Thursday, January 31, 2013

everything is fine,

everything is fine, everything is stable

i am worth a hundred
horses scrawny with certain
blinders          jumping
up i try to lift
your tone drops your mouth
& time, again,
disapproves            i kneel
you trample

dust, everywhere

water washes faces
dirt pats & spits & sizzles
hands pour water
sand sinks into        hands

the latch is turned
there is floor
every direction shit
is mucked          this,
a stall
no feed, no flowers
early for the morning, bones
dry as a tongue


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

of the virtuous

from thus spoke zarathustra by friedrich nietzsche

"one has to speak with thunder and heavenly fireworks to feeble and dormant senses.
but the voice of beauty speaks softly: it steals into only the most awakened soulds.
gently my mirror laughed at you, you virtuous, today.  and thus came its voice to me: 'they want to be - paid as well!'
you want to be paid as well, you virtuous!  do you want reward for virtue and heaven for earth and eternity for your today?
and are you now angry with me because i teach that there is no reward-giver nor paymaster?  and truly, i do not even teach that virtue is its own reward.
alas, this is my sorrow: reward and punishment have been lyingly introduced into the foundation of things - and now even into the foundation of your souls, you virtuous!
but my words, like the snout of the boar, shall tear up the foundations of your souls; you shall call me a ploughshare.
all the secrets of your heart shall be brought to light; and when you lie, grubbed up and broken, in the sunlight, then your falsehood will be separated from your truth.
for this is your truth: you are too pure for the dirt of the words: revenge, punishment, reward, retribution.
you love your virtue as the mother her child; but when was it heard of a mother wanting to be paid for her love?
your virtue is your dearest self.  the ring's desire is in you: to attain itself again - every ring struggles and turns itself to that end.
and every work of your virtue is like a star extinguished: its light is for ever travelling - and when will it cease from travelling?
thus the light of your virtue is still travelling even when its task is done  though it be forgotten and dead, its beam of light still lives and travels.
that your virtue is your Self and not something alien, a skin, a covering: that is the truth from the bottom of your souls, you virtuous!
but there are indeed those to whom virtue is a writhing under the whip: and you have listened too much to their cries!
and with others, their vices grow lazy and they call that virtue; and once their hatred and jealousy stretch themselves to rest, their 'justice' becomes lively and rubs its sleepy eyes.
and there are others who are drawn downward: their devils draw them.  but the more they sink, the more brightly shines their eye and the longing for their god.
alas, their cry, too, has come to your ears, you virtuous: 'what i am not, that, that to me is god and virtue!'
and there are others who go along, heavy and creaking, like carts carrying stones downhill: they speak much of the dignity and virtue - their brake they call virtue!
and there are others who are like household clocks wound up: they repeat their tick-tock and want people to call tick-tock - virtue.
truly, i have fun with these: wherever i find such clocks i shall wind them up with my mockery; let them chime as well as tick!
and others are proud of their handful of righteousness and for its sake commit wanton outrage upon all things: so that the world is drowned in their unrighteousness.
alas, how ill the word 'virtue' sounds in their mouths!  and when they say: 'i am just,' it always sounds like: 'i am revenged!'
they want to scratch out the eyes of their enemies with their virtue; and they raise themselves only in order to lower others.
and again, there are those who sit in their swamp and speak thus from the rushes: 'virtue - that means to sit quietly in the swamp.
'we bit nobody and avoid him who wants to bite: and in everything we hold the opinion that is given us.'
and again, there are those who like posing and think: virtue is a sort of pose.
their knees are always worshipping and their hands are glorifications of virtue, but their heart knows nothing of it.
and again, there are those who hold it a virtue to say: 'virtue is necessary'; but fundamentally they believe only that the police are necessary.
and many a one who cannot see the sublime in man calls it virtue that he can see his baseness all-too-closely: thus he calls his evil eye virtue.
and some want to be edified and raised up and call it virtue; and others want to be thrown down - and call it virtue too.
and in that way almost everyone firmly believes he is participating in virtue; and at least asserts he is an expert on 'good' and 'evil'.
but zarathustra has not come to say to all these liars and fools: 'what do you know of virtue?  what could you know of virtue?'
no, he has come that you, my friends, might grow weary of the old words you have learned from the fools and liars.
that you might grow weary of the words 'reward', 'retribution', 'punishment', 'righteous revenge'.
that you might grow weary of saying: 'an action is good when it is unselfish.'
ah, my friends!  that your Self be in the action, as the mother is in the child: let that be your maxim of virtue!
truly, i have taken a hundred maxims and your virtues' dearest playthings away from you; and you scold me now, as children scold.
they were playing on the sea-shore - then came a wave and swept their playthings into the deep: now they cry.
but the same wave shall bring them new playthings and pour out new coloured sea-shells before them!
thus they will be consoled; and you too, my friends, shall, like them, have your consolations - and new coloured sea-shells!

