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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Practice Makes Practice

I've been writing this poem for what seems like forever. Every day it is as good as I can make it; I had that sensational moment of knowing it was done about 3 weeks ago (and this was after months of working on it). And then the next day I read it just to make sure, and there was one word that hung me up when I spoke it aloud, so I changed it. Okay, now it was done. The next day I reread it just to enjoy it, and oops, how about if I smooth this out? It was just a  little change, deleting a syllable in a line so that it read absolutely smoothly and now it was done. Until the next day when I fixed something else and then it was done. Really, I believed this each time. But every time I read it again, some small snag caught my attention and I smoothed and smoothed.

It's been done without any changes for about five days now. It feels really done, but it has felt that way before.

I know Malcolm Gladwell said to get really good at something you have to spend 10,000 hours practicing, but I'm pretty sure he didn't mean to spend all 10,000 hours on one poem. I may not be getting any better at poetry, I'm getting really good at writing THIS poem. I think. I'll let you know tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

E-book Formatting Ideas

Copper Canyon Press has found a way to deal with the formatting of e-books of poetry, by including a line that a viewer should calibrate her device to be able to see in a single line. Once that's done, the poetry book should show up properly formatted. The Stranger blog explains in more detail (but barely more because not much is needed to explicate this elegant solution).

Monday, February 25, 2013

Frag / ments

If you're interested in the fragment as a unit or the juxtaposition of fragments as a technique in writing (think David Markson, or Maggie Nelson's Bluets) you should check out Ben Segal's article "The Fragment as a Unit of Prose Composition" over at Continent. Segal interviews both Nelson and and Evan Lavender-Smith about their use of fragments. Excerpts from Bluets and from Lavender-Smith's From Old Notebooks are provided PLUS fragments from both works that didn't make the final drafts.

Both interviewees recommend other writers who use fragments, and while I recognized most of the works they cited, I picked up a few new names such as Linda Nochlin and Eric Chevillard. Enjoy!

Friday, February 22, 2013


And some suggestions for punctuation marks at CollegeHumor. Check out the andorpersand, the sinceroid, the super ellipsis, and the Morgan Freemark. Punctuation has never been so fun.

And for more punctuation, check out my previous posts News in Poetry and Recognize these Puncs?.

Moxley's Moxie

The first time I read Jennifer Moxley's "Fragments of a Broken Poetics" was when it was published on the Poetry Daily website, under their prose feature which reprints pieces from other journals, in this case from Chicago Review, Spring 2010.

Yesterday I was reminded of the piece when listening to a lecture that Moxley gave at the University of Chicago in which she read the "Fragments" in its entirety (now that's a funny sentence!). (This lecture can also be downloaded on iTunes U under the University of Chicago's Poem Present Reading and Lecture Series.)

Moxley extensive musings about poetry and poetics have evolved into 50 fragments that brush against topics such as audience, semantics, imagination, authenticity, and others. Some fragments seem to contradict others. And the ones that stood out to me this time (pasted below) are undoubtedly not the ones that impressed me the most the last time I read this piece, inexhaustibility of the piece under repetition being a sign of good thinking and often also of good writing.

 from Fragments of a Broken Poetics

A poet only needs one poem, a poem only one reader. Moving from singular to shared in this instance is a rudimentary economy. It is less affecting than a mortal kiss, more than a passing conversation. The poem will always provoke an acute desire to know its creator, "acute" because hopeless.


The poet who foregrounds the surface qualities of the word—sound, texture, look—must be especially scrupulous when building the poem's semantic foundation. Effects should enhance complexity, not replace it, otherwise they risk giving complexity, which already struggles to justify itself, a very bad name.

Sleep, to whom Keats partly owes his "worthy rhymes," has long been kin to poetry. Saint-Pol Roux affixing a sign that reads "poet at work" to his bedchamber is the most playful example of this alliance. Both sleep and poetry open a passage to the unconscious, one by nature, the other by artifice. Both create memories of astonishing wakefulness, one through dream, the other through imagination. It is almost impossible to reproduce or transmit such experiences by other means.


