Tuesday, June 30, 2020
I am trying to imagine that I am someone else,
a grocer, an aerialist,
a young viola player who travels
around the country in a bus full of musicians,
but difficulty lurks at every turn.
I am not really sure what a viola looks like,
plus, I have become so used to being me
that I have become an assistant professor of myself.
By the time I have learned to play
the viola, even badly,
I would be close to death at best.
And I am so happy when I can stay home
and pass the time in a leather armchair,
volumes of Diderot on the shelf above me,
some jazz low on the radio,
slow waves of memory washing over me
and desire passing through me
like the tiny amount of electricity
that flows through the night-light in a bathroom.
So maybe the way to overcome the ego
is to start small, to imagine that I am still me
only I was born in Columbus, Ohio,
and I go to the gym three times a week.
Or, better still, I do not go to the gym at all—
it is up to me after all.
Maybe I stay home and listen to the news
with an uncooperative look on my face,
a smoker who likes to look out the front window
as I do, or to sit in a leather chair
under a long shelf of French literature,
a fellow who gets tearful
whenever the wind stirs up the leaves,
who gets tearful thinking about his parents
buried under tall drifts of snow
in a large municipal cemetery
Monday, June 29, 2020
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Friday, June 26, 2020
“Song to the Rock Demoness”
When emerging, arise from the ocean itself.
When disappearing, they disappear into the ocean itself.
Habitual thinking, love, and possessiveness, these three,
When arising, arise from the alaya consciousness itself.
When disappearing, they disappear into the alaya consciousness itself.
Self-awareness, self-illumination, self-liberation, these three,
When arising, arise from the mind itself.
When disappearing, they disappear into the mind itself.
The unborn, unceasing, and unexpressed, these three,
When emerging, arise from the nature of being itself.
When disappearing, they disappear into the nature of being itself.
The visions of demons, clinging to demons, and thoughts of demons,
When arising, arise from the Yogin himself.
When disappearing, they disappear into the Yogin himself.
Since demons are the phantoms of the mind,
If it is not understood by the Yogin that they are empty appearances,
And even if he thinks they are real, meditation is confused.
But the root of the delusion is in his own mind.
By observation of the nature of manifestations,
He realizes the identity of manifestation and void,
And by understanding, he knows that the two are not different.
Meditation and not meditation are not two but one,
The cause of all errors is to look upon the two things as different.
From the ultimate point of view, there is no view.
If you make comparison between the nature of the mind
And the nature of the heavens,
Then the true nature of being itself is penetrated.
See, now, that you look into the true meaning which is beyond thought.
Arrange to enter into undisturbed meditation.
And be mindful of the Unceasing Intuitive Sensation!
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
I married at fifteen. My husband complained
That I was too small, and wouldn’t lie with me.
Then I was eighteen, then I was twenty.
I was lying on the floor, he yanked me onto bed.
Love me once, then love me twice,
There’s only three legs left to the bed.
Whoever is going to my parents’ village,
Let them know that he and I are reconciled.
Monday, June 22, 2020
She paused amid the kitchen to drink a glass of water; at that instant, losing a grip of fifty years, the next-room-ceiling-plaster crashed. Or he merely sat in an empty study, in March-day glare, listening to the universe rustle in his head, when suddenly the five-foot shelf let go.
For ages the fault creeps secret through the rock; in a second, ledge and railings, tourists and turbines all thunder over Niagara. Which snowflake triggers the avalanche? A house explodes; a star. In your spouse, so apparently resigned, murder twitches like a fetus. At some trifling new assessment, all the colonies rebel.
Sunday, June 21, 2020
Saturday, June 20, 2020
From “Ten Poems”
Isn’t it amazing that one evening
sliding the bread into its paper sack
I start all over with the same speech,
reopen the repertory, raise the curtain
to find time standing still, not ever passing?
Nothing has passed, the past doesn’t exist,
born actors never do forget their parts.
Friday, June 19, 2020
We may set too high of a bar for ourselves when we contemplate Buddhist teachings about working for the benefit of all sentient beings. I don’t think it’s really possible to arrive at a time when you’ll be able to say to yourself that you are now accomplishing the benefit of all sentient beings. It’s more a matter of dealing with what’s directly in front of you in terms of the experiences of happiness and suffering that you - and the sentient beings you are connected with - are going through.
I think you can meet situations of suffering with an open heart and a readiness to do whatever you can to reduce the suffering of sentient beings, to free sentient beings from suffering. Or in the same way, be ready to do anything you can to further the happiness of any given sentient being that you meet and to engage in this kind of conduct with a heart of joyfulness, cheerfulness and delight. This is really the meaning of accomplishing the benefit of all sentient beings.
