infinite murmur of dawn


Birago Diop
Sans souvenirs, sans désirs et sans haine
Je retournerai au pays,
Dans les grandes nuits, dans leur chaude haleine
Enterrer tous mes tourments vieillis.
Sans souvenirs, sans désirs et sans haine.

Je rassemblerai les lambeaux qui restent
De ce que j’appelais jadis mon cœur
Mon cœur qu’a meurtri chacun de vos gestes ;
Et si tout n’est pas mort de sa douleur
J’en rassemblerai les lambeaux qui restent.

Dans le murmure infini de l’aurore
Au gré de ses quatre Vents, alentour
Je jetterai tout ce qui me dévore,
Puis, sans rêves, je dormirai – toujours –
Dans le murmure infini de l’aurore.


a carnival of dread


Mein Kampf
David Lerner
Gary Snyder lives in the country. He wakes up in the morning and listens to birds. We live in the city.” – Kathleen Wood

all i want to do is
make poetry famous

all i want to do is
burn my initials into the sun

all i want to do is
read poetry from the middle of a
burning building
standing in the fast lane of the
falling from the top of the
Empire State Building

the literary world
sucks dead dog dick

I’d rather be Richard Speck
than Gary Snyder
I’d rather ride a rocketship to hell
than a Volvo to Bolinas

I’d rather
sell arms to the Martians
than wait sullenly for a
letter from some diseased clown with a
three-piece mind
telling me that I’ve won a
bullet-proof pair of rose-colored glasses
for my poem “Autumn in the Spring”

I want to be
by everyone who teaches for a living

I want people to hear my poetry and
get headaches
I want people to hear my poetry and

I want people to hear my poetry and
weep, scream, disappear, start bleeding,
eat their television sets, beat each other to death with
swords and

go out and get riotously drunk on
someone else’s money

this ain’t no party
this ain’t no disco
this ain’t no foolin’ a

grab-bag of
clever wordplay and sensitive thoughts and
gracious theories about

how many ambiguities can dance on the head of a
machine gun

this ain’t no
genteel evening over
cappuccino and bullshit

this ain’t no life-affirming
our days have meaning
as we watch the flowers breathe through our souls and
fall desperately in love

this ain’t no letter-press, hand-me-down
wimpy beatnik festival of bitching about
the broken rainbow

it is a carnival of dread

it is a savage sideshow
about to move to the main arena

it is terror and wild beauty
walking hand in hand down a bombed-out road
as missiles scream, while a
sky the color of arterial blood
blinks on and off
like the lights on Broadway
after the last junkie’s dead of AIDS

I come not to bury poetry
but to blow it up
not to dandle it on my knee
like a retarded child with
beautiful eyes

throw it off a cliff into
icy seas and
see if the motherfucker can
swim for its life

because love is an excellent thing
surely we need it

but, my friends…

there is so much to hate These Days

that hatred is just love with a chip on its shoulder
a chip as big as the Ritz
and heavier than
all the bills I’ll never pay

because they’re after us

they’re selling radioactive charm bracelets
and breakfast cereals that
lower your IQ by 50 points per mouthful
we get politicians who think
starting World War III
would be a good career move
we got beautiful women
with eyes like wet stones
peering out at us from the pages of
glossy magazines
promising that they’ll
fuck us till we shoot blood

if we’ll just buy one of these beautiful switchblade knives

I’ve got mine



I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade (oh, who am I kidding?), but what is going on in the minds of people who can’t hack their own careers or lives and decide to be life coaches?

I am all for self-improvement and can even support the very Scandinavian/European concept of admitting you’ve “hit the wall” (i.e. succumbed to a kind of existential stress that means you aren’t going to be working for a few months or even a year). I have met so many people who have experienced this, who have felt the overwhelming exhaustion of this stress and its more sinister physical manifestations. I feel for them; I am in fact pleased for them that they live in – and possibly have grown up in – a system that lets them feel comfortable with this and supports them until they get back to full (mental/emotional) health. I did not grow up in such a system, so it’s next to impossible for me to square myself with the idea that this kind of “break” (either the breakdown or the taking a break) is possible. I don’t think it is possible in my conscience, and I would need to be catatonic/unconscious to be forced into this kind of break.

I am not saying my approach is good or right. Having a stress breakdown and taking time off as a result feels wrong for me. We all handle stress differently. What I call stress is not what someone else calls or experiences as stress. As part of my trying to live my life in understanding and compassion, I applaud people for being in touch with what they need, with recognizing debilitating and damaging stress and doing what they need to for themselves, hopefully learning to cope.

