My father doesn’t say ghost, though I know he’s haunted. Instead he says, When they let Uncle Marion out of that hospital, he didn’t even move the same. He said they tried to take his stories. He loves his fifteen uncles fiercely. Nearly all of them drank, did time in prison or mental hospitals, died before forty.
When Marion was twenty; a judge offered him the navy or prison. He couldn’t swim, so he ran away. Then, prison or the army. Marching hurt his feet. The third time, he picked prison and was out in six months. I never liked to hear folks call him crazy, my father says. He couldn’t help how he was.
What I know about my father tells me why he loves these men—the troubles they ran from and to, stories they lived without learning what they meant—and why he mourns. Each time my father had a choice, he chose the world he already knew, holding still till what he wanted looked like what he had.
Could I from this valley drear, Where the mist hangs heavily, Soar to some more blissful sphere, Ah! how happy should I be! Distant hills enchant my sight, Ever young and ever fair; To those hills I'd take my flight Had I wings to scale the air.
Harmonies mine ear assail, Tunes that breathe a heavenly calm; And the gently-sighing gale Greets me with its fragrant balm. Peeping through the shady bowers, Golden fruits their charms display. And those sweetly-blooming flowers Ne'er become cold winter's prey.
In you endless sunshine bright, Oh! what bliss 'twould be to dwell! How the breeze on yonder height Must the heart with rapture swell! Yet the stream that hems my path Checks me with its angry frown, While its waves, in rising wrath, Weigh my weary spirit down.
See—a bark is drawing near, But, alas, the pilot fails! Enter boldly—wherefore fear? Inspiration fills its sails, Faith and courage make thine own,— Gods ne'er lend a helping-hand; 'Tis by magic power alone Thou canst reach the magic land!
At last the secret is out, as it always must come in the end, The delicious story is ripe to tell to the intimate friend; Over the tea-cups and in the square the tongue has its desire; Still waters run deep, my dear, there’s never smoke without fire.
Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links, Behind the lady who dances and the man who madly drinks, Under the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine and the sigh There is always another story, there is more than meets the eye.
For the clear voice suddenly singing, high up in the convent wall, The scent of the elder bushes, the sporting prints in the hall, The croquet matches in summer, the handshake, the cough, the kiss, There is always a wicked secret, a private reason for this.
The reason Miss Delaney was my favorite teacher, not just my favorite English teacher, is that she would let me read any book I wanted and would allow me to report on it. I had the pleasure of reading The Scapegoat as well as We the Living as well as Silver Spoon (which was about a whole bunch of rich folk who were unhappy), and Defender of the Damned, which was about Clarence Darrow, which led me into Native Son because the real case was defended by Darrow though in Native Son he got the chair despite the fact that Darrow never lost a client to the chair including Leopold and Loeb who killed Bobby Frank. Native Son led me to Eight Men and all the rest of Richard Wright but I preferred Langston Hughes at that time and Gwendolyn Brooks and I did reports on both of them. I always loved English because whatever human beings are, we are storytellers. It is our stories that give a light to the future. When I went to college I became a history major because history is such a wonderful story of who we think we are; English is much more a story of who we really are. It was, after all, Miss Delaney who introduced the class to My candle burns at both ends; /It will not last the night; /But, ah, my foes, and, oh, my friends— /It gives a lovely light. And I thought YES. Poetry is the main line. English is the train.
A life should leave deep tracks: ruts where she went out and back to get the mail or move the hose around the yard; where she used to stand before the sink, a worn-out place; beneath her hand the china knobs rubbed down to white pastilles; the switch she used to feel for in the dark almost erased. Her things should keep her marks. The passage of a life should show; it should abrade. And when life stops, a certain space— however small— should be left scarred by the grand and damaging parade. Things shouldn’t be so hard.
I had a dream, which was not all a dream: The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars Did wander darkling in the eternal space, Rayless and pathless, and the icy Earth Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air! Morn came, and went, and came - and brought no day. And men forgot their passions in the dread Of this their desolation; and all hearts Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light. And they did live by watchfires - and the thrones, The palaces of crownéd kings, the huts, The habitations of all things which dwell, Were burnt for beacons. Cities were consumed, And men were gathered round their blazing homes To look once more into each other's face. Happy were those which dwelt within the eye Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch! A fearful hope was all the World contained - Forests were set on fire, but hour by hour They fell and faded, and the crackling trunks Extinguished with a crash, and all was black.
Everyone thinks the brain is so complicated,
but letâs look at the facts. The frontal lobe,
for example, is located in the front! And
the temporal lobe is where the clock is.
What could be simpler?
The hippocampal fissure is where big, dumb
thoughts camp, while at the Fissure of Rolando
dark-skinned men with one gold earring lie
around the fire and play guitars.
The superior frontal convolution is where
a lot of really nice houses are set back off
a twisty road, while the inferior frontal
convolution is a kind of trailer park, regularly
leveled by brainstorms.
The area of Broca is pretty much off limits.
And if you know Broca, you know why.
Everyone thinks the brain is so complicated, but let’s look at the facts. The frontal lobe, for example, is located in the front! And the temporal lobe is where the clock is. What could be simpler?
The hippocampal fissure is where big, dumb thoughts camp, while at the Fissure of Rolando dark-skinned men with one gold earring lie around the fire and play guitars.
The superior frontal convolution is where a lot of really nice houses are set back off a twisty road, while the inferior frontal convolution is a kind of trailer park, regularly leveled by brainstorms.
The area of Broca is pretty much off limits. And if you know Broca, you know why.
Their friends looked shocked—said not possible, said how sad. The trees carried on with their treeish lives—stately except when they shed their silly dandruff of birds. And the ocean did what oceans mostly do— suspended almost everything, dropped one small ship, or two. The day beauty divorced meaning, someone picked a flower, a fight, a flight. Someone got on a boat. A closet lost its suitcases. Someone was snowed in, someone else on. The sun went down and all it was, was night.
Our new rose, our scrupulous ritual tetrahedrons.
In the face of so many blades to animosity.
Within the scratching receptacles.
I'd do it for the branch in which you preserve
for the honeysuckles of cashmire you've built.
A loaf of bread baked with lewd sincerity and salt.
The green car weaves in transforming your eyelids.
It showers like a flag outside the cathedral.