“—we can lie on the bed and imagine
– Allen Ginsberg, Collected Poems 1947-1997
If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me
And just forget the world?
Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden
That’s bursting into life
Let’s waste time
Around our heads
“Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol
The Quiet World
In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.
When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.
Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.
When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.
– Jeffrey McDaniel, “The Quiet World” from The Forgiveness Parade. Copyright © 1998 by Jeffrey McDaniel
At 7:35 A.M, you lay your tired body on mine
before peeling off, like a slow band-aid.
At 8:40 you sprint home and make instant coffee.
At 9:45 we finally drink it, cold.
I finish your leftover half.
By 10:50 you are already breathless.
I live for every time we overlap.
When 11:55 comes I spend the entire minute convincing you to stay.
You never do.
By noon I put my hands on your shoulders and say, “Baby,
you’re getting thin. All this running in circles and barely sitting down to eat.”
At 1:05 you tell me that while you were gone,
15,300 babies were born.
At 2:10 you don’t say a word,
just come in and kiss me for sixty seconds straight.
At 3:15 we sit quiet, listening to rain falling everywhere
in the world at once: all 15,000 tons.
At 4:20 we pull a little from the tight joint I keep behind your ear.
You do not inhale.
At 5:25 you meet me for happy hour.
My neck already salted, a lime wedged in my teeth,
a shot of tequila sitting on the bar.
At 6:30 I hear the ticking.
I count your heartbeat like seconds between thunderclaps.
By 7:35 I can see you in the distance,
each second a tease until you drape over me.
We always love quick and you never let me hold you.
I dream of drinking you through a straw.
At 8:40 you watch my beard grow 0.00027 of an inch.
At 9:45 we do not speak.
Too many people have died since we last met.
At 10:50 we pray for a meteor,
at least a clumsy kid to spill sugar in our gears.
11:55 is my favorite.
We’re only apart for mere minutes.
But at midnight you’ll apologize sixty times
because it will always be like this.
At 1:04 AM I am already sleeping.
It’s exhausting loving someone
who is constantly running away.
by Maxine Kumin
Afterward, the compromise.
Bodies resume their boundaries
These legs, for instance, mine.
Your arms take you back in.
Spoons of our fingers, lips
admit their ownership.
The bedding yawns, a door
blows aimlessly ajar
and overhead, a plane
singsongs coming down.
Nothing is changed, except
there was a moment when
the wolf, the mongering wolf
who stands outside the self
lay lightly down, and slept.
“But if you knew you might not be able to see it again tomorrow, everything would suddenly become special and precious, wouldn’t it?”
– Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
“There are so few people given us to love. I want to tell my daughters this, that each time you fall in love it is important, even at nineteen. Especially at nineteen. And if you can, at nineteen, count the people you love on one hand, you will not, at forty, have run out of fingers on the other. There are so few people given us to love and they all stick.”
– Anne Enright, The Gathering
“I overcame myself, the sufferer; I carried my own ashes to the mountains; I invented a brighter flame for myself.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra
“When a poet digs himself into a hole, he doesn’t climb out. He digs deeper, enjoys the scenery, and comes out the other side enlightened.”
– Criss Jami, Venus in Arms
“I let myself feel good for no reason. I let joy happen right there and then, and it’s inside me and around me, it’s the lights on the road ahead, the clean black of the night, the cold air coming through the window. It’s like hearing a song for the first time and being struck by it, haunted by it, wanting to hunt it down and catch it, because the song sums up something you didn’t know you wanted to say, giving you chills and goose bumps. But even as you find out what it’s called, and you’re thinking you’ll download it, you’ve already lost. Because the feeling was right then and there and it’s already fading like a dream.
You just have to see those times for what they are: a chance to look down at your life. And when you do, you see it’s a skin made up of shiny little moments.”
– Kirsty Eagar, Raw Blue
The First Time
by Mindy Nettifee
“…some people think the truth is the worst thing that can happen.
The truth is not the worst thing that can happen.”
The first time your heart was torn from your chest,
You thought you were dying.
You knew you could not live with the empty space.
So you replaced your heart with metaphors
And set out to create a world where the metaphor was unbreakable.
Now look what you’ve done—
You can’t breathe so you write.
You can’t hurt so you drink rum and pour our pirate chanties.
You can’t want revenge so you leave.
When I see you I have two thoughts:
You are the reason The Smith’s wrote songs,
And my god, you are beautiful.
You are so beautiful
Blinking stars go blind.
But I can see this is going to get ugly.
The metaphors don’t make you feel whole anymore.
You sell out your deepest insecurities for a handful of laughs.
This life has you wound so tight you make grandfather clocks look relaxed.
You hold your body like banks hold money—all locked up.
Your shoulders are glass rocks waiting for the next attack.
But you’ve got it all wrong.
You don’t survive history.
History survives you.
There is no breakthrough without breakdown.
If you’re going to break, shatter.
No limp-legged dog excuses.
No messing with this bullet proof vest fury
So popular with the cops and the presidents.
You’ve got to break like Texas.
You’ve got to take the pain from the safety valve of your heart
And return it to your fists.
Fight your better judgment ‘till you’re sinister again,
‘till your body remembers what it already knows how to do—
and manifest grief.
Scream torches ‘till you embarrass the enlightened.
Please. No more polite conversations with your death wish.
Give it something useful to do.
Change your life.
Cause I can’t stand to see you like this.
So blue, my eyes turn green in your presence.
Listen—you are so beautiful,
Grass pushes through sidewalk cracks just to kiss your feet.
Maybe no one ever told you,
But the heart IS a metaphor.
Yours is growing so strong
You’ll have your rhythm back any day now—
Loving like rumours spread.
Dreaming like lunatic spacemen jump from their suits.
Living like you never forgot how.
“Most people don’t grow up. It’s too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That’s the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don’t grow up. Not really. They get older. But to grow up costs the earth, the earth. It means you take responsibility for the time you take up, for the space you occupy. It’s serious business. And you find out what it costs us to love and to lose, to dare and to fail. And maybe even more, to succeed. What it costs, in truth. Not superficial costs – anybody can have that – I mean in truth.”
– Maya Angelou, from The Art of Fiction No. 119, the Paris Review
“I went to the guest room and pretended to write. I hit the spacebar again and again and again. My life story was spaces.”
– Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Broad and Yellow is the Evening Light
by Anna Akhmatova
Broad and yellow is the evening light
Tender the April coolness
You are so many years late,
Nevertheless I am glad you came.
Sit here close to me
And look on joyfully:
Here is a blue composition book
With the poems of my childhood.
Forgive me that I ignored the sun
And that I lived in sorrow
Forgive, forgive that I
Mistook too many others for you.
Anna Akhmatova (1889 – 1966)
“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.
[. . .]
Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that – I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much – so very much to learn.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
And I never hit the Spring so hard
A new born song on an old guitar
And I know what it means to be alive
She drives me crazy in all kinds of ways
Love kicked my head and took down my name
Here she comes
There we go
I feel so light and I move like a bird
Hard as a rose sharp as a word
Here she comes
There we go
When I die
Where I go I don’t know
Through the sky maybe down low
Whichever is for real
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.
[. . .]
I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoyed. With love until next time, Christy and Jennie
As always, you’re welcome to join us at Words for the Year where we share one new Words selection every day.