Poems demand a concentrated lingering to which we are unaccustomed. This is why they cause discomfort. When we stand still in one place, attempting to document and respect the details, we feel as vulnerable as a small creature in an open field beneath avian predators. Rapid and sequential page turning gives us a sense of progress and accomplishment, relieving us from the double threat of frustration and impatience.
After a point, even the poem can grow bored with its own devices.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Entitled to a Title

Yesterday I listened to a lecture entitled "If You Agree, Won't You Change the Title for Me?" given by poet Matthea Harvey at the University of Chicago in 2008. (The lecture is also available on iTunes U under the University of Chicago's Poem Present Reading and Lecture Series. You can download just the audio, or the video, which can be useful as Harvey uses examples of visual art to demonstrate the effectiveness of their titles.) (The title of the lecture, by the way, comes from a letter Wallace Stevens wrote to his publisher when reconsidering the title to one of his books.)

In helping students learn about the effectiveness of titles, Harvey cites psychological studies and reads Lewis Carroll. She also creates a taxonomy of title types, defining and giving examples of the following:

1) The Onramp: a title syntactically part of the first line of the poem.
2) The Spotlight: a title which highlights a line or image from the poem (often by repeating it).
3) The License Plate: a title which gives information about the poem, which may include who the speaker is, when or where the poem is located, the speaker's attitude towards the subject of the poem, etc. This category includes any title which exists to orient the reader.
4) The Greased Pig: a title which disorients the reader by evading connection with the poem (at first glance at least).
5) Helium: a title that may give information but more than that tries to increase the meaning of the poem. This type of poem tends to be very dependent on its title.
6) Not Wearing a Tie: an untitled poem, which Harvey points out has a much different effect now, given the history of untitle poems, than it did when it was first used.

The charming and well-researched lecture then gives way to a workshop atmosphere in which Harvey reads short poems to the students, and they attempt to title them. It's fun to listen to their attempts, try to come up with a title yourself, and then to hear the poets' own titles.

Near the end of this enjoyable lecture on the art of titling, Harvey cites books for further reading about ideas on titling poems, including Anne Ferry's The Title to the Poem (Stanford University Press). I really enjoy naming poems, so I'm definitely going to get a hold of this book. Enjoy the lecture: Harvey is a master at synthesizing divergent information into her theme, so even if you have no concerns about titles, you can still get a lot of pleasure from listening.

Dear Poet Project

To celebrate National Poetry Month in April, the Academy of American Poets is hosting a project of letter writing, inspired by Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet. In a bit of a twist, young poets are being invited to write to  more experienced poets, in the form of the chancellors of the Academy. This project, the Dear Poet Project,  is open to students from grades 7 - 10. Teachers who wish to use this activity in the classroom are even provided with a suggested lesson plan. Select letters will receive answers and may also show up on the website

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

News in Poetry

Do you get the weekly newsletter from The Review Review? (If not, you can sign up here.) I've been getting it for a month or so now, and every issue has linked me with articles and resources that are useful or interesting.

For instance, this week they report on The Grinder, a site aiming to take over the void left when Duotrope became a fee-oriented tracking service and database, keeping many cash-strapped writers from being able to use their once-free services any longer. Right now The Grinder is only up and running for fiction markets, but it plans to add poetry and non-fiction soon.

In other news, Ocean Vuong, a young poet I admire and whose name is the name as one of my sons and for just about the same reason, is intereviewed at The Well & Often Reader.

Poetry Kanto, Japan's longest-running bilingual journal (which counts among its impressive list of past contributors Jane Hirshfield, Alicia Ostriker, Ilya Kaminsky, and Judy Halebsky) has recently become an online journal, leaving behind its paper history. They have a call for submissions out now; submit 3-5 poems before June.

Harpur Palate, another journal I routinely enjoy, is calling for submissions for a "country living themed issue." If you've got something related, or could write something, give them a try.

