Content tagged Poetry

Still alive!

posted on 2012-03-01 00:25:47

Should start hacking more. Or posting about hacks? Haven't been writing anything terribly interesting lately though. Lots of config updates, work stuff, odds and ends. Little of substance. So in lieu of that, some soul nourishing poetry. Been reading more Milosz lately; Second Space, in particular. There are several really lovely pieces, here's one:

A Stay
My stay in that city was like a dream
And the dream lasted for years.

I was, in fact, not interested in anything
So long as I heard a voice dictating verses.

And in that way I invented a life,
And thus my destiny was being fulfilled.

Some people believed I was theirs,
So they put trust in my disguises.

I reproach myself for that,
For I wanted to be different,
Trustworthy, brave, noble-minded.

Later on I would only say: why reach so high?
I am and will be lame,
Which is no one's concern.


posted on 2012-01-29 19:14:13

It's time to spend an afternoon at the High Museum of Art. But first, I've found a new poet: Wislawa Szymborska.

I'm Working On The World
I'm working on the world,
revised, improved edition,
featuring fun for fools,
blues for brooders,
combs for bald pates,
tricks for old dogs.

Here's one chapter: The Speech
of Animals and Plants.
Each species comes, of course,
with its own dictionary.
Even a simple "Hi there",
when traded with a fish,
makes both the fish and you
feel quite extraordinary.

The long-suspected meanings
of rustlings, chirps, and growls!
Soliloquies of forests!
The epic hoots of owls!
Those crafty hedgehogs drafting
aphorisms after dark,
while we blindly believe
they're sleeping in the park!

Time (Chapter Two) retains
its sacred right to meddle
in each earthly affair.
Still, time's unbounded power
that makes a mountain crumble,
moves seas, rotates a star,
won't be enough to tear
lovers apart: they are
too naked, too embraced,
too much like timid sparrows.

Old age is, in my book,
the price that felons pay,
so don't whine that it's steep:
you'll stay young if you're good.
Suffering (Chapter Three)
doesn't insult the body.
Death? It comes in your sleep,
exactly as it should.

When it comes, you'll be dreaming
that you don't need to breathe;
that breathless silence is
the music of the dark
and it's part of the rhythm
to vanish like a spark.

Only a death like that. A rose
could prick you harder, I suppose;
you'd feel more terror at the sound
of petals falling to the ground.

Only a world like that. To die
just that much. And to live just so.
And all the rest is Bach's fugue, played
for the time being
on a saw.

Overcast with scattered thunderstorms

posted on 2011-08-06 21:55:22

Today is my 25th birthday. So far I've mostly done chores: grocery shopping, laundry, handing over the keys to my old apartment, odds and ends. And, by design, I don't have any social plans for this afternoon or evening. I'm usually pretty pensive and melancholy around my birthday. This year continues the trend. Generally, when my birthday is coming up I think, "Okay. You've gotten this far and accomplished this much. Maybe it wasn't all you wanted but at least you're further than last year. What's next?" Not the best party conversation. :)

In all fairness, it's been a good year. I finally finished my undergrad degree, got my first job as a professional programmer (a damn good job at that), and moved into an apartment with one of my oldest and dearest friends. That said, I've been struggling a lot lately. A large part of that is because I don't know what I want for myself anymore or what my goals are. Personal relationships both romantic and otherwise, career ambitions and hobbies all seem up in the air. It's had me feeling pretty mixed up. I can't say I'm terribly proud of where I am at 25. Oh, well. I'll certainly enjoy taking some time off this winter to try and sort through things more. At least I've had fun hacking on Andy Hefner's Shuffletron (a Common Lisp command line app, something I have *some* experience with...) music player lately. The main changes so far have been to add playlists and a long TODO file. It's a fun diversion until I get ever so slightly more acclimated to my professional coding life and come up with a serious project that will push me more.

It's been hard to post lately for two reasons. The first is that I've simply been busy. The second is that I haven't had much to say. My thoughts are jumbled. The same thing happened last year and like last year I'm going to borrow some of the words of my favorite poet, Czeslaw Milosz. Wherever you are, thanks for reading this far and I hope the sun is bright and your world is well.

Conversations with Jeanne

Let us not talk philosophy, drop it, Jeanne.
So many words, so much paper, who can stand it.
I told you the truth about distancing myself.
I've stopped worrying about my misshapen life.
It was no better and no worse than the usual human tragedies.

For over thirty years we have been waging our dispute
As we do now, on the island under the skies of the tropics.
We flee a downpour, in an instant the bright sun again,
And I grow dumb, dazzled by the emerald essence of the leaves.

We submerge in foam at the line of the surf,
We swim far, to where the horizon is a tangle of banana bush,
With little windmills of palms.
And I am under accusation: That I am not up to my oeuvre,
That I do not demand enough from myself,
As I could have learned from Karl Jaspers,
That my scorn for the opinions of this age grows slack.

I roll on a wave and look at white clouds.

You are right, Jeanne, I don't know how to care about the salvation of my soul.
Some are called, others manage as well as they can.
I accept it, what has befallen me is just.
I don't pretend to the dignity of a wise old age.
Untranslatable into words, I chose my home in what is now,
In things of this world, which exist and, for that reason, delight us:
Nakedness of women on the beach, coppery cones of their breasts,
Hibiscus, alamanda, a red lily, devouring
With my eyes, lips, tongue.
Guava juice, the juice of la prune de Cythere,
Rum with ice and syrup, lianas-orchids
In a rain forest, where trees stand on the stilts of their roots.

Death you say, mine and yours, closer and closer,
We suffered and this poor earth was not enough.
The purple-black earth of vegetable gardens
Will be here, either looked at or not.
The sea, as today, will breathe from its depths.
Growing small, I disappear in the immense, more and more free.


posted on 2010-10-30 16:57:33

I was never comfortable talking
about the soul of my generation.
I often feel I'm just growing
acquainted with them before
I decide there is no soul,
no essence. Never was.

Souls are just peculiarities, after all.
And I had to give up on undecidable
problems some years back.
The unknowable held my head
underwater until I relented, suffocating.

But I've been baring and burying bits
of my soul since I've been here.
I lost some to a splinter. And the hand
I squeezed as it was removed piece by piece.
I bared it to a pastor who I doubt understood
why I found myself so insufficient.

I left some with a drunk girl who taught
me compassion, a faithful girl who taught me
guilt, one made of tornadoes who forced me
to take a chance and another still who
showed me what it feels like to make
a home inside someone else.

I squandered some on drugs. Drugs which
stole from me both time and memory.
Crashing around inside my brain in
endless chemical nuptials.
Tweak. Tweak.

I spread this thing in bits, countless bits,
scattered on platters, fragments
littered along buses, planes, cars, trains,
in terminals and ports not of this world.

My soul is in all these places, hidden
or in plain view. I can't tell you
what it means. Or if there's meaning,
anyway. I only know that's how it happened.
Here I am. Where to next?

A Huge Weekend...and sleepiness

posted on 2010-10-04 03:02:14

It's been a big weekend. I'm pretty exhausted and not entirely ready for the week to come but I'll have to get a good night's sleep and let that suffice as preparation. I'm still working on the weblocks/lisp stuff. Should have a blog article up by this Friday with any luck and there are plans for more in the series.

I enjoyed a friend's wedding in San Antonio the past two days. One thing I noticed today is that I never posted a Milosz poem that seemed appropriate to the weekend's events. I figured I would have by now. I'm quite fond of it so here it is, from Unattainable Earth, page 9:

After Paradise
Don't run any more. Quiet. How softly it rains
On the roofs of the city. How perfect
All things are. Now, for the two of you
Waking up in a royal bed by a garret window.
For a man and a woman. For one plant divided
Into masculine and feminine which longed for each other.
Yes, this is my gift to you. Above ashes
On a bitter, bitter earth. Above the subterranean
Echo of clamorings and vows. So that now at dawn
You must be attentive: the tilt of a head,
A hand with a comb, two faces in a mirror
Are only forever once, even if unremembered,
So that you watch what is, though it fades away,
And are grateful every moment for your being.
Let that little park with greenish marble busts
In the pearl-gray light, under a summer drizzle,
Remain as it was when you opened the gate.
And the street of tall peeling porticos
Which this love of yours suddenly transformed.

On my birthday

posted on 2010-08-07 04:04:40

It's getting harder and harder to post. I'm done with summer classes. Two A's and a C, so Fall will have to be better. The C was in my easiest class funny enough. I've got 16 days of freedom left. Today was my birthday.

