Monthly Archives: June 2013

Moments

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“There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could beutiful recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what may be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge.”

-Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

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The couple

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They switch off the light and its white shade

glimmers for a moment before dissolving

like a tablet in a glass of darkness. Then up.

The hotel walls rise into the black sky.

The movements of love have settled, and they sleep

but their most secret thoughts meet as when

two colors meet and flow into each other

on the wet paper of a schoolboy’s painting.

It is dark and silent. But the town has pulled closer

tonight. With quenched windows. The houses have approached.

They stand close up in a throng, waiting,

a crowd whose faces have no expressions.

 

by Tomas Tranströmer

Translation by Robin Fulton

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The rules of evidence

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What you want to say most
is inadmissible.
Say it anyway.
Say it again.
What they tell you is irrelevant
can’t be denied and will
eventually be heard.
Every question
is a leading question.
Ask it anyway, then expect
what you won’t get.
There is no such thing
as the original
so you’ll have to make do
with a reasonable facsimile.

The history of the world
is hearsay. Hear it.
The whole truth
is unspeakable
and nothing but the truth
is a lie.
I swear this.
My oath is a kiss.
I swear
by everything
incredible.

by Lee Robinson

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Thoughts in Solitude

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My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. 

I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. 

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. 

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you and I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. 

And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road although I may know nothing about it. 

Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

by Thomas Merton

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Rorschach

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I went to therapy, every week for about a year.

My mother drove me up to the office complex. I stepped out her silver Honda CRV and walked up the fake stone steps.

I opened the door and entered a world of soft Christian music wafting an air conditioned message of “Jesus is our lord and savior” in an overcrowded space of ugly wholesale dining room furniture and plastic plants, a kind of televangelist set.

It was a safe place I suppose and I hated it.

Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to like it. I knew in some way I needed help and this did seem like a place that could help.

I am a white teenage girl with divorcing parents; I am sure that is a huge pie slice in some demographic chart. I really wanted to feel like a character in a teen drama. “Poor Paris.” And this allowed me that fantasy.

I thought to myself. “The only thing that you thought to be stable is crumbling down.” “That must be really tough for you Paris.”

My therapist would greet me in the waiting room and we would walk up the carpeted stairs with the laminated “appears to be wood” banister, everything a cartoon representation of something real somewhere else.

She was adequately pretty with a calm voice I found irritating.

I wanted emotions. Not that calm shit.

It quickly became a pity party. My private and fully paid for pity party. Exactly what I thought I wanted.

But not really. Not at all.

I wanted emotions. I wanted to pull the fire alarm. I wanted to use inappropriate language. However sick and self-destructive this may sound, I wanted to feel my sadness, deeply and fully. I did not want suggestions or a resolution or something approximate. I did not want comfort. I wanted courage.

Also, I didn’t want to pick things apart, at least not out loud. I prefer for the act to occur in the vicinity of my brain. That way it can tumble about at my own rhythm. I can break it apart. Let it sit in pieces.

I’m not trying to down therapy. Whatever keeps you from overdosing on Ben & Jerry’s ice cream while watching reality tv reruns is cool by me. I just don’t think therapy happens only in that room I was in. It was the wrong place for me.

It was like trying to hammer a nail into a wall with a Philips head screwdriver. It just didn’t get me very far.

Eventually I stopped. I missed one of my appointments; I had double booked myself and never rescheduled. It was my out.

Instead I pursued art and beauty in larger doses.

I read, blogged, painted, wrote, sewed, Pinterested until I became cross-eyed and overly inspired. I told my story to a select few; I listened to theirs.

And you know what?

I found my way.

paris

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Dream Variations

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To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me-
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening…
A tall, slim tree…
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

by Langston Hughes
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Love

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“We do not need to go out and find love; rather, we need to be still and let love discover us.”
― John O’DonohueAnam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

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purity

 
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My favorite time to write is in the late afternoon,
weekdays, particularly Wednesdays.
This is how I go about it:
I take a fresh pot of tea into my study and close the door.
Then I remove my clothes and leave them in a pile
as if I had melted to death and my legacy consisted of only
a white shirt, a pair of pants and a pot of cold tea.Then I remove my flesh and hang it over a chair.
I slide if off my bones like a silken garment.
I do this so that what I write will be pure,
completely rinsed of the carnal,
uncontaminated by the preoccupations of the body.Finally I remove each of my organs and arrange them
on a small table near the window.
I do not want to hear their ancient rhythms
when I am trying to tap out my own drumbeat.Now I sit down at the desk, ready to begin.
I am entirely pure: nothing but a skeleton at a typewriter.I should mention that sometimes I leave my penis on.
I find it difficult to ignore the temptation.
Then I am a skeleton with a penis at a typewriter.
In this condition I write extraordinary love poems,
most of them exploiting the connection between sex and death.I am concentration itself: I exist in a universe
where there is nothing but sex, death, and typewriting.

