“What kind of beast would turn its life into words?
What atonement is this all about?
- and yet, writing words like these, I’m also living.
Is all this close to the wolverine’s howled signals,
that modulated cantana of the wild?
or, when away from you I try to create you in words,
am I simply using you, like a river or a war?
And how have I used rivers, how have I used wars
to escape writing of the worst thing of all -
not the crimes of others, not even our own death,
but the failure to want our own freedom passionately enough
so that blighted elms, sick rivers, massacres would seem
mere emblems of that desecration of ourselves?”
from 21 Love Poems by Adrienne Rich
“We must admit there will be music despite everything.”
“A Brief for the Defense” by Jack Gilbert
“New York has closed itself off to the young and the struggling. But there are other cities. Detroit. Poughkeepsie. New York City has been taken away from you. So my advice is: Find a new city.”
By the shipwreck
Of the singular
We have chosen the meaning”
Of being numerous.
“Winter will think back to your lit harvest
For which there is no help, and the seed
Of eloquence will open its wings
When you are gone.
But at this moment
When the nails are kissing the fingers good-bye
And my only
Chance is bleeding from me,
When my one chance is bleeding,
For speaking either truth or comfort
I have no more tongue than a wound.”
from “The Nails” by W.S. Merwin
Before you left,
we exchanged our goodbyes
from the opposite sides of a car window.
I saw you and my reflection
waving at me, wearing the same face.
And your body and the light of my body
became one: at once wholly
present and untouchable.
“Even from my handwriting you can tell I am a liar.”
Every time I try to start a journal, I end up destroying the written pages. I go in the bathroom and throw the torn scraps into the sink and let the faucet on. A perverse ritual, when I think about it now. The pleasure of watching the blue ink bleed. Steam rising from the hot water. How I tear at the drenched papers like an uprooted vegetable—starved—clawing towards the savory core; which is my own absence, my own erasure.
“There is no language without deceit.”
from “Cities & Signs 4” - Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino.
“What line separates the inside from the outside, the rumble of wheels from the howl of wolves?”
from Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
“Desires are already memories”
from Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.