Monday, December 8, 2014

The Morning Reading: "The good life gives no warning"



The Good Life
 - Mark Strand:


You stand at the window.
There is a glass cloud in the shape of a heart.
There are the wind’s sighs that are like caves in your speech.
You are the ghost in the tree outside.

The street is quiet.
The weather, like tomorrow, like your life,
is partially here, partially up in the air.
There is nothing you can do.

The good life gives no warning.
It weathers the climates of despair
and appears, on foot, unrecognized, offering nothing,
and you are there.

*

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Morning Reading: "please limit your carrying on"

 we are not responsible
—harryette mullen
 
We are not responsible for your lost or stolen relatives. We cannot guarantee your safety if you disobey our instructions. We do not endorse the causes or claims of people begging for handouts. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Your ticket does not guarantee that we will honor your reservations. In order to facilitate our procedures, please limit your carrying on. Before taking off, please extinguish all smoldering resentments. If you cannot understand English, you will be moved out the way. In the event of a loss, you’d better look out for yourself. Your insurance was cancelled because we can no longer handle your frightful claims. Our handlers lost your luggage and we are unable to find the key to your legal case. You were detained for interrogation because you fit the profile. You are not presumed to be innocent if the police have reason to suspect you are carrying a concealed wallet. It’s not our fault you were born wearing a gang color. It is not our obligation to inform you of your rights. Step aside, please while our officer inspects your bad attitude. You have no rights that we are bound to respect. Please remain calm, or we can’t be held responsible for what happens to you.

*

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Morning Reading: "We will be citizens."





from Tony Kushner's "Angels in America," the end:

"This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all.  And the dead will be commemorated, and we'll struggle on with the living and we are not going away.  We won't die secret deaths anymore.  The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come. Bye now. You are fabulous, each and every one and I bless you. More life. The great work begins."


Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Morning Reading: "the day’s work done as well as I was able"


Charles Reznikoff reading as part of Poets in the Parks.


Te Deum
- Charles Reznikoff







Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of spring.

Not for victory
but for the day’s work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.




*

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Morning Reading: "What They Ate"



"What They Ate"
~Campbell McGrath

All manner of fowl and wild game: venison, raccoon, opossum,
           turkey.
Abundant fishes, excepting salmon, which was ws. found
            distasteful.
Meat of all sorts, especially pig, which roamed free and was fatty.
Also shellfish: quahogs and foot-long oysters; lobsters,
          though considered wasteful.

Wild fruit: huckle and rasp, blue being known as "skycolored"
           berries.
Parsnips, turnips, carrots, onions: these loosely sorted and rooted
            out;
while these were cultivated in orchards: apples, peaches, apricots,
           cherries.
Cabbage - favored by the Dutch as koolslaa, by the Germans as
           sauerkraut -

was boiled with herbs brought from England: thyme, hyssop,
           marjoram, parsley.
Pumpkin, dried, or mashed with butter, where yams grew
           sparsely.
Corn, with beans as succotash; called samp when milled to grist;
in the South, hulled and broken, as hominy; or fried with bacon
          as grits.
Maple ws. not favored; loaves of white sugar worth considerable
         money
were kept under lock, cut with special sugar shears. For honey,

bees were imported, called "English flies" by the Narragansett.


*

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Morning Reading: "When the stranger asks, Why do you care?"


from Citizen: An American Lyric
- Claudia Rankine



When the stranger asks, Why do you care? you just stand there staring at him. He has just referred to the boisterous teenagers in Starbucks as niggers. Hey, I am standing right here, you responded, not necessarily expecting him to turn to you.


He is holding the lidded paper cup in one hand and a small paper bag in the other. They are just being kids. Come on, no need to get all KKK on them, you say.


Now there you go, he responds.


The people around you have turned away from their screens. The teenagers are on pause. There I go? you ask, feeling irritation begin to rain down. Yes, and something about hearing yourself repeating this stranger’s accusation in a voice usually reserved for your partner makes you smile.


/

A man knocked over her son in the subway. You feel your own body wince. He’s okay, but the son of a bitch kept walking. She says she grabbed the stranger’s arm and told him to apologize: I told him to look at the boy and apologize. And yes, you want it to stop, you want the black child pushed to the ground to be seen, to be helped to his feet and be brushed off, not brushed off  by the person that did not see him, has never seen him, has perhaps never seen anyone who is not a reflection of himself.


The beautiful thing is that a group of men began to stand behind me like a fleet of  bodyguards, she says, like newly found uncles and brothers.


/

The new therapist specializes in trauma counseling. You have only ever spoken on the phone. Her house has a side gate that leads to a back entrance she uses for patients. You walk down a path bordered on both sides with deer grass and rosemary to the gate, which turns out to be locked.


At the front door the bell is a small round disc that you press firmly. When the door finally opens, the woman standing there yells, at the top of her lungs, Get away from my house. What are you doing in my yard?


It’s as if a wounded Doberman pinscher or a German shepherd has gained the power of speech. And though you back up a few steps, you manage to tell her you have an appointment. You have an appointment? she spits back. Then she pauses. Everything pauses. Oh, she says, followed by, oh, yes, that’s right. I am sorry.


I am so sorry, so, so sorry.

/

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Morning Reading: "we wonder how it will be without them"

Galway Kinnell, 1989. (photograph by Barbara Hall.)


September 1961

by Denise Levertov

This is the year the old ones,
the old great ones
leave us alone on the road.

The road leads to the sea.
We have the words in our pockets,
obscure directions. The old ones

have taken away the light of their presence,
we see it moving away over a hill
off to one side.

...


The darkness

twists itself in the wind, the stars
are small, the horizon
ringed with confused urban light-haze.

They have told us
the road leads to the sea,
and given

the language into our hands.
We hear
our footsteps each time a truck

has dazzled past us and gone
leaving us new silence.
One can't reach

the sea on this endless
road to the sea unless
one turns aside at the end, it seems,

follows
the owl that silently glides above it
aslant, back and forth,

and away into deep woods.

But for us the road
unfurls itself, we count the
words in our pockets, we wonder

how it will be without them, we don't
stop walking, we know
there is far to go, sometimes

we think the night wind carries
a smell of the sea...

*
 
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