cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Default)
"Song of Five Friends"

by Yun Sŏndo

Translation by Larry Gross

You ask how many friends I have? Water and stone, bamboo and pine.
The moon rising over the eastern hill is a joyful comrade.
Besides these five companions, what other pleasure should I ask?

I’m told clouds are nice, that is, their color; but often they grow dark.
I’m told winds are pleasing, that is, their sound, but they fade to silence;
So I say only water is faithful and neverending.

Why do flowers fade and die so soon after that glorious bloom?
Why does green grass curl to yellow after sending its spears so high?
Could it be that only stone stands strong against the elements?

Look at this, it isn’t a tree, and it isn‘t a grass either;
How can it stand so erect when its insides are empty?
Bamboo, I praise you in all seasons, standing green no matter what

In summer fragile flowers bloom; in autumn they lose their leaves.
But Mr. Pine, see how he disdains winter’s frost and snow—
See him thrust himself to heaven and down to earth’s eternal spring.

Though you’re small, you glide so high, blessing everyone with light;
What other flame can beam so brightly in the blackness of our night?
Moon, you watch but keep silent; isn’t that what a good friend does?
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Default)
  "We are hard on each other" 

Margaret Atwood


We are hard on each other
and call it honesty,
choosing our jagged truths
with care and aiming them across
the neutral table.

The things we say are 
true; it is our crooked 
aims, our choices
turn them criminal.


Of course your lies
are more amusing:
you make them new each time.

Your truths, painful and boring
repeat themselves over & over 
perhaps because you own
so few of them


A truth should exist,
it should not be used
like this. If I love you

is that a fact or a weapon?


Does the body lie
moving like this, are these 
touches, hairs, wet 
soft marble my tongue runs over
lies you are telling me?

Your body is not a word,
it does not lie or 
speak truth either.

It is only
here or not here.
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Default)
"Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal" by Naomi Shihab Nye

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well — one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew — however poorly used -
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.

She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her — Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies — little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts — out of her bag —
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo — we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers —
Non-alcoholic — and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American — ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend — by now we were holding hands —
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate — once the crying of confusion stopped
— has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Default)
  "The City"
Constantine P. Cavafy

You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried like something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You’ll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You’ll always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there’s no ship for you, there’s no road.
Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.

Translated By Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Default)
"The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart"

Jack Gilbert

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,

and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind's labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not laguage but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and birds.
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Default)
"Insomnia" by Dana Gioia

Now you hear what the house has to say.
Pipes clanking, water running in the dark,
the mortgaged walls shifting in discomfort,
and voices mounting in an endless drone
of small complaints like the sounds of a family
that year by year you've learned how to ignore.

But now you must listen to the things you own,
all that you've worked for these past years,
the murmur of property, of things in disrepair,
the moving parts about to come undone,
and twisting in the sheets remember all
the faces you could not bring yourself to love.

How many voices have escaped you until now,
the venting furnace, the floorboards underfoot,
the steady accusations of the clock
numbering the minutes no one will mark.
The terrible clarity this moment brings,
the useless insight, the unbroken dark.

cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Default)
"Immigrant Blues"

Li-Young Lee

 People have been trying to kill me since I was born,
a man tells his son, trying to explain
the wisdom of learning a second tongue.

It’s an old story from the previous century
about my father and me.

The same old story from yesterday morning
about me and my son.

It’s called “Survival Strategies
and the Melancholy of Racial Assimilation.”

It’s called “Psychological Paradigms of Displaced Persons,”

called “The Child Who’d Rather Play than Study.”

Practice until you feel
the language inside you, says the man.

But what does he know about inside and outside,
my father who was spared nothing
in spite of the languages he used?

And me, confused about the flesh and the soul,
who asked once into a telephone,
Am I inside you?

You’re always inside me, a woman answered,
at peace with the body’s finitude,
at peace with the soul’s disregard
of space and time.

Am I inside you? I asked once
lying between her legs, confused
about the body and the heart.

If you don’t believe you’re inside me, you’re not,
she answered, at peace with the body’s greed,
at peace with the heart’s bewilderment.

It’s an ancient story from yesterday evening

called “Patterns of Love in Peoples of Diaspora,”

called “Loss of the Homeplace
and the Defilement of the Beloved,”

called “I want to Sing but I Don’t Know Any Songs.”

cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Illya and Napoleon (Man from UNCLE))
Someone is doing a "post your favorite poem" meme, so I thought I'd join in.


