the end of art is peace

And beasts and trees

by Mary Ruefle

In the fifth grade
I made a horse of papier-mâché
and painted it white
and named it Aurora

We were all going to the hospital
each one with his little animal
to give to the girl who was
lying on her deathbed there
whose name I can’t recall

A classmate with freckles perhaps
or such small feet her footsteps
never mattered much

I did not want to give her anything
It seemed unfair she got to ride Aurora
whom I made with my own two hands
and took aside at birth and said go
while I had to walk
perhaps for a very long time

I thought perhaps the animals
would all come back
together and on one day
but they never did

And so I have had to deal with wild
intractable people all my days
and have been led astray in a world
of shattered moonlight and beasts and trees
where no one ever even curtsies anymore
or has an understudy

So I have gone up to the little room
in my face, I am making something
out of a jar of freckles
and a jar of glue

I hated childhood
I hate adulthood
And I love being alive

No more futons

(This is almost a story - it is a story - thanks to the juxtapositions. I think my favorite is “67. Eat as many vegetables as you can." next to "68. Take risks.”)

144 Tips on How to Be an Adult (in No Particular Order)

by Adam Jaske

   1. No more futons.
   2. Resist the urgent. Do the important.
   3. Hydrate!
   4. Invest in Febreze.
   5. Find a good church.
   6. Call your mom, dad, and/or other key people.
   7. Seek wisdom in the Bible.
   8. Be an honest person.
   9. Make yourself a budget.
 10. Carry cash.
 11. Rip through those student loans.
 12. Buy great stuff for super cheap at thrift shops.
 13. Put aside something for a rainy day.
 14. Start saving for retirement now.
 15. Give generously.
 16. Support the ministry of InterVarsity at your alma mater.
 17. If you’re late, bring donuts.
 18. Wear earplugs at concerts.
 19. Go to the dentist.
 20. Spend time with people of different ages and backgrounds.
 21. Reply to your emails.
 22. Sheets are like clothes for your bed. Change them occasionally.
 23. Learn to cook.
 24. Use the stove.
 25. Clean the stove after you use it.
 26. Just wash the dishes right away.
 27. Eat organic food soon (it seems to mold faster).
 28. Separate your laundry into whites and darks.
 29. Do not confuse fabric softener or color-safe bleach with laundry detergent.
 30. Change the toilet paper roll. (Hint: it should go over the top.)
 31. Decorate your home with real art with real frames (no more posters and Christmas lights in your living room).
 32. Print out your favorite photos.
 33. Whether you have money or not, give your time to things that matter.
 34. Travel.
 35. Exercise.
 36. Play pranks.
 37. Ask questions.
 38. Keep learning.
 39. Read IVP books.
 40. Apologize quickly.
 41. Forgive others.
 42. Floss.
 43. Buy more socks and underwear.
 44. Iron?
 45. Find a mentor.
 46. Mentor someone.
 47. Lead by serving.
 48. Do things with excellence.
 49. Put down the phone.
 50. Look people in the eye.
 51. Pay attention.
 52. Listen closely.
 53. Hit “Reply all” very judiciously.
 54. Take cookies to your neighbors.
 55. Fill up at a quarter tank.
 56. Honor the rules of the express lane.
 57. Learn how to change a tire.
 58. Change your oil every 3,000 miles.
 59. Get houseplants. Keep them alive.
 60. Invite people over. Cook for them.
 61. Get a crockpot (and use it).
 62. Make plans with people who make you better.
 63. Make plans with people who can’t give you anything in return.
 64. Fail quickly, and learn from your failures.
 65. Don’t be afraid to spend money on things that bring you great joy.
 66. Get a good haircut.
 67. Eat as many vegetables as you can.
 68. Take risks.
 69. If you drink coffee, drink good coffee (this applies to much of life).
 70. Handle crises with grace.
 71. Take responsibility.
 72. Step up.
 73. Spend time with your family.
 74. Be generous toward your friends. (Pick up the check.)
 75. Accept gifts graciously.
 76. Say “thank you.”
 77. Say “you’re welcome.”
 78. Pray without ceasing.
 79. Seek justice.
 80. Walk humbly.
 81. Be kind.
 82. Schedule retreats for yourself.
 83. Use your vacation days.
 84. Commit to a community for the long-term.
 85. Help other people follow Jesus.
 86. Sing loudly.
 87. Follow God’s calling even when it’s hard.
 88. Don’t be afraid of not knowing everything.
 89. Realize the world is big.
 90. Learn a language.
 91. Go see live music.
 92. Just ask him or her out already. (Texts don’t count.)
 93. Learn to have good conversations with people you disagree with.
 94. Invest in real shoes (unless you’re totally SoCal).
 95. Schedule sleep. (The other stuff will be there in the morning.)
 96. Stay informed, and vote.
 97. Tip well.
 98. Practice the Examen.
 99. Do fun things.
100. Learn from people younger than you.
101. “Go placidly amid the noise and haste.”
102. Invite people to follow Jesus.
103. Seek first the kingdom.
104. Don’t be a fool.
105. Live a life worthy of the calling you’ve received.
106. Affirm others’ gifts.
107. Make people around you better.
108. Know that it’s okay to shine.
109. Share.
110. Rethink that tattoo.
111. Keep it simple.
112. Take the time to grieve when necessary.
113. Remember there’s a time for everything.
114. Start traditions.
115. Remember that you’re in this for the long haul.
116. Learn how to wait.
117. Leave a legacy.
118. Honor your parents.
119. Buy real dishes.
120. Write real letters once in a while.
121. Sweep, mop, and vacuum.
122. Tell jokes.
123. Watch documentaries.
124. Stop gossiping.
125. Live your life.
126. Get a hobby.
127. Learn to say no to things.
128. Dream.
129. Learn to sew.
130. Sit up straight.
131. Create stuff.
132. Put things back where you got them.
133. Say what you mean.
134. Turn lights off when you leave a room.
135. Buy quality over quantity (this will save you in the long run).
136. Take care of your stuff.
137. Use vinegar for cleaning.
138. Check the weather before going out. (Please disregard this if you’re totally SoCal.)
139. Don’t ask a single person if they’ve found anyone.
140. Don’t ask a dating couple when they’re getting married.
141. Don’t ask a married couple when they’re having kids.
142. Ask for help.
143. Eat 3-6 meals per day.
144. Inhale and exhale deeply.


