Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose…
…Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty – describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is not poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attentions to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. – And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.
― Rainer Maria Rilke
Learning to love a lover wasn’t very different from loving my parents.
Both too close, too emotional, too intimate, too messy.
Dear Justin Bieber,
Dear Miley Cyrus,
Dear chronic backpain,
Dear ex lover,
Dear future lover,
Dear Pema Chodron,
Dear Anne Waldman,
Dear Reed Bye,
Dear CA Conrad,
Dear Social Justice Warriors,
Dear white people,
Dear junk food,
Dear Mom and Dad,
Dear incomplete sentences,
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
—from Extravagaria (translated by Alastair Reid, pp. 27-29, 1974)
The music dimmed, the streetlights brightened and out of the corner of my eye, I saw your Adam’s apple bobbing as you hummed a tune. Within the periphery of a car glass and two seats, I could see the stirrings of a new world.
That was just the beginning.
The bowl of noodles in front of me starts to turn cold as I gaze aimlessly into space. I try to segregate the noodles, thin from thick, small from big. But like my emotions, the more I try to separate, the more entangled they become.
There are times when I want to love you. I want to give you pure, unconditional love. I want to be carried away into wonderment and follow you wherever you lead. I want to love you with a love so profound that would whisper warmth to you on a dark lonely night.
Then are times when I want to scar you. Emotionally and mentally. I want to put you through suffering for reasons inexplicable. I want you to answer questions that still burn my heart. I want you with me in the deepest pits of hell. I want to be loved.
Like a lot of other things, I cannot find my way across the battle of love and hate, pride and envy. I feel lost. I feel different, I see different. The stars lose their charm and the lake its shimmers without you. I feel incomplete, as a burn simmers its way through my heart. I see lovers and I see you.
I see us huddling on a front porch on a winter night. Out of the corner of my eye, I see your Adam’s apple bobbing as you strum your guitar. I look up at the stars and find them glittering again. I feel your hand on mine, and I begin to trust life.
I am 4’10 and I struggle with image issues everyday. My body slants in different ways and my belly is not concave. No matter what I do, I always look different. I think different, I act different. I cannot go on a diet and I am too lazy to exercise. I have an average complexion and I bite my nails. I don’t look good in all pictures. No one has ever accused me of being gorgeous.
I love eating junk food and I love playing with my brother. I am maniacal. I am egoistical and stubborn. I am overly sensitive and stupid at times and at others, I am cranky and depressed.
I have a select group of friends. I cannot lie to them. I fall in love too easily and I think too much. Fashion and stilettos don’t interest me. I don’t style my hair and I wear loose clothes. I think beer is bitter and smoking is stupid. I take time to trust and have trouble letting go. I fail to do things to the best of my ability. I feel lonely too often. I question myself and my role everyday.
I get annoyed too quickly and I get mood swings. I have trouble controlling my anger and I cannot sugar coat my words. I isolate myself and I hurt those close to me. I cry out of want for sympathy and I act out of selfish reasons.I put on a mask in front of people. I pretend, I lie and I cheat.
But there is one in front of whom I am stripped of all desires, beliefs and pretense. I am naked in front of one. I feel that one creeping back to me every night whispering things I don’t want to hear, showing images I don’t want to see. Often times I have buried my head in the pillow and cried till my tears have dried. I have tried to ignore, suppress and repress that voice but no matter how hard I try, it returns whispering things like, “You are beautiful.”
I know this voice is mine and I cannot drown it out. No mask or fake smile survives its blatant honesty. So I look into the mirror and I try to believe what it says. And this time, I see a pair of black almond shaped eyes, a perfect small nose and full lips staring back at me. I see a girl’s small rotund face breaking into a smile. Her smile reaches her eyes, filling the room with warmth and sunshine. And she smiles wider this time, because she knows she is beautiful.
I may not have the skinniest waist or the best complexion; I may not have the right words or the right means to make a mark on this earth; I may not have the perfect body or the greatest talent, but I do have a kind heart.
I can provide a shoulder to cry on. I am overly sensitive and I pick up on emotion and intention easily. I see beauty everywhere: in the birds, the bees and the trees. I think people are wonderful. I see stories in random things, from a crack in a wall to a rat in a run down house. I find meaning in meaningless things.
By seeing beauty even in unlikely places, I am able to see to see the beauty in me. By seeing the beauty in me, I can’t help but smile. And when I smile:
I am beautiful.