“The long silences need to be loved, perhaps more than the words which arrive to describe them in time.” ~ Franz Wright, from God’s Silence

Reblogged from apoetreflects:

apoetreflects: “What I would say is this: Writing poems doesn’t make you a poet … It is only with poetry, for some reason, that everyone wants to believe they can try their hand at it once in a while and be considered, can call themselves a poet … It’s a craft. It’s an art. It’s a skill. It is not therapy, and it is not compensation for terrible things in one’s life. It is a thing in itself. You devote yourself to being an instrument of it, or you wander forever in the belief that it is a form of “self-expression.” … And I explained very clearly my opinion of what I think a poet, an artist is. Someone who puts this thing first.” —Franz Wright

                   

“What I would say is this: Writing poems doesn’t make you a poet . . . It is only with poetry, for some reason, that everyone wants to believe they can try their hand at it once in a while and be considered, can call themselves a poet . . . It’s a craft. It’s an art. It’s a skill. It is not therapy, and it is not compensation for terrible things in one’s life. It is a thing in itself. You devote yourself to being an instrument of it, or you wander forever in the belief that it is a form of ‘self-expression.’ . . . And I explained very clearly my opinion of what I think a poet, an artist is. Someone who puts this thing first.”

~ Franz Wright

Music by Sleeping at Last, “From the Ground Up”

“February, when the days of winter seem endless and no amount of wistful recollecting can bring back any air of summer.” ~ Shirley Jackson

 

                 

“beyond myself, somewhere, i wait for my arrival.” ~ Octavio Paz

It’s 78 degrees today. Spring is weeks away. This month is insane.*

In honor of the last day of the longest month of the year for me, I’m posting one of my favorite Linda Pastan poems, “Agoraphobia.” Seems appropriate somehow.

                   

Agoraphobia

“Yesterday the bird of night did sit,
Even at noon-day, upon the marketplace,
Hooting and shrieking.” ~ William Shakespeare


1.

Imagine waking
to a scene of snow so new   
not even memories
of other snow
can mar its silken
surface. What other innocence   
is quite like this,
and who can blame me
for refusing
to violate such whiteness
with the booted cruelty
of tracks?
 
2.
 
Though I cannot leave this house,   
I have memorized the view
from every window—
23 framed landscapes, containing   
each nuance of weather and light.   
And I know the measure
of every room, not as a prisoner   
pacing a cell
but as the embryo knows
the walls of the womb, free
to swim as its body tells it, to nudge   
the softly fleshed walls,
dreading only the moment
of contraction when it will be forced   
into the gaudy world.
 
3.
 
Sometimes I travel as far
as the last stone
of the path, but
every step,
as in the children’s story,
pricks that tender place
on the bottom of the foot,
and like an ebbing tide with all
the obsession of the moon behind it,   
I am dragged back.
 
4.
 
I have noticed in windy fall
how leaves are torn from the trees,   
each leaf waving goodbye to the oak   
or the poplar that housed it;
how the moon, pinned
to the very center of the window,
is like a moth wanting only to break in.   
What I mean is this house
follows all the laws of lintel and ridgepole,   
obeys the commandments of broom   
and of needle, custom and grace.
It is not fear that holds me here but passion   
and the uncrossable moat of moonlight   
outside the bolted doors.
 
Music by Lizz Wright, “Hit the Ground”
 
 
*For a good description of the panic disorder agoraphobia, click on this Mayo Clinic link.

“Sometimes, I think you can glimpse it in another.” ~ Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing

Mist at Sunset (Pixdaus)

                    

“I search for the words. ‘Restless. As if you haven’t really met yourself yet. As is you’d passed yourself once in the fog, and your heart leapt—’Ah! There I Am! I’ve been missing that piece!’ But it happens too fast, and then that part of you disappears into the fog again. And you spend the rest of your days looking for it.” ~ Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing

                    

Things I Didn’t Know I Loved

it’s 1962 March 28th
I’m sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
night is falling
I never knew I liked
night descending like a tired bird on a smoky wet plain
I don’t like
comparing nightfall to a tired bird