Death stampedes through the server-cities

Banana Palace

by Dana Levin

(hope all the formatting’s right, but the original’s at

I want you to know
how it felt to hold it,
deep in the well of my eye.
You, future person: star of one of my
complicated dooms — 

This one’s called Back to the Dark.
Scene 1: Death stampedes through the server-cities.

Somehow we all end up living in caves, foraging in civic ruin.
Banana Palace — the last
of the last of my kind who can read
breathes it hot
into your doom-rimed ear.

She’s a dowser of spine-broken books and loose paper
the rest of your famishing band thinks mad.

Mine was the era
of spending your time
in town squares made out of air.
You invented a face
and moved it around, visited briefly
with other faces.

Thus we streamed
down lit screens
sharing pictures of animals looking ridiculous — 

trading portals to shoes, love, songs, news, somebody’s latest
rabid cause: bosses, gluten, bacon, God — 
Information about information was the pollen we
deposited — 
while in the real fields bees starved.

Into this noise sailed
Banana Palace.

It was a mother ship of gold.

Shining out between HAPPY BDAY KATIE!
and a photo of someone’s broken toe — 
Like luminous pillows cocked on a hinge,
like a house
with a heavy lid, a round house of platelets and honey — 

It was open,
like a box that holds a ring.
And inside, where the ring would be:

I think about you a lot, future person.

How you will need
all the books that were ever read
when the screens and wires go dumb.
Whatever you haven’t used
for kindling or bedding.

