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Friday, July 31, 2015

Thing is...

The truth is I may never know what I wanted from you. I only knew what I didn't want. I didn't want what you gave me. Even if I needed it, and I know I probably did, and so much of this sounds completely ungrateful. I feel ungrateful and I don't want to be. I'm sorry. I can't even think of two more terrible words to use right now. But I am. I'm sorry. I know you are too. I'm not even sure how we ended up here. I know it's not what either of us wanted. And yet, here we are. We both drove us to this point.

This destination was never on my map. I don't know that I ever had a destination in mind. Maybe that's part of the problem. I wasn't looking at maps. I was too busy reading the signs. But none of the signs I'd read ever pointed us here. Maybe I misread.

It's so easy to misunderstand. I ignore the obvious in favor of the subtext. I exist in the subtext. So much of what happened between us was subtextual. We were beneath the surface before we'd even defined the outlines of the surface. I felt like I was drowning. Maybe you did too.

Today I'd wanted to say I was sorry. But what difference would that make? You already know. We're both so sorry. The apologies lie between us like broken teacups we've forgotten to sweep up. We've cut ourselves open on the shards and these tiny pieces remain embedded in our skin. You'd be surprised how long a piece of porcelain from a broken teacup can remain embedded in your skin. I once had a piece in my palm for five years. It was too far below the surface to be removed. I could feel it, but had to wait until it worked itself out. Maybe it will be like that for us too.

There were these other signs I read. I'd left the book on the counter at the bookstore because the pages burned my fingers. Especially the section marked "LOVE TIPS." It felt accusatory. It marked the places where things fell apart. The detours. The wrong turns we'd taken to end up here.

Goethe Knew What's Up

“We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.”

“The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.”

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” 

 “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

“I have possessed that heart, that noble soul, in whose presence I seemed to be more than I really was, because I was all that I could be.”

“If you've never eaten while crying you don't know what life tastes like.” 

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part 

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” 

“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Nothing Cuts Like Love

Love
by Radmila Lazić

I sharpened knives
All night.
To welcome you
In the brilliance of their blades,
And among them,
My love sparkles
For your eyes only.


Radmila Lazic, born in 1949, is one of the best living Serbian poets. She is the author of six collections of poetry, for which she received several literary prizes. She has published numerous essays on literature and is the editor of an anthology of women's poetry and another of anti-war letters, and the founder and editor of the journal Profemina. Wake for the Living is the first translation of her poetry into English.
 

The Nails 
by W.S. Merwin

I gave you sorrow to hang on your wall
Like a calendar in one color.
I wear a torn place on my sleeve.
It isn't as simple as that.
 
Between no place of mine and no place of yours
You'd have thought I'd know the way by now
Just from thinking it over.
Oh I know
I've no excuse to be stuck here turning
Like a mirror on a string,
Except it's hardly credible how
It all keeps changing.
Loss has a wider choice of directions
Than the other thing.
 
As if I had a system
I shuffle among the lies
Turning them over, if only
I could be sure what I'd lost.
I uncover my footprints, I
Poke them till the eyes open.
They don't recall what it looked like.
When was I using it last?
Was it like a ring or a light
Or the autumn pond
Which chokes and glitters but
Grows colder?
It could be all in the mind.  Anyway
Nothing seems to bring it back to me.
 
And I've been to see
Your hands as trees borne away on a flood,
The same film over and over,
And an old one at that, shattering its account
To the last of the digits, and nothing
And the blank end.
 
The lightning has shown me the scars of the future.
 
I've had a long look at someone
Alone like a key in a lock
Without what it takes to turn.
 
It isn't as simple as that.
 
Winter will think back to your lit harvest
For which there is no help, and the seed
Of eloquence will open its wings
When you are gone.
But at this moment
When the nails are kissing the fingers good-bye
And my only
Chance is bleeding from me,
When my one chance is bleeding,
For speaking either truth or comfort
I have no more tongue than a wound.
 
 
W. S. Merwin, The Second Four Books of Poems: The Moving Target The Lice The Carriers of Ladders Writings to an Unfinished Accompaniment (Copper Canyon Press, 1993)

The Struggle for Human Decency

Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell: In 1936 George Orwell traveled to Spain as a volunteer to fight Fascism in the Spanish Civil War. For a little over a year he did just this, on and off, before he was shot in the throat and returned to England, where he wrote an account of his experiences. The book investigates the roots and effects of fascist regimes, the people and landscape of northern Spain, the daily tedium of military life, and his own inspirations and disillusion with what he called the "struggle for human decency."

Like You

Roque Dalton's "Like You"

Like You

Like you I
love love, life, the sweet smell
of things, the sky-
blue landscape of January days.


And my blood boils up
and I laugh through eyes
that have known the buds of tears.
I believe the world is beautiful
and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.


And that my veins don’t end in me
but in the unanimous blood
of those who struggle for life,
love,
little things,
landscape and bread,
the poetry of everyone.
translated by Jack Hirschman

Como Tú
Yo, como tú,
amo el amor, la vida, el dulce encanto
de las cosas, el paisaje
celeste de los días de enero.

También mi sangre bulle
y río por los ojos
que han conocido el brote de las lágrimas.

Creo que el mundo es bello,
que la poesía es como el pan, de todos.

Y que mis venas no terminan en mí
sino en la sangre unánime
de los que luchan por la vida,
el amor,
las cosas,
el paisaje y el pan,
la poesía de todos.

 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Compassion

He asked me about compassion. This was all I could think to say:

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” 

~ Albert Einstein


“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” 

~ Mother Teresa


“for there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.” 

~ Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being  


It is the most beautiful word in the English language.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Timid, the Weak, and Timorous Need Not Apply

“You only need one man to love you. But him to love you free like a wildfire, crazy like the moon, always like tomorrow, sudden like an inhale and overcoming like the tides. Only one man and all of this.” ~ C. JoyBell C.
 

The girl is a wildfire. She'll set your mind on fire and rain thunder in your dreams. She'll dance across fields in your heart like she's chasing a hurricane. And she'll run. She'll run like the tides chasing the moon. She'll slip through your fingers like quicksilver. But maybe, just maybe, if you softly sing your siren song, she'll swim to your distant shore. And moor with you, in the sea.