melting & burning

Imaginary Life Journey – Rilke
January 21, 2014, 10:41 pm
Filed under: poem | Tags: , ,

First a childhood, limitless and without
renunciation or goals. O unselfconscious joy.
Then suddenly terror, barriers, schools, drudgery,
and collapse into temptation and loss.

Defiance. The one bent becomes the bender,
and thrusts upon others that which it suffered.
Loved, feared, rescuer, fighter, winner
and conqueror, blow by blow.

And then alone in cold, light, open space,
yet still deep within the mature erected form,
a gasping for the clear air of the first one, the old one . . .

Then God leaps out from behind his hiding place.

(Schöneck, September 13, 1923)


To think of time – Walt Whitman
October 19, 2013, 10:44 pm
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To think of time–of all that retrospection!
To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward!

Have you guess’d you yourself would not continue?
Have you dreaded these earth-beetles?
Have you fear’d the future would be nothing to you?

Is to-day nothing? Is the beginningless past nothing?
If the future is nothing, they are just as surely nothing.

To think that the sun rose in the east! that men and women were
flexible, real, alive! that everything was alive!
To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our part!
To think that we are now here, and bear our part! 10

Not a day passes–not a minute or second, without an accouchement!
Not a day passes–not a minute or second, without a corpse!

The dull nights go over, and the dull days also,
The soreness of lying so much in bed goes over,
The physician, after long putting off, gives the silent and terrible
look for an answer,
The children come hurried and weeping, and the brothers and sisters
are sent for,
Medicines stand unused on the shelf–(the camphor-smell has long
pervaded the rooms,)
The faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand of the
The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead of the dying,
The breath ceases, and the pulse of the heart ceases, 20
The corpse stretches on the bed, and the living look upon it,
It is palpable as the living are palpable.

The living look upon the corpse with their eye-sight,
But without eye-sight lingers a different living, and looks curiously
on the corpse.

To think the thought of Death, merged in the thought of materials!
To think that the rivers will flow, and the snow fall, and fruits
ripen, and act upon others as upon us now–yet not act upon us!
To think of all these wonders of city and country, and others taking
great interest in them–and we taking no interest in them!

To think how eager we are in building our houses!
To think others shall be just as eager, and we quite indifferent!

(I see one building the house that serves him a few years, or seventy
or eighty years at most, 30
I see one building the house that serves him longer than that.)

Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole earth–they never
cease–they are the burial lines,
He that was President was buried, and he that is now President shall
surely be buried.

A reminiscence of the vulgar fate,
A frequent sample of the life and death of workmen,
Each after his kind:
Cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharf–posh and ice in the river,
half-frozen mud in the streets, a gray, discouraged sky
overhead, the short, last daylight of Twelfth-month,
A hearse and stages–other vehicles give place–the funeral of an old
Broadway stage-driver, the cortege mostly drivers.

Steady the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the death-bell, the
gate is pass’d, the new-dug grave is halted at, the living
alight, the hearse uncloses,
The coffin is pass’d out, lower’d and settled, the whip is laid on
the coffin, the earth is swiftly shovel’d in, 40
The mound above is flatted with the spades–silence,
A minute–no one moves or speaks–it is done,
He is decently put away–is there anything more?

He was a good fellow, free-mouth’d, quick-temper’d, not bad-looking,
able to take his own part, witty, sensitive to a slight, ready
with life or death for a friend, fond of women, gambled, ate
hearty, drank hearty, had known what it was to be flush, grew
low-spirited toward the last, sicken’d, was help’d by a
contribution, died, aged forty-one years–and that was his

Thumb extended, finger uplifted, apron, cape, gloves, strap, wet-
weather clothes, whip carefully chosen, boss, spotter, starter,
hostler, somebody loafing on you, you loafing on somebody,
headway, man before and man behind, good day’s work, bad day’s
work, pet stock, mean stock, first out, last out, turning-in at
To think that these are so much and so nigh to other drivers–and he
there takes no interest in them!

The markets, the government, the working-man’s wages–to think what
account they are through our nights and days!
To think that other working-men will make just as great account of
them–yet we make little or no account!