So it’s basically situation by situation and developing further the readiness to help, developing further this heart of wanting sentient beings to be free of suffering and to enjoy happiness in whatever situation they are in at the present. I think that’s what ‘accomplishing the benefit of all sentient beings’ really means. I don’t think that phrase means we are going to accomplish the benefit of every single sentient being at the same time.
Thursday, June 18, 2020
The Jewels of Aptor
Dictators during the entire history of this planet have used similar techniques. By not letting the people of their country know what conditions existed outside their boundaries, they could get the people to fight to stay in those conditions.
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Seeing yourself as part of a creative lineage makes you feel less alone in your art. The great thing about dead masters is that they can’t refuse you as a student.
Just don’t steal the style of your heroes, steal the thinking behind the style … but add something to the world only you can add.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
“On Self-Respect” (1961)
In brief, people with self-respect exhibit a certain toughness, a kind of moral nerve; they display what was once called character, a quality which, although approved in the abstract, sometimes loses ground to other, more instantly negotiable virtues. Nonetheless, character—the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life—is the source from which self-respect springs.
Monday, June 15, 2020
Sunday, June 14, 2020
“A Tree Telling Of Orpheus”
White dawn. Stillness. When the rippling began
I took it for a sea-wind, coming to our valley with rumors
of salt, of treeless horizons. but the white fog
didn’t stir; the leaved of my brothers remained outstretched,
unmoving. Yet the rippling drew nearer — and then
my own outermost branches began to tingle, almost as if
fire had been lit below them, too close, and their twig-tips
were drying and curling.
Yet I was not afraid, only
deeply alert.I was the first to see him, for I grew
out on the pasture slope, beyond the forest.
He was a man, it seemed: the two
moving stems, the short trunk, the two
arm-branches, flexible, each with five leafless
twigs at their ends,
and the head that’s crowned by brown or gold grass,
bearing a face not like the beaked face of a bird,
more like a flower’s.
He carried a burden made of
some cut branch bent while it was green,
strands of a vine tight-stretched across it. From this,
when he touched it, and from his voice
which unlike the wind’s voice had no need of our
leaves and branches to complete its sound,
came the ripple.
But it was now no longer a ripple (he had come near and
stopped in my first shadow) it was a wave that bathed me
as if rain
rose from below and around me
instead of falling.
And what I felt was no longer a dry tingling:
I seemed to be singing as he sang, I seemed to know
what the lark knows; all my sap
was mounting towards the sun that by now
had risen, the mist was rising, the grass
was drying, yet my roots felt music moisten them
deep under earth. He came still closer, leaned on my trunk:
the bark thrilled like a leaf still-folded.
Music! there was no twig of me not
trembling with joy and fear.Then as he sang
it was no longer sounds only that made the music:
he spoke, and as no tree listens I listened, and language
came into my roots
out of the earth,
into my bark
out of the air,
into the pores of my greenest shoots
gently as dew
and there was no word he sang but I knew its meaning.
He told of journeys,
of where sun and moon go while we stand in dark,
of an earth-journey he dreamed he would take some day
deeper than roots…
He told of the dreams of man, wars, passions, griefs,
and I, a tree, understood words — ah, it seemed
my thick bark would split like a sapling’s that
grew too fast in the spring
when a late frost wounds it. Fire he sang,
that trees fear, and I, a tree, rejoiced in its flames.
New buds broke forth from me though it was full summer.
As though his lyre (now I knew its name)
were both frost and fire, its chord flamed
up to the crown of me. I was seed again.
I was fern in the swamp.
I was coal.And at the heart of my wood
(so close I was to becoming man or god)
there was a kind of silence, a kind of sickness,
something akin to what men call boredom,
(the poem descended a scale, a stream over stones)
that gives to a candle a coldness
in the midst of its burning, he said.It was then,
when in the blaze of his power that
reached me and changed me
I thought I should fall my length,
that the singer began
to leave me. Slowly
moved from my noon shadow
to open light,
words leaping and dancing over his shoulders
back to me
rivery sweep of lyre-tones becoming
ripple.And I in terror
but not in doubt of
what I must do
in anguish, in haste,
wrenched from the earth root after root,
the soil heaving and cracking, the moss tearing asunder —
and behind me the others: my brothers
forgotten since dawn. In the forest
they too had heard,
and were pulling their roots in pain
out of a thousand year’s layers of dead leaves,
rolling the rocks away,
their depths. You would have thought we would lose the sound of the lyre,
of the singing
so dreadful the storm-sounds were, where there was no storm,
no wind but the rush of our
branches moving, our trunks breasting the air.
But the music!
The music reached us.
stumbling over our own roots,
rustling our leaves
we moved, we followed.All day we followed, up hill and down.
We learned to dance,
for he would stop, where the ground was flat,
and words he said
taught us to leap and to wind in and out
around one another in figures the lyre’s measure designed.The singer
laughed till he wept to see us, he was so glad.
we came to this place I stand in, this knoll
with its ancient grove that was bare grass then.
