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"November Philosophers" by Katie Ford

Jan. 10th, 2010 | 03:50 pm

Nothing is nothing, although

he would call me that, She was nothing.

Those were his words, but his hand was lifting

cigarettes in chains and bridges

of ash-light. He said he didn’t want his body to last.

It wasn’t a year I could argue

against that kind of talk, so I cut the fowl

killed on the farm a mile out—brown and silvery, wild—

and put it over butter lettuce, lettuce then lime.

I heated brandy in the saucepan, poured a strip of molasses

slowly through the cold, slow as I’d seen

a shaman pour pine tincture over the floor

of my beaten house.

She seemed to see my whole life

by ordinance of some god

who wanted me alive again.

Burnt sage, blue smoke. Then sea salt shaken

into the corners of violent sadness.

She wrote my address

across her chest

to let everything listening know

where my life was made.

We waited, either forgetting what we were

or becoming more brightly human in that pine,

in her trance, in the lavender I set on the chipped sills,

not a trance at all but my deliberate hand cutting

from the yard part of what she required.

Now wait longer, she said, and I did as I would

when the molasses warmed over the pot enough

to come into the brandy,

to come into the night

begun by small confessions—

that this was just a rental, and mine just a floor,

that the woman he loved was with another man,

his mother mad, his apartment haunted in the crawl space.

Then I told of the assault at daybreak between

the houses. Heat, asphalt, all of it and my face toward

the brick school where the apostolate studied first-century script

and song. There must have been chanting,

as it was on the hour.

What we said was liturgy meant only for us

and for that night. Not for anyone else

to repeat, live by, believe. Never that.

Our only theories were inside of our hands,

flesh and land, body and prairie.

I reached to smoke down his next-to-last,

which he lit and made ready.

The poultry like a war ration

we ate all the way through.

What we wished, we said.

What we said, we found that night

by these, and no other,



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Kurt Vonnegut "Breakfast of Champions"

Oct. 30th, 2009 | 12:06 am

As for myself: I had come to the conclusion that there was nothing sacred about myself or any human being, that we were all machines, doomed to collide and collide and collide. For want of anything better to do, we became fans of collisions. Sometimes I wrote well about collisions, which meant I was a writing machine in good repair. Sometimes I wrote badly, which meant I was a writing machine in bad repair. I no more harbored sacredness than did a Pontiac, a mousetrap, or a South Bend Lathe.


"Dear Sir, poor sir, brave sir." he read, "You are an experiment by the Creator of the Universe. You are the only creature in the entire Universe who has free will. You are the only one who has to figure out what to do next - and why. Everybody else is a robot, a machine.  Some persons seem to like you, and others seem to hate you, and you must wonder why.  They are simply liking machines and hating machines.  You are pooped and demoralized, " read Dwayne.  "Why wouldn't you be?  Of course it is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn't meant to be reasonable."

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Jonathan Safran Foer "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" and "Everything is Illuminated"

Jun. 27th, 2009 | 01:12 pm

He awoke each morning with the desire to do right, to be a good and meaningful person, to be, as simple as it sounded and as impossible as it actually was, happy. And during the course of each day his heart would descend from his chest into his stomach. By early afternoon he was overcome by the feeling that nothing was right, or nothing was right for him, and by the desire to be alone. By evening he was fulfilled: alone in the magnitude of his grief, alone in his aimless guilt, alone even in his loneliness. I am not sad, he would repeat to himself over and over, I am not sad. As if he might one day convince himself. Or fool himself. Or convince others--the only thing worse than being sad is for others to know that you are sad. I am not sad. I am not sad. Because his life had unlimited potential for happiness, insofar as it was an empty white room. He would fall asleep with his heart at the foot of his bed, like some domesticated animal that was no part of him at all. And each morning he would wake with it again in the cupboard of his rib cage, having become a little heavier, a little weaker, but still pumping. And by the midafternoon he was again overcome with the desire to be somewhere else, someone else, someone else somewhere else. I am not sad.


