love, the world suddenly turns, turns color
theme

KILLERS IN LETTERS by Ravi Shankar

(for Kurt Brown)

Remember Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction,
not real, only an entity, something illusory, simply not there.
Or Camus’ Meursault, who possesses no internal reaction

to his mother’s funeral and goes to the beach without a care,
whose darkest moment transpires in brightest sunlight,
who gives rise to girls who shriek about Robert Smith’s hair

while he quavers about Killing an Arab, in pants too tight
and eyes lined in black. Then there’s Raskolnikov, the dropout,
poor, ill, unemployed, possibly insane, who spends the night

after using his hatchet, semi-conscious, racked with doubt,
not at all the extraordinary man he imagined himself to be.
And Humbert Humbert, the deviant who would stake out

schoolyards and force Lo to fellate him while he could see
the children emerge, a crime far worse than offing Clare
Quilty who has less moral fiber than the Grand Marquis.

Letters are not life, that’s clear enough, and the nightmare
of murdering someone is often transmuted into metaphor
that has little resemblance to the psychological questionnaire

a convicted serial killer might fill out, shackled to the floor
by leg-irons. Yet we’re drawn like moths time after time
and text after text, to these anti-heroes we love to deplore.

Letters are life to a certain extent. Just look at true crime
and the cottage industry it spawns: murderabilia, a lock
of Charles Manson’s hair on auction at Ebay, the prime-

time special devoted to John Wayne Gacy’s schlock—
ghoulish clown paintings done on death row—the array
of dramatized television shows that air around the clock,

living proof that murder is far more popular than the ballet.
Our compulsions are rooted in culture. Our thrill lives in fear.
We loathe and celebrate the worst among us and might pay

to see them killed. The deterministic logic we force to adhere
to their lives makes violence seem predetermined, rooted
in childhood. Yet those so far from us are actually very near.

Personally I’ll take Macbeth over Manson, the disputed
killer on the page to that in the flesh, any day of the week.
Murder as trope for absurdity is a sum less than any computed

from the actual loss of life, yet greater for the technique
of the author in revealing we harbor, collectively, an intent
to harm. Impossible to acknowledge, much less to speak.

After The Movie by Marie Howe

My friend Michael and I are walking home arguing about the movie.
He says that he believes a person can love someone
and still be able to murder that person.

I say, No, that’s not love. That’s attachment.
Michael says, No, that’s love. You can love someone, then come to a day

when you’re forced to think “it’s him or me”
think “me” and kill him.

I say, Then it’s not love anymore.
Michael says, It was love up to then though.

I say, Maybe we mean different things by the same word.
Michael says, Humans are complicated: love can exist even in the murderous heart.

I say that what he might mean by love is desire.
Love is not a feeling, I say. And Michael says, Then what is it?

We’re walking along West 16th Street—a clear unclouded night—and I hear my voice
repeating what I used to say to my husband: Love is action, I used to say to him.

Simone Weil says that when you really love you are able to look at someone you want to eat and not eat them.

Janis Joplin says, take another little piece of my heart now baby.

Meister Eckhardt says that as long as we love images we are doomed to live in purgatory.

Michael and I stand on the corner of 6th Avenue saying goodnight.
I can’t drink enough of the tangerine spritzer I’ve just bought—

again and again I bring the cold can to my mouth and suck the stuff from
the hole the flip top made.

What are you doing tomorrow? Michael says.
But what I think he’s saying is “You are too strict. You are a nun.”

Then I think, Do I love Michael enough to allow him to think these things of me even if he’s not thinking them?

Above Manhattan, the moon wanes, and the sky turns clearer and colder.
Although the days, after the solstice, have started to lengthen,

we both know the winter has only begun.

To Be Read in the Morning and at Night by Bertolt Brecht

Morgens und abends zu lesen
Der, den ich liebe
Hat mir gesagt
Daß er mich braucht.

Darum
Gebe ich auf mich acht
Sehe auf meinen Weg und
Fürchte von jedem Regentropfen
Daß er mich erschlagen könnte.

[Translation]

To read in the morning and at night
My love
Has told me
That he needs me.

That’s why
I take good care of myself
Watch out where I’m going and
Fear that any drop of rain
Might kill me.

