[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
"The appearance of things change according to the emotions, and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves."
--Kahlil Gibran


" 'I met a rat once in my garden,' I said and allowed Mr. Visconti to refill my glass. 'He was standing motionless so as not to be seen in the flower-bed. His fur looked fluffy like a bird who has blown out its feathers against the cold. He wasn't repulsive like a smooth rat. Without thinking I threw a stone at him. I missed him and I expected him to run, but instead he only limped away. One of his legs must have been broken. There was a hole in the hedge and he made for it very slowly. Once he stopped exhausted and peered over his shoulder at me. He looked rejected, and I was sorry for him. I couldn't throw another stone. He limped on to the hole and went through it. There was a cat in the next garden and I knew he didn't stand a chance. He had such dignity, going to his death. I felt ashamed of myself all that morning.'

" 'It does you credit,' Mr. Visconti said. 'Speaking as an honorary rat on behalf of other rats, I forgive the stone.' "
--Graham Greene, Travels with My Aunt


"Relationships"
The legal children of a literary man
remember his ugly words to their mother.
He made them keep quiet and kissed them later.
He made them stop fighting and finish their supper.
His stink in the bathroom sickened their noses.
He left them with sitters in lonesome houses.
He mounted their mother and made them wear braces.
He fattened on fame and raised them thin.

But the secret sons of the same man
spring up like weeds from the seed of his word.
They eat from his hand and it is not hard.
They unravel his sweater and swing from his beard.
They smell in their sleep his ferns and roses.
They hunt the fox on his giant horses.
They slap their mother, repeating his phrases,
and swell in his sight and suck him thin.
--Mona Van Duyn


"He wouldn't simply allow things to happen to him anymore. He was alive, and for the first time since he'd woken out of the slumber of his past life, he felt it. It was not that he was painfully aware of each moment, as he had been upon waking from the operation. It seemed to him now that it was probably only the dying who saw the world with such precise and formal clarity as that, knowing it was already lost to them. No, this was something different, as if at some point in the hazy bacchanal of the night he had been handed back his life. A moment of reprieve, his heart bursting with a high-spirited hope, hammering its percussion in his chest."
--Nicole Krauss, Man Walks into a Room


"He could hear Donald saying something else but it didn't matter anymore what, because then and there it occurred to him that maybe the emptiness he'd been living with all this time hadn't really been emptiness at all, but loneliness gone unrecognized. How can a mind know how alone it is until it brushes up against some other mind? A single mark had web made, another person's memory imposed onto his mind, and now the magnitude of his own loss was impossible for Samson to ignore. It was breathtaking. He sank to his knees.

" 'Sammy? I said, are you there?'

"It was as if a match had been struck, throwing light on just how dark it was."
--Nicole Krauss


"Revelation"
Though there is no cure, he seeks one
In the discussions of the rabbis, in the shade
Of the eucalyptus, in the bones of St. Peter fish,
In the lyrics of Arik Einstein, in Gitanes.
Before sleep, uniform slumped
To the ground, pen capped, letter
To the prime minister sealed, he seeks a cure
In the expansive dark of the desert.
In the coffee house, enchanted by a folk singer.
In the shade of the eucalyptus, daydreaming.
Best to forget the offerings, how much oil and grain,
How many calves, how many pigeons.
Forget where the moon is in its cycle.
When the first set ends, when the shade moves,
He wills to carry the forgetting forward.
He wills to practice forgetting when he laces
His shoe, when he describes a recurring dream
To the prisoner who has a reputation
For his interpretations, when he gazes at a ship
On the horizon, when he wakes to the face
Facing his. This is the first time
He has seen her in morning light. What is the prayer?
She belongs to Christ, he remembers as he strokes
Her breast. He will forget this morning,
Like he forgot yesterday morning, their lying
Together late on a mattress issued by the state.
Though there is no cure, he seeks one
Where he works, in a novel, in the kiss
He receives from a rabbi of infinite patience.
He forgets fringes and his friends who have stepped
Outside for a smoke between sets. He forgets
Which of them has lately become a pacifist,
Which has purchased a ticket for the far east.
He wills to practice forgetting the scent
Of her hair, the taste of her tongue.
Though there is no cure, he seeks one
On the broken temple steps,
He seeks one in the morning light
Which reveals and reveals her face.
--Richard Chess


"A man breaking his journey between one place and another at a third place of no name, character, population or significance, sees a unicorn cross his path and disappear. That in itself is startling, but there are precedents for mystical encounters of various kinds, or to be less extreme, a choice of persuasions to put it down to fancy; until--'My God,' says the second man, 'I must be dreaming, I thought I saw a unicorn.' At which point, a dimension is added that makes the experience as alarming as it will ever be. A third witness, you understand, adds no further dimension but only spreads it thinner, and a fourth thinner still, and the more witnesses there are, the thinner it gets and the more reasonable it becomes until it is as thin as reality, the name we give to the common experience...'Look, look" recites the crowd. "A horse with an arrow in its forehead! It must have been mistaken for a deer.' "
--Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead


GUIL: I think I have it. A man talking sense to himself is no madder than a man talking nonsense not to himself.

