"God: I made you. I could tame you.
The Ocean: At one time, maybe. But not now.
God: I will come to you, freeze you, break you.
The Ocean: I will spread myself like wings. I am a billion tiny feathers. You have no idea what's happened to me."
It has been a long time now
since I stood in our dark room looking
across the court at my husband in her apartment.
Watched them make love.
She was perhaps more beautiful
from where I stood than to him.
I can say it now: She was like a vase
lit the way milky glass is lighted.
He looked more beautiful there
than I remember him the times
he entered my bed with the light behind.
It has been ten years since I sat
at the open window, my legs over the edge
and the knife close like a discarded idea.
Looked up at the Danish night,
that pale, pale sky where the birds that fly
at dawn flew on those days all night long,
black with the light behind. They were caught
by their instincts, unable to end their flight.
- Linda Gregg
"After almost a year in Toronto I received a letter from Jamshed. From New York -- a very neat missive, with an elegant little label showing his name and address. He wrote that he'd been to Bombay the previous month because in every single letter his mother had been pestering him to visit: "While there, I went to Firozsha Baag and saw your folks. Glad to hear you left India. But what about Percy? Can't understand what keeps him in that dismal place. He refuses to accept reality. All his efforts to help the farmers will be in vain. Nothing ever improves, just too much corruption. It's all part of the ghati mentality. I offered to help him immigrate if he ever changes his mind. I've got a lot of contacts now, in New York. But it's up to him to make up his mind," and on and on.
Finally: "Bombay is horrible. Seems dirtier than ever, and the whole trip just made me sick. I had my fill of it in two weeks and was happy to leave!" He ended with a cordial invitation to New York.
What I read was only the kind of stuff I would have expected in a letter from Jamshed. That was the way we all used to talk in Bombay. Still, it irritated me. It was puzzling that he could express so much disdain and discontentment even when he was no longer living under those conditions. Was it himself he was angry with, for not being able to come to terms with matters as Percy had? Was it because of the powerlessness that all of us experience who, mistaking weakness for strength, walk away from one thing or another?"
- Rohinton Mistry
This house is a mess. Full
of solid notions
that keep turning into objects:
this simple sadness
that's shaped like a fork
and the vague fear that crusts
these dishes. I'm vacuuming
over this grass-like pain.
Emptying pockets for the wash:
such a burden: not just wrappers
but keys and mints, those sticky
and sorrow-coated stones.
And this larger grief
that always needs to be folded.
All day I've been chewing
on my own acrid gloom,
trying to put away
the things you keep carrying
home from work: the possessions
of children and women
and drunks, stolen or cheated,
the tasteless unhappiness
of others into jars labeled:
- Olena Kalytiak Davis
I needed to point to the buildings, as if they all stood
for something, as if Detroit could rise again
into its own skyline, filled in
as it always is inside me:
each cracked sidewalk, each
of the uniformed girls, braided
and quiet as weeds, each bicycled boy, each man
with a car and a wife, the ones I slept with
and arranged, neatly, like a newly laid
But I was driving with my brother
who doesn't like to think
of the thirty years rising
inside of us, the leavened truth. He's arrived
at the heavy black X of destination
on the inside of his forehead
and he doesn't want to see me
looking like this: open-palmed
and childishly dressed, with hipbones
instead of children, aching
to put my sneakered feet on his new leather
He doesn't want to hear me
say something fucked-up, something like:
It's in my bones. My sternum
runs like Woodward Avenue,
it's pinnated, parked on, full
of dirt, holding women in wigs and cigarettes, bars
lit from the outside in, it's overflowing
with pooltables and ashtrays. My ribs
are holding up factories and breweries, two-bedroom
houses and multi-storied lives, this strip,
this city, these sidestreets,
a bony feather.
He's lived here all his life
But I gave up these streets
for so many others. I hopped
turnstiles to ride the Metro,
memorized EL tracks and Muni stations
until I had a huge worn subway
map on the inside of my head, but couldn't get off at any stop,
couldn't begin to live in any city, and couldn't sleep
with anybody but myself. I gave up
this body for so many others. I've been both
an exaggeration of myself and someone
who looks just like me but sounds different.
But now I'm back
to visit both, and I need to point
to my first hotel room;
to the mortuary above which
my tall half-chinese half-german
punkrockboyfriend fingered me
like a book in his little bed;
and to the hospital where our bonemother
died so late or so early that
we were both sound asleep.
I didn't say it,
but: My sternum is breaking
with this, it's sinking
like Woodward as Detroit rises around
my brother's turn, rises and falls.
Falls not at all like this light summer rain
but hard, like someone else's memory,
insistent, unwanted, but suddenly,
and again, being claimed.
- Olena Kalytiak Davis
And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are,” they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it’s still a strange pageant,
Women’s dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.
- Czeslaw Milosz
"I’m going to memorize your name and throw my head away."
- Oscar Levant
"In order to sew up
my sister hid
a silk needle
in the sewing box"
- Shuji Terayama
First, there’s a hatching
in the crawlspace, the kindling
of hair. Something getting out
of hand. Then, riots in corners.
Water-scrawled walls. She’s aware
of the changes, the ringing
round her eyes, fur around her mouth.
Unbecoming a foxing. A murk
at the center. Something
is eating at her. Located in the velvet.
Dressed out like an animal,
she thistles & fickles. She fawns
in a murmur of milk. Grows feral.
Febrile. Soft as the inside of teeth.
- Claire Hero
"225 days under grass and you know more than I. they have long taken your blood, you are a dry stick in a basket. is this how it works? in this room the hours of love still make shadows. when you left you took almost everything. I kneel in the nights before tigers that will not let me be. what you were will not happen again. the tigers have found me and I do not care."
- Charles Bukowski