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Location: California, United States

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Poetry break

Maybe - Mary Oliver

Sweet Jesus, talking
his melancholy madness,
stood up in the boat
and the sea lay down,

silky and sorry.
So everybody was saved
that night.
But you know how it is

when something
different crosses
the threshold -- the uncles
mutter together,

the women walk away,
the young brother begins
to sharpen his knife.
Nobody knows what the soul is.

It comes and goes
like the wind over the water --
sometimes, for days,
you don't think of it.

Maybe, after the sermon,
after the multitude was fed,
one or two of them felt
the soul slip forth

like a tremor of pure sunlight
before exhaustion,
that wants to swallow everything,
gripped their bones and left them

miserable and sleepy,
as they are now, forgetting
how the wind tore at the sails
before he rose and talked to it --

tender and luminous and demanding
as he always was --
a thousand times more frightening
than the killer storm.

Exercitia Spiritualia - Geoffrey Brock

We met, like lovers in movies, on a quay
Beside the Seine. I was reading Foucault
And feeling smart. She called him an assault
On sense, and smiled. She was from Paraguay,

Was reading Saint Ignatius. Naivete
Aroused her, so she guided me to Chartres
And Sacre Coeur, to obscure theatres
For passion plays - she was my exegete.

In Rome (for Paris hadn't been enough)
We took a room, made love on the worn parquet,
Then strolled to Sant'Ignazio. Strange duet:
Pilgrim and pagan, gazing, as though through

That ceiling's flatness, toward some epitome
Of hoped-for depth. I swore I saw a dome.

To The Former Self In Art Class - Hannah Faith Notess

You didn’t know the boy sitting next to you
in Watercolor 101 was going to shutter himself
in the car, stop breathing, break the heart
of his father and the whole college.

Let’s be honest. His cones and cylinders
were as lopsided, as badly shaded
as everyone else’s cones and cylinders.

When you hear the news two years later,
you search your own tatty portfolio
for clues, sigh If only I had known—
but I want to shake you and say, You didn’t,

and anyway that phrase is a stupider knife
even than Ockham’s razor. If you went,
with your grey lens of knowledge, back to that
minute, you’d still be painting the same

burnt-out cathedral under burnt-orange blood
dripping from the sky, collaged with quotations
from The Waste Land. You thought it meant

you were losing your faith; but look, there you are
sitting in church, five years in the future,
wondering (like a good Protestant) why
you want so much to pray for the souls of the dead.

In fact, you could go back and forth enough
times to wear a rut in the floor of time,
but your awkward brushstrokes would still paint
the same cathedral that lists to the left. You’d still

stay up all night in agony over the alchemical
substance of the soul. Your grand attempts
at phthalo yellow sunrises would still turn murky,

while the same boy sat silent beside you,
washing the globe of an apple with quinacridone
gold, shading it with Payne’s grey,
the same dark worm asleep on his heart.


Anonymous Paul Maurice Martin said...

Maybe more frightening than the killer storm because sometimes you can get away with keeping your life in one of those, but finally you can never get away from having to swallow everything and be swallowed by everything, losing your life to find it...

I gnow, I gnow...

8:06 PM  

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