Fun Size Bytes


  1. I heard from people after the shootings. People
    I knew well or barely or not at all. Largely
    the same message: how horrible it was, how little
    there was to say about how horrible it was.
    People wrote, called, mostly e-mailed
    because they know I teach at Virginia Tech,
    to say, there’s nothing to say. Eventually
    I answered these messages: there’s nothing
    to say back except of course there’s nothing
    to say, thank you for your willingness
    to say it. Because this was about nothing.
    A boy who felt that he was nothing,
    who erased and entered that erasure, and guns
    that are good for nothing, and talk of guns
    that is good for nothing, and spring
    that is good for flowers, and Jesus for some,
    and scotch for others, and “and” for me
    in this poem, “and” that is good
    for sewing the minutes together, which otherwise
    go about going away, bereft of us and us
    of them. Like a scarf left on a train and nothing
    like a scarf left on a train. As if the train,
    empty of everything but a scarf, still opens
    its doors at every stop, because this
    is what a train does, this is what a man does
    with his hand on a lever, because otherwise,
    why the lever, why the hand, and then it was over,
    and then it had just begun.
  2. love is a place
    & through this place of
    love move
    (with brightness of peace)
    all places

    yes is a world
    & in this world of
    yes live
    (skillfully curled)
    all worlds

    e.e. cummings (via knitterwhonow)
  3. Dorothy Parker, “Fair Weather”

    effyoufyi:

    This level reach of blue is not my sea;
    Here are sweet waters, pretty in the sun,
    Whose quiet ripples meet obediently
    A marked and measured line, one after one.
    This is no sea of mine. that humbly laves
    Untroubled sands, spread glittering and warm.
    I have a need of wilder, crueler waves;
    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

    So let a love beat over me again,
    Loosing its million desperate breakers wide;
    Sudden and terrible to rise and wane;
    Roaring the heavens apart; a reckless tide
    That casts upon the heart, as it recedes,
    Splinters and spars and dripping, salty weeds.

  4. "Final Notions" by Adrienne Rich

    morrowplanet:

    It will not be simple, it will not take long
    It will take little time, it will take all your thought
    It will take all your heart, it will take all your breath
    It will be short, it will not be simple

    It will touch through your ribs, it will take all your heart
    It will not take long, it will occupy all your thought
    As a city is occupied, as a bed is occupied
    It will take your flesh, it will not be simple

    You are coming into us who cannot withstand you
    You are coming into us who never wanted to withstand you
    You are taking parts of us into places never planned
    You are going far away with pieces of our lives

    It will be short, it will take all your breath
    It will not be simple, it will become your will

  5. mattdoucette:

    “Joy cometh in the morning”

    TJ: The Psalms are the prayerbook of the Bible, and most of them are poetry. Perhaps this is fitting for the occasion. The clip above is one of my favorites, and has been echoing in my mind all day.

    (“Sheol” is one of the words commonly translated as ‘grave’ or ‘hell’, in case that isn’t clear from context.)

    ~Psalm 30 (NRSV)~

    I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.

    O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

    O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

    Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.

    For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

    As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”

    By your favor, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed.

    To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication:

    “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?

    Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!”

    You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

    so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

  6. TJ: This video is wonderful, as is the poem, which I added below. Thanks for posting it Merlin.

    Forgetfulness - Billy Collins

    The name of the author is the first to go
    followed obediently by the title, the plot,
    the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
    which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
    never even heard of,

    It is as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
    decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
    to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

    Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
    and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
    and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

    something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
    the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

    Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
    it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
    not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

    It has floated away down a dark mythological river
    whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
    well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
    who have even forgotten even how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

    No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
    to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
    No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
    out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

  7. You are not beautiful, exactly.
    You are beautiful, inexactly.
    You let a weed grow by the mulberry
    And a mulberry grow by the house.
    So close, in the personal quiet
    Of a windy night, it brushes the wall
    And sweeps away the day till we sleep.

    A child said it, and it seemed true:
    “Things that are lost are all equal.”
    But it isn’t true. If I lost you,
    The air wouldn’t move, nor the tree grow.
    Someone would pull the weed, my flower.
    The quiet wouldn’t be yours. If I lost you,
    I’d have to ask the grass to let me sleep.

    To Dorothy by Marvin Bell

    I heard him read this when I was in college, and then ended up moving to the state where he was poet laureate.

    (via jamiek)

    TJ: Lots of good stuff at http://jamietie.com/tagged/poetry.

    (via jamiek)

  8. O WESTERN wind, when wilt thou blow
    That the small rain down can rain?
    Christ, that my love were in my arms
    And I in my bed again!

    "The Lover in Winter Plaineth for the Spring" by Anonymous. 16th Cent. (?)

    via Theresa who adds “I mean, that one kind of says it all, I think.”

  9. "Instructions" by Neil Gaiman

    "This is a poem I wrote about what to do if you find yourself inside a fairy tale." — Neil Gaiman

    (Also, you can find a video of Neil reading it here. Thanks to lizzindc for the response to my poetry request post.)

    "Instructions" by Neil Gaiman

    Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never saw before.

    Say “please” before you open the latch, go through,
    walk down the path.

    A red metal imp hangs from the green-painted front door, as a knocker,
    do not touch it; it will bite your fingers.

    Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat nothing.
    However, if any creature tells you that it hungers, feed it.
    If it tells you that it is dirty, clean it.
    If it cries to you that it hurts,
    if you can, ease its pain.

    From the back garden you will be able to see the wild wood.
    The deep well you walk past leads down to Winter’s realm;
    there is another land at the bottom of it.

    If you turn around here,
    you can walk back, safely;
    you will lose no face. I will think no less of you.