I felt compelled to post something...and I settled on poetry since I don't have my own words handy at the moment. I grabbed Neruda because I post too much Milosz and the page happened to fall open to this. It wasn't what I had in mind....but I might have to give up and just let it be.

The Son

Ah son, do you know, do you know
where you come from?

From a lake with white
and hungry gulls.

Next to the water of winter
she and I raised
a red bonfire
wearing out our lips
from kissing each other's souls,
casting all into the fire,
burning our lives.

That's how you came into the world.

But she, to see me
and to see you, one day
crossed the seas
and I, to clasp
her tiny waist,
walked all the earth,
with wars and mountains,
with sands and thorns.

That's how you came into the world.

You come from so many places,
from the water and the earth,
from the fire and the snow,
from so far away you journey
toward the two of us,
from the terrible love
that has enchanted us,
that we want to know
what you're like, what you say to us,
because you know more
about the world we gave you.

Like a great storm
we shook
the tree of life
down to the hiddenmost
fibers of the roots
and you appear now
singing in the foliage,
in the highest branch
that with you we reach.

PS: The more I read Stephen O'Grady and Charles Stross (and I've only read Accelerando and Halting State...and his blog over the last 3 months) the dumber I feel and the more I'm aware of how much I don't know but want to know.

After a long absence...

posted on 2010-03-26 19:44:03

It's been a long time since I've posted. I meant to take it easy on myself with blogging this year but not that easy. It has been a damn crazy year so far though. Thankfully, I've had a good time writing code and picking up an old hobby or two. I've been playing Magic the Gathering again (I know, I'm a nerd). The sun is out and my skateboarding is markedly less crappy than a few months ago. But I miss writing.

Today I'm posting a piece I started a few weeks ago. I'm still not quite pleased with it (it seems a bit over the top) but I probably never will be. I think I'll just call it "Words".

I remember having words and
never knowing whence they came.
I often stumbled into them, embarassing myself
before greater edifices to literature.
Though I had no hope of greatness, of poetry,
I miss that corpus into which I could pour:
childish thoughts and old desperation,
longings and abstract hopes for things
I even still cannot name.

Where did my words all run off to?
I used to fit into them so nicely.
A bit of my foot in this one, a leg in that one.
Even a nice place for my fingers to keep me
from grasping at everything, insatiable.
I wore them around proudly, pointing to each
in turn and saying, "Look! Here. This is who I am."

But these days I am naked and scared to venture outdoors.
I still run into words sometimes.
A few in the sink with the dirty dishes,
others left in a coat pocket with a crumpled bill.
Yet it is only by accident we are in the same place.
My words are on fire and that's how I've been.

PS: You should all pay some attention to the new albums "Gorilla Manor" by the Local Natives and "Tourist History" by Two Door Cinema Club. They're helpful, also good for the spring season. Cheers.

PPS: Special thanks to Don Gerz and Max Kelley for accidentally providing motivational material to keep blogging.

Remembering Poetry

posted on 2009-09-04 04:26:40

It's been a long time since I've read poetry, as I related to a friend recently. I've wanted to get back to it and so poked through two volumes given to me by friends who know my love of poetry. I absolutely have to post one of the poems I read. The poem is taken from the book Good Poems, given to me by Don Gerz on my 22nd birthday. It was compiled by Garrison Keillor. It's called To be of use by Marge Piercy taken from p. 157. It's really outstanding. Someday I hope I work as well as those depicted...and find work as worth doing as that described.

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitched cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

The Music

posted on 2009-06-06 20:17:59

Somewhere along the way, the music stopped.

It used to drift in from across the hall
in citrus hues and lilting arpeggios.
There was no exhaustion and sleep
was restful. We woke up, dogwood
blossoms falling from our lips,
sun streaming through the windows.
Sundays there was french toast
and the wind was always behind us.
Camellias and magnolias filled
our home and we moved about as though
buoyed by hummingbird wings.

But now there is no hall there.
So then there are no harmonies,
no gentle crescendos.
Once suffused by sweet melody,
we dim. Stars go out.
And just like that, the words all slipped
from my mouth to the floor.
I wish I had something more to tell you.
I don't. The music has stopped.

March 19, 2009

posted on 2009-03-20 02:35:33

You know what today was missing? Some Milosz.

I bombed a math quiz today. I mean, actually bombed. As in I think I got a zero.
Guess it's time to go re-read the sections and redo the homework.

I wrote a poem recently about how progress is deceptive because it doesn't feel like progress. It feels like plodding along. But I was mostly just trying to convince myself.
I don't think I really believe it.

I keep thinking to myself, "you've got a year or two to really excel.
If you can't manage that, you'll be an average person. Forever."
I have difficulty ascertaining whether or not my level of stress
or ambition, for that matter, is appropriate.

Something I accidentally wrote on the bus ride home:

I never know why we put up with each other.
The mystery of your flared temper or my
sudden detachment. But we keep blowing along,
buoyed by unseen currents and dancing
in dwindling circles. I sometimes wish,
might I cut the chase and stand in the center?
But we are opposed magnets in a small room,
unable to meet each other, unable to rest.

Hell with it. Here's some good sad bastard music just because.

Touching down

posted on 2009-02-10 23:39:13

Things have been fairly ridiculous for the last 10 days. I won't go into details because they concern some other people that might not want them discussed. That said, things have been fairly ridiculous and I've had a hard time focusing on doing schoolwork or anything else. I'm trying not to get overwhelmed by everything. I feel like I can't keep up with school and personal pursuits but that's far from the truth and I'm slowly trying to get my head together. That means it's time for something uplifting though and I've haven't posted any Milosz in a while so here we go.

Earth Again by Czeslaw Milosz, excerpted from Unattainable Earth pg. 8
They are incomprehensible, the things of this earth.
The lure of waters. The lure of fruits.
Lure of the two breasts and long hair of a maiden.
In rouge, in vermillion, in that color of ponds
Found only in the Green Lakes near Wilno.
And ungraspable multitudes swarm, come together
In the crinkles of tree bark, in the telescope's eye,
For an endless wedding,
For the kindling of the eyes, for a sweet dance
In the elements of the air, sea, earth and subterranean caves,
So that for a short moment there is no death
And time does not unreel like a skein of yarn
Thrown into an abyss.

PS: My bracket predictions have been correct for the berrics two out of two times thus far. Post some brackets people!

It's a strange Saturday

posted on 2009-01-24 23:00:45

I meant to post an entry about all sorts of nerdy and interesting computer things I've been reading but it's been delayed. I'll probably regret posting this but it's the first thing I've written poetry-wise since July. It was sort of an experience.


I want the biggest hug I have inside me to swallow you up,
Like the reals swallow the rationals.
I don't want to go back to the beginning,
I'd rather see forward to understand where
I'm going. The whence question is
imprecise and leads me down paths,
many with thorns,
and only more imprecise questions.

The waters remain muddy so I climb the ladder out
until I find myself in clouds, fluffy and inarticulate.
Floating amid a mass of almost fluid abstractions,
they leak rain all over my parade.
I want to be more than you,
encompass you,
surpass you.

I lost sight of God just over a distant moon.
I hope I didn't offend him, my absent-mindedness
is often misperceived. But his opinion is not my concern.
I must be ever mindful that even if I find him and think
God is everywhere, that my invention is my own and is fractal
...or homoiconic. I cannot trust myself.

I rode the solar winds further up to get a better view
but everything was opaque, only more black boxes. I
couldn't fathom how to measure the cardinality so I
counted off an Aleph One, resolved to return
once I was the wiser. Higher still then until I saw it.

Our patchwork universe was being held together by holes.
Dark holes which pulled at us as the drain does the droplets.
And this was too much for me.
I know my monkey brain is too small.

And then I saw you. I remembered, "A ha.
I''ve left my sphere." And I looked back
and saw it. I'm not sure how long it will last.

It didn't look like much. Small and dirty and ignorant.
But I saw a quiet room on a sunday flooded with light and you.

Maybe it will be enough.


posted on 2008-07-18 13:12:46

I'm less than my best this morning. I woke up exhausted, I struggled towards the office. I met a Microsoft developer on the train. You could tell from the Silverlight and CodingHorror stickers on his laptop. He seemed like a nice enough guy. However, he was going south towards Downtown and the only Atlanta office listed on the microsoft site is in Alpharetta. Was he fooling me? Is there an unlisted office? Who knows.

