"The world has signed a pact with the devil; it had to. It is a covenant to which every thing, even every hydrogen atom, is bound. The terms are clear: if you want to live, you have to die; you cannot have mountains and creeks without space, and space is a beauty married to a blind man. The blind man is Freedom, or Time, and he does not go anywhere without his great dog Death. The world came into being with the signing of the contract. A scientist calls it the Second Law of Thermodynamics. A poet says, "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/ Drives my green age." This is what we know. The rest is gravy."
- Annie Dillard
The Force That Drives the Flower
"Try not to pay attention to those who will try to make life miserable for you. There will be a lot of those - in the official capacity as well as the self-appointed. Suffer them if you can't escape them, but once you have steered clear of them, give them the shortest shrift possible. Above all, try to avoid telling stories about the unjust treatment you received at their hands; avoid it no matter how receptive your audience may be. Tales of this sort extend the existence of your antagonists; most likely they are counting on your being talkative and relating your experience to others. Therefore, steal, or still, the echo, so that you don't allow an event, however unpleasant or momentous, to claim any more time than it took for it to occur."
- Joseph Brodsky
Whatever the Sunday, the sorrows kept the women in the kitchen,
My cousins and their mothers, my grandmother, her sister, all of them
Foraging through the nerves for pain. They sighed and rustled and one would
Name her sorrows to cue sympathy's murmurs, the first offerings
Of possible cures: three eggs for chills and fever, the benefits
Of mint and pepper, boneset, sage, and crocus tea. Nothing they
Needed came over-the-counter through prescriptions not bearing
A promise from God, who blessed the home remedies handed down
From lost villages of Germany for the aunt with dizzy spells,
For the uncle with the steady pain of private swelling; for passed blood,
For discharge and the sweet streak from the shoulder. In the pantry,
Among pickled beets and stewed tomatoes, were dark, honeyed liquids,
The vinegar and molasses sipped from tablespoons for sorrows
So regular they spoke of them as laundry to be smoothed by the great iron
Of faith which sets creases worthy of paradise. And there, when only
A hum came clear, they might have been speaking from clouds like the dead,
But what mattered when the room went dark were the voices reaching into
The lamp-lit living room of men who listened then, watching the doorway
And nodding at the nostrums offered by the tongues of the unseen
As if the sorrows were soothed by the lost dialect of the soul,
Which whispered to the enormous ache of the imminent.
- Gary Fincke
The Fire Landscape
When you see them
tell them I am still here,
that I stand on one leg while the other one dreams,
that this is the only way,
that the lies I tell them are different
from the lies I tell myself,
that by being both here and beyond
I am becoming a horizon,
that as the sun rises and sets I know my place,
that breath is what saves me,
that even the forced syllables of decline are breath,
that if the body is a coffin it is also a closet of breath,
that breath is a mirror clouded by words,
that breath is all that survives the cry for help
as it enters the stranger's ear
and stays long after the world is gone,
that breath is the beginning again, that from it
all resistance falls away, as meaning falls
away from life, or darkness falls from light,
that breath is what I give them when I send my love.
- Mark Strand
In the Street
Here we are, on top of the utopian arc. The water is shallow. An oil spill shimmers on the surface like a lens catches light and folds it in front of a mirror. If someone stands next to you, they are there, even when outside the picture. Which makes total obscurity relative to luck and such. Unlike the law, architecture lasts. A façade, like an ideal, can be oppressive unless balanced by a balcony on which you can stand and call down to those in the street, Come over here and look up at us. Aren't we exactly what you wanted to believe in?
- Mary Jo Bang
Tomorrow I will start to be happy.
The morning will light up like a celebratory cigar.
Sunbeams sprawling on the lawn will set
dew sparkling like a cut-glass tumbler of champagne.
Today will end the worst phase of my life.
I will put my shapeless days behind me,
fencing off the past, as a golden rind
of sand parts slipshod sea from solid land.
It is tomorrow I want to look back on, not today.
Tomorrow I start to be happy; today is almost yesterday.
- Dennis O'Driscoll
Another morning comes with its strange cure.
The earth is news. Though the river floods
and the spring is cold, my heart goes on,
faithful to a mystery in a cloud,
and the summer's garden continues its descent
through me, toward the ground.
- Wendell Berry
"Zen isn't Chinese or Japanese anymore. It belongs to anyone willing to see their nature and become a Buddha, anyone who lives the life of no-mind and laughs in these outrageous times."
- Bill Porter