January 2009

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A Few Words On The Soul
We have a soul at times.
No one's got it non-stop,
for keeps.
Day after day,
year after year
may pass without it.

Sometimes
it will settle for awhile
only in childhood's fears and raptures.
Sometimes only in astonishment
that we are old.

It rarely lends a hand
in uphill tasks,
like moving furniture,
or lifting luggage,
or going miles in shoes that pinch.

It usually steps out
whenever meat needs chopping
or forms have to be filled.

For every thousand conversations
it participates in one,
if even that,
since it prefers silence.

Just when our body goes from ache to pain,
it slips off-duty.

It's picky:
it doesn't like seeing us in crowds,
our hustling for a dubious advantage
and creaky machinations make it sick.

Joy and sorrow
aren't two different feelings for it.
It attends us
only when the two are joined.

We can count on it
when we're sure of nothing
and curious about everything.

Among the material objects
it favors clocks with pendulums
and mirrors, which keep on working
even when no one is looking.

It won't say where it comes from
or when it's taking off again,
though it's clearly expecting such questions.

We need it
but apparently
it needs us
for some reason too.
-Wislawa Szymborska
(translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh)
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Some People
Some people fleeing some other people.
In some country under the sun
and some clouds.

They leave behind some of their everything,
sown fields, some chickens, dogs,
mirrors in which fire now sees itself reflected.

On their backs are pitchers and bundles,
the emptier, the heavier from one day to the next.

Taking place stealthily is somebody's stopping,
and in the commotion, somebody's bread somebody's snatching
and a dead child somebody's shaking.

In front of them some still not the right way,
nor the bridge that should be
over a river strangely rosy.
Around them, some gunfire, at times closer, at times farther off,
and, above, a plane circling somewhat.

Some invisibility would come in handy,
some grayish stoniness,
or even better, non-being
for a little or a long while.

Something else is yet to happen, only where and what?
Someone will head toward them, only when and who,
in how many shapes and with what intentions?
Given a choice,
maybe he will choose not to be the enemy and
leave them with some kind of life.
-Wislawa Szymborska
Translated by Joanna Trzeciak

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Walkers with the Dawn
Being walkers with the dawn and morning,
Walkers with the sun and morning,
We are not afraid of night,
Nor days of gloom,
Nor darkness--
Being walkers with the sun and morning.
Langston Hughes

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Happy New Year
Mira, no pido mucho,
solamente tu mano, tenerla
como un sapito que duerme así contento.
Necesito esa puerta que me dabas
para entrar a tu mundo, ese trocito
de azúcar verde, de redondo alegre.
¿No me prestás tu mano en esta noche
de fìn de año de lechuzas roncas?
No puedes, por razones técnicas.
Entonces la tramo en el aire, urdiendo cada dedo,
el durazno sedoso de la palma
y el dorso, ese país de azules árboles.
Asì la tomo y la sostengo,
como si de ello dependiera
muchísimo del mundo,
la sucesión de las cuatro estaciones,
el canto de los gallos, el amor de los hombres.
-Julio Cortázar

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Bush, Cheney, Hadley et al self-righteously warn the incoming administration to continue steering safely down the right side of the road in the very same burned out, motorless, rusting hulk they left buried in the ditch, wheels and mirrors gone, the sad remains of a vehicle now barely salvageable as scrap...
-Viggo Mortensen

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Quédate
como se quedan las estrellas
prendidas en la nada.
Quédate
como se queda el olor
de la hierba
sobre la piel de los que aman.
Quédate
como se queda la luz
del sol
en mis pupilas.
Quédate
como me quedo yo
cuando te marchas
-Aida Elena Parraga

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Whenever you have truth it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected.
-Mahatma Ghandi

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No estudio para saber más, si no para ignorar menos
-Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

