What to Do (with, for, in) Just One World

[Video from the Slashdot “News for nerds, stuff that matters” discussion forum: Sarah Campagna
discusses her CyberCraft robot-rescue project: building new robots from scraps of old ones. The finished
works are statues — immobile, fine-art sculpture — rather than machines, but they do arrest the
attention. The company slogan: “Robots, Rayguns, and Spaceships You Will Covet.”]

From whiskey river (italicized portion):

Long Point Light

Long Point’s apparitional
this warm spring morning,
the strand a blur of sandy light,

and the square white
of the lighthouse—separated from us
by the bay’s ultramarine

as if it were nowhere
we could ever go—gleams
like a tower’s ghost, hazing

into the rinsed blue of March,
our last outpost in the huge
indetermination of sea.

It seems cheerful enough,
in the strengthening sunlight,
fixed point accompanying our walk

along the shore. Sometimes I think
it’s the where-we-will-be,
only not yet, like some visible outcropping

of the afterlife. In the dark
its deeper invitations emerge:
green witness at night’s end,

flickering margin of horizon,
marker of safety and limit.
But limitless, the way it calls us,

and where it seems to want us
to come. And so I invite it
into the poem, to speak,

and the lighthouse says:
Here is the world you asked for,
gorgeous and opportune,

here is nine o’clock, harbor-wide,
and a glinting code: promise and warning.
The morning’s the size of heaven.

What will you do with it?

(Mark Doty [source])

and (in slightly different words):

As a working hypothesis to explain the riddle of our existence, I propose that our universe is the most interesting of all possible universes, and our fate as human beings is to make it so.

(Freeman Dyson [source])



Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

(Mary Oliver [source])

Not from whiskey river:

After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard

East of me, west of me, full summer.
How deeper than elsewhere the dusk is in your own yard.
Birds fly back and forth across the lawn
looking for home
As night drifts up like a little boat.

Day after day, I become of less use to myself.
Like this mockingbird,
I flit from one thing to the next.
What do I have to look forward to at fifty-four?
Tomorrow is dark.
Day-after-tomorrow is darker still.

The sky dogs are whimpering.
Fireflies are dragging the hush of evening
up from the damp grass.
Into the world’s tumult, into the chaos of every day,
Go quietly, quietly.

(Charles Wright [source])



For a long time I was sure
it should be “Jumping Jack Flash,” then
the adagio from Schubert’s C major Quintet,
but right now I want Oscar Peterson’s

“You Look Good to Me.” That’s my request.
Play it at the end of the service,
after my friends have spoken.
I don’t believe I’ll be listening in,

but sitting here I’m imagining
you could be feeling what I’d like to feel—
defiance from the Stones, grief
and resignation with Schubert, but now

Peterson and Ray Brown are making
the moment sound like some kind
of release. Sad enough
at first, but doesn’t it slide into

tapping your feet, then clapping
your hands, maybe standing up
in that shadowy hall in Paris
in the late sixties when this was recorded,

getting up and dancing
as I would not have done,
and being dead, cannot, but might
wish for you, who would then

understand what a poem—or perhaps only
the making of a poem, just that moment
when it starts, when so much
is still possible—

has allowed me to feel.
Happy to be there. Carried away.

(Lawrence Raab [source])

…and (because I can’t read a reference like Oscar Peterson’s “You Look Good to Me” without wanting to hear the thing myself):

[Below, click Play button to begin You Look Good to Me. While audio is playing, volume control appears at left — a row of little vertical bars. This clip is 4:52 long.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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  1. Thank you for mentioning CyberCraft Robots’ sculptures on your blog. Your keyboard now enjoys Orbital Robotic Protection.

    • Thank you, Sarah! (I can’t remember the last time I got a comment here which came with its own self-installed software premium.)

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