[via the lifting of the veil]
Freedom is not following a river.
Freedom is following a river,
................though, if you want to.
It is deciding now by what happens now.
It is knowing that luck makes a difference.
No leader is free; no follower is free -
................the rest of us can often be free.
Most of the world are living by
creeds too odd, chancy, and habit-forming
................to be worth arguing about by reason.
If you are oppressed, wake up about
four in the morning: most places,
you can usually be free some of the time
................if you wake up before other people.
[via whiskey river]
Demand It Courageously
....Make some room for yourself, human animal.
....Even a dog jostles about on his master’s lap to
improve his position. And when he needs space he
runs forward, without paying attention to commands
....If you didn’t manage to receive freedom as a gift,
demand it as courageously as bread and meat.
....Make some room for yourself, human pride and
....The Czech writer Hrabal said:
....I have as much freedom as I take.
[via read a little poetry]
The stars have been getting too large lately,
big white loose splotches in a liquid sky.
Can I handle this jigsaw puzzle
of the universe? I'll need a thousand
dog teams and very long ropes.
There'll be no seating for the audience
they musts stand in the nation's backyards.
Earth will be at peace again through dog power.
The International Dog Church will be founded.
The moon will be called Holy Dog Moon,
the sun called Sun Dog.
The gods are now called dogs and are much happier.
Marching is permanently banished in favor of trotting.
--from 'Moon Suite'; Jim Harrison
I recently watched the Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown episode where he visits Jim Harrison at his home in Montana (Season 7- #4), which would have been filmed shortly before his death. Well worth the time to hear Harrison's poetry in his own voice, even for this vegetarian.
I’m sitting at the window earing pickled herring
and watching the existence of earth.
A small brown bird flies in from the left,
a fellow creature. We are each other
though he’s more closely related
to dinosaurs. Lucky for us
this existence doesn’t include
the future, which at this point is questionable.
Israel and Iran bomb each other at the same
split second. Thousands
of small brown birds will die in what
the media call conflagration, temporarily the world’s
biggest double bonfire. I won’t attend the party.
It’s far too small for God to see
in a universe with ninety billion galaxies
small brown birds and herring.
1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of
another you wouldn’t say to him.
another you wouldn’t say to him.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than
yours are to you.
yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission
and pursue that.
and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Remember that love forgives everything.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
"I don’t expect the perfect attainment of these principles. However, I post them as a standard for my conduct as an adult. Should any of my friends or colleagues catch me violating one of them, bust me.' [via kottke]
In the dark we disappear, pure being.
Our mirror images, impure being.
Being and becoming (Heidegger), being and
nothingness (Sartre)—which is purer being?
Being alone is no way to be: thus
loneliness is the test of pure being.
Nights in love I fell too far or not quite
far enough—one pure, one impure being.
Clouds, snow, mist, the dragon's breath on water,
smoke from fire—a metaphor's pure being.
Stillness and more stillness and the light locked
deep inside—both pure and impure being.
Is is the verb of being, I the noun—
or pronoun for the purists of being.
I was, I am, I looked within and saw
nothing very clearly: purest being.
harbor (the conversation)
If this bowl is always empty
If it breathes if it’s lung
If a horse can rise from the ashes
Saul was a sailor on the boat to Damascus
He did not know what he was
Paul turned to a voice it rose up from the waves
It chained his boat to the darkness
A man finds ash & he makes it a man
A horse finds ash in a horse
It lifts us it holds us it breaks us again
Scatter him into the harbor
Animated video for the last verse available at The Washington Post.
Cartoon Physics, part 1
Children under, say, ten, shouldn't know
that the universe is ever-expanding,
inexorably pushing into the vacuum, galaxies
swallowed by galaxies, whole
solar systems collapsing, all of it
acted out in silence. At ten we are still learning
the rules of cartoon animation,
that if a man draws a door on a rock
only he can pass through it.
Anyone else who tries
will crash into the rock. Ten-year-olds
should stick with burning houses, car wrecks,
ships going down—earthbound, tangible
where they can be heroes. You can run
back into a burning house, sinking ships
have lifeboats, the trucks will come
with their ladders, if you jump
you will be saved. A child
places her hand on the roof of a schoolbus,
& drives across a city of sand. She knows
the exact spot it will skid, at which point
the bridge will give, who will swim to safety
& who will be pulled under by sharks. She will learn
that if a man runs off the edge of a cliff
he will not fall
until he notices his mistake.
Amongst dogs are listeners and singers.
My big dog sang with me so purely,
puckering her ruffled lips into an O,
beginning with small, swallowing sounds
like Coltrane musing, then rising to power
and resonance, gulping air to continue—
her passion and sense of flawless form—
singing not with me, but for the art of dogs.
We joined in many fine songs—"Stardust,"
"Naima," "The Trout," "My Rosary," "Perdido."
She was a great master and died young,
leaving me with unrelieved grief,
her talents known to only a few.
Now I have a small dog who does not sing,
but listens with discernment, requiring
skill and spirit in my falsetto voice.
I sing her name and words of love
andante, con brio, vivace, adagio.
Sometimes she is so moved she turns
to place a paw across her snout,
closes her eyes, sighing like a girl
I held and danced with years ago.
But I am a pretender to dog music.
The true strains rise only from
the rich, red chambers of a canine heart,
these melodies best when the moon is up,
listeners and singers together or
apart, beyond friendship and anger,
far from any human imposter—
ballads of long nights lifting
to starlight, songs of bones, turds,
conquests, hunts, smells, rankings,
things settled long before our birth.