The vulgar and the refined–what you call sin, and what you call
goodness–to think how wide a difference!
To think the difference will still continue to others, yet we lie
beyond the difference. 50

To think how much pleasure there is!
Have you pleasure from looking at the sky? have you pleasure from
Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in business? or
planning a nomination and election? or with your wife and
Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly housework? or the
beautiful maternal cares?
–These also flow onward to others–you and I flow onward,
But in due time, you and I shall take less interest in them.

Your farm, profits, crops,–to think how engross’d you are!
To think there will still be farms, profits, crops–yet for you, of
what avail?

What will be, will be well–for what is, is well,
To take interest is well, and not to take interest shall be well. 60

The sky continues beautiful,
The pleasure of men with women shall never be sated, nor the pleasure
of women with men, nor the pleasure from poems,
The domestic joys, the daily housework or business, the building of
houses–these are not phantasms–they have weight, form,
Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are none of them
The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion,
The earth is not an echo–man and his life, and all the things of his
life, are well-consider’d.

You are not thrown to the winds–you gather certainly and safely
around yourself;
Yourself! Yourself! Yourself, forever and ever!

It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and
father–it is to identify you;
It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be
decided; 70
Something long preparing and formless is arrived and form’d in you,
You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes.

The threads that were spun are gather’d, the weft crosses the warp,
the pattern is systematic.

The preparations have every one been justified,
The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments–the baton
has given the signal.

The guest that was coming–he waited long, for reasons–he is now
He is one of those who are beautiful and happy–he is one of those
that to look upon and be with is enough.

The law of the past cannot be eluded,
The law of the present and future cannot be eluded,
The law of the living cannot be eluded–it is eternal, 80
The law of promotion and transformation cannot be eluded,
The law of heroes and good-doers cannot be eluded,
The law of drunkards, informers, mean persons–not one iota thereof
can be eluded.

Slow moving and black lines go ceaselessly over the earth,
Northerner goes carried, and Southerner goes carried, and they on the
Atlantic side, and they on the Pacific, and they between, and
all through the Mississippi country, and all over the earth.

The great masters and kosmos are well as they go–the heroes and
good-doers are well,
The known leaders and inventors, and the rich owners and pious and
distinguish’d, may be well,
But there is more account than that–there is strict account of all.

The interminable hordes of the ignorant and wicked are not nothing,
The barbarians of Africa and Asia are not nothing, 90
The common people of Europe are not nothing–the American aborigines
are not nothing,
The infected in the immigrant hospital are not nothing–the murderer
or mean person is not nothing,
The perpetual successions of shallow people are not nothing as they
The lowest prostitute is not nothing–the mocker of religion is not
nothing as he goes.

Of and in all these things,
I have dream’d that we are not to be changed so much, nor the law of
us changed,
I have dream’d that heroes and good-doers shall be under the present
and past law,
And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be under the present and
past law,
For I have dream’d that the law they are under now is enough.

If otherwise, all came but to ashes of dung, 100
If maggots and rats ended us, then Alarum! for we are betray’d!
Then indeed suspicion of death.

Do you suspect death? If I were to suspect death, I should die now,
Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward

Pleasantly and well-suited I walk,
Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is good,
The whole universe indicates that it is good,
The past and the present indicate that it is good.

How beautiful and perfect are the animals!
How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing upon it! 110

What is called good is perfect, and what is called bad is just as
The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and the imponderable
fluids are perfect;
Slowly and surely they have pass’d on to this, and slowly and surely
they yet pass on.

I swear I think now that everything without exception has an eternal Soul!
The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds of the sea have! the

I swear I think there is nothing but immortality!
That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebulous float is for
it, and the cohering is for it;
And all preparation is for it! and identity is for it! and life and
materials are altogether for it!

last poem, Karl Kraus
August 31, 2013, 6:17 pm
Filed under: poem | Tags: , , ,

Don’t ask why all this time I never spoke.
Wordless am I,
and won’t say why.
And silence reigns because the bedrock broke.
No word redeems;
one only speaks in dreams.
A smiling sun the sleeper’s images evoke.
Time marches on;
the final difference is none.
The word expired when that world awoke.

