Why this?

The occasional poem of my own and a generous helping of work by others that I find inspiring. Site is named for a beloved book by one of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, whose fanciful work lights--and delights--my soul.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Soda Crackers

You soda crackers! I remember
when I arrived here in the rain,
whipped out and alone.
How we shared the aloneness
and quiet of this house.
And the doubt that held me
from fingers to toes
as I took you out
of your cellophane wrapping
and ate you, meditatively,
at the kitchen table
that first night with cheese,
and mushroom soup. Now,
a month later to the day,
an important part of us
is still here. I'm fine.
And you—I'm proud of you, too.
You're even getting remarked
on in print! Every soda cracker
should be so lucky.
We've done all right for
ourselves. Listen to me.
I never thought
I could go on like this
about soda crackers.
But I tell you
the clear sunshiny
days are here, at last.

--Ray Carver

Something Is Happening

Something is happening to me
if I can believe my
senses this is not just
another distraction dear
I am tied up still
in the same old skin
the pure ideas and ambitious yearnings
the clean and healthy cock
at all costs
but my feet are beginning
to tell me things about
themselves
about their new relationship to
my hands heart hair and eyes

Something is happening to me
if I could I would ask you
have you ever felt anything similar
but you are already so far
away tonight I do not think
you would hear besides
my voice has also been affected

Something is happening to me
do not be surprised if
walking someday soon in this bright
Mediterranean sun you look
across at me and discover
a woman in my place
or worse
a strange whitehaired man
writing a poem
one who can no longer form words
who is simply moving his lips
trying
to tell you something

--Ray Carver (yet again! hee)

September

September, and somewhere the last
of the sycamore leaves
have returned to earth.

Wind clears the sky of clouds.

What's left here? Grouse, silver salmon,
and the struck pine not far from the house.
A tree hit by lightning. But even now
beginning to live again. A few shoots
miraculously appearing.

Stephen Foster's "Maggie by My Side"
plays on the radio.

I listen with my eyes far away.

--Ray Carver

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gift

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over the honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw blue sea and sails.

--Czeslaw Milosz

The Gift

FOR TESS

Snow began falling late last night. Wet flakes
dropping past windows, snow covering
the skylights. We watched for a time, surprised
and happy. glad to be here, and nowhere else.
I loaded up the wood stove. Adjusted the flue.
We went to bed, where I closed my eyes at once.
But for some reason, before falling asleep,
I recalled the scene at the airport
in Buenos Aires the evening we left.
How still and deserted the place seemed!
Dead quiet except the sound of our engines
as we backed away from the gate and
taxied slowly down the runway in a light snow.
The windows in the terminal building dark.
No one in evidence, not even a ground crew. “It’s as if
the whole place is mourning,” you said.

I opened my eyes. Your breathing said
you were fast asleep. I covered you with an arm
and went on from Argentina to recall a place
I lives in once in Palo Alto. No snow in Palo Alto.
But I had a room and two windows looking onto the Bayshore Freeway.
They refrigerator stood next to the bed.
When I became dehydrated in the middle of the night,
all I had to do to slake that thirst was reach out
and open the door. The light inside showed the way
to a bottle of cold water. A hot plate
sat in the bathroom close to the sink.
When I shaved, the pan of water bubbled
on the coil next to the jar of coffee granules.

I sat on the bed one morning, dressed, clean-shaven,
drinking coffee, putting off what I’d decided to do. Finally
dialed Jim Houston’s number in Santa Cruz.
And asked for 75 dollars. He said he didn’t have it.
His wife had gone to Mexico for a week.
He simply didn’t have it. He was coming up short
this month. “It’s okay,” I said, “I understand.”
And I did. We talked a little
more, then hung up. He didn’t hate it.
I finished the coffee, more or less, just as the plane
lifted off the runway into the sunset.
I turned in the seat for one last look
at the lights of Buenos Aires. Then closed my eyes
for the long trip back.

This morning there’s snow everywhere. We remark on it.
You tell me you didn’t sleep well. I say
I didn’t either. You had a terrible night. “Me too.”
We’re extraordinarily calm and tender with each other
as if sensing the other’s rickety state of mind.
As if we knew what the other was feeling. We don’t,
of course. We never do. No matter.
It’s the tenderness I care about. That’s the gift
this morning that moves and holds me.
Same as every morning.

--Ray Carver

(Good grief that last stanza's a stunner.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sweet Light

After the winter, grieving and dull,
I flourished here all spring. Sweet light

began to fill my chest. I pulled up
a chair. Sat for hours in front of the sea.

Listened to the buoy and learned
to tell the difference between a bell,

and the sound of a bell. I wanted
everything behind me. I even wanted

to become inhuman. And I did that.
I know I did. (She'll back me up on this.)

I remember the morning I closed the lid
on memory and turned the handle.

Locking it away forever.
Nobody knows what happened to me

out here, sea. Only you and I know.
At night, clouds form in front of the moon.

By morning they're gone. And that sweet light
I spoke of? That's gone too.

--Raymond Carver

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

To a Young Poet

Why do you try to write like an old man?
You are twenty-one - gold and purple
should stand sturdy in your garden.

You
break off all healing lustral howls
and welcome wintry frost upon your page

with steep-pinched, hard-shored resignations,
wisdoms ceded by the blooms who died.
Count quick shadows, enigmas,

make of them your inventory.
Enhance your boldness, your despair
of wanting everything, even what isn't there.

--Justin Vicari in Fugue

Sunday, September 12, 2010

notes on origami

1. you must recognize what most do not:
it is less an art of folding
than of unfolding,

an intricate process through negation.


2. as you fold the first edge, in upon itself,
or press your finger's nail to a crease

you must know this will all be undone,

that the goal of such movement, is not
to be left as is, but rather to create a line--

a reference, so one's next step might be more clear.


3. as you reach the final folds
& form a wing or delicate neck

consider what you've heard of trees
whose seeds will root only in ash.

consider the attention,
undivided, as each one blooms.

--Britton Shurley in Bateau

Friday, September 3, 2010

Island Cities

You see them from airplanes, nameless green islands
in the oceanic, rectilinear plains,
twenty or thirty blocks, compact, but with
everything needed visibility in place—
the high-school playing fields, the swatch of park
along the crooked river, the feeder highways,
the main drag like a zipper, outlying malls
sliced from dirt-colored cakes of plowed farmland.

Small lives, we think—pat, flat—in such tight grids.
But, much like brains with every crease CAT-scanned,
these cities keep their secrets: vagaries
of the spirit, groundwater that floods
the nearby quarries and turns them skyey blue,
dewdrops of longing, jewels boxed in these blocks.

--John Updike

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Nose on Your Face

In all your life, you will never see your actual face.
If you close one eye, you can gaze
at the side of your nose, but that's it.
Is that why when looking at group photographs,
it's yourself you stare at the longest?
Sometimes you're mistaken for someone else,
And you want to meet her, see for yourself yourself,
but even if you met a gang of doppelgangers,
you will continue searching in hubcaps, sauce pans,
toasters, the backs of spoons, the bases of lamps,
in sunglasses, in another person's eyes,
and if that person is standing in just the right light,
there you are, trying to get closer.

--Susan Browne