thus spoke zarathustra.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

really alive

from welcome to the desert of the real by slavoj zizek

"when we try to preserve the authentic intimate sphere of privacy against the onslaught of instrumental/objectivized 'alienated' public exchange, it is privacy itself which becomes a totally objectivized 'commodified' sphere."

"today, the only way of breaking out of the constraints of 'alienated' commodification is to invent a new collectivity."

"how authentic zen differs from its western appropriation which reinscribes it into the matrix of 'discovery of one's true Self'. . . the logic of an 'inner journey', brought to the end, confronts us with the void of subjectivity and thus compels the subject to assume his or her full desubjectivization; the paradoxical pascalian conclusion of this radical version of zen is that, since there is no inner substance to religion, the essence of faith is proper decorum, obedience to the ritual as such.  what western buddhism is not ready to accept is thus that the ultimate victim of the 'journey into one's Self' is this Self itself."

"what if we are 'really alive' only if we commit ourselves with an excessive intensity which puts us beyond 'mere life'?  what if, when we focus on mere survival, even if it is qualified as 'having a good time', what we ultimately lose is life itself?"

"what if a hysteric is truly alive in his or her permanent excessive questioning of his or her existence, while an obsessional is the very model of choosing a 'life in death'?  that is to say, is not the ultimate aim of his or her compulsive rituals to prevent the 'thing' from happening - this 'thing' being the excess of life itself?  is not the catastrophe he or she fears the fact that, finally, something will really happen to him or her?"

"what makes life 'worth living' is the very excess of life: the awareness that there is something for which one is ready to risk one's life (we may call this excess 'freedom', 'honor', 'dignity', 'autonomy', etc.).  only when we are ready to take this risk are we really alive."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

today i explode in this

from the poem bird: a memoir by susan mitchell

music, i could understand that need.  but this cry through
which the hawk funnels itself.  this narrow, this pinched -
what if all i had were two-line stanzas?  but a scream
is not language, not of any language part.  the same scream
over and over, whipping me, lashing.  the way sexual
desire is always the same feeling, the same channel
opening up between the legs, clawing

the body, finding the weakest spot to break out of.
tearing the body apart just to get out.
to open its mouth onto the other.
to suck lips, other lips, into itself.
and biting, biting, biting.
knowing in advance, this is how it's going to be.  and yet,
surprised, always the same surprise.

have i misled you?  did you think memoir meant some chronicle
of a great or splendid or tumultuous or even hysterical
century in which the famous lived?  did you expect the tone
and hue of the heroic?  some pilgrim's progress?  some
summa, some summing-up?  what, anyway, is a life?  why not
a memoir of the never finished, the only partly done?  or,
the not said, the not sung?  the underdrill of trill?

sometimes i think this, our life on earth, is an egg
to break out of.  i am claustrophobic.  into the next, into
the come-after and the come-what-may i shall peck and peck
myself, all naked of language, with only my meter
to sound the way.  what is it i am starved for?
eternity?  infinity?  forever?  or some
other word for emptiness?

to which, hush.  i stillness for stillness give, i silence
for silence.  if i am built around something i can never
understand, must i its keeper be?  must i caretake
the indigestible?  the secrets that interest me
are those from myself i keep, holes in which i lurk
by me undetected, so smoothly i the depth
of shadow mix and match.

heavenly perfume one body takes from another.  song
sung without opening the mouth.  confession is not
the same as intimacy.  and language does not open
the territory.  more like a bird calling, always up ahead,
yearning me deeper in.  here is a riddle for you,
unheimlicher bird.  what is so strange
it feels like home?  it calls.  i follow.


today i am perched on the tip of my tongue.  which of my
seven heavens shall i fly to?  today my attention
is everywhere at once.  to disperse, to unfocus
into showers of gold and tinsel is my one desire.
why must everything be dragged through intellect?
i am sick of meaning.  today i shall throw myself away
in puff after puff of furbish and spangle.

