"A friend asked yesterday if this blog is addressed to anyone in particular? I said yes– it’s a love letter to someone I haven’t met yet."
by Tony Hoagland
Sometimes I like to think about the people I hate.
I take my room at the Hate Hotel, and I sit and flip
through the heavy pages of the photographs,
the rogue's gallery of the faces I loathe.
My lamp of resentment sputters twice, then comes on strong,
filling the room with its red light.
That's how hate works—it thrills you and kills you
with its deep heat.
Sometimes I like to sit and soak
in the Jacuzzi of my hate, hatching my plots
like a general running his hands over a military map—
and my bombers have been sent out
over the dwellings of my foes,
and are releasing their cargo of ill will
on the targets below, the hate bombs falling in silence
into the lives of the hate-recipients.
From the high window of my office
in the Government of Hate,
where I stay up late, working hard,
where I make no bargains, entertain no
scenarios of reconciliation,
I watch the hot flowers flare up all across
the city, the state, the continent—
I sip my soft drink of hate on the rocks
and let the punishment go on unstopped,
—again and again I let hate
get pregnant and give birth
to hate which gets pregnant
and gives birth again—
and only after I feel that hate
has trampled the land, burned it down
to some kingdom come of cautery and ash,
Only after it has waxed and waned and waxed all night
only then can I let hate
creep back in the door. Curl up at my feet
and sleep. Little pussycat hate. Home sweet hate.
“The young composer, working that summer at an artist’s colony, had watched her for a week. She was Japanese, a painter, almost sixty, and he thought he was in love with her. He loved her work, and her work was like the way she moved her body, used her hands, looked at him directly when she mused and considered answers to his questions. One night, walking back from a concert, they came to her door and she turned to him and said, “I think you would like to have me. I would like that too, but I must tell you that I have had a double mastectomy,” and when he didn’t understand, “I’ve lost both my breasts.” The radiance that he had carried around in his belly and chest cavity-like music-withered quickly, and he made himself look at her when he said, “I’m sorry I don’t think I could.” He walked back to his own cabin through the pines, and in the morning he found a small blue bowl on the porch outside his door. It looked to be full of rose petals, but he found when he picked it up that the rose petals were on top; the rest of the bowl-she must have swept the corners of her studio-was full of dead bees.”
Robert Hass, A Story About the Body
“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”
Louis de Bernières
Afterward, the compromise.
Bodies resume their boundaries.
These legs, for instance, mine.
Your arms take you back in.
Spoons of our fingers, lips
admit their ownership.
The bedding yawns, a door
blows aimlessly ajar
and overhead, a plane
singsongs coming down.
Nothing is changed, except
there was a moment when
the wolf, the mongering wolf
who stands outside the self
lay lightly down, and slept.
When you see the world as it is, but insist on making it more like it could be, you matter.
…When you love the work you do and the people you do it with, you matter.
When you are so gracious and generous and aware that you think of other people before yourself, you matter.
When you leave the world a better place than you found it, you matter.
When you continue to raise the bar on what you do and how you do it, you matter.
When you teach and forgive and teach more before you rush to judge and demean, you matter.
When you touch the people in your life through your actions (and your words), you matter.
When kids grow up wanting to be you, you matter.
When you inspire a Nobel prize winner or a slum dweller, you matter.
When the room brightens when you walk in, you matter.
And when the legacy you leave behind lasts for hours, days or a lifetime, you matter…
— Seth Godin
The rather unfortunate incident of having a long-forgotten ticket stub, or some other such seemingly harmless slip of paper, fallout from between the pages of some long-forgotten, long-ago read book has most certainly befallen every reader. If not proof that our pasts come back to strike us, then the ticket stubs, scrawled notes, postcards, etc., certainly serve as reminders that the dead do indeed rise again. For each stilted period of one’s life, an echo, a eulogy, a funeral notice, a dead body in the guise of paper gets buried into a book. Bookshelves then should be seen not so much as the proper place for the storage of books, but rather as columbaria, containing our lost lives, our former selves. Just as parasites will feed on the dead, we must remember that books offer their own ecosystems, living and thriving with their own atmospheres (acidic vapors, noxious gases) and weathers (dampness and darkness, airiness and lightness), their own forms of life (bookworms and psocids, silverfish and cockroaches). So too will your ticket stubs, your remnants, your reminders of your former life be eaten away by microscopic vermin, decompose into their own cellulose dust. There will be people and places that you would much rather forget, but whoever it is that lets himself into our rooms, when we drift into sleep each night, prevents us from this forgetting, slipping the endless, previously discarded notes, letters, photographs, boarding passes, Polaroids, programs back into our books, and thus back into our lives…
Jenny Boully, The Book of Beginnings and Endings
The other day, at your show, you said something about how difficult it is to hold onto all the ways you used to feel when you were young. As we get older, the precision of our sadness, the dark fear and awe at the universe, the brightness, clarity, and ferocity of first love, they fade out of our lives, becoming something like a vague mist that floats beyond our grip, and we are powerless to stop the partial dissolution of ourselves into that mist, until one day, we find that we have lost track of who we were. It happens when we don’t even realize it, and it is inevitable.
But when I hear your music, I am suddenly sixteen again, and that is a powerful thing you do — taking someone back in time so far, and so quickly. And I think that is what it means to be an artist — to try to hold onto that part of yourself that existed when you were sixteen — that crazy wild freedom of mind hoping to be saved so much that it save itself. And it means holding onto that part of yourself even when the rest of the world wants so badly for you to give it up, and even as it is disappearing.
And even if you can never go back yourself, maybe you can write a song that takes someone else back to how they were then. And I think that is alright, and in the end, maybe more important.
from Amy Rebecca Klein’s letter to Conor Oberst
For Italian fans, my short story VEDRAN (which is posted elsewhere on this blog in English) was translated into Italian and read on Rome's RADIO ROCK. Follow the link for the YouTube version.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.