms knowledge, produces discourse. It needs to be considered as a productive network which runs through the whole social body, much more than as a negative instance whose function is repression."
---Michel Foucault, "Truth and Power," trans. unknown


"This very insatiability of the photographing eye changes the terms of confinement in the cave, our world. In teaching us a new visual code, photographs alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right to observe. They are a grammar and, even more importantly, an ethics of seeing. Finally, the most grandiose result of the photographic enterprise is to give us the sense that we can hold the whole world in our heads – as an anthology of images."
---Susan Sontag, On Photography


"I am in debt. I owe the world an unpayable sum, and yet each morning at my desk with the sun rising in the long distance—some mornings it blazes and on others it is a distant bulb barely able to raise smoke from the cold black tar of the roof—I sit down to repay that debt. My debt is simple. It is the poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Larry Levis. The prose of Norman Maclean and Michael Ondaatje. Derek Walcott and Wallace Stevens. Henry Thoreau and Ed Abbey. Naomi Shihab Nye and Terrance Hayes. Jack Gilbert. The list goes on and on. Some are my friends and some are people I know only in their words. But they have—each and every one—given me their language and their syntax. They have each offered me a gift—a fragment, story, a song, a glimpse of the sun streaming through their world. You want to know what keeps me going? I have no choice. The words are theirs and I owe the vigorish. It is all I can do to keep up the payments."
---Jeffrey Thomson


"In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr."
I

honey people murder mercy U.S.A.
the milkland turn to monsters teach
to kill to violate pull down destroy
the weakly freedom growing fruit
from being born

America

tomorrow yesterday rip rape
exacerbate despoil disfigure
crazy running threat the
deadly thrall
appall belief dispel
the wildlife burn the breast
the onward tongue
the outward hand
deform the normal rainy
riot sunshine shelter wreck
of darkness derogate
delimit blank
explode deprive
assassinate and batten up
like bullets fatten up
the raving greed
reactivate a springtime
terrorizing

death by men by more
than you or I can

STOP


II

They sleep who know a regulated place
or pulse or tide or changing sky
according to some universal
stage direction obvious
like shorewashed shells

we share an afternoon of mourning
in between no next predictable
except for wild reversal hearse rehearsal
bleach the blacklong lunging
ritual of fright insanity and more
deplorable abortion
more and
more
---June Jordan


"Sanctuary"
My land is bare of chattering folk;
The clouds are low along the ridges,
And sweet's the air with curly smoke
From all my burning bridges.
---Dorothy Parker


"Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors."
---Andrew Boyd, Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe


"Frequently Asked Questions: 10"
Do you see current events differently because you were raised by a black father and are married to a black man?

           I am surprised they haven’t left already — 
things have gotten downright frosty, nearly unbearable.
A mob of them is apparently mouthing off outside

when I put down my newspaper and we all gather
           to stand beside my daughter in the bay
of kitchen windows. Quiscalus quiscula:

this name sounds like a spell which, after its casting,
          will make things crumble into a complement
of unanswerable questions. Though, if you need me

           to tell you God’s honest truth, I know nothing
but their common name the morning we watch them attack
our feeder. I complain about the mess they leave. Hulls

           I’ll have to sweep up or ignore. My father — 
who I am thankful is still alive — says We could use
a different kind of seed. A simple solution. We want that

brown bird with the shock of red: the northern flicker.
           We want western bluebirds, more of the skittish
finches. But mostly we get grackle grackle grackle

all day long. Can it be justifiable to revile these
           harbingers? They scoff all we offer
and — being too close and too many — scare

other birds away. My husband says, Look
           at all those crackles. I almost laugh at him,
but the winter air does look hurtful loud

around the black flock. Like static is loud when it sticks
           sheets to sheets so they crackle when pulled
one from another. And sting. My father — who is older now

           than his older brothers will ever be — promises
           he will solve the problem of the grackles
and leaves the window to search for his keys.

The dawn sky — blue breaking into blackness — 
           is what I see feathering their bodies. The fence
is gray. The feeder is gray, the aspen bark. Gray

           hulls litter the ground. But the grackles,
their passerine claws — three facing forward, one turned
           back — around the roost bar of the feeder, are

so bright within their blackness, I pray they will stay. 

