tonight i watched a documentary that made me realize i have spent far too long being far too quiet about something very serious. something i could be speaking out about and helping other people who are going through it right now. for too long i have been ashamed to admit that when i was 13 years…
Yolocon 2012: The memories may fade, but the glitter will remain.
If I remember more than a half of this con it will be a miracle
O tree spreading like the tree of the species
meant for us birds as a green house
under the held breath of spinning spheres
in sand and clay in clay and sand
in the midst of deserts where a loving wind
brings only dry rain of ashes
how can we live anywhere else but in this one tree
where we hear thick drops of falling bees
and the pitcher full of leaves is humming
a small bird I know my place I do
chained to a branch I would like to be a leaf
the smallest trembling leaf
—because the one who abandons the tree will perish
says the wise snake who lives in the tree
winds round the tree and rules the tree
he will die from thirst and hunger and fear of himself
even if he gives flight the beautiful name of freedom
I tell you truly says the wise snake
if you are not obedient like the leaves
as humble weak and docile to winds
you will perish and all traces of you will perish—
a small bird I know my value I do
I am not like the cricket who sits under a stone
free light-hearted because all he has is a shell
soon to be left behind— an empty monument
for we have history and ruins of nests
and houses wisely lined with down
and a school of singing we are certain
will outlast the mute unmusical swarms of stars
—when a bird dies a hole in the sky suddenly opens
and gray dust pours on the greenness of the earth—
the sacrifice of wings hurts at first
and you can sing about this pain
then you come to love immobility
and fear composes the song’s words
delaying a verdict with song
obedient to the instinct of life
we hide a spark of rebellion deep inside
when we praise sweet violence
long odes come through the narrow throat
the throat surely bursts from this
and the heart bursts when the still eyes
are brought too close
you who read a book under the tree
and are a bird among people
the quill of this pen is for you—
if you can write an elegy for my decease
with the pen preserve the colors
of fear love and despair
perhaps you will write with it a poem
about the fate of birds in cruel times
—Zbigniew Herbert, trans. John and Bogdana Carpenter
All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.
— Robert Hass
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.
— Jack Gilbert