What We’ll Never Leave Behind (Until We So Often Do)

[Video: “September When It Comes,” by Rosanne Cash; performance by Rosanne and Johnny Cash. (Lyrics)]

From whiskey river:

Lines Lost Among Trees

These are not the lines that came to me
while walking in the woods
with no pen
and nothing to write on anyway.

They are gone forever,
a handful of coins
dropped through the grate of memory,
along with the ingenious mnemonic

I devised to hold them in place—
all gone and forgotten
before I had returned to the clearing of lawn
in back of our quiet house

with its jars jammed with pens,
its notebooks and reams of blank paper,
its desk and soft lamp,
its table and the light from its windows.

So this is my elegy for them,
those six or eight exhalations,
the braided rope of syntax,
the jazz of the timing,

and the little insight at the end
wagging like the short tail
of a perfectly obedient spaniel
sitting by the door.

This is my envoy to nothing
where I say Go, little poem—
not out into the world of strangers’ eyes,
but off to some airy limbo,

home to lost epics,
unremembered names,
and fugitive dreams
such as the one I had last night,

which, like a fantastic city in pencil,
erased itself
in the bright morning air
just as I was waking up.

(Billy Collins [source])

and:

A common misconception is
The belief that thinking is
The creation of thought.
Rather, it is
The reception of thought from
A source which has no name and
From a place that cannot be found.
Since one can’t decide to think
Nor can one decide
Thoughts’ contents,
Why does one
Claim their ownership?
Is every sound Wu Hsin’s because
He can hear them?

(Wu Hsin [source])

and:

Well, the terrible fact is that though we are all more or less thinking of something or other all the time, some of us are thinking more and some less. Some brains are battling and working and remembering and puzzling things over all the time and other brains are just lying down, snoring and occasionally turning over. It is to the lazy minds that I am now speaking, and from my own experience I imagine this includes nineteen people out of every twenty. I am one of that clan myself and always have been.

(Ted Hughes [source])

Not from whiskey river:

We are all egocentric, and what is realest to each of us, in the end, is ourself. The realest things of all are my knee, my nose, my anger, my hunger, my toothache, my sideache, my sadness, my joy, my love for math, my abstraction ceiling, and so forth. What all these things have in common, what binds them together, is the concept of “my”, which comes out of the concept of “I” or “me”, and therefore, although it is less concrete than a nose or even a toothache, this “I” thing is what ultimately seems to each of us to constitute the most solid rock of undeniability of all. Could it possibly be an illusion? Or if not a total illusion, could it possibly be less real and less solid than we think it is? Could an “I” be more like an elusive, receding, shimmering rainbow than like a tangible, heftable, transportable pot of gold?

(Douglas Hofstadter [source])

…and:

To understand the Well you have to have an idea of the layout of the Great Library. The library is where all published fiction is stored so it can be read by the readers in the Outland; there are twenty-six floors, one for each letter of the alphabet. The library is constructed in the layout of a cross with the four corridors radiating from the center point. On all the walls, end after end, shelf after shelf, are books. Hundreds, thousands, millions of books. Hardbacks, paperbacks, leather-bound, everything. But the similarity of all these books to the copies we read back home is no more than the similarity of a photograph to its subject; these books are alive.

Beneath The Great Library are twenty-six floors of dingy yet industrious sub-basements known as The Well of Lost Plots. This is where books are constructed, honed and polished in readiness for a place in the library above—if they make it that far. The failure rate is high. Unpublished books outnumber published by an estimate eight to one.

(Jasper Fforde [source])

…and:

Dispatches from an Unfinished World

A leaf the green that a child would choose
if asked
to draw a leaf.

*

This heavy-petalled rose
is humid as the accent
of my current correspondent.

*

Trees unberried by bird.
Trees unleafed by beetle.

*

My correspondent
is a tentative man and I
am unaccustomed to tentative men.

*

White rose blossom
browning at the edges.
Paperback book.

*

Inside, my mother humming
a song I’ve never heard.

*

Kinds of holiness.

*

Trees unbarked by winter deer.

*

My correspondent
will not let me love him.

*

Green things make
such mild noise.

*

I uncross my legs
to find, with a bare foot,
that sun has warmed the stone.
I partake of the sun.

*

And the stone.

(Rebecca Lindenberg [source])

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