All spring the typewriter wrote tragi-comedies,
one mocking skull after another
as the keys perforated time
through the halls.
I could not account for my hands
which had turned to starfish.
Sometimes an unrequited love
for the sea
does not have a romantic ending.
The house swelled like a mushroom.
Everything felt deliberate,
the small boats of my shoes,
spoons exaggerated in their drawer.
Rain dropped pennies
from the moon.
Sometimes you agree not to know,
a season arrives
with its odd luggage
and you leave the door open.
At night the salt-swell calls
in baritone and you come.
All spring the typewriter wrote tragi-comedies,
Love enters the body
almost completely breaks and enters into the body
already beaten and broken
peaceful if breaking if breaking
and entering the already broken is peaceful
Tell the truth: no key appeared in your mouth,
no sound like mum, which wouldn’t help anyway.
Give me a word to get through the night.
Something spontaneous, fluid:
see the hand’s unintended imprint on the shore,
fireworks dissolving into the black sky—
Try now. Ripple. Yes.
Put the two of us in a boat on the gray river;
keep rowing in a circle while on the hazy banks
clumps of grass swarm and echo the rhythm of words
we had once spoken: after this, mistake me for someone else.
Sleep no more. Wave. Wave. That’s love enough.
The Guardian cites a 1975 quote that may shed some light on why it’s taken so long for Tom Waits to commit to act upon his New York Times-bestowed title as “the poet of outcasts:”
“…poetry is a very dangerous word.” “I don’t like the stigma that comes with being called a poet,” he said. “So I call what I’m doing an improvisational adventure or an inebriational travelogue.”
“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.”
-Roland Barthes, “Mourning Diary” —Mourning Diary, Roland Barthes (via overturetoalabasterskin)
lose what we never had.
— Beckian Fritz Goldberg
When I go outside on nights like this, nights without
cloud or breeze, city nights full of buzz and hoarse whisper
and the distant surf of automobiles breaking upon darkness,
do you believe I think the stars are waiting for me? How
lonely the streets are among the buttoned houses. How
I long sometimes for a doorway and a cigarette to smoke
in it, for some rain and a hat to pull forward over my eyes.
What is it in this darkness that draws the eye, anyway?
No blossoms shout color, no tree offers green in this
basin of shadow. Now all the requiems come forth, each one
with its measured voice, each ecstasy and lament, each
joy and despair joining hands. Who are these people who
have taped butcher paper across their front window and offer
me a shadow play I can’t possibly forbid myself from watching?
The man is big bellied and sits in a chair. The woman is large
in the shoulders and sits in a chair. There is no other furniture
but a lamp and something—a pile of books? Newspapers? Who
can divine these shapes? By what right? Why are they rendering
unto the world so much of their unhappiness? Or am I
mistaken again? Maybe it’s joy. In that other life, the hidden
life that counts, I walk across the gray lawn and tap at the window.
They mistake me for something I am not: a messenger, perhaps—
yes, a messenger. They come to the door and look and look
but they don’t see me. And then they go back to their places
behind the window, behind the paper, in front of the yellow light
that deepens them and reduces them. And they have done
a good deal of work for one night. They have reduced me. They
have distilled me. It is a kind of resurrection and vindication.
Can you see it? It comes from that other life. You carry it with you,
you get used to it. You forget about it and it goes on talking and
singing and weeping all by itself. It’s all right. It needs you.
You can walk me to the corner and share a coffee and tell me
your stories. It will still be there when you get back. It’ll wait for you.
“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world,
which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime,
and falling in at night. I miss you like hell. ”
~Edna St. Vincent Millay
“like icarus, we had this strange fascination with how far into the light one could go and still come back. but we rarely spoke of these things, because we didn’t need to. we had done it. we had lost control of our lives at some point, and visible or not, it had left a mark.”
Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction edited by Sabrina Chapadjiev
To give life you must take life,
and as our grief falls flat and hollow
upon the billion-blooded sea
I pass upon serious inward-breaking shoals rimmed
with white-legged, white-bellied rotting creatures
lengthily dead and rioting against surrounding scenes.
Dear child, I only did to you what the sparrow
did to you; I am old when it is fashionable to be
young; I cry when it is fashionable to laugh.
I hated you when it would have taken less courage
“I kept this to remind me of you trying to brush away the Villa Rossa from your teeth in the morning, swearing and eating aspirin and cursing harlots. Every time I see that glass I think of you trying to clean your conscience with a toothbrush.”
- Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
(from an interview between Charles Bukowski and Jean-François Duval, in February 1986, called “An Evening at Buk’s Place (February 17, 1986)”)
J.-F.D: Does that mean that you came to appreciate loneliness more than mixing with people? First it’s hard to be alone? And then you get so used to it that you can’t do otherwise, you need it…
C.B.: Well for me it was never hard to be alone. It always felt best…It’s natural. Some animals, they dig a hole in the ground, they go underground. He feels good alone in a hole. It’s my natural instinct. When I’m alone, I charge my batteries. I build. That’s just that. I feel good. I’ve never been lonely. I’ve been depressed. I’ve been suicidal. But being lonely means another person will solve your problem. Loneliness means you need something or somebody, so I never had loneliness in that sense. I never felt like another person would solve my problem. I always felt that I would solve my problem. So all I needed was myself.
J.-F.D: Where is hope? And hope in your work?
C.B.: The hope is a touch of graceful humor, no matter what’s occuring. The ability to laugh, the ability to see the ridiculous, the ability not to tense up too much, when things become impossible, just to face them anyhow. A touch of humor. Let’s say laughter through the flame. Or, guts. Courage…Humor, guts, and courage, no matter the odds. We can always face that…
“It got to the point where it became logical: if a woman was fiercely intelligent, outspoken and passionate, I’d look to her arms for the scars. they were almost always there.”
From Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction
The smile of a woman so beautiful
that she is confined to a garden
with walls so high that no one
can see her, with walls so high
that no one can see her smile.
a bird sits in her nest, with the babies half asleep underneath
and the world all leaves and morning air. What do you want?
a blonde one asks. To keep what I already have, I say. You ask
too much, he says sternly. Then you are at peace, she says.
I am not at peace, I tell her. I want to fail. I am hungry
for what I am becoming. What will you do? she asks. I will
continue north, carrying the past in my arms, flying into winter.” —Jack Gilbert