1.
I lost track of time. Suddenly the hours are so short. Daylight is coming and I’ve yet to pack my bags. I tried to go out and walk around, as a tourist should, I suppose, but I only ended back in my room to write and think. But that’s exactly why I think you’re here, K. told me yesterday. When you said you were writing, I thought, take all the time you need.

2.
Went down to the hotel lobby at one in the morning to send off my postcards. My letters no longer say, “I wish you were here.” Instead it is this: “This is what I’m doing…fortifying my spirit.” It is: “Ten years later, and here I am.”

3.
We’re going to a place by the sea later. I cannot wait.

LXV [Once, I knew a fine song]
Stephen Crane

Once, I knew a fine song,
—It is true, believe me,—
It was all of birds,
And I held them in a basket;
When I opened the wicket,
Heavens! They all flew away.
I cried, “Come back, little thoughts!”
But they only laughed.
They flew on
Until they were as sand
Thrown between me and the sky.

1.
Breakfast with K., and we are the only two people here. A moment I can stay in for awhile. It comes to you out of the blue, perhaps just like this, while in the middle of a conversation with a friend you haven’t seen in months, how lucky you are to be here. And not just here, but here, arriving at this point with your eyes wide open. The sureness that you are not that alone—and even if you are, some day in the future, some day sooner than you think, you have all of this.

2.
I must’ve done something good, I once wrote to R.

3.
My self, now, thinking, echoing Mary Oliver: You do not have to be good.

4.
Perhaps we just need to be.

our happiness
Eileen Myles

was when the
lights were
out

the whole city
in darkness

& we drove north
to our friend’s
yellow apt.
where she had
power & we
could work

later we stayed
in the darkened
apt. you sick
in bed & me
writing ambitiously
by candle light
in thin blue
books

your neighbor had
a generator &
after a while
we had a little
bit of light

I walked the
dog & you
were still
a little bit
sick

we sat on a stoop
one day in the
late afternoon
we had very little
money. enough for
a strong cappuccino
which we shared
sitting there &
suddenly the
city was lit.

(from Poets.org)

1.
Honest question, says K., while we’re having late lunch. And I need an honest answer, she continues. Why do you stay? I stared at my Cuban sandwich, knowing that it was more than just a query about my current state, more than just about my work and my client. I can’t remember what I said now, to be honest. There might be some truth there, but I know for a fact that I haven’t figured it all out yet. How long do we figure things out, do you think?

2.
But I am here now. I got on a plane and landed somewhere else, an hour and a half later. Hoping I’ll meet the pieces of myself that I left here last year. Or perhaps hoping that those pieces will meet me and discover what changed and not changed.

3.
Material, material, material, I tell her, snapping my fingers. We were talking about something else, although it could still be the same thread of conversation. It always arrives on the same path anyway—the world, life, poetry.

Today
Frank O’Hara

Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
You really are beautiful! Pearls,
harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! all
the stuff they’ve always talked about
still makes a poem a surprise!
These things are with us every day
even on beachheads and biers. They
do have meaning. They’re strong as rocks.

This is from The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara, edited by Donald Allen, published by Vintage Books, 1974.

1.
Fretting again. Throwing clothes in my luggage again. Unearthing then refolding, then unearthing them again. Wondering which books to bring. Why I’m bringing them in the first place. What the hell am I doing, leaving again.

2.
I’m trying to find my home, maybe. Myself. And isn’t that the grandest and most pathetic cliché of all. But isn’t that what we are all doing anyway. Trying to see if our roots have dug deep here, or somewhere else.

3.
And if it’s somewhere else, aren’t we meant to find it?

A Home in Dark Grass
Robert Bly

In the deep fall, the body awakes,
And we find lions on the seashore—
Nothing to fear.
The wind rises, the water is born,
Spreading white tomb-clothes on a rocky shore,
Drawing us up
From the bed of the land.

We did not come to remain whole.
We came to lose our leaves like the trees,
The trees that are broken
And start again, drawing up on great roots;
Like mad poets captured by the Moors,
Men who live out
A second life.

That we should learn of poverty and rags,
That we should taste the weed of Dillinger,
And swim in the sea,
Not always walking on dry land,
And, dancing, find in the trees a saviour,
A home in the dark grass,
And nourishment in death.

1.
Packing my bags again. I made this trip months before the previous one. C. told me this should be the last time I leave for awhile, but all I can think of is that I should go away more often, and for longer amounts of time.

2.
The last week has been all about unpacking, but it was mostly what’s inside my head. My bags remain unkempt, as if in a perpetual state of moving.

3.
I almost said, I don’t belong here anymore, although I know I still have a place. And yet it doesn’t feel the same. If leaving truly changes you, then how dangerous it is—to leave home, but also to come back.

Caged Birds
Taigu Ryokan
Translated by John Stevens

Time and again
You, too,
Must long for
Your old nest
Deep in the mountain.

1.
How do we experience memory? How do we sit with the things that have happened to us vis-a-vis how we remember them? How is memory different from history, and how do we separate the threads of what we know and what we’ve learned?

2.
Is home a place we make, or a place we go back to, and what is the difference?

3.
And what about remembering?

4.
Years ago, M. and I corresponded about the connection between time and water. I wrote, I have always thought that time was both a stream and a waterfall. An endless body of water that connects like Escher’s stairs. Sometimes everything is calm, and then you somehow reach the end and you get this rush, this fright, and you plunge and you scream and you fall, and then you realize it’s not the end, that it is beginning, again.

5.
Perhaps time is a place, too. Perhaps a burial ground, or an attic, or a bodega of transient things. I’ve lost things to time. Perhaps myself.

Theories of Time and Space
Natasha Trethewey

You can get there from here, though
there’s no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you’ve never been. Try this:

head south on Mississippi 49, one—
by—one mile markers ticking off

another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion—dead end

at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches

in a sky threatening rain. Cross over
the man-made beach, 26 miles of sand

dumped on a mangrove swamp—buried
terrain of the past. Bring only

what you must carry—tome of memory
its random blank pages. On the dock

where you board the boat for Ship Island,
someone will take your picture:

the photograph—who you were—
will be waiting when you return

(from The Writer’s Almanac)

1.
You would love it here, is what I wrote on most of the postcards I sent last week. I realise now that that could’ve been a waste of space, a waste of words. Because that is the point of postcards, isn’t it. I am sending you everything I love in this moment, hoping that a piece of paper will convey the enormity of all of what I’m feeling. I walked around the city trying to locate the post, carrying my heart in my pocket, my letter naked and for everyone to see—from the clerk to the postman to your neighbour, and every roving eye that lands on my handwriting, before it finally gets to you.

2.
You would love it here, I wrote. But what I really meant: I fell in love with a city, dammit, and I am leaving the next day and I am shattered and I don’t want to go which is why I also wrote myself saying everything is worth it to be here saying you will be here again someday saying you have been here and it is good and would you please forgive yourself for not being able to take with you everything you love—

Aimless Love
Billy Collins

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.