Whatever made it through
the fuckcluster of bombs
we launched accidentally,
at the end of the era of feeling like no one
was doing a thing

about our complicated dooms — 
Helpless and braced we sat in dark spaces

submerged in pools of projected images,
trying to disappear into light — 
Light! There was so much light!
It was hard to sleep.


Banana Palace.
Even now when I say it, cymbals
shiver out in spheres. It starts to turn its
yellow gears

and opens like a clam. Revealing
a fetal curl on its temple floor,
bagged and sleeping — 

a white cocoon
under lit strings that stretch
from floor to ceiling — 

a harp made of glass
a covered

pearl — 

We broke the world
you’re living in,
future person.
that was always our end:
to break the jungles to get at the sugar, leave behind
a waste of cane — 

There came a time
I couldn’t look at trees without
feeling elegiac — as if nature
were already over,
if you know what I mean.

It was the most glorious thing I had ever seen.
Cross-section of a banana under a microscope
the caption read.

I hunched around my little screen
sharing a fruit no one could eat.

Heat deepen

From The Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried
by Amy Hempel

What seems dangerous often is not—black snakes, for example, or clear-air turbulence. While things that just lie there, like this beach, are loaded with jeopardy. A yellow dust rising from the ground, the heat that ripens melons overnight—this is earthquake weather. You can sit here braiding the fringe on your towel and the sand will all of a sudden suck down like an hourglass. The air roars. In the cheap apartments on-shore, bathtubs fill themselves and gardens roll up and over like green waves. If nothing happens, the dust will drift and the heat deepen till fear turns to desire. Nerves like that are only bought off by catastrophe.

A cheerful scraping

Pacific Storms
by Brenda Hillman

Baffled dread one day,
hope the next; hope
shifts; dread returns, then
that also lifts. Sometimes
in California, hearing sentences
like, “The storm gates
have opened,” or “Storms
have lined up out
into the Pacific,” you
experience a cheerful scraping
between depression & what’s
here; in Portuguese, saudades
there’s no English equivalent.
Crows over coast live
oaks, laurel saplings covered
with lichen veils in
oat-grass fields. The moon
is in Gort, Celts
might say. Ivy dies,
clinging. You drive along
thinking of a friend
who has forgiven you;
vineyards very gold, that
gold of school pencils.

Happiness for having experienced the feeling

Excerpt from Saudade, Wikipedia

Saudade is a Portuguese or Galician word that has no direct translation in English. It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing may never return. A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing, moved away, or died.

Saudade was once described as “the love that remains” after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone (e.g., one’s children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends, pets) or something (e.g., places, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. It brings sad and happy feelings all together, sadness for missing and happiness for having experienced the feeling.

In Portuguese, "Tenho saudades tuas" (European Portuguese) or "Tenho saudades de você" (Brazilian Portuguese), translates as “I have saudade of you” meaning “I miss you”, but carries a much stronger tone. In fact, one can have saudade of someone whom one is with, but have some feeling of loss towards the past or the future.

(Brenda Hillman also defines saudade as a longing for something one has or a longing for something that is there - like a person, or the planet.)

Awful longing

Envy of Other People’s Poems
by Robert Hass

In one version of the legend the sirens couldn’t sing.
It was only a sailor’s story that they could.
So Odysseus, lashed to the mast, was harrowed
By a music that he didn’t hear—plungings of sea,
Wind-sheer, the off-shore hunger of the birds—
And the mute women gathering kelp for garden mulch,
Seeing him strain against the cordage, seeing
the awful longing in his eyes, are changed forever
On their rocky waste of island by their imagination
Of his imagination of the song they didn’t sing.


From Chapter Seventeen, “Sehnsucht” of Surprised by Oxford
by Carolyn Weber

I had a dream, which was not at all a dream.

He walked back through the door.

"In the cross, there is integrity," he said, looking right at me.

