Tuesday, April 29, 2014

They watched storms out there so distant they could not be heard, the silent lightning flaring sheetwise and the thin black spine of the mountain chain fluttering and sucked away again in the dark. They saw wild horses racing on the plain, pounding their shadows down the night and- leaving in the moonlight a vaporous dust like the palest stain of their passing.

-Cormac McCarthy

Piano Practice

The summer hums. The afternoon fatigues;
she breathed her crisp white dress distractedly
and put into it that sharply etched etude
her impatience for a reality

that could come: tomorrow, this evening--,
that perhaps was there, was just kept hidden;
and at the window, tall and having everything,
she suddenly could feel the pampered park.

With that she broke off; gazed outside, locked
her hands together; wished for a long book--
and in a burst of anger shoved back
the jasmine scent. She found it sickened her.

-Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Edward Snow)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Smear out the last star.
No lights from the islands
Or hills. In the great square
The prolonged vowel of silence
Makes itself plainly heard
Round the ghost of a headland
Clouds, leaves, shreds of bird
Eddy, hindering the wind.

No vigils left to keep.
No enemies left to slaughter.
The rough roofs of the slopes,
Loosely thatched with splayed water,
Only shelter microliths and fossils.
Unwatched, the rainbows build
On the architraves of hills.
No wounds left to be healed.

Nobody left to be beautiful.
No polyp admiral to sip
Blood and whiskey from a skull
While fingering his warships.
Terrible relics, by tiderace
Untouched, the stromalites breathe.
Bubbles plop on the surface,
Disturbing the balance of death.

No sound would be heard if
So much silence was not heard.
Clouds scuff like sheep on the cliff.
The echoes of stones are restored.
No longer any foreshore
Or any abyss, this
World only held together
By its variety of absences.

- Dom Moraes

Cities & The Sky 5

Andria was built so artfully that its every street follows a planet's orbit, and the buildings and the places of community life repeat the order of the constellations and the position of the most luminous stars: Antares, Alpheratz, Capricorn, the Cepheids. The city's calendar is so regulated that jobs and offices and ceremonies are arranged in a map corresponding to the firmament on that date: and thus the days on earth and the nights in the sky reflect each other.

Though it is painstakingly regimented, the city's life flows calmly like the motion of the celestial bodies and it acquires the inevitability of phenomena not subject to human caprice. In praising Andria's citizens for their productive industry and their spiritual ease, I was led to say: I can well understand how you, feeling yourselves part of an unchanging heaven, cogs in a meticulous clockwork, take care not to make the slightest change in your city and your habits. Andria is the only city I know where it is best to remain motionless in time.

They looked at one another dumbfounded. "But why? Whoever said such a thing?" And they led me to visit a suspended street recently opened over a bamboo grove, a shadow-theater under construction in the place of the municipal kennels, now moved to the pavilions of the former lazaretto, abolished when the last plague victims were cured, and--just inaugurated--a river port, a statue of Thales, a toboggan slide.

"And these innovations do not disturb your city's astral rhythm?" I asked.

"Our city and the sky correspond so perfectly, " they answered, "that any change in Andria involves some novelty among the stars." The astronomers, after each change takes place in Andria, peer into their telescopes and report a nova's explosion, or a remote point in the firmament's change of color from orange to yellow, the expansion of a nebula, the bending of a spiral of the Milky Way. Each change implies a sequence of other changes, in Andria as among the stars: the city and the sky never remain the same.

As for the character of Andria's inhabitants, two virtues are worth mentioning: self-confidence and prudence. Convinced that every innovation in the city influences the sky's pattern, before taking any decision they calculate the risks and advantages for themselves and for the city and for all worlds.

-Italo Calvino