I don't believe I have enough of a work ethic. Surely, I would be more than I am if that were the case. Enough of that talk, it tires me already. I read some Neruda a moment ago. It's beautiful enough that I'm compelled to post it. It's taken from his book Extravagaria and titled Soliloquy at Twilight.

Given that now perhaps
we are seriously alone,
I mean to ask some questions-
we'll speak man to man.

With you, with that passerby,
with those born yesterday,
with all those who died,
and with those to be born tomorrow,
I want to speak without being overheard,
without them always whispering,
without things getting changed
in ears along the way.

Well then, where from, where to?
What made you decide to be born?
Do you know that the world is small,
scarcely the size of an apple,
like a little hard stone,
and that brothers kill each other
for a fistful of dust?

For the dead there's land enough!

You know by now, or you will,
that time is scarcely one day
and a day is a single drop?

How will you be, how have you been?
Sociable, talkative, silent?
Are you going to outdistance
those who where born with you?
Or will you be sticking a pistol
grimly into their kidneys?

What will you do with so many days
left over, and even more,
with so many missing days?

Do you know there's nobody in the streets
and nobody in the houses?

There are only eyes in the windows.

If you don't have somewhere to sleep,
knock on a door and it will open,
open up to a certain point
and you'll see it's cold inside,
and that that house is empty
and wants nothing to do with you;
your stories are worth nothing,
and if you insist on being gentle,
the dog and cat will bite you.

Until later, till you forget me-
I'm going, since I don't have time
to ask the wind more questions.

I can scarcely walk properly,
I'm in such a hurry.
Somehwere they're waiting
to accuse me of something
and I have to defend myself;
nobody knows what it's about
except that it's urgent,
and if I don't go, it will close,
and how can I hold my own
if I knock and nobody opens the door?

Until later, we'll speak before then.
Or speak after, I don't remember,
or perhaps we haven't even met
or cannot communicate.
I have these crazy habits-
I speak, there is no one and I don't listen
I ask myself questions and never answer.

The Way It Is

posted on 2008-07-14 16:53:26

There was a fragment of Milosz stuck in my head the last 24 hours that I wanted to track down and get out of my system. It was originally printed as an Inscript in Unattainable Earth but I found it reprinted in his New and Collected Poems on pgs. 412-413.

What did I really want to tell them? That I labored to transcend my place and time, searching for the Real. And here is my work done (commendably?), my life fulfilled, as it was destined to be, in grief. Now I appear to myself as one who was under the delusion of being his own while he was the subject of a style. Just as they were, so what if it was a different subjection. "Do you want white peacocks?-- I will give you white peacocks." And we could have been united only by what we have in common: the same nakedness in a garden beyond time, but the moments are short when it seems to me that, at odds with time, we hold each other's hands. And I drink wine and I shake my head and say: "What man feels and thinks will never be expressed."


posted on 2008-07-07 14:24:37

I am not opposed to it.
I lived fully and well,
spending time perched in
dogwoods and chairs to
try and learn the lessons
of machines, men and dogs
in their cacophonous chorus.

I am not opposed to it.
I eventually did settle
with my own thoughts
after years of combat.
I knew rebellion, fought
a long war and nurtured
a false hope. Thankfully
in the end my carapace
had been punctured.

I am not opposed to it
though I am weary of the
dignity and the chase.
Who are we to be so presumptuous?
Who are we to assume that in our
affairs we should be entitled to
the presentation, if not the
substance, for all our days?

I am not opposed to it
though nod to a fear and
hubris that is hard-argued
as judgment. Still, if for
a year I loved and loved well
then I need not keep those
cherished ones waiting.

I am not opposed to it.
I recognized early that time was
my valued asset and treated
it accordingly. I fought for
ground in a society enamored
with the ephemeral. I won.
Mistakes were made, the wrong
losses suffered and less than
the best gains accomplished.
But in the end, I stand by my time.

Rilke via O’Reilly

posted on 2008-06-09 14:22:25

I haven't posted, read or written much poetry in a while. I've been focused on other things and while I'm happy about how I've chosen to focus my energies I miss poetry. With that in mind, I stumbled across a Rilke poem this morning thanks to Tim O'Reilly and decided to reproduce it here.

Archaic Torso of Apollo
We have no idea what his fantastic head
was like, where the eyeballs were slowly swelling. But
his body now is glowing like a lamp
whose inner eyes, only turned down a little,

hold their flame, shine. If there weren't light, the curve
of the breast wouldn't blind you, and in the swerve
of the thighs a smile wouldn't keep on going
toward the place where the seeds are.

If there weren't light, this stone would look cut off
where it drops so clearly from the shoulders,
its skin wouldn't gleam like the fur of a wild animal,

and the body wouldn't send out light from every edge
as a star does...for there is no place at all
that isn't looking at you. You must change your life.

A Morning Repose

posted on 2008-04-16 14:08:39

This is a Czeslaw Milosz poem that should have found it's way here a long time ago. It's called Preparation.

Still one more year of preparation.
Tomorrow at the latest I’ll start working on a great book
In which my century will appear as it really was.
The sun will rise over the righteous and the wicked.
Springs and autumns will unerringly return.
In a wet thicket a thrush will build his nest lined with clay
And foxes will learn their foxy natures.

And that will be the subject, with addenda. Thus: armies
Running across frozen plains, shouting a curse
In a many-voiced chorus; the cannon of a tank
Growing immense at the corner of a street; the ride at dusk
Into a camp with watchtowers and barbed wire.

No, it won’t happen tomorrow. In five or ten years.
I still think too much about the mothers
And ask what is a man born of woman.
He curls himself up and protects his head
While he is kicked by heavy boots; on fire and running,
He burns with a bright flame; a bulldozer sweeps him into a clay pit.
Her child. Embracing a teddy bear. Conceived in ecstasy.

I haven’t learned yet to speak as I should, calmly.

The Unexpected

posted on 2008-04-08 17:40:24

This poem was unexpected but I blame it's inspiration on Hofstadter, The Feyerabend Project (particularly the Sussman quote at the end, NO ONE pays enough attention to the Sussman quote at the end), and the quants.

There is a dim luminescence
on the edge of the world
drawing close. I hardly
see it's call but hear my
heart rise on approach.

The things unnamed we
can't contain, powerless
we act in vain. The systems
built stay brittle, break
when under stress they
cannot take. The deeper
message anathema to our
craven fantasies.

It may come for ill or gain
and is not my place to complain,
I know not what instruction awaits
so idly move at pleasant gait.
I hope the best for all of us,
for meritocracies in which to trust,
but utopia has no need of randomness
with which the universe is enamored.

The glamor and gore of that
midnight show I will not see
and will not know. I'll laugh
a good deal as I go but it
speeds like a star's falling.
If we find whatever defines
the space where interaction
takes it's place and emerging
from names is a trace
of self I shan't be surprised.

PS: I discovered that the Sussman quote at The Feyerabend Project was sourced from this paper. It may give some insight into all this.

An Absence

posted on 2008-04-02 13:47:11

These words are caught food
from the flipping plate,
recorded here for your
careful entertainment,
your frolicking scrutiny.
But I can't help wondering
what I missed which fell in the sea,
and what shore those words
finally washed upon. Mostly,
I wish they were here.

Weak Ties & Loose Ends

posted on 2008-03-24 13:29:26

I had a lovely weekend. Good conversations tend to do that. I wasn't actually productive but maybe my brain was just digesting all that talk during my leisure. Also, my OLPC XO finally arrived. I've had some fun with it though there are things to get used to. I'm trying to get it set up to work with my needs a bit better which essentially means getting Gambit-C and emacs-nox installed. I'm also throwing XFCE on it for a more conventional work environment. Also, I can confirm that The National's album Boxer was the best album of 2007 that I've heard. It's phenomenal. I'll post more on all that later.

I really feel like I should read something tasty about Ontologies and Knowledge Representations or maybe Peer Production. I don't know. I need to empty my head out. Finally, here's a tasty Neruda poem to start off the week but it's behind a cut because I don't normally post poems this long.

