She says it is easy to catch air and I imagine her a child— small fingers wrapped around the glowing underbelly of a firefly, creating a tiny cavern of light— a sun to give life to a whole colony of dust particles. She had that finesse I lacked, the one necessary to ease a herd of fireflies into a jar to make a lantern or coax a caterpillar into an old Phillies cigar box so we could witness change. Not like the chemicals that were adjusting in our bodies turning us to adults but the kind of change I always hoped for—wrapping myself in blankets so tight it rewrote my DNA, turned me from a small silk spinner into something larger, something with wings. Now we've both gone through that wrong kind of metamorphosis—she got breasts and I got pubic hair— and she is telling me that air is easy to catch, like air is a bucket of sand that you can thrust your hands into and pull it up, watch it run through your fingers into small ant mounds on the beach, waiting to be washed away by the tide. I know she's full of shit, but something about the breasts and the pubic hair leaves me there, nodding my head like an asshole, trying to return to when we captured bugs, played in the mud, I'd even take the time I broke her favorite wiffleball bat and tried to hide it so I wouldn't have to be the one to teach her that sometimes the things we like get broken, and sometimes those things get broken by people you care about, so you don't know the proper amount of anger to feel or how much sadness, but now with the breasts and the pubic hair, I stand there listening to her talk about air and about catching it between her long thin fingers that look too big now to capture fireflies, but still seem delicate enough to reach into the cavity that holds my organs and explore, snapping bones, pulling out veins, breaking whatever she wants.
— Blaine Martin
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? In what distant deeps or skies Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand dare sieze the fire? And what shoulder, & what art. Could twist the sinews of thy heart? And when thy heart began to beat, What dread hand? & what dread feet? What the hammer? what the chain? In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? what dread grasp Dare its deadly terrors clasp? When the stars threw down their spears, And watered heaven with their tears, Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the Lamb make thee? Tyger! Tyger! burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
— William Blake
Cindy was 15 when she decided to run away to Texas. Auburn hair, fresh-faced, freckled complexion. Vibrant and alive. A raspy, sexy voice. A trusting, sweet, kind smile. Cindy was a beautiful youthful girl, inside and out. We'd smoke, drink and dream together, while sitting on concrete steps. Never lovers. Just teens. commiserating, through blood-shot eyes. While airplanes passed above. Texas had plans for Cindy. Big plans. It gave her a pimp and fucked her til it hurt. And fucked her some more. And it beat her, over and over again. Leaving her youthful face (the money) free from bruising free from scars. That is, until one day. One day, about 2 years after Cindy ran off to Texas, there was a knock at my door. It was Cindy. Not the Cindy I knew. This Cindy had been through a battle. A battle for her life. Beaten and broken. A fragmented shell of the girl who wanted to be a model. The left side of Cindy's face, disfigured. Beaten and paralyzed. Her eye, hidden behind swollen, plum-purple and yellow pus. Cindy didn't deserve this fate. No one deserves her fate Texas had big plans for Cindy. Awful, horrible plans. Plans, that most could never fathom. And no amount of living could ever erase her pain. No matter how many years may pass. Cindy will never forget the pain of her naive youth. Neither will I.
— Tom Labbe
In June, amid the golden fields, I saw a groundhog lying dead. Dead lay he; my senses shook, And mind outshot our naked frailty. There lowly in the vigorous summer His form began its senseless change, And made my senses waver dim Seeing nature ferocious in him. Inspecting close maggots' might And seething cauldron of his being, Half with loathing, half with a strange love, I poked him with an angry stick. The fever arose, became a flame And Vigour circumscribed the skies, Immense energy in the sun, And through my frame a sunless trembling. My stick had done nor good nor harm. Then stood I silent in the day Watching the object, as before; And kept my reverence for knowledge Trying for control, to be still, To quell the passion of the blood; Until I had bent down on my knees Praying for joy in the sight of decay. And so I left; and I returned In Autumn strict of eye, to see The sap gone out of the groundhog, But the bony sodden hulk remained But the year had lost its meaning, And in intellectual chains I lost both love and loathing, Mured up in the wall of wisdom. Another summer took the fields again Massive and burning, full of life, But when I chanced upon the spot There was only a little hair left, And bones bleaching in the sunlight Beautiful as architecture; I watched them like a geometer, And cut a walking stick from a birch. It has been three years, now. There is no sign of the groundhog. I stood there in the whirling summer, My hand capped a withered heart, And thought of China and of Greece, Of Alexander in his tent; Of Montaigne in his tower, Of Saint Theresa in her wild lament.
— Richard Eberhart
My old man's a white old man And my old mother's black. If ever I cursed my white old man I take my curses back. If ever I cursed my black old mother And wished she were in hell, I'm sorry for that evil wish And now I wish her well My old man died in a fine big house. My ma died in a shack. I wonder were I'm going to die, Being neither white nor black?
— Langston Hughes
The whole idea of it makes me feel like I'm coming down with something, something worse than any stomach ache or the headaches I get from reading in bad light-- a kind of measles of the spirit, a mumps of the psyche, a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul. You tell me it is too early to be looking back, but that is because you have forgotten the perfect simplicity of being one and the beautiful complexity introduced by two. But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit. At four I was an Arabian wizard. I could make myself invisible by drinking a glass of milk a certain way. At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince. But now I am mostly at the window watching the late afternoon light. Back then it never fell so solemnly against the side of my tree house, and my bicycle never leaned against the garage as it does today, all the dark blue speed drained out of it. This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself, as I walk through the universe in my sneakers. It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends, time to turn the first big number. It seems only yesterday I used to believe there was nothing under my skin but light. If you cut me I could shine. But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life, I skin my knees. I bleed.
— Billy Collins
As virtuous men pass mildly away, And whisper to their souls to go, Whilst some of their sad friends do say The breath goes now, and some say, No: So let us melt, and make no noise, No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move; 'Twere profanation of our joys To tell the laity our love. Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears, Men reckon what it did, and meant; But trepidation of the spheres, Though greater far, is innocent. Dull sublunary lovers' love (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit Absence, because it doth remove Those things which elemented it. But we by a love so much refined, That our selves know not what it is, Inter-assured of the mind, Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss. Our two souls therefore, which are one, Though I must go, endure not yet A breach, but an expansion, Like gold to airy thinness beat. If they be two, they are two so As stiff twin compasses are two; Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show To move, but doth, if the other do. And though it in the center sit, Yet when the other far doth roam, It leans and hearkens after it, And grows erect, as that comes home. Such wilt thou be to me, who must, Like th' other foot, obliquely run; Thy firmness makes my circle just, And makes me end where I begun.
— John Donne
SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease, For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells. Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep, Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers: And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep Steady thy laden head across a brook; Or by a cyder-press, with patient look, Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours. Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue; Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Among the river sallows, borne aloft Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
— John Keats
The calm, Cool face of the river Asked me for a kiss.
— Langston Hughes
I ASKED the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell me what is happiness. And I went to famous executives who boss the work of thousands of men. They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though I was trying to fool with them And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along the Desplaines river And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with their women and children and a keg of beer and an accordion.
— Carl Sandburg