Intensely missing

Excerpts from Sehnsucht, Wikipedia

Sehnsucht is a German noun translated as “longing”, “yearning”, or “craving”, or in a wider sense a type of “intensely missing”. However, Sehnsucht is difficult to translate adequately and describes a deep emotional state. Its meaning is somewhat similar to the Portuguese word, saudade. Sehnsucht is a compound word, originating from an ardent longing or yearning (das Sehnen) and addiction (die Sucht). However, these words do not adequately encapsulate the full meaning of their resulting compound, even when considered together.

Sehnsucht represents thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experiences. It has been referred to as “life’s longings”; or an individual’s search for happiness while coping with the reality of unattainable wishes.

It is sometimes felt as a longing for a far-off country, but not a particular earthly land which we can identify. Furthermore there is something in the experience which suggests this far-off country is very familiar and indicative of what we might otherwise call “home”. In this sense it is a type of nostalgia, in the original sense of that word. At other times it may seem as a longing for a someone or even a something. But the majority of people who experience it are not conscious of what or who the longed for object may be, and the longing is of such profundity and intensity that the subject may immediately be only aware of the emotion itself and not cognizant that there is a something longed for. The experience is one of such significance that ordinary reality may pale in comparison, as in Walt Whitman’s closing lines to “Song of the Universal”:

Is it a dream?
Nay but the lack of it the dream,
And failing it life’s lore and wealth a dream
And all the world a dream.

Sehnsucht took on a particular significance in the work of author C. S. Lewis. Lewis described Sehnsucht as the “inconsolable longing” in the human heart for “we know not what.”

So little grace

“I rejected the church for a time because I found so little grace there. I returned because I found grace nowhere else.” ― Philip Yancey

Funny in a different way

From B.J. Novak Proves That Kids’ Books Don’t Need Pictures
by Jennie Rothenberg Gritz

Sooner or later, every parent learns a difficult lesson: There are a lot of truly boring children’s books out there. B.J. Novak’s Book With No Pictures is not one of them. There are no cloying baby animals, no peek-a-boo flaps, no educational checklists at the end—just page after page of words. Those words form statements like, “My only friend in the whole wide world is a hippo named Boo-Boo Butt.” The joke is that the grown-up has to say every outrageous thing on the page, which makes the kid feel like an evil genius.
A lot of the writing you’ve done has been for professional comedians like Steve Carell to perform. How did you make sure ordinary parents reading this book out loud would get the timing and delivery just right?

I did a million different tweaks in the design process to help give parents those cues. I put in page breaks to force a certain timing: You turn the page at the point where a comedian would pause. I also put in visual stage directions. There are small words underneath the big words that indicate the under-the-breath comment of a parent: “I didn’t want to read those words! What kind of a book is this?” It’s sort of an aside, but you say it loud enough so the kid can hear it. Everyone naturally knows that you read small print that way.
The real humor of the book is the way it plays on the bond between the adult and the child. If you’re an authoritative parent, it’s funny. If you’re a warm, more effusive parent, it’s funny in a different way.


Here comes one who will augment our loves

From The Four Loves
by C.S. Lewis

Lamb says somewhere that if, of three friends (A, B, and C), A should die, then B loses not only A but “A’s part in C,” while C loses not only A but “A’s part in B.” In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, “Here comes one who will augment our loves.” For in this love “to divide is not to take away.” Of course the scarcity of kindred souls – not to mention practical considerations about the size of rooms and the audibility of voices – set limits to the enlargement of the circle; but within those limits we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah VI, 3) The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.

