July 2, 2008

My temperature's rising, my fingers are tingling
I'm starting to shake
I look in the mirror and everything's funny
I think you're a fake



Kurt Schwitters, Opened by Customs, 1937-8

The Portrait
-- by Stanley Kunitz

My mother never forgave my father
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
that spring
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name
in her deepest cabinet
and would not let him out,
though I could hear him thumping.
When I came down from the attic
with the pastel portrait in my hand
of a long-lipped stranger
with a brave moustache
and deep brown level eyes,
she ripped it into shreds
without a single word
and slapped me hard.
In my sixty-fourth year
I can feel my cheek
still burning.


The World And I
-- Laura Riding

This is not exactly what I mean
Any more than the sun is the sun.
But how to mean more closely
If the sun shines but approximately?
What a world of awkwardness!
What hostile implements of sense!
Perhaps this is as close a meaning
As perhaps becomes such knowing.
Else I think the world and I
Must live together as strangers and die—
A sour love, each doubtful whether
Was ever a thing to love the other.
No, better for both to be nearly sure
Each of each—exactly where
Exactly I and exactly the world
Fail to meet by a moment, and a word.

Even if You Can't
-- C.P. Cavafy

Even if you can't shape your life the way you want,
at least you can try as much as you can
not to degrade it
by too much contact with the world,
by too much activity and talk

Do not degrade it by dragging it along
taking it around and exposing it so often
to the daily silliness
of social relations and parties,
until it comes to seem a boring hanger-on

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