---Camille T. Dungy


"We read many different Iliads, many different Alcestises in the course of our lives, and the relationship between the two texts, and between Achilles and Admetus, will change accordingly. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between ourselves and the poetry, or our reading of it. But of course the words on the page are always the same; it is we who change a little each year, just like the tree outside our library window. Thus it happens that as we examine ourselves in the poetry on the page, its allusions to us may change from time to time. But when the buds ripen in spring, the tree brings forth leaves like the ones that the wind blew away in the fall."
---Richard Garner, “From Homer to Tragedy: The Art of Allusion in Greek Poetry”


"Someday I'll Love Ocean Vuong"
After Frank O’Hara / After Roger Reeves

Ocean, don’t be afraid.
The end of the road is so far ahead
it is already behind us.
Don’t worry. Your father is only your father
until one of you forgets. Like how the spine
won’t remember its wings
no matter how many times our knees
kiss the pavement. Ocean,
are you listening? The most beautiful part
of your body is wherever
your mother’s shadow falls.
Here’s the house with childhood
whittled down to a single red tripwire.
Don’t worry. Just call it horizon
& you’ll never reach it.
Here’s today. Jump. I promise it’s not
a lifeboat. Here’s the man
whose arms are wide enough to gather
your leaving. & here the moment,
just after the lights go out, when you can still see
the faint torch between his legs.
How you use it again & again
to find your own hands.
You asked for a second chance
& are given a mouth to empty into.
Don’t be afraid, the gunfire
is only the sound of people
trying to live a little longer. Ocean. Ocean,
get up. The most beautiful part of your body
is where it’s headed. & remember,
loneliness is still time spent
with the world. Here’s
the room with everyone in it.
Your dead friends passing
through you like wind
through a wind chime. Here’s a desk
with the gimp leg & a brick
to make it last. Yes, here’s a room
so warm & blood-close,
I swear, you will wake—
& mistake these walls
for skin.
---Ocean Vuong


"How is it possible to reclaim the body when it’s visible only in a mirror? A reflection of the body, external and reversed: the image both belongs to me and doesn’t. The photos, which I still have tucked away in the plastic sleeves of leather albums, reflect something more than what they show: a gaze that follows across the distances of continents and years. I can move my body through the world, and yet there is also an image of my body that resembles in every way the real thing: two people, bound together by this perceived resemblance—a woman who has died, a woman who goes on living."
---Lacy M. Johnson, The Other Side


"Slept"

    The thorns had hands. The fire stood still.
     It will take a hundred years

    to piece together a hundred dreams.
     A room of ashes was a room out-spun.

    Mother says the heart is a wheel

    and it will turn as I turn. Quickly.
     Nightly.            I  married the owl.

    ~

    I told her I could not walk,

    the walls circled my steps. I told her,
     my flesh became stone  and I did not

    bleed blood, but sound.
           What sound?    I could not describe it;

    it was voiceless

    and low. But it was not.
     Mostly I was not            alone  in my solitude.

    My breath became the ghost of me,

    or the ghost of an old man
     I’d long forgotten,
                                        a midnight grandfather.

    Pages of thoughts, they were not mine,
               though my hand mastered

    their language. I told her,

               I        cannot howl winsomely
     like vixens.
                           Like thieves. I wandered the forest,

    fingering every loose twig,
     but I was sleeping. My hand,

    good as air, was sleeping.

    ~

    In my sleep, I wrote the field guide:
     red-winged dream, tufted dream.

    One was of salt,

               one        without hunger—a forest

    of three-leaved trees.
     I thought I knew everything.

    My bed sat alone amongst the sassafras.
     A fox, mid-pace and mid-bark, stopped

    statue-like on a patch of moss.

                 I        was watcher,

    or maker.                      Yellow-bellied
     dream, mourning dream.

    Each thing I saw: a seed to myself.

    Inside a girl stirred restless as rain.
     I could not see her. I only grew.

    Mother says when the basket’s full,
     it is time to come home.

    ~

    Asleep, I lived

               in        silence, but in light.

    What if waking             were        a room
     black as the mind? Horn-billed dream,

    Stellar’s dream. And the body,

    a darkness        there        is no memory of.

---Jennifer Chang


"Poetry — No definition of poetry is adequate unless it be poetry itself. The most accurate analysis by the rarest wisdom is yet insufficient, and the poet will instantly prove it false by setting aside its requisitions. It is indeed all that we do not know. The poet does not need to see how meadows are something else than earth, grass, and water, but how they are thus much. He does not need discover that potato blows are as beautiful as violets, as the farmer thinks, but only how good potato blows are. The poem is drawn out from under the feet of the poet, his whole weight has rested on this ground. It has a logic more severe than the logician’s. You might as well think to go in pursuit of the rainbow, and embrace it on the next hill, as to embrace the whole of poetry even in thought."
---Henry David Thoreau
[identity profile] two-grey-rooms.livejournal.com
" 'Please tell a story about a girl who gets away.'