ROS: Or just as mad.

GUIL: Or just as mad.

ROS: And he does both.

GUIL: So there you are.

ROS: Stark raving sane.
--Tom Stoppard


"Out of the void...a pipe is heard. One of the sailors has pursed his lips against a woodwind, his fingers and thumb governing, shall we say, the ventages, whereupon, giving it breath, let us say, with his mouth, it, the pipe, discourses, as the saying goes, most eloquent music. A thing like that, it could change the course of events."
--Tom Stoppard


"Home is watching the moon rise over the open, sleeping land and having someone you can call to the window, so you can look together. Home is where you dance with others, and dancing is life."
--Stephen King
[identity profile] two-grey-rooms.livejournal.com
"We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered."
--Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
[identity profile] two-grey-rooms.livejournal.com
Guildenstern: We've traveled too far, and our momentum has taken over; we move idly towards eternity, without possibility of reprieve or hope of explanation.

Rosencrantz: Be happy--if you're not even happy what's so good about surviving? We'll be all right. I suppose we just go on.
--Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
[identity profile] two-grey-rooms.livejournal.com
"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear--not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward, it is not a compliment to say it is brave; it is merely a loose misapplication of the word. Consider the flea!--incomparably the bravest of all the creatures of God, if ignorance of fear were courage. Whether you are asleep or awake he will attack you, caring nothing for the fact that in bulk and strength you are to him as are the massed armies of the earth to a sucking child; he lives both day and night and all days and all nights in the very lap of peril and the immediate presence of death, and yet is no more afraid than is the man who walks the streets of a city that was threatened by an earthquake ten centuries before. When we speak of Clive, Nelson, and Putnam as men who 'didn't know what fear was,' we ought always to add the flea--and put him at the head of the procession."
--Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson


"Statistics show that we lose more fools on [July 4] than in all the other days of the year put together. This proves, by the number left in stock, that one Fourth of July per year is now inadequate, the country has grown so."
--Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson


"Phone Call"
Maybe I overdid it
when I called my father an enemy of humanity.
That might have been a little strongly put,
a slight overexaggeration,

an immoderate description of the person
who at the moment, two thousand miles away,
holding the telephone receiver six inches from his ear,
must have regretted paying for my therapy.

What I meant was that my father
was an enemy of my humanity
and what I meant behind that
was that my father was split
into two people, one of them

living deep inside of me
like a bad king, or an incurable disease-
blighting my crops,
striking down my herds,
poisoning my wells – the other
standing in another time zone,
in a kitchen in Wyoming,
with bad knees and white hair sprouting from his ears.

I don't want to scream forever,
I don't want to live without proportion
like some kind of infection from the past,

so I have to remember the second father,
the one whose TV dinner is getting cold
while he holds the phone in his left hand
and stares blankly out the window

where just now the sun is going down
and the last fingertips of sunlight
are withdrawing from the hills
they once touched like a child.
--Tony Hoagland


"Arrival"
And yet one arrives somehow,
finds himself loosening the hooks of
her dress
in a strange bedroom -
feels the autumn
dropping its silk and linen leaves
about her ankles.
The tawdry veined body emerges
twisted upon itself
like a winter wind...!
--William Carlos Williams


"The Rose"
The rose is obsolete
but each petal ends in
an edge, the double facet
cementing the grooved
columns of air - The edge
cuts without cutting
meets - nothing - renews
itself in metal or porcelain -
whither? It ends -

But if it ends
the start is begun
so that to engage roses
becomes a geometry -

Sharper, neater, more cutting
figured in majolica -
the broken plate
glazed with a rose

Somewhere the sense
makes copper roses
steel roses -

The rose carried weight of love
but love is at an end - of roses
It is at the edge of the
petal that love waits

Crisp, worked to defeat
laboredness - fragile
plucked, moist, half-raised
cold, precise, touching

What

The place between the petal's
edge and the

From the petal's edge a line starts
that being of steel
infinitely fine, infinitely
rigid penetrates
the Milky Way
without contact - lifting
from it - neither hanging
nor pushing -

The fragility of the flower
unbruised
penetrates space.
--William Carlos Williams


"I Have News for You"
There are people who do not see a broken playground swing
as a symbol of ruined childhood

and there are people who don't interpret the behavior
of a fly in a motel room as a mocking representation of their thought process.