How on earth did it happen, I used to wonder
that a whole city—arches, pillars, colonnades,
not to mention vehicles and animals—had all
one fine day gone under?

I mean, I said to myself, the world was small then.
Surely a great city must have been missed?
I miss our old city—

white pepper, white pudding, you and I meeting
under fanlights and low skies to go home in it. Maybe
what really happened is

this: the old fable-makers searched hard for a word
to convey that what is gone is gone forever and
never found it. And so, in the best traditions of

where we come from, they gave their sorrow a name
and drowned it.

- "Atlantis- A Lost Sonnet" by Eavan Boland


Sep. 14th, 2008 10:20 pm
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Baseball (Provenza/Flynn))
"I don’t know much about death and the sorriest lesson I’ve learned
is that words, my most trusted guardians against chaos,
offer small comfort in the face of anyone’s dying."
~Alison Hawthorne Deming “Inside the Wolf”

"No, I said, he was a failure.
You can’t remember
a nobody’s name, that’s why
they’re called nobodies.
Failures are unforgettable."
~ “Failure” by Philip Schultz

"There’s nothing terribly wrong with feeling lost, so long as that feeling precedes some plan on your part to actually do something about it. Too often a person grows complacent with their disillusionment, perpetually wearing their 'discomfort' like a favorite shirt."
~Jhonen Vasquez

“Of course, I want to
save the world, she said,
but I was hoping to do it
from the comfort
of my regular life.”
~ “Regular Life” by Brian Andreas
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Old Man OTP (Provenza/Flynn))
"Murmurings In A Field Hospital"
by Carl Sandburg

[They picked him up in the grass where he had lain two
days in the rain with a piece of shrapnel in his lungs.]

Come to me only with playthings now…
A picture of a singing woman with blue eyes
Standing at a fence of hollyhocks, poppies and sunflowers…
Or an old man I remember sitting with children telling stories
Of days that never happened anywhere in the world…

No more iron cold and real to handle,
Shaped for a drive straight ahead.
Bring me only beautiful useless things.
Only old home things touched at sunset in the quiet…
And at the window one day in summer
Yellow of the new crock of butter
Stood against the red of new climbing roses…
And the world was all playthings.

Adopt one today!

Adopt one today!
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Waistcoat (Ezra Standish))
Don't bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.

- "Under One Small Star" by Wislawa Szymborska

a country you carry in your pocket
airport to airport, a country
that exists for you in a remembered
fragrance, an expired stamp, now the seal
of blood embossed upon someone's
sunstruck pavement.

- "Palestine" by Lorna Dee Cervantes

Some things never leave a person:
scent of the hair of one you love,
the texture of persimmons,
in your palm, the ripe weight.

- "Persimmons" by Li-Young Lee

I must go down to the seas again,
to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship
and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song
and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face
and a grey dawn breaking.

- "Sea Fever" by John Masefield
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Waistcoat (Ezra Standish))

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.


Well, that's the last poem for poetry month. I hope you all enjoyed the poetry. I know I had a lot of fun looking up poems. :)
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Cyril and Frank (Slings and Arrows))

She tells him what she cannot name—

how anger tastes as it leaves her lips,
how easy it is to love someone
              when he is sleeping,
the sound of rain as it pools
              beneath their bedroom window.

There are not enough words for sadness.

Misery and sorrow wait
              like the dead in the closets.
Melancholy loiters in the kitchen.
But how does she explain heartache
              to someone who has never
              washed night from his hair?

She unfolds the words from their corners—
comfort and ease tucked under their mattress,
security and compassion piled high
              on the bed.

She remembers how quiet their pillows were,
two faces in darkness waiting
for the other to speak.
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Annoyed Hutch (Starsky and Hutch))

As you plaited the harvest bow
You implicated the mellowed silence in you
In wheat that does not rust
But brightens as it tightens twist by twist
Into a knowable corona,
A throwaway love-knot of straw.

Hands that aged round ashplants and cane sticks
And lapped the spurs on a lifetime of game cocks
Harked to their gift and worked with fine intent
Until your fingers moved somnambulant:
I tell and finger it like braille,
Gleaning the unsaid off the palpable,

And if I spy into its golden loops
I see us walk between the railway slopes
Into an evening of long grass and midges,
Blue smoke straight up, old beds and ploughs in hedges,
An auction notice on an outhouse wall--
You with a harvest bow in your lapel,

Me with the fishing rod, already homesick
For the big lift of these evenings, as your stick
Whacking the tips off weeds and bushes
Beats out of time, and beats, but flushes
Nothing: that original townland
Still tongue-tied in the straw tied by your hand.