there was a garden: at night they snuffed the flowers,
but not their smells.  lemons burned in the trees.
a place for love?  or a place for work?  i can
no longer tell the two apart.
when the wind blew there was the sound of a sea.
my favorite moments flew off like spray.
what did i learn from this?

i liked to sleep there and also read.  was i content?
i liked to copy out of books words
that pleased me, sometimes whole passages, and as i
did this, there would rise up inside me
like a wave, there would start in my chest and
push up to my throat, a stairway without
any destination, ascending me again and again.

does joy have a purpose?  from plautus i copied out
a single word, ciccus, core of the pomegranate,
that elusive fruit which escapes the eater
every bite of the way.  surely there is more to it
than this, i'd think, sucking at seeds.
surely when i get to the center, the core: but the core
is throwaway, and ciccus also means worthless.

can anything said or thought be taken back?
today in my erotikon i wrote, art is relentless, it
refuses to look away.  it stares into me
with its hard mineral eye, inhuman.

once of myself i caught a look
all unaware in a mirror: a me apart
from any idea i have of me.

what a terrifying thing it is to be alone
with another.  should i have followed?  that glimpse
lasted a moment, no more - an acrobat, it leaped
into a world more daring: i was trapezed,
flared open, as when a cellist
drags the bow unendurably across the strings, and a more
than ordinary grieving - reckless, unheeding - begins.

should i have gone there?  in my erotikon
i always hope to find some shock
of music never listened to by me.  should i have
entered before it closed?  it was all so quick, like
birds shifting from branch to branch.
and would it have included love?
or does love need a world of its own?

***... ***

perhaps it's true, my happiest moments are the anticipation
of other moments still to come.  the evening, yet to be
unfurled, but its aroma released, burdening
the air with the heavy breathing
of the trees, their panting louder than the sky,
which has just let out squeals of acetylene and orange.
a smell so throaty, so from the armpits of the trees.

oh, to be fragrant, to break open into a great
fury of smells.  is aroma physical?  or of the spirit?
that promise of spirit tasting frustrates?
what the mouth can never close on,
twang of the elusive where instinct blurs
to indistinct?  what i hunger for
is not a parable of anything.

like feelings i come and go.  like those puddles birds
drink from after a heavy rain.  gone by morning.
and if the incomprehensible is all
that's left of the self, the personal, the private?  an outlying
beyond the sludge and gas stations, beyond
the medians where the music trembles
into blare and shouting.

bird be nimble, bird be quick, or the small
plot you call your bower will grow
into a long boring story.  there is a feeling that
comes before migration, a hastening, an upward
rush into the lining of something luxurious
no one has ever worn.
is this the future-

sound not yet an imitation
of anything?  pekke hem right up!  a voice
commanded in a dream.  peck up what?
the swirling dust, the unclear?  nightly didder of birds
when syllables intimate - but time is short.
from now on i will listen only to the arias.
spare me the long slow walk of the recitative.

do you become what you listen to?  branch
dipping, little gustos of fear, sudsy
places in the music, steepnesses, caliginous tropes?
my favorite songs are like thirst
as it is quenched.  and oh, that pale aching
green of twigs when the bark
is stripped back.

sometimes at dusk another voice begins, overripe
sweet to spoiling, a green beyond green.
so much comes at the last moment. 
like the final dance of the evening with its underbreath
of promise, its twinges of titillation, the tango
extending nervously its shadows, the long legs
of desire striding toward faster and faster tempos.

(from the book erotikon)

Monday, January 21, 2013

presque isle by louise gluck

in every life, there's a moment or two.
in every life, a room somewhere, by the sea or in the mountains.

on the table, a dish of apricots.  pits in a white ashtray.

like all images, these were the conditions of a pact:
on your cheek, tremor of sunlight,
my finger pressing your lips.
the walls blue-white; paint from the low bureau flaking a little.

that room must still exist, on the fourth floor,
with a small balcony overlooking the ocean.
a square white room, the top sheet pulled back over the edge of the bed.
it hasn't dissolved back into nothing, into reality.
through the open window, sea air, smelling of iodine.

early morning: a man calling a small boy back from the water.
that small boy - he would be twenty now.

around your face, rushes of damp hair, streaked with auburn.

muslin, flicker of silver.  heavy jar filled with white peonies.

