It is terrible to be alone

October 4, 2018


Each of the hundred bedrooms with their shuttered windows might have held a corpse, rotting in humidity beneath the glacial swathings of the bed. In the lounge, a mist perpetually filmed the mirrors, the wicker armchairs gathering sociably around the glass-topped tables creaked at one another in the silence, so that now and then an apprehensive human head would bob up from over a writing table or the back of a settee. The rain was always audible on the glass roof of the verandah.

It is terrible to be alone in the darkness of rain, swept aside by one’s world’s indifference into a corner of a house. It is still more terrible to be swept aside into a corner of a continent.

Elizabeth Bowen
Salon des Dames

beyond speech

September 20, 2018

Luca Merli

The language of poetry specializes in doubt. Without the doubters, everyone is cut off at the first question. Poetry does not presume to know, but is angling to get a glimpse of what is gradually coming into view; it aims to rightly identify what is looming; it intends to interrogate whatever is already in place. Poetry, whose definition remains evasive by necessity, advocates the lost road; and beyond speech — waiting, listening, and silence.

C.D. Wright
The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All

(How’s that for a title, boys and girls?)


September 13, 2018

lane and trees and walls

Writing is saying to no one and to everyone the things it is not possible to say to someone. Or rather writing is saying to the no one who may eventually be the reader those things one has no someone to whom to say them. Matters that are so subtle, so personal, so obscure that I ordinarily can’t imagine saying them to the people to whom I’m closest. Every once in a while I try to say them aloud and find that what turns to mush in my mouth or falls short of their ears can be written down for total strangers. Said to total strangers in the silence of writing that is recuperated and heard in the solitude of reading. Is it the shared solitude of writing, is it that separately we all reside in a place deeper than society, even the society of two? Is it that the tongue fails where the fingers succeed, in telling truths so lengthy and nuanced that they are almost impossible aloud?

I had started out in silence, written as quietly as I had read, and then eventually people read some of what I had written, and some of the readers entered my world or drew me into theirs. I started out in silence and travelled until I arrived at a voice that was heard far away — first the silent voice that can only be read, and then I was asked to speak aloud and to read aloud. When I began to read aloud another voice, one I hardly recognized, emerged from my mouth. Maybe it was more relaxed, because writing is speaking to no one, and even when you’re reading to a crowd, you’re still in that conversation with the absent, the faraway, the not-yet-born, the unknown and the long-gone for whom writers write, the crowd of the absent who hover all around the desk.

Rebecca Solnit
The Faraway Nearby

Simple truths are best

June 24, 2018

creeping up on us

June 17, 2018

Leo Putz - Behind the Scenes

Something has happened. But how? Was it overnight, or has it been creeping up on us and we’ve only just noticed? It’s the girls, the young and pretty girls. They used to sing like sirens, like mermaids, all sweet and liquid, breezy melodies, wavy melodies, but now they’re shorn of melody, though their mouths open and close as before. Have their tongues been cut out? This is true as well of the cries of babies, the wailing at funerals, the screams that used to arise, especially at night, from the mad, from the tortured. It’s the same thing with the birds: flying as before, spreading out their feathers as before, heads thrown back, beaks gaping, but they’re mute. Mute, or muted? Who has been at work, with a great carpet of invisible snow that blots out sound? Listen: the leaves no longer rustle, the wind no longer sighs, our hearts no longer beat. They’ve fallen silent. Fallen, as if into the earth. Or is it we who have fallen? Perhaps it’s not the world that is soundless but we who are deaf. What membrane seals us off, from the music we used to dance to? Why can’t we hear?

Margaret Atwood
Something Has Happened – from The Tent

My first love

June 5, 2018

My first love was silence.
I built myself from scratch
and no one listened.
This was the best time of my life.
I used to carry the clothes
to the laundry room
and pray for all the fog
in the world to surround me.
I’d let my thoughts
catch rides
with passing airplanes.
All that womanhood
caught in the roof
of my mouth
was like honey.
I knew it would never
go bad
so I never said a word
about it.

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza


May 27, 2018

sitting in the flood

Those who know me in my life beyond the page are likely amused to read me expounding with such reverence on the subject of silence, since I avoid it strenuously. Or is it as Kafka wrote to his lover Felice in 1916: does “silence avoid me, as water on the beach avoids stranded fish”? There is something involuntary in my speaking, the flapping and flailing of my desperate tongue. Silence is generally associated with passivity and expression with action, but for me silence requires the greater effort. My mind turns again to drowning: the poet Seamus Heaney spent his childhood on a small farm in Ireland where each spring his family forced the overflow of newborn puppies below the surface of a barrel of water. Their sputter, their squirm, then their stillness: this is how it feels to hold words back. “The strain,” Kafka writes elsewhere, “of keeping down living forces.” Silence is the water that fish breathe, but for puppies it’s what kills them. What kind of creature am I?

Carina del Valle Schorske
On the Perilous Potential of Feminist Silence


Once the goddess Demeter learned that her daughter Persephone had been abducted by Hades with Zeus’s permission, the pain of her loss was even sharper. She left Olympus and withdrew from the company of the gods, and wandered on earth, hiding her divine beauty disguised as a woman beyond childbearing. One day she appeared in Eleusis and sat by the well where the daughters of Celeus, the ruler of Eleusis, came to draw water. Curious about the stranger in their midst, they talked with her and found that she sought employment as a nursemaid. They led her home to meet their mother Metanira who had given birth to a baby boy. When the goddess put her foot on the threshold and touched her head on the ceiling, momentarily the doorway filled with divine light. Awed, Metanira, who had been seated with her infant son in her lap, immediately offered Demeter her own splendid couch and finest wine, which the goddess declined. The sight of a mother and child must have stirred memories and longing for her missing daughter because Demeter became mute and stood with her eyes downcast, until the servant Baubo brought her a simple chair. She then sat in grief-stricken silence from which no one could draw her out, until Baubo cheered the goddess with her bawdy humour. Her jests brought a smile, and then, when she lifted her skirt and exposed herself, Demeter laughed and was restored. Then she accepted a simple drink of barley water and mint, and agreed to become the baby’s nursemaid (a temporary solace in the mid-portion of the myth).

Winifred Milius Lubell
The Metamorphosis of Baubo: Myths of Woman’s Sexual Energy

Using silence as a punishment is like letting fly doves that carry freedom on their wings. That’s how you are. A dove open to my wishes, my desires – pleasing me, and in my pleasure finding yours …

Understanding each other without speaking. Wonderful.

Four or five pints on a Friday night in the company of good friends is eminently satisfying –

I love moments of silent submission –

Her apple breasts 
Beneath her vest
Will taste the best

He’s sure…

The natural flow of wetness
He hopes to taste once more…

I love doughnuts –

And pizza –

Oh! and chocolate – food of the Gods! Ambrosia! Conferring immortality! Carried to us by clouds of doves –

I love bringing people together –

My love of Merlot is almost legendary. The amount I consume puts Dionysus to shame. It is the elixir of life –

Go bring to me a pint o wine,
And fill it in a silver tassie;
That I may drink, before I go,
A service to my bonie lassie…

Robbie Burns loved a drink too, eh?

Coffee, too, is essential for continued wellbeing.

I love people who daydream and talk to themselves; I love them because they are here, and yet elsewhere –

the sea licks the thighs of the earth
and the earth surrenders
in utter pleasure…