"I would, even if I had to adapt one, even if I had to make one up just for her. 'Gets away from what, though?'

" 'From her fairy godmother. From the happy ending that isn't really happy at all. Please have her get out and run off the page altogether, to somewhere secret where words like 'happy' and 'good' will never find her.'

" 'You don’t want her to be happy and good?'

" 'I'm not sure what's really meant by happy and good. I would like her to be free. Now. Please begin.' "
--Helen Oyeyemi, White Is for Witching


"Holy places are dark places. It is life and strength, not knowledge and words, that we get in them. Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water, but thick and dark like blood."
--C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces


"The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story."
--Ursula K. Le Guin


"All profound distraction opens certain doors. You have to allow yourself to be distracted when you are unable to concentrate."
--Julio Cortázar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds


"Summer Silence"
Eruptive lightnings flutter to and fro
Above the heights of immemorial hills;
Thirst-stricken air, dumb-throated, in its woe
Limply down-sagging, its limp body spills
Upon the earth. A panting silence fills
The empty vault of Night with shimmering bars
Of sullen silver, where the lake distils
Its misered bounty.--Hark! No whisper mars
The utter silence of the untranslated stars.
--e. e. cummings


"Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within."
--James Baldwin


"American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it."
--James Baldwin


"Birds were what became of dinosaurs. Those mountains of flesh whose petrified bones were on display at the Museum of Natural History had done some brilliant retooling over the ages and could now be found living in the form of orioles in the sycamores across the street. As solutions to the problem of earthly existence, the dinosaurs had been pretty great, but blue-headed vireos and yellow warblers and white-throated sparrows, feather-light, hollow-boned, full of song, were even greater. Birds were like dinosaurs' better selves. They had short lives and long summers. We all should be so lucky as to leave behind such heirs."
--Jonathan Franzen, The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History


"There's really no such thing as the 'voiceless.' There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard."
--Arundhati Roy


"Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind."
--Henry James


Before your late night face, passing
solitary
between
nights that reshaped me too,
something came to stand there
that was already with us once before, un-
moved by thought.

*

Numbers, in league
with the undoing of images
and the un-
undoing.

Skull clapped over them,
on whose
insomniac temples a chimer-
ical hammer
sings it all
to the world's
beat.

*

Paths into the shadow-rut
of your hand.

From the four-finger-furrow
I root out
petrified blessing.

*

The shipwrecks of heaven sail on--
masts
sung earthward.

You sink your teeth
into this wooden
song--

You are--the song-lashed
colors.

*

Once,
I heard him there,
he was washing the world,
unseen, all night,
really.

One, and unending,
annihilated,
I-
hilated.

There was light. Salvation.
--Paul Celan, from Breathturn, translator unknown


"Unfortunate Coincidence"
By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying--
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.
--Dorothy Parker


"No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen will become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can't put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better."
--Erin Bow


" 'All our messianic wars,' Leo explained, realizing that the word imperialism and the citations from American history were having a misleading effect, 'have been fiascoes. We have mistaken our role. We cannot carry democracy abroad with military expeditions or food shipments. We can only receive it here, when it comes to us for entrance. America is ideally a harbor, a state of the utmost receptivity. It is not our role to lead, but to be open. America, I imagine, if this plan can be put into effect, will disappear, at least as we know it. America is only a vessel, waiting to be filled, a preparation for something that has not yet happened. That is what we all have been sensing in the air, ever since we were children, a restless, bemused expectancy of an event that will come to stay with us, like a visitor. I remember,' he went on, 'those summer afternoons on a lake in New Jersey, with a still haze floating over everything and a phonograph playing somewhere, and a row boat drifting in the water, as if time itself were pausing, just on the edge of the incredible. I express myself very badly,' he interpolated, slipping into a more ordinary voice."
--Mary McCarthy, The Oasis


"Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper."
--Ray Bradbury


"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone."
--Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House


February 7
Shadows loaded with stones
the barbed wire
you forgot the proper pronunciation
of your name.
A black cat runs
with the moon tied to its tail.
Strange.
Such great silence
and nobody wakes.
--Yannis Ritsos, from Diaries of Exile, translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich and Edmund Keeley


May 14
We've gotten used to the gulls
they bring no message
they open and close their wings
as if opening and closing the shutters
in an empty house.

