“We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.” ~ Carl Sagan

Got back from Ohio late last night. Trying to catch up with everything. Here, have some Sagan:

Carl Sagan

                   

Music by Poets of the Fall, “Heal My Wounds”

“I dream of lost | vocabularies that might express some of what | we no longer can.” ~ Jack Gilbert, from “The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart”

Aleksandr Golovin Birch Trees oil on canvas

“Birch Trees” (oil on canvas)
by Aleksandr Golovin


Jan Mankes Maanacht 1914

“Maanacht” (1914)
by Jan Mankes

 Two for Tuesday: Jack Gilbert

Horses at Midnight without a Moon

Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there’s music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.
The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.
Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.

                   

Umberto Moggioli Sera di Primavera aka Spring Evening, Venezia 1914

“Sera di Primavera, Venezia” (1914)
by Umberto Moggioli

Bring in the Gods

Bring in the gods, I say, and he goes out. When he comes
back and I know they are with him, I say, Put tables in front
of them so they may be seated, and food upon the tables
so they may eat. When they have eaten, I ask which of them
will question me. Let him hold up his hand, I say.
The one on the left raises his hand. I tell him to ask.
Where are you now, he says. I stand on top of myself, I hear
myself answer. I stand on myself like a hilltop and my life
is spread before me. Does it surprise you, he asks. I explain
that in our youth and for a long time after our youth we cannot
see our lives. Because we are inside of that. Because we can
see no shape to it, since we have nothing to compare it to.
We have not seen it grow and change because we are too close.
We don’t know the names of things that would bind them to us,
so we cannot feed on them. One near the middle asks why not.
Because we don’t have the knack for eating what we are living.
Why is that? she asks. Because we are too much in a hurry.
Where are you now? the one one left says. With the ghosts.
I am with Gianna those two years in Perugia. Meeting secretly
in the thirteenth-century alleys of stone. Walking in the fields
through the spring light, she well dressed and walking in heels
over the plowed land. We are just outside the city walls
hidden under the thorny blackberry bushes and her breasts naked.
I am with her those many twilights in the olive orchards,
holding the heart of her as she whimpers. Now where are you?
he says. I am with Linda those years and years. In American
cities, in Copenhagen, on Greek islands season after season.
Lindos and Monolithos and the other places. I am with Michiko
for eleven years, East and West, holding her clear in my mind
the way a native can hold all of his village at one moment.
Where are you now? he says. I am standing on myself the way
a bird sits in her nest, with the babies half asleep underneath
and the world all leaves and morning air. What do you want?
a blonde one asks. To keep what I already have, I say. You ask
too much, he says sternly. Then you are at peace, she says.
I am not at peace, I tell her. I want to fail. I am hungry
for what I am becoming. What will you do? she asks. I will
continue north, carrying the past in my arms, flying into winter.

                   

Music by Plumb, “Cut”

Sunday afternoon saudade

Ben Shahn Wheat Field c1958 lithograph with hand-coloring

“Wheat Field” (c1958, lithograph with hand-coloring)
by Ben Shahn


 

“All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.” ~ Haruki Murakami, from What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I had a very, very strange dream last night: my spouse (not Corey in this dream, but no one I recognize) was spending an inordinate amount of time at someone else’s house. The house was in a really bad part of town, and one of its inhabitants was a young woman of, shall we say, questionable repute. I could see that this woman was manipulating my spouse, getting him to come whenever she called, but my spouse couldn’t understand why I was so upset at his actions. Both my mom and dad were in this dream. My dad went to the bank to see if he had enough money in savings to give this woman so that she would go away. He didn’t.

I was in this room in my parents’ house, and I was gathering stuff into shopping bags; the stuff belonged to my spouse. I was giving him an ultimatum. But he still didn’t see anything wrong with his actions, even when it got down to our marriage being over. At some point, I was going down one of the main streets in my mom’s neighborhood, and I passed my friend Sarah’s house, or what was her parents’ house. There was one of those storks out in the yard, you know, the kind that announces a new baby.

I couldn’t figure out who had had the baby. Someone from the porch called to me, but I kept walking as I needed to get home to pack more stuff to throw into the street. I was so frustrated because he just didn’t get it.

Next dream: There are three fire-breathing dragons, and the characters from Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings were fighting together against these dragons. The Eye of Sauron appeared, but I wasn’t worried because Harry Potter knew how to defeat him.

What did I eat last night?

Music by Poets of the Fall, “Sleep”

                  

In the Middle

of a life that’s as complicated as everyone else’s,
struggling for balance, juggling time.
The mantle clock that was my grandfather’s
has stopped at 9:20; we haven’t had time
to get it repaired. The brass pendulum is still,
the chimes don’t ring. One day you look out the window,
green summer, the next, and the leaves have already fallen,
and a grey sky lowers the horizon. Our children almost grown,
our parents gone, it happened so fast. Each day, we must learn
again how to love, between morning’s quick coffee
and evening’s slow return. Steam from a pot of soup rises,
mixing with the yeasty smell of baking bread. Our bodies
twine, and the big black dog pushes his great head between;
his tail is a metronome, 3/4 time. We’ll never get there,
Time is always ahead of us, running down the beach, urging
us on faster, faster, but sometimes we take off our watches,
sometimes we lie in the hammock, caught between the mesh
of rope and the net of stars, suspended, tangled up
in love, running out of time.

~ Barbara Crooker