If You Worship Power — You’ll Always Be Powerless

David Foster Wallace

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“If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.”

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You Who Never Arrived

Rainer Maria Rilke

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You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me — the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods–
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house– , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,–
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening…

It Is Not Here on Earth What I Am Seeking

Jack Micheline

January, 1953, New York, NY

I don’t know what I am seeking
In the cool night
rivers and birds
a sensuous lip
a rainbow of dreams
past waterfalls
the ruins of cities appear and fade in front of me
awkward man
he dresses and clowns
seeking love and shelter in criminal ways

I want to rip off the mask of the sniveling lip
from a want that runs
from an abstract pose
from a lie

This reality lies deep in the ground
or high in the sky
it is not here on earth what I am seeking
it is not in speeches or books
or in the heat of bedrooms or palaces or parties
it is not the dried heart or dead conscience of our age
it is somewhere that a child knows and is forgotten
it is an eye of a dog ravaged in streets
or in an open smile of a baker or shoemaker
it is by the fireside of rivers where men share bread and songs
that take my heart
and leave me limp and wobbly
drunk on eyes and feet and faces of the multitudes
I must travel to some far-off place
where rivers flow
and stars dance
where children bring garlands of love
and emeralds to the soft breeze of heaven
where prisons are not known
it is not here on earth what I am seeking
scavenged and torn bleeding from wars
and greed and shameless murders
let me just weep for the beauty I see and walk alone
to whatever dream and heaven I seek
then I will die with swans in the river
and send my love to strangers and friends
this poetry I breathe which is life and my heart
and to you who seek the unknown
I send you love and the rivers

Winter Poem

A. D. Winans

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It’s been in the thirties
Two nights in a row
And I’m sitting here freezing
My butt off with a hacking cough
Waiting for the power company
To come and fix the problem
But it isn’t so bad
When you consider 9/11
Hurricane Katrina
And the war in Afghanistan
Which has nothing and yet everything
To do with this poem

Thirty-degree nights won’t kill you
But they don’t bring comfort either
The trouble with being single
The trouble with being seventy
Is knowing you could die alone
And go unnoticed for weeks
With nothing but rotting flesh
To tell your story
And a few poems to remember
You by

We fight only for the status quo

Henry Miller

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We are accustomed to think of ourselves as an emancipated people; we say that we are democratic, liberty-loving, free of prejudices and hatred. This is the melting-pot, the seat of a great human experiment. Beautiful words, full of noble, idealistic sentiment.

Actually we are a vulgar, pushing mob whose passions are easily mobilized by demagogues, newspaper men, religious quacks, agitators and such like. To call this a society of free peoples is blasphemous. What have we to offer the world beside the superabundant loot which we recklessly plunder from the earth under the maniacal delusion that this insane activity represents progress and enlightenment?

The land of opportunity has become the land of senseless sweat and struggle. The goal of all our striving has long been forgotten. We no longer wish to succor the oppressed and homeless; there is no room in this great, empty land for those who, like our forefathers before us, now seek a place of refuge. Millions of men and women are, or were until very recently, on relief, condemned like guinea pigs to a life of forced idleness.

The world meanwhile looks to us with a desperation such as it has never known before. Where is the democratic spirit? Where are the leaders? As Democrats, Republicans, Fascists, Communists, we are all on one level. That is one of the reasons why we wage war so beautifully. We defend with our lives the petty principles that divide us. The common principle, which is the establishment of the empire of man on earth, we never lift a finger to defend. We are frightened of any urge which would lift us out of the muck.