After a spell of this I remove my penis too.
Then I am all skull and bones typing into the afternoon.
Just the absolute essentials, no flounces.
Now I write only about death, most classical of themes
in language light as the air between my ribs.

Afterward, I reward myself by going for a drive at sunset.
I replace my organs and slip back into my flesh
and clothes. Then I back the car out of the garage
and speed through woods on winding country roads,
passing stone walls, farmhouses, and frozen ponds,
all perfectly arranged like words in a famous sonnet.

by Billy Collins

Prayer

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Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important
calls for my attention—the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage

I need to buy for the trip.
Even now I can hardly sit here

among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside
already screeching and banging.

The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.
Why do I flee from you?

My days and nights pour through me like complaints
and become a story I forgot to tell.

Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning
to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.

by Marie Howe

praying drunk

 

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Our Father who art in heaven, I am drunk.
Again. Red wine. For which I offer thanks.
I ought to start with praise, but praise
comes hard to me. I stutter. Did I tell you
about the woman whom I taught, in bed,
this prayer? It starts with praise; the simple form
keeps things in order. I hear from her sometimes.
Do you? And after love, when I was hungry,
I said, Make me something to eat. She yelled,
Poof! You’re a casserole!—and laughed so hard
she fell out of the bed. Take care of her.
Next, confession—the dreary part. At night
deer drift from the dark woods and eat my garden.
They’re like enormous rats on stilts except,
of course, they’re beautiful. But why? What makes
them beautiful? I haven’t shot one yet.
I might. When I was twelve, I’d ride my bike
out to the dump and shoot the rats. It’s hard
to kill your rats, our Father. You have to use
a hollow point and hit them solidly.
A leg is not enough. The rat won’t pause.
Yeep! Yeep! it screams, and scrabbles, three-legged, back
into the trash, and I would feel a little bad
to kill something that wants to live
more savagely than I do, even if
it’s just a rat. My garden’s vanishing.
Perhaps I’ll merely plant more beans, though that
might mean more beautiful and hungry deer.
Who knows?
                I’m sorry for the times I’ve driven
home past a black, enormous, twilight ridge.
Crested with mist, it looked like a giant wave
about to break and sweep across the valley,
and in my loneliness and fear I’ve thought,
O let it come and wash the whole world clean.
Forgive me. This is my favorite sin: despair—
whose love I celebrate with wine and prayer.
Our Father, thank you for all the birds and trees,
that nature stuff. I’m grateful for good health,
food, air, some laughs, and all the other things
I’m grateful that I’ve never had to do
without. I have confused myself. I’m glad
there’s not a rattrap large enough for deer.
While at the zoo last week, I sat and wept
when I saw one elephant insert his trunk
into another’s ass, pull out a lump,
and whip it back and forth impatiently
to free the goodies hidden in the lump.
I could have let it mean most anything,
but I was stunned again at just how little
we ask for in our lives. Don’t look! Don’t look!
Two young nuns tried to herd their giggling
schoolkids away. Line up, they called. Let’s go   
and watch the monkeys in the monkey house.
I laughed, and got a dirty look. Dear Lord,
we lurch from metaphor to metaphor,
which is—let it be so—a form of praying.
I’m usually asleep by now—the time
for supplication. Requests. As if I’d stayed
up late and called the radio and asked
they play a sentimental song. Embarrassed.
I want a lot of money and a woman.
And, also, I want vanishing cream. You know—
a character like Popeye rubs it on
and disappears. Although you see right through him,
he’s there. He chuckles, stumbles into things,
and smoke that’s clearly visible escapes
from his invisible pipe. It makes me think,
sometimes, of you. What makes me think of me
is the poor jerk who wanders out on air
and then looks down. Below his feet, he sees
eternity, and suddenly his shoes
no longer work on nothingness, and down
he goes. As I fall past, remember me.
 
 
by Andrew Hudgins