Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Point Omega

The triumph of the merely human over the abstraction of ideas.

If all thought is a landscape then words are the houses we are contained by. The offer us shelter, perspective, cut the world down to our size. We sit on the porch, watch the sunrise, and pretend that the act of seeing makes it all ours, but the idea is still there when we turn away, stretching away to a conclusion we can barely imagine and never reach, and meanwhile the night howls at our door and we would be lost without these words to keep us safe.

If you see me from your window, wave.


Just finished reading Don DeLillo's new novel. An arrangement of hypnotic gestures in search of an idea.

Monday, April 19, 2010

When Push comes to



There are times when night does not fall. It sneaks up behind you and pushes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Kaczynski funeral

There is ash in heaven today. Flight is repudiated, gravity made more profound. In the dove-cotes of Europe the planes hold their wings out in impotent salute. And we walk under an invisible cloud, conscious of broken connections, of lost homecomings, of the absences that will stand beside us, their shoulders too light for our grief.

Truth is stranger than fiction, and more lyrical than poetry.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Oracles multiply in the wake of disaster.

Prophecies like an emperor's bastard children, imagining ways to inherit the throne.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Broth

The broth thickens as it cools.

Stray images rise to the surface with every turn of the spoon, forgotten ingredients, bubbles of dream. The debris of what might have been slipping easily beneath the surface.

Now and then he brings the ladle to his lips to see if the broth is ready, but there is always something missing, always something unnamed.

The pot is deep, the fire old. What meat there was dissolved long ago in the stirring. A rubbish of bones settles at the bottom, unsifted by disturbances that seem so very far away.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Going Downhill

Climbing up the mountain this morning
All I saw before me was the gap of the pass
But now the world opens wide below me
And I know from here it's all downhill

- Hu Ming-Xiang

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Looking Back

The soaring eagle nests among ruins
The moon returns to the barren branch
And the road winds back to the broken gate
Of the house where you lived so long ago.

- Hu Ming-Xiang

Saturday, April 03, 2010

A rain of characters

Yesterday your letter arrived like a cloud
And a shadow fell on my anxious heart
Until I opened myself to the rain of your characters
And when I looked up again the world was shining.

- Hu Ming-Xiang

Bare ruined choirs

The parliament of
branches is ruined. Winter
an argument lost.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Boats Passing

Stopping to rest on our journey downriver
We tied our boats together, side by side
But the knot on yours came undone in the night
And it has floated away I know not where

- Hu Ming-Xiang

Considering letters

Let us consider letters--how they come at breakfast, and at night, with their yellow stamps and their green stamps, immortalized by the postmark--for to see one's own envelope on another's table is to realize how soon deeds sever and become alien. Then at last the power of the mind to quit the body is manifest, and perhaps we fear or hate or wish annihilated this phantom of ourselves, lying on the table. Still, there are letters that merely say how dinner's at seven; others ordering coal; making appointments. The hand in them is scarcely perceptible, let alone the voice or the scowl. Ah, but when the post knocks and the letter comes always the miracle seems repeated--speech attempted. Venerable are letters, infinitely brave, forlorn, and lost.

Life would split asunder without them. "Come to tea, come to dinner, what's the truth of the story? have you heard the news? life in the capital is gay; the Russian dancers...." These are our stays and props. These lace our days together and make of life a perfect globe. And yet, and yet ... when we go to dinner, when pressing finger-tips we hope to meet somewhere soon, a doubt insinuates itself; is this the way to spend our days? the rare, the limited, so soon dealt out to us--drinking tea? dining out? And the notes accumulate. And the telephones ring. And everywhere we go wires and tubes surround us to carry the voices that try to penetrate before the last card is dealt and the days are over. "Try to penetrate," for as we lift the cup, shake the hand, express the hope, something whispers, Is this all? Can I never know, share, be certain? Am I doomed all my days to write letters, send voices, which fall upon the tea-table, fade upon the passage, making appointments, while life dwindles, to come and dine? Yet letters are venerable; and the telephone valiant, for the journey is a lonely one, and if bound together by notes and telephones we went in company, perhaps--who knows?--we might talk by the way.

Well, people have tried. Byron wrote letters. So did Cowper. For centuries the writing-desk has contained sheets fit precisely for the communications of friends. Masters of language, poets of long ages, have turned from the sheet that endures to the sheet that perishes, pushing aside the tea-tray, drawing close to the fire (for letters are written when the dark presses round a bright red cave), and addressed themselves to the task of reaching, touching, penetrating the individual heart.
Were it possible! But words have been used too often; touched and turned, and left exposed to the dust of the street. The words we seek hang close to the tree. We come at dawn and find them sweet beneath the leaf."

- Virginia Woolf Jacob's Room

Ah, the joys of re-reading. I've probably said it before, but it deserves saying more often: Woolf is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

The complete text of Jacob's Room (not Woolf's greatest novel, perhaps, but the one where she really finds her voice) here.