Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.
— from Original Fire: Selected and New Poems
Aboard a bus between the hills of Rome
and Florence, I was dozing with my wife
but heard that cypress means eternal life.
Our guide talked on; at least one fact hit
I saw the cypresses upon the hills,
like spearheads pointing heavenward, leaf-
up close and smoke-wreathed flames of life
through Tuscan haze. This dreaming vision fills
the wine-cup of the poet’s mind, I think;
the lamp that hangs by golden chains above
the sculptor’s stone. So Dante’s verses sink
so deeply in the soul, and rays of love
revealed to toiling Michelangelo
a David in the marble’s ageless glow.
-Thomas Zimmerman, from The Corner Club Press
Our father taught us
the tubes grew hot
as the turn-table
ran across a needle.
Steady low strings
held the cut of high
strings, in the air
around the room.
the hiss and hum
the speaker gauze.
We lay with him
on the carpet;
one of our hands
in each of his,
while notes pulled
of what it meant
to be a hard-working
with such sound.
-Matthew Haughton, from Hamilton Stone Review
Half a Life, V.S. Naipaul
“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood”
“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.”
“Their protected error (for she indulged a fancy that it was hers too) was like some dangerous, lovely, living thing that she had caught and could keep – keep vivid and helpless in the cage of her own passion and look at and talk to all day long. She had got it well locked up there by the time that from an upper window she saw Mrs. Gareth again in the garden. At this she went down to meet her.”
–The Spoils of Poynton, Henry James