"'I feel too much. That's what's going on.'
'Do you think one can feel too much? Or just feel in the wrong ways?'
'My insides don't match up with my outsides.'
'Do anyone's insides and outsides match up?'
'I don't know. I'm only me.'
'Maybe that's what a person's personality is: the difference between the inside and outside.'
'But it's worse for me.'
'I wonder if everyone thinks it's worse for him.'
'Probably. But it really is worse for me.'"


But more than that, no unloving words were ever spoken, and everything was held up as another small piece of proof that it can be this way, it doesn't have to be that way; if there is no love in the world, we will make a new world, and we will give it heavy walls, and we will furnish it with soft red interiors, from the inside out, and give it a knocker that resonates like a diamond falling to a jeweler's felt so that we should never hear it.

Love me, because love doesn't exist, and I have tried everything that does.


I felt, that night, on that stage, under that skull, incredibly close to everything in the universe, but also extremely alone. I wondered, for the first time in my life, if life was worth all the work it took to live. What exactly made it worth it? What's so horrible about being dead forever, and not feeling anything, and not even dreaming? What's so great about feeling and dreaming?


Everything is the way it is because everything was the way it was. Sometimes I feel ensnared in this, as if no matter what I do, what will come has already been fixed.


I thought about life, about my life, the embarrassments, the little coincidences, the shadows of alarm clocks on bedside tables, I thought about my small victories and everything I'd seen destroyed. I'd swum through mink coats on my parents' bed while they hosted downstairs, I'd lost the only person with whom I could have spent my only life, I'd left behind a thousand tonnes of marble from which I could have released sculptures, I could have released myself from the marble of myself, I'd experienced joy, but not nearly enough, could there be enough? The end of suffering does not justify the suffering, and so there is no end to suffering, what a mess I am, I thought, what a fool, how foolish and narrow, how worthless, how pinched and pathetic, how helpless in the universe. None of my pets knows their own name. What kind of person am I? I flipped back, one page at a time:



SADNESS OF THE INTELLECT: Sadness of being misunderstood [sic]; Humor sadness; Sadness of love wit[hou]t release; Sadne[ss of be]ing smart; Sadness of not knowing enough words to [express what you mean]; Sadness of having options; Sadness of wanting sadness; Sadness of confusion; Sadness of domes[tic]ated birds, Sadness of fini[shi]ng a book; Sadness of remembering; Sadness of forgetting; Anxiety sadness...

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"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" (excerpt) Jonathan Safran Foer

