Only You, and You Alone

'only you can touch me this way,' by user kygp on Flickr

[Image: “only you can touch me this way,” by user kygp (Elisa Dudnikova) on Flickr. (Used under a Creative Commons license; thank you!) That thing which looks like an aerial? I believe it’s called a “snow lance,” used for making snow. (See the stuff spraying from the tip? Wikipedia has more information, including a photo of another one.)]

From whiskey river:

Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful, and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.

(Zadie Smith [source (in slightly different words)])


It Took Time

This is a poem about
how you never get the kiss you want
when you want it,

how time twines around your neck, its thorns
digging into your skin so you can never forget
how clinging to a string of hope, threading it
between your spine, and having it unravel before you
in the span of an hour
is worse than any metaphor on nakedness
that you poets will ever write.

This is my reflection in the mirror. This stanza
is the small gap where my fingers try to touch against
the glass.

You can’t even possess yourself; let alone the person
you see standing before you.

The moon
hasn’t come back from the cleaners yet
and I have nothing to slip into tonight that makes my reflection feel

Time is falling through the holes in my pocket. January
is coming soon, and I have a feeling he’s never going to fall
out of love with December.

He’ll still write her love letters. He’ll send her
white orchids on every lonely holiday and pretend that love too
is a place you can cross state lines to get back to,

but it’s that time of the year again, and
calendar sales keep reminding us all that we can never get back
to where we once wanted so bad to lose ourselves in
for good.

(Shinji Moon [source])

Not from whiskey river:

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

(Mary Oliver [source])


The Night Country should be taken as a message, but to decipher it in its entirety would be, even for its author, to decipher a rune. Its meaning is mingled with the falling rain, and with the dust drifting over forgotten excavations. Already my memories are cloudy, swirling, and indistinct. Doubtless they will march away at last, following the mammoth hunters over the horizon. But here I have spoken pleasurably to myself for some divided hours as in youth I would have placed the clay heads in Hagerty’s barn, or attempted other little mementos against the future.

Call this compulsive if you will. It is the night country of the mind, and I can assert that it exists only by stirring the dust of yesterday sufficiently to becloud momentarily the present. Not every man enjoys the lifting of such wraiths, but in age they sometimes return more forcibly than when one is young, as though the final light were to be used to cast a shaft into darkness. A man whose lifetime has been spent in crevices, whether of caves or libraries, is inevitably more than a little inured to these last glimpses of his world.

(Loren Eiseley [source])



There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

(Jane Kenyon [source])


Note: Before I added this footnote, this post was exactly 1,000 words long (according to WordPress’s word-count feature, anyhow). I couldn’t let that stand.

Tomorrow, if you’re interested, RAMH will feature the sixth of its annual “Quirky Eclectic Christmas Mix” posts; the overall playlist length is now up to perhaps three hours in all. Excellent background music, if I say so myself, for those of quirky eclectic holiday-listening tastes  — while tree-trimming, party-going, sitting in an airline or bus terminal, baking, riding over the river and through the woods, or (perhaps) just waiting for someone to rescue you from the broken-down elevator.

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