Trans. Max Knight


Man frage nicht, was all die Zeit ich machte.
Ich bleibe stumm;
und sage nicht, warum.
Und Stille gibt es, da die Erde krachte.
Kein Wort, das traf;
man spricht nur aus dem Schlaf.
Und träumt von einer Sonne, welche lachte.
Es geht vorbei;
nachher war’s einerlei.
Das Wort entschlief, als jene Welt erwachte.

100 Good Reasons to Kill Myself Right Now – Roland Topor
June 12, 2013, 2:06 pm
Filed under: poem | Tags: , ,

translated by Edward Gauvin
with gratitude to Will Schofield for uploading originally

Roland Topor, Piou-Piou, 1974

1) Best way to make sure I’m not dead already.

2) It’ll throw off the last census.

3) They’re waiting on me down below to start the party.

4) They shoot horses, don’t they?

5) I’ll rise in the esteem of my peers.

6) I’ll no longer dread the millennium.

7) Just like Werther! They won’t call me ill-read anymore.

8) I’d make a fool of my cancer.

9) I’d make a liar of my horoscope.

10) To be my therapist’s ruin.

11) To get out of voting.

12) An infallible cure for baldness.

13) To make a fresh start!

14) Death ennobles: knighthood at last!

15) I’d feel less alone.

16) I’d be fêted next All Saints’ Day.

17) The cost of living rises, but death remains affordable.

18) Good way to find your roots.

19) Finally, a martial arts move I can manage.

20) To be green and fertilize the lawn.

21) To mark the day with a white stone.

22) Others could put my organs to better use.

23) To make way for youth.

24) At last, a starring role!

25) To take advantage of the exhibitionism inherent in dissection tables.

Roland Topor, Rebonjour

26) To taste the subtle delights of reincarnation.

27) The nightmare of leap years, over at last!

28) To give my body of work a moral dimension.

29) To make people think I’m honorable.

30) To turn this list into a last will and testament.

31) I’ll become a citizen of the world.

32) Euthanasia wasn’t made for dogs.

33) I’ll have the last word.

34) 67% of French people support the death penalty.

35) ‘Cause it’s a good way to quit smoking.

36) To simplify my duality: I’ll see things more clearly with only one of me left.

37) A deliverance less laborious than a delivery.

38) There’s nothing left to do.

39) I don’t want to aggravate my lack of social security.

40) To kill a Jew, like everyone else.

41) To join the silent majority. The real one.

42) To leave behind a widow simply bursting with youth.

43) I can’t live in worry now that my deodorant’s stopped working.

44) To dodge the general draft.

45) To preserve the mystery surrounding me.

46) To prove the neutron bomb can’t hurt me.

47) To lose weight without a diet, or even lifting a finger!

48) I insist on complying with the federal plan for staggered vacations.

49) I’m trying to spare someone else the unfortunate consequences of an assassination.

50) To save energy, coffee, and sugar.

Roland Topor, Two Musicians of Death

51) So I won’t be ashamed to look in the mirror anymore.

52) What if I’m immortal? Might as well find out as soon as possible.

53) One less mouth to feed.

54) To prove to EVERYONE that I’m no coward.

55) To count how many people cry at my funeral.

56) To see, from the other side, if I’ve made it over.

57) Instead of tearing my gray hairs out one by one, might as well tear my head off all at once.

58) With a revolver: to be noisy after 10pm.

59) With gas: to savor the charms of that last cigarette.

60) By hanging: to turn an ordinary rope into a delightful good luck charm.

61) Under a train: to extend other people’s vacations.

62) With barbiturates: think I’ll sleep in tomorrow morning.

63) By electrocution: to shake things up a little.

64) By defenestration: to escape my fear of elevators.

65) I’ve heard death is an easy lay. I’m gonna have me some good times.

66) If I put my subscriptions on hold, I won’t miss a thing.

67) To be good with (tiny) animals.

68) To die the same year as Elvis.

69) To skip out on taxes.

70) To skip out on rent.

71) To stop snoring.

72) To come back in the wee hours and tug on my enemies’ feet.

73) To keep from ripping myself off as I get older, like de Chirico.

