(Philip Larkin has a poem about being twenty-six, but big surprise, it is super mega depressing! I’m sure if Phil had ever had a night out on the town in Medellin with some guaro during the Feria de las Flores, he would have had a much more optimistic perspective…)
May these 7 poems influence me with strength, wisdom, perspective and insight over the next year, my Amy Winehouse-Jimi Hendrix-Kurt Cobain-Janis Joplin-Mayan Calendar year. Ready or not, here we go.
At Twenty-Eight (Amy Fleury)
It seems I get by on more luck than sense,
not the kind brought on by knuckle to wood,
breath on dice, or pennies found in the mud.
I shimmy and slip by on pure fool chance.
At turns charmed and cursed, a girl knows romance
as coffee, red wine, and books; solitude
she counts as daylight virtue and muted
evenings, the inventory of absence.
But this is no sorry spinster story,
just the way days string together a life.
Sometimes I eat soup right out of the pan.
Sometimes I don’t care if I will marry.
I dance in my kitchen on Friday nights,
singing like only a lucky girl can.
The Loneliest Job in the World (Tony Hoagland)
As soon as you begin to ask the question, Who loves me?
you are completely screwed, because
the next question is How Much?
and then it is hundreds of hours later,
and you are still hunched over
your flowcharts and abacus,
trying to decide if you have gotten enough.
This is the loneliest job in the world:
to be an accountant of the heart.
It is late at night. You are by yourself,
and all around you, you can hear
the sounds of people moving
in and out of love,
pushing the turnstiles, putting
their coins in the slots,
paying the price which is asked,
which constantly changes.
No one knows why.
The Resemblance Between Your Life and a Dog (Robert Bly)
I never intended to have this life, believe me—
It just happened. You know how dogs turn up
At a farm, and they wag but can’t explain.
It’s good if you can accept your life—you’ll notice
Your face has become deranged trying to adjust
To it. Your face thought your life would look
Like your bedroom mirror when you were ten.
That was a clear river touched by mountain wind.
Even your parents can’t believe how much you’ve changed.
Sparrows in winter, if you’ve ever held one, all feathers,
Burst out of your hand with a fiery glee.
You see them later in hedges. Teachers praise you,
But you can’t quite get back to the winter sparrow.
Your life is a dog. He’s been hungry for miles,
Doesn’t particularly like you, but gives up, and comes in.
Air and Light and Time and Space (Bukowski)
“—you know, I’ve either had a family, a job, something
has always been in the
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
for the first time in my life I’m going to have a place and
the time to
no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your
you’re going to create blind
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
the whole city trembles in earthquakes, bombardment,
flood and fire.
baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
We Were Emergencies (Buddy Wakenfield) [excerpt]
and repeat after me with your heart:
“I no longer need you to **** me as hard as I hated myself.”
Make love to me
like you know I am better
than the worst thing I ever did.
I’m new to this.
But I have seen nearly every city from a rooftop
I have realized
that the moon
did not have to be full for us to love it,
that we are not tragedies
stranded here beneath it,
that if my heart
every time I fell from love
I’d be able to offer you confetti by now.
But hearts don’t break,
they bruise and get better.
We were never tragedies.
We were emergencies.
You call 9 – 1 – 1.
Tell them I’m having a fantastic time.
Annunciation (Marie Howe)
Even if I don’t see it again — nor ever feel it
I know it is — and that if once it hailed me
it ever does –
And so it is myself I want to turn in that direction
not as towards a place, but it was a tilting
as one turns a mirror to flash the light to where
it isn’t — I was blinded like that — and swam
in what shone at me
only able to endure it by being no one and so
specifically myself I thought I’d die
from being loved like that.
If God Invited You To A Party (Hafiz)
Invited you to a party
In the ballroom tonight
Will be my special
How would you then treat them
And I know
There is no one in this world
Is not upon
His Jeweled Dance