Tag Archives: space

selections from In the Sierra: Mountain Writings by Kenneth Rexroth

The question is not
Does being have meaning,
But does meaning have being. Continue reading

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selections from Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“She’ll come back and be a serious Americanah like Bisi,” Ranyinudo said.

They roared with laughter, at that word “Americanah,” wreathed in glee, the fourth syllable extended, and at the thought of Bisi, a girl in the form below them, who had come back from a short trip to America with odd affectations, pretending she no longer understood Yoruba, adding a slurred r to every English word she spoke. (78) Continue reading

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selections from Of Walking in Ice by Werner Herzog

Our Eisner mustn’t die, she will not die, I won’t permit it. She is not dying now because she isn’t dying. Not now, no, she is not allowed to. My steps are firm. And now the earth trembles. When I move, a buffalo moves. When I rest, a mountain reposes. She wouldn’t dare! She mustn’t. She won’t. When I’m in Paris she will be alive. She must not die. Later, perhaps, when we allow it. Continue reading

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selections from Room by Emma Donoghue

Presents

“It’s called mind over matter. If we don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” (10)

—————

I climb on Rocker to get the books from Shelf and I make a ten-story skyscraper on Rug. “Ten stories,” says Ma and laughs, that wasn’t very funny. (16)

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[R]aw things make us extra alive. (20)

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Silly Penis is always standing up in the morning, I push him down. (28)

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The cartoon planet’s not in evenings, maybe because it’s dark and they don’t have lamps there. I choose a cooking tonight, it’s not real food, they don’t have any cans. The she and the he smile at each other and do a meat with a pie on top and green things around other green things in bunches. Then I switch over to the fitness planet where persons in underwear with all machines have to keep doing things over and over, I think they’re locked in. That’s over soon and it’s the knockerdowners, they make houses into different shapes and also millions of colors with paint, not just on a picture but all over everything. Houses are like lots of Rooms stuck together, TV persons stay in them mostly but sometimes they go in their outsides and weather happens to them.

“What if we put the bed over there?” says Ma.

I stare at her, then I look where she’s pointing. “That’s TV Wall.”

“That’s just what we call it,” she says, “but the bed could probably fit there, between the toilet and…we’d have to shift the wardrobe over a bit. Then the dresser would be right here instead of the bed, with the TV on top of it.”

I’m shaking my head a lot. “Then we couldn’t see.”

“We could, we’d be sitting right here in the rocker.”

“Bad idea.”

“OK, forget it.” Ma folds her arms tight.

The TV woman is crying because her house is yellow now. “Did she like it brown better?” I ask.

“No,” says Ma, “she’s so happy it’s making her cry.”

That’s weird. “Is she happysad, like you get when there’s lovely music on TV?”

“No, she’s just an idiot. Let’s switch the TV off now.” (41-42)

—————

[E]verything’s breakable. (43)

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“If you play you won’t mind and you won’t matter.” (44)

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—————

Unlying

But when I want something I want it always, like chocolates, I never ate a chocolate too many times. (56)

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She goes to Sink and washes her face, I don’t know why because it wasn’t dirty but maybe there were germs. (57)

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“I don’t know.”

They way she says it, it’s strange. I think she’s pretending. “You have to know. You know everything.” (59)

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“Stories are a different kind of true.” (71)

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“My ears hurt,” I tell her.

Her eyebrows go up.

“It’s too quiet in them.”

“Ah, that’s because we’re not hearing all the little sounds we’re used to, like the heat coming on or the refrigerator hum.” (76)

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“What I’m doing is the opposite of lying. It’s, like, unlying.” (85)

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—————

Dying

When I was a little kid I thought like a little kid, but now I’m five I know everything. (102)

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I can think and do interesting stuff at the same time. Can’t she? (104)

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“Nobody’s going to rescue us.”

I don’t say anything. And then I say, “You don’t know everything there is.”

Her face is the strangest I ever saw. (104)

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“Scared is what you’re feeling,” says Ma, “but brave is what you’re doing.”

“Huh?”

“Scaredybrave.”

“Scave.”

Word sandwiches always make her laugh but I wasn’t being funny. (116)

—————

Ma’s still nodding. “You’re the one who matters, though. Just you.”

