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whiskey river



the intoxication of being swept along with the current



Updated: 2018-01-21T13:23:56.440-07:00

 




2018-01-21T13:23:56.463-07:00

"Despite everything, we are good people, who can hardly live in this world that continues almost entirely at our expense. The best thing is to keep on moving arms and legs, and watch the waves, almost as though moving forward. In this way, despair turns quickly over to happiness, and back to despair again. And, if you reach the beach, walk back across it like everything is fine, toward your family who would not like to see the abyss you have just swum over."
 - Joanna Walsh
commonplace




2018-01-20T21:05:28.588-07:00

Song
You know that it is there, lair
where the bear ceases
for a time even to exist.

Crawl in. You have at last killed
enough and eaten enough to be fat
enough to cease for a time to exist.

Crawl in. It takes talent to live at night, and scorning
others you had that talent, but now you sniff
the season when you must cease to exist.

Crawl in. Whatever for good or ill
grows within you needs
you for a time to cease to exist.

It is not raining inside
tonight. You know that it is there. Crawl in.
 - Frank Bidart
Star Dust




2018-01-18T10:59:42.324-07:00

"I guess there was always some "me" inside that small and, later, somewhat bigger shell around which "everything" was happening. Inside that shell the entity which one calls "I" never changed and never stopped watching what was going on outside. I am not trying to hint at pearls inside. What I am saying is that the passage of time does not much affect that entity. To get a low grade, to operate a milling machine, to be beaten up at an interrogation, or to lecture on Callimachus in a classroom is essentially the same. This is what makes one feel a bit astonished when one grows up and finds oneself tackling the tasks that are supposed to be handled by grownups. The dissatisfaction of a child with his parents' control over him and the panic of an adult confronting a responsibility are of the same nature."
 - Joseph Brodsky




2018-01-17T11:25:49.875-07:00

"Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you're going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are."
 - Anne Lamott




2018-01-16T11:57:16.725-07:00

"It is in our collective behavior that we are the most mysterious. We won't be able to construct machines like ourselves until we've understood this, and we're not even close. All we know is the phenomenon: we spend our time sending messages to each other, talking and trying to listen at the same time, exchanging information. This seems to be our most urgent biological function; it is what we do with our lives. By the time we reach the end, each of us has taken in a staggering store, enough to exhaust any computer, much of it incomprehensible, and we generally manage to put out even more than we take in. Information is our source of energy; we are driven by it. It has become a tremendous enterprise, a kind of energy system on its own. All 3 billion of us are being connected by telephones, radios, television sets, airplanes, satellites, harangues on public-address systems, newspapers, magazines, leaflets dropped from great heights, words got in edgewise. We are becoming a grid, a circuitry around the earth. If we keep at it, we will become a computer to end all computers, capable of fusing all the thoughts of the world into a syncytium."
 - Lewis Thomas




2018-01-15T09:30:28.032-07:00

A moment that should have lasted forever and forever
Long over -
it came and went before I knew it existed.
I think I know what it means,
But every time I start to explain it, I forget the words.
 - Charles Wright
A Short History of the Shadow




2018-01-14T12:18:55.722-07:00

"Many complain that the words of the wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life, which is the only life we have. When the sage says: "Go over," he does not mean that we should cross over to some actual place, which we could do anyhow if the labor were worth it; he means some fabulous yonder, something unknown to us, something too that he cannot designate more precisely, and therefore cannot help us here in the very least. All these parables really set out to say merely that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible, and we know that already. But the cares we have to struggle with every day: that is a different matter.

Concerning this a man once said: "Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourselves would become parables and with that rid yourself of all your daily cares."
Another said: "I bet that is also a parable."
The first said: "You have won."
The second said: "But unfortunately only in parable."
The first said: "No, in reality: in parable you have lost."
 - Franz Kafka
Parables and Paradoxes




2018-01-13T17:01:20.433-07:00

Love, too, a leveler, a dying all its own,
the parts left behind not to be replaced,
a loss ongoing, and every day increased,
like rising in the night, at 3:00 am,
to watch the snow or the dead leaf fall,
the rings around the streetlight in the rain,
and then the rain, the red fist in the heart
opening and closing almost without me.
 - Stanley Plumly
from Variation on a Line from Elizabeth Bishop's Five Flights Up




2018-01-12T10:58:14.726-07:00

Last night, the stars on the water were trap doors. The crows
with their charred wings are complaining to a hawk. It's time
to pack up the sunsets the dawns and move on.
 - Richard Jackson



So much of what we dream flickers out before we can
name it. Even the sun has been frozen on the next street.
Every word only reveals a past that never seems real.
Sometimes we just stare at the ground as if it were
a grave we could rent for a while. Sometimes we don't
understand how all that grief fits beside us on the stoop.
There should be some sort of metaphor that lifts us away.
We should see the sky open up or the stars descend.
There are birds migrating, but we don't hear them, cars
on their way to futures made of a throw of the dice.
The pigeons here bring no messages. A few flies
stitch the air. Sometimes a poem knows no way out
unless truth becomes just a homeless character in it.
 - Richard Jackson