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Canción de la mujer astuta
Cada rítmica luna que pasa soy llamada,
por los números graves de Dios, a dar mi vida
en otra vida: mezcla de tinta azul teñida;
la misma extraña mezcla con que ha sido amasada.
Y a través de mi carne, miserable y cansada,
filtra un cálido viento de tierra prometida,
y bebe, dulce aroma, mi nariz dilatada
a la selva exultante y a la rama nutrida.
Un engañoso canto de sirena me cantas,
¡naturaleza astuta! Me atraes y me encantas
para cargarme luego de alguna humana fruta.
Engaño por engaño: mi belleza se esquiva
al llamado solemne; de esta fiebre viva,
algún amor estéril y de paso, disfruta.
-Alfonsina Storni

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Caracola
Me han traído una caracola.

Dentro le canta
un mar de mapa.
Mi corazón
se llena de agua,
con pececillos
de sombra y plata.

Me han traído una caracola.
-Federico García Lorca

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I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out until sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
-John Muir

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WELCOME, PRESIDENT OBAMA!
LET'S HOPE THAT THE DAYS WHEN CRIMINAL U.S. ADMINISTRATIONS ARE REPACKAGED AND REHABILITATED IN THE UNSUITABLE GUISE OF BELOVED MAVERICK STATESMEN BY SHAMELESS PUBLIC RELATIONS TEAMS ARE OVER. UNFORTUNATELY, IT IS PROBABLE THAT THE SAME AWKWARD SLEIGHT-OF-HAND, ABETTED BY U.S. MAINSTREAM MEDIA CORPORATIONS, WILL BE ATTEMPTED IN DUE COURSE ON BEHALF OF CHENEY AND BUSH, JR. -- AND PERHAPS ONCE AGAIN SWALLOWED HOOK, LINE AND SINKER BY A SIGNIFICANT SEGMENT OF THE U.S. PUBLIC. IT MOST LIKELY DEPENDS ON HOW FAR MR. OBAMA CHOOSES TO ATTEMPT TAKING HIS "CHANGE" CONCEPT IN TERMS OF SIGNIFICANTLY OVERHAULING THE STRUCTURE AND MORAL CONDUCT OF HIS COUNTRY'S GOVERNMENT. AS IMPORTANT AS ANYTHING HE CAN DO IN THIS REGARD IS LEADING THE WAY IN A EARNEST EFFORT TO PROSECUTE CHENEY, BUSH, JR. AND OTHERS IN THE OUTGOING ADMINISTRATION FOR TREASON, WAR CRIMES, FRAUD, AND THE HOST OTHER DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL CRIMES THEY CAN JUSTIFIABLY BE TRIED FOR. IT CAN BE DONE AND IT NEEDS TO BE DONE IF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS TO ACHIEVE THE FULL RESPECT OF THE FAMILY OF NATIONS AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, OF ITS OWN CITIZENS. THIS IS AS HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT AND JUST A CALLING AS THOSE ACCEPTED BY THE INDIVIDUALS AND INSTITUTIONS CHARGED WITH EXAMINING AND PROSECUTING THE OUTRAGEOUS CONDUCT OF HITLER'S GOVERNMENT OR THAT OF SOUTH AFRICA'S APARTHEID-ERA REGIMES, TO NAME BUT A FEW OTHER TERRORIST ORGANISATIONS. HERE'S HOPING FOR THE VERY BEST FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA AND FROM US ALL.
-Viggo Mortensen

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Beyond Silence
Tonight let reeds be growing
Along your veins'
Ceaselessly swelling rivers.
The flight of light causes that dark clamour.
Then suddenly all is nothingness,
Only an exposed corpse,
On the naked arm of Time,
In a long alley filled with smoke,
The last heap of evening fire,
Like bells and drums,
Is buried in my self's pale sleep.
A dust storm drives the wind down the road,
And finally arrives
At the early death of an ear of wheat,
And like a river, rises in quiet fury.
-LAN LING
(translated by Kenneth Rexroth)

