the end of art is peace

Require failure

From Inferno
by Eileen Myles

In a way, poetry really does require failure, because failure produces space. That nobody else wants. Poets as a group hate success.

Singing of what was older

The River of Bees
by W.S. Merwin

In a dream I returned to the river of bees
Five orange trees by the bridge and
Beside two mills my house

Into whose courtyard a blindman followed
The goats and stood singing
Of what was older

Soon it will be fifteen years

He was old he will have fallen into his eyes

I took my eyes
A long way to the calendars
Room after room asking how shall I live

One of the ends is made of streets
One man processions carry through it
Empty bottles their
Image of hope
It was offered to me by name

Once once and once
In the same city I was born
Asking what shall I say

He will have fallen into his mouth
Men think they are better than grass

I return to his voice rising like a forkful of hay

He was old he is not real nothing is real
Nor the noise of death drawing water

We are the echo of the future

On the door it says what to do to survive
But we were not born to survive
Only to live

To arrive at democracy

From Preface to When I Was A Child I Read Books
by Marilynne Robinson

To identify sacred mystery with every individual experience, every life, giving the word its largest sense, is to arrive at democracy as an ideal, and to accept the difficult obligation to honor others and oneself with something approaching due reverence.

The way strawberry plants fail

by Paisley Rekdal

I am going to fail.
I’m going to fail cartilage and plastic, camera and arrow.
I’m going to fail binoculars and conjugations,
all the accompanying musics: I am failing,
I must fail, I can fail, I have failed

the way some women throw themselves
into lover’s arms or out trains,
fingers crossed and skirts billowing
behind them. I’m going to fail
the way strawberry plants fail,
have dug down hard to fail, shooting
brown runners out into silt, into dry gray beds,
into tissue and rock. I’m going to fail
the way their several hundred hearts below surface
have failed, thick, soft stumps desiccating
to tumors; the way roots wizen in the cold
and cloud black, knotty as spark plugs, cystic
synapses. I’m going to fail light and stars and tears.
I’m going to fail the way cowards only wish they could fail,
the way the brave refuse to fail or the vain fear to,
believing that to stray even once from perfection
is to be permanently cast out, Wandering Jew
of failure, Adam of failure, Sita of failure; that’s the way
I’m going to fail, bud and creosote and cloud.
I’m failing pet and parent. I’m failing the food
in strangers’ stomachs, the slender inchoate rings
of distant planets. I’m going to fail these words
and the next and the next. I’m going to fail them,
I’m going to fail her— trust me, I’ve already failed him—
and the possibility of a we is going to sink me
like a bad boat. I’m going to fail the way
this strawberry plant has failed, alive without bud,
without fruit, without tenderness, hugging itself
to privation and ridiculous want.
I’m going to fail simply by standing in front of you,
waving my arms in your face as if hailing a taxi:
I’m here, I’m here, please don’t forget me,
though you already have, I smell it, even cloaked
with soil, sending out my slender fingers for you,
sending out all my hair and tongue and brain.
I’m going to fail you
just as you’re going to fail me,
urging yourself further down to sediment
and the tiny, trickling filaments of damp;
thirsty, thirsty, desperate to drown
if even for a little while, if even for once:
to succumb, to be destroyed,
to die completely, to fail the way I’ve failed
in every particular sense of myself,
in every new and beautiful light.

No justice

From Gilead
by Marilynne Robinson

There is no justice in love, no proportion in it, and there need not be, because in any specific instance it is only a glimpse or parable of an embracing, incomprehensible reality. It makes no sense at all because it is the eternal breaking in on the temporal. So how could it subordinate itself to cause or consequence?

It is worth living long enough to outlast whatever sense of grievance you may acquire. Another reason why you must be careful of your health.

Digging our wrinkles

The Wall
by Anne Sexton

Nature is full of teeth
that come in one by one, then
decay, fall out.
In nature nothing is stable,
all is change, bears, dogs, peas, the willow,
all disappear. Only to be reborn.
Rocks crumble, make new forms,
oceans move the continents,
mountains rise up and down like ghosts
yet all is natural, all is change.

As I write this sentence
about one hundred and four generations
since Christ, nothing has changed
except knowledge, the test tubes.
Man still falls into the dirt
and is covered.
As I write this sentence one thousand are going
and one thousand are coming.
It is like the well that never dries up.
It is like the sea which is the kitchen of God.

We are all earthworms,
digging our wrinkles.
We live beneath the ground
and if Christ should come in the form of a plow
and dig a furrow and push us up into the day
we earthworms would be blinded by the sudden light
and writhe in our distress.
As I write this sentence I too writhe.

For all you who are going,
and there are many who are climbing their pain,
many who will bepainted out with a black ink
suddenly and before it is time,
for these many I say,
awkwardly, clumsily,
take off your life like trousers,
your shoes, your underwear,
then take off your flesh,
unpick the lock of your bones.
In other words
take off the wall
that separates you from God.

I have thee not

Excerpt from analysis of Macbeth’s “Is this a dagger….”

- / - / - / - / - /
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.

Straight iambic pentameter here. The unbroken rhythm of the verse works in conjunction with the end-stops of this line and the line above; this is not a throwaway line. The stresses also highlight the key words in the parallelism (have, not, yet, see, still). Macbeth now has to make sense of this paradox; he plainly sees the dagger, it’s right there in front of him, and yet he cannot lay hands upon it. The starkness of the line helps to punctuate the subtle change in Macbeth’s tone as he tries to puzzle through this vision in the next few lines. Note that at this point, he sees a dagger and nothing more.


