"Music is God"
Like in the Chinese restaurant, it is
the perfect forethought and timing with which
the slices of orange arrive
on a small plate with the bill.
So, while you are paying what is owed,
The sweet juice fills your mouth for free.
And the fortune cookie too
which offers you the pleasure of Breakage
and then the other pleasure of Discovery,
extracting and reading the little slip of paper
with a happiness that you maybe conceal,
the way the child you once were
is even now concealed inside you.
Maybe you will marry a red-haired woman.
Maybe you are going to take a long journey.
Maybe a red-haired woman will steal your car and take a long journey.
Maybe you will be buried next to your mother.
And when the people you are dining with
smile and read their fortunes out loud,
and ask you to tell them your own,
you smile and tell them a lie,
and they laugh and think you are weird and funny and sad
and you know that you
are all of those things,
but you don’t tell them the truth
because you don’t trust anyone,
and you never have:
that is your fortune.
- tony hoagland
The World Has Need of You
"everything here seems to need us…"
I can hardly imagine it
as I walk to the lighthouse, feeling the ancient
prayer of my arms swinging
in counterpoint to my feet.
Here I am, suspended
between the sidewalk and twilight,
the sky dimming so fast it seems alive.
What if you felt the invisible
tug between you and everything?
A boy on a bicycle rides by,
his white shirt open, flaring
behind him like wings.
It’s a hard time to be human. We know too much
and too little. Does the breeze need us?
The cliffs? The gulls?
If you’ve managed to do one good thing,
the ocean doesn’t care.
But when Newton’s apple fell toward the earth,
the earth, ever so slightly, fell
toward the apple as well.
Those Of Us Who Think We Know
Those of us who think we know
the same secrets
are silent together most of the time,
for us there is eloquence
in desire, and for a while
when in love and exhausted
it’s enough to nod like shy horses
and come together
in a quiet ceremony of tongues
it’s in disappointment we look for words
to convince us
the spaces between stars are nothing
to worry about,
it’s when those secrets burst
in that emptiness between our hearts
and the lumps in our throats.
And the words we find
are always insufficient, like love,
though they are often lovely
and all we have
- Stephen Dunn
The Revered Poet Instructs Her Students on the Importance of Revision
by Kim Addonizio
Listen. I’m trying to tell you
how easily the poem you thought
was a beautiful woman becomes
cronelike by a kind of witchery.
How easy, you thought, to write a poem:
you scrawled last night in your journal
and in the morning, by a kind of witchery,
the poem was born, perfect, immortal.
But soon, too soon, what you scrawled in your journal
begins moaning, pitches forward and wails, hating
itself, the fact that it was ever born—imperfect, mortal
and suffering the way everything suffers,
every moaning lover, every wailing child,
each creature destined to be isolate and alone
and suffering the way everything suffers,
but I said that, didn’t I, explained already about suffering
and about each one of you, destined to be isolate and alone
because writing is lonely work, is what I’m trying to say,
did I say that, did I explain already? I’m suffering
through your poems, and my own, oh God I feel
so desperately lonely is what I’m trying to say,
look at you you’re so young all of you,
I don’t care about your poems, or my own,
do you know how fast it goes, all I want is to be
as young as all of you, look at you
you’re so fucking clueless, oh I want
my life back, where did it go, I want it all to be
different but I’m standing here, lecturing again—
on what, on what? Oh fuck it,
listen, I was a beautiful woman,
you think I want to be standing here, lecturing? Look again.
Listen. I’m trying to tell you.
[student name redacted],
all <3 for roxanegay:
1. Read diversely.
3. See items 1 and 2.
4. Accept that there is no one way to make it as a writer and that the definition of making it is fluid and tiered.
5. Accept that sometimes literary success is political and/or about who you know and that’s not likely to change. Yes,…