Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"Death Will Come" by Cesare Pavese

Death will come and will have your eyes—
this death that accompanies us
from morning till evening, unsleeping,
deaf, like an old remorse
or an absurd vice. Your eyes
will be a useless word,
a suppressed cry, a silence.
That’s what you see each morning
when alone with yourself you lean
toward the mirror. O precious hope,
that day we too will know
that you are life and you are nothingness. 
Death has a look for everyone.
Death will come and will have your eyes.
It will be like renouncing a vice,
like seeing a dead face reappear in the mirror,
like listening to a lip that’s shut.
We’ll go down into the maelstrom mute.

Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), a poet, novelist and critic, was a major Italian author of the 20th Century. "Death Will Come and Will Have Your Eyes" was among the poems found in his desk after his suicide. Considering the circumstances, it's strikingly haunting.

(Translated by Geoffrey Brock; reposted from Poem of the Week. You can find the original Italian text, "Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi," here.)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Seasons

Where I come from
trees don't sleep;
they don't burn
with all the ache of a sunset.

Where I come from
autumns are a grey shade of green;
they smell of mud
and the earth spilling its secrets.

Where I come from
the ground doesn't hide
in a blank shroud of silence;
it only glistens, leathery and dark,
like the first lines of a fairytale.

Where I come from
spring is dull,
only a brighter shade
of the everyday.

It doesn't breach the sky
with every shade of pink
and break the frost
with a vengeful thirst.

It simply stuffs the air
with the smell of orange blossom,
of youth, and the mocking promise
of a breeze…

(Originally posted on November 12, 2005)

Friday, April 10, 2015

'The Dead Gods'

"It is no longer clear where we're going.
There is no longer light along the road...
It seems there's nothing left to do but sing,
But sing what? Whatever little we had
In us of music has gone out of us,
Lost on some dark road outside some city.

If they come back now, it's only to die
Again, far less beautifully than we'd care
To imagine to remember. Now shelves
Heavy with all we loved fall down, the sky
Is full of static, dusk soars, and the air
Is lovely with us who have just ourselves."

-Joe Bolton

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Hold Still

Hold still, the night is calling
Your name under its breath.
Don't turn, it's not there.
Maybe it never was...
In the mirror, you look like yesterday
Only older, only more silent,
And the night is just as young.
Abandon your words, they never suited you.
Abandon all hope...
The world dims and you fade,
And names lose their sounds;
Nothing remains of the day.
A face stares you in the mirror,
Both gaunt and bloated,
Eyes hollow as the stillness,
And just as dark.
The years are gone.
Behind you look, almost recognizing, almost believing,
But it's all so far away.
And you're still too scared to look
The other way.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Early Anniversary

To Wojtek

I love you like the simplicity of the air
Like the banality of the life we share
I love you like the pillows on the couch
Like your head resting on my lap
Like hot chocolate after a fight
Or a warm bath right when it was all
About to go down the drain…
I love you like five fifteen years of my life
Like our cat asleep atop the laundry basket
I love you like the wanderlust that possesses you
And like the many lives in many lands
We want to lead…
I love you like the dream I dare to dream again
Like the fear I dare to cherish again
And the certainty I feel
When I’m not too busy doubting our love…

(Originally posted on September 05, 2004)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Kill

Kill, kill, kill everything.

Kill the light falling on this page
like a false promise of warmth;
kill the news of a world in spiral.

Kill time, cruel time, ruthless time,
endless time, fleeting time, time
laying at your feet like a bored dog.

Kill hope, lazy hope, easy hope, hope peeking
like misguided blossoms in a snow storm.
Kill this, the need to reach out and touch,
say I am here, and you?

Kill that, the urge to call them, to hear them,
to assure them as only you want to be assured.
Kill it, kill it all, kill the want to live again, kill
the want to die, kill the want to be, to become.

Kill it and remain, not a reminder, just
a hollow shell mistaken for what was,
just an answer to a question that has
long ago given up on one.

(Originally posted on February 03, 2012)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Quartet of Endless Grey

Wipe your foggy breath off the cold bus window;
the snow-covered scape outside is darker than it.
Watch your faint reflection in the streaky glass;
the bus's harsh fluorescent lights do you no favor.

I never thought hunger could grow larger than the body,
but you don't let go of a chance to prove me wrong.
Never did I look so large as I do through your eyes;
nor have I felt so small.

I once said I'd never regret a thing--
I regret it all now, even the regret.

It's done:
no more happy endings,
no more new beginnings,
no more looking forward,
no more then...

It's all been done:
there's no tomorrow here;
there's only an endless now,
not interrupted by night or day--
an endless drone, an endless hum,
an endless pattern of downward eyes and hunched backs,
an endless silence syncopated by the static of the everyday,
an endless fog, an endless grey,
no one to save...

I forgot the taste of skin,
I forgot the smell of hair,
I forgot the feel of anticipation,
I forgot what it was all about...

Last night god killed himself;
he obviously wasn't divine enough.
Pity us men with rolls on our sides,
scars on our necks, and morning breath.
Pity us, mortals,
You, who's never lived...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Reasons for Living—or Not

It often begins with the low light of early spring:
the distant sounds of life on a chilly Sunday;
your reflection in a screen, bigger than it needs to be;
a dog nearing the end of her life, turning away
from food like only a dying animal can.
                                                            The last
to surrender is often the sense of the beginning,
that what might have been can still be. Instead
is a rigid sense of awakening, that this is all there is
and will be: a cold counting of assets, tabulating life,
seeing it on the losing end.
                                        And in the silence
connecting all—bathing you with your own thoughts
and the smelly leftovers of yesterday’s dream—
nothing much can be said or done:
not the anger, the last remnant of life;
not sweet abandon—only a persistence
as stubborn and meaningless as everything,
a refusal of the game and all it wills.
                                                      And yet
you remain unable to turn away—
not from longing, but from paralysis:
the closing of the eyes is often
harder than it appears to be.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Condemned To Be Free

“Liberty! Liberty! Liberty!” they cried.

“Liberty! Liberty! Liberty!” I echoed.

“Our liberty,” they cried.

“My liberty,” I echoed.

“No, ours; not yours.”

“My liberty is yours, and yours is mine.”

“No, you’re not one of us.”

“I thought liberty is universal?”

“Only as long as it doesn’t conflict with ours.”

“And when it does?”

“Then our liberty trumps yours.”

“I thought we’re equal?”

“We made up this equality, so technically we’re more equal.
Besides, you don’t even believe in liberty!”

“But I do.”

“You may, but your religion doesn’t; ours does.”

“I have no religion! And I thought you were secular?”

“We like our churches; aren’t they pretty?”

“But you said: secular, human rights, etc.”

“You poor kid; you believe everything we say?
Why don’t you go back home, back to your people…”

“But I left my people; I live here now!
My clothes are here; my cats are here…”

“Oh, tant pis… Schade… Next!”


Saturday, January 03, 2015

In Their Shape

To Teta, once again...

We die, they say
But we never die, they say
We carry our dead in our hearts,
They live in us, they say

They say so much, they say so little…

She was here, they say
I remember her, they say
It was a long time ago, they say
It was like yesterday...

I hear so much, I say so little…

She’s somewhere, they say
Looking over you, they say
I look over my shoulder,
Still searching…

One day she’s at the beach
Collecting shells, they say
And years later I’m back here
Collecting my breath…

I won’t go back, I say
I’m done, I say
I moved on…

But moving on, a part of me snags
Dragging behind like a dead limb.
Is it me? I say
Is it her? I say

They say nothing; they only nod.
I guess that’s how we carry our dead, I say:
Our heart, dragging behind, looking like them…