Yevtushenko to match

posted on 2008-03-11 12:01:05

I would like by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

I would like
to be born
in every country,
have a passport
for them all
to throw
all foreign offices
into panic,
be every fish
in every ocean
and every dog
in the streets of the world.
I don’t want to bow down
before any idols
or play at being
a Russian Orthodox church hippie,
but I would like to plunge
deep into Lake Baikal
and surface snorting
why not in the Mississippi?
In my damned beloved universe
I would like
to be a lonely weed,
but not a delicate Narcissus
kissing his own mug
in the mirror.
I would like to be
any of God’s creatures
right down to the last mangy hyena--
but never a tyrant
or even the cat of a tyrant.
I would like to be
reincarnated as a man
in any image:
a victim of prison tortures,
a homeless child in the slums of Hong Kong,
a living skeleton in Bangladesh,
a holy beggar in Tibet,
a black in Cape Town,
but never
in the image of Rambo.
The only people whom I hate
are the hypocrites--
pickled hyenas
in heavy syrup.
I would like to lie
under the knives of all the surgeons in the world,
be hunchbacked, blind,
suffer all kinds of diseases,
wounds and scars,
be a victim of war,
or a sweeper of cigarette butts,
just so a filthy microbe of superiority
doesn’t creep inside.
I would not like to be in the elite,
nor, of course,
in the cowardly herd,
nor be a guard dog of that herd,
nor a shepherd,
sheltered by that herd.
And I would like happiness,
but not at the expense of the unhappy,
and I would like freedom,
but not at the expense of the unfree.
I would like to love
all the women in the world,
and I would like to be a woman, too--
just once...
Men have been diminished
by Mother Nature.
Why couldn’t we give motherhood
to men?
If an innocent child
below his heart,
man would probably
not be so cruel.
I would like to be man’s daily bread--
a cup of rice
for a Vietnamese woman in mourning,
cheap wine
in a Neapolitan workers’ trattoria,
or a tiny tube of cheese
in orbit round the moon.
Let them eat me,
let them drink me,
only let my death
be of some use.
I would like to belong to all times,
shock all history so much
that it would be amazed
what a smart aleck I was.
I would like to bring Nefertiti
to Pushkin in a troika.
I would like to increase
the space of a moment
a hundredfold,
so that in the same moment
I could drink vodka with fishermen in Siberia
and sit together with Homer,
and Tolstoy,
drinking anything,
except, of course,
--dance to the tom-toms in the Congo,
--strike at Renault,
--chase a ball with Brazilian boys
at Copacabana Beach.
I would like to know every language,
like the secret waters under the earth,
and do all kinds of work at once.
I would make sure
that one Yevtushenko was merely a poet,
the second--an underground fighter
I couldn’t say where
for security reasons,
the third--a student at Berkeley,
the fourth--a jolly Georgian drinker,
and the fifth--
maybe a teacher of Eskimo children in Alaska,
the sixth--
a young president,
somewhere, say, modestly speaking, in Sierra Leone,
the seventh--
would still be shaking a rattle in his stroller,
and the tenth...
the hundredth...
the millionth...
For me it’s not enough to be myself,
let me be everyone!
Every creature
usually has a double,
but God was stingy
with the carbon paper,
and in his Paradise Publishing Corporation
made a unique copy of me.
But I shall muddle up
all God’s cards--
I shall confound God!
I shall be in a thousand copies to the end of my days,
so that the earth buzzes with me,
and computers go berserk
in the world census of me.
I would like to fight on all your barricades,
dying each night
like an exhausted moon,
and resurrecting each morning
like a newborn sun,
with an immortal soft spot--fontanel--
on my head.
And when I die,
a smart-aleck Siberian Francois Villon,
do not lay me in the earth
of France
or Italy,
but in our Russian, Siberian earth,
on a still-green hill,
where I first felt
that I was

Spontaneous Monday Poem

posted on 2008-03-10 14:47:36

I thought we all might share this.

It's titled I would like to describe by Zbigniew Herbert.

I would like to describe the simplest emotion
joy or sadness
but not as others do
reaching for shafts of rain or sun

I would like to describe a light
which is being born in me
but I know it does not resemble
any star
for it is not so bright
not so pure
and is uncertain

I would like to describe courage
without dragging behind me a dusty lion
and also anxiety
without shaking a glass full of water

to put it another way
I would give all metaphors
in return for one word
drawn out of my breast like a rib
for one word
contained within the boundaries
of my skin

but apparently this is not possible

and just to say - I love
I run around like mad
picking up handfuls of birds
and my tenderness
which after all is not made of water
asks the water for a face
and anger
different from fire
borrows from it
a loquacious tongue

so is blurred
so is blurred
in me
what white-haired gentlemen
separated once and for all
and said
this is the subject
and this is the object

we fall asleep
with one hand under our head
and with the other in a mound of planets

our feet abandon us
and taste the earth
with their tiny roots
which next morning
we tear out painfully.

For Don and Lex

posted on 2008-02-14 04:18:01

Eduardo Galeano, Voices of Time, Soul in Plain Sight, pg.98:

"According to an ancient belief, the tree of life grows upside down. Its leaves burrow into the earth, its roots gaze at the sky. It offers not its fruits but its origins. Rather than hiding underground what is most intimate, most vulnerable, it bares its roots, exposing them to the winds of the world.
"That's life," says the tree of life."

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth just yet. More soon guys. I'm hoping to get a SICP progress update posted this weekend as well as (maybe) a REAL ESSAY on REAL THINGS!

Expect me to tie together transcendentalists, the green and possibly civil rights movements, and lisp. Yeah, who knows.

Notes from Bozeman

posted on 2008-01-10 04:31:27

I have learned that Montana is
a lonely state. Filled with that beauty
which could only belong to abject desolation.
They tell me it is the fastest
growing county in the state. And here
I can more clearly pick out:
the howling on the wind,
the tracks of my pursuers,
and the flock that will follow.
What is it, I wonder, that draws us
together in our loneliness? Is it some
incomprehensible wonder at an unceasing
orderless motion? I no longer search
the skies for a conductor. My search more often
turns inward. And there, clockwork reigns.
A silent oscillation between misanthropy
and optimism. A confusion at the whispered words
of justice. And no sense whatsoever
of how through it all a warm hearth is found.
And home.

By chance I left Neruda at home, whom
Yevtushenko reminded me of. By chance I found
that slumbering desire to be everyone, sense
everything, and connect with the ineffable essence
of the world. And though I may never
make peace with this curse of oneness I
am confident that there lies in wait for me
some richness to call mine that shall not fade.

But I am also unsure any of us
are deserving of such a future when
I see:
our capacity for insular obstinance,
our apparent lack of stewardship,
or our bottomless apathy, mindless consumerism,
moral ambivalence, and
petty categorical divisions
into imagined communities.

What will it take to stimulate interest
and invoke participation in the human
cause? Or shall we continue on as an inert
public, a chemical cesspool acting out the
steps of a process written long ago?

Back from Montana

posted on 2008-01-10 04:27:49

I'm home and I had a great time. I'll give a more complete update later after my first day of full time work and a good night's sleep. I'm also sort of working on a top 40 most listened to songs of 2007 post. First here's something I wrote while I was in Montana. I'll post the second in my next post.

"Unsustainable Earth"
I was never brilliant, only distracted.
Ever present in an ill-defined elsewhere.
But I was born into a decomposing country.
And if this Eden is decaying into wasteland
I must ask myself: What was the time of death?
And is it too late for the surgeon's blade or the
pastor's cross to return life to a forsaken land?

I have no certainties about our salvation,
or our chances of salvation. Perhaps the end
will come like a burst of fire from the furnace.
Perhaps we will be swallowed as though in a swell
of the ocean. Perhaps there will be opportunity for
escape, to foreign lands or a more profitable future.
But avoiding the dystopian concerns too few. And the earnest
simplicity of obliviousness will lead untold numbers to oblivion.

There are good stories to be told here though
this may not have been an era of the brave and the
decent. I do not contend that we should not be reproached.
Still, an ending befitting our gluttony is to be resisted.

New Years, Music, and Poetry

posted on 2008-01-02 04:13:44

I've been hooked on this song for the past 48 hours or so by a group called Yeasayer. It's finding stuff like this that convinces me to bother with end of year album lists and such.

Yeasayer - Sunrise
Found at

I also just sort of got this poem in my head while brushing my teeth. This is a draft. What do you think? What would you call it?

As though expecting to hear a proclamation,
any moment now, "Poetry is no longer recognized
as one of the forms of art. You lot may
go on about your business." No more need:
to try to compress the world into words,
as if we could capture what fleets from us
in a phrase given the proper amount of
pressure. It is true that one should write
a poem only under incredible duress.
That way should we ever be caught,
stuffing the universe into a handbasket,
we might appear less greedy.
And less foolish.

Finally, I'm going to be out of town for a week. I'll be back next Wednesday. See you guys then!