I shake my head till it’s wobbling because there’s no just me.

We look at each other not smiling. (128)

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Outsider don’t understand anything, I wonder do they watch too much TV. (152)

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“Yeah. I’ve seen the world and I’m tired now.”

“Oh, Jack,” she says, “we’re never going back.”

The car starts moving and I’m crying so much I can’t stop. (155)

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—————

After

catatonic (adj., Psychiatry)
of, relating to, or characterized by catatonia.
—informal: of or in an immobile or unresponsive stupor.
“The despot’s victims have an eerie pallor and appear to be in a borderline catatonic state after the long nightmare of their incarceration.” (165)

—————

Ma wipes my face with her hand, that spreads the tears. “Sorry,” she says, “sorry, I guess I’m moving too fast.” She gives me a hug that wets me all down me. “There’s nothing to cry about anymore.”

When I was a baby I only cried for a good reason. But Ma going in the shower and shutting me on the wrong side, that’s a good reason. (173)

—————

Every wall’s a different color, that must be the rule. (175)

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The glasses are invisible like ours but the plates are blue, that’s disgusting. (177)

—————

I go look at the tray Noreen brought. I’m not hungry but when I ask Ma she says it’s after one o’clock, that’s too late for lunch even, lunch should be twelve something but there’s room in my tummy yet.

“Relax,” Ma tells me. “Everything’s different here.”

“But what’s the rule?”

“There is no rule. We can have lunch at ten or one or three or the middle of the night.”

“I don’t want lunch in the middle of the night.”

Ma puffs her breath. “Let’s make a new rule that we’ll have lunch…anytime between twelve and two. And if we’re not hungry we’ll just skip it.”

“How do we skip it?”

“Eat nothing. Zero.”

“OK.” I don’t mind eating zero. “But what will Noreen do with all the food?”

“Throw it away.”

“That’s waste.”

“Yeah, but it has to go in the trash because it’s—it’s like it’s dirty.”

I look at the food all multicolored on the blue plates. “It doesn’t look dirty.”

“It’s not actually, but nobody else here would want it after it’s been on our plates,” says Ma. “Don’t worry about it.”

She keeps saying that but I don’t know to not worry.

I yawn so huge it nearly knocks me over. My arm still hurts from where it wasn’t numb. I ask if we can go back to sleep again and Ma says sure, but she’s going to read the paper. I don’t know why she wants to read the paper instead of being asleep with me. (184-185)

—————

I never saw Ma hug a someone else. (187)

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“Why did she laugh about me knowing all the words when I wasn’t making a joke?” I ask Ma after.

“Oh, it doesn’t matter, it’s always good to make people laugh.” (189)

—————

I remember manners, that’s when persons are scared to make each other persons mad. I say, “Please may you have me more pancakes?”

The she with the apron says, “He’s a doll.”

I’m not a doll, but Ma whispers it means the woman like me so I should let her call me one.

I try the syrup, it’s super extra sweet, I drink a whole little tub before Ma stops me. She says it’s only for putting on pancakes but I think that’s yucky.

People keep coming at her with jugs of coffee, she says no. I eat so many bacon I lose count, when I say, “Thank you, Baby Jesus,” people stare because I think they don’t know him in Outside. (192)

—————

“Are you enjoying it here?”

“I’m enjoying the bacon.”

He laughs, I didn’t know I made a joke again. “I enjoy bacon too. Too much.”

How can enjoying be too much? (194)

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“‘World is suddener than we fancy it.'” (194)

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“Everyone’s got a different story.” (195)

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In Outside the time’s all mixed up. Ma keeps saying, “Slow down, Jack,” and “Hang on,” and “Finish up now,” and “Hurry up, Jack,” she says Jack a lot so I’ll know it’s me she’s talking to not persons else. (196)

—————

“You were born with your eyes open.” (206)

—————

“The very best thing you did was, you got him out early,” says Dr. Clay. “At five, they’re still plastic.”

But I’m not plastic, I’m a real boy. (209)

—————

“Because we didn’t belong to him.”

“That’s right.” Dr. Clay’s smiling. “You know who you belong to, Jack?”

“Yeah.”

“Yourself.”

He’s wrong, actually, I belong to Ma. (209)

—————

When we go see Dr. Clay, Ma makes me tell about my dreams.