J. S. Bach: F# Minor Toccata
This music weeps, not for sin
but rather for the black fact
that we must all die, but not one
of us knows what comes after.
This music leaps from key to key
as if it had no clear place to arrive,
making up its life, one bar at a time.
But when you come at last to the real theme,
strict, inexorable, and bleak,
you must play it slow and sad,
with melancholy dignity, or you miss
all its grim wisdom.
In three pages, it says, the universe collapses,
and you—still only halfway home.
What do they sing, the last birds
coasting down the twilight,
across woods filled with darkness, their
frayed wings curved
on the world like lovers' arms
which form, night after night, in sleep,
an irremediable absence?
in the grate. Whatever it is
that keeps us from heaven,
sloth, wrath, greed, fear,
could we only reinvent it on earth
Body of Loneliness
She entered my foot with her foot
and she entered my waist with her snow.
She entered my heart saying,
“Yes, that’s right.”
And so the Body of Loneliness
was covered from without,
and from within
the Body of Loneliness was embraced.
Now every time I try to draw a breath
she whispers to my breathlessness,
“Yes, my love, that’s right, that’s right.”
To Those of You Alive in the Future
who somehow have found a sip of water,
on this day in the past four syndicated
series involving communication with the dead
were televised and in this way we resembled
our own ghosts in a world made brief with flowers.
To you, our agonies and tizzies
must appear quaint as the stiff shoulders
of someone carrying buckets from a well
or the stung beekeeper gathering honey.
Why did we bother hurrying from A to B
when we’d get no further than D, if that?
On Monday, it sleeted in Pennsylvania
while someone’s mother was scoured further
from her own mind. A son-in-law smoked
in the parking lot, exhaling white curses
torn apart by the large invisible indifference.
The general anesthetic wore off
and someone else opened her eyes to the results.
In this way our world was broken and glued.
But why did we bother shooing away the flies?
Did we think we could work our way
inside a diamond if we ground more pigment
into the paper’s tooth, tried to hold fire
on our tongues, sucked at the sugars of each other?
Many the engagement rings in the pawnshop.
Many the empties piled at the curbs.
A couple paused on a bridge to watch
chunks of ice tugged by bickering currents.
One who slept late reached out
for one who wasn’t there. Breads, heavy
and sweet, were pulled from wide infernos
of stone ovens. My name was Dean Young,
I wrote it on a leaf. Sometimes
I could still manage to get lost,
there was no guidance system wired inside me yet.
Laughter might have come from a window
lit far into the night, others were dark
and always silent.
That this is the morning in which nothing much
that the sky is still there and the water dresses
accordingly that only at night does the water rest
vanish from sight that the stars are too small too far
to register there that all our names too are writ
invisibly on water that abiding requires more hope
than I can possibly acquire that hope is not a thing
with feathers that hope is a thing with a fist a thin
crust sketched over oceans that hope is what despair
uses for bait come in hope says the water's fine
that hope is the blood with which you write letter
that start dear sea dear ocean stop asking so fucking
much that hope is a telegram delivered by men
in pairs men in uniform a telegram that says missing
stop that says once again presumed lost stop
In night invisible wishes
search for tokens fallen
from pocket sewn dreams.
Slightly such songs stir
with traces that hint
through frozen wonder,
blind to any bedfast
beyond where outskirt
winds swift away hours.
Dust snow, apparent
shadow, faint occurrence
at a loss for any new
moment. Just to notice
betwixt variant desires
is glass eyed sentience,
time laden groundswell
blunted alive while framed
in echoes yielding silence.
from Approaches to How They Behave
--W. S. Graham
What does it matter if the words
I choose, in the order I choose them in,
Go out into a silence I know
Nothing about, there to be let
In and entertained and charmed
Out of their master’s orders? And yet
I would like to see where they go
And how without me they behave.
Speaking is difficult and one tries
To be exact and yet not to
Exact the prime intention to death.
On the other hand the appearance of things
Must not be made to mean another
Thing. It is a kind of triumph
To see them and to put them down
As what they are. The inadequacy
Of the living, animal language drives
Us all to metaphor and an attempt
To organize the spaces we think
We have made occur between the words.
The bad word and the bad word and
The word which glamours me with some
Quick face it pulls to make me let
It leave me to go across
In roughly your direction, hates
To go out maybe so completely
On another silence not its own.
Before I know it they are out
Afloat in the head which freezes them.
Then I suppose I take the best
Away and leave the others arranged
Like floating bergs to sink a convoy.
One word says to its mate O
I do not think we go together
Are we doing any good here
Why do we find ourselves put down?
The mate pleased to be spoken to
Looks up from the line below
And says well that doubtful god
Who has us here is far from sure
How we on our own tickle the chin
Of the prince or the dame that lets us in.
The dark companion is a star
Very present like a dark poem
Far and unreadable just out
At the edge of this poem floating.
It is not more or less a dark
Companion poem to the poem.
More on W. S. Graham at POETRY. I was previously not familiar with him.
from The Constructed Space
--W. S. Graham
Meanwhile surely there must be something to say,
Maybe not suitable but at least happy
In a sense here between us two whoever
We are. Anyhow here we are and never
Before have we two faced each other who face
Each other now across this abstract scene
Stretching between us. This is a public space
Acheived against subjective odds and then
Mainly an obstacle to what I mean.
It is like that, remember. It is like that
Very often at the beginning till we are met
By some intention risen up out of nothing.
And even then we know what we are saying
Only when it is said and fixed and dead,
Or maybe, surely, of course we never know
What we have said, what lonely meanings are read
Into the space we make. And yet I say
This silence here for in it I might hear you....