Saturday, April 14, 2018

Good Bones BY MAGGIE SMITH


Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
 


Maggie Smith, "Good Bones" from Waxwing.  Copyright © 2016 by Maggie Smith.  Reprinted by permission of Waxwing magazine
 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in   
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Mark Strand, "Keeping Things Whole" from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1979, 1980 by Mark Strand.  Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

After a while you learn-Jorge Luis Borges

After a while you learn the subtle difference Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats With your head up and your eyes open With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn… That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul, Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With every good-bye you learn.
*****

Saturday, May 6, 2017

First of all, they came to take the gypsies by Bertold Brecht

“First of all, they came to take the gypsies
and I was happy because they pilfered.
Then they came to take the Jews and I said nothing,
because they were unpleasant to me.
Then they came to take homosexuals,
and I was relieved, because they were annoying me.
Then they came to take the Communists,
and I said nothing because I was not a Communist.
One day they came to take me,
and there was nobody left to protest.'
Bertold Brecht.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

MY LOST LANGUAGE by Anna Sujatha Mathai

MY LOST LANGUAGE
I search for my lost syllables
in the green grass of the paddy fields.
My lost language, Malayalam,
Has dropped like a gold wedding band,
Into the stream below,
A lost band lying
In the flowing water,
Amid the pebbles deep in the water.
As I search, I hear my grandmother's voice
Speak from the bed under the attic stairs.
How many nights I lay with her
Sharing the pain and the sorrows of her life.
The smell of whole mangoes pickled in brine
Emanates from the earthen bharanis lining the wall
Vying with the smell of jasmine
Coming in through the open window.
Grandmother smells of aromatic oils
Meant to ease her pains.
In the dark night outside, snakes shed their skin.
I hug her tight, as she tells me
In the music of that lost language
About her sad childhood,
The cruel stepmother, the hunger, the humiliation,
The struggle to learn a little English,
All in Malayalam, which opens windows.
On the day of her death she appears to me in a dream.
Clear bells ring, piercing my consciousness.
Molle, you know I lived a sad life,
But can you feel it now, the joy?
She holds out the lost band to me --
English and Malayalam bound together in gold.
My lost language shines in the palm of my hand,
Forming intimate syllables.
Rediscovering lost memories,
A language that trembles in my deepest sleep.
Copyright. Anna Sujatha Mathai.
(First pub. in MOTHER'S VEENA. 2013.)

Monday, April 17, 2017

KINDNESS By Naomi Shihab Nye

KINDNESS
By Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.