He thinks my brain is probably doing a spring cleaning.

I stare at him.

“Now you’re safe, it’s gathering up all those scary thoughts you don’t need anymore, and throwing them out as bad dreams.” His hands do the throwing.

I don’t say because of manners, but actually he’s got it backwards. In Room I was safe and Outside is the scary. (218-219)

—————

“Be gentle with it, Jack, it’s my present from Paul.”

I didn’t know it was hers-not-mine. In Room everything was ours. (220)

—————

“I keep messing up. I know you need me to be your ma but I’m having to remember how to be me as well at the same time and it’s…”

But I thought the her and the Ma were the same. (221-222)

—————

Lots and lots of hes and shes on the sidewalks, I never saw so many, I wonder are they all real for real or just some. “Some of the women grow long hair like us,” I tell Ma, “but the men don’t.”

“Oh, a few do, rock stars. It’s not a rule, just a convention.”

“What’s a—?”

“A silly habit everybody has. Would you like a haircut?” asks Ma.

“No.”

“It doesn’t hurt. I had short hair before—back when I was nineteen.”

I shake my head. “I don’t want to lose my strong.”

“Your what?”

“My muscles, like Samson in the story.”

That makes her laugh. (222-223)

—————

“Jack, there’s a lot of things in the world.”

“Zillions?”

“Zillions and zillions. If you try to fit them in all your head, it’ll just burst.” (228)

—————

I think buddy is man talk for sweetie. (240)

—————

I take Dora out and put my arms in her straps and I’m wearing it, I’m actually wearing Dora. (243)

—————

—————

Living

“That was Dr. Clay, your ma is stable. That sounds good, doesn’t it?”

It sounds like horses. (258)

—————

“He wants me not born.”

“He wants what?”

“He said I shouldn’t be and then Ma wouldn’t have to be Ma.”

Grandma doesn’t say anything so I think she’s gone downstairs. I take my face out to see. She’s still here with her arms wrapped around her tight. “Never you mind that a-hole.” (259)

—————

At breakfast Grandma takes a pill. I ask if it’s a vitamin. Steppa laughs. She tells him, “You should talk.” Then she says to me, “Everybody needs a little something.” (263)

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In Room we knowed what everything was called but in the world there’s so much, persons don’t even know the names. (267)

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God’s yellow face has a cloud on top. Colder suddenly. The world is always changing brightness and soundness, I never know how it’s going to be the next minute. (268)

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“‘Human kind cannot bear very much reality.'” (274)

—————

“She’s in the other wing, she needs to be on her own for a while.”

I think he’s wrong, if I was sick I’d need Ma with me even more.

“But she’s working really hard to get better,” he tells me.

I thought people are just sick or better, I didn’t know it was work. (275)

—————

“Why are places to eat called coffee shops?” I ask him.

“Well, coffee’s the most important thing they sell because most of us need it to keep us going, like gas in the car.” (278)

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The little cards with numbers all over are called a lottery, idiots buy them hoping to get magicked into millionaires. (285)

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I didn’t know persons could be private out in the world. (285)

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In the world I notice persons are nearly always stressed and have no time. (286)

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“Remember,” she says on the way to the white car, “we don’t hug strangers. Even nice ones.”

“Why not?”

“We just don’t, we save our hugs for people we love.”

“I love that boy Walker.”

“Jack, you never saw him before in your life.” (288)

—————

“Noreen tells me you’ve had a haircut.” Ma’s voice is tiny on the phone.

“Yeah. But I still have my strong.” I’m sitting under Rug with the phone, all in the dark to pretend Ma’s right here. “I have baths on my own now,” I tell her. “I’ve been on swings and I know money and fire and street persons and I’ve got two Dylan the Diggers and a conscience and spongy shoes.”

“Wow.”

“Oh and I’ve seen the sea, there’s no poo in it, you were tricking me.”

“You had so many questions,” says Ma. “And I didn’t have all the answers, so I had to make some up.”

I hear her crying breath.

“Ma, can you come get me tonight?”

“Not quite yet.”

“Why not?”

“They’re still fiddling with my dosage, trying to figure out what I need.”

