Monday, January 31, 2011

quoth the madman

“When we make our own misery, we sometimes cling to it even when we want so bad to change because the misery is something we know. The misery is comfortable. ”
—Dean Koontz

Sunday, January 30, 2011

ars poetica

For a while I climbed the ladder,
not realizing I’d placed it
against the wrong house. The window
I tried to look into was a mirror.
I fell backward into the world.

-Stephen Dunn

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011


“I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed. ”
—David Benioff - City of Thieves

Thursday, January 27, 2011

quoth the madman

“There are many forms of love and affection, some people can spend their whole lives together without knowing each other’s names. Naming is a difficult and time-consuming process; it concerns essences, and it means power. But on the wild nights who can call you home?
Only the one who knows your name. ”
—Jeanette Winterson

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Framed by our window, skaters, winding
in and out the wind, as water reeling
so kept in motion, on a well-honed
edge spin out a gilded ceiling.

Fish, reflecting glow for glow,
saints around the sun, are frozen
with amazement just one pane below.

Skates flash like stars, so madly
whirling one can hardly tell which
is sky and which the watery floor ...

one night two straitlaced couples,
a footman over them, rode out
in a dappled-horse-drawn sleigh
onto the river, a moonlit lark.

The ice broke and they—sleigh,
footman and all—riding in state,
rode straight on into the lidded water.

That winter all winter folks twirled
over them who—framed in lace,
frost the furs, the shiny harness
and their smiles the fire that keeps
the place—sat benignly watching.

“One foot out, one foot in,
are we real,” thought one, “we who
wander sheepishly in dreams, or they,
the really sleepless eyes, under us?

And every night who knows (a laughter
troubles us like dreams) who skates
(a thousand watch fires the stars)
above, peering through the pane?”

-A Gothic Tale - Theodore Weiss

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


for Peter Orr

When all the rooms of the house
fill with smoke, it’s not enough
to say an angel is sleeping on the chimney.

1. a night in the barn

The deer carcass hangs from a rafter.
Wrapped in blankets, a boy keeps watch
from a pile of loose hay. Then he sleeps

and dreams about a death that is coming:
Inside him, there are small bones
scattered in a field among burdocks and dead grass.
He will spend his life walking there,
gathering the bones together.

Pigeons rustle in the eaves.
At his feet, the German shepherd
snaps its jaws in its sleep.

A father and his four sons
run down a slope toward
a deer they just killed.
The father and two sons carry
rifles. They laugh, jostle,
and chatter together.
A gun goes off
and the youngest brother
falls to the ground.
A boy with a rifle
stands beside him,

I crouch in the corner of my room,
staring into the glass well
of my hands; far down
I see him drowning in air.

Outside, leaves shaped like mouths
make a black pool
under a tree. Snails glide
there, little death-swans.

4. smoke
Something has covered the chimney
and the whole house fills with smoke.
I go outside and look up at the roof,
but I can’t see anything.
I go back inside. Everyone weeps,
walking from room to room.
Their eyes ache. This smoke
turns people into shadows.
Even after it is gone
and the tears are gone,
we will smell it in pillows
when we lie down to sleep.

He lives in a house of black glass.
Sometimes I visit him, and we talk.
My father says he is dead,
but what does that mean?
Last night I found a child
sleeping on a nest of bones.
He had a red, leaf-shaped
scar on his cheek.
I lifted him up
and carried him with me,
though I didn’t know where I was going.

6. the journey
Each night, I knelt on a marble slab
and scrubbed at the blood.
I scrubbed for years and still it was there.
But tonight the bones in my feet
begin to burn. I stand up
and start walking, and the slab
appears under my feet with each step,
a white road only as long as your body.

7. the distance
The winter I was eight, a horse
slipped on the ice, breaking its leg.
Father took a rifle, a can of gasoline.
I stood by the road at dusk and watched
the carcass burning in the far pasture.

I was twelve when I killed him;
I felt my own bones wrench from my body.
Now I am twenty-seven and walk
beside this river, looking for them.
They have become a bridge
that arches toward the other shore.

