August 2010

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I just trust people and they sense everything's gonna be alright.
-Gregory Corso

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Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.
-Jack Kerouac

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How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think.
-Adolf Hitler

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Worse than not realizing the dreams of your youth, would be to have been young and never dreamed at all.
-Jean Genet

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The greatest enemy of individual freedom is the individual himself.
-Saul Alinsky

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A man may devote himself to death and destruction to save a nation; but no nation will devote itself to death and destruction to save mankind.
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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The Greater Cats
The greater cats with golden eyes
Stare out between the bars.
Deserts are there, and the different skies,
And night with different stars.
They prowl the aromatic hill,
And mate as fiercely as they kill,
To roam, to live, to drink their fill;
But this beyond their wit know I:
Man loves a little, and for long shall die.

Their kind across the desert range
Where tulips spring from stones,
Not knowing they will suffer change
Or vultures pick their bones.
Their strength's eternal in their sight,
They overtake the deer in flight,
And in their arrogance they smite;
But I am sage, if they are strong:
Man's love is transient as his death is long.

Yet oh what powers to deceive!
My wit is turned to faith,
And at this moment I believe
In love, and scout at death.
I came from nowhere, and shall be
Strong, steadfast, swift, eternally:
I am a lion, a stone, a tree,
And as the Polar star in me
Is fixed my constant heart on thee.
Ah, may I stay forever blind
With lions, tigers, leopards, and their kind.
-Vita Sackville-West

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Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.
-William S. Burroughs

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East of Carthage: An Idyll
Look here, Marcus Aurelius, we've come to see
your temple, deluded the guards, crawled through a hole
in the fence. Why your descendent, my guide and friend
has opted for secrecy, I don't know. But I do know
what to call the Africans, passport-less, yellow-eyed
who will ride the boat before me for Naples, they hope.
Here the sea curls its granite lip at them and flings a winter
storm like a cough, or the seadog drops them at Hannibal's
shores, where they'll stand stupefied like his elephants.
What dimension of time will they cross as the Hours loop
tight plastic ropes round their ankles and wrists?
What siren song will the trucks shipping them back
to Ouagadougou drone into their ears? I look at them
loitering, waiting for the second act of their darkness
to fall. I look at the sky shake her dicey fists.
One can be thankful, I suppose, for not being one of them,
and wrap the fabric of that thought around oneself
to keep the cold wind at bay. But what world is this
that makes our lives sufficient even as the horizon's rope
is about to snap, while the sea and sky ache to become
a moment to peel itself like skin off fruit, and let us in
on its sweetness as we wait, smoking or fondling provisions,
listening to the engine's invocational purr. In an hour
that will dawn and dusk at once, one that will stretch
into days strung like beads on the horizon's throat,
they will ride their tormented ship as the dog star
begins to float on the water, so bright and still,
you'd want to scoop it out in the palm of your hand.
-Khaled Mattawa

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Simple Questions
Are these birds or caravans
swimming through the air?
Neither the blueness nor those seated on beds in warm rooms will say.
Are these houses in a mirage or Bedouins
fleeing from ancient winds?
The sand and foxes alert for centuries will follow their trails.
Are these shadows of a city or a quavering flute?
A scene and visions emerge from its darkness.
-Ashur Atwebi

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Remember Me
When my day comes and I'm gone
To the place where I truly belong
Don't cry for me, wish I'm still here
Just smile everytime you remember me,

To those who share my tears and joy
Kept memories that can't be destroyed
Never let your eyes fool you and weep
Just be happy everytime you remember me,

I have nothing to give in this world
Except some words that I wrote
Wanting from you all when you read
just feel joy every time you remember me,

Time will make some people forget
As if we hadn't even met
In a dark grave I will be
While few people are remembering me.
--Mirna Riad

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'I know I am but summer to your heart'
I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of Spring.
Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime.
-Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Fishing on the Susquehanna in July
I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
or on any river for that matter
to be perfectly honest.

Not in July or any month
have I had the pleasure--if it is a pleasure--
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

I am more likely to be found
in a quiet room like this one--
a painting of a woman on the wall,

a bowl of tangerines on the table--
trying to manufacture the sensation
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

There is little doubt
that others have been fishing
on the Susquehanna,

rowing upstream in a wooden boat,
sliding the oars under the water
then raising them to drip in the light.

But the nearest I have ever come to
fishing on the Susquehanna
was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia

when I balanced a little egg of time
in front of a painting
in which that river curled around a bend

under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
dense trees along the banks,
and a fellow with a red bandanna

sitting in a small, green
flat-bottom boat
holding the thin whip of a pole.

That is something I am unlikely
ever to do, I remember
saying to myself and the person next to me.

Then I blinked and moved on
to other American scenes
of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

even one of a brown hare
who seemed so wired with alertness
I imagined him springing right out of the frame.
-Billy Collins

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Last edited: 27 February 2012 13:20:30