You were conceived on a hunting stand, they say.

Which means: We had no other place.

The homestead is full of my mother’s siblings. On the stove, a pot of potato chow big enough to feed twenty. See my mother, back roughed against the wooden platform in the trees. See my father, finger on the trigger — in case.

You have to gut a moose right away, they say, or the meat rots in its skin.

Which means: We couldn’t keep our hands off each other.

The night of my making, my father shot a moose through the eye, through the skull and brain and bone, through to the other side. My mother found the red-tipped bullet in the summered dirt. They keep it on the mantle next to a sepia photo — them steering the rack of the dead bull.

They say, you came into the world with a bang.

Which means: Do something to deserve us.

Melinda Moustakis
MooseBlind

Light is life

February 19, 2019

Goethe’s final words: “More light.” Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime, that’s been our unifying cry: “More light.” Sunlight. Torchlight. Candlelight. Neon. Incandescent. Lights that banish the darkness from our caves, to illuminate our roads, the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the night games at Soldier’s field. Little tiny flashlight for those books we read under the covers when we’re supposed to be asleep. Light is more than watts and footcandles. Light is metaphor. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom – Lead Thou me on! The night is dark, and I am far from home – Lead Thou me on! Arise, shine, for thy light has come. Light is knowledge. Light is life. Light is light.

Chris Stevens
Northern Exposure

a place filled with secrets

February 19, 2019

My poetic life started before I was even born, I believe, but really I’ve been a working poet for about a decade. As a child, I’d notice things the other children didn’t; I saw the world as a place filled with secrets, in-between colours, textures, whispers, and hidden spaces. I could make a world out of the smallest moment. I still do. Being a poet feels like having two bodies — one in this world, and one in some other. Does this sound like you?

Lisa Marie Basile
If You Want To Become a poet

Caliban at sunset

February 16, 2019

I stood with a man
Watching the sun go down.
The air was full of murmurous summer scents
And a brave breeze sang like a bugle
From a sky that smouldered in the west,
A sky of crimson, amethyst, gold and sepia
And blue as blue were the eyes of Helen
When she sat
Gazing from some high tower in Ilium
Upon the Grecian tents darkling below.
And he,
This man who stood beside me,
Gaped like some dull, half-witted animal
And said,
“I say,
Doesn’t that sunset remind you
Of a slice
Of underdone roast beef?”

P.G. Wodehouse

Knife crime

February 12, 2019

Knife crime is on the increase in England. Kids carry blades for protection against other kids carrying blades. The police can’t find who’s carrying a knife without ‘stop and search’ – and the ensuing complaints of racism that follow such police activity means they do as little as possible. So what’s the answer?

Easy.

Parliament passes a law to ensure anyone under the age of twenty-five must wear (at all times while away from the home) a skin-tight leotard – no coat or hoodie. Also, any bag carried must be see-through! A knife, then, would stand out like a sore thumb, wouldn’t it?

Simple!

We live in a culture where violence or violent behaviour has become the norm. Violence is widely assumed to be the best way to resolve conflict. We witness it in the actions of government: the UK has engaged in almost one hundred years of conflict since the first world war, small wars with inevitably large casualty lists. Just to mention a few of these more recent military actions: Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1998, the Falklands war, the first Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afganistan, Iraq, Libya, Sierra Leone, the list is feckin’ endless, boys & girls – and we now have a Minister of Defense preaching confrontation with Russia! Was the Crimean war not lesson enough for these idiots – ?

Remember, kids learn by example. Violence begets violence. Confrontation is met by confrontation. Throw economic insecurity and hopelessness into the mix, then you’ll have kids on the streets carrying knives – so why be surprised?

A toxic mix of racism, austerity, societal deprivation and corporate greed is ultimately to blame for this situation. As a nation we should get ready to purchase and supply “free of charge” several millions of those skin-tight leotards – and thus eradicate the problem of knife crime for good! A fresh tax levied on squillionaires would easily cover all costs; but I suspect that any action engaged in by the government will fall far short of what is required. It’s more likely that Ryan Air will introduce flights across the Andes by green gulper frog than a UK Government will find a solution to this problem of knife crime. No, best the government continues to concentrate all its attention on Brexit – after all we don’t want that to end up in a mess, do we?

priorities imposed

February 9, 2019

The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied…but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.

John Berger
Keeping a Rendezvous

located elsewhere

February 9, 2019

What if the place that we are in the midst of is different from the physical space that we currently inhabit? What if the things we yearn for are located elsewhere, in another place or in a remembered past, and all we now carry within us is an image of this place. We may remember only elements or impressions of it: there may be certain objects, smells, a smile or expression, particular acts or occasions, a word, all of which come out in a manner that we cannot control or understand. Yet any of these elements or impressions makes us feel ‘‘at home’’ in a way that we cannot find in the physical space where we are now stuck. This is the problem of exile, of being displaced and yet capable of remembering the particularity of place: it is the state of being dislocated yet able to discern what it is that locates us. We have a great yearning, but we cannot fulfil it with anything but memory.

Peter King
Memory and Exile: Time and Place in Tarkovsky’s Mirror

blown leaves

February 5, 2019

The blown leaves make bat-shapes, Web-winged and furious.

Sylvia Plath
Dialogue Over a Ouija Board

apprehensions of witchcraft

February 2, 2019

Our forefathers looked upon nature with more reverence and horror, before the world was enlightened by learning and philosophy, and loved to astonish themselves with the apprehensions of witchcraft, prodigies, charms, and enchantments. There was not a village in England that had not a ghost in it, the church-yards were all haunted, every large common had a circle of fairies belonging to it, and there was scarce a shepherd to be met with who had not seen a spirit.

Joseph Addison
The Spectator, Volume the Sixth, No. 419

the words of the trees

February 2, 2019

She knew things that nobody had ever told her. For instance, the words of the trees and the wind. She often spoke to falling seeds and said, ‘Ah hope you fall on soft ground,’ because she had heard seeds saying that to each other as they passed.

Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God