We fight only for the status quo, our particular status quo. We battle with heads down and eyes closed. Actually, there never is a status quo, except in the minds of political imbeciles. All is flux. Those who are on the defensive are fighting phantoms. … What is the greatest treason? To question what it is one may be fighting for.

don’t come round but if you do

CHARLES BUKOWSKI

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yeah sure, I’ll be in unless I’m out
don’t knock if the lights are out
or you hear voices or then
I might be reading Proust
if someone slips Proust under my door
or one of his bones for my stew,
and I can’t loan money or
the phone
or what’s left of my car
though you can have yesterday’s newspaper
an old shirt or a bologna sandwich
or sleep on the couch
if you don’t scream at night
and you can talk about yourself
that’s only normal;
hard times are upon us all
only I am not trying to raise a family
to send through Harvard
or buy hunting land,
I am not aiming high
I am only trying to keep myself alive
just a little longer,
so if you sometimes knock
and I don’t answer
and there isn’t a woman in here
maybe I have broken my jaw
and am looking for wire
or I am chasing the butterflies in
my wallpaper,
I mean if I don’t answer
I don’t answer, and the reason is
that I am not yet ready to kill you
or love you, or even accept you,
it means I don’t want to talk
I am busy, I am mad, I am glad
or maybe I’m stringing up a rope;
so even if the lights are on
and you hear sound
like breathing or praying or singing
a radio or the roll of dice
or typing –
go away, it is not the day
the night, the hour;
it is not the ignorance of impoliteness,
I wish to hurt nothing, not even a bug
but sometimes I gather evidence of a kind
that takes some sorting,
and your blue eyes, be they blue
and your hair, if you have some
or your mind – they cannot enter
until the rope is cut or knotted
or until I have shaven into
new mirrors, until the world is
stopped or opened
forever.

We Are All Alone

Hunter S. Thompson

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We are all alone,
born alone, die alone,
and—in spite of
True Romance magazines —
we shall all someday
look back on our lives
and see that, in spite
of our company, we were
alone the whole way.
I do not say lonely —
at least, not all the
time—but essentially,
and finally, alone. This
is what makes your
self-respect so important,
and I don’t see how you can
respect yourself if you must
look in the hearts and minds
of others for your happiness.

Writ on the Steps of Puerto Rican Harlem

Gregory Corso

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There’s a truth limits man
A truth prevents his going any farther
The world is changing
The world knows it’s changing
Heavy is the sorrow of the day
The old have the look of doom
The young mistake their fate in that look
That is truth
But it isn’t all truth

Life has meaning
And I do not know the meaning
Even when I felt it were meaningless
I hoped and prayed and sought a meaning
It wasn’t all frolic poesy
There were dues to pay
Summoning Death and God
I’d a wild dare to tackle Them
Death proved meaningless without Life
Yes the world is changing
But Death remains the same
It takes man away from Life
The only meaning he knows
And usually it is a sad business
This Death

I’d an innocence I’d a seriousness
I’d a humor save me from amateur philosophy
I am able to contradict my beliefs
I am able able
Because I want to know the meaning of everything
Yet sit I like a brokenness
Moaning: Oh what responsibility
I put on thee Gregory
Death and God
Hard hard it’s hard

I learned life were no dream
I learned truth deceived
Man is not God
Life is a century
Death an instant

Middle-Class Non-Identity

Jack Kerouac

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…colleges being nothing but
grooming schools for the middle-class
non-identity which usually finds
its perfect expression on the outskirts
of the campus in rows of well-to-do
houses with lawns and television sets
in each living room with everybody
looking at the same thing and thinking
the same thing at the same time while
the Japhies of the world go prowling
in the wilderness to hear the voice
crying in the wilderness, to find
the ecstasy of the stars, to find
the dark mysterious secret of the
origin of faceless wonderless
crapulous civilization.

Splash

CHARLES BUKOWSKI

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the illusion is that you are simply
reading this poem.
the reality is that this is
more than a
poem.
this is a beggar’s knife.
this is a tulip.
this is a soldier marching
through Madrid.
this is you on your
death bed.
this is Li Po laughing
underground.
this is not a god-damned
poem.
this is a horse asleep.
a butterfly in
your brain.
this is the devil’s
circus.
you are not reading this
on a page.
the page is reading
you.
feel it?
it’s like a cobra. it’s a hungry eagle circling the room.

this is not a poem. poems are dull,
they make you sleep.

these words force you
to a new
madness.

you have been blessed, you have been pushed into a
blinding area of
light.

the elephant dreams
with you
now.
the curve of space
bends and
laughs.

you can die now.
you can die now as
people were meant to
die:
great,
victorious,
hearing the music,
being the music,
roaring,
roaring,
roaring.