You have to be always drunk. That's all there is to it: it's the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: "It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish."
I've been meaning to tellyou how the sky is pinkhere sometimes like the roofof a mouth that's about to chompdown on the crooked steel teethof the city,I remember the desperate things we did and that I stumbledown sidewalks listeningto the buzz of street lampsat dusk and the crushof leaves on the pavement,Without you here I'm viciously lonelyand I can't remember the last time I felt holy,the last time I offeredmyself as sanctuary*I watched two men press hard intoeach other, their bodiescaught in the club’sbass drum swell,and I couldn’t rememberwhen I knew I’d neverbe beautiful, but it must have been quickand subtle, the waythe holy ghost can passin and out of a room.I want so desperatelyto be finished with desire,the rushing wind, the stillsmall voice.
it may not always be so; and i saythat if your lips, which i have loved, should touchanother’s, and you dear strong fingers clutchhis heart, as mine in time not far away;if on another’s face your sweet hair layin such a silence as i know, or suchgreat writhing words as, uttering overmuch,stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;if this should be, i say if this should beyou of my heart, send me a little word;that I may go unto him, and take his hands,saying, accept all happiness from me.then shall I turn my face, and hear one birdsing terribly afar in the lost lands.
In your extended absence, you permit me use of earth, anticipatingsome return on investment. I must report failure in my assignment, principally regarding the tomato plants.I think I should not be encouraged to grow tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold the heavy rains, the cold nights that come so often here, while other regions get twelve weeks of summer. All this belongs to you: on the other hand, I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly multiplying in the rows. I doubtyou have a heart, in our understanding of that term. You who do not discriminate between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence, immune to foreshadowing, you may not know how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,the red leaves of the maple fallingeven in August, in early darkness: I am responsible for these vines.
I have done it again.One year in every tenI manage it--A sort of walking miracle, my skinBright as a Nazi lampshade,My right footA paperweight,My face a featureless, fineJew linen.Peel off the napkinO my enemy.Do I terrify?--The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?The sour breathWill vanish in a day.Soon, soon the fleshThe grave cave ate will beAt home on meAnd I a smiling woman.I am only thirty.And like the cat I have nine times to die.This is Number Three.What a trashTo annihilate each decade.What a million filaments.The peanut-crunching crowdShoves in to seeThem unwrap me hand and foot--The big strip tease.Gentlemen, ladiesThese are my handsMy knees.I may be skin and bone,Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.The first time it happened I was ten.It was an accident.The second time I meantTo last it out and not come back at all.I rocked shutAs a seashell.They had to call and callAnd pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.DyingIs an art, like everything else.I do it exceptionally well.I do it so it feels like hell.I do it so it feels real.I guess you could say I've a call.It's easy enough to do it in a cell.It's easy enough to do it and stay put.It's the theatricalComeback in broad dayTo the same place, the same face, the same bruteAmused shout:'A miracle!'That knocks me out.There is a chargeFor the eyeing of my scars, there is a chargeFor the hearing of my heart--It really goes.And there is a charge, a very large chargeFor a word or a touchOr a bit of bloodOr a piece of my hair or my clothes.So, so, Herr Doktor.So, Herr Enemy.I am your opus,I am your valuable,The pure gold babyThat melts to a shriek.I turn and burn.Do not think I underestimate your great concern.Ash, ash--You poke and stir.Flesh, bone, there is nothing there--
Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirlthemselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without theway to create current, making of their unison (turning, re- infolding,entering and exiting their own unison in unison) making of themselves avisual current, one that cannot freight or sway byminutest fractions the water's downdrafts and upswirls, thedockside cycles of finally-arriving boat-wakes, there wherethey hit deeper resistance, water that seems to burst intoitself (it has those layers) a real current though mostlyinvisible sending into the visible (minnows) arrowing motion that forces change--this is freedom. This is the force of faith. Nobody getswhat they want. Never again are you the same. The longingis to be pure. What you get is to be changed. More and more byeach glistening minute, through which infinity threads itself,also oblivion, of course, the aftershocks of somethingat sea. Here, hands full of sand, letting it sift throughin the wind, I look in and say take this, this iswhat I have saved, take this, hurry. And if I listennow? Listen, I was not saying anything. It was onlysomething I did. I could not choose words. I am free to go.I cannot of course come back. Not to this. Never.It is a ghost posed on my lips. Here: never.
