Jack Gilbert |
We find out the heart only by dismantling what
the heart knows.
By redefining the morning,
we find a morning that comes just after darkness.
We can break through marriage into marriage.
By insisting on love we spoil it, get beyond
affection and wade mouth-deep into love.
We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars.
But going back toward childhood will not help.
The village is not better than Pittsburgh.
Only Pittsburgh is more than Pittsburgh.
Rome is better than Rome in the same way the sound
of raccoon tongues licking the inside walls
of the garbage tub is more than the stir
of them in the muck of the garbage.
Love is not
We die and are put into the earth forever.
We should insist while there is still time.
eat through the wildness of her sweet body already
in our bed to reach the body within that body.
Walt Whitman |
O MAGNET-SOUTH! O glistening, perfumed South! My South!
O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse, and love! Good and evil! O all dear to me!
O dear to me my birth-things—All moving things, and the trees where I was
Dear to me my own slow sluggish rivers where they flow, distant, over flats of silvery
Dear to me the Roanoke, the Savannah, the Altamahaw, the Pedee, the Tombigbee, the Santee,
Coosa, and the Sabine;
O pensive, far away wandering, I return with my Soul to haunt their banks again;
Again in Florida I float on transparent lakes—I float on the Okeechobee—I cross
hummock land, or through pleasant openings, or dense forests;
I see the parrots in the woods—I see the papaw tree and the blossoming titi;
Again, sailing in my coaster, on deck, I coast off Georgia—I coast up the Carolinas,
I see where the live-oak is growing—I see where the yellow-pine, the scented
lemon and orange, the cypress, the graceful palmetto;
I pass rude sea-headlands and enter Pamlico Sound through an inlet, and dart my vision
O the cotton plant! the growing fields of rice, sugar, hemp!
The cactus, guarded with thorns—the laurel-tree, with large white flowers;
The range afar—the richness and barrenness—the old woods charged with mistletoe
The piney odor and the gloom—the awful natural stillness, (Here in these dense swamps
freebooter carries his gun, and the fugitive slave has his conceal’d hut;)
O the strange fascination of these half-known, half-impassable swamps, infested by
resounding with the bellow of the alligator, the sad noises of the night-owl and the
the whirr of the rattlesnake;
The mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing all the forenoon—singing through the
The humming-bird, the wild turkey, the raccoon, the opossum;
A Tennessee corn-field—the tall, graceful, long-leav’d corn—slender,
green with tassels—with beautiful ears, each well-sheath’d in its husk;
An Arkansas prairie—a sleeping lake, or still bayou;
O my heart! O tender and fierce pangs—I can stand them not—I will depart;
O to be a Virginian, where I grew up! O to be a Carolinian!
O longings irrepressible! O I will go back to old Tennessee, and never wander more!
James Lee Jobe |
It??™s two muddy miles from Highway 20,
just past the north fork of Cache Creek,
across the broad meadow, through
blue oak woodland, up, up to the ridge,
and back down to the creek bank,
the crossing point, me striding with
mud caking my old hiking boots.
For a millennia the Miwok people walked
these canyons and ridges.
Gathering acorns to trade, the sweetest
was said to be from the Coastal Live Oaks.
Or bringing down a mule deer, a Tule elk,
meat for everyone, garments or a drumskin
from the hide, tools from the bones,
a knife, a skewer, thanks given
to the beast??™s soul for its gift.
Once up on the ridge, the view takes me,
Brushy Sky High Mountain looms above
like an overanxious parent, the creek sings
old songs for the valley oaks, for the deer grass.
Less muddy, I kick my boots a little cleaner
on a rock that is maybe as old as the earth.
I used to come up here and cut sage for burning,
a smudge to carry my prayers to Her in smoke.
I grow sage now at my home, but still I come,
eating down by the creek, building a medicine wheel
from creek stones, in winter spreading a small tarp
across the mud to eat and sleep on.
I make prayers
for my mother, to fight the cancer inside her,
for my children to know peace and plenty,
prayers that I might find the right way.
The Pomo, the Miwok, the Patwin
were all basket-weavers, makers
of intricate designs from White Root,
Willow, Oak sticks.
at this crossing, century after century.
Medicine too, from roots, bark, and nut,
prayers and songs offered up, thanks given.