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Encargo
No me des tregua, no me perdones nunca.
Hostígame en la sangre, que cada cosa cruel sea tú que
vuelves.
¡No me dejes dormir, no me des paz!
Entonces ganaré mi reino,
naceré lentamente.
No me pierdas como una música fácil, no seas caricia ni
guante;
tállame como un sílex, desespérame.
Guarda tu amor humano, tu sonrisa, tu pelo. Dálos.
Ven a mí con tu cólera seca de fósforos y escamas.
Grita. Vomítame arena en la boca, rómpeme las fauces.
No me importa ignorarte en pleno día,
saber que juegas cara al sol y al hombre.
Compártelo.

Yo te pido la cruel ceremonia del tajo,
lo que nadie te pide: las espinas
hasta el hueso. Arráncame esta cara infame,
oblígame a gritar al fin mi verdadero nombre.
-Julio Cortázar

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What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.
-Thomas Merton

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Simple-Minded Song About My Wife
The door rattles when she steps in,
flowerpots click
and in her hair a small dreamy blonde streak
chirps like a panicky sparrow.

The old wire lightcord squawks too,
brushing its awkward body against her.
Everything spins. I can't even write about it.

She has come back. She has been gone all day.
There is the large petal of a poppy in her hand.
She'll chase death away with it.
-Miklós Radnóti
(translated by Steven Polgar, Stephen Berg, S. J. Marks)

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TRAVELING IN THE MOUNTAINS
Traveling homesick with the West wind,
The dust of my cart rises to the evening clouds.
The last cicadas drone in the yellowing leaves.
In the sunset a man's shadow looms like a mountain.
One by one the birds go to roost.
I wander aimlessly and never go home.
I pause above a stream and envy the fisherman
Who sits there in solitude and leisure,
Thinking his own elegant thoughts.
SUN YÜN-FENG
(translated by Kenneth Rexroth)

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L'on verra s'arrêter le mobile du monde
L'on verra s'arrêter le mobile du monde,
Les étoiles marcher parmi le firmament,
Saturne infortuné luire bénignement,
Jupiter commander dedans le creux de l'onde.

L'on verra Mars paisible et la clarté féconde
Du Soleil s'obscurcir sans force et mouvement,
Vénus sans amitié, Stilbon sans changement,
Et la Lune en carré changer sa forme ronde,

Le feu sera pesant et légère la terre,
L'eau sera chaude et sèche et dans l'air qui l'enserre,
On verra les poissons voler et se nourrir,

Plutôt que mon amour, à vous seul destinée,
Se tourne en autre part, car pour vous je fus née,
Je ne vis que pour vous, pour vous je veux mourir.
-Madeleine de l' Aubespine (1546-1596)

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Asinine Comment Of The Week:
An English commentator on the Eurosport television channel, recently opined, during the Tsonga/Verdasco men's singles quarterfinal match, that Frenchman Tsonga might be particularly inspired to play well because Barack Obama had been elected president of the United States of America. Tsonga is French and dark-skinned. Had John McCain been elected president instead of Obama, are we to assume that Verdasco, who is a slightly lighter-skinned Spanish player, would be particularly motivated to play well?
-Viggo Mortensen

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El Mar
Antes que el sueño (o el terror) tejiera
mitologías y cosmogonías,
antes que el tiempo se acuñara en días,
el mar, el siempre mar, ya estaba y era.

¿Quién es el mar? ¿Quién es aquel violento
y antiguo ser que roe los pilares
de la tierra y es uno y muchos mares
y abismo y resplandor y azar y viento?

Quien lo mira lo ve por vez primera,
siempre. Con el asombro que las cosas
elementales dejan, las hermosas

tardes, la luna, el fuego de una hoguera.
¿Quién es el mar, quién soy? Lo sabré el día
ulterior que sucede a la agonía.
-Borges

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Last edited: 30 January 2009 23:28:32