Late Ripeness

Czeslaw Milosz

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Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.

One after another my former lives were departing,
like ships, together with their sorrow.

And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.

I was not separated from people,
grief and pity joined us.
We forget — I kept saying — that we are all children of the King.

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The End

Mark Strand

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Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.

When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky

Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.

Beasts Bounding Through Time

CHARLES BUKOWSKI

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Van Gogh writing his brother for paints
Hemingway testing his shotgun
Celine going broke as a doctor of medicine
the impossibility of being human
Villon expelled from Paris for being a thief
Faulkner drunk in the gutters of his town
the impossibility of being human
Burroughs killing his wife with a gun
Mailer stabbing his
the impossibility of being human
Maupassant going mad in a rowboat
Dostoyevsky lined up against a wall to be shot
Crane off the back of a boat into the propeller
the impossibility
Sylvia with her head in the oven like a baked potato
Harry Crosby leaping into that Black Sun
Lorca murdered in the road by Spanish troops
the impossibility
Artaud sitting on a madhouse bench
Chatterton drinking rat poison
Shakespeare a plagiarist
Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head against deafness
the impossibility the impossibility
Nietzsche gone totally mad
the impossibility of being human
all too human
this breathing
in and out
out and in
these punks
these cowards
these champions
these mad dogs of glory
moving this little bit of light toward us
impossibly.

A Walk

Raymond Carver

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I took a walk on the railroad track.
Followed that for a while
and got off at the country graveyard
where a man sleeps between
two wives. Emily van der Zee,
Loving Wife and Mother,
is at John van der Zee’s right.
Mary, the second Mrs. van der Zee
also a loving wife, to his left.
First Emily went, then Mary.
After a few years, the old fellow himself.
Eleven children came from these unions.
And they, too, would all have to be dead now.
This is a quiet place. As good a place as any
to break my walk, sit, and provide against
my own death, which comes on.
But I don’t understand, and I don’t understand.
All I know about this fine, sweaty life,
my own or anyone else’s,
is that in a little while I’ll rise up
and leave this astonishing place
that gives shelter to dead people. This graveyard.
And go. Walking first on one rail
and then the other.

Friedrich Nietzsche on Fear & Conformity

Friedrich Nietzsche

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“The concept of greatness entails being noble, wanting to be by oneself, being able to be different, standing alone and having to live independently.”

~ Nietzsche


“A traveler who had seen many countries, peoples and several of the earth’s continents was asked what attribute he had found in men everywhere. He said: ‘They have a propensity for laziness.’ To others, it seems that he should have said: ‘They are all fearful. They hide themselves behind customs and opinions.’

In his heart every man knows quite well that, being unique, he will be in the world only once and that there will be no second chance for his oneness to coalesce from the strangely variegated assortment that he is: he knows it but hides it like a bad conscience—why? From fear of his neighbor, who demands conformity and cloaks himself with it.

But what is it that constrains the individual to fear his neighbor, to think and act like a member of a herd, and to have no joy in himself?

Modesty, perhaps, in a few rare cases. With the great majority it is indolence, inertia, in short that tendency to laziness of which the traveller spoke. He is right: men are even lazier than they are timid, and fear most of all the inconveniences with which unconditional honesty and nakedness would burden them.

Artists alone hate this sluggish promenading in borrowed fashions and appropriated opinions and they reveal everyone’s secret bad conscience, the law that every man is a unique miracle; they dare to show us man as he is, uniquely himself to every last movement of his muscles, more, that in being thus strictly consistent in uniqueness he is beautiful, and worth regarding, and in no way tedious.

When the great thinker despises mankind, he despises its laziness: for it is on account of their laziness that men seem like factory products, things of no consequence and unworthy to be associated with or instructed.

The man who does not wish to belong to the mass needs only to cease taking himself easily; let him follow his conscience, which calls to him: ‘Be yourself! All you are now doing, thinking, desiring, is not you yourself.’”

— Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844–1900

Hell Is A Lonely Place

CHARLES BUKOWSKI

Tribute-14-years-ago-Charles-Bukowski-Died

he was 65, his wife was 66, had
Alzheimer’s disease.

he had cancer of the
mouth.
there were
operations, radiation
treatments
which decayed the bones in his
jaw
which then had to be
wired.

daily he put his wife in
rubber diapers
like a
baby.

unable to drive in his
condition
he had to take a taxi to
the medical
center,
had difficulty speaking,
had to
write the directions
down.

on his last visit
they informed him
there would be another
operation: a bit more
left
cheek and a bit more
tongue.

when he returned
he changed his wife’s
diapers
put on the tv
dinners, watched the
evening news
then went to the bedroom, got the
gun, put it to her
temple, fired.

she fell to the
left, he sat upon the
couch
put the gun into his
mouth, pulled the
trigger.

the shots didn’t arouse
the neighbors.

later
the burning tv dinners
did.

somebody arrived, pushed
the door open, saw
it.

soon
the police arrived and
went through their
routine, found
some items:

a closed savings
account and
a checkbook with a
balance of
$1.14
suicide, they
deduced.

in three weeks
there were two
new tenants:
a computer engineer
named
Ross
and his wife
Anatana
who studied
ballet.

they looked like another
upwardly mobile
pair.

To Be A Poet

Arthur Rimbaud

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A poet makes himself a visionary
through a long, boundless, and
systematized disorganization
of all the senses. All forms
of love, of suffering, of madness;
he searches himself, he exhausts
within himself all poisons, and
preserves their quintessences.

Unspeakable torment, where he will
need the greatest faith, a
superhuman strength, where he
becomes all men the great invalid,
the great criminal, the great
accursed–and the Supreme Scientist!
For he attains the unknown! Because
he has cultivated his soul, already
rich, more than anyone! He attains
the unknown, and if, demented, he
finally loses the understanding
of his visions, he will at least
have seen them!

So what if he is destroyed in his ecstatic
flight through things unheard of, unnameable:
other horrible workers will come; they will
begin at the horizons where
the first one has fallen!

You Are Tired

E.E. Cummings

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You are tired,
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.

Come with me, then,
And we’ll leave it far and far away —
(Only you and I, understand!)

You have played,
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and —
Just tired.
So am I.

But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight,
And knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart —
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows,
And, if you like,
The perfect places of Sleep.

Ah, come with me!
I’ll blow you that wonderful bubble, the moon,
That floats forever and a day;
I’ll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream,
Until I find the Only Flower,
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.

I Am Waiting

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Lawrence-Felinguetti
I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

Edge

Sylvia Plath
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The woman is perfected.
Her dead
 
Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity
 
Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Her bare
 
Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.
 
Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little
 
Pitcher of milk, now empty.
She has folded
 
Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden
 
Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.
 
The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.
 
She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.