Medicine that healed the hurts
the Earth caused, but could not ward off
the diseases the Europeans brought.
The people died by the thousands;
where are their spirits now?
At peace with the creek, I hope,
and I send a little prayer to them, too.
I take an apple from my pack,
bought at a Davis, California grocery store,
where the Patwin village Poo-tah-toi
and played, families grew, all gone now.
There is a little opening at the base
of a Valley Oak, I imagine that it is a doorway
to the Other World, and leave the apple,
a snack for whatever may find it,
a raccoon or deer, a lost spirit,
or maybe even The Great She.
You can cross the creek here, but in winter I don??™t.
Two more miles through the Wilson Valley links
you to the Judge Davis Trail, which snakes
up the spine of a long ridge on an old fire road.
Too much mud this day, so I just nap
until I get cold, pack up, the friendly weight
of my pack on my back, down to Highway 20,
down to the other world.
Anne Sexton |
****, why did you come to this dance
with a mask on? Why not the tin man
and his rainbow girl? Why not Racine,
his hair marcelled down to his chest?
Why not come as a stomach digesting
its worms? Why you little fellow
with your ears at attention and your
nose poking up like a microphone?
You whig emblem, you woman chaser,
who do you dance over the wide lawn tonight
clanging the garbage pail like great silver bells?
Paul Laurence Dunbar |
Ain't nobody nevah tol' you not a wo'd a-tall,
'Bout de time dat all de critters gin dey fancy ball?
Some folks tell it in a sto'y, some folks sing de rhyme,
'Peahs to me you ought to hyeahed it, case hit 's ol' ez time.
Well, de critters all was p'osp'ous, now would be de chance
Fu' to tease ol' Pa'son Hedgehog, givin' of a dance;
Case, you know, de critters' preachah was de stric'est kin',
An' he nevah made no 'lowance fu' de frisky min'.
So dey sont dey inbitations, Raccoon writ 'em all,
"Dis hyeah note is to inbite you to de Fancy Ball;
Come erlong an' bring yo' ladies, bring yo' chillun too,
Put on all yo' bibs an' tuckahs, show whut you kin do."
W'en de night come, dey all gathahed in a place dey knowed,
Fu' enough erway f'om people, nigh enough de road,
All de critters had ersponded, Hop-Toad up to Baih,
An' I 's hyeah to tell you, Pa'son Hedgehog too, was daih.
Well, dey talked an' made dey 'bejunce, des lak critters do,
An' dey walked an' p'omenaded 'roun' an' thoo an' thoo;
Jealous ol' Mis' Fox, she whispah, "See Mis' Wildcat daih,
Ain't hit scan'lous, huh a-comin' wid huh shouldahs baih?"[Pg 182]
Ol' man T'utle was n't honin' fu' no dancin' tricks,
So he stayed by ol' Mis' Tu'tle, talkin' politics;
Den de ban' hit 'mence a-playin' critters all to place,
Fou' ercross an' fou' stan' sideways, smilin' face to face.
'Fessah Frog, he play de co'net, Cricket play de fife,
Slews o' Grasshoppahs a-fiddlin' lak to save dey life;
Mistah Crow, 'he call de figgers, settin' in a tree,
Huh, uh! how dose critters sasshayed was a sight to see.
Mistah Possom swing Mis' Rabbit up an' down de flo',
Ol' man Baih, he ain't so nimble, an' it mek him blow;
Raccoon dancin' wid Mis' Squ'il squeeze huh little han',
She say, "Oh, now ain't you awful, quit it, goodness lan'!"
Pa'son Hedgehog groanin' awful at his converts' shines,
'Dough he peepin' thoo his fingahs at dem movin' lines,
'Twell he cain't set still no longah w'en de fiddles sing,
Up he jump, an' bless you, honey, cut de pigeon-wing.
Well, de critters lak to fainted jes' wid dey su'prise.
Sistah Fox, she vowed she was n't gwine to b'lieve huh eyes;
But dey could n't be no 'sputin' 'bout it any mo':
Pa'son Hedgehog was a-cape'in' all erroun' de flo.'
Den dey all jes' capahed scan'lous case dey did n't doubt,
Dat dey still could go to meetin'; who could tu'n 'em out?
So wid dancin' an' uligion, dey was in de fol',
Fu' a-dancin' wid de Pa'son couldn't hu't de soul.