In the last light of that day his song became
He stilled our longing.
He sang our sun-dried roots back into earth,
watered them: all-night rain of music so quiet
we could almost
not hear it in the
By dawn he was gone.
We have stood here since,
in our new life.
We have waited.
He does not return.
It is said he made his earth-journey, and lost
what he sought.
It is said they felled him
and cut up his limbs for firewood.
And it is said
his head still sang and was swept out to sea singing.
Perhaps he will not return.
But what we have lived
comes back to us.
We see more.
We feel, as our rings increase,
something that lifts our branches, that stretches our furthest
The wind, the birds,
do not sound poorer but clearer,
recalling our agony, and the way we danced.
Saturday, June 13, 2020
Success and failure? No known address.
This or that goes on, depending on the other.
And who can say if Milord Shao was happier
ruling a city, or sacked, his excellent melon patch?
Hot, cold, summer, winter: don’t they alternate?
Mayn’t a man’s way wander on just so?
Yes, those who “get there” know their opportunities…
have learned to untie the knots of knowledge.
But was it the notable or the notorious that our Sage spoke of?
The latter he called opportunists. Those who get there, doubtless,
know doubt nor care no more. Yet, doubt you not, nor do dead generals,
who plotted carefully at what seemed opportune,
and knew naught, right or wrong.
If, of a sudden, you’re offered fine wine,
let the sun sink. Enjoy it.
Friday, June 12, 2020
Thursday, June 11, 2020
SAMUEL R. DELANY
Science fiction isn’t just thinking about the world out there. It’s also thinking about how that world might be - a particularly important exercise for those who are oppressed, because if they’re going to change the world we live in, they - and all of us - have to be able to think about a world that works differently.
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
Monday, June 8, 2020
Vision must be the last to go. There must also be a nearly imperceptible line between an eye that reflects and an eye that receives. The half-crouched body collapses. The face and its masses of white skin loom ever closer. At rest the body is assumed exactly into the space of this vantage.
Sunday, June 7, 2020
“Along the Stream”
The rustling nightfall strews my gown with roses,
And wine-flushed petals bring forgetfulness
Of shadow after shadow striding past.
I arise with the stars exultantly and follow
The sweep of the moon along the hushing stream,
Where no birds wake; only the far-drawn sigh
Of wary voices whispering farewell.
Burnt by lightning nevertheless
she’ll walk this terra infinita
lashes singed on her third eye
searching definite shadows for an indefinite future
Old shed-boards beaten silvery hang
askew as sheltering
some delicate indefensible existence
Long grasses shiver in a vanished doorway’s draft
a place of origins as yet unclosured and unclaimed
Writing cursive instructions on abounding air
If you arrive with ripe pears, bring a sharpened knife
Bring cyanide with the honeycomb
call before you come
Let the face of the bay be violet black the tumbled torn
kelp necklaces strewn alongshore
Stealthily over time arrives the chokehold
stifling ocean’s guttural chorales
of tattered plastic rags
In a physical world the great poverty would be
to live insensate shuttered against the fresh
slash of urine on a wall
low-tidal rumor of a river’s yellowed mouth
a tumor-ridden face asleep on a subway train
What would it mean to not possess
a permeable skin
explicit veil to wander in
A cracked shell crumbles.
Sun moon and salt dissect the faint
An electrical impulse zings
in meta-galactic orbits
a streak of nervous energy rejoins the crucible
where origins and endings meld
There was this honey-laden question mark
this thread extracted from the open
throat of existence—Lick it clean!
—let it evaporate—
Saturday, June 6, 2020
Friday, June 5, 2020
“To the Ladies Who Saw Me Crown’d”
What is there in the universal earth
More lovely than a wreath from the bay tree?
Haply a halo round the moon–a glee
Circling from three sweet pair of lips in mirth;
And haply you will say the dewy birth
Of morning roses–riplings tenderly
Spread by the halcyon’s breast upon the sea–
But these comparisons are nothing worth.
Then is there nothing in the world so fair?
The silvery tears of April?–Youth of May?
Or June that breathes out life for butterflies?
No–none of these can from my favorite bear
Away the palm; yet shall it ever pay
Due reverence to your most sovereign eyes.
Thursday, June 4, 2020
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Monday, June 1, 2020
From Selected Poems
I, too, head for the Baths of Caracalla,
thinking—with my old, magnificent
privilege of thinking…
(And let there still be a god in me that thinks,
lost, weak, and childish,
yet whose voice is so human
it is almost a song.) Oh, to leave
this prison of poverty!
To be free of the yearning
that makes these ancient nights so splendid!
He who knows yearning, and he who does not,
have something in common: man’s desires are humble.