Tuesday, November 30, 2010

According to popular sources, there are 751 days, 8 hours and some minutes left.

Anna said "carry this" and "follow behind me."
The earth is tired and marked, human after human.

- Carolyn Forche, from The Notebook of Uprising

K.E Roney: "Letter to Yeats"

There is trouble in the streets
for the old reasons.
The Muse doesn't answer.
Knock and she sends us brown bread,
wine that misses the thirst,
return postage
for countries that do not exist anymore.

We do not cross over
we do not cross
we do not ask who is living there
or the dead either.
The image of nothing is nothing.

I am hungry where the stars are
when the stars send down an old leaf.
And the man who has nowhere to go
remembers everything dead before him.

(prior credit to Montana Gothic)

Monday, November 29, 2010

According to popular sources, there are 752 days, 19 hours and some minutes left.
To study the plot without studying the characters will never make sense of the drama of human life.

-Robert Ranulph Marett, The Individuality of the Primitive


If a boy is afraid of the dark and wets the bed, try hard, very hard, not to comment in any language.

He will grow to put you softly in your grave.

-Padgett Powell, Typical

Sunday, November 28, 2010

We sat and drank, each with a separate past locked up in him, and fate’s alarm clocks set at unrelated futures—

Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin

Saturday, November 27, 2010

So that how it can be that a stone, a plant, a star, can take on the burden of being; 
and how it is that a child can take on the burden of breathing; and how through so long 
a continuation and cumulation of the burden of each moment one on another, 
does any creature bear to exist, and not break utterly to fragments of nothing: 
these are matters too dreadful and fortitudes too gigantic to meditate long and not forever 
to worship.

-James Agee, from Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

(Thanks to Garrison Keillor's posts for reminding us this is Agee's birthday.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

We were thankful for, what, 
as the viable earth curved  
and made of itself
ahead of itself
the failing the unfailing world

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

...we two sit
close enough to smell
each other's shirts
and listen to the water
without speaking
while I try to remember
who told me this nightboat
would take me home,
and whether or not
I've always been a fool.

-Brad Liening, from Nightboat

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"A Letter to Her Father" by Inib-sarri, MIddle Euphrates, 1790-1745 B.C.

Twice I have written you that I am unhappy,
my lord,
and you wrote back:
"Go and enter the city of Aslakka."

Now I have gone into Aslakka
and I am very unhappy.

For Ibal-Addu's wife is queen there!
That woman takes in gifts almost every day
from a multitude of cities,
including Aslakka,
but she forces me to sit in a corner
like a female idiot,
digging my fingers into my cheek!

Monday, November 22, 2010

It had begun to snow again....It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, father westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves .... It lay thickly on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns.  His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

-James Joyce, from The Dead

Sometimes it's a pleasure
     to grieve
          or dump

the leaves most brilliant
     as do trees
          when they've no need

of an overload
     of cellulose
          for a cool while

-Lorine Niedecker, from Wintergreen Ridge

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A shred of handkerchief
like a fish in my fist.
. . . shall we go? . . . which way are you going?
(The train tracks, poison, a bullet, who knows.

Death.) . . . I have no plans.
. . . life!  Like a Roman commander,
An eagle-eyed glance at the remnant
of his troops.
                      . . . well then, goodbye.

-Marina Tsvetayeva, from The Daughter of Jairus

According to popular sources, there are 760 days, 21 hours and something left.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

When my father died, I was never again consoled.
I hunted up old pictures, visited acquaintances,
relatives, who would remind me of how he talked,
his way of pursing his lips and of being certain.
I imitated the way his body curled
in his last sleep and repeated the words
he said when I touched his feet:
"Never mind, they're all right."

Adelia Prado, from Successive Deaths
...how pavement burns them forward,
thirsty as a willow root
and bent,
longing not the same as moving....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Turner painted his own
sea monsters, but hired
someone else to do
"small animals."
Apparently he could do
a great sky, but not

Much like god at the end.

-Mary Ruefle, from The Tenor of Your Yes

"A Curse on Uruk" by Enheduanna (Sumerian, 2300 B.C.)

What am I in the place of nourishment
and sleep?
What am I now?
That city of Uruk has become an evil rebel
against your god.
An, make it surrender.  Cut it in two!
Let Enlil curse it!
Let its whining child go without a pampering
O lady, the harp of mourning is on the ground.
Your ship of mourning is on a hostile shore,
dragged over the rocks.
When the people of the city hear my sacred song,
they are ready to die.

(Adapted by A. and W. Barnstone from the translations by W. Hallo and J.J.A. van Dijk)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You went into strange lands, knowing all the while that your country had already become alien.

-Luis Cernuda

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day
Had he thy Reason, would he skip and play?
Pleas'd to the last, he crops the flow'ry food,
And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood.

-Alexander Pope, from An Essay on Man

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I saw the image of an image
of a man coming forward
in the emptiness, a page
lying open.
Like going past a house
long since abandoned
and someone appears in the window.
A stranger.  He was the navigator.

-Tomas Transtromer, from A Man from Benin

Sunday, November 14, 2010

As the giddiness became usual, I longed to flock to what I loved.
My goats, for instance.  My fig tree.  My favorite window looking 
out over the olives.  Especially my goats.  I saw their oblong eyes
and ellipsoid udders and cornered anatomies.

-Guy Davenport, from C. Musonius Rufus

Friday, November 12, 2010

It is not apocalypse.
Stroke by stroke
it is you
like a great sculpture...
becoming air blown
all the particles like a Seurat painting...

-Lynn Strongin, from Horsefall Slow Motion, Reversed

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You don't have to have believed in the future in the first place.

Open the archive and see our post of October 11, 2010, for submission guidelines.  Help us usher in or usher out, whichever.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

All earth a level now.
No detritus soars
and only these will rise:
fever, sun and moon.

It is eleven p.m. on the West Coast and at least here there is still a future; tomorrow, so reachable, will likely arrive:  Veteran's Day (hooray!) and the birthday of Kurt Vonnegut.

...we learned the complement of layers
the danger of profile.
We bent or burrowed--
constructed ground first,
had never taken wind well--
now seek our direction with the many-legged...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This dimension was remembered—
we lay Devonian in older homes.
Our only shade had feet....

Monday, November 8, 2010

and the saurian revolution
The last epiphany
The razing of the perpendiculars...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The exotic is to space what the eventful is to time and what counts is the variety of ways in which basic themes have been treated in either space or time.

- Nicolas Calas, Primitive Heritage

In the dream
A golden vessel
In the dream
An open sky

- Paavo Haavikko, The Bowmen

Thursday, November 4, 2010

As of this post there are 777 days and some hours left.
Trumpets.  A valley opens and beyond
the valley, closed and open sea.  This land
is rough north music.  Green cannot hide
the rock it hides and if horizon softens
into roll, it is the terrible drums
you dream are rolling.

-Richard Hugo, from Drums in Scotland  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The river is moving.  The blackbird must be flying.

-Wallace Stevens, from  Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Monday, November 1, 2010