Finally, not exactly breaking news but news to me nonetheless, Flavorwire has some crazy punctuation marks to consider. Do you know the ElRey mark, for example? When you want to express equivocal enthusiasm, use this:

And, unfortunately too late for Valentine's Day, we learn of the Love Point:

And who doesn't need a sarcasm mark?:


Flavorwire has seven other obscure punctuation marks, and you can find more such marks at my blogpost from 2011 called "Recognize these Puncs?"

Friday, February 15, 2013

Help Name Pluto's Moons!

It's true--you can help name Pluto's recently-discovered-and-as-of-now-charmlessly-designated moons. The SETI Institute is ready to progress from calling them P4 and P5, and asks you to vote on names with more personality, including Persephone, Cerberus, and Sisyphus. Pluto's moons are traditionally named after Greek and Roman myths, so if you have a suggestion using that guideline, you can even write in a name on your ballot.

You can vote once a day, and voting ends February 25th, so get going!

Color image of Pluto and its Moons.
photo from

What's Neat on the Net IV

This week, what's neat on the net:

1) You can hear a recording of Walt Whitman reading the first four lines of his celebrated poem "America." Or maybe you can't. For a brief overview of the controversy on the authenticity of this recording, as well as to hear, the recording yourself, click this link to a posting on the Open Culture blog.

2) At Bookriot, Amanda Nelson imagines the base and top notes of perfumes inspired by dead writers such as Fitzgerald, Sexton, Tolstoy, and Plath. For example, Flannery O’Connor's perfume is described as being a blend of church incense, soap, vanilla, ginger. So far these scents exist only in Nelson's imagination, but who knows what the future brings.

3) DOG EAR, out of London, is both a magazine and a bookmark. Submit prose or drawings, and once 40 pieces have been collected, the top 10 will be made into a bookmark and distributed about the London area. That sounds like fun, doesn't it?

4) From Flavorwire, hotels and hotel rooms inspired by literature, including the Jules-Verne-inspired "Journey to the Center of the Earth" ice room at the Hotel de Glace in Canada; Alain de Botton's London hotel, The Roi de Belges, with a room designed to replicate Joseph Conrad's steamer used in the Congo trip that inspired Heart of Darkness; and the Hobbit Hotel in New Zealand. I especially like Le Pavillion de Lettres in Paris, with each of its 26 rooms devoted to a different writer, one room each for each letter of the alphabet matched to the first letter of  the last name of that writer. Check out the photos here.

5) Writer's Relief posts arts and crafts you can make out of your rejection letters. From papier mache to origami and rolled paper crafts, this site has plenty of ideas for what to do with those soul-stultifying pieces of paper.

I'll be saving mine however. Recently I've had a stream of rejections, in start contrast to 2 years ago when everything I sent out was accepted and I was being solicited for work that I didn't have because everything was being accepted. Now I can't seem to place a single poem.

It's good for me to remember that it's cyclical. Sure, instead of a gentle sine wave cycle, this is me slamming between polar opposites, but it's still important to remember the cycle of good things and bad things that happen. It's human nature when bad things happen to think that the streak of bad luck will end, but when good things are happening, it's important to also remember that such a state of grace is temporary. My kids hate it when I tell them this during the good times; they just want to enjoy the fun and not have it dampened by the reminder. But the downside will be less down it if doesn't also blindside you.

So now I need to think about my rejections. I think the quality of my work is about the same as ever, but the sensibility has shifted. Maybe I need to try different markets than the ones I generally look to. Maybe I'm wrong about the quality (in the absence of readers to help me along here in Japan) or maybe the competition is just getting more vast or more talented, and I need some kind of breakthrough in order to reach a new level. Maybe I just need to write and not worry about publishing.

And it's a wrap.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

The Atlantic blog has a list of sayings that have been retired from usage on those little candy hearts. "LET'S READ," is one of them, while "FAX ME" has been replaced by "TEXT ME".

A retired one that I remember getting in elementary school and being thoroughly confounded by is "OH YOU KID". I'm still confounded.