Posted 4 months ago
13

Holding On To Benjamin by Mary Oliver

No use to tell him
that he

and the raccoon are brothers.
You have your soft ideas about nature

he has others,
and they are full of his

white teeth
and lip that curls, sometimes,

horribly.
You love

this earnest dog,
but also you admire the raccoon

and Lord help you in your place
of hope and improbables.

To the black-masked gray one:
Run! you say,

and just as urgently, to the dog:
Stay!

and he won’t or he will,
depending

on more things than I could name.
He’s sure he’s right

and you, so tangled in your mind,
are wrong,

though patient and pacific.
And you are downcast.
And it’s his eyes, not yours,
that are clear and bright.

Posted 4 months ago
3

Let Me Please Look Into My Window by Gerald Stern

Let me please look into my window on 103rd Street one more time—
without crying, without tearing the satin, without touching
the white face, without straightening the tie or crumpling the flower.

Let me walk up Broadway past Zak’s, past the Melody Fruit Store,
past Stein’s Eyes, past the New Moon Inn, past the Olympia.

Let me leave quietly by Gate 29

and fall asleep as we pull away from the ramp
into the tunnel.

Let me wake up happy, let me know where I am, let me lie still,
as we turn left, as we cross the water, as we leave the light.

Posted 4 months ago
2
"

Love’s the boy stood on the burning deck
trying to recite “The boy stood on
the burning deck.” Love’s the son
stood stammering elocution
while the poor ship in flames went down.


Love’s the obstinate boy, the ship,
even the swimming sailors, who
would like a schoolroom platform, too,
or an excuse to stay
on deck. And love’s the burning boy.

"
Casabianca - Elizabeth Bishop (via sebastianmoran)
Posted 6 months ago
4

Mad Girl’s Love Song by Sylvia Plath (read by sebastianmoran)

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

City That Does Not Sleep by Federico García Lorca

In the sky there is nobody asleep. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.
The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,
and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the 
street corner
the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the
stars.

Nobody is asleep on earth. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
In a graveyard far off there is a corpse
who has moaned for three years
because of a dry countryside on his knee;
and that boy they buried this morning cried so much
it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.

Life is not a dream. Careful! Careful! Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth
or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead
dahlias.
But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;
flesh exists. Kisses tie our mouths
in a thicket of new veins,
and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever
and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.

One day 
the horses will live in the saloons
and the enraged ants
will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the
eyes of cows.

Another day
we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead
and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats
we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.
Careful! Be careful! Be careful!
The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,
and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention 
of the bridge,
or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,
we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes
are waiting,
where the bear’s teeth are waiting,
where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,
and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.

Nobody is sleeping in the sky. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is sleeping.
If someone does close his eyes,
a whip, boys, a whip!
Let there be a landscape of open eyes
and bitter wounds on fire.
No one is sleeping in this world. No one, no one.
I have said it before.

No one is sleeping.
But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the
night,
open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight
the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.

Education For Leisure by Carol Ann Duffy

Today I am going to kill something. Anything.
I have had enough of being ignored and today
I am going to play God. It is an ordinary day,
a sort of grey with boredom stirring in the streets.

I squash a fly against the window with my thumb.
We did that at school. Shakespeare. It was in
another language and now the fly is in another language.
I breathe out talent on the glass to write my name.

I am a genius. I could be anything at all, with half
the chance. But today I am going to change the world.
Something’s world. The cat avoids me. The cat
knows I am a genius, and has hidden itself.

I pour the goldfish down the bog. I pull the chain.
I see that it is good. The budgie is panicking.
Once a fortnight, I walk the two miles into town
for signing on. They don’t appreciate my autograph.

There is nothing left to kill. I dial the radio
and tell the man he’s talking to a superstar.
He cuts me off. I get our bread-knife and go out.
The pavements glitter suddenly. I touch your arm.

Death comes to me again, a girl by Dorianne Laux

Death comes to me again, a girl
in a cotton slip, barefoot, giggling.
It’s not so terrible she tells me,
not like you think, all darkness
and silence. There are windchimes
and the smell of lemons, some days
it rains, but more often the air is dry
and sweet. I sit beneath the staircase
built from hair and bone and listen
to the voices of the living. I like it,
she says, shaking the dust from her hair,
especially when they fight, and when they sing.