We've gotten used to the sleepless nights
to sleep shattered like broken windowpanes
to the cripples with their crutches
the filth on the beach
the bread ration thrown into the sea
the potato peelings stuck on the rocks
like gutted intestines
the shadow of a cloud over Sounio across the way
the sound of the chain falling into the water at night
we've gotten used to people forgetting us.

And that statue without arms
was beautiful
you didn't know where it was pointing
or if it was.
--Yannis Ritsos, from Diaries of Exile, translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich and Edmund Keeley


May 15
The guard sits behind the barbed wire
the lapels of his trench coat raised.
The other day I noticed his arms
they are thick and strong
he would have carried the flag in one of our parades.

Now he sits behind his rifle
as if behind a wall.
Behind the wall sits spring--
he can't see it.
I see it and smile
and I'm sad
that he can't see it.
He's bound the shadow of his rifle around my eyes
as if it were a black handkerchief,
but I want him to see spring and smile.
--Yannis Ritsos, from Diaries of Exile, translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich and Edmund Keeley


May 17
The hospital boat mirrored in the water
white with an apricot stripe way up high
is beautiful
in the bowl of morning quietness
like an old sorrow in a new poem.
--Yannis Ritsos, from Diaries of Exile, translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich and Edmund Keeley
[identity profile] two-grey-rooms.livejournal.com
"The invariable mark of wisdom is seeing the miraculous in the common."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson


"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."
--Dorothy Parker


"Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm; but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."
--T. S. Eliot


"Whatever is the lot of humankind
I want to taste within my deepest self.
I want to seize the highest and the lowest,
to load its woe and bliss upon my breast,
and thus expand my single self titanically
and in the end go down with all the rest."
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust


"XVI"
I love the handful of the earth you are.
Because of its meadows, vast as a planet,
I have no other star. You are my replica
of the multiplying universe.

Your wide eyes are the only light I know
from extinguished constellations;
your skin throbs like the streak
of a meteor through rain.

Your hips were that much of the moon for me;
your deep mouth and its delights, that much sun;
your heart, fiery with its long red rays,

was that much ardent light, like honey in the shade.
So I pass across your burning form, kissing
you--compact and planetary, my dove, my globe.
--Pablo Neruda


"The mountains appalled me with their 'permanence,' with that awful and irrefutable rock-ness that seemed to intensify my sense of my own transience. Perhaps this dread of transience explains our greed for the few gobbets of raw experience in modern life, why violence is libidinous, why lust devours us, why soldiers choose not to forget their days of horror: we cling to such extreme moments, in which we seem to die, yet are reborn. In sexual abandon as in danger we are impelled, however briefly, into that vital present in which we do not stand apart from life, we are life, our being fills us; ecstasy with another being, loneliness falls away into eternity. But in other days, such union was attainable through simple awe."
--Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard


"If There Is Something to Desire"
If there is something to desire,
there will be something to regret.
If there is something to regret,
there will be something to recall.
If there is something to recall,
there was nothing to regret.
If there was nothing to regret,
there was nothing to desire.
--Vera Pavlova


"It must be those brief moments
when nothing has happened--nor is going to.
Tiny moments, like islands in the ocean
beyond the grey continent of our ordinary days.
There, sometimes, you meet your own heart
like someone you've never known."
--Hans Børli


"We Alone"
We alone can devalue gold
by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.
Wherever there is gold
there is a chain, you know,
and if your chain
is gold
so much the worse
for you.

Feathers, shells
and sea-shaped stones
are all as rare.

This could be our revolution:
to love what is plentiful
as much as
what's scarce.
--Alice Walker


"No man should escape our universities without knowing how little he knows."
--J. Robert Oppenheimer


"...happiness is not only a hope, but also in some strange manner a memory...we are all kings in exile."
--G. K. Chesterton
[identity profile] two-grey-rooms.livejournal.com
"Recipe For Happiness Khaborovsk or Anyplace"
One grand boulevard with trees
with one grand cafe in sun
with strong black coffee in very small cups.

One not necessarily very beautiful
man or woman who loves you.

One fine day.
--Lawrence Ferlinghetti


"From Blossoms"
From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
--Li-Young Lee


"The Trifler"
Death's the lover that I'd be taking;
Wild and fickle and fierce is he.
Small's his care if my heart be breaking--
Gay young Death would have none of me.