Wheels of the Chariot

posted on 2007-12-31 15:20:00

We are only what we are,
straining in the fog of an early morning.
Fearful but not yet unhinged,
we are waiting to spin in
an endless dance. Advance
and retreat, feints and
confessions. That the art of existence
is still an area of active research.
That the domain and range of man are
still a combative struggle. To be
simply is not so simple. Thoreau
deceived at least one. But
perhaps in a short time
we will not falter in
our waltz with death
and instead laugh,
like children do.

I sought in my sinew some struggle,
some measure of resistance, against
what even in youth I recognized as
the turmoils of a Jagannath. But my
vertebrae were not as strong as I
expected. Or dreaded maturation
has weakened once well-formed
resolve to fling my body
under the crushing, undulating
wheels of the chariot.

Form, Order, Rhythm: A Theme

posted on 2007-12-31 04:30:36

"To find my home in one sentence, concise, as if hammered in metal. Not to enchant anybody. Not to earn a lasting name in posterity. An unnamed need for order, for rhythm, for form, which three words are opposed to chaos and nothingness." - Czeslaw Milosz, Unattainable Earth, Pg. 141 (the last page)

"Since my youth I have tried to capture in words a reality such as I contemplated walking the streets of a human city and I have never succeeded; that is why each of my poems seems to me the token of an unaccomplished oeuvre. I learned early that language does not adhere to what we really are, that we move in a big make-believe which is maintained by books and pages of newsprint. And every one of my efforts to say something real ended the same way, by my being driven back to the enclosure of from, as if I were a sheep straying from the flock." - Czeslaw Milosz, Unattainable Earth, Pg. 32

"I have always aspired to a more spacious form
that would be free form the claims of poetry or prose
and would let us understand each other without exposing
the author or reader to sublime agonies.

In the very essence of poetry there is something indecent:
a thing is brought forth which we didn't know we had in us,
so we blink our eyes, as if a tiger had sprung out
and stood in the light, lashing his tail.

That's why poetry is rightly said to be dictated by a daimonion,
though it's an exaggeration to maintain that he must be an angel.
It's hard to guess where that pride of poets comes from,
when so often they're put to shame by the disclosure of their frailty.

What reasonable man would like to be a city of demons,
who behave as if they were at home, speak in many tongues,
and who, not satisfied with stealing his lips or hand,
work at changing his destiny for their convenience?

It's true that what is morbid is highly valued today,
and so you may think I am only joking
or that I've devised just one more means
of praising Art with the help of irony.

There was a time when only wise books were read,
helping us to bear our pain and misery.
This, after all, is not quite the same
as leafing through a thousand works fresh from psychiatric clinics.

And yet the world is different from what it seems to be
and we are other than how we see ourselves in our ravings
People therefore preserve silent integrity,
thus earning the respect of their relatives and neighbors.

The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficulty it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.

What I'm saying here is no, I agree, poetry,
as poems should be written rarely and reluctantly,
under unbearable duress and only with the hope
that good spirits, not evil ones, choose us for their instrument." - Czeslaw Milosz, Ars Poetica, New and Collected Poems Pg. 240

On Youth (draft)

posted on 2007-10-29 17:21:23

This popped out in my Discrete Mathematics class today after walking there listening to Funkadelic's Maggot Brain and reading some of Pablo Neruda's work. Tell me what you think. Also, title suggestions please.

Youth, I know not what became of you.
Lakes and cities, a fiery rebellion.
Always aware of a justice without touch or name.
You walked with me through the mud caked
ruins behind the trees of the subdivision
and sought out with me a refuge from the
savages in the weeds of back roads and trails.
You were there when the infection poured
out from the skin of my back like mineral water
from the mountain. You were there for
escapes to beaches and oceans whose splendor
seemed to swallow all that I knew.
But that was another world.
These days only the vaguest memories remain.
Flickering images whose sources cannot be pinned
down, absent of references or citations. Only a feeling
and a thought which, I know, as Milosz has said are
"too much for the meager word".
How is it that I am nostalgic for what I cannot recall
of my own life? A great sadness wells up within me.
As though what cannot be remembered did not occur.
I know that to be a fallacy, but in my weakness must
hope that in some eternal memory that beauty
and difficulty which I suffered does persevere.

After an Absence

posted on 2007-10-17 03:19:59

Oh, hello. You're the only one reading today aren't you? You are. Welcome.

10 days? 10 DAYS? Where have I been? Busy I suppose. And in case you noticed the server being down, it turns out the router it sits behind decided to go crazy...which is almost comforting. /*This entry dedicated to Raganwald, XKCD, Radiohead, and for keeping me occupied and away from you guys for so long.*/ So, what's been going on?

First, I actually wrote something today. It's been a while since that happened and it felt good. It's not fantastic but it's a start and maybe I'll be able to polish it up some in the future. I don't know that it was inspired by the following Milosz quote, but the quote resounds particularly with me today so I'm shoving it in your face anyway.
"There must be a middle place between abstraction and childishness where one can speak seriously about serious things." - Czeslaw Milosz, Second Space, 4. I Apologize (pg. 49)

And here's the as yet untitled poem, please file naming suggestions below:
How surprised was I to learn that the dichotomy was not that of good and evil, as expected.
Rather, torn between shame and the frivolity of a bottomless awe.
Bound mesmerized to the spectacle of the world and all the marvelous constructions within it.
I found myself vertiginous, perhaps self-aware, but certainly unsure how to contribute to so great a vista.
As though asked to add new colors to the horizon, or change the sound of the ocean on a starry night.
That task is too monumental for me, I said. But awe is not enough, my immense wonder is insufficient.
Still, it is better to make public a frivolous and joyous etonnement than to admit
to the truth: That every man is a thunderclap receding into the distance, and silence.

Second, on Friday we had the best video game tournament in probably 10 months or so, IMHO. I actually did well in Melee with Zelda/Sheik. Semifinals well. The small atmosphere and various special appearances made the evening though. Derin and Pete were both able to come and I had lost touch with Derin so that was particularly awesome.

Third, the new Radiohead album is out and it's outstanding. What's more outstanding is that Radiohead are releasing and self-distributing the album as a download via their website and you decide what to pay them for it. That actually might not be more outstanding than the album itself which could be the best thing since OK Computer. More to come but I really like it and the early favorites are Reckoner and Jigsaw Falling Into Place followed by Nude and All I Need. I'm still pretty skeptical about the last track, Videotape. There's a live acoustic version on Youtube that just sounds better to my ears.

Fourth, I figured if I'm really going to take a year off to self-study and see if learn more/better/faster/stronger/etc that I'd better come up with a sort of reading list. Thank goodness for wishlists. I figured I might as well include a bunch of the stuff from my earlier book lists as well. The Computer Science stuff is thither.

That's all for now. More later.

Overdue Update 1

posted on 2007-10-02 16:56:16

good music: nostalgia 77 - seven nation army, skye - feel good inc, asobi seksu - lions and tigers, marconi union - shibuya crossing, telefon tel aviv - when it happens it moves all by itself
honorable mention: massive attack - dissolved girl

sun's corporate strategy
hahaha (i do like sun though)
his comics leave me speechless and not a little afraid.
open education
i really hope things move in this direction for my (future?) kids and myself
paul graham as chuck norris
that's just amazing. most of these jokes are too nerdy for me to get!
p2p\file sharing insurance
it's so cool that this exists i'm speechless. record industry, take note.
gartner says open source pwns
just yep.

A tasty Neruda poem... and a real blog post soon. Promise this time.
I Ask For Silence:

Now they can leave me in peace,
and grow used to my absence.

I am going to close my eyes.

I only want five things,
five chosen roots.

One is an endless love.

Two is to see the autumn.
I cannot exist without leaves
flying and falling to earth.

The third is the solemn winter,
the rain I loved, the caress
of fire in the rough cold.

My fourth is the summer,
plump as a watermelon.

And fifthly, your eyes,
Matilde, my dear love,
I will not sleep without your eyes,
I will not exist but in your gaze.
I adjust the spring
for you to follow me with your eyes.

That, friends, is all I want.
Next to nothing, close to everything.

Now they can go if they wish.

I have lived so much that someday
they will have to forget me forcibly,
rubbing me off the blackboard.
My heart was inexhaustible.

But because I ask for silence,
don't think I'm going to die.
The opposite is true;
it happens I'm going to live.

To be, and to go on being.

I will not be, however, if, inside me,
the crop does not keep sprouting,
the shoots first, breaking through the earth
to reach the light;
but the mothering earth is dark,
and, deep inside me, I am dark.
I am a well in the water of which
the night leaves stars behind
and goes on alone across fields.

