Greetings, dear friends. I won’t offer much preamble this time, except to say thank you for entering the space of my fascination this year. In this issue, the poems will speak for themselves. I’ve compiled eight most beloved works, and I implore you to read and be moved. Until next time, godspeed!
"won't you celebrate with me?" by Lucille Clifton won't you celebrate with me what i have shaped into a kind of life? i had no model. born in babylon both nonwhite and woman what did i see to be except myself? i made it up here on this bridge between starshine and clay, my one hand holding tight my other hand; come celebrate with me that everyday something has tried to kill me and has failed.
"Night Walk" by Franz Wright The all-night convenience store’s empty and no one is behind the counter. You open and shut the glass door a few times causing a bell to go off, but no one appears. You only came to buy a pack of cigarettes, maybe a copy of yesterday's newspaper — finally you take one and leave thirty-five cents in its place. It is freezing, but it is a good thing to step outside again: you can feel less alone in the night, with lights on here and there between the dark buildings and trees. Your own among them, somewhere. There must be thousands of people in this city who are dying to welcome you into their small bolted rooms, to sit you down and tell you what has happened to their lives. And the night smells like snow. Walking home, for a moment you almost believe you could start again. And an intense love rushes to your heart, and hope. It's unendurable, unendurable.
"Try to Praise the Mutilated World" by Adam Zagajewski Try to praise the mutilated world. Remember June's long days, and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew. The nettles that methodically overgrow the abandoned homesteads of exiles. You must praise the mutilated world. You watched the stylish yachts and ships; one of them had a long trip ahead of it, while salty oblivion awaited others. You've seen the refugees heading nowhere, you've heard the executioners sing joyfully. You should praise the mutilated world. Remember the moments when we were together in a white room and the curtain fluttered. Return in thought to the concert where music flared. You gathered acorns in the park in autumn and leaves eddied over the earth's scars. Praise the mutilated world and the grey feather a thrush lost, and the gentle light that strays and vanishes and returns.
"Rain" by Raymond Carver Woke up this morning with a terrific urge to lie in bed all day and read. Fought against it for a minute. Then looked out the window at the rain. And gave over. Put myself entirely in the keep of this rainy morning. Would I live my life over again? Make the same unforgiveable mistakes? Yes, given half a chance. Yes.
"O Me! O Life!" by Walt Whitman Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring, Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish, Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d, Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me, Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined, The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
"Resolution #1,003" by June Jordan I will love who loves me I will love as much as I am loved I will hate who hates me I will feel nothing for everyone oblivious to me I will stay indifferent to indifference I will live hostile to hostility I will make myself a passionate and eager lover in response to passionate and eager love I will be nobody’s fool
"Love After Love" by Derek Walcott The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other's welcome, and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.
"108th Chorus" by Jack Kerouac Neither this nor that means, no arbitrary conceptions, because if you say arbitrarily, the RAMMIS is the RAMMIS, ! – and the TSORIS is the TSORIS, or the FLORIST, or the – arbitrary conceptions have sprung into existence that didnt have to be there in the first place when your eyes were bright with seeing emptiness in the void of holy sea where creatures didnt abound, nor crops grow, and nothing happened, and nobody lived, and nobody cared – You didnt need arbitrary concepts there and need them now you say you need them now I say, you say, Why should you need them now Why should you now