Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Out of the dimming sky a speck appeared, then another, and another. It was the starlings going to roost. They gathered deep in the distance, flock sifting into flock, and strayed towards me, transparent and whirling, like smoke. They seemed to unravel as they flew, lengthening in curves, like a loosened skein. I didn’t move; they flew directly over my head for half an hour. The flight extended like a fluttering banner, an unfurled oriflamme, in either direction as far as I could see. Each individual bird bobbed and knitted up and down in the flight at apparent random, for no known reason except that that’s how starlings fly, yet all remained perfectly spaced. The flocks each tapered at either end from a rounded middle, like an eye. Over my head I heard a sound of beaten air, like a million shook rugs, a muffled whuff. Into the woods they sifted without shifting a twig, right through the crowns of trees, intricate and rushing, like wind.

After half an hour, the last of the stragglers had vanished into the trees. I stood with difficulty, bashed by the unexpectedness of this beauty, and my spread lungs roared. My eyes pricked from the effort of trying to trace a feathered dot’s passage through a weft of limbs. Could tiny birds be sifting through me right now, birds winging through the gaps between my cells, touching nothing, but quickening in my tissues, fleet?

— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I think this is the little piggy that went to market, and lost its way.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

over and over stitch

Over and Over Stitch
by Jorie Graham

Late in the season the world digs in, the fat blossoms
hold still for just a moment longer.
Nothing looks satisfied,
but there is no real reason to move on much further:
this isn't a bad place;
why not pretend

we wished for it?
The bushes have learned to live with their haunches.
The hydrangea is resigned
to its pale and inconclusive utterances.
Towards the end of the season
it is not bad

to have the body. To have experienced joy
as the mere lifting of hunger
is not to have known it
less. The tobacco leaves
don't mind being removed
to the long racks — all uses are astounding

to the used.
There are moments in our lives which, threaded, give us heaven —
noon, for instance, or all the single victories
of gravity, or the kudzu vine,
most delicate of manias,
which has pressed its luck

this far this season.
It shines a gloating green.
Its edges darken with impatience, a kind of wind.
Nothing again will ever be this easy, lives
being snatched up like dropped stitches, the dry stalks of daylilies
marking a stillness we can't keep.

— from Dream of the Unified Field

Thursday, October 24, 2013

burning in every moment

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

— T. S. Eliot, from Four Quartets, East Coker, V

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

your world

Your World 
by Georgia Douglas Johnson 
Your world is as big as you make it.
I know, for I used to abide
In the narrowest nest in a corner,
My wings pressing close to my side. 
But I sighted the distant horizon
Where the skyline encircled the sea
And I throbbed with a burning desire
To travel this immensity. 
I battered the cordons around me
And cradled my wings on the breeze,
Then soared to the uttermost reaches
With rapture, with power, with ease!

Monday, October 21, 2013

how would we live?

. . . I experience at least a little pleasure every day. I wonder if this is more than the usual amount? It was the same even in childhood when most people are miserable. I don’t think this is because so many wonderful things happen to me but rather that the small things go a long way. 
. . .  
. . . The thing no one ever tells you about joy is that it has very little real pleasure in it. And yet if it hadn’t happened at all, at least once, how would we live?

— Zadie Smith, from "Joy"

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Art is not in some far-off place.

— Lydia Davis

Thursday, October 17, 2013


by Wendy Videlock

The forest is the only place
where green is green and blue is blue.
Walking the forest I have seen
most everything. I’ve seen a you
with yellow eyes and busted wing.
And deep in the forest, no one knew.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

every day

by Mary Oliver 

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less 
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle 
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen, 
to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over 
in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional 
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab, 
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help 
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light 
of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?


Monday, October 14, 2013

the heat of autumn

The Heat of Autumn
by Jane Hirshfield

The heat of autumn
is different from the heat of summer.
One ripens apples, the other turns them to cider.
One is a dock you walk out on,
the other the spine of a thin swimming horse
and the river each day a full measure colder.
A man with cancer leaves his wife for his lover.
Before he goes she straightens his belts in the closet,
rearranges the socks and sweaters inside the dresser
by color. That’s autumn heat:
her hand placing silver buckles with silver,
gold buckles with gold, setting each
on the hook it belongs on in a closet soon to be empty,
and calling it pleasure.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

who am I?