74) Because I’m an endangered species and no one is protecting me.

75) Because I’ve prepared a choice phrase for the final moment, and if I wait too long I’ll forget it.

Roland Topor, Rebonjour

76) To sever my umbilical cord once and for all.

77) To be the founder of a new style: Dead Art.

78) To watch the movie of my life at a very exclusive screening.

79) To see if there are any virgins left on the other side.

80) So they’ll deck me out when they lay me out.

81) Because I can’t wait to use the amusing epitaph I made up: GOOD RIDDANCE.

82) To see if paralytics will be healed on my tomb.

83) So the twentieth century will finally contain an important event.

84) To feast on the exquisite blood of young women, once I’m a vampire.

85) Because I’ve always wanted to speak a dead tongue.

86) So I can, quite strikingly, inform everyone of my position on suicide.

87) Because Paris just isn’t what it used to be.

88) Because Groucho Marx is dead.

89) Because I’ve read all the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

90) Because weather forecasts let me down.

91) So others will follow my example.

92) To start a revolution.

93) To prove my skill, if I don’t miss.

94) For a change of friends.

95) For a change of scene.

96) To be above the law.

97) Because a well-done suicide is worth more than an average lay.

98) So I won’t die at a hospital.

99) So my blood will make a nice stain on a canvas.

100) Because I’ve got 1,000 good reasons to hate myself.

“Suicide Song” – Tony Hoagland
December 10, 2012, 8:44 pm
Filed under: poem | Tags: , ,

But now I am afraid I know too much to kill myself
Though I would still like to jump off a high bridge

At midnight, or paddle a kayak out to sea
Until I turn into a speck, or wear a necktie made of knotted rope

But people would squirm, it would hurt them in some way,
And I am too knowledgeable now to hurt people imprecisely.

No longer do I live by the law of me,
No longer having the excuse of youth or craziness,

And dying you know shows a serious ingratitude
For sunsets and beehive hairdos and the precious green corrugated

Pickles they place at the edge of your plate.
Killing yourself is wasteful, like spilling oil

At sea or not recycling all the kisses you’ve been given,
And anyway, who has clothes nice enough to be caught dead in?

Not me. You stay alive you stupid asshole
Because you haven’t been excused,

You haven’t finished though it takes a mulish stubbornness
To chew this food.

It is a stone, it is an inconvenience, it is an innocence,
And I turn against it like a record

Turns against the needle
That makes it play.

“In a Hospital” – Anna Kamienska
June 13, 2012, 5:44 pm
Filed under: poem | Tags:

By the side of an old woman
who is dying in a corrider
no one stands

Staring at the ceiling
for so many days already
she writes in the air with her finger

There are no tears no laments
no wringing of hands
not enough angels on duty

Some deaths are polite and quiet
as if somebody gave up his place
in a crowded tram

(Translated by David Curzon and Grazyna Drabik)

Goodbye proud world – Emerson
February 15, 2011, 10:24 pm
Filed under: poem | Tags: , ,

Good-by, proud world, I’m going home,
Thou’rt not my friend, and I’m not thine;
Long through thy weary crowds I roam;
A river-ark on the ocean brine,
Long I’ve been tossed like the driven foam,
But now, proud world, I’m going home.

Good-by to Flattery’s fawning face,
To Grandeur, with his wise grimace,
To upstart Wealth’s averted eye,
To supple Office low and high,
To crowded halls, to court, and street,
To frozen hearts, and hasting feet,
To those who go, and those who come,
Good-by, proud world, I’m going home.

I’m going to my own hearth-stone
Bosomed in yon green hills, alone,
A secret nook in a pleasant land,
Whose groves the frolic fairies planned;
Where arches green the livelong day
Echo the blackbird’s roundelay,
And vulgar feet have never trod
A spot that is sacred to thought and God.

Oh, when I am safe in my sylvan home,
I tread on the pride of Greece and Rome;
And when I am stretched beneath the pines
Where the evening star so holy shines,
I laugh at the lore and the pride of man,
At the sophist schools, and the learned clan;
For what are they all in their high conceit,
When man in the bush with God may meet.

– R. W. Emerson