I didn’t know I loved the earth
can someone who hasn’t worked the earth love it
I’ve never worked the earth
it must be my only Platonic love

and here I’ve loved rivers all this time
whether motionless like this they curl skirting the hills
European hills crowned with chateaus
or whether stretched out flat as far as the eye can see
I know you can’t wash in the same river even once
I know the river will bring new lights you’ll never see
I know we live slightly longer than a horse but not nearly as long as a crow
I know this has troubled people before
and will trouble those after me
I know all this has been said a thousand times before
and will be said after me

I didn’t know I loved the sky
cloudy or clear
the blue vault Andrei studied on his back at Borodino
in prison I translated both volumes of War and Peace into Turkish
I hear voices
not from the blue vault but from the yard
the guards are beating someone again
I didn’t know I loved trees
bare beeches near Moscow in Peredelkino
they come upon me in winter noble and modest
beeches are Russian the way poplars are Turkish
“the poplars of Izmir
losing their leaves. . .
they call me The Knife. . .
lover like a young tree. . .
I blow stately mansions sky-high”
in the Ilgaz woods in 1920 I tied an embroidered linen handkerchief
to a pine bough for luck

I never knew I loved roads
even the asphalt kind
Vera’s behind the wheel we’re driving from Moscow to the Crimea
Koktebele
formerly “Goktepé ili” in Turkish
the two of us inside a closed box
the world flows past on both sides distant and mute
I was never so close to anyone in my life
bandits stopped me on the red road between Bolu and Geredé
when I was eighteen
apart from my life I didn’t have anything in the wagon they could take
and at eighteen our lives are what we value least
I’ve written this somewhere before
wading through a dark muddy street I’m going to the shadow play
Ramazan night
a paper lantern leading the way
maybe nothing like this ever happened
maybe I read it somewhere an eight-year-old boy
going to the shadow play
Ramazan night in Istanbul holding his grandfather’s hand
his grandfather has on a fez and is wearing the fur coat
with a sable collar over his robe
and there’s a lantern in the servant’s hand
and I can’t contain myself for joy
flowers come to mind for some reason
poppies cactuses jonquils
in the jonquil garden in Kadikoy Istanbul I kissed Marika
fresh almonds on her breath
I was seventeen
my heart on a swing touched the sky
I didn’t know I loved flowers
friends sent me three red carnations in prison

I just remembered the stars
I love them too
whether I’m floored watching them from below
or whether I’m flying at their side

I have some questions for the cosmonauts
were the stars much bigger
did they look like huge jewels on black velvet
or apricots on orange
did you feel proud to get closer to the stars
I saw color photos of the cosmos in Ogonek magazine now don’t
be upset comrades but nonfigurative shall we say or abstract
well some of them looked just like such paintings which is to
say they were terribly figurative and concrete
my heart was in my mouth looking at them
they are our endless desire to grasp things
seeing them I could even think of death and not feel at all sad
I never knew I loved the cosmos

snow flashes in front of my eyes
both heavy wet steady snow and the dry whirling kind
I didn’t know I liked snow

I never knew I loved the sun
even when setting cherry-red as now
in Istanbul too it sometimes sets in postcard colors
but you aren’t about to paint it that way
I didn’t know I loved the sea
except the Sea of Azov
or how much

I didn’t know I loved clouds
whether I’m under or up above them
whether they look like giants or shaggy white beasts

moonlight the falsest the most languid the most petit-bourgeois
strikes me
I like it

I didn’t know I liked rain
whether it falls like a fine net or splatters against the glass my
heart leaves me tangled up in a net or trapped inside a drop
and takes off for uncharted countries I didn’t know I loved
rain but why did I suddenly discover all these passions sitting
by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
is it because I lit my sixth cigarette
one alone could kill me
is it because I’m half dead from thinking about someone back in Moscow
her hair straw-blond eyelashes blue

the train plunges on through the pitch-black night
I never knew I liked the night pitch-black
sparks fly from the engine
I didn’t know I loved sparks
I didn’t know I loved so many things and I had to wait until sixty
to find it out sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
watching the world disappear as if on a journey of no return

19 April 1962
Moscow

~ Nazim Hikmet
translated by Mutlu Konuk and Randy Blasing

Music by Ennio Morricone, “Deborah’s Theme” from Once Upon a Time in America