This week’s selections are a sampling of some of the most popular posts we’ve run at our daily Words site, Words for the Year. Are you following us there yet? It’s one post per day (sometimes two if both Jennie and I post), usually a poem or a quote. It’s a low-key, no-pressure site; comments and likes are totally optional and never expected. And while the daily site is a labor of love for us, we are committed to seeing our 2014 goal through, so it’s not too late to join us.
On a similar note, Words for the Weekend is a personal labor of love too for both me and Jennie. Our lives have grown a bit chaotic though, so we’ll be reducing our post schedule so that we can continue to bring you quality and heart-felt selections for every volume. I’m not sure what our schedule will be, as I don’t want to commit to something if we can’t follow through, but I think it’s reasonable to expect two volumes a month, either every other weekend or maybe two on, two off; we’ll see.
Words is a refuge, it’s a place to relax and rejuvenate and read at your leisure. We want the volumes to be little surprise vacations in your in-box; we want you to smile when you see them. So I really think the reduced and flexible schedule will be a good thing for us all.
Relax, rejuvenate, read, and enjoy . . . and we’ll see you in the very near future, Christy and Jennie
This shirt is old and faded
All the color’s washed away
I’ve had it now for more damn years
Than I can count anyway
I wear it beneath my jacket
With the collar turned up high
So old I should replace it
But I’m not about to try
“Someday, sometime, you will be sitting somewhere. A berm overlooking a pond in Vermont. The lip of the Grand Canyon at sunset. A seat on the subway. And something bad will have happened: You will have lost someone you loved, or failed at something at which you badly wanted to succeed. And sitting there, you will fall into the center of yourself. You will look for some core to sustain you. And if you have been perfect all your life and have managed to meet all the expectations of your family, your friends, your community, your society, chances are excellent that there will be a black hole where that core ought to be. I don’t want anyone I know to take that terrible chance. And the only way to avoid it is to listen to that small voice inside you that tells you to make mischief, to have fun, to be contrarian, to go another way. George Eliot wrote, ‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’ It is never too early, either.”
~ Anna Quindlen, Being Perfect
“10. Stories are made of scenes. A good scene needs a monkey. Which is to say, two characters talking while standing (or sitting) in a room, or walking down the beach, or riding in a car, aren’t usually enough to make an interesting scene. No matter how funny or interesting or important the dialogue is, the scene will still be boring if that’s all that’s going on. But if your characters are driving down the freeway and trying to talk about something important and there’s a monkey leaping around the car’s interior, flipping the headlights on and off, honking the horn and pooping in the ash-tray—then you’ve got a scene. Of course, not every scene can have a literal monkey in it, so you have to find the particular “monkey” that’s right for your particular scene—something for your readers to look at while the characters talk. “
there are so many tictoc
clocks everywhere telling people
what toctic time it is for
tictic instance five toc minutes toc
past six tic
Spring is not regulated and does
not get out of order nor do
its hands a little jerking move
over numbers slowly
we do not
wind it up it has no weights
springs wheels inside of
its slender self no indeed dear
nothing of the kind.
(So,when kiss Spring comes
we’ll kiss each kiss other on kiss the kiss
lips because tic clocks toc don’t make
a toctic difference
to kisskiss you and to
What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. It’s full tonight.
So we go
and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, makes me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven. Thus we sit, myself
thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up
into my face. As though I were just as wonderful
as the perfect moon.
“The Sweetness of Dogs” by Mary Oliver from Dog Songs
Some like the mountains, some like the seashore,
Jean-Paul Belmondo says
to the camera in the opening scene.
Some like to sleep face up,
some like to sleep on their stomachs,
I am thinking here in bed–
some take the shape of murder victims
flat on their backs all night,
others float face down on the dark waters.
Then there are those like me
who prefer to sleep on their sides,
knees brought up to the chest,
head resting on a crooked arm
and a soft fist touching the chin,
which is the way I would like to be buried,
curled up in a coffin
in a fresh pair of cotton pajamas,
a down pillow under my weighty head.
After a lifetime of watchfulness
and nervous vigilance,
I will be more than ready for sleep,
so never mind the dark suit,
the ridiculous tie
and the pale limp hands crossed on the chest.
Lower me down in my slumber,
tucked into myself
like the oldest fetus on earth,
and while the cows look over the stone wall
of the cemetery, let me rest here
in my earthy little bedroom,
my lashes glazed with ice,
the roots of trees inching nearer,
and no dreams to frighten me anymore.
I will keep
The big clay
I will keep
In its sturdy
I will keep
I will keep
In my house
I will keep
It is now
I will keep
I will keep
I will keep
I will keep
You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.
– Aaron Freeman, “You Want a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral” (viaNPR: Planning Ahead Can Make a Difference in the End)
“Please don’t expect me to always be good and kind and loving. There are times when I will be cold and thoughtless and hard to understand.”
– Sylvia Plath
If I should have a daughter, instead of mom, she’s going to call me Point B,
because that way she knows that no matter what happens,
at least she can always find her way to me.
And I am going to paint the Solar Systems on the backs of her hands,
so she has to learn the entire universe before she can say ‘Oh, I know that like the back of my hand’
And she’s going to learn that this life will hit you,
in the face,
wait for you to get back up, just so it can kick you in the stomach
but getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.
There is hurt, fear that cannot be fixed by band aids or poetry
so the first time she realizes that Wonder Woman isn’t coming
I’ll make sure she knows she does not have to wear the cape all by herself
because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers,
your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal.
Believe me, I’ve tried
And baby, I’ll tell her, don’t keep your nose up in the air like that
I know that trick, I’ve done it a million times
You’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail
back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire
to see if you can save him.
Or else find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him
But I know she will anyway, so instead, I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate
and rainboots nearby.
Because there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix.
Ok, there’s a few heartbreaks that chocolate can’t fix,
but that’s what the rainboots are for because rain will
wash away everything if you let it.
I want her to look at the world through the underside of a glass bottomed boat
To look through a microscope at the galaxies that exist on the pinpoint of a human mind
Because that’s the way my mom taught me.
That there’ll be days like this
that there’s be days like this my mama said
When you open your hands to catch, and wind up with only blisters and bruises.
When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly
And the very people you want to save are the ones standing on your cape
When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment
and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say thank you
because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop
kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it is sent away.
You will put the win in winsome … lose some
You will put the star in starting over and over.
And no matter how many landmines erupt in a minute
be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.
And yes, on a scale from one to overtrusting, I am pretty damn naive.
But I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar.
It can crumble so easily.
But don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.
Baby, I’ll tell her, remember your mama is a worrier
and your papa is a warrior.
And you’re the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.
Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and
always apologize when you’ve done something wrong
but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining,
your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing.
And when they finally hand you a heartache,
when they slip war and hatred under your door and offer you handouts on street corners
of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that
really ought to meet your mother.
“I Love You More” by Doug Savage, SavageChickens.com