2018-01-11T10:54:20.172-07:00

"What you must realize, what you must even come to praise, is the fact that there is no right way that is going to become apparent to you once and for all. The most blinding illumination that strikes and perhaps radically changes your life will be so attenuated and obscured by doubts and dailiness that you may one day come to suspect the truth of that moment at all. The calling that seemed so clear will be lost in echoes of questionings and indecision; the church that seemed to save you will fester with egos, complacencies, banalities; the deepest love of your life will work itself like a thorn in your heart until all you can think of is plucking it out. Wisdom is accepting the truth of this. Courage is persisting with life in spite of it. And faith is finding yourself, in the deepest part of your soul, in the very heart of who you are, moved to praise it."
 - Christian Wiman
My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer
alive on all channels




2018-01-10T08:33:15.142-07:00

"I'm not telling you to make the world better, because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I'm just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment."
 - Joan Didion
the impossible cool




2018-01-08T12:42:41.777-07:00

"Why in fact should one tell the truth? What obliges us to do it? And why do we consider telling the truth to be a virtue? Imagine that you meet a madman, who claims that he is a fish and that we are all fish. Are you going to argue with him? Are you going to undress in front of him and show him that you don't have fins? Are you going to say to his face what you think? . . . If you told him the whole truth and nothing but the truth, only what you thought, you would enter into a serious conversation with a madman and you yourself would become mad. And it is the same way with the world that surrounds us. If I obstinately told the truth to its face, it would mean that I was taking it seriously. And to take seriously something so unserious means to lose all one's own seriousness. I have to lie, if I don't want to take madmen seriously and become a madman myself."
 - Milan Kundera
Laughable Loves




2018-01-07T12:54:57.109-07:00

"In winter you wake up in this city, especially on Sundays, to the chiming of its innumerable bells, as though behind your gauze curtains a gigantic china tea set were vibrating on a silver tray in the pearl-gray sky. You fling the window open and the room is instantly flooded with this outer, pearl-laden haze, which is part damp oxygen, part coffee and prayers. No matter what sort of pills, and how many, you've got to swallow this morning, you feel it's not over for you yet. No matter, by the same token, how autonomous you are, how much you've been betrayed, how thorough and dispiriting in your self-knowledge, you assume there is still hope for you, or at least a future. (Hope, said Francis Bacon, is a good breakfast but bad supper.) This optimism derives from the haze, from the prayer part of it, especially if it's time for breakfast. On days like this, the city indeed acquires a porcelain aspect, what with all its zinc-covered cupolas resembling teapots or upturned cups, and the tilted profile of campaniles clinking like abandoned spoons and melting in the sky. Not to mention the seagulls and pigeons, now sharpening into focus, now melting into air. I should say that, good though this place is for honeymoons, I've often thought it should be tried for divorces also - both in progress and already accomplished. There is no better backdrop for rapture to fade into; whether right or wrong, no egoist can star for long in this porcelain setting by crystal water, for it steals the show. I am aware, of course, of the disastrous consequence the above suggestion may have for hotel rates here, even in winter. Still, people love their melodrama more than architecture, and I don't feel threatened. It is surprising that beauty is valued less than psychology, but so long as such is the case, I'll be able to afford this city - which means till the end of my days, and which ushers in the generous notion of the future."
 - Joseph Brodsky




2018-01-04T11:50:32.780-07:00

"Have you noticed how often it happens that a really good idea - the kind of idea that looks, as it approaches, like the explanation for everything about everything - tends to hover near at hand when you are thinking hard about something quite different? There you are, halfway into a taxi, thinking about the condition of the cartilage in the right knee joint, and suddenly, with a whirring sound, in flies a new notion looking for a place to light. You'd better be sure you have a few bare spots, denuded of anything like thought, ready for its perching, or it will fly away into the dark."
 - Lewis Thomas
The Youngest Science




2018-01-03T11:23:39.077-07:00

Broom
To remember you're alive
visit the cemetery of your father
at noon after you've made love
and are still wrapped in a mammalian
odor that you are forced to cherish.
Under each stone is someone's inevitable
surprise, the unexpected death
of their biology that struggled hard, as it must.
Now to home without looking back,
enough is enough.
En route buy the best wine
you can afford and a dozen stiff brooms.
Have a few swallows then throw the furniture
out the window and begin sweeping.
Sweep until the walls are
bare of paint and at your feet sweep
until the floor disappears. Finish the wine
in this field of air, return to the cemetery
in evening and wind through the stones
a slow dance of your name visible only to birds.
 - Jim Harrison
Songs of Unreason




