We All Fail

This cat painting is by Kazuaki Horitomo Kitamura

Some Thoughts on a Change of Plans

Sometimes, love fails because of cowardice.

(It’s not for the faint of heart.)

Often, promises are broken because they are forgotten,

or deemed unimportant.

We make them so easily.

We break them so readily,

flippantly,

impatiently.

We are seldom held to account.

If called-out, we respond in anger,

accuse the betrayed of pettiness

and lacking a life.

Often, life fails because love fails,

because we all fail.

Sometimes.

To Rest the Tired Dead

I Am in Need of Music

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

¬ Elizabeth Bishop (1911 – 1979)

Sing On the Edge of Blue

On Edge of Time Future

I remember the history well:
The soldiers and politicians emerged
With briefcases and guns
And celebrations on city nights.

They scoured the mess
Reviewed our history
Saw the executions at dawn
Then signed with secret policemen

And decided something
Had to be done.

They scoured the mess
Resurrected old blue-prints
Of vicious times
Tracked the shapes of sinking cities

And learned at last
That nothing can be avoided
And so avoided everything.
I remember the history well.

2
We emerged from our rubbish mounds
Discovered a view of the sky
As the air danced in heat.

Through the view of the city
In flames, we rewound times
Of executions at beaches.
Salt streamed down our brows.

Everywhere stagger victims of rigged elections
Monolithic accidents on hungry roads
The infinite web of ethnic politics
Power-dreams of fevered winds.

The nation was a map stitched
From the grabbing of future flesh
And became a rush through
Historical slime

We emerged on edge
Of time future
With bright fumes
From burning towers.

The fumes lit political rallies.
We started a war
Ended it
And dreamed about our chance.

Fat fish eat little fish
Big ones arrange executions
And armed robberies.
Our rubbish shapes us all.

I remember the history well.
The tiger’s snarl is bought
In currencies of silence.
Eggs grow large:

A monstrous face is hatched.
On the edge of time future
I am a boy
With running sores

Of remember history
Watching the stitches widen
Waiting for the volcano’s laughter
In the fevered winds

Hearing the gnash
Of those who will join us
At the mighty gateways
With new blue-prints

With dew as seal
And fire as constant
And a trail through time past
To us

Who remember the history well.
We weave words on red
And sing on the edge of blue.
And with our nerves primed

We shall spin silk from rubbish
And frame time with our resolve.

~ Ben Okri, from An Afrian Elegy

A Mad Weir of Tigerish Waters

Entirely

If we could get the hang of it entirely

   It would take too long;

All we know is the splash of words in passing   

   And falling twigs of song,

And when we try to eavesdrop on the great   

   Presences it is rarely

That by a stroke of luck we can appropriate   

   Even a phrase entirely.
If we could find our happiness entirely

   In somebody else’s arms

We should not fear the spears of the spring nor the city’s

   Yammering fire alarms

But, as it is, the spears each year go through

   Our flesh and almost hourly   

Bell or siren banishes the blue   

   Eyes of Love entirely.
And if the world were black or white entirely

   And all the charts were plain

Instead of a mad weir of tigerish waters,

   A prism of delight and pain,

We might be surer where we wished to go   

   Or again we might be merely

Bored but in brute reality there is no

   Road that is right entirely.

~ Louis MacNeice (1907–1963)

Three Chinese Poems

Quiet Night Thoughts

I wake, and moonbeams play around my bed,

Glittering like hoar-frost to my wandering eyes;

Up towards the glorious moon I raised my head,

Then lay me down — and thoughts of home arise.

~ Li Bai (701–762 AD)

 

Looking at the Moon and Thinking of One Far Away

The moon, grown full now over the sea,

Brightening the whole of heaven,

Brings to separated hearts

The long thoughtfulness of night….

It is no darker though I blow out my candle.

It is no warmer though I put on my coat.

So I leave my message with the moon

And turn to my bed, hoping for dreams.

~ Zhang Jiuling ( 675-740 AD)

 

A Night-Mooring Near Maple Bridge

While I watch the moon go down, a crow caws through the frost;

Under the shadows of maple-trees a fisherman moves with his torch;

And I hear, from beyond Su-chou, from the temple on Cold Mountain,

Ringing for me, here in my boat, the midnight bell.

~ Zhang Ji ( 712-715 to 779 AD)