It's a question of having lived so much
that I want to live that much more.

I never felt my voice so clear,
never have been so rich in kisses.

Now, as always, it is early.
The light is a swarm of bees.

Let me alone with the day.
I ask leave to be born.

Mounds of Milosz

posted on 2007-09-24 17:41:30

It seems I just can't help myself when it comes to this guy. Here's some of his work from Second Spaces which I believe is the last of his poems that were published.

From Part III, Treatise on Theology:
4. I Apologize
I apologize, most reverend theologians, for a tone not befitting the purple of your robes.
I thrash in the bed of my style, searching for a comfortable position, not too sanctimonious and not too mundane.
There must be a middle place between abstraction and childishness where one can talk seriously about serious things.
Catholic dogma is a few inches too high; we stand on our toes and for a moment it seems to us that we see.
Yet the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the mystery of Original Sin, the mystery of the Redemption are well armored against reason.
Which tries in vain to get straight the story of God before His creation of the world, and when the separation into good and evil occurred in His Kingdom.
What in all that can be grasped by little girls in white for First Communion!
If even gray-haired theologians concede that it is too much for them, close the book, and invoke the inadequacy of the human tongue.
But it will not do to prattle on about soft little Jesus in the hay of His manger.

And also this one, from Part III's Treatise on Theology as well:
15. Religion Comes
Religion comes from our pity for humans.
They are too weak to live without divine protection.
Too weak to listen to the screeching noise of the turning of infernal wheels.
Who among us would accept a universe in which there was not one voice
Of compassion, pity, understanding?
To be human is to be completely alien amid the galaxies.
Which is sufficient reason for erecting, together with others, the temples of an unimaginable mercy.

That one actually reminds me of something I wrote once...

Meandering Towards Monday

posted on 2007-09-23 21:32:12

It's been a nice, leisurely weekend thus far. I've been meaning to post more and to post some things that are a bit less technical but I've been bad about making the time of late. This is a smattering of things that have been backed up in my head.

I realized recently that there's a Milosz poem I never threw up here that I really wished I had. It's titled Diary of a Naturalist and taken out of his work From The Rising of The Sun.

My generation was lost. Cities too. And nations.
But all this a little later. Meanwhile, in the window, a swallow
Performs its rite of the second. That boy, does he already suspect
That beauty is always elsewhere and always delusive?
Now he sees his homeland. At the time of the second mowing.
Roads winding uphill and down. Pine groves. Lakes.
An overcast sky with one slanting ray.
And everywhere men with scythes, in shirts of unbleached linen
And the dark-blue trousers that were common in the province.
He sees what I see even now. Oh but he was clever,
Attentive, as if things were instantly changed by memory.
Riding in a cart, he looked back to retain as much as possible.
Which means he knew what was needed for some ultimate moment
When he would compose from fragments a world perfect at last.

Isn't that nice? Here's one I wrote that just sort of flew out this afternoon:
The world is not chaos or justice,
Mere good and bad happening all round.
Swept under the rug in our wake,
Dust returning to dust, in clumps at that.
We do not like to go quietly, or alone.
But what of the unquantifiable interim?
Ah, qualified not quantified: Rich, peerless,
Are there stories greater than our own?
Certainly not with more twists, turns, surprises.
Still, here I am, trying to understand how:
I have become trapped like a fly in amber.
Like those who have come before me, now
Teachers, who sought after explications for the
Milieu of an era, the abstract of an age.

I'm not sure what I think but I may be warming up to it. Now that that's out of the way.

Top 5 Books I couldn't live without:
Unattainable Earth by Czeslaw Milosz
Hackers & Painters by Paul Graham
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
The Success of Open Source by Steven Weber
The Future of Ideas by Lawrence Lessig

Honorable Mentions:
Selected Essays by Jerzy Kosinski
The Blue Octavo Notebooks by Franz Kafka
The Trial by Frans Kafka
Tender is the Night OR The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Of late, I've also really been enjoying reading Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston. If you're considering ever starting your own company or if you'd just be edified by reading about people succeeding outside the system/convention and innovating I'd highly recommend picking it up. There's also a book called Coders at Work in progress at the same publisher by a different author. That book is composed of interviews with some of the world's premiere programmers and it may find it's way onto the can't live without list. At least, I expect it will.

As my last point today, I'd like to congratulate Electronic Arts. They have successfully made the first good skateboarding video game in years. This is a huge thing for me because I love skateboarding games because I'm a big skate nerd and it's taken way too long for someone to best Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. Honestly, what happened to you Neversoft? Anyway, I highly endorse EA Blackbox's new game skate. It's amazz-z-zing. I might need to end up getting one more game console after all. Alright, more later folks.

Thoughts Scattered, Smothered, Covered, etc.

posted on 2007-09-10 13:38:49

I have gone about dedicating myself to invisible empires.
I rise and the day brings visions of struts jutting out
of the soil to sustain immeasurable edifices to man.

I am having fun. I can say that much.
To Do list:
Essay on Radical Visions.
Lots of Discrete Mathematics to prepare for Wed test.
Java Programming and C Programming.
Figure out what days are with whom this weekend. Note: skate will be out.
Gym and Laundry.
Read one of the following good things: The Wealth of Networks, Programming the Universe, Open Sources (1 or 2), Infotopia. Also Milosz and Neruda.

Morning Reading:

Sixteenth Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-09-06 17:00:16

This is the last scheduled post I'm going to write. After this, it's back to the good old days. Everything will be "Just For Fun" and I'll post what I like when I like. It's been a good experiment in generating content these past 2^4 weeks but this is the end of it. Though I do expect to have some very nerdy stuff up by Saturday. :-)
No promises.

That said, I'm ending with a bang. This untitled piece from Unattainable Earth touches on many of the frequent themes of the master poet Milosz. I hope you enjoy it:

Rustling taffetas. At sunset in a park by the Prypet River.
The party sets out for a walk on a path lined with flowers.
The fragrance of nicotianas, phlox, and resedas.
Great silence, the empty expanse of rising waters.
Meanwhile the servants bring in lamps, set the table for supper.
And the dining room windows lit the agaves on the lawn.

Lela, Marishka, Sophineta! Lenia, Stenia, Isia, Lilka!
Is it fair that I will never talk with you
In a language not disguised by etiquette
As less than language and reduced to table chatter
But austere and precise like a thought
That attempts to embrace the poor lives of beings?

I walk about. No longer human. In a hunting outfit.
Visiting our thick forests and the houses and manors.
Cold borscht is served and I am abstracted
With disturbing questions from the end of my century.
Mainly regarding the truth, where does it come from, where is it?
Mum, I was eating chicken with cucumber salad.

My pretty ones, abducted, beyond will and guilt.
My awareness harrows me as well as my silence.
All my life I gathered images and ideas,
I learned how to travel through lost territories,
But the moment between birth and disappearance
Is too much, I know, for the meager word.

Strings of wild ducks fly over the Respublica's waters.
Dew falls on Polish manners imported from Warsaw and Vienna.
I cross the river in a dugout to the village side.
Barking dogs greet me there and the bell of an Orthodox church.

What would I like to tell you? That I didn't get what I looked for:
To gather all of us naked on the earthly pastures
Under the endless light of suspended time
Without that form which confines me as it once confined you.

Seeing the future. A diviner. In a soft merciful night.
When pigweed grows on the paths of a cut-down garden
And a narrow gold chain on a white neck,
Together with the memory of all of you, perishes.

Fifteenth Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-08-30 13:56:50

Yesterday's post did quite well on reddit and my server handled the traffic as well so that's nice. Expect more details and thoughts on "The Concurrency Problem" as well as a general update tomorrow.

As for today, it's more Neruda. Today's poem is titled I Will Return, from his work "The Stones of Chile".

Some other time, man or woman, traveler,
later, when I am not alive,
look here, look for me
between stone and ocean,
in the light storming
through the foam.
Look here, look for me,
for here I will return, without saying a thing,
without voice, without mouth, pure,
here I will return to be the churning
of the water, of
its unbroken heart,
here, I will be discovered and lost:
here, I will, perhaps, be stone and silence.

Fourteenth Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-08-23 14:20:25

More Neruda today, the end of his poem Autumn Testament, from the work "Extravagaria".
If you all really like it I'll be happy to post the full text to Autumn Testament which numbers a few pages...

From having been born so often
I have salty experience
like creatures of the sea
with a passion for stars
and an earthy destination.
And so I move without knowing
to which world I'll be returning
or if I'll go on living.
While things are settling down,
here I've left my testament,
my shifting extravagaria,
so whoever goes on reading it
will never take in anything
except the constant moving
of a clear and bewildered man,
a man rainy and happy,
lively and autumn-minded.

