August 5, 2011

I stand for language
I speak for truth
I shout for history


Ed Ruscha, You're a Dead Man, 2002

Time
-- by Laura Kasischke

Like a twentieth-century dream of Europe—all
horrors, and pastries—some part of me, for all time
stands in a short skirt in a hospital cafeteria line, with a tray, while

in another glittering tower named
for the world’s richest man
my mother, who is dying, never dies.

(Bird
with one wing
in Purgatory, flying in circles.)

I wake up decades later, having dreamt I was crying.
My alarm clock seconds away
from its own alarm.

I wake up to its silence
every morning
at the same hour. The daughter
of the owner of the laundromat
has washed my sheets in tears

and the soldiers marching across some flowery field in France
bear their own soft pottery in their arms—heart, lung, abdomen.

And the orderlies and the nurses and their clattering
carts roll on and on. In a tower. In a cloud. In a cafeteria line.

See, cold spy for time, who needs you now?


What Are Years?
-- by Marianne Moore

What is our innocence,
what is our guilt? All are
naked, none is safe. And whence
is courage: the unanswered question,
the resolute doubt, -
dumbly calling, deafly listening-that
in misfortune, even death,
encourage others
and in it's defeat, stirs

the soul to be strong? He
sees deep and is glad, who
accededs to mortality
and in his imprisonment rises
upon himself as
the sea in a chasm, struggling to be
free and unable to be,
in its surrendering
finds its continuing.

So he who strongly feels,
behaves. The very bird,
grown taller as he sings, steels
his form straight up. Though he is captive,
his mighty singing
says, satisfaction is a lowly
thing, how pure a thing is joy.
This is mortality,
this is eternity.


Saturday Morning
-- by Hugo Williams

Everyone who made love the night before
was walking around with flashing red lights
on top of their heads-a white-haired old gentlemen,
a red-faced schoolboy, a pregnant woman
who smiled at me from across the street
and gave a little secret shrug,
as if the flashing red light on her head
was a small price to pay for what she knew.

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