-Gathering the Bones Together - Gregory Orr

Monday, January 24, 2011


"Perhaps all our loves are merely hints and symbols; vagabond-language scrawled on gate-posts and paving-stones along the weary road that others have tramped before us; perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us."
— Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited

Sunday, January 23, 2011


“She had taken to wondering lately, during these swift-counted years, what had been done with all those wasted summer days; how could she have spent them so wantonly? I am foolish, she told herself early every summer, I am very foolish; I am grown up now and know the values of things. Nothing is ever really wasted, she believed sensibly, even one’s childhood, and then each year, one summer morning, the warm wind would come down the city street where she walked and she would be touched with the little cold thought: I have let more time go by. ”
— Shirley Jackson - The Haunting of Hill House

Saturday, January 22, 2011

quoth the madman

“I felt that I was leaving part of myself behind, and that wherever I went afterwards I should feel the lack of it, and search for it hopelessly, as ghosts are said to do, frequenting the spots where they buried material treasures without which they cannot pay their way to the nether world. ”
—Evelyn Waugh

Friday, January 21, 2011

quoth the madman

"Eternity isn’t some later time. Eternity isn’t even a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now that all thinking in temporal time cuts off. And if you don’t get it here, you won’t get it anywhere … the experience of eternity right here and now, in all things, whether thought of as good or evil, is the function of life. This is it. ”
—Joseph Campbell

Thursday, January 20, 2011

quoth the madman

"Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life. ”

—Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

- The Sick Rose - William Blake

Monday, January 17, 2011


Like labour-laden moonclouds faint to flee
From winds that sweep the winter-bitten wold,—
Like multiform circumfluence manifold
Of night's flood-tide,—like terrors that agree
Of hoarse-tongued fire and inarticulate sea,—
Even such, within some glass dimm'd by our breath,
Our hearts discern wild images of Death,
Shadows and shoals that edge eternity.

Howbeit athwart Death's imminent shade doth soar
One Power, than flow of stream or flight of dove
Sweeter to glide around, to brood above.
Tell me, my heart,—what angel-greeted door
Or threshold of wing-winnow'd threshing-floor
Hath guest fire-fledg'd as thine, whose lord is Love?

- The House of Life: 41. Through Death to Love - Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Sunday, January 16, 2011

your bouguereau moment

Vierge Consolatrice 1875

Saturday, January 15, 2011

quoth the madman

“I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me. ”

—Hermann Hesse

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Should the wide world roll away
Leaving black terror
Limitless night,
Nor God, nor man, nor place to stand
Would be to me essential
If thou and thy white arms were there

- Should the Wide World Roll Away - Stephen Crane

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


" FRANZ KAFKA IS DEAD He died in a tree from which he wouldn’t come down. “Come down!” they cried to him. “Come down! Come down!” Silence filled the night, and the night filled the silence, while they waited for Kafka to speak. “I can’t,” he finally said, with a note of wistfulness. “Why?” they cried. Stars spilled across the black sky. “Because then you’ll stop asking for me.” The people whispered and nodded among themselves. They put their arms around each other, and touched their children’s hair. They took off their hats and raised them to the small, sickly man with the ears of a strange animal, sitting in his black velvet suit in the dark tree. Then they turned and started for home under the canopy of leaves. Children were carried on their fathers’ shoulders, sleepy from having been taken to see who wrote his books on pieces of bark he tore off the tree from which he refused to come down. In his delicate, beautiful, illegible handwriting. And they admired those books, and they admired his will and stamina. After all: who doesn’t wish to make a spectacle of his loneliness? One by one families broke off with a good night and a squeeze of the hands, suddenly grateful for the company of neighbors. Doors closed to warm houses. Candles were lit in windows. Far off, in his perch in the trees , Kafka listened to it all: the rustle of the clothes being dropped to the floor, or lips fluttering along naked shoulders, beds creaking along the weight of tenderness. It all caught in the delicate pointed shells of his ears and rolled like pinballs through the great hall of his mind.

That night a freezing wind blew in. When the children wake up, they went to the window and found the world encased in ice. One child, the smallest, shrieked out in delight and her cry tore through the silence and exploded the ice of a giant oak tree. The world shone.

They found him frozen on the ground like a bird. It’s said that when they put their ears to the shell of his ears, they could hear themselves. ”

— Nicole Krauss - The History of Love

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

quoth the madman

Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not,
and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is.

- Oscar Wilde

Monday, January 10, 2011


Although you have betrayed him in a dream,
you have betrayed him, and the infidelities
of sleep will change you: you
will find yourself suddenly in love
with the two young women
outside your window
whose voices and laughter fell


with last winter’s snow. You will begin to think:
I am beginning to move among them.
But only you will be wearing a snap-brimmed
hat. When the knock comes, it will knock

a certain reticence. It will leave
your door covered in white knuckles.

And the windows will no longer breathe, they will die

like paintings. And will no longer be
worrying the stars into meaning, they will
already mean something, but that will only be the wind,
only the wind that will be

keen and keening.

All else will remain hidden and nameless.
By which I mean: your soul. By which I mean

you will begin by missing

your old sadness, that old country: a country
fielded in rye. A strange sore
will just then start to form
underneath your tongue.

