[Image: xkcd.com #324. The image’s
title attribute there says, “Sometimes the best fun looks like boredom.” (Click image to enlarge.)]
From whiskey river:
Questions Before Dark
Day ends, and before sleep
when the sky dies down, consider
your altered state: has this day
changed you? Are the corners
sharper or rounded off? Did you
live with death? Make decisions
that quieted? Find one clear word
that fit? At the sun’s midpoint
did you notice a pitch of absence,
bewilderment that invites
the possible? What did you learn
from things you dropped and picked up
and dropped again? Did you set a straw
parallel to the river, let the flow
carry you downstream?
(Jeanne Lohmann, from The Light of Invisible Bodies)
There is nothing more alone than being in a car at night in the rain. I was in the car. And I was glad of it. Between one point on the map and another point on the map, there was the being alone in the car in the rain. They say you are not you except in terms of relation to other people. If there weren’t any other people there wouldn’t be any you because what you do, which is what you are, only has meaning in relation to other people. That is a very comforting thought when you are in the car in the rain at night alone, for then you aren’t you, and not being you or anything, you can really lie back and get some rest. It is a vacation from being you. There is only the flow of the motor under your foot spinning that frail thread of sound out of its metal gut like a spider, that filament, that nexus, which isn’t really there, between the you which you have just left in one place and the you which you will be when you get to the other place.
(Robert Penn Warren, from All the King’s Men [source])
Not from whiskey river:
The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord,
That I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.
“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget.
But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.
(Tina Fey, Bossypants [source])
The God Who Loves You
It must be troubling for the god who loves you
To ponder how much happier you’d be today
Had you been able to glimpse your many futures.
It must be painful for him to watch you on Friday evenings
Driving home from the office, content with your week —
Three fine houses sold to deserving families —
Knowing as he does exactly what would have happened
Had you gone to your second choice for college,
Knowing the roommate you’d have been allotted
Whose ardent opinions on painting and music
Would have kindled in you a lifelong passion.
A life thirty points above the life you’re living
On any scale of satisfaction. And every point
A thorn in the side of the god who loves you.
You don’t want that, a large-souled man like you
Who tries to withhold from your wife the day’s disappointments
So she can save her empathy for the children.
And would you want this god to compare your wife
With the woman you were destined to meet on the other campus?
It hurts you to think of him ranking the conversation
You’d have enjoyed over there higher in insight
Than the conversation you’re used to.
And think how this loving god would feel
Knowing that the man next in line for your wife
Would have pleased her more than you ever will
Even on your best days, when you really try.
Can you sleep at night believing a god like that
Is pacing his cloudy bedroom, harassed by alternatives
You’re spared by ignorance? The difference between what is
And what could have been will remain alive for him
Even after you cease existing, after you catch a chill
Running out in the snow for the morning paper,
Losing eleven years that the god who loves you
Will feel compelled to imagine scene by scene
Unless you come to the rescue by imagining him
No wiser than you are, no god at all, only a friend
No closer than the actual friend you made at college,
The one you haven’t written in months. Sit down tonight
And write him about the life you can talk about
With a claim to authority, the life you’ve witnessed,
Which for all you know is the life you’ve chosen.
(Carl Dennis [source])
I first heard of singer-writer Gregory Alan Isakov at the most excellent Beat Surrender (often my go-to source for new roots/Americana music). This little tune, “Dandelion Wine,” is from his 2009 album, This Empty Northern Hemisphere.
[Below, click Play button to begin Dandelion Wine. While audio is playing, volume control appears at left — a row of little vertical bars. This clip is 3:04 long.]
(Gregory Alan Isakov)
summer days were just a magazine, a magazine
cutting grass for gasoline, for gasoline
so i can see ya soon…
left me drunk in a field
dandelion wine for a year
and i packed up the dust
of all that i owned
handkerchief hung from a pole
i rolled out the day that the apples fell…
The Aspen (Colorado) Times reported in 2010 that Isakov is a great fan of Leonard Cohen. Furthermore:
Isakov says he reads a lot of poetry; a current favorite is “Nine Horses,” a collection by the former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins. He is also into comedy, and mentions Steven Wright and Patton Oswalt as two who get him laughing.
A passage which hit several sweet notes for me, too.