Monthly Archives: March 2008

Fictitious biography

At first a childhood, boundless, with no aim,
no self-denial. O unconscious bliss.
Then sudden terror, school and rules and shame,
constraint, temptation, fall into otherness.

Defiance. Now the bent becomes the bender,
makes others pay in kind for his defeat.
Loved, feared, a champion, friend, defender,
bully and conqueror, to beat and beat.

Then on his own in the cold, wide, weightless air.
Yet deep within the second self’s redoubt
a taking breath for what at first was there…

When from His ambush God came rushing out.

– Rilke (trans. M. Hamburger)

Spill

Another Saturday night in panic town: something stalked the streets, weaved between the drunks, danced around like a kingless jester, driving us closer together and further apart. We gorged on each other’s weaknesses. My ugliest face crowded out theirs. A wormfeast night. Every homeward footprint left a stain. I drew the curtains tight against the dawn. Later that day a storm gathered, and from the spill my heart stole joy like the thief it is.

Carrion comfort

Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Nor untwist – slack they may be – these last strands of man
In me or, most weary, cry, I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.

But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
They wring-earth right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruised boned? and fan
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart, lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, cheer.

Cheer whom though? The hero whose heaven-handling flung me, foot trod
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? that night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God

– Gerard Manley Hopkins

Out of the thousands

Out of the thousands
who are known,
or who want to be known
as poets,
maybe one or two
are genuine
and the rest are fakes,
hanging around the sacred precincts
trying to look like the real thing.
Needless to say
I am one of the fakes,
and this is my story.

– Leonard Cohen

Courting the song

It’s basically like a courting process, like hunting women. Most of the time it’s a hassle. And you feel you’re not really getting as much as you should, and you’re unsatisfied. And from time to time there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do. Of course from time to time you connect. The time you don’t connect, you just kind of scratch.

– Leonard Cohen (on songwriting)

Courting the song

It’s basically like a courting process, like hunting women. Most of the time it’s a hassle. And you feel you’re not really getting as much as you should, and you’re unsatisfied. And from time to time there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do. Of course from time to time you connect. The time you don’t connect, you just kind of scratch.

– Leonard Cohen (on songwriting)

The guides

I can’t ignore them any longer, these guides, if that’s what they are. They pull me into a night and tell me it’ll break through from where I’m not. What will break through, and from what? They say, When will you stop trying to impress us? At times like these there’s nothing but night. I can’t woo them or master them, but maybe feel my way in, listening to the roar.