Sunday, July 31, 2011

Like snow, falling

"poetry lights up life from time to time like snow, falling, and you have achieved a great deal already if you have kept eyes to see it."

- Philippe Jaccottet, from Seedtime

(translated from the French by Andre Lefevere)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

In Short

"It seems to me that when you write a short story, you have to cut off both the beginning and the end. We writers do most of our lying in those spaces. You must write shorter, to make it as short as possible.”

- Anton Chekhov

(from: the NYRB blog)

Shades of Eternal Night

R.I.P. Cy Twombly

[Image taken from here]

Sunday, June 12, 2011

All in the mind

Reading Marcia Angell's piece in the latest NYRB on the treatment of mental illness (an interesting read btw), I found myself wondering if it really makes sense to speak of placebo effects in the context of mental disease. If you believe you're less depressed, aren't you, in fact, less depressed? And if a course of treatment can make you believe you're less depressed, then doesn't that make it a valid cure for your condition, even if it has no chemical or physiological benefits whatsoever?

In other words, what if the most effective treatment for depression were to create the illusion of treatment: administering what are basically sugar pills, but convincing the patient, through a combination of advertising and pseudo-scientific research that he / she is getting better? A treatment that would work just so long as the illusion lasted?

Sunday, June 05, 2011


All winter the snow made the roads impassable
I wrote page after page thinking of you.

Now the water flows free down the mountain
And I must decide if these words are worth sending.

- Hu Ming-Xiang

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Sound of the Mountain

You say you don't understand
Why I listen to the mountains.

If I could find a true stranger
I could explain myself.

- Hu Ming-Xiang

The Cat and The Butterflies

I sit in the yard and watch
My cat chasing butterflies.

I admire his technique.
I hope they get away.

- Hu Ming-Xiang

The Open Road

No more shall I be tempted
By the welcoming road.

He who has no door
Cannot leave it open.

- Hu Ming-Xiang

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Friendship of Strangers

Brief as a storm is the friendship of strangers
Just two days since we first met

Yet the sound of laughter flooding my house
Makes me forget the rain outside.

- Hu Ming-Xiang

Home is where the hatred is

privacy of self-

the need to be/long

these are the songs
you were born to

battle lines drawn
in the powdered cocaine

white as the snow
on TV

a frenzy contained

you claim
for your own


more a direction
than a state

an addiction
to hate

you run away from
come back to



Where does it stop?

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?

Or the cops.

You think this is a joke?

this is your mouth talking smack
these are your words up in smoke

this is the man at the door
come to repossess your pride

this is the voice you keep inside

this is the rainbow of no choice
on a blood-slicked street

this is the sound of your feet
in the neighborhood of soul

the sound of defeat

the sound of illegal heartbeats
brought and sold
on every street corner

this is the dream of honor

of violence betrayed

in words
in breath

the instruments we have left
uniting to say

the day of your death
was a black Black day.

R.I.P. Gil Scott-Heron


the song this post takes its title from

NY Times obit
New Yorker profile

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Awaiting the storm

Having touched the great river with my fingertips
I am ready to offer my hands to the rain

The wind blows from the North tonight
And the forest is full of empty gestures.

- Hu Ming-Xiang