And now I'm going behind
this page, but not disappearing.
I'll dive into clear air
like a swimmer in the sky,
and then get back to growing
till one day I'm so small
that the wind will take me away
and I won't know my own name
and I won't be there when I wake.

Then I will sing in the silence.


posted on 2007-08-23 01:05:04

Without meaning to be a burden, encouragement would be a good thing for me right now. If you have any lying around and are interested, feel free to pass it my way.

I have in mind a future,
Perhaps in Chicago, then Montana,
Or maybe the white sands of the
beaches of my youth.
But the desire for home is an illusion,
Found in people not in places,
The trinkets I call thoughts are
only treasure if they're shared.
How can I swear myself
to safely guard your things,
and always maintain interest
in the head from which thought springs?
For my love is the attent
of the brook that babbles beyond
your lips. But in a world
ever warming, how can I promise
the well won't run dry?
Am I a dam holding
water which once broken
sends old currents back
to sea? That water
needed to return to
that amorphous oblivion.
It's vitality left
long ago.

Thirteenth Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-08-16 17:09:45

"Past" by Pablo Neruda:
We have to discard the past
and, as one builds
floor by floor, window by window,
and the building rises,
so do we keep shedding-
first, broken tiles,
then proud doors,
until, from the past,
dust falls
as if it would crash
against the floor,
smoke rises
as if it were on fire,
and each new day
like an empty
There is nothing, there was always nothing.
It all has to be filled
with a new, expanding
then, down
falls yesterday
as in a well
falls yesterday's water,
into the cistern
of all that is now without voice, without fire.
It is difficult
to get bones used
to disappearing,
to teach eyes
to close,
we do it
Everything was alive,
alive, alive, alive
like a scarlet fish,
but time
passed with cloth and darkness
and kept wiping away
the flash of the fish.
Water water water,
the past goes on falling
although it keeps a grip
on thorns
and on roots.
It went, it went, and now
memories mean nothing.
Now the heavy eyelid
shut out the light of the eye
and what was once alive
is now no longer living;
what we were, we are not.
And with words, although the letters
still have transparency and sound,
they change, and the mouth changes;
the same mouth is now another mouth;
they change lips, skin, circulation;
another soul took on our skeleton;
what once was in us now is not.
It left, but if they call, we reply,
"I am here," and we realize we are not,
that what was once, was and is lost,
lost in the past, and now does not come back.

Twelfth Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-08-09 12:17:27

More Neruda today. He's good stuff. From his work, Canto General, X: The Fugitive:
To all, to you
silent beings of the night
who took my hand in the darkness, to you,
of immortal light, star lines,
staff of life, secret brethren,
to all, to you,
I say: there's no giving thanks,
nothing can fill the wineglasses
of purity,
nothing can
contain all the sun in the invincible
springtime's flags,
like your quiet dignity.
I only
that I've perhaps been worthy of so much
simplicity, of a flower so pure,
that perhaps I'm you, that's right,
that bit of earth, flour, and song,
that natural batch that knows
whence it comes and where it belongs.
I'm not such a distant bell
or a crystal buried so deep
that you can't decipher, I'm just
people, hidden door, dark bread,
and when you welcome me, you welcome
yourself; that guest
repeatedly beaten
and repeatedly
To all, to all,
to whomever I don't know, to whomever never
heard this name, to those who dwell
all along our long rivers,
at the foot of the volcanoes, in the sulfuric
shadow of copper, to fishermen and farmhands,
to blue Indians on the shores
of lakes sparkling like glass,
to the shoemaker who at this very hour questions,
nailing leather with ancient hands,
to you, to the one who unknowingly has awaited me,
I belong and acknowledge and sing.


posted on 2007-08-02 17:29:46

So, today has been unspeakably awesome. Things have been fun here at work, I've listened to good music, and I've read some wonderful things. Did I mention I have a kick ass new IBM Thinkpad running Linux? More on that later. First, here are some notes on the other stuff:

Songs of Summer
The Good, The Bad, and The Queen - History Song
Brightblack Morning Light - A River Could Be Loved
Zero 7 - This Fine Social Scene
Maximilian Hecker - Full of Voices
Mylo - Drop the Pressure
Broken Social Scene - Looks Just Like The Sun
Incubus - Favorite Things
My Brightest Diamond - Lucky (Radiohead Cover)
Foo Fighters - Generator
Broken Social Scene - Alive in 85

Literary Lines
More Neruda today. This one's called Poetry. It's gorgeous:
And it was at that age...poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, not silence,
but from a street it called me,
from the branches of night,
abrubtly from the others,
among raging fires
or returning alone,
there it was, without a face,
and it touched me.

I didn't know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind.
Something knocked in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first, faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing;
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
the darkness perforated,
with arrows, fire, and flowers,
the overpowering night, the universe.

And I, tiny being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss.
I wheeled with the stars.
My heart broke loose with the wind.

Social Brain Dump,1759,2161500,00.asp
it's awesome to see suspicions confirmed in reality like this.
AWN has moved to launchpad. Significant?
T3H GR347357 343R!
tee hee
this is really interesting. i know this guy is smart but i don't understand this enough. halp intarwebs!
astounding. i need to play closer attention to o'reilly radar.
this is really awesome\interesting in it's own right. self-explanatory, too!

That probably should've been like 4 separate posts but whatever. I love you guys. You love me too, right?

Tenth Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-07-27 16:56:35

Thursday Literary Lines
Today's piece is from the Neruda book that arrived while I was at the beach. It is titled Ars Poetica.

Between shadow and space, between trimmings and damsels,
Endowed with a singular heart and sorrowful dreams,
Precipitously pallid, withered in the brow
And with a furious widower's mourning for each day of life,
Ah, for each invisible water that I drink somnolently
And from every sound that I welcome trembling,
I have the same absent thirst and the same cold fever,
A nascent ear, an indirect anguish,
As if thieves or ghosts were coming,
And in a shell or fixed and profound expanse,
Like a humiliated waiter, like a slightly raucous bell,
Like an old mirror, like the smell of a solitary house
Where the guests come in at night wildly drunk,
And there is a smell of clothes thrown on the floor, and an absence of flowers-
Possibly in another even less melancholy way-
But the truth is that suddenly the wind that lashes my chest,
The nights of infinite substance fallen in my bedroom,
The noise of a day that burns with sacrifice,
Ask me mournfully what prophecy there is in me,
And there is a swarm of objects that call without being answered,
And a ceaseless movement, and a bewildered man.

Ninth Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-07-12 23:53:00

My Neruda hasn't come in the mail yet so you all are stuck with another week of Milosz. This week's poem is titled Nonadaptation.

I was not made to live anywhere except in paradise.
Such, simply, was my genetic inadaptation.
Here on earth every prick of a rose-thorn changed into a wound,.
Whenever the sun hid behind a cloud, I grieved.
I pretended to work like others from morning to evening,
but I was absent, dedicated to invisible countries.
For solace I escaped to city parks, there to observe
and faithfully describe flowers and trees, but they changed,
under my hand, into the gardens of Paradise.
I have not loved a woman with my five senses.
I only wanted from her my sister, from before the banishment.
And I respected religion, for on this earth of pain
it was a funereal and a propitiatory song.

I Have No Idea

posted on 2007-07-11 18:25:00

Looking out on murky skies
I want to sound the bell,
Shout til my throat's gone,
Raise a little hell.
But there's no answer to the call
That will echo back to me
Because only time will tell
So I just have to wait and see.
And I want to be subversive,
Yeah I want to go against the grain,
Strike a few nerves and maybe
Cause a little pain.
But I get the sense that all of
That would simply be in vain,
Like a character on camera
Trying to escape the frame.

And though I don't know
What in days to come
Will still remain,
I'm waiting for it like
The dry earth waits
To greet the rain.

For I don't stand in the road
Looking out upon the fork.
I stand in amber fields of grain
Writing a cartographer's report.
Rather than traversing a garden
Full of forking paths,
I'll travel through the weeds
And meet you in the aftermath.

Eighth Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-07-05 21:40:00

More Milosz today. I don't know. I'd swear it's good for the soul. I also feel so...illiterate posting Milosz all the time. It's just good for me though. Anyway, I've always loved this one and it seems particularly relevant today. What do you guys think?

