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.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Absolute tension and absolute stillness

Art is like Christianity in this way: at its greatest, it can give you access to the deepest suffering you imagine—not necessarily dramatic suffering, not necessarily physical suffering, but the suffering that is in your nature, the suffering of which you must be conscious to fulfill your nature—and at the same time provide a peace that is equal to that suffering. The peace is not in place of the sorrow; the sorrow does not go away. But there is a moment of counterbalance between them that is both absolute tension and absolute stillness.

--Christian Wiman

52

The shame of dumb ideas is suffered by the best
but the absence of intelligence means a fool for sure
claiming external things are nothing but illusions
and not understanding wealth is simply luck
the leaves in the stream move without a plan
the clouds in the valley drift without design 
I closed my eyes and everything was fine
I opened them again because I love mountains

--Stonehouse

The Beauty of a Busted Fruit

When we were children, we traced our knees,
shins, and elbows for the slightest hint of wound,
searched them for any sad red-blue scab marking us
both victim and survivor.

All this before we knew that some wounds can’t heal,
before we knew the jagged scars of Great-Grandmother’s
amputated legs, the way a rock can split a man’s head
open to its red syrup, like a watermelon, the way a brother
can pick at his skin for snakes and spiders only he can see.

Maybe you have grown out of yours—
maybe you no longer haul those wounds with you
onto every bus, through the side streets of a new town,
maybe you have never set them rocking in the lamplight
on a nightstand beside a stranger’s bed, carrying your hurts
like two cracked pomegranates, because you haven’t learned
to see the beauty of a busted fruit, the bright stain it will leave
on your lips, the way it will make people want to kiss you.

Natalie Diaz

Also this

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I love reading about others' NYC relationships

Excerpt from this great book--

During the following spring, spending most of our time back in Brendan's farmhouse together, it began to dawn on me that I had actually left New York.

I remembered one morning, a month or so before I'd fallen in love with Brendan, when I had awoken trapped in my bed, listening to clanking, roaring garbage trucks outside, choking on cigarette smoke from the apartment downstairs, sensing the seething millions of people around me, pressing on my skull. That morning, I saw the city clearly, suddenly, as if for the first time--it was loud, dirty, crowded, touristy, expensive, maddening. Had I changed or had New York? Was it me or it? It didn't matter. From that moment on, I had to leave. 

In my mind, of course, I was still a New Yorker, just an expatriated one. New York was the only place I'd ever felt I belonged. Whenever I went back, I felt the startling relief of hearing my own language, and every block shimmered with a ghostly overlay of memories. But nothing made me want to live there again.

I loved the deep, total quiet of the farmhouse. I loved not seeing any lights at night, only the Milky Way arching over the sloping fields. ...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Favorites from W.S. Merwin's latest, "The Moon Before Morning"

HOMECOMING [this is the opening poem]

Once only when the summer
was nearly over and my own
hair had been white as the day’s clouds
for more years than I was counting
I stood by the garden at evening
Paula was still weeding around
flowers that open after dark
and I looked up to the clear sky
and saw the new moon and at that
moment from behind me a band
of dark birds and then another
after it flying in silence
long curving wings hardly moving
the plovers just in from the sea
and the flight clear from Alaska
half their weight gone to get them home
but home now arriving without
a sound as it rose to meet them


THEFT OF MORNING

Early morning in cloud light 
to the sound of the last
of the rain at daybreak dripping
from the tips of the fronds
into the summer day
I watch palm flowers open
pink coral in midair 
among pleated cloud-green fans
as I sit for a while after breakfast
reading a few pages
with a shadowing sense 
that I am stealing the moment
from something else
that I ought to be doing
so the pleasure of stealing is part of it


FOOTHOLDS

Where I dug the logs into the rise
to make the steps along the valley
I forget how many years ago
their wood has dissolved completely now
disappearing into the curled slope
gone without my seeing it happen
while the green clouds of the trees have grown
above their mingled shadows
yet I set my feet down in the same
places I did when the steps were there
without even thinking about them
Father and Mother friend upon friend
what I remember of them now
footholds on the slope
in the silent valley this morning
Wednesday with few clouds and an east wind


STILL

Even if I were to return it would not be
the place we came to one evening down a narrow lane
between old walls not far south of Orleans
on the Loiret the clustered village as the sun was sinking
the lane leading down to the edge of the small river
that seemed scarcely to flow between the near shore
and the tangled screen of trees on the far side
a scene Corot would have recognized
with the small child at the water's edge
feeding the ducks that swam over to him
under the gaze of the portly man standing
a few steps behind him thinking about
money and a woman somewhere and dinner
while the seamless water slipped past under the reflections


ELEGY FOR A WALNUT TREE

Old friend now there is no one alive
who remembers when you were young
it was high summer when I first saw you
in the blaze of day most of my life ago
with the dry grass whispering in your shade
and already you had lived through wars
and echoes of wars around your silence
through days of parting and seasons of absence
with the house emptying as the years went their way
until it was home to bats and swallows
and still when spring climbed toward summer
you opened once more the curled sleeping fingers 
of newborn leaves as though nothing had happened
you and the seasons spoke the same language
and all these years I have looked through your limbs
to the river below and the roofs and the night
and you were the way I saw the world 


TIME IN THE GRASS

In a few fields the first hay is lying
naked in its new fragrance as its color fades
and no one has stayed to see the noon light
dappling the small growth in the shade of the trees
beside the meadows that are still untouched
where the spring grasses go on rippling
in the shimmering daylight of their lives
and the voles clad in velvet shadows
trickle through their feet under the whispers
of the tall world while the clear notes
of crickets on all sides call keep calling
to the world to stay just as it is
they go on calling even when the grass has gone


NEITHER HERE NOR THERE

An airport is nowhere
which is not something
generally noticed

yet some unnamed person in the past
deliberately planned it
to be there

and you have spent time there
again
and are spending time there again
for something you have done
which you do not entirely remember
like the souls of Purgatory

you sit there in the smell
of what passes for food
breathing what is called air
while the timepieces measure
their agreement

you believe in it
while you are there
because you are there
and sometimes you may even feel happy
to be that far on your way
to somewhere


ANCIENT WORLD

Orange sunset
in the deep shell of summer
a long silence reaching
across the dry pastures
in the distance a dog barks
at the sound of a door closing
and at once I am older


WHITE ON WHITE

Above the terraces almost at the top
of the Tower of Babel my eyes are
travelling among the sailing clouds
once more they find themselves at home among
migrating flocks of birds both those that still
return to earth and those that have left it
lying in its losses they fly knowing
their unknowable way and my ears follow them
as they always did toward sounds from before
there was hearing and they ride echoes
into a music more familiar than
I could ever have believed possible
its passions swelling as deep as ever
ringing upward from the bells of the streams
every moment that I loved and had lost
rising toward me to be recognized
the sound of it in the rush of the night rain
I am awake and have been at home the whole time