Swimming, One Day in AugustMary OliverIt is now, I said,for the deepening and quieting of the spiritamong the flux of happenings.Something had pestered me so muchI thought my heart would break.I mean, the mechanical part.I went down in the afternoonto the seawhich held me, until I grew easy.About tomorrow, who knows anything.Except that it will be time, again,for the deepening and quieting of the spirit.
Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art— Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,And watching, with eternal lids apart, Like Nature's patient sleepless Eremite,The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable, Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,To feel for ever its soft fall and swell, Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,And so live ever—or else swoon to death.
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,Night, sleep, death and the stars.
Every morning the maple leaves. Every morning another chapter where the hero shifts from one foot to the other. Every morning the same bigand little words all spelling out desire, all spelling out You will be alone always and then you will die.So maybe I wanted to give you something more than a catalog of non-definitive acts,something other than the desperation. Dear So-and-So, I’m sorry I couldn’t come to your party.Dear So-and-So, I’m sorry I came to your party and seduced youand left you bruised and ruined, you poor sad thing. Your want a better story. Who wouldn’t?A forest, then. Beautiful trees. And a lady singing. Love on the water, love underwater, love, love and so on.What a sweet lady. Sing lady, sing! Of course, she wakes the dragon. Love always wakes the dragon and suddenly flames everywhere.I can tell already you think I’m the dragon, that would be so like me, but I’m not. I’m not the dragon.I’m not the princess either. Who am I? I’m just a writer. I write things down.I walk through your dreams and invent the future. Sure, I sink the boat of love, but that comes later. And yes, I swallow glass, but that comes later. And the part where I push youflush against the wall and every part of your body rubs against the bricks, shut upI’m getting to it. For a while I thought I was the dragon.I guess I can tell you that now. And, for a while, I thought I was the princess,cotton candy pink, sitting there in my room, in the tower of the castle, young and beautiful and in love and waiting for you withconfidence but the princess looks into her mirror and only sees the princess,while I’m out here, slogging through the mud, breathing fire, and getting stabbed to death. Okay, so I’m the dragon. Bid deal. You still get to be the hero.You get magic gloves! A fish that talks! You get eyes like flashlights! What more do you want?I make you pancakes, I take you hunting, I talk to you as if you’re really there.Are you there, sweetheart? Do you know me? Is this microphone live? Let me do it right for once, for the record, let me make a thing of cream and stars that becomes,you know the story, simply heaven. Inside your head you hear a phone ringing and when you open your eyesonly a clearing with deer in it. Hello deer. Inside your head the sound of glass,a car crash sound as the trucks roll over and explode in slow motion. Hello darling, sorry about that. Sorry about the bony elbows, sorry welived here, sorry about the scene at the bottom of the stairwell and how I ruined everything by saying it out loud. Especially that, but I should have known.You see, I take the parts that I remember and stitch them back together to make a creature that will do what I sayor love me back. I’m not really sure why I do it, but in this version you are notfeeding yourself to a bad man against a black sky prickled with small lights. I take it back.The wooden halls like caskets. These terms from the lower depths. I take them back.Here is the repeated image of the lover destroyed. Crossed out. Clumsy hands in a dark room. Crossed out. There is somethingunderneath the floorboards. Crossed out. And here is the tabernacle reconstructed.Here is the part where everyone was happy all the time and we were all forgiven,even though we didn’t deserve it. Inside your head you heara phone ringing, and when you open your eyes you’re washing up in a stranger’s bathroom,standing by the window in a yellow towel, only twenty minutes away from the dirtiest thing you know.All the rooms of the castle except this one, says someone, and suddenly darkness, suddenly only darkness.In the living room, in the broken yard, in the back of the car as the lights go by. In the airport bathroom’s gurgle and flush, bathed in a pharmacy ofunnatural light, my hands looking weird, my face weird, my feet too far away.And then the airplane, the window seat over the wing with a view of the wing and a little foil bag of peanuts.I arrived in the city and you met me at the station, smiling in a way that made me frightened. Down the alley, around the arcade, up the stairs of the buildingto the little room with the broken faucets, your drawings, all your things, I looked out the window and said This doesn’t look that much different from home, because it didn’t,but then I noticed the black sky and all those lights. We walked through the house to the elevated train. All these buildings, all that glass and the shiny beautiful mechanical wind.We were inside the train car when I started to cry. You were crying too, smiling and crying in a way that made meeven more hysterical. You