Clouds placed honestly

by James L. Dickey

A 29-year-old stewardess fell … to her 

death tonight when she was swept 
through an emergency door that sud- 
denly sprang open … The body … 
was found … three hours after the 
                              —New York Times

The states when they black out and lie there rolling    when they turn
To something transcontinental    move by    drawing moonlight out of the great
One-sided stone hung off the starboard wingtip    some sleeper next to
An engine is groaning for coffee    and there is faintly coming in
Somewhere the vast beast-whistle of space. In the galley with its racks
Of trays    she rummages for a blanket    and moves in her slim tailored
Uniform to pin it over the cry at the top of the door. As though she blew
The door down with a silent blast from her lungs    frozen    she is black
Out finding herself    with the plane nowhere and her body taking by the throat
The undying cry of the void    falling    living    beginning to be something
That no one has ever been and lived through    screaming without enough air
Still neat    lipsticked    stockinged    girdled by regulation    her hat
Still on    her arms and legs in no world    and yet spaced also strangely
With utter placid rightness on thin air    taking her time    she holds it
In many places    and now, still thousands of feet from her death she seems
To slow    she develops interest    she turns in her maneuverable body

To watch it. She is hung high up in the overwhelming middle of things in her
Self    in low body-whistling wrapped intensely    in all her dark dance-weight
Coming down from a marvellous leap    with the delaying, dumfounding ease
Of a dream of being drawn    like endless moonlight to the harvest soil
Of a central state of one’s country    with a great gradual warmth coming
Over her    floating    finding more and more breath in what she has been using
For breath    as the levels become more human    seeing clouds placed honestly
Below her left and right    riding slowly toward them    she clasps it all
To her and can hang her hands and feet in it in peculiar ways    and
Her eyes opened wide by wind, can open her mouth as wide    wider and suck
All the heat from the cornfields    can go down on her back with a feeling
Of stupendous pillows stacked under her    and can turn    turn as to someone
In bed    smile, understood in darkness    can go away    slant    slide
Off tumbling    into the emblem of a bird with its wings half-spread
Or whirl madly on herself    in endless gymnastics in the growing warmth
Of wheatfields rising toward the harvest moon.    There is time to live
In superhuman health    seeing mortal unreachable lights far down seeing
An ultimate highway with one late priceless car probing it    arriving
In a square town    and off her starboard arm the glitter of water catches
The moon by its one shaken side    scaled, roaming silver    My God it is good
And evil    lying in one after another of all the positions for love
Making    dancing    sleeping    and now cloud wisps at her no
Raincoat    no matter    all small towns brokenly brighter from inside
Cloud    she walks over them like rain    bursts out to behold a Greyhound
Bus shooting light through its sides    it is the signal to go straight
Down like a glorious diver    then feet first    her skirt stripped beautifully
Up    her face in fear-scented cloths    her legs deliriously bare    then
Arms out    she slow-rolls over    steadies out    waits for something great
To take control of her    trembles near feathers    planes head-down
The quick movements of bird-necks turning her head    gold eyes the insight-
eyesight of owls blazing into the hencoops    a taste for chicken overwhelming
Her    the long-range vision of hawks enlarging all human lights of cars
Freight trains    looped bridges    enlarging the moon racing slowly
Through all the curves of a river    all the darks of the midwest blazing
From above. A rabbit in a bush turns white    the smothering chickens
Huddle    for over them there is still time for something to live
With the streaming half-idea of a long stoop    a hurtling    a fall
That is controlled    that plummets as it wills    turns gravity
Into a new condition, showing its other side like a moon    shining
New Powers    there is still time to live on a breath made of nothing
But the whole night    time for her to remember to arrange her skirt
Like a diagram of a bat    tightly it guides her    she has this flying-skin
Made of garments    and there are also those sky-divers on tv    sailing
In sunlight    smiling under their goggles    swapping batons back and forth
And He who jumped without a chute and was handed one by a diving
Buddy. She looks for her grinning companion    white teeth    nowhere
She is screaming    singing hymns    her thin human wings spread out
From her neat shoulders    the air beast-crooning to her    warbling
And she can no longer behold the huge partial form of the world    now
She is watching her country lose its evoked master shape    watching it lose
And gain    get back its houses and peoples    watching it bring up
Its local lights    single homes    lamps on barn roofs    if she fell
Into water she might live    like a diver    cleaving    perfect    plunge
Into another    heavy silver    unbreathable    slowing    saving
Element: there is water    there is time to perfect all the fine
Points of diving    feet together    toes pointed    hands shaped right
To insert her into water like a needle    to come out healthily dripping
And be handed a Coca-Cola    there they are    there are the waters
Of life    the moon packed and coiled in a reservoir    so let me begin
To plane across the night air of Kansas    opening my eyes superhumanly
Bright    to the damned moon    opening the natural wings of my jacket
By Don Loper    moving like a hunting owl toward the glitter of water
One cannot just fall    just tumble screaming all that time    one must use
It    she is now through with all    through all    clouds    damp    hair
Straightened    the last wisp of fog pulled apart on her face like wool revealing
New darks    new progressions of headlights along dirt roads from chaos