    Once through the garden you will be in the wood.
    The trees are old. Eyes peer from the under-growth.
    Beneath a twisted oak sits an old woman. She
    may ask for something; give it to her.

    She will point the way to the castle.
    Inside it are three princesses.
    Do not trust the youngest. Walk on.

    In the clearing beyond the castle the twelve
    months sit about a fire, warming their feet, exchanging tales.
    They may do favors for you, if you are polite.
    You may pick strawberries in December’s frost.

    Trust the wolves, but do not tell them where you are going.

    The river can be crossed by the ferry. The ferry-man will take you.
    (And the answer to his question is this:
    If he hands the oar to his passenger, he will be free to leave the boat.
    Only tell him this from a safe distance.)

    If an eagle gives you a feather, keep it safe.

    Remember: that giants sleep too soundly; that
    witches are often betrayed by their appetites;
    dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always;
    hearts can be well-hidden,
    and you betray them with your tongue.

    Do not be jealous of your sister.

    Know that diamonds and roses
    are as uncomfortable when they tumble from
    one’s lips as toads and frogs;
    colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.

    Remember your name.

    Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found.

    Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn.
    Trust dreams.
    Trust your heart, and trust your story.

    When you come back, return the way you came.
    Favors will be returned, debts be repaid.
    Do not forget your manners.
    Do not look back.

    Ride the wise eagle (you shall not fall).
    Ride the silver fish (you will not drown).
    Ride the grey wolf (hold tightly to his fur).

    There is a worm at the heart of the tower; that is
    why it will not stand.

    When you reach the little house, the place your journey started,
    you will recognize it, although it will seem
    much smaller than you remember.

    Walk up the path, and through the garden gate
    you never saw before but once.

    And then go home. Or make a home.
    Or rest.

  10. Love is enough: though the world be a-waning,
    And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
    Though the skies be too dark for dim eyes to discover
    The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
    Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder,
    And this day draw a veil over all deeds passed over,
    Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter:
    The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
    These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.

    "Love Is Enough," William Morris (1834-96)

    (Thanks to sarijw who gave this in response to my post earlier.)

  11. ~Questions About Angels~

by Billy Collins


Of all the questions you might want to ask
about angels, the only one you ever hear
is how many can dance on the head of a pin.

No curiosity about how they pass the eternal time
besides circling the Throne chanting in Latin
or delivering a crust of bread to a hermit on earth
or guiding a boy and girl across a rickety wooden bridge.

Do they fly through God’s body and come out singing?
Do they swing like children from the hinges
of the spirit world saying their names backwards and forwards?
Do they sit alone in little gardens changing colors?

What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes,
their diet of unfiltered divine light?
What goes on inside their luminous heads? Is there a wall
these tall presences can look over and see hell?

If an angel fell off a cloud, would he leave a hole
in a river and would the hole float along endlessly
filled with the silent letters of every angelic word?

If an angel delivered the mail, would he arrive
in a blinding rush of wings or would he just assume
the appearance of the regular mailman and
whistle up the driveway reading the postcards?

No, the medieval theologians control the court.
The only question you ever hear is about
the little dance floor on the head of a pin
where halos are meant to converge and drift invisibly.

It is designed to make us think in millions,
billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse
into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one:
one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet,
a small jazz combo working in the background.

She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful
eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over
to glance at his watch because she has been dancing
forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.



Image: "Dancing angel" by Cindy Dukino




Text: 
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176044

    ~Questions About Angels~

    by Billy Collins

    Of all the questions you might want to ask
    about angels, the only one you ever hear
    is how many can dance on the head of a pin.

    No curiosity about how they pass the eternal time
    besides circling the Throne chanting in Latin
    or delivering a crust of bread to a hermit on earth
    or guiding a boy and girl across a rickety wooden bridge.

    Do they fly through God’s body and come out singing?
    Do they swing like children from the hinges
    of the spirit world saying their names backwards and forwards?
    Do they sit alone in little gardens changing colors?

    What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes,
    their diet of unfiltered divine light?
    What goes on inside their luminous heads? Is there a wall
    these tall presences can look over and see hell?

    If an angel fell off a cloud, would he leave a hole
    in a river and would the hole float along endlessly
    filled with the silent letters of every angelic word?

    If an angel delivered the mail, would he arrive
    in a blinding rush of wings or would he just assume
    the appearance of the regular mailman and
    whistle up the driveway reading the postcards?

    No, the medieval theologians control the court.
    The only question you ever hear is about
    the little dance floor on the head of a pin
    where halos are meant to converge and drift invisibly.

    It is designed to make us think in millions,
    billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse
    into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one:
    one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet,
    a small jazz combo working in the background.

    She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful
    eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over
    to glance at his watch because she has been dancing
    forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.

    Image: "Dancing angel" by Cindy Dukino

    Text: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176044

  12. Wordsworth

    When I was in high school, our baseball team had a pitcher whose name was “Armstrong.”

    Great name for a pitcher, right?

    I love it when names and skills fit together naturally, so I’ve always taken some sort of pleasure in the idea of a man named “Wordsworth” becoming a poet. It just fits nicely.

    I assume it pleased him also.

    But surely as a wordsmith it must have bothered him that he was a from a place called “Cockermouth” in “Cumbria.”

    Ouch.

    Anyway, I don’t remember what led me to look up this poem of his, but that’s when I learned about his hometown:

    ~ Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, 175-186 ~

    What though the radiance which was once so bright
    Be now for ever taken from my sight,
    Though nothing can bring back the hour
    Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
    We will grieve not, rather find
    Strength in what remains behind;
    In the primal sympathy
    Which having been must ever be;
    In the soothing thoughts that spring
    Out of human suffering;
    In the faith that looks through death,
    In years that bring the philosophic mind.