2018-01-02T12:26:14.607-07:00

"Owl says that immediately beyond our garden Time begins, and that it is an awfully deep well. If you fall in it, you go down and down, very quickly, and no one knows what happens to you next. I was a bit worried about Christopher Robin falling in, but he came back and then I asked him about the well. 'Old bear,' he answered. 'I was in it and I was falling and I was changing as I fell. My legs became long, I was a big person, I grew old, hunched, and I walked with a cane, and then I died. It was probably just a dream, it was quite unreal. The only real thing was you, old bear, and our shared fun. Now I won't go anywhere, even if I'm called in for an afternoon snack."
 - Czesław Miłosz
Road-side Dog




2018-01-01T09:21:15.404-07:00

"A very sweet light is spreading over the Earth like a perfume. The moon is slowly dissolving and a boy-sun languidly stretches his translucent arms . . . Cool murmurings of pure waters that surrender themselves to the hillsides. A pair of wings dances in the rosy atmosphere.
Silence, my friends.
The day is about to begin."
 - Clarice Lispector
The Complete Stories
live & learn




2017-12-31T09:11:06.510-07:00

"The idea that just one more dollar, one more dalliance, one more rung on the ladder will leave us feeling sated reflects a misunderstanding about human nature - a misunderstanding, moreover, that is built into human nature; we are designed to feel that the next great goal will bring bliss, and the bliss is designed to evaporate shortly after we get there. Natural selection has a malicious sense of humor; it leads us along with a series of promises and then keeps saying 'Just kidding.'

Remarkably, we go our whole lives without ever really catching on.

The advice of the sages - that we refuse to play this game - is nothing less than an incitement to mutiny, to rebel against our creator.

To cultivate some indifference is one plausible route to liberation. While few of us can claim to have traveled far on this route, the proliferation of this scriptural advice suggests it has been followed some distance with some success."
 - Robert Wright




2017-12-30T12:38:20.666-07:00

Now winter downs the dying of the year,
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin
And still allows some stirring down within.



These sudden ends of time must give us pause.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
More time, more time. Barrages of applause
Come muffled from a buried radio.
The New-year bells are wrangling with the snow.
 - Richard Wilbur
from Year's End
poetry foundation




2017-12-28T10:15:57.546-07:00

"I'm not personally obsessed with death. At a certain age, the light that you live in is inhabited by the shades - it 'tis," Mr. Heaney said. "I'm very conscious that people dear to me are alive in my imagination - poets in particular. There's an elegy for Joseph Brodsky, an elegy for Ted Hughes. These people are with me. It's just a stage of your life when the death of people doesn't banish them out of your consciousness. They're part of the light in your head."
 - Seamus Heaney
in an interview with Jim Dwyer June 2, 2001




2017-12-27T08:37:55.042-07:00

"You wake up on a winter morning and pull up the shade, and what lay there the evening before is no longer there - the sodden gray yard, the dog droppings, the tire tracks in the frozen mud, the broken lawn chair you forgot to take in last fall. All this has disappeared overnight, and what you look out on is not the snow of Narnia but the snow of home, which is no less shimmering and white as it falls. The earth is covered with it, and it is falling still in silence so deep that you can hear its silence. It is snow to be shoveled, to make driving even worse than usual, snow to be joked about and cursed at, but unless the child in you is entirely dead, it is snow, too, that can make the heart beat faster when it catches you by surprise that way, before your defenses are up. It is snow that can awaken memories of things more wonderful than anything you ever knew or dreamed."
 - Frederick Buechner




2017-12-26T08:29:18.785-07:00

"It's good to be just plain happy, it's a little better to know that you're happy; but to understand that you're happy and to know why and how and still be happy, be happy in the being and the knowing, well, that is beyond happiness, that is bliss"
 - Henry Miller



"My plan, then, in so far as the negation of all effort and purpose may be said to be a plan, is to stop evolving, to remain what I am and to become more and more only what I am - that is, to become more miraculous."
 - Henry Miller
commonplace




2017-12-25T07:34:55.513-07:00

Then wherefore in these merry days
  Should we, I pray, be duller?
No, let us sing some roundelays
  To make our mirth the fuller.
      And whilst we thus inspired sing,
    Let all the streets with echoes ring;
    Woods, and hills, and everything
  Bear witness we are merry.
 - George Wither
from A Christmas Carol




2017-12-24T08:35:11.051-07:00

The moon darkened on Christmas eve
angels ate lemons
in illuminated churches
there was a blue rug
planted with stars
above our heads
lemonade and war news
competed for our attention
our breath was warmer than
the hills.
 - Etel Adnan




2017-12-23T08:36:17.173-07:00

The Christmas Letter
Wherever you are when you receive this letter
I write to say we are still ourselves
In the same place
And hope you are the same.

The dead have died as you know
And will never get better,
And the children are boys and girls
of their several ages and names.

So in closing I send you our love
And hope to hear from you soon.
There is never a time
Like the present. It lasts forever
Wherever you are. As ever I remain.
 - John N. Morris
poetry foundation