It was the gods all right

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And the golden gods went by running
When the day was ending and the sun.
You may not have noticed, they could have been anyone

Except the way the light
Penetrated the world just then;
Except the way the aspen’s goldcoin leaves
Quivered as if air were water;
Except the way the birds went on singing
Even after night rose up all around;
Except the way the bat cut new sigils into the dark
And the way the stars were bright.

They’re gone now but yes
It was the gods all right.

 

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Would we had

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Un—, un—, un—,
Nay, nay, nay,
Fie, fie, fie,
Stay, stay, stay!

Such were the songs we said and sung
When the world was full and we were young.
Would we had dug in our heels and heeded
The silent center we craved and needed!

But came the sibilant prophets of Yes
And Aye, and Too, and Sure, I guess
And Oh, why not, and What the heck
And never a thought of rue or feck.

Would we had gone to the end of the track
And not beyond, and then turned back!
So much to learn, but we were clever
Why shouldn’t we want to go on forever?

Would we had died when Death called Time
Not borrowed breath for one more rhyme.

 

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No magic, child

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There is no magic, child.
No mysterious stranger
awaiting the proper stormswept night
on which to introduce you to your destiny.
Your mother and father
are really your mother and father.
There are words for everything.
Behind every bookcase is only a wall,
and the walls are solid walls
and behind them only two by fours
plaster and pink insulation and thick wires
through which ordinary currents pulse invisibly.

There is no magic, child,
because it is entirely usual
to have been born to people
about whom you know nothing
and who have secrets they themselves will never fathom.

There is no magic, child,
because it is entirely mundane
to live side by side
with the passionate electricity
that lurks behind your bedroom walls.

There is no magic, child,
since the world is just the world
and there are words for everything
even if the ones you will someday require
may be in a language no one living speaks.

There is no magic, child,
because it is entirely ordinary
for entire peoples to spring up
and sing for a hundred years
only to vanish with their only traces
to be found in a bookcase
with a solid wall behind it
while within the wall seethes
the invisible electricity
that powers the screens and machines
that belong to the parents
who are really your parents.

There is no magic, child.
The stranger who will appear
some unexceptional day
and make truths of wishes
you never even knew you were capable of

is no more mysterious than you.

 

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Of magic doors there is this

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1.

Of course I have arrived here just too late.
Oh, well, I have nothing better to do than wait.

No sense in haring off hoping to find another way;
Surely a door that opened once will open again one day.

Anyhow the land all about here is much to my taste:
Abandoned, overgrown, waste.

2.

Not even Madame Sosostris could have foreseen
Despite her wicked cards and her eyes that were Gypsy green

From the butterfly’s chaotic flutter
What hurricanes might utter.

3.

I offer a modest voice, speaking
An old language, having lived
Not quite long enough to have attained wisdom,
A bit too long to maintain a plausible ignorance.

What I recollect in this my time of tranquility
Is the weeping that took me over, years of it, years earlier.
What I remember now are the waves that heaved
Me up out of the sea that was my past.

In this my time of tranquility
Which will also pass
There is little more to be said
Once so much has been said.

 

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Which of the angels (Duino Elegy #1)

(Rainer Maria Rilke: Duineser Elegien – Kapitel 1)

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And say I screamed aloud, let it all out —
Which of the angels, orderly and chaste,
Would even hear? And say one did, what then?
Say one broke ranks, took me in its embrace—
I’d be undone, as surely as a matchstick thrust into the sun.
Such beauty, unrelieved, could wreck our minds.
It’s why we worship them. Still, every angel terrifies.

And so I hold myself together: never cry,
Swallow my sobs before they have a chance to rise.
Anyway, who’d sympathize? Not Angels; people, no;
Nor yet the clever animals, who realize
That we’re beyond their help, we think too much to be
At home here in their world. What’s there
To cling too, then? — perhaps that solitary tree
Perched on the hillside, that we see day in, day out?
Maybe that street we walked down yesterday; maybe
A comfortable habit that wears us the way we’d wear
A favorite shirt threadbare — perhaps we can rely on these?

But then Night comes on — like a wind from space
Slapping and chafing the faces we display,
Night comes — and always slightly disappoints — but stays;
Before whom each must stand with downcast gaze.
Loners, lovers, we share a common fate.

Now do you understand? Then throw your two arms wide,
And fling the empty space, that fills you, to the sky!
– the while imagining the birds in flight
Buoyed up, and up, on the expanding air!

The springtime itself needed you. Also, the stars –
They twinkled when you noticed them.
Oh, and that wave — remember it? —
That heaved up from the ocean toward you, long ago?
And then the time you passed the open window,
And the violin shuddered its strings
And sang to you alone… It’s what those things
Were meant to do. But did you take it in?
Weren’t you rather waiting, always waiting, waiting
As if for your one true love to come? (Yet — had she come,
Could you have hidden from her those strange thoughts
That wracked your sleep, then haunted you by day?)
Do you long so for love? Well, then,
Extol the star-crossed lovers, surely they
Could stand to be a bit more recognized;
Yes, sing the lovelorn, whom you find
So much more satisfactory than the satisfied;
But think on this ere you begin
The usual lamentation: that heroes strive and die
To earn the right of being born a second time;
When lovers fade, it’s because Nature’s done with them:
They’re all used up, the sap’s dried in their veins,
They’re good for nothing. Gaspara Stampa—
You remember her? Then you’ll recall
How many young girls, jilted, thought she was the all-in-all,
Thought: “Now, like dear Gaspara, I have lived!” And there:
Isn’t that wisdom, of its sort? Shouldn’t such pain
Be put to use? It’s high time we, who suffer so for love,
Got free of any one particular beloved. For, you know,
You don’t see arrows cleaving to the bow
That sends them forth:
To stay put is — of course — to go nowhere.

