The women who were singers in the West
lived on an unforgiving coast.
I want to ask was there ever one
moment when all of it relented–
when rain and ocean and their own
sense of home were revealed to them
as one and the same?
every day was still shaped by weather,
but every night their mouths filled with
Atlantic storms and clouded-over stars
and exhausted birds?
And only when the danger
was plain in the music could you know
their true measure of rejoicing in
finding a voice where they found a vision.
For those confused about berries
On the typographic bushes of the poem down a road leading neither out of things nor to the mind, certain fruits are composed of an agglomeration of spheres plumped with a drop of ink.
Black, rose and khaki together on the bunch, they are more like the sight of a rogue family at its different ages than a strong temptation to picking.
In view of the disproportion of seeds to pulp birds don’t think much of them, so little remains once from beak to anus they’ve been traversed.
But the poet in the course of his professional promenade takes the seed to task: ‘So,’ he tells himself, ‘the patient efforts of a fragile flower on a rebarbative tangle of brambles are by and large successful. Without much else to recommend them – ripe, indeed they are ripe – done, like my poem.’
Aux buissons typographiques constitués par le poème sur une route qui ne mène hors des choses ni à l’esprit, certains fruits sont formés d’une agglomération de sphères qu’une goutte d’encre remplit.
Noirs, roses et kakis ensemble sur la grappe, ils offrent plutôt le spectacle d’une famille rogue à ses âges divers, qu’une tentation très vive à la cueillette.
Vue la disproportion des pépins à la pulpe les oiseaux les apprécient peu, si peu de chose au fond leur reste quand du bec à l’anus ils en sont traversés.
Mais le poète au cours de sa promenade professionnelle, en prend de la graine à raison : ‘Ainsi donc, se dit-il, réussissent en grand nombre les efforts patients d’une fleur très fragile quoique par un rébarbatif enchevêtrement de ronces défendue. Sans beaucoup d’autres qualités, – mûres, parfaitement elles sont mûres – comme aussi ce poème est fait.’
When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
“Let us,” said he, “pour on him all we can.
Let the world’s riches, which dispersèd lie,
Contract into a span.”
So strength first made a way;
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure.
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay.
“For if I should,” said he,
“Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature;
So both should losers be.
“Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness;
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast.”
In the club car that morning I had my notebook
open on my lap and my pen uncapped,
looking every inch the writer
right down to the little writer’s frown on my face,
but there was nothing to write
about except life and death
and the low warning sound of the train whistle.
I did not want to write about the scenery
that was flashing past, cows spread over a pasture,
hay rolled up meticulously—
things you see once and will never see again.
But I kept my pen moving by drawing
over and over again
the face of a motorcyclist in profile—
for no reason I can think of—
a biker with sunglasses and a weak chin,
leaning forward, helmetless,
his long thin hair trailing behind him in the wind.
I also drew many lines to indicate speed,
to show the air becoming visible
as it broke over the biker’s face
the way it was breaking over the face
of the locomotive that was pulling me
toward Omaha and whatever lay beyond Omaha
for me and all the other stops to make
before the time would arrive to stop for good.
We must always look at things
from the point of view of eternity,
the college theologians used to insist,
from which, I imagine, we would all
appear to have speed lines trailing behind us
as we rush along the road of the world,
as we rush down the long tunnel of time—
the biker, of course, drunk on the wind,
but also the man reading by a fire,
speed lines coming off his shoulders and his book,
and the woman standing on a beach
studying the curve of horizon,
even the child asleep on a summer night,
speed lines flying from the posters of her bed,
from the white tips of the pillowcases,
and from the edges of her perfectly motionless body.
“The problem with sex is the same as with any addiction. You’re always recovering. You’re always backsliding. Acting out. Until you find something to fight for, you settle for something to fight against.” –Choke, Chuck Palahniuk
Go back and see all the things you’ve missed. Try to exit regret gracefully, as the mess you made lacked all grace. Nothing you have said or done can fix your recalcitrance. You can only be – and try to be something more thoughtful than you were before.