And night    a gradual warming    a new-made, inevitable world of one’s own
Country    a great stone of light in its waiting waters    hold    hold out
For water: who knows when what correct young woman must take up her body
And fly    and head for the moon-crazed inner eye of midwest imprisoned
Water    stored up for her for years    the arms of her jacket slipping
Air up her sleeves to go    all over her? What final things can be said
Of one who starts her sheerly in her body in the high middle of night
Air    to track down water like a rabbit where it lies like life itself
Off to the right in Kansas? She goes toward    the blazing-bare lake
Her skirts neat    her hands and face warmed more and more by the air
Rising from pastures of beans    and under her    under chenille bedspreads
The farm girls are feeling the goddess in them struggle and rise brooding
On the scratch-shining posts of the bed    dreaming of female signs
Of the moon    male blood like iron    of what is really said by the moan
Of airliners passing over them at dead of midwest midnight    passing
Over brush fires    burning out in silence on little hills    and will wake
To see the woman they should be    struggling on the rooftree to become
Stars: for her the ground is closer    water is nearer    she passes
It    then banks    turns    her sleeves fluttering differently as she rolls
Out to face the east, where the sun shall come up from wheatfields she must
Do something with water    fly to it    fall in it    drink it    rise
From it    but there is none left upon earth    the clouds have drunk it back
The plants have sucked it down    there are standing toward her only
The common fields of death    she comes back from flying to falling
Returns to a powerful cry    the silent scream with which she blew down
The coupled door of the airliner    nearly    nearly losing hold
Of what she has done    remembers    remembers the shape at the heart
Of cloud    fashionably swirling    remembers she still has time to die
Beyond explanation. Let her now take off her hat in summer air the contour
Of cornfields    and have enough time to kick off her one remaining
Shoe with the toes    of the other foot    to unhook her stockings
With calm fingers, noting how fatally easy it is to undress in midair
Near death    when the body will assume without effort any position
Except the one that will sustain it    enable it to rise    live
Not die    nine farms hover close    widen    eight of them separate, leaving
One in the middle    then the fields of that farm do the same    there is no
Way to back off    from her chosen ground    but she sheds the jacket
With its silver sad impotent wings    sheds the bat’s guiding tailpiece
Of her skirt    the lightning-charged clinging of her blouse    the intimate
Inner flying-garment of her slip in which she rides like the holy ghost
Of a virgin    sheds the long windsocks of her stockings    absurd
Brassiere    then feels the girdle required by regulations squirming
Off her: no longer monobuttocked    she feels the girdle flutter    shake
In her hand    and float    upward    her clothes rising off her ascending
Into cloud    and fights away from her head the last sharp dangerous shoe
Like a dumb bird    and now will drop in    soon    now will drop
In like this    the greatest thing that ever came to Kansas    down from all
Heights    all levels of American breath    layered in the lungs from the frail
Chill of space to the loam where extinction slumbers in corn tassels thickly
And breathes like rich farmers counting: will come along them after
Her last superhuman act    the last slow careful passing of her hands
All over her unharmed body    desired by every sleeper in his dream:
Boys finding for the first time their loins filled with heart’s blood
Widowed farmers whose hands float under light covers to find themselves
Arisen at sunrise    the splendid position of blood unearthly drawn
Toward clouds    all feel something    pass over them as she passes
Her palms over her long legs    her small breasts    and deeply between
Her thighs    her hair shot loose from all pins    streaming in the wind
Of her body    let her come openly    trying at the last second to land
On her back    This is it    this
                                                          All those who find her impressed
In the soft loam    gone down    driven well into the image of her body
The furrows for miles flowing in upon her where she lies very deep
In her mortal outline    in the earth as it is in cloud    can tell nothing
But that she is there    inexplicable    unquestionable    and remember
That something broke in them as well    and began to live and die more
When they walked for no reason into their fields to where the whole earth
Caught her    interrupted her maiden flight    told her how to lie she cannot
Turn    go away    cannot move    cannot slide off it and assume another
Position    no sky-diver with any grin could save her    hold her in his arms
Plummet with her    unfold above her his wedding silks    she can no longer
Mark the rain with whirling women that take the place of a dead wife
Or the goddess in Norwegian farm girls    or all the back-breaking whores
Of Wichita. All the known air above her is not giving up quite one
Breath    it is all gone    and yet not dead    not anywhere else
Quite    lying still in the field on her back    sensing the smells
Of incessant growth try to lift her    a little sight left in the corner
Of one eye    fading    seeing something wave    lies believing
That she could have made it    at the best part of her brief goddess
State    to water    gone in headfirst    come out smiling    invulnerable
Girl in a bathing-suit ad    but she is lying like a sunbather at the last
Of moonlight    half-buried in her impact on the earth    not far
From a railroad trestle    a water tank    she could see if she could
Raise her head from her modest hole    with her clothes beginning
To come down all over Kansas    into bushes    on the dewy sixth green
Of a golf course    one shoe    her girdle coming down fantastically
On a clothesline, where it belongs    her blouse on a lightning rod:

