Well of course I want things. Everybody, at least once in their lives, has stayed awake all night thinking about the things they want. Some eventually get coaxed back to bed, and they turn, smiling, remembering what they already have. The rest of us — well, the rest of us are here. Pacing around the room. Watching the moon.

Too Many Names
Pablo Neruda

Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
and the week with the whole year.
Time cannot be cut
with your weary scissors,
and all the names of the day
are washed out by the waters of night.

No one can claim the name of Pedro,
nobody is Rosa or Maria,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain under rain.
They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,
of Chiles and of Paraguays;
I have no idea what they are saying.
I know only the skin of the earth
and I know it is without a name.

When I lived amongst the roots
they pleased me more than flowers did,
and when I spoke to a stone
it rang like a bell.

It is so long, the spring
which goes on all winter.
Time lost its shoes.
A year is four centuries.

When I sleep every night,
what am I called or not called?
And when I wake, who am I
if I was not while I slept?

This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names,
with so many sad formallities,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much of signing of papers.

I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, bring them to birth,
mix them up, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crepitant fragrance.

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The roof almost got torn out, the trees almost uprooted. Oh, we stayed in. For a moment, I relived that typhoon two years ago, and I was back on the highway, the flood up to my ankles, my knees, my thighs. The electricity went out. It was dark all day. We were surrounded by candles, perched on tin cans we have hoarded just in case. We played board games, strummed the guitar, read a book, told stories, cooked champorado. Anything to pass the time. Anything to convince ourselves we’re safe inside. I had no idea what was going on with everyone else. I hope everyone else is okay.

I wrote this hours ago, while trying to keep myself warm. It is past midnight. We just got the power back.

Clenched Soul
Pablo Neruda

We have lost even this twilight.
No one saw us this evening hand in hand
while the blue night dropped on the world.

I have seen from my window
the fiesta of sunset in the distant mountain tops.

Sometimes a piece of sun
burned like a coin in my hand.

I remembered you with my soul clenched
in that sadness of mine that you know.

Where were you then?
Who else was there?
Saying what?
Why will the whole of love come on me suddenly
when I am sad and feel you are far away?

The book fell that always closed at twilight
and my blue sweater rolled like a hurt dog at my feet.

Always, always you recede through the evenings
toward the twilight erasing statues.

Had an incredibly good night. Listening to Marc Streitenfeld’s Wisdom. That feeling you get: leaving without moving. So I took a book out of the shelf, and it’s this collection of works by Neruda, a gift from an old love. He quoted a few lines and wrote them down on the flyleaf. Made me smile, even just a little.

Lovely One
Pablo Neruda

Lovely one,
just as on the cool stone
of the spring, the water
opens a wide flash of foam,
so is the smile of your face,
lovely one.

Lovely one,
with delicate hands and slender feet
like a silver pony,
walking, flower of the world,
thus I see you,
lovely one.

Lovely one,
with a nest of copper entangled
on your head, a nest
the color of dark honey
where my heart burns and rests,
lovely one.

Lovely one,
your eyes are too big for your face,
your eyes are too big for the earth.

There are countries, there are rivers,
in your eyes,
my country is your eyes,
I walk through them,
they light the world
through which I walk,
lovely one.

Lovely one,
your breasts are like two loaves made
of grainy earth and golden moon,
lovely one.

Lovely one,
your waist,
my arm shaped it like a river when
it flowed a thousand years through your sweet body,
lovely one.

Lovely one,
there is nothing like your hips,
perhaps earth has
in some hidden place
the curve and the fragrance of your body,
perhaps in some place,
lovely one.

Lovely one, my lovely one,
your voice, your skin, your nails,
lovely one, my lovely one,
your being, your light, your shadow,
lovely one,
all that is mine, lovely one,
all that is mine, my dear,
when you walk or rest,
when you sing or sleep,
when you suffer or dream,
always,
when you are near or far,
always,
you are mine, my lovely one,
always.

Last day of July. It is midnight, I am listening to Silvestri, and thinking of you. The sight of you in bed, your tousled hair like feathers on my pillow. I want to kiss all of your eyelashes. They would feel like tiny wisps of clouds on my lips.

You’re smiling in your sleep. Are you dreaming of me? I am running towards you in a field full of violets, my heart on my sleeve, my hands free to touch the flowers.

Ode to a Cluster of Violets
Pablo Neruda

Crisp cluster
plunged in shadow.
Drops of violet water
and raw sunlight
floated up with your scent.
A fresh
subterranean beauty
climbed up from your buds
thrilling my eyes and my life.

One at a time, flowers
that stretched forward
silvery stalks,
creeping closer to an obscure light
shoot by shoot in the shadows,
till they crowned
the mysterious mass
with an intense weight of perfume
and together
formed a single star
with a far-off scent and a purple center.

Poignant cluster
intimate
scent
of nature,
you resemble
a wave, or a head of hair,
or the gaze
of a ruined water nymph
sunk in the depths.
But up close,
in your fragrance’s
blue brazenness,
you exhale the earth,
an earthly flower, an earthen
smell and your ultraviolet
gleam
in volcanoes’ faraway fires.

Into your loveliness I sink
a weathered face,
a face that dust has often abused.
You deliver
something out of the soil.
It isn’t simply perfume,
nor simply the perfect cry
of your entire color, no: it’s
a word sprinkled with dew,
a flowering wetness with roots.

Fragile cluster of starry
violets,
tiny, mysterious
planet
of marine phosphorescence,
nocturnal bouquet nestled in green leaves:
the truth is
there is no blue word to express you.

Better than any word
is the pulse of your scent.

From an article, Coping With Urges by Robert Westernmeyer, Ph. D.:

“We experience craving in varying degrees every day. And because your habit has been important to you for a long time, it may be unreasonable to expect urges to vanish completely. What is hoped is that you will come to experience urges with less frequency and that when they are experienced you will be able to react in a way that avoids relapse.”

I keep on hoping to curb these edges, urges, lovely urges — to call you late at night and beg to be asked to climb onto your bed, to reach for a cigarette while listening to the rain outside, to touch myself when I think of you kissing the small of my back — I’ve always hoped to stop, but I never learn.

I Crave Your Mouth
Pablo Neruda

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

Because the year has just started, and every once in awhile, one is entitled to a love poem:

Sonnet XVII
Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Here: a poem for a shattered night.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines
Pablo Neruda

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example,’The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. Like my kisses before.
Her voide. Her bright body. Her inifinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my sould is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.