For Nothing is Fixed…. James Baldwin



For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.

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Path, Jack Hirschman

Go to your broken heart.
If you think you don’t have one, get one. To get one, be sincere.
Learn sincerity of intent by letting
life enter because you’re helpless, really,
to do otherwise.
Even as you try escaping, let it take you
and tear you open
like a letter sent
like a sentence inside
you’ve waited for all your life
though you’ve committed nothing.
Let it send you up.
Let it break you, heart.
Broken-heartedness is the beginning
of all real reception.
The ear of humility hears beyond the gates.
See the gates opening.
Feel your hands going akimbo on your hips,
your mouth opening like a womb
giving birth to your voice for the first time.
Go singing whirling into the glory
of being ecstatically simple.
Write the poem.

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Instructions on Not Giving Up ~ Ada Limón

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all

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In a Dark Time ~Theodore Roethke

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood—
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks—is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is—
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

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Two Quatrains, Yehuda Amichai

Jonah and His Dark Fish, Anon 1300-1400

I.
Once I escaped, but I do not remember why or from which god.
I shall therefore travel through my life like Jonah in his dark fish.
We’ve settled it between us, I am the fish, we’re both in the world’s bowels.
I shall not come out, he will not digest me.

II.
The last rains came on a warm night. In the morning my disaster blossomed.
The race is over. Who is first, who is second?
After our death, we could play: I shall be you, you — me.
In the dead moon, in the dead moon, in the returning ancient time, in my window tree.

~Yehuda Amichai
(translated by Assia Gutmann)

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Beginners, Denise Levertov

In memory of Roberta Rachael Flannery  January 1938 – December 2018

Beginners

“From too much love of living,
Hope and desire set free,
Even the weariest river
Winds somewhere to the sea—“

rachael_sunset
But we have only begun
To love the earth.

We have only begun
To imagine the fullness of life.

How could we tire of hope?

—so much is in bud.

How can desire fail?
—we have only begun

to imagine justice and mercy,
only begun to envision

how it might be
to live as siblings with beast and flower,
not as oppressors.

Surely our river
cannot already be hastening
into the sea of nonbeing?

Surely it cannot

drag, in the silt,
all that is innocent?

Not yet, not yet—
there is too much broken
that must be mended,

too much hurt we have done to each other
that cannot yet be forgiven.

We have only begun to know
the power that is in us if we would join
our solitudes in the communion of struggle.

So much is unfolding that must
complete its gesture,

so much is in bud.

~Denise Levertov

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Dogspel, Ann Cefola

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In the beginning was the Bone
and the Bone was good and strong, it grew
outward in layers, flushed inside by beating blood,
held by organs, muscle and sinew, until with a yelp
and flash of water emerged with other bones, blind
and mouthing toward a teat, squirming bones,
minute paws and the long-sanded tongue that cleaned,
organized and let the tiny sacks of calcium sleep and start
the mysterious journey where dream and life are one,
rolling back and forth, entry and exit
scented and calling
Come, come.

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Late Fragment, Raymond Carver

ophelia, odilon redon

Late Fragment

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
to call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

~Raymond Carver

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End of Winter, Louise Gluck

Over the still world, a bird calls
waking solitary among black boughs.

You wanted to be born; I let you be born.
When has my grief ever gotten
in the way of your pleasure?

Plunging ahead
into the dark and light at the same time
eager for sensation

as though you were some new thing, wanting
to express yourselves

all brilliance, all vivacity

never thinking
this would cost you anything,
never imagining the sound of my voice
as anything but part of you—

you won’t hear it in the other world,
not clearly again,
not in birdcall or human cry,

not the clear sound, only
persistent echoing
in all sound that means good-bye, good-bye—

the one continuous line
that binds us to each other.

~Louise Gluck

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Light is the Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guinn

Light is the left hand of darkness,and darkness the right hand of light.  Two are one, life and death, lying together like lovers in kemmer, like hands joined together, like the end and the way.

~Ursula K. Le Guin 1(21 Oct 929 – 22 Jan 2018)

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