Jun. 18th, 2009 | 02:59 pm

The beautiful girl didn’t know the time, she was in a hurry, she said, “Good luck,” I smiled, she hurried off, her skirt catching the air as she ran, sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all of the lives I’m not living. In this life, I’m sitting in an airport trying to explain myself to my unborn son, I’m filling the pages of this, my last daybook, I’m thinking of a loaf of black bread that I left out one night, the next morning I saw the outline of the mouse that had eaten through it, I cut the loaf into slices and saw the mouse at each moment, I’m thinking of Anna, I would give everything never to think about her again, I can only hold on to the things I want to lose, I’m thinking of the day we met, she accompanied her father to meet my father, they were friends, they had talked about art and literature before the war, but once the war began, they talked only about war, I saw her approaching when she was still far away, I was fifteen, she was seventeen, we sat together on the grass while out fathers spoke inside, how could we have been younger? We talked about nothing in particular, but it felt like we were talking about the most important things, we pulled fistfuls of grass and I asked her if she liked to read, she said, “No, but there are books that I love, love, love,” she said it just like that, three times, “Do you like to dance?” she asked,” Do you like to swim?” I asked, we looked at each other until it felt like everything would burst into flames, “Do you like animals?” “Do you like bad weather?” “Do you like your friends?” I told her about my sculpture, she said, “I’m sure you will be a great artist.” “How can you be sure?” “I just am.” I told her I already was a great artist, because that’s how unsure of myself I was, she said “I meant famous,” I told her that wasn’t what mattered to me, she asked what mattered to me, I told her I did it for its own sake, she laughed and said, “You don’t understand yourself,” I said, “Of course I do,” she said, “Of course,” I said, “I do!” She said, “there’s nothing wrong with not understanding yourself,” she saw through the shell of me into the center of me, “Do you like music?” Our fathers came out of the house and stood at the door, one of them asked, “What are we going to do?” I knew that our time together was almost over, I asked her if she liked sports, she asked me if I liked chess, I asked her if she liked fallen trees, she went home with her father, the center of me followed her, but I was left with the shell of me, I needed to see her again, I couldn’t explain my need to myself, and that’s why is was such a beautiful need, there’s nothing wrong with not understanding yourself. The next day, I walked half an hour to her house, fearing someone would see me on the road between our neighborhoods, too much to explain that I couldn’t explain, I wore a broad-brimmed hat and kept my head down, I heard footsteps of those passing me, and I didn’t know if they were a man’s, woman’s, or child’s, I felt as if I were walking the rungs of a ladder laid flat, I was too ashamed or embarrassed to make myself known to her, how would I have explained it, was I walking up the ladder or down? I hid behind a mound of earth that had been dug up to make a grave for some old books, literature was the only religion her father practices, when a book fell on the floor he kissed it, when he was done with a book he tried to give it away to someone who would love it, and if he couldn’t find a worthy recipient, he buried it, I looked for her all day but didn’t see her, not in the yard, not through a window, I promised myself I would stay until I found her, but as nights began to come in, I knew I had to go home, I hated myself for going, why couldn’t I be the kind of person who stays? I walked back with my head down, I couldn’t stop thinking about her even though I hardly knew her, I didn’t know what good would come of going to see her, but I knew that I needed to be near her, it occurred to me, as I walked back to her the next day with my head down, that she might not be thinking of me. The books had been buried, so I hid this time behind a group of trees, I imagined their roots wrapped around books, pulling nourishment from the pages, I imagined rings of letters in their trunks, I waited for hours, I saw your mother in one of the second-floor windows, she was just a girl, she looked back at me, but I didn’t see Anna. A leaf fell, it was yellow like paper, I had to go home, and then, the next day, I had to go back to her. I skipped me classes, the walk happened so quickly, my neck strained from hiding my face, my arm brushed the arm of someone passing – a strong, solid arm – and I tried to imagine whom it belonged to, a farmer, a stoneworker, a carpenter, a bricklayer. When I got to her house I hid beneath one of the back windows, a train rattled past in the distance, people coming, people leaving, soldiers, children, the window shook like a eardrum, I waited all day, did she go on some sort of trip, was she on a errand, was she hiding from me?

The harder I tried not to think about her, the more I though about her, the more impossible it became to explain, I went back to her house, I walked the road between our two neighborhoods with my head down, she wasn’t there again, I wanted to call her name, but I didn’t want her to hear my voice, all of my desire was based on that one brief exchange, held in the palm of our half hour together were one hundred million arguments, and impossible admissions, and silences. I had so much to ask her, “Do you like to lie on your stomach and look for things under the ice?” “Do you like plays?” “Do you like it when you can hear something before you can see it?” I went again the next day, the walk was exhausting, with each step I further convinced myself that she had thought badly of me, or worse, that she hadn’t thought of me at all, I walked with my head bowed, my broad brimmed cap pushed low, when you hide your face from the world, you can’t see the world, and that’s why, in the middle of my youth, in the middle of Europe, in between our two villages, on the verge of losing everything, I bumped into something and was knocked to the ground. It took me several breaths to gather myself together, at first I thought I’d walked into a tree, but then that tree became a person, who was also recovering on the ground, and then I saw that it was her, and she saw that it was me, “Hello,” I said, brushing myself off, “Hello,” she said. “This is so funny.” “Yes” How could it be explained? “Where are you going?” I asked. “Just for a walk,” she said, “and you?” “Just for a walk.” We helped each other up, she brushed leaves from my hair, I wanted to touch her hair, “That’s not true,” I said, not knowing what the next words out of my mouth would be, but wanting them to be mine, wanting, more than I’d ever wanted anything, to express the center of me and be understood.