(from the wild iris)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

the intoxicated song

from thus spoke zarathustra by friedrich nietzsche

you grape-vine!  why do you praise me?  for i cut you!  i am cruel, you bleed: what means your praise of my intoxicated cruelty?
'what has become perfect, everything ripe - wants to die!' thus you speak.  blessed, blessed be the vine-knife!  but everything unripe wants to live: alas!
woe says: 'fade! be gone, woe!' but everything that suffers wants to live, that it may grow ripe and merry and passionate,
passionate for remoter, higher, brighter things.  'i want heirs,' thus speaks everything that suffers, 'i want children, i do not want myself.'
joy, however, does not want heirs or children, joy wants itself, wants eternity, wants recurrence, wants everything eternally the same.
woe says: 'break, bleed, heart!  walk, legs! wings, fly!  upward!  upward, pain!' very well!  come one! my old heart: woe says: fade!  go!

all joy wants the eternity of all things, wants honey, wants dregs, wants intoxicated midnight, wants graves, wants the consolation of graveside tears, wants gilded sunsets,
what does joy not want!  it is thirstier, warmer, hungrier, more fearful, more secret than all woe, it wants itself; it bites into itself, the will of the ring wrestles within it,
it wants love, it wants hatred, it is superabundant, it gives, throws away, begs for someone to take it, thanks him who takes, it would like to be hated;
so rich is joy that it thirsts for woe, for hell, for hatred, for shame, for the lame, for the world - for it knows, oh it knows this world!
you higher men, joy longs for you, joy the intractable, blissful - for your woe, you ill-constituted!  all eternal joy longs for the ill-constituted.
for all joy wants itself, therefore it also wants heart's agony!  o happiness!  o pain! oh break, heart!  you higher men, learn this, learn that joy wants eternity,
joy wants the eternity of all things, wants deep, deep, deep eternity!

Friday, January 18, 2013


from the book a guide to feminist family therapy

from womyn and eating disorders by richard schwartz & mary jo barrett ~

"social norms have taught womyn to expect limited power and to be satisfied with limited control over their lives as well as the lives of others.  womyn are not encouraged to be assertive or direct in their communication, rather they learn to be passive and covert.  they are implicitly asked to create the illusion of dependence.  illusion, because while they are supposed to be subordinate and dependent, in reality they are expected to meet their own needs and the needs of others."

"eating disorders maintain both the position of the dependent person in need of constant care and attention and the position of powerful and overcontrolling demagogue.  this indirect method of gaining power and control, while remaining subordinate is congruent with the societal message that womyn are taught.

from womyn, family therapy, and larger systems by linda webb-watson

"failure to see womyn and their families in the sociopolitical context in which they exist is the same barrier which inhibits therapists from examining the political nature of therapy.  that is, the action of diagnosing and intervening with clients has a political reality as well as a therapeutic reality.  rather than labeling therapy as interactive with an ongoing political process, edelman suggests that '. . . psychiatrists reinforce the norm that cheerful adjustment to poverty or war is healthy while despondency or anger in the face of these pathologies is sick; but their decisions are labeled medical'."

"we have found that it is through the management of meaning (either through reframing and/or positive connotation) that openings are 'discovered' in the distress."

"hypothesizing plays a significant role in this work.  an hypothesis is a descriptive device that possesses at least three elements.  the first is that the hypothesis is primarily useful rather than primarily truthful.  this allows for the abandonment of a search for the truth and facilitates the development of description upon which action can be taken.  the second element is a recognition that a hypothesis emerges as a particular point of view at a particular point in time.  what this means is that a hypothesis is subject to change as time and circumstances move on.  finally, the systemic hypothesis is an attempt to link a description of symptomatic behavior to the various members within the interacting systems."

"the advocacy stance arises when the primary punctuation is on the premise: the system created the problem."

"... many of the disagreements centered around differences in expectations and styles of approaching certain situations. ... observation of the child within the context of the classroom supported a hypothesis that cultural differences in behavior and expectations were part of the problem."

