Sunday, November 23, 2014


from "Persephone the Wanderer" (1), Louise Gl├╝ck —

. . . . .

she has been a prisoner since she has been a daughter.

The terrible reunions in store for her
will take up the rest of her life.
When the passion for expiation
is chronic, fierce, you do not choose
the way you live.  You do not live;
you are not allowed to die.

You drift between earth and death
which seem, finally,
strangely alike.  Scholars tell us

that there is no point in knowing what you want
when the forces contending over you
could kill you.

White of forgetfulness,
white of safety—

They say
there is a rift in the human soul
which was not constructed to belong
entirely to life.  Earth

asks us to deny this rift, a threat
disguised as suggestion—
as we have seen
in the tale of Persephone
which should be read

as an argument between the mother and the lover—
the daughter is just meat.

. . . . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

take me through the sweet valley

 Say Valley Maker

with the grace of a corpse
in a riptide
I let go
and I slide slide slide
With an empty case by my side
an empty case
that’s my crime

and I sing (Say Valley Maker)
to keep from cursing
yes I sing (Say Valley Maker)
to keep from cursing

river oh
river end
river oh
river end
river go
river bend

take me through the sweet valley
where your heart blooms blooms blooms
take me through the sweet valley
where your heart is covered in dew dew dew

and when the river dries
will you bury me in wood?
where the river dries
will you bury me in stone?

oh I never really realized
death is what it meant
to make it on my own

because there is no love
where there is no obstacle
and there is no love
where there is no bramble
there is no love
on the hacked away plateau
and there is no love
in the unerring
and there is no love
on the one true path

oh I cantered out here
now I’m galloping back

so bury me in wood
and I will splinter
bury me in stone
and I will quake
bury me in water
and I will geyser
bury me in fire
and I’m gonna phoenix

I’m gonna phoenix

I'm gonna phoenix

—Smog (Bill Callahan)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

lost libraries

"... We shed as we pick up, like travelers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind.  The procession is very long and life is very short.  We die on the march.  But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it.  The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language."

— from Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, quoted by James Gleick in The Information

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

01.14.2014 (night)

The feral cats howling behind my building at night make me think of France, of Auvillar.  The echo of cats hissing across the cobblestone square there, dusted with rain, where I would be alone in the phone booth, typing out an infinite string of numbers to finally connect with a human voice, speaking in English.  "Where are you?" I asked.  "I'm sorry if that's weird; I mean you sound American."  The operator said yes, he worked at a call center in Kansas or Nebraska, I don't remember which.

I was alone so much in France.  Not lonesome, but alone—a singular thing in a large landscape.  Like looking in a mirror the size of the world wherein I could see clearly the size of myself.  That perspective.  And I had this room there—not mine, but no one else's either—to sit in alone and it was exactly the right size for the size of me.  Empty but a desk, a chair, an old typewriter, cobwebs thick in the corners by the ceiling, and one big window with wooden shutters—no screen.  Looking out at the main road into the town, and past that the river, a view of the bridge.  Pounding the keys until the string of letters connected into something.  Old ribbon, the ink faint and uneven.  Cracks in the plaster of the walls and around the window frame like a geologic measurement of time in the space of solitude.  That is a room of one's own, the way it's supposed to work at least.  If you sit long enough and just listen, the howls of the cats fade, transforming from something visceral—the urge to throw something, to just shut them up however violently—to the sound of the world simply turning at its own pace, outside of you and always.

That, I can almost see now, is what the whole cherry tree was about it.  What hurt about its missingness.  How it could be inside me and outside me at once—and neither of them stable, not one of them real.