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"Knee Play 5" from "Einstein on The Beach" (text by Samuel Johnson, music by Philip Glass)

Jun. 10th, 2009 | 08:28 pm

The day with its cares and perplexities is ended and the night is now upon us. The night should be a time of peace and tranquility, a time to relax and be calm. We have need of a soothing story to banish the disturbing thoughts of the day, to set at rest our troubled minds, and put at ease our ruffled spirits.

And what sort of story shall we hear ? Ah, it will be a familiar story, a story that is so very, very old, and yet it is so new. It is the old, old story of love.

Two lovers sat on a park bench with their bodies touching each other, holding hands in the moonlight.

There was silence between them. So profound was theire love for each other, they needed no words to express it. And so they sat in silence, on a park bench, with their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight.

Finally she spoke. "Do you love me, John ?" she asked. "You know I love you. darling," he replied. "I love you more than tongue can tell. You are the light of my life. my sun. moon and stars. You are my everything. Without you I have no reason for being."

Again there was silence as the two lovers sat on a park bench, their bodies touching, holding handls in the moonlight. Once more she spoke. "How much do you love me, John ?" she asked. He answered : "How' much do I love you ? Count the stars in the sky. Measure the waters of the oceans with a teaspoon. Number the grains of sand on the sea shore. Impossible, you say. Yes and it is just as impossible for me to say how much I love you.

"My love for you is higher than the heavens, deeper than Hades, and broader than the earth. It has no limits, no bounds. Everything must have an ending except my love for you."

There was more of silence as the two lovers sat on a park bench with their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight.

Once more her voice was heard. "Kiss me, John" she implored. And leaning over, he pressed his lips warmly to hers in fervent osculation...

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FB status poetry 1:47am 3/7/09 "Timeless"

Mar. 8th, 2009 | 12:46 am

It really is the small things . . .she closes her eyes, you'll find love living on her lips
sunshine - like u know i'm here to stay

1st person, 
amazing she still has more
(it's unbelievable, but it happened)

missing something on cloud 9 (doesn't get it)
wants to know
wants to take a risk
wants it

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"Waiting and Finding" Jack GIlbert

Feb. 26th, 2009 | 10:16 pm

 While he was in kindergarten, everybody wanted to play

the tomtoms when it came time for that. You had to

run in order to get there first, and he would not.

So he always had a triangle. He does not remember

how they played the tomtoms, but he sees clearly

their Chinese look. Red with dragons front and back

and gold studs around that held the drumhead tight.

If you had a triangle, you didn’t really make music.

You mostly waited while the tambourines and tomtoms

went on a long time. Until there was a signal for all

triangle people to hit them the right way. Usually once.

Then it was tomtoms and waiting some more. But what

he remembers is the sound of the triangle. A perfect,

shimmering sound that has lasted all his long life.

Fading out and coming again after a while. Getting lost

and the waiting for it to come again. Waiting meaning

without things. Meaning love sometimes dying out,

sometimes being taken away. Meaning that often he lives

silent in the middle of the world’s music. Waiting

for the best to come again. Beginning to hear the silence

as he waits. Beginning to like the silence maybe too much

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"Kafka on the Shore" (excerpts) Hariku Murakami

Feb. 21st, 2009 | 01:23 pm

Listen, every object's in flux.  The Earth, time, concepts, love, life, faith, justice, evil - they're all fluid and in transition.  They don't stay in one form or in one place forever.  The whole universe is like some big FedEx box.

...necessity is an independent concept.  It has a different structure from logic, morals, or meaning.  Its function lies entirely in the role it plays.  What doesn't play a role shouldn't exist.  What necessity requires does need to exist.  That's what you call dramaturgy.  Logic, morals, or meaning don't have anything to do with it.  It's all a question of relationality.


Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will be even worse the next time you open your eyes. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still.