Who Am I?
by Carl Sandburg

My head knocks against the stars.
My feet are on the hilltops.
My finger-tips are in the valleys and shores of universal life.
Down in the sounding foam of primal things I reach my hands and play with pebbles of destiny.
I have been to hell and back many times.
I know all about heaven, for I have talked with God.
I dabble in the blood and guts of the terrible.
I know the passionate seizure of beauty
And the marvelous rebellion of man at all signs reading "Keep Off. 
My name is Truth and I am the most elusive captive in the universe.

Friday, October 11, 2013

perfectly satisfying

She was learning, quite late, what many people around her appeared to have known since childhood that life can be perfectly satisfying without major achievements. 

― Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness

Thursday, October 10, 2013

the sacred wood

The Sacred Wood 
by May Sarton

A charm of columns crowds
The tranquil glade;
No leaves to be seen,
The sudden rush of green
Makes of the air a cloud
Above the colonnade. 
And this perspective breathes;
Unchanging, yet it grows.
The rich leaves of the trees
Renew through centuries
Those columns and those wreaths
Through which the season flows. 
The green rush comes and goes,
Light bursting through stained glass;
The coppers shine and fall
In the great airy hall,
But winter only shows
Structure more marvelous— 
The columns in a choir
Define the empty air;
That leafy cloud has gone
But only to bring on
This magic more severe,
The crucial form laid bare. 
Oh answer to a prayer
And to an old long hunger,
This ancient fertile glade,
This living colonnade
Where form and content are
Not parted any longer!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

not in king's robes

We must not portray you in king's robes,
you drifting mist that brought forth the morning. 

— Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Book of Hours I, 4

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

sail on solar wind

I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam. It is possible, in deep space, to sail on solar wind. Light, be it particle or wave, has force: you rig a giant sail and go. The secret of seeing is to sail on solar wind. Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff. 

— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Monday, October 7, 2013

never dead

The poetry of earth is never dead.

— John Keats

Friday, October 4, 2013

the whole mess . . . almost

The Whole Mess . . .  Almost
by Gregory Corso

I ran up six flights of stairs
to my small furnished room
opened the window
and began throwing out
those things most important in life

First to go, Truth, squealing like a fink:
“Don’t! I’ll tell awful things about you!”
“Oh yeah? Well, I’ve nothing to hide ... OUT!”
Then went God, glowering & whimpering in amazement:
“It’s not my fault! I’m not the cause of it all!” “OUT!”
Then Love, cooing bribes: “You’ll never know impotency!
All the girls on Vogue covers, all yours!”
I pushed her fat ass out and screamed:
“You always end up a bummer!”
I picked up Faith Hope Charity
all three clinging together:
“Without us you’ll surely die!”
“With you I’m going nuts! Goodbye!”

Then Beauty ... ah, Beauty—
As I led her to the window
I told her: “You I loved best in life
... but you’re a killer; Beauty kills!”
Not really meaning to drop her
I immediately ran downstairs
getting there just in time to catch her
“You saved me!” she cried
I put her down and told her: “Move on.”

Went back up those six flights
went to the money
there was no money to throw out.
The only thing left in the room was Death
hiding beneath the kitchen sink:
“I’m not real!” It cried
“I’m just a rumor spread by life ... ”
Laughing I threw it out, kitchen sink and all
and suddenly realized Humor
was all that was left—
All I could do with Humor was to say:
“Out the window with the window!”

Thursday, October 3, 2013

the clear mirror

You who want 
see the Oneness 

There you 
will find 
the clear mirror 
already waiting. 

— Hadewijch II (Antwerp, 13th century) 
translated by Jane Hirshfield

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

nothing at all

There is nothing at all that can be talked about adequately, 
and the whole art of poetry is to say what can't be said.

― Alan Watts