But what gets me (and isn’t there always a ‘but’?) is when these same individuals who were so stressed out (sometimes more than once in their career) that they had to take extended sick leave and sometimes retrain for a less stressful career become ‘work-life balance’ coaches.

Yes, seriously.

Seriously. I have seen no fewer than three former colleagues take this exact path.

I won’t argue that they didn’t get some coping mechanisms from their time off. But I will argue that someone who found him/herself in that situation in the first place is not qualified to teach me anything about finding a balance between work and life. Ending up as a life coach in the first place somehow screams, “I couldn’t manage anything myself; I kind of failed at all my other goals, so now I am going to tell you how to manage your life”. Maybe I am extraordinarily closed-minded; maybe through the experience of ‘failure’ (I recognize the harshness of this word) these people have found a calling (helping others), but I am not signing up for seminars in rock-bottom reinvention.

Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

how we blur


Urszula Kozioł

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 13.51.44


Jesteś za blisko
za naocznie jesteś
żebym cię mogła zobaczyć raz wtóry.

Oto liść jeden przybył
w naszym drzewie
a nie wiem – który.

Tak zacieramy się. Im bliżej siebie
jesteśmy dalsi wciąż
od zobaczenia.

Zbyt odsłonięte mamy twarze. Przecież
coś pozostało w nich
do odgadnienia.

Zatem jedź wyjedź i bądź mi z powrotem
bowiem gdzie oczy za blisko są oczom
błogosławiony rozjazd i powroty.

A tak się właśnie do obrazu
cofając kroki.

civilized responses


In conversation recently I talked to a guy who shared his frustration about being “ghosted” by a woman with whom he felt he had a perfectly fine date. Theoretically I would have agreed with him that she could have just said at the end of it, when he asked to keep in touch, that she had a nice time but didn’t see it going anywhere. But I know that I have never been able to do this – and I have equally been almost totally unable to disappear from someone’s life completely without any kind of explanation whatsoever. Truth be told, I have mostly been scared of men my entire life – too afraid to disappear completely (what if they then find me and react badly?) but equally too afraid to wound a fragile ego. The point isn’t me, though.

No, it’s the idea that these people (usually men) who insist that they “just” want someone to be honest with them, that it would have been fine to say “thanks, but no thanks” are out of touch with reality. They often, as news stories everywhere all week long have pointed out, take a polite rejection as an invitation to keep trying, keep pestering, push harder, and sometimes, it escalates into outright threats and violence. This is nothing new to most women.

Sure, it might be civilized and polite to be able to say to someone, “Thanks for the drink, but I think we should go our separate ways”, but reality has taught us that we are rarely met with civilized responses.


Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash

scarred eyes open


Adam Zagajewski

My friends wait for me,
ironic, smiling sadly.

Where are the transparent palaces
we meant to build —

their lips say,
their aging lips.

Don’t worry, friends,
those splendid kites

still soar in the autumn air,
still take us

to the place where harvests begin,
to bright days —

the place where scarred eyes

indifference and boredom


Ella Mi Fu Rapita! (She abandoned me)
Gavin Ewart
“Die Liebe dauert oder dauert nicht.” –Brecht

Her boredom took her away. So simple.
She just became bored with me. No other rival
experienced the entrancing smile with the dimple
or put down his drink in joy at her arrival
or loved her in taxis that stream like ants
through London, fingers under her pants

caressing her holy of holies. Oh, no,
it wasn’t someone younger, bigger or better.
She went because she had the urge to go,
Without a phone call, telegram or letter.
From our last meeting she just walked out –
a few pretexts perhaps. What were they about?

Nothing too serious. A red bow in her hair,
as she lay naked on the bed, knees-raising,
stays in my mind. I know I had my share.
Love is all programmed, it’s all phasing,
There’s a beginning, a middle and an end.
A lover’s life is not that of a friend,

who by and large is able to take it or leave it.
For love there’s a critical path – it goes on.
It can’t go backwards or sideways, believe it,
That’s all; a dream, a tremendous con,
And when it’s over, you’re out on your own.
Most life, they say, has to be lived alone.

And what can the lover do, when the time’s come,
when THE END goes up on the screen? Yelling,
rush into the street, lamenting her lovely bum?
Get friendly with men in bars, telling
how sweet she was, praising her statistics,
or admiring his own sexual ballistics?

No, that’s no good. Love lasts – or doesn’t last.
And all the pink intimacies and warm kisses
go into Proust’s remembrance of time past.
Lovers must never crumple up like sissies
Or break down and cry about their wrongs
If girls are sugar, God holds the sugar tongs.