Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mistaking Opiates for the Clear Light by Suzanne Paola

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Mistaking Opiates for the Clear Light
By Suzanne Paola

There's always been this confusion with white things---
hospitals, cold, moonlight.
They seemed to embody the will
paralyzed into peaceful acceptance.
Blank paper consecrate
to the end of words:  I love that,
secretly, more than this.
Quaaludes in my palm, rowers, eucharistic form.
Clear bag of heroin.
Stuff, we called it.  Too foundational to define.


In a clear bowl, a pear & a pomegranate wizen
into color.  Almost
alive, skins rucking
in on themselves.  Cheeks
sunk, russet
& carmine, seeming
almost to care about this...
Each a countenance
too private for a face, collapsing
in the hard gravity of color.

I was their opposite, pale girl, not living
or dying.  They were
what I feared.


I trust in the bardo wisdom:  how the gods,
with their soft white light, draw us in, convince us
their stuporous world is all there is.

I've seen them, slumping
forward, burning themselves with cigarettes.

How grand they were for a while:  their leathers, their etched
            bodies, a stalled
writhing eagle on each arm.
And their nectars, their secret foods, that gave
an easy kind of sensate order.

Though a god's world finally
suffers itself away from him, braille of the tracks
of a thousand needles, transgressions of red
under the skin---

From:  "Bardo" by Suzanne Paola, pages 6, 7 (Winner of "The Brittingham Prize in Poetry")


Oh, how I love this book and this poem.  I love it like I love ice cream.  This poem whispers to my heart and says, "Well, it's full of truth, isn't it?"  And my heart turns away and replies, "Not now, heart, not now...."  I'm enjoying my in-between state...  I love it when a book speaks to me, don't you?



FYI, here's a tiny bit about the meaning of "bardo":
The Tibetan word bardo means "in-between state." The word is commonly used to mean a state between death and rebirth.  However, the Bardo Thodol -- "Liberation through Hearing in the Intermediate State," known in English as "The Tibetan Book of the Dead," describes six kinds of bardo:

Three are associated with life:
  1. The bardo of birth
  2. The bardo of dreams
  3. The bardo of meditation
These three are the states from death to rebirth:
  1. The bardo of the moment of death
  2. The bardo of supreme reality
  3. The bardo of becoming.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pretty Words by Elinor Wylie

Yellow weeds a sproutin'...

Pretty Words
By Elinor Wylie (1885 - 1929)

Poets make pets of pretty, docile words:
I love smooth words, like gold-enamelled fish
Which circle slowly with a silken swish,
And tender ones, like downy-feathered birds:
Words shy and dappled, deep-eyed deer in herds,
Come to my hand, and playful if I wish,
Or purring softly at a silver dish,
Blue Persian kittens fed on cream and curds.

I love bright words, words up and singing early;
Words that are luminous in the dark, and sing;
Warm lazy words, white cattle under trees;
I love words opalescent, cool, and pearly,
Like midsummer moths, and honied words like bees,
Gilded and sticky, with a little sting.


Bees love yellow my yard.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reading Anais Nin

I have been reading Anais Nin all this week.  A very few of my favorite passages jumped out to be shared here:
“The morning I got up to begin this book I coughed. Something was coming out of my throat: it was strangling me. I broke the thread which held it and yanked it out. I went back to bed and said: I have just spat out my heart. There is an instrument called the quena made of human bones. It owes its origin to the worship of an Indian for his mistress. When she died he made a flute out of her bones. The quena has a more penetrating more haunting sound than the ordinary flute. Those who write know the process. I thought of it as I was spitting out my heart. Only I do not wait for my love to die. Anais Nin, from:  "House of Incest" (A Prose Poem)
Every word you wrote I ate, as if it were manna. Finding one's self in a book is a second birth; and you are the only one who knows that at times men behave like women and women like men, and that all these distinctions are mock distinctions." from "Collages" by Anais Nin
"You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living.  Then you read a book..., or you take a trip, or you talk about Richard, and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating...It appears like an innocuous illness.  Monotony, boredom, death.  Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it.  They work in offices.  They drive a car.  They picnic with their families.  They raise children.  And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death.  Some never awaken.