said I could have anything I wanted, but I just couldn’t say it out loud.Actually, you said Love, for you, is larger than the usual romantic love. It’s like a religion. It’s terrifying. No one will ever want to sleep with you.Okay, if you’re so great, you do it— here’s the pencil, make it work . . .If the window is on your right, you are in your own bed. If the window is over your heart, and it is painted shut, then we are breathingriver water. Build me a city and call it Jerusalem. Build me another and call it Jerusalem. We have come back from Jerusalem where we found notwhat we sought, so do it over, give me another version, a different room, another hallway, the kitchen painted overand over, another bowl of soup.The entire history of human desire takes about seventy minutes to tell. Unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of time. Forget the dragon,leave the gun on the table, this has nothing to do with happiness. Let’s jump ahead to the moment of epiphany, in gold light, as the camera pans to wherethe action is, lakeside and backlit, and it all falls into frame, close enough to see the blue rings of my eyes as I say something ugly.I never liked that ending either. More love streaming out the wrong way, and I don’t want to be the kind that says the wrong way.But it doesn’t work, these erasures, this constant refolding of the pleats. There were some nice parts, sure,all lemondrop and mellonball, laughing in silk pajamas and the grains of sugar on the toast, love love or whatever, take a number. I’m sorry it’s such a lousy story.Dear Forgiveness, you know that recently we have had our difficulties and there are many things I want to ask you.I tried that one time, high school, second lunch, and then again, years later, in the chlorinated pool. I am still talking to you about help. I still do not have these luxuries.I have told you where I’m coming from, so put it together. We clutch our bellies and roll on the floor . . . When I say this, it should mean laughter,not poison. I want more applesauce. I want more seats reserved for heroes.Dear Forgiveness, I saved a plate for you. Quit milling around the yard and come inside.
there's a bluebird in my heart thatwants to get outbut I'm too tough for him,I say, stay in there, I'm not goingto let anybody seeyou.there's a bluebird in my heart thatwants to get outbut I pour whiskey on him and inhalecigarette smokeand the whores and the bartendersand the grocery clerksnever know thathe'sin there.there's a bluebird in my heart thatwants to get outbut I'm too tough for him,I say,stay down, do you want to messme up?you want to screw up theworks?you want to blow my book sales inEurope?there's a bluebird in my heart thatwants to get outbut I'm too clever, I only let him outat night sometimeswhen everybody's asleep.I say, I know that you're there,so don't besad.then I put him back,but he's singing a littlein there, I haven't quite let himdieand we sleep together likethatwith oursecret pactand it's nice enough tomake a manweep, but I don'tweep, doyou?
Out of the night that covers me,Black as the Pit from pole to pole,I thank whatever gods may beFor my unconquerable soul.In the fell clutch of circumstanceI have not winced nor cried aloud.Under the bludgeonings of chanceMy head is bloody, but unbowed.Beyond this place of wrath and tearsLooms but the Horror of the shade,And yet the menace of the yearsFinds, and shall find, me unafraid.It matters not how strait the gate,How charged with punishments the scroll.I am the master of my fate:I am the captain of my soul.
And it was at that age... Poetry arrivedin search of me. I don't know, I don't know whereit came from, from winter or a river.I don't know how or when,no they were not voices, they were notwords, nor silence,but from a street I was summoned,from the branches of night,abruptly from the others,among violent firesor returning alone,there I was without a faceand it touched me.I did not know what to say, my mouthhad no waywith names,my eyes were blind,and something started in my soul,fever or forgotten wings,and I made my own way,decipheringthat fire,and I wrote the first faint line,faint, without substance, purenonsense,pure wisdomof someone who knows nothing,and suddenly I sawthe heavensunfastenedand open,planets,palpitating plantations,shadow perforated,riddledwith arrows, fire and flowers,the winding night, the universe.And I, infinitesimal being,drunk with the great starryvoid,likeness, image ofmystery,felt myself a pure partof the abyss,I wheeled with the stars,my heart broke loose on the wind.
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyondany experience, your eyes have their silence:in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,or which i cannot touch because they are too nearyour slightest look easily will unclose methough i have closed myself as fingers,you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first roseor if your wish be to close me, i andmy life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,as when the heart of this flower imaginesthe snow carefully everywhere descending;nothing which we are to perceive in this world equalsthe power of your intense fragility: whose texturecompels me with the color of its countries,rendering death and forever with each breathing(i do not know what it is about you that closesand opens; only something in me understandsthe voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands
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