There are people who don't walk past an empty swimming pool
and think about past pleasures irrecoverable

and then stand there blocking the sidewalk for other pedestrians.
I have read about a town somewhere in California where human beings

do not send their tuberous feeder roots
deep into the potting soil of others' emotional lives

as if they were greedy six-year-olds
sucking the last half inch of milkshake up through a noisy straw;

and other persons in the Midwest who can kiss without
unpacking the imperialist baggage of heterosexuality.

Do you see that creamy, lemon-yellow moon?
There are some people, unlike me and you,

who do not yearn after love or fame or quantities of money as
unattainable as that moon;

Thus, they do not later
have to waste more time
defaming the object of their former ardor.

Or consequently run and crucify themselves
in some solitary midnight Starbucks Golgotha.

I have news for you:
there are people who get up in the morning and cross a room

and open a window to let the sweet breeze in
and let it touch them all over their faces and bodies.
--Tony Hoagland


"Final Faith"
Is it possible that we are so twisted
there is no salvation for any of us,
and that ideas have become wingless
in an age of winged rockets?

Is it possible that a crippled birch,
bending over to the last river,
will see the last man
in its boiling water?

Is it possible there'll be no Big Ben,
Saint Basil's, or Notre Dame
and that neutron foam will gush
over our final steps?

But that planet, cherry trees,
birds, and children will perish,
I don't believe. This disbelief
is my final faith.

Skull after skull will not
be piled up in towers again.
The final Nuremberg approaches us
before, not after the war.

And the last soldier on earth
will throw his shoulder strap in a stream,
and watch how peacefully
dragonflies sit on it.

All rascality will end.
All people will understand--we are a family.
The last government
will abolish itself.

The last exploiter,
opening his toothless mouth,
will gobble the last money
furtively like a delicacy.

The last cowardly editor
will be doomed forever
to read from the stage in sequence
everything that he destroyed.

So that the last bureaucrat
can rest and be silent,
his gullet will be stuffed in payment
with the last rubber stamp.

And the earth will turn
without fear of the last years,
there never will be born
the last great poet.
--Yevgeny Yevtushenko, translated by Albert C. Todd.


"History is nothing except monsters or victims. Or witnesses."
--Chuck Palahniuk, Rant


"Gone. The saddest word in the language. In any language."
--Mark Slouka, God's Fool


ROS: A compulsion towards philosophical introspection is his chief characteristic, if I may put it like that. It does not mean he is mad. It does not mean he isn't. Very often, it does not mean anything at all. Which may or may not be a kind of madness.
GUIL: It really boils down to symptoms. Pregnant replies, mystic allusions, mistaken identities, arguing his father is his mother, that sort of thing; intimations of suicide, forgoing of exercise, loss of mirth, hints of claustrophobia not to say delusions of imprisonment; invocations of camels, chameleons, capons, whales, weasels, hawks, handsaws - riddles, quibbles and evasions; amnesia, paranoia, myopia; day-dreaming, hallucinations; stabbing his elders, abusing his parents, insulting his lover, and appearing hatless in public - knock-need, droop-stockinged and sighing like a lovesick schoolboy, which at his age is coming on a bit strong.
ROS: And talking to himself.
GUIL: And talking to himself.
--Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead


on October 12, the Discovery: "It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it."
--Mark Twain
[identity profile] two-grey-rooms.livejournal.com
"There's nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don't live up until their death. They don't honor their own lives, they piss on their lives. They shit them away. Dumb fuckers. They concentrate too much on fucking, movies, money, family, fucking. Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. They look ugly, they talk ugly, they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries and they can't hear it. Most people's deaths are a sham. There's nothing left to die."
--Charles Bukowski

"I know what you are learning to endure. There is nothing to be done. Just make sure nothing is wasted. Take notes, remember it all, every insult, every tear. Tattoo it on the inside of your mind. In life, knowledge of the poisons is essential. I've told you, nobody becomes an artist unless they have to."
--Janet Fitch

"Do not pass by my epitaph, traveler.
But having stopped, listen and learn, then go your way.
There is no boat in Hades, no ferryman Charon,
No caretaker Aiakos, no dog Cerberus.
All we who are dead below
Have become bones and ashes, but nothing else.
I have spoken to you honestly, go on, traveler,
Lest even while dead I seem loquacious to you."
--Roman Tombstone