They are people who go to sleep in the snow and never awaken.  But I am not in danger because my home, my garden, my beautiful life do not lull me.  I am aware of being in a beautiful prison, from which I can only escape by writing...."  from:  "The Diary of Anais Nin", volume 1, page 7


"June (Miller) sat filled with champagne.  I have no need of it.  She talked abou the effects of hashish.  I said, 'I have known such states without hashish.  I do not need drugs.  I carry all that in myself.'  At this she was irritated.  She does not realize that, being an artist, I want to be in those states of ecstasy or vision while keeping my awareness intact.  I am the poet and I must feel and see.  I do not want to be anesthetized.  I am drunk on June's beauty, but I am also aware of it...."  from:  "The Diary of Anais Nin", volume 1, page 37

"Late at night.  I am in Louveciennes.  I am sitting by the fire in my  bedroom.  The heavy curtains are drawn.  The room feels heavy and deeply anchored in the earth. One can smell the odors of the wet trees, the wet grass outside.  They are blown in by the wind through the chimney. The walls are a yard thick, thick enough to dig bookcases into them, beside the bed.  The bed is wide and low. 

Henry (Miller) called my house a laboratory of the soul...Enter here where one discovers that destiny can be directed, that one does not need to remain in bondage to the first wax imprint made on childhood sensibilities.  One need not be branded by the first pattern.  Once the deforming mirror is smashed, there is a possibility of wholeness; there is a possibility of joy."  from "The Dairy of Anais Nin", volume 1, page 105


Anais Nin

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dearest Anais Nin

Anais Nin

A few of my Anais Nin books.

Anais Nin was a prolific diarist and writer born February 21, 1903. She is one of my favorite authors of all time and I wrote this little prose poem a few years back in her honor. (Her name is pronounced "ana-eese neen").  I first read her diaries in the 1970's and they totally transformed me.  She was one of the first women I read about who had the courage to create her own life, like a fine painting.  If you haven't read her diaries, then I highly recommend them, both the edited and the unedited versions.  They're a glimpse into the heart and soul of a creative, fearless woman.  Also, the movie, "Henry and June" is purely amazing and follows the first edited diary.  Uma Thurman as Henry's second wife, June, stole the movie...

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection." ~Anais Nin

To Anais Nin on Her Birthday
I was hungry for a muse
when you came to me
and fed me,
filling me with your words
expanding my little world
changing me
Woman-child, Queen of artifice,
keeper of the gates
of feminine mystery,
I thank you
for having the courage
to have lived your life
as no other woman has
before you
or since.
Anais Nin, 1940

"Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death."  ~Anais Nin, Winter of Artifice

Sunday, February 12, 2012

God's Justice by Anne Carson

Red River Dragonfly photographed by me last year.

God’s Justice
By Anne Carson

In the beginning there were days set aside for various tasks.
On the day He was to create justice
God got involved in making a dragonfly

and lost track of time.
It was about two inches long
with turquoise dots all down its back like Lauren Bacall.

God watched it bend its tiny wire elbows
as it set about cleaning the transparent case of its head.
The eye globes mounted on the case

rotated this way and that
as it polished every angle.
Inside the case

which was glassy black like the windows of a downtown bank
God could see the machinery humming
and He watched the hum

travel all the way down turquoise dots to the end of the tail
and breathe off as light.
Its black wings vibrated in and out.

From:  “Glass, Irony and God” page 49


I recite this poem to myself whenever I'm feeling like disappearing and it hold me to this old earth.  I hope you all enjoy it and that life is treating you well.  Me, I'm trudging through that old slough of despondency once again.  Hopefully, this too, shall pass and I'll make it through to the other side yet again......

Peace, Love & Warmth & Shelter,


"Who, being loved, is poor?"  ~Oscar Wilde