"as we reflect on the ways in which the act of family therapy is part of the politics in our society, greater clarity will be gained on our role in the stability and change of larger systems particularly as it relates to the issues of gender, culture, and class.  an apparently useful direction is the continued elaboration of the family therapist' part in the problem system."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

without fences

without fences

in the hallway of sleep, limbs curl and chase
and tag, fall down on wet ground,

like spiders, the mind ebbs into the third
person, what is caught in the glimmering
patient web

knitting of wounds, muscles clenching
and relaxing, sometimes the middle ground
is a hospital of sorts

a landscape shaped with eyes opening and shutting,
exploratory hands, words, silences,

blankets and umbrellas. sandy colorful beach.
pulls of elusive, changing moons. direct announcement of sun.
everything steams, and cools

i crush bits of paper, words like yes
and no, oracles
tossed like dice

each ingredient mixes together, hands and spoons,
a single bowl. cover, let it

here is all the remarkable: the passionate synthesis,
the careful explosions. tip the scale, keep tipping.
here, the balance: restraint, recurrence.

look. this is only a moment. who steps in,
how steady, what heart, whose fire, what sound,
how does the breath build

into such grand percussion? how does the song
collapse inside the skin, why the heat
and the holding?


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

symbolism ~ raven/crow

from the dictionary of symbols by jean chevalier and alain gheerbrant

"recent comparative studies of the customs and beliefs of a wide range of peoples would seem to show that the purely negative aspect of the symbolism of the raven is very late and an accretion almost entirely localized to europe.  in fact, here its appearance in dreams is considered of ill omen and allied to fear of misfortune.  it is also the great black bird of the romantics, hovering over battlefields to feast on the bodies of the slain.  such an image, it is worth repeating, is recent and highly localized, although it recurs in india, where the mahabharata compares ravens with messengers of death, and perhaps in laos as well, where water soiled by ravens cannot be used in ritual aspersion.  despite this, nearly everywhere, in both east & west, the symbolism of the raven is founded upon its positive aspects.

thus in both china and japan it is a symbol of filial gratitude, the han considering the fact that it feeds its parents as auguring the reinstatement of the social order.  in japan, too, it is taken as the expression of family affection.

in japan it is regarded at the same time as a messenger of the gods, while the chou regarded it as a bird of good omen, the herald of their victories and the mark of their virtues.  the bird in question was, it is true, a red raven, bearing the color of the sun, for in china ravens were solar birds.  the symbol of the ten ravens which flew from the mulberry-tree in the east to fetch light into the world, would seem to have passed into shintoism.  however, yi the archer shot nine with his arrows, otherwise the universe would have caught fire.

han dynasty stone carvings show a three-legged raven in the center of the sun.  it would seem to be the principle giving life to the sun and perhaps stands for yang (odd-numbered).  like the tripod, the raven's three feet, which became the emblem of the chinese emperors, corresponded to the solar symbolism of dawn, noon and dusk.

in the book of genesis the bird is a symbol of clear-sightedness, since it was sent out to see if the lowlands had emerged from the waters of the flood.  'and it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: and he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until all the waters were dried up from off the earth'.

in ancient greece, too, the raven was a solar bird sacred to apollo.  although plutarch says that eagles determined the sitting of the omphalos at delphi, strabo states that this task was performed by ravens.  at least both birds have this in common, that they acted as messengers of the gods and performed prophetic roles.  ravens were also attributes of mithras, and these were believed to be endowed with the power of casting evil spells.

ravens are common features of celtic legend, in which they play prophetic roles. . . in ireland, the war-goddess took the name of 'bobd' or carrion-crow and often appeared in this shape.  the crow is the nocturnal aspect of the raven and in ancient greece was sacred to athene while, as we have seen, the raven was apollo's bird.

in any case, ravens play a fundamental part in the welsh tale, 'the dream of rhonabwy': when arthur's men slaughtered owein's ravens, the surviving birds reacted violently and in their turn hacked the soldiers to pieces.  ravens still occupy a respectable place in folklore.  the birds were sacred to the gauls and in german mythology were the companions of wotan (odin).

in scandinavian mythology, two ravens perched on odin's throne, hugin (mind) and munnin (memory), and a pair of wolves crouched beside the god.  the two ravens stand for the creative and the two wolves for the destructive principle.

'among the tlingit indians (northwest pacific), the central divine figure is the crow, primeval hero and demiurge, who made the world (or, more precisely, set it in order, and spread civilization and culture through it), created and liberated the sun, and so on'.  the crow endowed it with the dynamic and regulatory element.