Lies in the fields    in this field    on her broken back as though on
A cloud she cannot drop through    while farmers sleepwalk without
Their women from houses    a walk like falling toward the far waters
Of life    in moonlight    toward the dreamed eternal meaning of their farms
Toward the flowering of the harvest in their hands    that tragic cost
Feels herself go    go toward    go outward    breathes at last fully
Not    and tries    less    once    tries    tries    ah, god—

Orderly and right-minded

Poem with a Cucumber In It
by Robert Hass

Sometimes from this hillside just after sunset
The rim of the sky takes on a tinge
Of the palest green, like the flesh of a cucumber
When you peel it carefully.


In Crete once, in the summer,
When it was still hot at midnight,
We sat in a taverna by the water
Watching the squid boats rocking in the moonlight,
Drinking retsina and eating salads
Of cool, chopped cucumber and yogurt and a little dill.


A hint of salt, something like starch, something
Like an attar of grasses or green leaves
On the tongue is the tongue
And the cucumber
Evolving toward each other.


Since cumbersome is a word,
Cumber must have been a word,
Lost to us now, and even then,
For a person feeling encumbered,
It must have felt orderly and right-minded
To stand at a sink and slice a cucumber.


If you think I am going to make
A sexual joke in this poem, you are mistaken.


In the old torment of the earth
When the fires were cooling and disposing themselves
Into granite and limestone and serpentine and shale,
It is possible to imagine that, under yellowish chemical clouds,
The molten froth, having burned long enough,
Was already dreaming of release,
And that the dream, dimly
But with increasingly distinctness, took the form
Of water, and that it was then, still more dimly, that it imagined
The dark green skin and opal green flesh of cucumbers.

Run out of stories

From September Notebook: Stories
by Robert Hass

"Why?" he asked. "Because she was lonely,
and angry,” said the friend
           who knew her better,
“and she’d run out of stories.
Or come to the one story.”

(Sat in bed half of today going between Hass’ The Apple Trees at Olema, Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, and Amy Hempel’s Collected Stories. So this is a weekend.)