Why things burn

September 26, 2019

My fire-eating career came to an end
when I could no longer tell
when to spit and when

to swallow.
Last night in Amsterdam,
1,000 tulips burned to death.

I have an alibi. When I walked by
your garden, your hand
grenades were in bloom.

You caught me playing
loves me, loves me
not, metal pins between my teeth.

I forget the difference
between seduction
and arson,

ignition and cognition. I am a girl
with incendiary
vices and you have a filthy never

mind. If you say no, twice,
it’s a four-letter word.
You are so dirty, people have planted

flowers on you: heliotropes. sun-
flowers. You’ll take
anything. Loves me,

loves me not.
I want to bend you over
and whisper: “potting soil,” “fresh

cut.” When you made
the urgent fists of peonies
a proposition, I stole a pair of botanists’

hands. Green. Confident. All thumbs.
I look sharp in garden
shears and it rained spring

all night. 1,000 tulips
burned to death
in Amsterdam.

We didn’t hear the sirens.
All night, you held my alibis
so softly, like taboos

already broken.

Daphne Gottlieb


September 26, 2019

the vehemence of my voice

September 26, 2019

I am making myself. I make myself until I reach the pit. About me in the world I want to tell you about the strength that guides me and brings me the world itself, about the vital sensuality of clear structures, and about the curves that are organically connected to other curved shapes. My handwriting and my circumvolutions are potent and the freedom that blows in summer has fatality in itself. The eroticism that belongs to whatever is living is scattered in the air, in the sea, in the plants, in us, scattered in the vehemence of my voice, I write you with my voice. And there is a vigour of the robust trunk, of roots buried in the living earth that reacts giving great sustenance.

Clarice Lispector
Água Viva

Charles Dickens, in a note now lying before me, alluding to an examination I once made of the mechanism of “Barnaby Rudge,” says — “By the way, are you aware that Godwin wrote his ‘Caleb Williams’ backwards? He first involved his hero in a web of difficulties, forming the second volume, and then, for the first, cast about him for some mode of accounting for what had been done.”

I cannot think this the precise mode of procedure on the part of Godwin — and indeed what he himself acknowledges, is not altogether in accordance with Mr. Dickens’ idea—but the author of “Caleb Williams” was too good an artist not to perceive the advantage derivable from at least a somewhat similar process. Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its denouement before anything be attempted with the pen. It is only with the denouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents, and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention.

Edgar Allan Poe
The Philosophy of Composition

weak thinkers

September 26, 2019

Only thin, weak thinkers despise fairy stories. Each one has a true, strange fact hidden in it, you know, which you can find if you look.

Diana Wynne Jones
Fire and Hemlock


September 26, 2019

We are all our own demons and create our own hell.