"Maybe my limbs are made
mostly for decoration,
like the way I feel about
persimmons. You can’t
really eat them. Or you
wouldn’t want to. If you grab
the soft skin with your fist
it somehow feels funny,
like you’ve been here
before and uncomfortable,
too, like you’d rather
squish it between your teeth
impatiently, before spitting
the soft parts back up
to linger on the tongue like
burnt sugar or guilt.
For starters, it was all
an accident, you cut
the right branch
and a sort of light
woke up underneath,
and the inedible fruit
grew dark and needy.
Think crucial hanging.
Think crayon orange.
There is one low, leaning
heart-shaped globe left
and dearest, can you
tell, I am trying
to love you less."
"Can you believe what the eloquence of these asteroids
tells us? that we are thrown through space from one
explosion to another? How amazing any love has endured!
In spite of the fact that so many tendrils of hope
wither in the sun, in spite of the way the flower now
seems to feed on the bees, that the lake seems to shackle
the sky, that the roots pull down the tree, in spite of the fact
that the clouds drag the earth towards some new final solution.
It doesn’t matter where. There’s a whole alphabet of hate,
a syntax of torture we can hardly understand. Petrified
promises take the day by the hand and lead her off
into some jungle. A couple of cigarettes walk towards
the dark end of a pier. A child’s music shatters
like a broken violin. I used to think that any love we could
find is enough. It isn’t. It isn’t enough to plant our precious
gardens of hope in the sky. It isn’t enough to write
by the fading candle of our eyes. It isn’t enough to read
some future by the petals of the flower. Never enough.
We have to understand this love in the way the thorn defends it.
We can’t let the moon rest its drowsy head on our rooftops.
We have to capture every wayward flash on the night sky and
not let our words burn up in the atmosphere. We have to follow
wherever they were heading. Sometimes I think we are all
hurtling through love at the speed of light. Maybe it is a question
of what galaxy we will crash into. Even now, you have to hear
what the arrow says before it strikes. You have to know
I will follow you over rivers of stone, even while you hold
my heart in your fist, that every love is filled with guilt, every love
tries to conquer a new world. I think sometimes we breathe
through the pores of the earth. It’s the only way we know
the soul’s body. It’s the only way we can pass over the hobbled
roads of hate, the only way to shudder as the birds shudder
crossing the horizon. I am watching a bat scoop the emptiness
from the night, watching the hackberry embrace the moon.
Sometimes we have to hold hands with our own nightmares.
When I tell you that the voice of the nightingale turns dark
you have to understand what this love is trying to overcome,
you have to know that if you ever leave, if you ever disappear,
the sky would rip, and the stars would lose their way."
— Richard Jackson, Night Sky
"A woman from the audience asks: ‘Why were there so few women among the Beat writers?’ and [Gregory] Corso, suddenly utterly serious, leans forward and says: “There were women, they were there, I knew them, their families put them in institutions, they were given electric shock. In the ’50s if you were male you could be a rebel, but if you were female your families had you locked up."
"I think so much about growing up these days, and I am trying my hardest to throw away tired metaphors of blooming, of being a tree, of finding my roots, of stretching out towards the sky. People call me a poet, and I know my place when I say that metaphors won’t do it this time.
‘When I grow up’ was an essay I wrote in baby talk in front of a class that didn’t care. At four years old, I wanted to be a dermatologist, and help the people who experienced the welts and rashes that manifested on their skin like poison ivy - like mine. Most were just impressed that I could spell ‘dermatologist’, and people that weren’t were wowed by a concrete life plan to rival those of teenagers everywhere.
Here’s the thing, though: I just started skipping in the street again. I jumped a puddle and I grinned quietly to myself when the edge of it splashed my foot. Ten minutes ago I got home and washed my underwear in the sink. I spun around in the kitchen and it reminded me that I am so happy to be alive.
And then I think: maybe this is what growing up is. Maybe growing up is learning to be happy to be alive. Maybe it’s making things easier for myself, trimming the fat from my phone contacts, discovering things I enjoy. Maybe it’s to have good sex and buy good underwear and read good books and surround myself with good people.
Maybe growing is doing the best you can with what you have, or learning to be happy with your own company, or being comforted by the idea that no one has a fucking clue what they’re really doing and that makes it okay that you don’t know how to balance your books or put your bedsheets on straight because really, what is a tax return?
Maybe growing up is thinking about growing up enough to realise that everything is growing, from the hairs on my head to the hunger in my heart.
Maybe growing up is getting tired earlier in the evening some days, or understanding that it is okay to get tired.
The more I think about growing up, the clearer it becomes that I am where I was as a child - talking to people that are too focused on their own futures to busy themselves with mine.
And we are all inching, inching, inching our winding ways towards the ceiling."
"But love is what we want, not freedom. Who then is the unluckier man? The beloved, who is given his heart’s desire and must for ever after fear its loss, or the free man, with his unlooked-for liberty, naked and alone between the captive armies of the earth?"
"Summoned by conscious recollection, she
would be smiling, they might be in a kitchen talking,
before or after dinner. But they are in this other room,
the window has many small panes, and they are on a couch
embracing. He holds her tightly
as he can, she buries herself in his body.
Morning, maybe it is evening, light
is flowing through the room. Outside,
the day is slowly succeeded by night,
succeeded by day. The process wobbles wildly
and accelerates: weeks, months, years. The light in the room
does not change, so it is plain what is happening.
They are trying to become one creature,
and something will not have it. They are tender
with each other, afraid
their brief, sharp cries will reconcile them to the moment
when they fall away again. So they rub against each other,
their mouths dry, then wet, then dry.
They feel themselves at the center of a powerful
and baffled will. They feel
they are an almost animal,
washed up on the shore of a world—
or huddled against the gate of a garden—
to which they can’t admit they can never be admitted."
"Am I to bless the lost you,
sitting here with my clumsy soul?"