. . .

in the mandan spring festival, the 'first man', herald of renewal who commemorated the 'retreat of the waters', had his naked body painted white, wore only a cape made from the pelts of four white wolves and had two tufts of ravens' feathers stuck in his hair.

the messenger of the mayan god of thunder and the thunderbolt was a raven (popol-vuh).

from africa comes evidence of the raven's role of guide and guardian spirit.  the likuba and likuala in the congo basic regard the rave as 'a bird which warns men of the dangers threatening them'.

ravens may also be regarded as symbols of solitude, or rather of the deliberate self-isolation of the individual who has determined to live upon a higher level.  they may also be seen as emblems of hope with their constant cry, according to suetonius, of cras! cras! (tomorrow! tomorrow!).

. . . the bird is in any case a guide, and even guides souls on their last journey since, as a conductor of souls, his keen sight pierces the darkness and he is not led astray.  it would seem as if this positive aspect is linked to the beliefs of nomadic hunters and fisherfolk and that the raven only became negative when mankind settled and agricultural communities developed.

alchemists have always associated the stage of putrefaction, when matter becomes black, with the raven.  they call this stage 'the raven's head': it is leprous and must be bleached by 'bathing seven times in the waters of jordan'.  these are the imbibitions, sublimations, cohobations or digestion of matter, all practiced under the lordship of fire alone.  this is why the black bird is so often depicted on the pages of ancient treatises of hermetic lore."

Monday, January 14, 2013

prism by louise gluck

Who can say what the world is? The world
is in flux, therefore
unreadable, the winds shifting,
the great plates invisibly shifting and changing–
Dirt. Fragments
of blistered rock. On which
the exposed heart constructs
a house, memory: the gardens
manageable, small in scale, the beds
damp at the sea’s edge–
As one takes in
an enemy, through these windows
one takes in
the world:
here is the kitchen, here is the darkened study.
Meaning: I am master here.
When you fall in love, my sister said,
it’s like being struck by lightning.
She was speaking hopefully,
to draw the attention of the lightning.
I reminded her that she was repeating exactly
our mother’s formula, which she and I
had discussed in childhood, because we both felt
that what we were looking at in the adults
were the effects not of lightning
but of the electric chair.
Why was my mother happy?
She married my father.
“You girls,” my mother said, “should marry
someone like your father.”
That was one remark. Another was,
“There is no one like your father.”
From the pierced clouds, steady lines of silver.
yellow of the witch hazel, veins
of mercury that were the paths of the rivers–
Then the rain again, erasing
footprints in the damp earth.
The implication was, it was necessary to abandon
childhood. The word “marry” was a signal.
You could also treat it as aesthetic advice;
the voice of the child was tiresome,
it had no lower register.
The word was a code, mysterious, like the Rosetta stone.
It was also a roadsign, a warning.
You could take a few things with you like a dowry.
You could take the part of you that thought.
“Marry” meant you should keep that part quiet.
A night in summer. Outside,
sounds of a summer storm. Then the sky clearing.
In the window, constellations of summer.
I’m in a bed. This man and I,
we are suspended in the strange calm
sex often induces. Most sex induces.
Longing, what is that? Desire, what is that?
In the window, constellations of summer.
Once, I could name them.
shapes, patterns.
The light of the mind. The cold, exacting
fires of disinterestedness, curiously
blocked by earth, coherent, glittering
in air and water,
the elaborate
signs that said now plant, now harvest–
I could name them, I had names for them:
two different things.
Fabulous things, stars.
When I was a child, I suffered from insomnia.
Summer nights, my parents permitted me to sit by the lake;
I took the dog for company.
Did I say “suffered”? That was my parents’ way of explaining
tastes that seemed to them
inexplicable: better “suffered” than “preferred to live with the dog.”
Darkness. Silence that annulled mortality.
The tethered boats rising and falling.
When the moon was full, I could sometimes read the girls’ names
painted to the sides of the boats:
Ruth Ann, Sweet Izzy, Peggy My Darling
They were going nowhere, those girls.
There was nothing to be learned from them.
I spread my jacket in the damp sand,
The dog curled up beside me.
My parents couldn’t see the life in my head;
when I wrote it down, they fixed the spelling.
Sounds of the lake. The soothing, inhuman
sounds of water lapping the dock, the dog scuffing somewhere
in the weeds–
The assignment was to fall in love.
The details were up to you.
The second part was
to include in the poem certain words,
words drawn from a specific text
on another subject altogether.
Spring rain, then a night in summer.
A man’s voice, then a woman’s voice.
You grew up, you were struck by lightning.
When you opened your eyes, you were wired forever to your true love.
It only happened once. Then you were taken care of,
your story was finished.
It happened once. Being struck by lightning was like being vaccinated;
the rest of your life you were immune,
you were warm and dry.
Unless the shock wasn’t deep enough.
Then you weren’t vaccinated, you were addicted.
The assignment was to fall in love.
The author was female.
The ego had to be called the soul.
The action took place in the body.
Stars represented everything else: dreams, the mind, etc.
The beloved was identified
with the self in a narcissistic projection.
The mind was the subplot. It went nattering on.
Time was experienced
less as narrative than ritual.
What was repeated had weight.
Certain endings were tragic, thus acceptable.
Everything else was failure.
Deceit. Lies. Embellishments we call
There were too many roads, to many versions.
There were too many roads, not one path–
And at the end?
List the implications of “crossroads.”
Answer: a story that will have a moral.
Give a counter-example:
The self ended and the world began.
They were of equal size,
one mirrored the other.
The riddle was: why couldn’t we live in the mind.
The answer was: the barrier of the earth intervened.
The room was quiet.
That is, the room was quiet, but the lovers were breathing.
In the same way, the night was dark.
It was dark, but the stars shone.
The man in bed was one of several men
to whom I gave my heart. The gift of the self,
that is without limit.
Without limit, though it recurs.
The room was quiet. It was an absolute,
like the black night.
A night in summer. Sounds of a summer storm.
The great plates invisibly shifting and changing–
And in the dark room, the lovers sleeping in each other’s arms.
We are, each of us, the one who wakens first,
who stirs first and sees, there in the first dawn,
the stranger.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