Hear them clack of my haste to greet him!
No one other my mouth had kissed.
I had dressed me in silk to meet him--
False young Death would not hold the tryst.

Slow's the blood that was quick and stormy,
Smooth and cold is the bridal bed;
I must wait till he whistles for me--
Proud young Death would not turn his head.

I must wait till my breast is wilted.
I must wait till my back is bowed,
I must rock in the corner, jilted--
Death went galloping down the road.

Gone's my heart with a trifling rover.
Fine he was in the game he played--
Kissed, and promised, and threw me over,
And rode away with a prettier maid.
--Dorothy Parker


"7. But what kind of love is it, really? Don't fool yourself and call it sublimity. Admit that you have stood in front of a little pile of powdered ultramarine pigment in a glass cup at a museum and felt a stinging desire. But to do what? Liberate it? Purchase it? Ingest it? There is so little blue food in nature--in fact blue in the wild tends to mark food to avoid (mold, poisonous berries)--that culinary advisers generally recommend against blue light, blue paint, and blue plates when and where serving food. But while the color may sap appetite in the most literal sense, it feeds it in others. You might want to reach out and disturb the pile of pigment, for example, first staining your fingers with it, then staining the world. You might want to dilute it and swim in it, you might want to rouge your nipples with it, you might want to paint a virgin's robe with it. But still you wouldn't be accessing the blue of it. Not really."
--Maggie Nelson, Bluets


"71. I have been trying, for some time now, to find dignity in my loneliness. I have been finding this hard to do.

"72. It is easier, of course, to find dignity in one's solitude. Loneliness is solitude with a problem."
--Maggie Nelson


"88. Like many self-help books, The Deepest Blue is full of horrifyingly simplistic language and some admittedly good advice. Somehow the women in the book all learn to say: That's my depression talking. It's not 'me.'

"89. As if we could scrape the color off the iris and still see."
--Maggie Nelson


"134. It calms me to think of blue as the color of death. I have long imagined death's approach as the swell of a wave--a towering wall of blue. You will drown, the world tells me, has always told me. You will descend into a blue underworld, blue with hungry ghosts, Krishna blue, the blue faces of the ones you loved. They all drowned, too. To take a breath of water: does the thought panic or excite you? If you are in love with red then you slit or shoot. If you are in love with blue you fill your pouch with stones good for sucking and head down to the river. Any river will do."
--Maggie Nelson


"137. It is unclear what Holiday means, exactly, when she sings, 'But now the world will know/She's never gonna sing 'em no more/No more.' What is unclear: whether she is moving on, shutting up, or going to die. Also unclear: the source of her triumphance.

"138. But perhaps there is no real mystery here at all. 'Life is usually stronger than people's love for it' (Adam Phillips): this is what Holiday's voice makes audible. To hear is to understand why suicide is both so easy and so difficult: to commit it one has to stamp out this native triumphance, either by training oneself, over time, to dehabilitate or disbelieve it (drugs help here), or by force of ambush."
--Maggie Nelson


"156. 'Why is the sky blue?'--A fair enough question, and one I have learned the answer to several times. Yet every time I try to explain it to someone or remember the question alone, as it reminds me that my mind is essentially a sieve, that I am mortal.

"157. The part I do remember: that the blue of the sky depends on the darkness of empty space behind it. As one optics journal puts it, 'The color of any planetary atmosphere viewed against the black of space and illuminated by a sunlike star will also be blue.' In which case blue is something of an ecstatic accident produced by void and fire."
--Maggie Nelson


"181. Pharmakon means drug, but as Jacques Derrida and others have pointed out, the word in Greek famously refuses to designate whether poison or cure. It holds both in the bowl. In the dialogues Plato uses the word to refer to everything from an illness, its cause, its cure, a recipe, a charm, a substance, a spell, artificial color, and paint. Plato does not call fucking pharmakon, but then again, while he talks plenty about love, Plato does not say much about fucking.

"182. In the Phaedrus, the written word is also notoriously called pharmakon. The question up for debate between Socrates and Phaedrus is whether the written word kills memory or aids it--whether it cripples the mind's power, or whether it cures it of its forgetfulness. Given the multiple meanings of pharmakon, the answer is, in a sense, a matter of translation."
--Maggie Nelson


"216. Today is the fifth anniversary, the radio says, of the day on which 'everything changed.' It says this so often that I turn it off. Everything changed. Everything changed. Well, what changed? What did the blade reveal? For whom did it come? 'I grieve that grief can teach me nothing,' wrote Emerson.

