You want to know how I spend my time?
I walk the front lawn, pretending
to be weeding. You ought to know
I’m never weeding, on my knees, pulling
clumps of clover from the flower beds: in fact
I’m looking for courage, for some evidence
my life will change, though
Remember when you hear them beginning to say Freedom
Look carefully see who it is that they want you to butcher.
Remember, when you say that the old trick would not have
fooled you for a moment
That every time it is the trick which seems new.
Remember that you will have to put in irons
Your better nature, if it will desert to them.
Remember, remember their faces watch them carefully:
For every step you take is on somebody’s body
And every cherry you plant for them is a gibbet
And every furrow you turn for them is a grave
Remember, the smell of burning will not sicken you
If they persuade you that it will thaw the world
Beware. The blood of a child does not smell so bitter
If you have shed it with a high moral purpose.
So that because the woodcutter disobeyed
they will not burn her today or any day
So that for lack of a joiner’s obedience
The crucifixion will not now take place
So that when they come to sell you their bloody corruption
You will gather the spit of your chest
And plant it in their faces.
Shellfish lead to swelling
of that there is no doubt
booze will pass to yelling
spider veins and gout
hackles get all raised and shit
anguish makes us growl
yet love alone drives a man
to throwing in the towel.
There is a location between madness and clarity where both can live.
The unglued cannot be broken.
—Sax for Poem
I did mostly nothing all day
filled up the space with bit and pieces
watched blood fall on the bed
worked hard enough to make a living
swam like I knew where I was going
(easier to do when the pool has an end)
and then I wrote a poem for the sax.
"A great nation is not saved by wars, it is saved….by speaking, writing, voting reasonably; by smiting corruption swiftly; by good temper between parties; by the people knowing true men when they see them, and preferring them as leaders to rabid partisans or empty quacks. This is the behavior that monuments should honor.’
-William James (on the dedication of a monument to Robert Gould Shaw)
Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
It seems that life is
as they describe war;
long periods of boredom
with a few seconds of utter terror.
Except that life, if you’re lucky,
is mostly good enough days
or days filled up with the shopping
or the school run, the buying of trousers,
making sausage casserole,
examing your pores in the mirror,
conversation with an aunt,
promotion or not, worrying about the bus,
the weather, birthdays to buy for or be bought for,
cleaning the stove, headaches, sport, soap,
watching windows or looking out of them, and so on and on,
until without much warning
something disasterous happens
by way of a walking out, accidents involving children or cars,
body part problems that will never be thereafter fixed,
grief, preparatory death (pets etc.)
and then the real thing of others close by,
before finally your own
(the last being the least of your worries, afterwards).
If we can’t make more out of these ordinary days,
it hardly seems a decent equation.
What are we here for if not to enjoy life eternal, solve what problems we can, give light, peace and joy to our fellow-man, and leave this dear fucked-up planet a little healthier than when we were born.
HOW TO LISTEN TO A PODCAST with Ira Glass and Mary
Because podcasts can change your world. Really.
I love this woman, this Mary. I going to aspire to be her (later on).
I am stiff and without electronics (a word that already sounds old in my mouth),
paper-writing and sat on the reddish tile floor of a tidy English bathroom.
There are prints on the walls of Guy’s and St. Thomas’s hospitals.
Antiquated glass jars (empty) with labels advertising citrates and lozenges,
quinine tonics for the nerves.
All else in sight is modern, albeit with the dust of Victorian design.
A brass pot with a tall rubber plant has a lion’s head with an iron ring through its mouth.
The bath’s hand shower sits on a complicated nest of silver
with lettering for hot and cold from the same font set as the printed labels.
Half walls of tile are embellished (white on white) with wreathes and thistles
while far away we are bombing somewhere.
We being the British who only days ago (the begining of our visit)
did the Scottish agree to remain enfolded with.
The idle mind wonders if this sudden sending of planes
to somewhere would have had a material effect on the vote.
I sit on the bathroom floor because all the beds are taken
in the darkness of an early night.
Tomorrow we will aim to ride our own plane from here
across the Atlantic where those other types of aircraft
have also been sent out bombing in concerted parallel.
I am dying.
We all are, simply at different rates.
Some at our own behest, some at the behest of others.
Most of this, while immediate and urgent (however long it takes)
People write about it, mourn it, photograph it, protest it, cause it.
The wolves dies out or are shot.
The deer bloom and deforest.
The rivers widen and the fish suffer.
There is a pause (or not).
The wolves are re-introduced.
Causes are effected.
Changes are observed.
Lessons are learned.
And tonight, if fortunate, we go off to bed
at our different times and in our different ways
and tomorrow, if fortunate, we carry on or start again.
And it is evolution (in the end and as it happens also)
and all we can consider worthy is any local suffering
that can be alleviated, any anguish that can be forestalled.
And we are mostly small and made so, not just by size,
but also by coincidence, numbers and circumstance.
And then, at some point, for us, that’s the end of it.
And on this bathroom’s floor and separate from the fight
of much beyond my lion and these thistles,
the short clarity of this helps my chattering self
silence not unhappily towards my own sleep.
I wonder, said the Lord, I wonder if I know the answer anymore.
—Norman Mailer (via likeafieldmouse)
It is hard to argue fairly with the dead
for one must offer them a kindness
which to the living one would not give.