Check out the entire list for a Valentine's Day giggle.

image borrowed from

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Japan Writers Conference 2013 Call for Proposals

Participants in past sessions of the Japan Writers Conference received a call for submissions this week for the 2013 conference. Since recipients have been encouraged to share the information with interested parties, here it is:

For the first time, the Japan Writers Conference will be held on the beautiful island of Okinawa. It will take place in Nishihara City at Okinawa Christian University on November 2nd and 3rd. Please mark your calendar and plan to join us. This will be the seventh Conference. Response to the Conference being held in Okinawa has been really positive, even excited. There is also a good chance of a airline/hotel package if there is enough interest.

This is also a call for presentation proposals. All published writers, translators, editors, agents and publishers who would like to lead a session are invited to submit proposals. Those who have presented at past conferences are (of course) welcome to submit new proposals. But we especially encourage proposals from new submitters. One of the strengths of the past Conferences has been variety, and the best way to foster variety is to feature new presenters each year.

Please forward this to any friend or colleague who might be interested. If you know someone the conference organizers might approach--either living in Japan or planning to visit Japan next autumn--please send us your suggestion. If you have contact information, that would be a great help.

Detailed information follows, but briefly, a proposal needs to include a brief bio, including some publication credits, the type of presentation you wish to make, a title, a summary of 50 words, a longer abstract (150 words) and any special requests you might have. Standard sessions are fifty minutes long, but if you have something special in mind, please let us know and we will accommodate if possible.

Presentations on all genres and all aspects of writing and publishing are welcome. The deadline for presentation proposals is June 1, 2013.

It would also be good to have one more face/voice/body involved with the organization and operation of the Conference on an on-going basis. If you’re interested, please drop John and Bern an email. Our addresses are below.

As in the past, the Conference will be free and open to all who wish to attend. This is possible because all the presenters and organizing staff volunteer their time and talent, and the use of the site is donated by the hosting institution. As a result, the Conference cannot offer any payment, reimbursement, lodging, or help in securing visas or travel permits. So please don’t ask.

Proposal Guidelines

When planning your proposal, keep your audience in mind. Your listeners will be writers and others (translators, editors, publishers, and agents) concerned with creating the published written word. While teaching, literary studies and private self-expression are certainly worthy activities, they are not the focus of this Conference. Ask yourself as a writer or other word professional these questions:

What information do you have which could be useful to others?
What writing, rewriting, editing, or marketing techniques have worked for you?
What topic would make for a lively and enlightening discussion?
What publishing or other professional opportunities do you know about?
What will an attendee take away from your fifty-minute session that he or she will find worthwhile?

You may submit more than one proposal.

The only qualification one needs to be a presenter is to have published. This does not mean that you need to have published a lot or in some high-profile journal. Your book (if you have a book) does not have to be on a best seller list. You do not have to have won any awards or to have appeared on TV. You simply need to have written, edited, translated, or otherwise worked on a piece of writing which has made it to the public eye. That is, published.

Proposal Deadline and Format

Using the following format, please send your ideas for a presentation by June 1, 2013. Send your proposal in the body of an email (no attachments) to both these addresses:

In your subject line give your name, “JWC,” and the date.

In the body of the email, give:

1. Your name (or names)
2. Contact information (email, telephone. These remain confidential.)
3. Your publications (Need not be complete, but give names of journals and genre for short pieces; title, publisher and date for books; venues and dates for plays, and so on)
4. Title of presentation. (20 words or less)
5. Type of presentation (short lecture with Q&A, craft workshop, panel discussion, reading with Q&A, etc.)
6. Short summary of the presentation (50 words or less)
7. Abstract of the presentation (150 words or less)
8. Personal and professional biography (50 words or less. Make mention of your publications, as this will be part of the Conference program)
9. Anything else, such as special equipment needs or questions.

Your proposal doesn’t have to be a “finished” document to submit. There will be time to shape and polish your ideas for a presentation. But there are a set number of session slots available and if you are interested in having one of them, please let us know soon. Again, the deadline is June 1, 2013.

