Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was an officer in the Union Army. He stood six feet three inches tall and had a soldierly bearing. In later life, he loved to use military metaphors in his speeches and his conversation; he didn’t mind being referred to good-naturedly as Captain Holmes; and he wore his enormous military mustaches until his death in 1935, at the age of ninety-three. The war was the central experience of his life, and he kept its memory alive. Every year he drank a glass of wine in observance of the anniversary of the battle Antietam, where he had been shot in the neck and left, briefly behind enemy lines, for dead.
I’ve been taught bloodstones can cure a snakebite, can stop the bleeding—most people forgot this when the war ended. The war ended depending on which war you mean: those we started, before those, millennia ago and onward, those which started me, which I lost and won—these ever-blooming wounds.
—Natalie Diaz, Post Colonial Love Poem
Natalie Diaz writes of her heritage, her connection to earth and water, and her lovers, as if they are all part of same emotional (erotically charged) experience. The synthesis is eloquent and moving.
“IN THE MYRIADIC YEAR OF OUR LORD—the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death!—Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.”
“When we were new, Rosa and I were mid-store, on the magazines table side, and could see through more than half of the window. So we were able to watch the outside – the office workers hurrying by, the taxis, the runners, the tourists, Beggar Man and his dog, the lower part of the RPO Building. Once we were more settled, Manager allowed us to walk up to the front until we were right behind the window display, and then we could see how tall the RPO Building was. And if we were there at just the right time, we would see the Sun on his journey, crossing between the building tops from our side over to the RPO Building side.”
First there was nothing. Then there was everything. Then, in a park above a western city after dusk, the air is raining messages. A woman sits on the ground, leaning against a pine. Its bark presses hard against her back, as hard as life. Its needles scent the air and a force hums in the heart of the wood. Her ears tune down to the lowest frequencies. The tree is saying things, in words before words.
To give mind to machines, they are calling it out of the world, out of the neighborhood, out of the body. They have bound it in the brain, in the hard shell of the skull, in order to bind it in a machine. From the heron flying home at dusk, from the misty hollows at sunrise, from the stories told at the row’s end, they are calling the mind into exile in the dry circuits of machines.
O anti-verdurous phallic were’t not for your pouring weight looming in tears like a sick tree or your ever-gaudy-comfort jabbing your city’s much wrinkled sky you’d seem an absurd Babel squatting before mortal millions
—Gregory Corso, from Ode to Coit Tower, in Gasoline
Couldn’t row this morning so I took a long looping walk through downtown. I think my walking playlist is getting pretty good. It’s big enough now that putting it on shuffle and heading out is starting to provide surprises.
We have challenges enough, do we not? With every day presenting its difficulties, a multitude of small assaults on our well-being. We build up no credit for facing these struggles, and instead are told it’s possible there may also be … the rest “Club”