"Show me a man or woman alone and I'll show you a saint. Give me two and they'll fall in love. Give me three and they'll invent the charming thing we call 'society'. Give me four and they'll build a pyramid. Give me five and they'll make one an outcast. Give me six and they'll reinvent prejudice. Give me seven and in seven years they'll reinvent warfare. Man may have been made in the image of God, but human society was made in the image of His opposite number, and is always trying to get back home."
--Stephen King

"It's strange how pain marks our faces, and makes us look like family."
--Stephen King

"I love you. If you hadn't existed I would have had to invent you."
--Elaine Dundy

"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 it’s being sung? The dance when it’s being danced?"
--Tom Stoppard
[identity profile] two-grey-rooms.livejournal.com
"How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live."
--Henry David Thoreau


"someone should write me a love poem, but i'm stuck doing it myself"
1. when i was in high school, i had to memorize the
conjugation of the latin verb "to love."

2. i have no idea what happened to my mother's wedding
ring. last night at 12:17 a.m., i really needed to know.

3. "beautiful" and "amazing" just mean "beautiful" and
"amazing." nothing more.

4. i memorized the latin verb by singing the forms to the
tune of "the mexican hat dance":

amo
amas
amat

amamus
amatis
amant


5. someone called at 1:19 in the morning. the area code is
from somewhere in arizona. i don't think i know anyone
in arizona. there wasn't a message.

6. if someone lets you sleep over and has to go to work while
you're still asleep and they let you sleep in even though
they don't really know you, it's nice to leave a thank you
note. or make their bed.

7. i haven't been beautiful in days and need more sleep.
don't think about it too much. it doesn't mean a thing.

8. i have had my shirts altered so i can wear my heart on my
sleeve.

9. told me i'm beautiful and amazing and where are you,
who told me i'm beautiful and amazing, next time please
write it down, i will be beautiful all day after i make the
bed, amazing after i throw the latex away; how is it, the
everywhere of our hands and no trace of handwriting
anywhere

10. i still sing:

amo
amas
amat

amamus
amatis
amant

--Daphne Gottlieb


"I was happy but happy is an adult word. You don't have to ask a child about happy, you see it. They are or they are not. Adults talk about being happy because largely they are not. Talking about it is the same as trying to catch the wind. Much easier to let it blow all over you. This is where I disagree with the philosophers. They talk about passionate things but there is no passion in them. Never talk happiness with a philosopher."
--Jeanette Winterson, The Passion


"We had everything to say to each other, but no ways to say it.

"He wrote, Are you OK?

"I told him, My eyes are crummy.

"He wrote, But are you OK?

"I told him, That's a very complicated question.

"I asked, Are you OK?

"He wrote, Some mornings I wake up feeling grateful."
--Jonathan Safran Foer


"I have never loved a woman for herself alone, but because I was caught up in the time with her, between train arrivals and train departures and other commitments. I have loved because she was beautiful and we were two humans lying in the forest at the edge of a dark lake or because she was not beautiful and we were two humans walking between buildings who understood something about suffering. I have loved because so many loved her or because so many were indifferent to her, or to make her believe she was a girl in a meadow upon whose approved knees I laid my head or to make her believe that I was a saint and that she had been loved by a saint. I never told a woman I liked her and when I wrote the words 'My love,' I never meant it to mean 'I love you.' "
--Leonard Cohen, Poems Written/While Dying of Love


"Autumnal--nothing to do with leaves. It is to do with a certain brownness at the edges of the day...Brown is creeping up on us, take my word for it...Russets and tangerines shades of old gold flushing the very outside edges of the senses...deep shining orchers, burnt umber amid parchments of baked earth--reflecting on itself and through itself, filtering the light. At such times, perhaps, coincidentally, the leaves might fall, somewhere by repute. Yesterday was blue, like smoke."
--Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead


"When you can't bear something but it goes on anyway, the person who survives isn't you anymore; you've changed and become someone else, a new person, the one who did bear it after all."
--Austin Grossman, Soon I Will Be Invincible


"A novel is not an allegory, I said as the period was about to come to an end. It is the sensual experience of another world. If you don't enter that world, hold your breath with the characters and become invested in their destiny, you won't be able to empathize, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. This is how you read a novel: you inhale the experience. So start breathing. I just want you to remember this. That is all; class dismissed."
--Azar Nafísi, Reading Lolita in Tehran
[identity profile] two-grey-rooms.livejournal.com
"I am not young enough to know everything."
--Oscar Wilde

"The children the world almost breaks become the adults who save it."
--Frank Warren

"The more you find out about the world, the more opportunities there are to laugh at it."
--Bill Nye

"I can't remember the sixties, so I must have been there."
--Tom Stoppard

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