That’s what I do: I make coffee and occasionally succumb to suicidal nihilism. But you shouldn’t worry — poetry is still first. Cigarettes and alcohol follow.
You are my stranger and see how we have closed. On both ends.
Night wets me all night, blind, carried.
Would I dance with you? Both forever and rather die.
It would be like dying, yes. Yes I would.
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I find now, swallowing one teaspoon
of pain, that it drops downward
to the past where it mixes
with last year’s cupful
and downward into a decade’s quart
and downward into a lifetime’s ocean.
I alternate treading water
and deadman’s float.
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Eroticism is one of the basic means of self-knowledge, as indispensable as poetry.
How the words are. Suspended around you. And. Bones in the body.
Poetry leads to the same place as all forms of eroticism—to the blending and fusion of separate objects. It leads us to eternity, it leads us to death, and through death to continuity. Poetry is eternity; the sun matched with the sea.
Elizabeth Bishop with her cat, Minnow, 1938
photos by Louise Crane
[T]here is nothing before language, for there is no consciousness, and therefore no world, without a system of signs. In fact, it is the speaking-being that has created this universe, even if language excludes him from it. This means that we are deprived through words of an authentic intimacy with what we are, or with what the Other is. We need poetry, not to regain this intimacy, which is impossible, but to remember that we miss it and to prove to ourselves the value of those moments when we are able to encounter other people, or trees, or anything, beyond words, in silence.
Often when I imagine you
your wholeness cascades into many shapes.
You run like a herd of luminous deer
and I am dark, I am forest.
The poet is someone who is permanently involved with a language that is dying and which he resurrects, not by giving it back some triumphant aspect but by making it return sometimes, like a specter or a ghost: the poet wakes up language and in order to really make the ‘live’ experience of this waking up, of this return to life of language, one has to be very close to the corpse of the language.
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