A Day Dream
--Daniel J. Langton
All day today
Today was a day
Apart from days
That were not this day.
All day today
The day birds flew,
Rose in the day,
Part of the day,
A sun day.
All day today
It was a day
To savor days
That are themselves.
This was a day
For those to say
Who love a day:
This was a day--
All day today!
Make Your Laziness Be Real Rest
Make your laziness be real rest; why should you throw out useful sloth—
it's there because you need it; you should think about
About what? Make your loafing real rest, make a deliberate ruin for it.
Make a ruin and be its anchorite in empty time; make a run for it.
Make a rune for your laziness, and now with your ears you
hear the breath of grass and wind, of stones turned to water
in lazy time. Heed the numinosity of a laziness rune; it's imperative to
see a rune with your eyes shut, holding the shaded image
in a historical light! Fallow earth is lazy and productive when we
touch it, knowing its rest in time, and as we remember it from youth.
The sun makes laziness volatile. Rays lift the air everywhere somehow,
harsh- and/or sweet-smelling, and we know it, but while lolling
about we don't register clearly, and isn't that okay. Emptier things:
a mind a blank, a mind a haze, a mind a black polished screen, turning
from meaning. Your laziness can be real rest, make it craftsmanlike,
[via poetry daily]
When Ecstasy is Inconvenient
Feign a great calm;
all gay transport soon ends.
Chant: who knows—
flight’s end or flight’s beginning
for the resting gull?
Heart, be still.
Say there is money but it rusted;
say the time of moon is not right for escape.
It’s the color in the lower sky
too broadly suffused,
or the wind in my tie.
Know amazedly how
often one takes his madness
into his own hands
and keeps it.
I saw a ground squirrel with a long naked tail
in the wilderness behind the Stop & Shop
where the brook rushes into the vortex of an abandoned dryer.
I, too, have a wasting disease
and at my core, a sinking, but I am not done
continuing, watching the old Quakers pushing their peace signs
in front of the supermarket, pushing eighty
and seeing everything in its terrible proportion.
[via poetry daily]
--William Carlos Williams
The little sparrows
about the pavement
with sharp voices
over those things
that interest them.
But we who are wiser
shut ourselves in
on either hand
and no one knows
whether we think good
the old man who goes about
walks in the gutter
without looking up
and his tread
is more majestic than
that of the Episcopal minister
approaching the pulpit
of a Sunday.
astonish me beyond words.
Many of the Gottfried Benn poems found at Poetry Foundation contain notes by translator, Michael Hoffmann. Among them:
Yeats says the poet “is never the bundle of accident and incoherence that sits down to breakfast; he has been reborn as an idea, something intended, complete.” Not so Benn, not in these last poems. He is absolutely the bundle seated—if not to breakfast exactly, then at least in the corner of the bar after work, where he downs two or three beers, smokes his Junos, listens to the radio, listens to the chatter of the other customers, scribbles something lugubrious on a pad. It is rare for art to be so perspicuous, to be made from so very little, so to pair grace with dailiness, discretion with unmistakeableness, a shy wistfulness with humility. He makes Larkin seems like an equestrian—like Byron, like Flashman.
The striking thing about Benn is that he writes as though there were no other poets, and as though everything he wrote was self-evidently a poem. Everything comes through in an effortlessly and wholly personal timbre, so to speak, a personal typeface. On some level he did manage to transcend the duality of cerebral and biological (“All else is natural world and intellect”) and write as simply as a flower flowers. Imagine a Larkin less veiled, discreet, conciliatory, half-optimistic, teetering, and somehow more lovable; for whom desolation was acknowledged as a fundamental and inescapable condition of being; for whom “groping back to bed after a piss” was not at the further reaches of his writing, but more or less where it began; and I think you get a little nearer to Benn.
Larkin's work never had an immediate appeal to me, unlike Benn.
--Gottfried Benn (trans. Michael Hoffman)
Feel it—but remember, millennia have felt it—
the sea and the beasts and the mindless stars
wrestle it down today as ever—
think it—but remember, the most exalted
are wallowing in their own bow-wave,
are no more than the yellow of the buttercup,
while other colors too play their game—
remember and endure the hour,
there was never one like it, all are like it,
people and angels and cherubim,
none was yours—
was ever yours.
--Gottfried Benn (trans. by Michael Hoffman)
the gods hold the balance
for an uncertain hour.
