Allen Ginsberg and Lew Welch outside City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, October 30, 1963, the day of the Madame Nhu protest. c. John Doss.
The American poet Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892)
She carries a letter from her mother
in her left breast pocket,
written in faded ink
it stains her clothes and sinks beneath her skin
to swim in clotted bloodstreams.
The words are faded now, she cannot read
anything past the first sentence.
‘I am scared you are a figment
of something lost long ago.’
And every day she reads those words
and carries them in her soul.
With each step she wears a crown
made of thrones
melted down and built back up
with countless broken bones.
She swears her tears were made to stain
the pages of books ,
and her heart was made to break
and burn. Still she carries a letter
from her mothers daughter
in a pocket she built beneath her skin.
And every day she breaks it open,
and hopes her smile does not show
the weaknesses within.
Even now, as she lets the paper fly,
she isn’t sure who wrote the words
on that piece of broken sky.
So she sings a note to the night
and waits for another moment
to ease the strain of people lost
in the passage our time.
But the writing was the real freedom, because nobody told me what to do there. That was my world and my imagination. And all my life it’s been that way, even now.
—Toni Morrison (via Interview Magazine)
…that passive-aggressive comma, with which we so carefully set off what is nice, so it won’t be missed…
The great Mary Oliver, who is 79 today, on the magic of punctuation, plus a beautiful reading of her punctuationless poem “Seven White Butterflies.”
One long fluid day
Flowing and leaking and seeping
Across my thoughts and through them
I have stared so far and long
Out of things to stare at
And it blurs the
Obvious do what I may
Do what it takes
At least for today
If my mind could
jump into itself
so fast that I would
barely catch a piece
there might be what is left
and it might be enough
To make it until the end
of the day
Sore heart from looking away
Peter Orlovsky, Allen Ginsberg with Rajat Neogy, New York City, 1968. Neogy was editor and founder of Transition Magazine. c. Bill Anderson