You will always find yourself being unfaithful to someone.
You will always be gathering something from the landscape

without poems:

then, finally, winter,
to once again
thin things out, down

to those two women’s
voices. And their laughter, their laughter falling
with the new snow?

Perhaps by then you will no longer be in love.

Your infidelities will have changed you.

~Olena Kalytiak Davis - Perhaps By Then You Will No Longer Be In Love

Sunday, January 9, 2011

your bouguereau moment

William Adolphe Bouguereau, Le voeu, 1867.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


What makes it serious
is that we know
that after the order
of this world
there is another.
What is it like?
We do not know.
The number and order of possible suppositions in
this realm
is precisely
And what is infinity?
That is precisely what we do not know!
It is a word
that we use
to indicate
the opening
of our consciousness
toward possibility
beyond measure,
tireless and beyond measure.
And precisely what is consciousness?
That is precisely what we do not know.
It is nothingness.

Antonin Artaud, Excerpt from “The Question Arises …” To Have Done with the Judgment of God (1947)

Friday, January 7, 2011


"It is said that mourning, by its gradual labour, slowly erases pain; I could not, I cannot believe this; because for me, Time eliminates the emotion of loss (I do not weep), that is all. For the rest, everything has remained motionless. For what I have lost is not a Figure (the Mother), but a being; and not a being, but a quality (a soul): not the indispensable, but the irreplaceable."
— Roland Barthes - Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.

T.S. Eliot - Preludes

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


----- Carved Tibetiaan Turquoise mourning pendant 40x25x31 mm

"What of her glass without her? The blank gray
There where the pool is blind of the moon’s face.
Her dress without her? The tossed empty space
Of cloud-rack whence the moon has passed away.
Her paths without her? Day’s appointed sway
Usurped by desolate night. Her pillowed place
Without her? Tears, ah me! for love’s good grace,
And cold forgetfulness of night or day.

What of the heart without her? Nay, poor heart,
Of thee what word remains ere speech be still?
A wayfarer by barren ways and chill,
Steep ways and weary, without her thou art,
Where the long cloud, the long wood’s counterpart,
Sheds doubled darkness up the labouring hill."

- The House of Life LIII: Without Her - Dante Gabriel Rossetti


“When I was a girl, my life was music that was always getting louder.
Everything moved me.
A dog following a stranger.
That made me feel so much.
A calendar that showed the wrong month. I could have cried over it.
I did.
Where the smoke from a chimney ended.
How an overturned bottle rested at the edge of a table.
I spent my life learning to feel less.
Every day I felt less. Is that growing old?
Or is it something worse?
You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”

- Jonathan Safran Foer - Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


"Trust the wolves, but do not tell them where you are going."
—Nail Gaiman - Instructions

Monday, January 3, 2011


Freud says he’ll take the snakes from my hair
And I’ll be Medusa no more
Jung’ll pull the nails from my hand
Unmartryr me on the reclining couch
Diagnose me till his mouth is raw
I’m dreaming in blue and grey and shades
Of things my mother said I’d never be
All these messages and mountains
bearing the weight of years
Freud says there are snakes in my mouth
And he’ll unhitch me from my fears
Jung’ll pull the hairs from my teeth
Untie me from old rage;
I’m dreaming in blue and grey and stories
Of all the things I never wanted to be
If I could just find my footing
Among this wide and wind-swept ledge
of broken shards and forgotten words
Everything’ll come easy
Keep the snakes in my hair
And the nails in my palms
The crumbling teeth
For all I care the blood can seep
From out of every sweat-hole
and every tear duct I possess
If I could just find my footing
Between the stage-lights and the
simple naked fright, I will
Keep the nightmares close to my chest
And single out from them
the most brutal, the most bitter
the bravest and the best;
Freud says he’ll take the snakes
from out of my hair
I say leave them
they’re alright there.

-Interpretation - Delilah Des Anges.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


“ Put out the star
At the edge of the bed
Milky white
Lovely bitterness
Are you sleeping
Mouth of autumn
Your breasts burned
The night is nude
Where there murmurs
An unknown tongue
In my ear
My orange oh
My foreigner
You my madness
And my woods
I am the wolf
Devouring you
The dogs who
Lick your feet
Listen from the
Bottom of me
My tempest
Rising towards you
I have the name of you
Anger of you
The immense jolt
Of loving
Here is the moment
Of fear
And the marvel
To shout about
To shout to shout
To shout to shout
I am I am
I am
I am dying ”
—Louis Aragon - Poem written in the toilets with a knife on the wall

Saturday, January 1, 2011


“She was the four seasons put together inside a person. It was hard to know what to say to somebody like that.”
—Sonya Hartnett - The Ghost’s Child


"A good hanging now and then -- that entertains folk in the provinces and robs death of its glamour."