Your followers are in a way a cipher

From Finding Your Role in DRAGON AGE With Writer David Gaider
by Courtney Woods

One mistake we sort of felt we made in Dragon Age: Origins was we thought more about characters we would like to write, as opposed to what we did in DA2: we started off thinking well let’s have some characters that play an important role in the plot – because there’s a few, Isabela, for instance has a particular role in the plot that she plays – but also characters that take a stance on some of the central issues. Having a character that doesn’t care either way doesn’t lead to conflict, right? And conflict is what you are looking for, so we have characters like Anders or Fenris who have a stake in the conflict that’s going on. Therefore when Hawke is doing things, especially in regards to those particular issues, those characters will have something to say. I think it’s important because sometimes these large issues of morality or things throughout the game like the mages and templars, some people choose to play as a mage so they have a personal stake in that conflict, but what if you don’t? The idea is that your followers are in a way a cipher for which the player experiences issues. They may not care about these large issues like saving the world, but you will care about saving one person. You may not care about mages versus templars, but if you care about Anders or you care about Fenris or your brother or sister, you might not but if you do that is another way for us to get the player engaged in the plot.


All states

The Sun Rising
by John Donne

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th’ Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left’st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, “All here in one bed lay.”

She’s all states, and all princes I;
Nothing else is;
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

Do you want to see aggression?

Goldfish Are Ordinary
by Stacie Cassarino

At the pet store on Court Street,
I search for the perfect fish.
The black moor, the blue damsel,
cichlids and neons. Something
to distract your sadness, something
you don’t need to love you back.
Maybe a goldfish, the flaring tail,
orange, red-capped, pearled body,
the darting translucence? Goldfish
are ordinary, the boy selling fish
says to me. I turn back to the tank,
all of this grace and brilliance,
such simplicity the self could fail
to see. In three months I’ll leave
this city. Today, a chill in the air,
you’re reading Beckett fifty blocks
away, I’m looking at the orphaned
bodies of fish, undulant and gold fervor.
Do you want to see aggression?
the boy asks, holding a purple beta fish
to the light while dropping handfuls
of minnows into the bowl. He says,
I know you’re a girl and all
but sometimes it’s good to see.
Outside, in the rain, we love
with our hands tied,
while things tear away at us

Worldy, unpoemly goods

The House of Poetry
by Jonah Winter

I believe that one should respect and rise to the occasion of the space one inhabits, allowing it all holiness which is its due, and allowing the space to determine, even, the nature and course of one’s behavior. Thus, if one is in a church, a meditative, quiet regard towards the things of this world, or the next, shall assume the shape of the self, freeing the self from the need of deciding or imposing a pre-determined set of qualities upon the church. The self becomes the church, emptied of its clergy, ready to be filled by the spirit of Something that is real, to be filled by the same something which makes the church the church, to become, in other words, a part of the church. As with the church, the poem should inspire a similar behavior. Emptied, one enters the poem without agenda, except for the focus necessary in the depositing of one’s worldly, unpoemly, goods at the door of the poem. What is required is a sense of the poem’s peculiar demands. This sense is attained through quiet and through listening, not listening to the random voices wreaking chaos on the mind, but listening to the one voice so clear it has to be a poem. This is how one respects and thus inhabits the house of poetry.

Kick ‘em in the knee!

From Mind Rhyme

Mind rhyme is the suggestion of a rhyme which is left unsaid and must be inferred by the listener. Mind rhyme may be achieved either by stopping short, or by replacing the expected word with another (which may have the same rhyme or not). Teasing rhyme is the use of mind rhyme as a form of innuendo, where the unsaid word is taboo or completes a sentence indelicately.

An example, in the context of cheerleading:

"Raa Raa REE! Kick ‘em in the knee! / Raa Raa RASS! Kick ‘em in the other knee!"

(I’ve been looking for this for so long! and can stop having really circuitous conversations with people that begin, “Have you seen “Frozen”?)

Little Assassin

The Gift
by Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.

Interrupted soap operas

Oh, I’m a Stone
by Diane Seuss

There was no relief from being
human and so I turned to stone
and now there’s no relief
from being a stone. I didn’t
choose to be a stone.

Who would choose to be a stone?
The stone you pick up on the path
to grandma’s house didn’t choose
the path of being a stone.
Believe me. I should know.

I’m a stone. Cold, through
and through. Reverend Anne
tossed her rosary beads
from hand to hand and she said
to me you will be cold.

She shivered when she spoke it.
Those beads were like thick cataracts
over muddy eyes. She was a soothsayer.
Her shack smelled of roses
even though there were no roses

in the vicinity. Her saint was Theresa.
Reagan was president. She called him
the man whose press conferences
interrupted soap operas.
Her stories, she called them.

She predicted the child I’d have.
Curly-haired, she said.
His daddy’s name will start with a P.
It was a long labor. 48 hours without
relief. They ended up gutting me

to get him out. Silver-blue cord
wrapped around his neck, thick
as mooring rope. She predicted
the eight-point buck would smash
through the windshield

of my fern-green car.
That car was built like a tank
but the motor ended up
in the front seat. Had to use my knife
to put the animal out of its misery.

Warm throat, stiff gray-brown fur,
hot blood, eye hazing over
as the lights went out. Farmer hung him
up in a tree to butcher him. No reason
for that meat to go to waste.

Look at the balls on that fellow.
My white dress blood-drenched.
There by the Great Miami.
Ohio was not good to me.
Curly-haired, Reverend Anne said,

and you’ll live by a river that talk-sings,
and things will happen, many things.
Cold, she said. Not a precious stone.
Not even semi-precious.
Just gray and roundish. Little more

than a pebble. And she shivered
and showed me the door.