3 things for today

1. I realized today my brain is melting. I read and write every day and walk and talk to people but I am bored out of my gourd. Lord! Endless free time is a bane, brother.

2. I've been reading a lot of poetry since Donald Hall died (it soothes the nerves), and I just came upon this one thanks to Austin Kleon. Following his lead, I printed it out and tacked it to the refrigerator:

"The Voice of God" by Mary Karr

Ninety percent of what’s wrong with you
    could be cured with a hot bath,
says God from the bowels of the subway.
    but we want magic, to win
the lottery we never bought a ticket for.
    (Tenderly, the monks chant, embrace
the suffering.) The voice of God does not pander,
    offers no five year plan, no long-term
solution, nary an edict. It is small & fond & local.
    Don’t look for your initials in the geese
honking overhead or to see thru the glass even
    darkly. It says the most obvious crap—
put down that gun, you need a sandwich.

3. My kickass tee arrived today from a retailer of teen clothing: 

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4. I may also have ordered a microwave egg poacher from a Russian bot:

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Summer Nights and Days by Rachel Hadas

So far the nights feel lonelier than the days.
In light, the living keep me company,
and memories of voices through the years.

Each summer threads a green familiar maze.
Emerging sun-struck, you can barely spy
the slow kaleidoscope of clouds and hours.

Those flannel nightshirts chilly sleepers wear
as summer wanes: I’m giving them away.
Pass it on: you keep at the same time.

A bough has broken from the Duchess tree.
Rain swelled the apples. Too much lightness weighs
heavy: the heft of the idea of home
tempered with the detachment of a dream,
or tidal pulls, like ocean, like moonrise.

– Rachel Hadas, "Summer Nights and Days"

The Swan by Mary Oliver

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air —
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music — like the rain pelting the trees — like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds —
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

— Mary Oliver

Otherwise by Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

– Jane Kenyon (via @KavehAkbar)

Kenyon's husband, the poet Donald Hall, has passed away at the age of 89. She died of leukemia in 1995 at the age of 47. Here's a remarkable look at their life together from Bill Moyers.

Says Henri Cole at The Paris Review: "He worked hard and now can rest."

Thanks, Robert Frost

Do you have hope for the future?
someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.
Yes, and even for the past, he replied,
that it will turn out to have been all right
for what it was, something we can accept,
mistakes made by the selves we had to be,
not able to be, perhaps, what we wished,
or what looking back half the time it seems
we could so easily have been, or ought...
The future, yes, and even for the past,
that it will become something we can bear.
And I too, and my children, so I hope,
will recall as not too heavy the tug
of those albatrosses I sadly placed
upon their tender necks. Hope for the past,
yes, old Frost, your words provide that courage,
and it brings strange peace that itself passes
into past, easier to bear because
you said it, rather casually, as snow
went on falling in Vermont years ago.

"Thanks, Robert Frost" by David Ray, from Music of Time: Selected and New Poems

All Shall Be Restored by Kay Ryan

The grains shall be collected
from the thousand shores
to which they found their way,
and the boulder restored,
and the boulder itself replaced
in the cliff, and likewise
the cliff shall rise
or subside until the plate of earth
is without fissure. Restoration
knows no half measure. It will
not stop when the treasured and lost
bronze horse remounts the steps.
Even this horse will founder backward
to coin, cannon, and domestic pots,
which themselves shall bubble and
drain back to green veins in stone.
And every word written shall lift off
letter by letter, the backward text
read ever briefer, ever more antic
in its effort to insist that nothing
shall be lost.

— Kay Ryan

Waving Goodbye by Wesley McNair

Why, when we say goodbye
at the end of an evening, do we deny 
we are saying it at all, as in We'll 
be seeing you, or I'll call, or Stop in,
somebody's always at home? Meanwhile, our friends,
telling us the same things, go on disappearing
beyond the porch light into the space
which except for a moment here or there
is always between us, no matter what we do.
Waving goodbye, of course, is what happens
when the space gets too large
for words – a gesture so innocent
and lonely, it could make a person weep
for days. Think of the hundreds of unknown
voyagers in the old, fluttering newsreel
patting and stroking the growing distance
between their nameless ship and the port
they are leaving, as if to promise I'll always
remember, and just as urgently, Always
remember me. Is it loneliness, too,
that makes the neighbor down the road lift
two fingers up from his steering wheel as he passes
day after day on his way to work in the hello
that turns into goodbye? What can our own raised
fingers do for him, locked in his masculine
purposes and speeding away inside the glass?
How can our waving wipe away the reflex
so deep in the woman next door to smile
and wave on her way into her house with the mail,
we'll never know if she is happy
or sad or lost? It can't. Yet in that moment
before she and all the others and we ourselves
turn back to our disparate lives, how
extraordinary it is that we make this small flag
with our hands to show the closeness we wish for
in spite of what pulls us apart again
and again: the porch light snapping off,
the car picking its way down the road through the dark.

— "Waving Goodbye" by Wesley McNair

Summons by Robert Francis

Keep me from going to sleep too soon
Or if I go to sleep too soon
Come wake me up. Come any hour
Of night. Come whistling up the road. 
Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door. 
Make me get out of bed and come
And let you in and light a light. 
Tell me the northern lights are on
And make me look. Or tell me clouds
Are doing something to the moon
They never did before, and show me. 
See that I see. Talk to me till
I’m half as wide awake as you
And start to dress wondering why
I ever went to bed at all. 
Tell me the walking is superb.
Not only tell me but persuade me.
You know I’m not too hard persuaded.

People Who Live Alone by Nikki Giovanni

People who live alone
Fart in cars
Pick their noses
Sleep naked
And never flush
In the middle of the night

Most people who live alone
Are compulsive
Things have to stay where
Things were put
People too
Like there is no room
In my heart for change
Or hamburger that I don't grind
Or coffee that drips
Or tears because
People who live alone
Soon learn
It is all
right

Vegetable Love

Feel a tomato, heft its weight in your palm,
think of buttocks, breasts, this plump pulp.
And carrots, mud clinging to the root,
gold mined from the earth's tight purse.
And asparagus, that push their heads up,
rise to meet the returning sun,
and zucchini, green torpedoes
lurking in the Sargasso depths
of their raspy stalks and scratchy leaves.
And peppers, thick walls of cool jade, a green hush.
Secret caves. Sanctuary.
And beets, the dark blood of the earth.
And all the lettuces: bibb, flame, oak leaf, butter-
crunch, black-seeded Simpson, chicory, cos.
Elizabethan ruffs, crisp verbiage.
And spinach, the dark green
of northern forests, savoyed, ruffled,
hidden folds and clefts.
And basil, sweet basil, nuzzled
by fumbling bees drunk on the sun.
And cucumbers, crisp, cool white ice
in the heart of August, month of fire.
And peas in their delicate slippers,
little green boats, a string of beads,
repeating, repeating.
And sunflowers, nodding at night,
then rising to shout hallelujah! at noon.

All over the garden, the whisper of leaves
passing secrets and gossip, making assignations.
All of the vegetables bask in the sun,
languorous as lizards.
Quick, before the frost puts out
its green light, praise these vegetables,
earth's voluptuaries,
praise what comes from the dirt. 

"Vegetable Love" by Barbara Crooker