Being alive is so extraordinary I don't know why people limit it to riches, pride, security""all of those things life is built on. People miss so much because they want money and comfort and pride, a house and a job to pay for the house. And they have to get a car. You can't see anything from a car. It's moving too fast. People take vacations. That's their reward""the vacation. Why not the life?
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I would say Pittsburgh softly each time before throwing him up. Whisper Pittsburgh with my mouth against the tiny ear and throw him higher. Pittsburgh and happiness high up. The only way to leave even the smallest trace. So that all his life her son would feel gladness unaccountably when anyone spoke of the ruined city of steel in America. Each time almost remembering something maybe important that got lost.
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It is convenient for the old men to blame Eve. To insist we are damned because a country girl talked to the snake one afternoon long ago. Children must starve in Somalia for that, and old women be abandoned in our greatest cities. It's why we will finally be thrown into the lakes of molten lead. Because she was confused by happiness that first time anyone said she was beautiful. Nevertheless, she must be the issue, so people won't notice that rocks and galaxies, mathematics and rust are also created in His image.
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Failing and Flying Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew. It's the same when love comes to an end, or the marriage fails and people say they knew it was a mistake, that everybody said it would never work. That she was old enough to know better. But anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Like being there by that summer ocean on the other side of the island while love was fading out of her, the stars burning so extravagantly those nights that anyone could tell you they would never last. Every morning she was asleep in my bed like a visitation, the gentleness in her like antelope standing in the dawn mist. Each afternoon I watched her coming back through the hot stony field after swimming, the sea light behind her and the huge sky on the other side of that. Listened to her while we ate lunch. How can they say the marriage failed? Like the people who came back from Provence (when it was Provence) and said it was pretty but the food was greasy. I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, but just coming to the end of his triumph.
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We are surrounded by the absurd excess of the universe. By meaningless bulk, vastness without size, power without consequence. The stubborn iteration that is present without being felt. Nothing the spirit can marry. Merely phenomenon and its physics. An endless, endless of going on. No habitat where the brain can recognize itself. No pertinence for the heart. Helpless duplication.
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Duende I can't remember her name. It's not as though I've been in bed with that many women. The truth is I can't even remember her face. I kind of know how strong her thighs were, and her beauty. But what I won't forget is the way she tore open the barbecued chicken with her hands, and wiped the grease on her breasts.
A Brief for the Defense Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies are not starving someplace, they are starving somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils. But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants. Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women at the fountain are laughing together between the suffering they have known and the awfulness in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody in the village is very sick. There is laughter every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta, and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay. If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction, we lessen the importance of their deprivation. We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil. If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down, we should give thanks that the end had magnitude. We must admit there will be music despite everything. We stand at the prow again of a small ship anchored late at night in the tiny port looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning. To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth all the years of sorrow that are to come.
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Suddenly this defeat. This rain. The blues gone gray And the browns gone gray And yellow A terrible amber. In the cold streets Your warm body. In whatever room Your warm body. Among all the people Your absence The people who are always Not you. I have been easy with trees Too long. Too familiar with mountains. Joy has been a habit. Now Suddenly This rain.
The woman is not just a pleasure, nor even a problem. She is a meniscus that allows the absolute to have a shape, that lets him skate however briefly on the mystery, her presence luminous on the ordinary and the grand. Like the odor at night in Pittsburgh's empty streets after summer rain on maples and sycamore.
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The Poles rode out from Warsaw against the German Tanks on horses. Rode knowing, in sunlight, with sabers, A magnitude of beauty that allows me no peace. And yet this poem would lessen that day. Question The bravery. Say it's not courage. Call it a passion. Would say courage isn't that. Not at its best. It was impossib1e, and with form. They rode in sunlight, Were mangled. But I say courage is not the abnormal. Not the marvelous act. Not Macbeth with fine speeches. The worthless can manage in public, or for the moment. It is too near the whore's heart: the bounty of impulse, And the failure to sustain even small kindness. Not the marvelous act, but the evident conclusion of being. Not strangeness, but a leap forward of the same quality. Accomplishment. The even loyalty. But fresh. Not the Prodigal Son, nor Faustus. But Penelope. The thing steady and clear. Then the crescendo. The real form. The culmination. And the exceeding. Not the surprise. The amazed understanding. The marriage, Not the month's rapture. Not the exception. The beauty That is of many days. Steady and clear. It is the normal excellence, of long accomplishment.
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You will love again, people say. Give it time. Me with time running out. Day after day of the everyday. What they call real life, made of eighth-inch gauge. Newness strutting around as if it were significant. Irony, neatness and rhyme pretending to be poetry. I want to go back to that time after Michiko's death when I cried every day among the trees. To the real. To the magnitude of pain, of being that much alive.
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I ask myself what is the sound of women? What is the word for that still thing I have hunted inside them for so long? Deep inside the avalanche of joy, the thing deeper in the dark, and deeper still in the bed where we are lost. Deeper, deeper down where a woman's heart is holding its breath, where something very far away in that body is becoming something we don't have a name for.
Are the angels of her bed the angels who come near me alone in mine? Are the green trees in her window the color is see in ripe plums? If she always sees backward and upside down without knowing it what chance do we have? I am haunted by the feeling that she is saying melting lords of death, avalanches, rivers and moments of passing through, And I am replying, "Yes, yes. Shoes and pudding.
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