The end of art is peace
Could be the motto of this frail device
That I have pinned up on our deal dresser--
Like a drawn snare
Slipped lately by the spirit of the corn
Yet burnished by its passage, and still warm.
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Lily/Marshall/Ted Hug (HIMYM))

The stars are wandering around you. You're not at sea
but the stars are wandering around you anyway. This
presupposes a lot. By any reckoning, you're dancing
with your secretary by the wood stove. Above you,

space junk perambulates. The world's tallest
mountain possesseth oxygen tanks. There lies
Los Angeles looking like a coat-of-sable with eyes on.
No snakes to rattle & all coyotes presently occupied
as taxidermied coyotes.

By all accounts you have a hand to play. It is shit luck
to live under a commercial flight pattern, to've shaken
from your sleep halfway around the globe in a swollen
room on the Bay of Whatever. You look into the swollen
Bay of Whatever and your heart

throbs. You're not at sea but the sea is everywhere
untouched around you. The sky turns out birds one by one.
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Hihara/Yunoki Friends (La Corda d'Oro))

How strange for me to sing of insomnia; I sleep
like wood or rusted nails in buried coffins. We believe
in free will but listen to astrologers, throw the tarot.
Name. Small events. Birthplace. Faded journals
or the lighter shade of wallpaper
where someone's picture used to hang, stained
with cigarette smoke & dust. There's the sound
of dice on the table next door, 2 AM, the point
I'm always trying to escape, to leave nothing:
no memory of moonlight on the river or breezes
through open windows, of trains squealing
on the tracks below; no weary patina
of ashtrays or sidewalks or
clocks chiming Now! no thunder
announcing its storm. Free of memory or desire,
the slate's blurred by erasures
like a northern evening that lingers far too long
and we sit watching twilight lose itself
to darkness, never knowing
exactly when it's lost.
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (No Good Reason to Act Her Age (Vala))
by Rabindranath Tagore

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow
domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought
and action--
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Be to her, Persephone,
All the things I might not be:
Take her head upon your knee.
She that was so proud and wild,
Flippant, arrogant and free,
She that had no need of me,
Is a little lonely child
Lost in Hell,—Persephone,
Take her head upon your knee:
Say to her, "My dear, my dear,
It is not so dreadful here."
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Cyril and Frank (Slings and Arrows))
Important Note: This poem is very, very, very sacrilegious in regards to Jesus and Christianity. If that's not your thing, don't read.


To Ernest Brace

"And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was
about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto
me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and
write them not."

That raft we rigged up, under the water,
Was just the item: when he walked,
With his robes blowing, dark against the sky,
It was as though the unsubstantial waves held up
His slender and inviolate feet. The gulls flew over,
Dropping, crying alone; thin ragged lengths of cloud
Drifted in bars across the sun. There on the shore
The crowd's response was instantaneous. He
Handled it well, I thought--the gait, the tilt of the head, just right.
Long streaks of light were blinding on the waves.
And then we knew our work well worth the time:
The days of sawing, fitting, all those nails,
The tiresome rehearsals, considerations of execution.
But if you want a miracle, you have to work for it,
Lay your plans carefully and keep one jump
Ahead of the crowd. To report a miracle
Is a pleasure unalloyed; but staging one requires
Tact, imagination, a special knack for the job
Not everyone possesses. A miracle, in fact, means work.
--And now there are those who have come saying
That miracles were not what we were after. But what else
Is there? What other hope does life hold out
But the miraculous, the skilled and patient
Execution, the teamwork, all the pain and worry every miracle involves? Read more )
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Sixteen No's? (How I Met Your Mother))

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Default)

Nervous mathematicians—they could be proving
anything up there: that the moon is
a placid moth, unbothered by their awkward
machinations; that the earth is a checkerboard of
sorry, dumb luck; that the grids they plot, their
blind parabolas, are a web, a net, some
kind of snare for trapping wind or
bugs or something else. Some say they’ve
got their legends too, of bats that could almost break

the sound barrier; that could scratch the dark
like a china plate. There could even
be stories about one that gave up the flight-driven life
of snatching iridescent jewels from air,
surrendered his love of charting
the spaces between the small bodies
darting across the sky’s dim facade, and became human,
never again slept all day, learned colors. His life is less
restless now
they squeak, then dive.


cinaed: I improve on misquotation (Default)

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