A R Ammons |
The reason to be autonomous is to stand there,
a cleared instrument, ready to act, to search
the moral realm and actual conditions for what
needs to be done and to do it: fine, the
best, if it works out, but if, like a gun, it
comes in handy to the wrong choice, why then
you see the danger in the effective: better
then an autonomy that stands and looks about,
negotiating nothing, the supreme indifferences:
is anything to be gained where as much is lost:
and if for every action there is an equal and
opposite reaction has the loss been researched
equally with the gain: you can see how the
milling actions of millions could come to a
buzzard-like glide as from a coincidental,
warm bottom of water stuck between chilled
peaks: it is not so easy to say, OK, go on
out and act: who, doing what, to what or
whom: just a minute: should the bunker be
bombed (if it stores gas): should all the
rattlers die just because they rattle: if I
hear the young gentleman vomiter roaring down
the hall in the men's room, should I go and
inquire of him, reducing him to my care: no
wonder the great sayers (who say nothing) sit
about in inaccessible states of mind: no
wonder still wisdom and catatonia appear to
exchange places occasionally: but if anything
were easy, our easy choices soon would carry
away our ignorance with the world-better
let the mixed-up mix and let the surface shine
with all the possibilities, each in itself.
Elizabeth Bishop |
For John Malcolm Brinnin and Bill Read: Duxbury
It was cold and windy, scarcely the day
to take a walk on that long beach
Everything was withdrawn as far as possible,
indrawn: the tide far out, the ocean shrunken,
seabirds in ones or twos.
The rackety, icy, offshore wind
numbed our faces on one side;
disrupted the formation
of a lone flight of Canada geese;
and blew back the low, inaudible rollers
in upright, steely mist.
The sky was darker than the water
--it was the color of mutton-fat jade.
Along the wet sand, in rubber boots, we followed
a track of big dog-prints (so big
they were more like lion-prints).
Then we came on
lengths and lengths, endless, of wet white string,
looping up to the tide-line, down to the water,
over and over.
Finally, they did end:
a thick white snarl, man-size, awash,
rising on every wave, a sodden ghost,
falling back, sodden, giving up the ghost.
A kite string?--But no kite.
I wanted to get as far as my proto-dream-house,
my crypto-dream-house, that crooked box
set up on pilings, shingled green,
a sort of artichoke of a house, but greener
(boiled with bicarbonate of soda?),
protected from spring tides by a palisade
of--are they railroad ties?
(Many things about this place are dubious.
I'd like to retire there and do nothing,
or nothing much, forever, in two bare rooms:
look through binoculars, read boring books,
old, long, long books, and write down useless notes,
talk to myself, and, foggy days,
watch the droplets slipping, heavy with light.
At night, a grog a l'américaine.
I'd blaze it with a kitchen match
and lovely diaphanous blue flame
would waver, doubled in the window.
There must be a stove; there is a chimney,
askew, but braced with wires,
and electricity, possibly
--at least, at the back another wire
limply leashes the whole affair
to something off behind the dunes.
A light to read by--perfect! But--impossible.
And that day the wind was much too cold
even to get that far,
and of course the house was boarded up.
On the way back our faces froze on the other side.
The sun came out for just a minute.
For just a minute, set in their bezels of sand,
the drab, damp, scattered stones
and all those high enough threw out long shadows,
individual shadows, then pulled them in again.
They could have been teasing the lion sun,
except that now he was behind them
--a sun who'd walked the beach the last low tide,
making those big, majestic paw-prints,
who perhaps had batted a kite out of the sky to play with.
Robert Louis Stevenson |
Smooth it glides upon its travel,
Here a wimple, there a gleam--
O the clean gravel!
O the smooth stream!
Sailing blossoms, silver fishes,
Pave pools as clear as air--
How a child wishes
To live down there!
We can see our colored faces
Floating on the shaken pool
Down in cool places,
Dim and very cool;
Till a wind or water wrinkle,
Dipping marten, plumping trout,
Spreads in a twinkle
And blots all out.
See the rings pursue each other;
All below grows black as night,
Just as if mother
Had blown out the light!
Patience, children, just a minute--
See the spreading circles die;
The stream and all in it
Will clear by-and-by.
Denise Duhamel |
The use of condoms offers substantial protection, but does not
guarantee total protection and that while
there is no evidence that deep kissing has resulted in
transfer of the virus, no one can say that such transmission
would be absolutely impossible.
--The Surgeon General, 1987
I know you won't mind if I ask you to put this on.
It's for your protection as well as mine--Wait.
Here, before we rush into anything
I've bought a condom for each one of your fingers.
just a minute--Open up.
I'll help you put this one on, over your tongue.
I was thinking:
If we leave these two rolled, you can wear them
as patches over your eyes.
Partners have been known to cry,
shed tears, bodily fluids, at all this trust, at even the thought
of this closeness.