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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Say

There's a certain congestion of light,
say saffron running to ochre down the Umbrian Hills,
refractive of more complicated palettes:
say the kids' tuition, your wife's
lover, that sketchy colonoscopy.
The pigmentation of Dubuque.
Lord, you would say--
if such address were possible--
illuminate
the defects of others
that mine be blinked away
in the nova of Your righteousness.
Otherwise
it's mostly a grope:
you believing in me,
me making things up, say:
beauty
truth
mercy
light.

--Miles Wilson, here

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Human Heart Is a Theater of Longing

Our world is suffused with beauty. There are landscapes, oceans, paintings, and music whose beauty awakens in our hearts a sense of the eternal. Yet nowhere do we feel so deeply encountered as we do in the presence of another human being. There is something in another human presence that is equal to our longing and soul. The human heart is a theater of longing. One of our deepest longings is to find love and friendship. In the Celtic tradition there was the beautiful notion of the Anam-Cara. Anam is the Irish word for "soul" and Cara is the word for "friend." In the Anam-Cara friendship, you were joined in an ancient way with the friend of your soul. This was a bond that neither space nor time could damage. The friendship awakened an eternal echo in the hearts of the friends; they entered into a circle of intimate belonging with each other. The Anam-Cara friendship afforded a spiritual space to all the other longings of the human heart. --John O'Donohue, here

Friday, May 20, 2011

Windows

Beware the simplicity of windows
that they show a landscape you will never
by the nature of things
be permitted to enter.

It is there
and you
(whoever and wherever you are)
are here.
Language keeps you in your place.

The hills endure your absence forever.

--Robert Kelly, from this

Looking

Once when I read the funnies
I took my little magnifying glass
and looked too close.

Forms became colors and colors
were just arrays of dots
and between the dots I saw the rough bleak
storyless legend of the pulp paper
empty as the winter moon

and I dreaded it.
I had looked right through,
when I wanted a universe
that sustains
looker and looking and the seen
forever, detail after detail
never ending. And all I had found
was between. But between
had its own song:
Find it in the space between—

it is just as empty as it seems
but this blankness is your mother.

--Robert Kelly, from this

Doors

Suppose you didnt know what a door is. That it opens, for
instance. It would seem a different part of the wall, thinner,
more resonant. A decorative rectangle set in the wall, an
embodiment of some geometrical mystery like the Golden
Section. It would seem tantalizing to someone trapped in the
room--a perverse, mean tease: the wall is thin here, soft, but
still unpassable. How little it would take to get through the
wall, yet you cant.

Suppose you didnt know what a door is, that it can open, that
its resistance defines the zone of least resistance, but that zone
requires a deft use of something learned, a knack, a skill:
twisting the knob and pulling. Or pushing. Even if you got as
far as turning and pulling, if the door were the kind that
opened outward, you'd still never guess, never get through.

Suppose all round us there are things like doors in things like
walls and we never knew.

--Robert Kelly, from this

The Shortstop

Pick up the ball and hold it
while you analyze the vectors
of the heart. To describe
for one last time this town
knowing where every street goes
and who lives there. And why.
Where does the money come from?
The old house on the corner
has been painted brown.
Your dog never came home.
To analyze the spaces
inside a broken house. To touch
her again where she's truest,
most impossible to describe.
To find all the mythologies
her name opens up, to enter
that museum or laboratory
or bedroom or terrible porch
on a summer sunset there is
no one at all in the street.
Then throw the batter out.

--Robert Kelly, from this

Les Joueurs de Foot-Ball, 1908

(H. Rousseau)

...

It might have been that he was near death.

Certainly foreign languages became
easier to understand.

One day he felt, looking at the Greek
text of the Iliad,

that he could in fact read there
about fires burning around a war,

about starts brittle in the sky
jiving under a fine full moon.

It was some consolation,
like Mahler, or riding a bicycle.

Then he could understand
even when people werent talking

& one day admired a shapely young
woman getting out of a car

& was suddenly overcome with her grief
even before he saw the sick

little girl she helped out, & the bleak
doctor's doorway beyond the Plymouth.

Her shape told me she was sad,
he thought, & then he allowed his thought

to make love to her & her sadness both
while he drove up the highway towards

it must be death it is so empty & so kind.

--Robert Kelly, from this

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hope Rising

In homage to Kay Ryan

Proven out of fashion
is easily solved
with a trip to the mall,
if one even considers
this a problem. There,
find the day’s filigree
shown on size-three replicas
for ease in selecting a set
aligned with current clime.

Found out of hope
is a different issue. Hope
is not saleable or copyable,
a lack of it unhelped
by mannequin example.
If it’s the real thing
and not Hope Light
(wish for sun, or to be
looked favorably upon)
one generally has to wait
for it to well up. When
hope hits the waterline,
a certain loose seal
is established, grip
slightly susceptible,
technically soluble,
but hardly fickle. It’s
quite unlike fashion’s
hold on acid wash, or bangs
impossible to crush.

--me

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Without Warning

Elizabeth Bishop leaned on a table, it cracked,
both fell to the floor. A gesture
gone sadly awry. This was close to fact
and quickly became symbolic, bound to occur
in Florida, where she was surrounded
by rotting abundance and greedy insects.
One moment a laughing smile, a graceful hand
alighting on solid furniture,
a casual shift of weight,
the next, undignified splayed legs.
The shell of the table
proved to be stuffed with termite eggs.
True, it was a fall from no great height—
merely the height of herself,
and although the hollowed-out table failed,
at least the floor held,
though probably infested by termites as well,
and possibly built on a latent sinkhole,
how can you tell?
And how could she, smiling and easy,
arm moving without forethought and permission,
have forgotten fear, apparently
let go of a hard-learned lesson?
Enter a room as though it is strange.
What you recognize may have changed,
or may change without warning.
Trees fall in hurricanes
and on windless mornings,
breaching houses where people you knew
have vanished or died or stopped loving you.
She regained her feet, already composed,
brushing dust from an elbow. There would be a bruise,
but it would remind her that words are full of holes;
flung hard, like paper they fly sideways.
And a call to joy—a landscape, a face—
may, though scarcely moving, perhaps by not moving, go
in one breath from heartening to ominous,
proving to children who need more proof
that we don’t know what we know.

--Sarah Lindsay

Dominion over the Larger Animal

How many times I have provided
For your death; the apple turned one way
Then the other, an arrangement made,

The softer ground. To hold your head
As if this mattered, to say what I think
Essential into your ear,

To watch the eye look everywhere to find
What it does not know it looks for.
To fasten you down in the one place

Where no one can say anything more,
Being nothing else but breath leaving,
While the man with the needle stands by

Until the signal of how it is time. To believe
I know what will happen next; to leave the hill
As the body stiffens; to pass each blossom

Of blood in the snow as if I understood
All I was capable of.

--Sophie Cabot Black

Dawn Chorus

March 29, 2010

Every morning since the time changed
I have woken to the dawn chorus
And even before it sounded, I dreamed of it
Loud, unbelievably loud, shameless, raucous

And once I rose and twitched the curtains apart
Expecting the birds to be pressing in fright
Against the pane like passengers
But the garden was empty and it was night

Not a slither of light at the horizon
Still the birds were bawling through the mists
Terrible, invisible
A million small evangelists

How they sing: as if each had pecked up a smoldering coal
Their throats singed and swollen with song
In dissonance as befits the dark world
Where only travelers and the sleepless belong

--Sasha Dugdale