Under a starry sky I was taking a walk,
On a ridge overlooking neon cities,
With my companion, the spirit of desolation,
Who was running around and sermonizing,
Saying that I was not necessary, for if not I, then someone else
Would be walking here, trying to understand his age.
Had I died long ago nothing would have changed.
The same stars, cities, and countries
Would have been seen with other eyes.
The world and it's labors would go on as they do.

For Christ's sake, get away from me.
You've tormented me enough, I said.
It's not up to me to judge the calling of men.
And my merits, if any, I won't know anyway.

Seventh Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-06-28 23:49:00

I was in Borders the other day and strolled through the poetry section. Surprisingly, there was a Milosz volume that my copy of his Collected Poems didn't contain. I also realized how much I'd like to read Bukowski and Neruda. I'm still working my way through the mountains of Milosz' catalog but diversity is a very important thing and when it comes to poetry I've just sort of been sitting in one corner for a while. T.S. Eliot would certainly be a more distant jump than Neruda or Bukowski. Frost would also be a good distance for that matter. Whitman not as much. At any rate, I stumbled upon a Neruda work online today that seems so applicable to events of late that I feel oddly compelled to post it. It's titled Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines.

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 void. Her bright body. Her infinite 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 soul 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.

Sixth Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-06-22 06:20:00

Today was awesome but as much as I love Borges I'm going to post some tasty Milosz tonight. More Borges next week...I promise. Or at least a different poet. :-D

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.


posted on 2007-06-15 18:55:00

I remember when my hand was cut and I snuck over to your house on the first day we were together and you bandaged it.
I remember when I cooked you salmon and we made love, in my bedroom.
And so this is life. Rich, more than we are able to absorb in all it's facets, too rich for us.
Rich, beyond comprehension. Full, beyond belief. My cup overfloweth. And I know not what to do.

Fifth Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-06-14 15:39:00

I finally got around to reading some Borges last night and he's lovely. Today's excerpt comes from his story The Ethnographer in his collected fictions:

"He must have forseen the difficulties that lay ahead for him; he would have to convince the red men to accept him as one of their own. He set out upon the long adventure. He lived for more than two years on the prairie, sometimes sheltered by adobe walls and sometimes in the open. He rose before dawn, went to bed at sundown, and came to dream in a language that was not that of his fathers. He conditioned his palate to harsh flavors, he covered himself with strange clothing, he forgot his friends and the city, he came to think in a fashion that the logic of his mind rejected. During the first few months of his new education he secretly took notes; later, he tore the notes up - perhaps to avoid drawing suspicion upon himself, perhaps because he no longer needed them."

Some Thing

posted on 2007-06-11 22:13:00

Fireflies flicker in skies like morning dew on leaves,
And drift about the evening air like mist upon the breeze,
I don't remember time or place where I've been more at ease,
The world usually seems clearer the closer man is to his knees.
I find it hard to try to tell what path did lead me here,
Though always seek companion who might like to lend their ear,
And through dark fears in younger years persevered to present day,
But perhaps should have left more warnings for others along the way.

If foreign lands with beckoning sands have grounded in my mind,
Then perhaps discoveries lie in wait more forward than behind,
But putting the past aside is difficult for what might be derived
is a succulent fruit, of knowledge to boot, waiting to be tried.
Temptation though to puzzle out what meanings there may lay
is better left for when I rise upon an older and wiser day.
And until then my unseen friend I raise my glass and say,
Godspeed to all of us. Into the tunnel. Light the way.

Fourth Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-06-08 05:30:00

Okay. I'm kind of going to cheat today. I was planning on moving on from Milosz after posting what are probably my three favorite poems of his and post an excerpt from Borges today. The problem is I haven't gotten around to reading the Borges. So, for now, Borges will have to wait until next week and then hopefully I'll have read it. For now, here is another Milosz poem i'm intensely fond of.

At Dawn
How enduring. How we need durability.
The sky before sunrise is soaked with light.
Rosy color tints buildings, bridges, and the Seine.
I was here when she, with whom I walk, wasn't born yet
And the cities on a distant plain stood intact
Before they rose in the air with the dust of sepulchral brick
And the people who lived there didn't know.
Only this moment at dawn is real to me.
The bygone lives are like my own past life, uncertain.
I cast a spell on the city asking it to last.

Third Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-06-01 23:29:00

Livejournal hasn't let me post from my computer since late yesterday so I had to log on to a friend's computer to make a post to fix the problem. Today I'd like to share the third of (what are probably) my three favorite Milosz poems.


The pungent smells of a California winter,
Grayness and rosiness, an almost transparent full moon.
I add logs to the fire, I drink and I ponder.

"In Ilawa," the news item said, "at age 70
Died Aleksander Rymkiewicz, poet."

He was the youngest in our group. I patronized him slightly,
Just as I patronized others for their inferior minds
Though they had many virtues I couldn't touch.

And so I am here, approaching the end
Of the century and of my life. Proud of my strength
Yet embarrassed by the clearness of the view.

Avant-gardes mixed with blood.
The ashes of inconceivable arts.
An omnium-gatherum of chaos.

I passed judgment on that. Though marked myself.
This hasn't been the age for the righteous and the decent.
I know what it means to beget monsters
And to recognize in them myself.

You, moon, You, Aleksander, fire of cedar logs.
Waters close over us, a name lasts but an instant.
Not important whether the generations hold us in memory.
Great was that chase with the hounds for the unattainable meaning of
the world.

And now I am ready to keep running
When the sun rises beyond the borderlands of death.

I already see mountain ridges in the heavenly forest
Where, beyond every essence, a new essence waits.

You, music of my late years, I am called
By a sound and a color which are more and more perfect.

Do not die out, fire. Enter my dreams, love.
Be young forever, seasons of the earth.

Second Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-05-25 02:24:00

Another one of my favorites. This is the second Milosz poem I ever read but it's really stuck with me. I'll give the last of my three favorites next week and then move on.

3. Paradise by Czeslaw Milosz:
Under my sign, Cancer, a pink fountain
Pours out four streams, the sources of four rivers.
But I don't trust it. As I verified myself,
That sign is not lucky. Besides, we abhor
The moving jaws of crabs and the calcareous
Cemeteries of the ocean. This, then, is the Fountain
Of Life? Toothed, sharp-edged,
With its innocent, delusive color. And beneath,
Just where the birds set alight, glass traps set with glue.
A white elephant, a white giraffe, white unicorns,
Black creatures of the ponds. A lion mauls a deer.
A cat has a mouse. A three-headed lizard,
A three-headed ibis, their meaning unknown.
Or a two-legged dog, no doubt a bad omen.
Adam sits astonished. His feet
Touch the foot of Christ who has brought Eve
And keeps her right hand in his left while lifting
Two fingers of his right like the one who teaches.
Who is she, and who will she be, the beloved
From the Song of Songs? This Wisdom-Sophia,
Seducer, the Mother and Ecclesia?
Thus he created her who will conceive him?
Where then did he get his human form
Before the years and centuries began?
Human, did he exist before the beginning?
And establish a Paradise, though incomplete,
So that she might pluck the fruit, she, the mysterious one,
Whom Adam contemplates, not comprehending?
I am these two, twofold. I ate from the Tree
Of Knowledge. I was expelled by the archangel's sword.
At night I sensed her pulse. Her mortality.
And we have searched for the real place ever since.

First Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-05-18 04:40:00

Starting it off with one of my favorites:

Annalenna by Czeslaw Milosz

"It happened that sometimes I kissed in mirrors the reflection of my face; since the hands, face and tears of Annalena had caressed it, my face seemed suffused to me divinely beautiful and as if suffused with heavenly sweetness." - Oscar Milosz, L'Amoreuse Initiation

I liked your velvet yoni, Annalena, long voyages in the delta of your legs.
A striving upstream toward your beating heart through more and more savage currents saturated with the light of hops and bindweed.
And our vehemence and triumphant laughter and our hasty dressing in the middle of the night to walk on the stone stairs of the upper city.
Our breath held by amazement and silence, porosity of worn-out stones and the great door of the cathedral.
Over the gate of the rectory fragments of brick among weeds, in darkness the touch of a rough buttressed wall.
And later our looking from the bridge down to the orchard, when under the moon every tree is separate on its kneeler, and from the secret interior of dimmed poplars the echo carries the sound of a water turbine.
To whom do we tell what happened on the earth, for whom do we place everywhere huge mirrors in the hope that they will be filled up and will stay so?
Always in doubt whether it was we who were there, you and I, Annalena, or just anonymous lovers on the enameled tables of a fairyland.

Unless otherwise credited all material Creative Commons License by Brit Butler