These voices, voices — Oh, my heart! Would you could hear
As the saints heard — who, being called, were taken up
Still kneeling, raised bodily to heaven
But all the while so intent on their listening
They knew not they were taken. Not that you,
My own un-saintly heart, could thus endure the voice of God.
It’s just that – listen! There’s that sound! It rises
Out of silence, never ending; it’s speaking yet,
With all the tender voices of the newly dead.
Hear, how they call to you, my heart!
As in that quiet church in Naples,
Or the chapel once in Rome —
As in those words carved in the stones
Of Sant’ Formosa, where the voices spoke before;
They’re speaking; can you hear? My heart!
Are not they clear? And thus they bid me: that I must
Absolve the dead, remit the sin that clings
To them like cobwebs, hinders them like dust.

So strange not to inhabit the world anymore,
And to abandon customs barely learned;
Not to read omens in a rose’s blossoming,
Nor hope, nor anything else of that sort;
Not to be what one was, back when everything
Seemed infinitely fragile; yes, even
To lay aside one’s own name like a broken toy.
Strange, to be a stranger to desire; strange,
To see each thing that seemed to matter so, cast loose
To flutter away in the wind. And also, death
Is tedious: one dithers, hems and haws,
Before accepting that this is — as it is — eternity.
The living are mistaken if they think death’s not about the same
As life. Indeed, the Angels (so I’ve heard) can hardly say
If they’re among the living or the dead, since the same tide
Sweeps them the same; rocks them the same;
And drowns them all the same.

At last they have no need of us, these too-soon-dead.
They wean themselves from worldly things,
Just as a child outgrows its mother’s breast.
But we, who need a sense of Mystery —
We, for whom grief sometimes shows the forward path —
We need them—how else could we get along?
Here’s no vain tale: when god-like Linos — best
Of all men living — died,
And when the mourners came to cry him to his rest—
Then Music filled the emptiness he’d left:
Shivered the dying land, shocked space,
As it entered the world for the first time,
Then, as ever after, to enrapture us; enfold us; give us aid.

 

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You will never be able to

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“The dancers themselves are careful not to disturb the trance subjects while their souls are in the spirit world.”

James Mooney, The Ghost Dance Religion and Wounded Knee (Characteristics of the Dance)

You will never be able to strip away the spirits of the dead from the living.

As well try to use a net to carry smoke
As well try to remove the destination from the road
As well try to pull a single strand from a spider’s web

You will never be able to strip away the spirits of the dead from the living.

See where bright motes are dancing in the spring air
And you have parked your car on the sand near the ocean
The ocean rises and eats the land
The land rises up out of the ocean again

You will never be able to strip away the spirits of the dead from the living.

Somewhere a single flower has sprung up suddenly in a meadow already full of flowers
Somewhere a star is burning the universe
Somewhere the body of a red-winged blackbird is being disassembled by ants
Somewhere a girl plucks a single flower and discards it

You will never be able to strip away the spirits of the dead from the living.

You have tried to make your song without any singing
You have tried to make your dance without any dancers
But now Spider Woman is making her web again

You will never be able to strip away the spirits of the dead from the living.
You will never be able to strip away the spirits of the dead from the living.
You will never be able to strip away the spirits of the dead from the living.

 

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The Dead

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In this dance with the spirits of the dead, no formal dress is worn.
All ornaments are cast off in the dance, no drum
Or rattle is used, nor is any other instrument required.
She has been at it since yesterday morning,

Look, now it is full midnight, look, now another morning has come!
Surely she is dancing with the spirits of the dead
Surely she is dancing with the dead who never grow tired
Surely she is dancing this morning with the spirits of the dead!

 

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Puella Mea

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she was a marble
she was a plate
a bowl of stars covered her
a moon danced for her and her alone
she was a womb
she was a grocery store
her children loved her
her children wrote graffiti on the walls of her house
she was whimsical
she took her time
the wind blew across her
the unrelieved desert sun drove her to despair
she took her lumps
she was excessive at times
she wasn’t going anywhere
she doesn’t care what you think about it

 

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Future, in general: passim

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Future, in general: passim
Future, auguries of: see Past, future of; Past, memories of; Dreams, in general; Nightmares, in general
Future, fear of: passim
Future, grammatical tense: see Language, limitations of
Future, history of: see Past, in general; Past, future of; Present, in general; Present, history of
Future, inevitability of: see Future, inevitability of
Future, longing for: see Past, limitations of; Present, limitations of; Future, memories of
Future, memories of: see Memory, memories of the future

see also: Dreams, memory and; Dreams, nightmares and
see also: Memory; Memory, dreams and; Memory, transitive property of
see also: Nightmares, in general
see also: Past, predictions about; Past, resemblances to the future

Future, mutability of: passim
Future, resemblance to the past: see Future, inevitability of

see also: Language, limitations of
see also: Past, resemblance to the future
see also: Present, limitations of

Future, visitors from the: see Memory
Future, what I make of: see Future, fear of; Future, longing for; Future, resemblance to the past
Future, what it’s for: see Future, longing for; Language, limitations of

 

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