The Lover (Luis Cerneda)

The August night blurred the dark sea and the sky into a single vastness, from which the grayish line of the beach was set apart, like the beginning of an uncreated world. Along there, naked under my white clothes, I was walking alone, though my friends, swimming out in the ocean, were calling me to join them. And among all those voices, I could pick out one that sounded fresh and pure.

The sea still held the day’s heat in its breast, exhaling it in a warm and bitter breath that mingled with the night air. I walked a long while down the dark beach, filled with happiness, with drunkenness, with life. But I’ll never say why. It’s madness to try to express the inexpressible. Can words explain flame and its heavenly heat to someone who’s never seen or felt it?

Finally I dived into the water, which, barely disturbed by the ripple, with a calm motion drew me out to sea. I could see in the distance the grayish line of the beach, and the white spot of my clothes where I’d dropped them. When my friends came out of the water, calling my name in the night, looking for me near the pile of clothes, inert like an empty body, I watched them unseen from the darkness, as if from another world and another life we might be able to watch, already without us, the place and the bodies we loved.

—Luis Cerneda (trans. by Stephen Kessler)
—from Written in Water: The Prose Poems of Luis Cerneda

Permanent link to this article: http://commonplace.fncll.org/the-lover-luis-cerneda/

April Lights (Alfred Starr Hamilton)

But nevertheless there are some other kinds of blue skies
Some other way of counting the summer clouds that stayed
There is the red moon, by October
Some other kind of February lights
Some other kind of January darkness that is deeper
A bronze rake –
A winding road to where we are this evening

—Alfred Starr Hamilton
—from A Dark Dreambox of Another Kind: The Poems of Alfred Starr Hamilton

Permanent link to this article: http://commonplace.fncll.org/april-lights-alfred-starr-hamilton/

Dream Song 219 – So Long? Stevens (John Berryman)

So Long? Stevens

He lifted up, among the actuaries,
a grandee crow. Ah ha & he crowed good.
That funny money-man.
Mutter we all must as well as we can.
He mutter spiffy. He make wonder Henry’s
wits, though, with a odd

… something … something … not there in his flourishing art.
O veteran of death, you will not mind
a counter-mutter.
What was it missing, then,
at the man’s heart
so that he does not wound? It is our kind
to wound, as well as utter

a fact of happy world. That metaphysics
he hefted up until we could not breathe
the physics. On our side,
monotonous (or ever-fresh)—it sticks
in Henry’s throat to judge—brilliant, he seethe;
better than us; less wide.

—John Berryman
—from His Toy, His Dream, His Rest

Permanent link to this article: http://commonplace.fncll.org/dream-song-219-so-long-stevens-john-berryman/

from “Ziggy Starfish” (Iron Mike Eagle)

I’m just smiling and offer you greetings
Hopefully with no pretense
My aim’s to honor your physical
And leave room for all of your secrets
We should all play a big Scrabble game
And make every word a confession:
“A-N-X-I-O-U-S.”

—Iron Mike Eagle
—from “Ziggy Starfish”
—found on A Special Eipsode of – EP

Permanent link to this article: http://commonplace.fncll.org/from-ziggy-starfish-iron-mike-eagle/

Naomi Shihab Nye on “Kindness” and writing the hard or sad

Naomi Shihab Nye talks about, and reads, her poem “Kindness”…then a bit about writing about things that are hard or sad:

 

 

—Naomi Shaib Nye
—from On Being with Krista Tippett

Permanent link to this article: http://commonplace.fncll.org/naomi-shihab-nye-on-kindness-and-writing-the-hard-or-sad/

Etymology (Jon Davis)

Tenable, from tenēre, to keep or to hold. The unholdable. Silence within words. Fish in the hand. When the hurricane struck, Uncle Dave drove us all to the beach. The sky was a dark lid, bolted down over the ocean. Wind lifted the water into waves. Walls of water, churning, crashing. Sizzling sand. When the tiny sharks called dogfish were left behind, we tried to grab them by their rough tails. They kept slipping away. The untenable. That which cannot be held. God of dogfish. Of warblers. Of water from a mountain spring. The words for those gods. Tengo miedo. I have fear. I hold it. Fear in a handful of dust. In the words for handful-of-dust.

—Jon Davis
—from Preliminary Report

Permanent link to this article: http://commonplace.fncll.org/etymology-jon-davis/

Smoked like robes (Carol Ciavonne)

A man burns a letter
supposing greater clarity
in perceiving more light.
The aether leaves its prison noisily;
words disappear but are not gone,
insinuate themselves
into pores and interstices of the body,
the palliative always emigrant.

Who resists them receives them
smoked like robes by incense.

—Carol Ciavonne
—from Azimuth

Permanent link to this article: http://commonplace.fncll.org/smoked-like-robes-carol-ciavonne/

on “any notion of a good life” (Matthew Crawford)

…liberal/libertarian agnosticism about the human good disarms the critical faculties we need even just to see certain developments in the culture and economy. Any substantive notion of what a good life requires will be contestable. But such a contest is ruled out if we dogmatically insist that even to raise questions about the good life is to identify oneself as a would-be theocrat. To Capital, our democratic squeamishness – our egalitarian pride in being “nonjudgmental” — smells like opportunity. Commercial forces step into the void of cultural authority, where liberals and libertarians fear to tread.

—Matthew Crawford
—from “The World Beyond Your Head: Becoming an individual in an age of distraction”

Permanent link to this article: http://commonplace.fncll.org/on-any-notion-of-a-good-life-matthew-crawford/

Melancholia (Ned Cannon)

Melancholia by Ned Cannon (permafrost v20, 1998)

—“Melancholia” by Ned Cannon
—found in Permafrost (v20, 1998)

Permanent link to this article: http://commonplace.fncll.org/melancholia-ned-cannon/

“The Calculus” (William Matthews)

There is a culture which counts like this: “one, two, many.” It is sufficient. They don’t use numbers to measure. There are so many women your wife gets pushed out of bed. Everyone knows without a name for it how many dead men a camel can carry. There is so little light the dark part of each eye grows knuckle-size.

The invention of zero will end their life. They don’t say “no moon tonight”; they say “the moon is gone.” We can add this egg of absence to anything—then we are richer.

—William Matthews
—from Sleek for the Long Flight

Permanent link to this article: http://commonplace.fncll.org/the-calculus-william-matthews/

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