John Gribble
Bern Mulvey
Co Co-ordinators,
2013 Japan Writers Conference

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Poem of the Week - L'Esperance

The Darkened Temple

Poet and friend Mari L'Esperance's work is featured this week at, curated by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum. Check it out!


We went away for the three-day weekend here in Japan. We went to the land of snow, in the mountains, since we don't usually have snow accumulating on the ground here in Kobe, and I have this fear that when my children are grown there won't be snow for them to enjoy, due to global warming (a gut fear, I admit, not one well researched). I took along on our trip an image I have been trying to build into a poem for the past year. I have worked that image and reworked it, and gotten some strong language to describe it, but then I have come to a deadend. I didn't know what to do with it once I had described it. So I brought it along on our trip.

After a long day of playing in the snow, I was back in our hotel room where there was an electric massage chair, and I was enjoying a massage, when I suddenly had an idea about what to do with the image, how to further it into a poem. It was a great reminder to me that new ideas often come when the mind is abandoned and the body is the focus of attention. For me that usually means being in the shower, and I know there are lots of writers who have revelations in the bath or the shower. I've heard this phenomenon attributed to the water, but I wonder if it isn't more due to the sensual experience of the body, bringing one out of the conscious mind, making space for the subconscious mind. A good hard walk will sometimes produce the same results. But all of these things only work when I've been focusing on a specific problem in a poem; then a breakthrough will sometimes come during a physical experience. For me, at least, this never results in a new poem or idea, but in solutions to problems for which the conscious mind has exhausted its options.

Here is the revelation that came to me. I had recently read Richard Siken's "Details of  a Hayfield," and had wondered at how he had moved from a description of walking into a hayfield to an observation about generosity, or the lack of recognizing our need for generosity. I marvelled at how he had done this so seamlessly. And sitting there in the massage chair, I saw how I could attempt to do something similar (though I'm sure with much less skill) with my image.

There was something I had been trying to keep out of the poem with the image. Originally, after seeing this curious image, I had become contemplative about my own mortality, but I hadn't wanted to go there in the poem--to such a small personal emotion with regards to this curious image that had nothing to do with me and everything to do with someone else's bigger experience.

But in not acknowledging how this image had actually affected me, I was being dishonest. And that dishonesty was stymying the poem. Not that I think that poems have to be direct reportage of what happened, and what was felt--obviously not. But by not acknowledging the smallness of my response to the poem, and my shame at my smallness, particularly my shame, I was ignoring the power behind the image for me.

Once I acknowledged my shame, lines came, more images came, and the poem is now drafted in a form which I think will be its final form. It's not polished yet, but there is power finally in the imagery and the words.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What's Neat on the Net, Part III

1) First we have a typeface in which every single letter is an optical illusion. It's called, rather amusingly, Macula. Brought to you by Co-Design.


2) Jeff Goins blogs about the most important part of creativity. And finds that it is...(drum roll please) I love space, all kinds of space. I love to talk about space and think about space, and wonder why I ever moved to Japan where one can never get enough space.

Goins breaks his topic down into 3 kinds of space: physical, mental, and spiritual. And I was so glad to read that someone else has to do his housework and chores before writing. I'm an afternoon writer, as I've mentioned before, in a world where we are repeatedly told that the best creative work is done in the early morning or late at night. But I do my best work when I can concentrate because all the niggling little things that partially occupy my mind until they are done are actually done. And that's what Goins calls mental space. Read about all three types of space and how they affect your creativity at his blog.

3) The Atlantic has the sweetest movie video from Bianca Giaever, called the Scared is scared. It's inspired by a story told by a six-year-old, and the clever filming doesn't overwhelm the message of how to cope with disappointment and fear.

4) Also from The Atlantic, what is this detritus being found on Mars? Looks like stuff I might find under my couch, if I went and looked, but I won't because that's not on my radar of things to do today---not clogging up my mental space right now, but I need to change the subject or it will.....But before I do, pictures at the link!

5) From Neels Castillon, this Bird Ballet. This is what wonder looks like.