different heights

each from different heights
by stephen dunn

That time I thought I was in love
and calmly said so
was not much different from the time
I was truly in love
and slept poorly and spoke out loud
to the wall
and discovered the hidden genius
of my hands
And the times I felt less in love,
less than someone,
were, to be honest, not so different
Each was ridiculous in its own way
and each was tender, yes,
sometimes even the false is tender.
I am astonished
by the various kisses we're capable of.
Each from different heights
diminished, which is simply the law.
And the big bruise
from the long fall looked perfectly white
in a few years.
That astounded me most of all.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


from female legacies: intergenerational themes and their treatment for womyn in alcoholic families by claudia bepko from the book a guide to feminist family therapy 

"drinking will reinforce a womyn's already ascribed one-down status."

"one function of alcohol is to make tolerable the constricting and paradoxical demands of the female role - on the one hand drinking relieves the pressure of being a caretaker and on the other it permits a forbidden sense of power.  ultimately it provides punishment for both."

"commonly each overresponsible womyn began to take 'pride' in her overfunctioning and became perfectionistic, controlling, or giving as an attempt to salvage self-esteem, to cover feelings of inadequacy, and indeed to maintain a pseudo sense of self in a family environment in which all healthy self focus and growth is sacrificed to an obsessive preoccupation with alcohol and the alcoholic.  emotional expressiveness is significantly absent in all family relationships.  none of the womyn in the family are capable of expressing anger openly or directly.  they all suffer from chronic depression, underlying guilt, and low self-esteem.  they choose partners with whom they have clear one up or one down complementary.  if they operate in the one-up position with their partner, it is in the interest of having what is experienced as a valid target on whom to externalize anger."

"this drama occurs in a larger context in which it is assumed that males are entitled to power and to having needs met without having to make those needs known explicitly, in which the 'appropriate' hierarchical arrangement is one in which the male is one up, and in which all womyn inherit a legacy of intense guilt if they do not overfunction or, conversely, if they do directly acknowledge their anger or their own desires and feelings."

"her major goal was to develop a sense that she had a right to assert her needs, views, and strengths for her own benefit rather than everyone else's.  she continually fought the feeling that such behavior was disloyal and would result in her being unloved and abandoned."

"as M attempted to reverse her role in the family, she met with much anger and hostility.  she went from being in the 'hero' role to being in the 'scapegoat' role. . . M needed to have validated and to grieve the emotional realities of life in an alcoholic family: the very real emotional deprivation, and the inappropriate demands made on her as a child to be an adult rather than to experience acceptance of and response to her dependency."

