The House Of Paper

One day in the spring of 1998, Bluma Lennon bought a secondhand copy of Emily Dickinson’s poems in a bookshop in Soho, and as she reached the second poem on the first street corner, she was knocked down by a car.

Books change people’s destinies. Some have read The Tiger of Malaysia and become professors of literature at remote universities. Demian converted tens of thousands of young men to Eastern philosophy, Hemingway made sportsmen of them, Alexandre Dumas complicated the lives of thousands of women, quite a few of whom were saved from suicide by cookbooks. Bluma was their victim.

But not the only one. An elderly professor of classical languages, Leonard Wood, was left paralyzed after being struck on the head by five volumes of the Encyclopedia Britainnica that fell from a shelf in his library; my friend Richard broke his leg when he tried to reach William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, which was so awkwardly placed he fell off his stepladder. Another of my friends in Buenos Aires caught TB in the basement of a public archive, and I even knew a dog from Chile that died of indigestion from swallowing the pages of The brothers Karamazov one afternoon when rage got the better of him.

Whenever my grandmother saw me reading in bed, she would say: “Stop that, books are dangerous.” For many years I thought she was simply ignorant, but the passage of time has shown just how sensible my German grandmother was.

– Carlos María Domínguez

Possibilities

I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here
to many things I’ve also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.

– Wisława Szymborska

Singing Bird Pistol 2

temp

Created, most likely, by Frères Rochat, restored by Parmigiani Fleuriers. Video here.

Previously.

Kipling’s Vermont

The summer like a rajah dies,
And every widowed tree
Kindles for Congregationalist eyes
An alien suttee.

– Ogden Nash

A Hat Full of Sky

“It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.”

– Terry Pratchet

Countermeasures

I wish I could keep my thoughts in order
and my ducks in a row.
I wish I could keep my ducks in a thought
or my thoughts in a duck.
My point is that we all exist, wetly, in the hunt.
The ducks are aware of this
in their own way, which is floating.
The way of the mind is brevity.
There may be other thoughts on other days
in the minds of other and better men
and their constant companions, the women,
but these same tidy capsules — never.
This is just one of the things
I noticed about my thoughts
as they passed easefully by.

– Sara Miller (Poetry magazine, 2013)

Girl on a Red Carpet

Felice Casorati - Girl on a Red Carpet

– Felice Casorati [1912]

How Evolution Came to Indiana

In Indianapolis they drive
five hundred miles and end up
where they started: survival
of the fittest. In the swamps
of Auburn and Elkhart,
in the jungles of South Bend,
one-cylinder chain-driven runabouts fall
to air-cooled V-4’s, a-speed gearboxes,
16-horse flat-twin midships engines—
carcasses left behind
by monobloc motors, electric starters,
3-speed gears, six cylinders, 2-chain drive,
overhead cams, supercharged
to 88 miles an hour in second gear, the age
of Leviathan …
    There is grandeur in this view of life,   
    as endless forms
    most beautiful and wonderful
    are being evolved.
And then
the drying up, the panic,
the monsters dying: Elcar, Cord,
Auburn, Duesenberg, Stutz—somewhere
out there, the chassis of Studebakers,
Marmons, Lafayettes, Bendixes, all
rusting in high-octane smog,
ashes to ashes, they
end up where they started.
– Philip Appleman

Untitled

The limerick is furtive and mean;
You must keep her in close quarantine,
Or she sneaks to the slums
And promptly becomes
Disorderly, drunk and obscene.

Morris Bishop

Image

The Black Sea (A Storm Begins to Whip up in the Black Sea)

The Black Sea (A Storm Begins to Whip up in the Black Sea)

– Ivan Ayvazovsky (1881)