"217. 'We're only given as much as the heart can endure,' 'What does not kill you makes you stronger,' 'Our sorrows provide us with the lessons we most need to learn'; these are the kinds of phrases that enrage my injured friend. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to come up with a spiritual lesson that demands becoming a quadriparalytic. The tepid 'there must be a reason for it' notion sometimes floated by religious or quasi-religious acquaintances or bystanders, is, to her, another form of violence. She has no time for it. She is too busy asking, in this changed form, what makes a liveable life, and how she can live it.

"218. As her witness, I can testify to no reason, no lesson. But I can say this: in watching her, sitting with her, helping her, weeping with her, touching her, and talking with her, I have seen the bright pith of her soul. I cannot tell you what it looks like, exactly, but I can say that I have seen it."
--Maggie Nelson
[identity profile] two-grey-rooms.livejournal.com
"Résumé"
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp;
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
--Dorothy Parker


"Other Lives and Dimensions and Finally a Love Poem"
My left hand will live longer than my right. The rivers
of my palms tell me so.
Never argue with rivers. Never expect your lives to finish
at the same time. I think

praying, I think clapping is how hands mourn. I think
staying up and waiting
for paintings to sigh is science. In another dimension this
is exactly what's happening,

it's what they write grants about: the chromodynamics
of mournful Whistlers,
the audible sorrow and beta decay of "Old Battersea Bridge."
I like the idea of different

theres and elsewheres, an Idaho known for bluegrass,
a Bronx where people talk
like violets smell. Perhaps I am somewhere patient, somehow
kind, perhaps in the nook

of a cousin universe I've never defiled or betrayed
anyone. Here I have
two hands and they are vanishing, the hollow of your back
to rest my cheek against,

your voice and little else but my assiduous fear to cherish.
My hands are webbed
like the wind-torn work of a spider, like they squeezed
something in the womb

but couldn't hang on. One of those other worlds
or a life I felt
passing through mine, or the ocean inside my mother's belly
she had to scream out.

Here when I say "I never want to be without you,"
somewhere else I am saying
"I never want to be without you again." And when I touch you
in each of the places we meet

in all of the lives we are, it's with hands that are dying
and resurrected.
When I don't touch you it's a mistake in any life,
in each place and forever.
--Bob Hicok
[identity profile] two-grey-rooms.livejournal.com
"I don't trust anybody's nostalgia but my own. Nostalgia is a product of dissatisfaction and rage. It's a settling of grievances between the present and the past. The more powerful the nostalgia, the closer you come to violence. War is the form nostalgia takes when men are hard-pressed to say something good about their country."
--Don DeLillo, White Noise

"Love does not traffic in a marketplace, nor use a huckster's scales. Its joy, like the joy of the intellect, is to feel itself alive. The aim of Love is to love: no more, and no less. You were my enemy: such an enemy as no man ever had. I had given you all my life, and to gratify the lowest and most contemptible of all human passions, hatred and vanity and greed, you had thrown it away. In less than three years you had entirely ruined me in every point of view. For my own sake there was nothing for me to do but to love you."
--Oscar Wilde

"I made art a philosophy, and philosophy an art: I altered the minds of men, and the colour of things: I awoke the imagination of my century so that it created myth and legend around me: I summed up all things in a phrase, all existence in an epigram: whatever I touched I made beautiful."
--Oscar Wilde

"Brevity is the soul of lingerie."
--Dorothy Parker
[identity profile] two-grey-rooms.livejournal.com
"The Magic of Cinema"

the projectionist put the second
reel on backwards
and then fell asleep
and now birds
are flying upside down
and backwards
across what must have once been
the white sky
it all makes sense though somehow
at midnight
in this abandoned movie house
with the projectionist
sure that his life is falling apart
and nobody
except the homely ticket girl
out there in the dark
weeping
in the last row
--Denver Butson


"Finis"

Now it's over, and now it's done;
Why does everything look the same?
Just as bright, the unheeding sun,--
Can't it see that the parting came?
People hurry and work and swear,
Laugh and grumble and die and wed,
Ponder what they will eat and wear,--
Don't they know that our love is dead?

Just as busy, the crowded street;
Cars and wagons go rolling on,
Children chuckle, and lovers meet,--
Don't they know that our love is gone?
No one pauses to pay a tear;
None walks slow, for the love that's through,--
I might mention, my recent dear,
I've reverted to normal, too.
--Dorothy Parker


"Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it."
--André Gide


"Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better."
--André Gide

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