"M gradually realized that the 'strengths' she took pride in, competence, intellectual understanding, and focus on achievement, were survival skills that now sometimes blocked her emotional development.  they sometimes became overstated attempts to gain a sense of self in a family in which there was little or no validation of her value as a person or as a womyn."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

the wanderer

from thus spoke zarathustra by friedrich nietzsche

i am a wanderer and a mountain-climber (he said to his heart), i do not like the plains and it seems i cannot sit still for long.
and whatever may yet come to me as fate and experience - a wandering and a mountain-climbing will be in it: in the final analysis one experiences only oneself.
the time has passed when accidents could befall me; and what could still come to me that was not already my own?
it is returning, at last it is coming home to me - my own Self and those parts of it that have long been abroad and scattered among all things and accidents.
and now i know one thing more: i stand now before my last summit and before the deed that has been deferred the longest.  alas, i have to climb my most difficult path!  alas, i have started upon my loneliest wandering!
but a man of my sort does not avoid such an hour: the hour that says to him: 'only now do you tread your path of greatness!  summit and abyss - they are now united in one!
'you are treading your path of greatness: now what was formerly your ultimate danger has become your ultimate refuge!
'you are treading your path of greatness: now it must call up all your courage that there is no longer a path behind you!
'you are treading your path of greatness: no one shall steal after you here!  your foot itself has extinguished the path behind you, and above that path stands written: Impossibility.
'and when all footholds disappear, you must know how to climb upon your own head: how could you climb upward otherwise?
'upon your own head and beyond your own heart!  now the gentlest part of you must become the hardest.
'he who has always been very indulgent with himself sickens at last through his own indulgence.  all praise to what makes hard!  i do not praise the land where butter and honey - flow!
'in order to see much one must learn to look away from oneself - every mountain-climber needs this hardness.
'but he who, seeking enlightenment, is over-eager with his eyes, how could he see more of a thing than its foreground!
'you, however, o zarathustra, have wanted to behold the ground of things and their background: so you must climb above yourself - up and beyond, until you have even your stars under you!'
yes!  to look down upon myself and even upon my stars: that alone would i call my summit, that has remained for me as my ultimate summit!

thus spoke zarathustra to himself as he climbed, consoling his heart with hard sayings: for his heart was wounded as never before.  and when he arrived at the top of the mountain ridge, behold, there lay the other sea spread out before him: and he stood and was long silent.  but the night at this height was cold and clear and bright with stars.

i know my fate (he said at last with sadness).  well then!  i am ready.  my last solitude has just begun.
ah, this sorrowful, black sea beneath me!  ah, this brooding reluctance!  ah, destiny and sea!  now i have to go down to you!
i stand before my highest mountain and my longest wandering: therefore i must first descend deeper than i have ever descended,
-deeper into pain than i have ever descended, down to its blackest stream!  so my destiny will have it.  well then!  i am ready.
whence arise the highest mountains?  i once asked.  then i learned that they arise from the sea.
this testimony is written into their stones and into the sides of their summits.  the highest must arise to its height from the deepest.
thus spoke zarathustra on the mountain summit, where it was cold; when he drew near to the sea, however, and at length stood alone beneath the cliffs, he had gown weary on the way and more yearning that he was before.
everything is still asleep (he said); even the sea is asleep.  its eye looks at me drowsily and strangely.
but it breathes warmly; i feel it.  and i feel, too, that it is dreaming.  dreaming, it writhes upon a hard pillow.
listen!  listen!  how it groans with wicked memories!  or with wicked expectations?
ah, i am sad with you, dark monster, and angry even with myself for your sake.
alas, that my hand has insufficient strength!  in truth, i should dearly like to release you from your bad dreams!

and as zarathustra spoke, he laughed at himself with melancholy and bitterness.  what, zarathustra!  he said, do you want to sing consolation even to the sea?
ah, you fond fool, zarathustra, too eager to trust!  but that is what you have always been: you have always approached trustfully all that is fearful.
you have always wanted to caress every monster.  a touch of warm breath, a little soft fur on its paw - and at once you have been ready to love and entice it.
love is the danger for the most solitary man, love of any thing if only it is alive!  indeed my foolishness and modesty in love is laughable!

thus spoke zarathustra and laughed again: but then he thought of the friends he had left, and he was angry with himself because of his thoughts, as if he had injured his friends with them.  and forthwith the laughing man wept - for anger and longing did zarathustra weep bitterly.