Me, she needs me. (292-293)

—————

“Well, celebrity is a secondary trauma.” (306)

—————

Ma says everybody’s got a few different selves. (310)

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Grandma says why doesn’t Ma take me to the zoo but Ma says she couldn’t stand the cages. (312)

—————

“Do you sometimes wish we didn’t escape?”

I don’t hear anything. Then she says, “No, I never wish that.” (313)

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“‘The Soul selects her own Society—Then—shuts the Door—'” (314) Continue reading

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selections from Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (2014)

“In life, as in mutual funds, past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Continue reading

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ten

2006

he had never been to Japan.

he’d never lived anywhere but California, Arizona, and Nicaragua.

he’d never been to Greece, Turkey, Hungary, or Spain.

he’d never been to the Netherlands or the Czech Republic.

he’d never had sex, and he’d never been arrested.

he’d never eaten a mushroom or licked acid.

he’d never contemplated creating his own religion.

he’d been in a band, but he’d never been a DJ.

he’d grown his hair long, but never past the collar.

he loved reading and writing, but didn’t think it’d make money.

as for him…

2015 Continue reading

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Emily Dickinson favorites (701-1100)

To Whom the Mornings stand for Nights,
What must the Midnights – be! Continue reading

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selections from The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

[…] that luxurious after-dinner atmosphere when thought runs gracefully free of the trammels of precision. (3)

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“Clearly,” the Time Traveller proceeded, “any real body must have extension in four directions: it must have Length, Breadth, Thickness, and—Duration.” (4)

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“Time is only a kind of Space.” (5)

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“You can show black is white by argument,” said Filby, “but you will never convince me.” (7)

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“Our ancestors had no great tolerance for anachronisms.” (7)

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“Then there is the future,” said the Very Young Man. “Just think! One might invest all one’s money, leave it to accumulate at interest, and hurry on ahead!”

“To discover a society,” said I, “erected on a strictly communistic basis.” (7)

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“Presently, as I went on, still gaining velocity, the palpitation of day and night merged into one continuous greyness; the sky took on a wonderful deepness of blue, a splendidi luminous color like that of early twilight; the jerking sun became a streak of fire, a brilliant arch, in space; the moon a fainter fluctuating band; and I could see nothing of the stars, save now and then a brighter circle flickering in the blue.” (20)

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“It seemed to me that I had happened upon humanity upon the wane. The ruddy sunset set me thinking of the sunset of mankind. For the first time I began to realize an odd consequence of the social effort in which we are at present engaged. And yet, come to think, it is a logical consequence enough. Strength is the outcome of need; security sets a premium on feebleness. The work of ameliorating the conditions of life—the true civilizing process that makes life—humanity over Nature had followed another. Things that are now mere dreams had become projects deliberately put in hand and carried forward. And the harvest was what I saw!

“After all, the sanitation and the agriculture of to-day are still in the rudimentary stage. The science of our time has attacked but a little department of the field of human disease, but even so, it spreads its operations very steadily and persistently. Our agriculture and horticulture destroy a weed just here and there and cultivate perhaps a score or so of wholesome plants, leaving the greater number to fight out a balance as they can. We improve our favourite plants and animals—and how few they are—gradually by selective breeding; now a new and better peach, now a seedless grape, now a sweeter and larger flower, now a more convenient breed of cattle. We improve them gradually, because our ideals are vague and tentative, and our knowledge is very limited; because Nature, too, is shy and slow in our clumsy hands. Some day all this will be better organized, and still better. That is the drift of the current in spite of the eddies. The whole world will be intelligent, educated, and co-operating; things will move faster and faster towards the subjugation of Nature. In the end, wisely and carefully we shall readjust the balance of animal and vegetable me to suit our human needs.

“This adjustment, I say, must have been done, and done well; done indeed for all Time, in the space of Time across which my machine had leaped. The air was free from gnats, the earth from weeds or fungi; everywhere were fruits and sweet and delightful flowers; brilliant butterflies flew hither and thither. The ideal of preventive medicine was attained. Diseases had been stamped out. I saw no evidence of any contagious diseases during all my stay. And I shall have to tell you later that even the processes of putrefaction and decay had been profoundly affected by these changes.