God only exists in people’s minds. Especially in
, God’s always been a flexible concept. Look at what happened after the war. Douglas MacArthur ordered the divine emperor to quit being God, and he did, making a speech saying that he was just an ordinary person. So after 1946 he wasn’t God anymore. That’s what Japanese gods are like—they can be tweaked and adjusted. Some American chomping on a cheap pipe gives the order and prestochange-o—God’s no longer God. A very postmodern kind of thing. If you think God’s there, He is. If you don’t, He isn’t…


Having an object that symbolizes freedom might make a person happier than actually getting the freedom it represents.

Perhaps most of the people in the world aren't trying to be free, Kafka.  They just think they are.  It's all an illusion.  If they really were set free, most people would be in a real bind.  You'd better remember that.  People actually prefer not being free.


Everyone of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads—at least that’s where I imagine it—there’s a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in a while, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live forever in your own little private library.


The world would be a real mess if everybody was a genius.  Somebody's got to keep watch, take care of business...A world full of geniuses would have significant problems.


There are a lot of things that aren't your fault.  Or mine, either.  Not the fault of prophecies, or curses, or DNA, or absurdity.  Not the fault of Structuralism or the Third Industrial Revolution.  We all die and disappear, but that's because the mechanism of the world itself is built on destruction and loss.  Our lives are just shadows of that guiding principle.  Say the wind blows.  It can be a strong, violent wind or a gentle breeze.  But eventually every kind of wind dies out and disappears.  Wind doesn't have a form.  It's just a movement of air.  You should listen carefully, and then you'll understand the metaphor.


Symbols are important...We happen to have these rifles and soldiers' uniforms, sow e play the part of sentries.  That's our role.  Symbols guide us to the roles we play.

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"True Love" Barry Gifford

Feb. 9th, 2009 | 10:38 pm

Your sickness made me

a little sick, it’s

true—I still

feel it

    Mayakovsky got down

        on his knees

    and declared

                his love

to his last


        a few hours after

          he’d met her

Remember me

at the hotel

            in Paris,

        on my knees

          in the lift?

We’re all the same

men of too much passion

and a little talent—

    some a little more

                  than others

    We fool ourselves

      into thinking

                  we’re strong

          then complain

      the rest of our lives

          crippled by

           the consequences

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"My Autopsy" Michael Dickman

Dec. 24th, 2008 | 12:29 pm

There is a way

if we want

into everything


I’ll eat the chicken carbonara and you eat the veal, the olives, the

    small and glowing loaves of bread


I’ll eat the waiter, the waitress

floating through the candled dark in shiny black slacks

like water at night


The napkins, folded into paper boats, contain invisible Japanese



You eat the forks,

all the knives, asleep and waiting

on the white tables


What do you love?


I love the way our teeth stay long after we’re gone, hanging on

    despite worms or fire


I love our stomachs

turning over

the earth




There is a way

if we want

to stay, to leave




My lungs are made out of smoke ash sunlight air

particles of skin


The invisible floating universe of kisses, rising up in a sequinned

    helix of dust and cinnamon


Breathe in


Breathe out


I smoke

unfiltered Shepheard’s Hotel cigarettes

from a green box, with a dog on the cover, I smoke them

here, and I’ll smoke them






There is a way

if we want

out of drowning


I’m having

a Gimlet, a Caruso, a

Fallen Angel


A Manhattan, a Rattlesnake, a Rusty Nail, a Stinger, an Angel

    Face, a Corpse Reviver


What are you having?


I’m buying

I’m buying for the house

I’m standing the round


Wake me

from the dash of lemon juice,

the half measure of orange juice, apricot brandy,

and the two fingers of gin

that make up paradise




There is a way

if we want

to untie ourselves


The shining organs that bind us can help us through the new dark


There are lots of stories about intestines


People have been forced to hold them, alive and shocked awake


The doctors removed M’s smaller one and replaced it, the new

    bright plastic curled around the older brother


Birds drag them out of the dead and abandoned


Some people climb them into Heaven


Others believe we live in one

God’s intestine!


A conveyor belt of stars and saints


We tie and we loosen



and forgettable


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