My Heart, My Life

My Life

~ I’m not going to cry all the time
nor shall I laugh all the time,
I don’t prefer one “strain” to another.
I want the immediacy of a Greek tragedy,
its cathartic stab to the heart, the hollowed out,
redemptive exhale. I want to be
at least as alive as the spirit of poetry.
And if some aficionado of my mess says “That’s
not like her!”, screw it! “Screw you!” I
don’t wear brown and grey suits all the time.
I wear men’s shirts and make coffee barefoot
often. I want my skin to be nestled against,
my feet to be bare,
my fingers employed, and my heart —
you can’t plan on the heart,
but the better part of it is closed off to the world. ~

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My Heart by Frank O’Hara

I’m not going to cry all the time
nor shall I laugh all the time,
I don’t prefer one “strain” to another.
I’d have the immediacy of a bad movie,
not just a sleeper, but also the big,
overproduced first-run kind. I want to be
at least as alive as the vulgar. And if
some aficionado of my mess says “That’s
not like Frank!”, all to the good! I
don’t wear brown and grey suits all the time,
do I? No. I wear workshirts to the opera,
often. I want my feet to be bare,
I want my face to be shaven, and my heart–
you can’t plan on the heart, but
the better part of it, my poetry, is open.

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Letting go

~ If You Forget Me

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the brass sun, at the bare branch
of the supine winter at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
we meet in moments, shared memories,
as if aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
between our isles.

Well, now,
if little by little you change the course,
I shall change it too, little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me,
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the current of the tides
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall raise my arms
and dive into the waters
that lap around my island.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are close to me
with lasting kindness,
if each day a thought
climbs into your mind to seek me,
ah my friend, ah my own,
in me all that warmth is beckoning,
in me nothing is lost or forgotten,
my friendship feeds on yours, companion,
and as long as we live it will be on the map
marked and unmistakable. ~

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If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Time’s Passage

On Aging by Maya Angelou

When you see me sitting quietly,
Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering.
I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me!
Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it,
Otherwise I’ll do without it!
When my bones are stiff and aching,
And my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Don’t bring me no rocking chair.
When you see me walking, stumbling,
Don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy
And every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then,
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.

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~ On Dying

When you see me sitting quietly,
Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering.
I’m listening to myself.

When you see me watching motionless,
Like a pier lapped with ebb and flow,
Don’t think I need your company,
I have a place to go.

When you see me walking, stumbling,
Like a foal an hour old,
Don’t think I need your watchful eye,
I have a path to unfold.

When my bones are stiff and aching,
And my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Bring me a rocking chair. ~

“The world is full of loss … ”

~ Invocation

The world is full of loss;
bring, sleep, my love back,

my home is where we make our meeting-place,
and be it in my dreams;
my love lies within that face.

Lift, sleep, the exile from my eyes;
send peace, send life back,

lull me deep into an apparition,
a veiled, safe maze
of miscognition. ~

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The world is full of loss … by Muriel Rukeyser

The world is full of loss; bring, wind, my love,

my home is where we make our meeting-place,
and love whatever I shall touch and read
within that face.

Lift, wind, my exile from my eyes;

peace to look, life to listen and confess,
freedom to find to find to find
that nakedness.

Coming 2

~ Coming to

I’ve done what everyone else did.
I’ve discarded dreams and hopped on bandwagons, swam
mainstream, and I’ve welcomed regret
and called trite the impossible habit to break.

And now I’m here.
The dinner is ready and I cannot eat.
The meat sits in a white lake of its dish.
The wine waits.

Coming to
has its rewards: nothing is promised, but nothing is taken away.
I’ve heart and time to be saved by grace,
I’ve places to go and all the old reasons not to. ~

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Coming to This by Mark Strand

We have done what we wanted.
We have discarded dreams, preferring the heavy industry
of each other, and we have welcomed grief
and called ruin the impossible habit to break.

And now we are here.
The dinner is ready and we cannot eat.
The meat sits in the white lake of its dish.
The wine waits.

Coming to this
has its rewards: nothing is promised, nothing is taken away.
We have no heart or saving grace,
no place to go, no reason to remain.

Fog-Cat

~ Cat
The cat comes
on little fog feet.

She sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then skitters on. ~

Fog by Carl Sandburg
The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.