Once more the golden flocks
of heaven, the light, the trim—
what is the ancient process
hatching under its dying wings?
Once more the yearned-for,
the intoxication, the rose of you—
summer leaned in the doorway
watching the swallows—
one more presentiment
where certainty is not hard to come by:
wing tips brush the face of the waters,
swallows sip speed and night.
[via rabbit light]
Fear isn't always obvious, but obviousness is one of my greatest fears. If I look like I am going to faint someone will bring me a paper bag.
I hold some truths to be obvious enough not to have to say them at all.
People think God is obvious, or not: everything or nothing. A hole held open by a word.
Obviously whatever I am composing is decomposing at the same time.
When a mystery is made obvious people call it a revelation. But it was there all along, neither uncovered or covered up.
A fig leaf only makes a crotch more obvious.
It takes someone i mportant to say what they think is obvious and make it sound like they just thought it up.
I used to think that it was obvious I was different but not obvious what that difference was.
A blue light on the skin may be orange in the eye of the beholder.
What's next isn't obvious.
--from 'Alive'; Elizabeth Willis
Tendencies of lawn and garden,
pedestrian levity of bloom below
goldfinch tee-paw, black crow vector,
hummingbird sequin, arrow raptor.
So where is a reach of distance?
Anything here, everything found,
dispersed mild light. Transparent
shadows of wishless suppositions.
Continuously under an elevated sun,
about imbued stations of ground,
the wind slides over hours of thought
and a passing sift is a leaf in whisper.
Whatever solace you have for me,
Glass of old red wine,
Whisper it into my ear
With each little sip I take,
And only in my ear,
In this hour made solemn
By the news on the radio,
The dying fires of the sunset,
And the trees in my yard
Putting on their black coats.
From the nightstand (Anil's Ghost; Michael Ondaatje):
'You like to remain cloudy, don't you, Sarath, even to yourself?'
'I don't think clarity is necessarily truth. It's simplicity, isn't it?'
'I need to know what you think. I need to break things apart to know where someone came from. That's also an acceptance of complexity. Secrets turn powerless in open air.'
'Political secrets are not powerless, in any form,' he said.
'But the tension and danger around them, one can make them evaporate. You're an archaeologist. Truth comes finally into the light. It's in the bones and sediment.'
'It's in the character and nuance and mood.'
'That is what governs us in our lives, that's not truth.'
'For the living it is the truth,' he quietly said.
'Why did you get into such business?'
'I love history, the intimacy of entering all those landscapes. Like entering a dream. Someone nudges a stone away and there's a story.'
'Yes, a secret....'
From Mark Irwin's essay, 'Three Notions of Truth in Poetry':
L’éxactitude n’est pas la verité. (Exactness is not truth.)--Henri Matisse
If the greatest sources of art –truth, hope, love, joy, despair—are immeasurable, how can the art created from them be exact? I’m reminded of the seemingly various and often sexual, deific origins of art—Etruscan fertility sculptures, cave paintings at Lascaux—and also of a remark by Jasper Johns: Sometimes I see it then paint it, sometimes I paint it then see it. Both are impure situations, and I prefer neither.
Or perhaps those greater truths reside in the imagination, for they have not completely arrived yet, and like the light of stars, their distance is more alluring. The imagination, or truth partially withheld is what we don’t forget because we must work to retrieve it. Perhaps the German writer Peter Handke summarizes it best: Reason forgets, the imagination never.
In the dream they put the perfect money in God's
mouth I mean the bodies they put our bodies
in God's mouth we die that way I think
we're swallowed whole a sexual thing it is
all we never believed become us so that we are
everything and nothing at once as soon as
you grasp it it's gone that's why I want to place the then
on your lap like a shiny plate heavy with the fresh
shadow of food you would swallow "would" ha
ha (did I say shadow I meant slaughter) I think
you're beginning to understand what's going this
light leaking from bodies we once called truth.
A shark swims into the bay, swirls, and then rises with the ugly grin of millenia.
A match flame to a cigar, years later a campfire, and long after a house on fire.
Love-to forget language and act on instinct, its indestructible form.
—Something written on a piece of paper after an astonishing event. That paper found a long time later.
I am, I am, she said, licking a grape Popsicle in July. Make it last, he said right after.
It seemed as though she had leapt toward her own cremation.
A few books shining like the wood of trees. — Ones that I’ve climbed or held.