From “Improvisations of the Caprisian Winter”

Face, my face:
whose are you? what
are you the face of?
How can you serve as face for such insides,
where beginning and decomposition
ceaselessy converge.
Does the forest have a face?
Doesn’t the great basalt mountain
stand there without a face?
Doesn’t the sea
rise facelessly
from the abyss of the sea?
Isn’t the sky mirrored in it
without brow, without mouth, without chin?

Doesn’t one of the animals sometimes approach
as though it were pleading: take my face?
Their faces are too hard for them
and hold what little soul they have
much too far into the world. And we?
Animals of the soul, bewildered
by all that’s inside us, unprepared
for anything, grazing
souls,
don’t we pass whole nights
pleading with the power that hears
for the nonface
which belongs to the darkness in us.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. Franz Wright

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All this stood upon her and was the world
and stood upon her with all its fear and grace
as trees stand, growing straight up, imageless
yet wholly image, like the Ark of God,
and solemn, as if imposed upon a race.

And she endured it all: bore up under
the swift-as-flight, the fleeting, the far-gone,
the inconceivably vast, the still-to-learn,
serenely as a woman carrying water
moves with a full jug. Till in the midst of play,
transfiguring and preparing for the future,
the first white veil descended, gliding softly

over her opened face, almost opaque there,
never to be lifted off again, and somehow
giving to all her questions just one answer:
In you, who were a child once–in you.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

Listening to: “For Beginners” – M. Ward

A quarter of a century, people. This guy (points, Fonzi-like, at self) is OLD. I promised myself that by my birthday, I’d get a job, health insurance, and a haircut.

…. hey, one out of three ain’t bad, right?

At least it’s gorgeous as shit outside. (If shit were gorgeous). Maybe I’ll go to the beach or somethin’. Party the other night with buddies = amazing.

……

The first two things I saw this morning = this comic:

…and this poem by Matthew Rohrer, from a hand-printed zine I once picked up at The Strand for 48 cents:

Into the vessel, pour your great work.
Each of you is the universe, though occluded.
Expand hungrily into other people’s routines.
Open the door to protein.
Three purple trees and new groundcover in the wet woods.
Stand beside their occult murmurs.
Your friendship is the great work.

Listening to: “This Side of the Blue” – Joanna Newsom

Seeing as how the Northeast corridor’s been experiencing a fake change of seasons the past few days, a parody of the seasons really, absurdly impassible blizzard replaced just as suddenly by a brief, false spring, the whole world from Brooklyn to Allston, unhealthy, suffering a low-grade fever. That wasn’t a sentence. Whatevs.

Anyway, seeing as how that thing, I turned to my favorite tragedy-and-joy-tinged summer poem. I heard “Fern Hill” recited before I ever read it, and I think that’s got to be the best way to be introduced to a poem.

It was two Augusts ago, the roomie and I were at his dad’s friend’s cabin in the Green Mountains, Central Vermont, all of us around a bonfire in the rural dark, clear sky, million stars, crescent moon, dogs around the edges of the light, candles floating on the pond, whiskey flowing, guitar tinkling. The kind of night I wish every night could be. And then the owner of said cabin stood up and recited “Fern Hill” from memory–no not recited, performed it, lit by the fire, his hands obscuring and revealing the moon as he gestured. His voice echoed down the hillside.

firepit

FERN HILL

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

(more…)

A wee poem for a chilly Sunday:

I Died For Beauty
by EMILY DICKINSON

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth – the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a-night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.

We did it. We fucking did it. Barack Obama is going to be the President of the United States.

For the first time in a long time I can honestly say that I am looking forward to the future. There’s no irony, no double meaning, no seedy underbelly. This is just good. Good things really happen. There’s a lot I could say, but something like this leaves me at a loss for words. So I’ll let Maya Angelou say it for me.

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise

Listening to: “The Crook of My Good Arm” – Pale Young Gentlemen

You ever get the feeling that civilization is like, umm… collapsing? Maybe it’s just that I’ve been reading the news more often lately than usual, but I think it’s more than that. I think things really, really suck right now. Why is it that the top stories in the New York Times right now are that some douche Senator got reamed out, and that some baseball teams are having a tough time with their umpires?

Cause if you look at a little lower on the page, looks like the US launched a coupla airstrikes in Syria and Pakistan! A little more important than Ted Stevens being caught with his hand in the pie, wouldn’t ya think?

The Times says in their afterthoughty article that US commandos shot militants who had been feeding Iraqi terrorist cells. But other news outlets are reporting the Syrian’s account of things: that the attack killed 8 civilians. Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem calls it “criminal and terrorist aggression.” I’m not sure what the fuck happened, but I think it boils down to the fact that’s it’s really bad to launch an air attack in a country you were trying to have good relations with. And now we’ve got an international incident going and everyone hates America even more than they already did. Nice job, guys.

Oh yeah, and Pakistan. We blew up some shit in Pakistan to get a Taliban guy and killed at least 20 people. Awesome.

Meanwhile, some neo-Nazis were planning on killing Barack Obama and 100 other people, Sudanese rebels are killing Chinese oil workers, 3 guys opened fire at the University of Central Arkansas, the economy is blowing even worse, Radar Magazine is folding…again, a kid whose mom let him play with an Uzi at a gun expo shot himself in the head, and poor Jennifer Hudson’s family has another death to deal with.

Things are… not looking good. Again, maybe I just didn’t notice it before. But I dunno. Ah well, time to go do some non-world-helping freelance writing to make ends meet. Cheers.

……

And now, a happy poem:

The Second Coming
W.B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?