“Social triumphs, too, had been effected. I saw mankind housed in splendid shelters, gloriously clothed, and as yet I had found them engaged in no toil. There were no signs of struggle, neither social nor economical struggle. The shop, the advertisement, traffic, all that commerce which constitutes the body of our world, was gone. It was natural on that golden evening that I should jump at the idea of a social paradise. The difficulty of increasing population had been met, I guessed, and population had ceased to increase.

“But with this change in condition comes inevitably adaptations to the change. What, unless biological science is a mass of errors, is the cause of human intelligence and vigour? Hardship and freedom: conditions under which the active, strong, and subtle survive and the weaker go to the wall; conditions that put a premium upon the loyal alliance of capable men, upon self-restraint, patience, and decision. And the institution of the family, and the emotions that arise therein, the fierce jealousy, the tenderness for offspring, parental self-devotion, all found their justification and support in the imminent dangers of the young. Now, where are these imminent dangers? There is a sentiment arising, and it will grow, against connubial jealousy, against fierce maternity, against passion of all sorts; unnecessary things now, and things that make us uncomfortable, savage survivals, discords in a refined and pleasant life.

“I thought of the physical slightness of the people, their lack of intelligence, and those big abundant ruins, and it strengthened my belief in a perfect conquest of Nature. For after the battle comes Quiet. Humanity had been strong, energetic, and intelligent, and had used all its abundant vitality to alter the conditions under which it lived. And now came the reaction of the altered conditions.

“Under the new conditions of perfect comfort and security, that restless energy, that with us is strength, would become weakness. Even in our own time certain tendencies and desires, once necessary to survival, are a constant source of failure. Physical courage and the love of battle, for instance, are no great help—may even be hindrances—to a civilized man. And in a state of physical balance and security, power, intellectual as well as physical, would be out of place. For countless years I judged there had been no danger of war or solitary violence, no danger from wild beasts, no wasting disease to require strength of constitution, no need of toil. For such a life, what we should call the weak are as well equipped as the strong, are indeed no longer weak. Better equipped indeed they are, for the strong would be fretted by an energy for which there was no outlet. No doubt the exquisite beauty of the buildings I saw was the outcome of the last surgings of the now purposeless energy of mankind before it settled down into perfect harmony with the conditions under which it lived—the flourish of that triumph which began the last great peace. This has ever been the fate of energy in security; it takes to art and to eroticism, and then come languor and decay.

“Even this artistic impetus would at last die away—had almost died in the Time I saw. To adorn themselves with flowers, to dance, to sing in the sunlight: so much was left of the artistic spirit, and no more. Even that would fade in the end into a contented inactivity. We are kept keen on the grindstone of pain and necessity, and, it seemed to me, that here was that hateful grindstone broken at last! (32-35)

—————

“I am too Occidental for a long vigil.” (40)

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“Then suddenly the humour of the situation came into my mind: the thought of the years I had spent in study and toil to get into the future age, and now my passion of anxiety to get out of it.” (40) Continue reading

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SAS 1

Strength can be gentle
But you don’t see it that way

I saw a light in you
trying to grab it before it fades

Trying to grab it ‘fore
Trying to grab it ‘fore

Fades
The cold and the dark enter your heart
You’re afraid
The monsters inside you, cripple and blind you
and I know you are
and I know you are
The same

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the apes sat around scrawling their squishy mochi minds all over the table. the mochi would leap out their skulls and slam against the table in an explosion of colors, portraying different forms of flesh, perspective, landscape, language. there an avocado, an orange outta nowhere. there a woman steps out of the shadows w red wine bleeding from her right ear socket, watercolors streaming down her face. there voltages fired through a test tube, attempting to synthesize volcanic activity here in the comfort of our own home. here the voice of the prophet, inky and wet, dripping everywhere, staining everyone’s fingers, the same contagious fairy tales and riddles told for thousands and thousands of years. what does the future hold? the same fairy tales, riddles, prophets? can it be forecast in cheap blue ink? in the name of the gracious and glorious crime of poetic appropriation, may we all grow to be the most beautiful blooms of ourselves. Continue reading

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lines written above Muir Beach

does a poem peek thru the morning fog
like the sun with a weary white face?
does it travel a million miles thru the mind
just to vanish in a moment’s gray haze? Continue reading

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