6) Finally, Brain Pickings has a few pages from the interesting children's book Ounce, Dice, Trice by Alastair Reid. It explains unusual words in a most engaging way. Check it out.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dialog Tutorial

If you want a tutorial on dialog, may I suggest reading Ivy Compton-Burnett's A House and its Head? Published in 1935, it's the sixth of Compton-Burnett's twenty novels, and is one of her two favorites from her own work.

The story is told almost entirely in dialog, and yet you hardly notice this fact, as the writing flows so beautifully. You never get descriptions from the author, only from the characters as they talk to one another, and yet there is no awkwardness, no stilted conversations or observations put there more for the reader's benefit than for the speakers'. Very natural talking, and yet so much ground gets covered. And so much snark too! Hilarious snarkiness.

Compton-Burnett was one of twelve children, none of whom produced an heir. In fact, none of the eight sisters married at all. This fact fascinates me.

A few quotes from her work:
 "It is a pity when we cannot judge by the surface, when it is so often arranged for us to judge by it." — from Mother and Son

"People cannot really give at all. They can only exchange."
  — from Daughters and Sons  (Note: this is a truly Japanese sentiment!)

"All institutions have the same soul."
 — from A Heritage and Its History

"It is the future we must look to," said Constance. "It is useless to pursue the past."
"It is needless," said Audrey. "It will pursue us."
— from A Father and His Fate

All but two of her titles follow this pattern: A and B. She must have found it tried and true.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I just found out that the National Museum of Mathematics recently opened in New York City, and I am so jealous of those of you who can go and visit.

See this slide show by TimeOut to see some of the activities you can do there, including a hyper hyperboloid, a fractal wall that makes fractals of your shadows call The Human Tree, a racing track called The Tracks of Galileo, and a pixelated floor that shows you the shortest distance between the people standing on the floor, calculating new pathsways as you move about. This  last exhibit is  called Math Square.

And here's a New York Times article on how fun math can be. And another.

I've got to get to New York soon!

Monday, February 4, 2013


Last week I read that crows will remember, for quite a long time, the faces of people who have harrassed them. I've never harrassed a crow, but I have had the suspicion that the crows in our neighborhood recognize me, the lone foreigner, in much the way that the neighbors, even ones living a few blocks away whom I've never formally met, recognize me. So this week I wrote a poem about crows (but I'll bet most people who write poems have a poem about crows).

I was also once recognized by a fox. We were living on the base of a mountain, and one day I was walking down the mountain on our narrow street, houses on the left side, woods on the right. I was the only one on the road and it was very quiet, when a fox came out of the woods, probably thinking the road was deserted. He saw me and came to a dead stop, as did I. We stared at each other; I was frightened but told myself that he was likely more frightened of me than I was of him. Then the fox walked towards me, directly at me. I considered running away, but thought that would encourage him to chase me, so I just started walking down the mountain, acting as if he wasn't there. He fell in step right beside me. I looked down. He was looking up at me as he walked. I stopped walking, thinking maybe he would trot ahead, but he stopped and waited for me. I began walking again and so did he, all the while gazing up at me.

Okay, I thought, the fox and I are apparently going to walk down the mountain road together. He never took his eyes off me, and was clearly not afraid of me, as I would have expected him to be. Then I realized--he had probably never seen a foreigner before, probably never seen a redhead before. He probably thought I was part human and part fox because of my coloring. In any case, he certainly seemed to recognize me. We continued down the hill till we came close to a crossroad that had cars whizzing along it. The fox then veered right, going back into the woods, but not before turning and giving me one last look.

When I told my husband about the fox, he reminded me of a wild animal we had nursed back to health. It had been living under a bridge in our neighborhood, and it was completely hairless and emaciated--so much so that I thought it was a tanuki (an animal indigenous to Japan that looks like something like a raccoon or an oppossum) while my husband had thought that it was a fox. It was so sick that we couldn't really tell what it was, and of course it kept far away from us. We brought food to the bridge and tossed it down to the poor creature, until one day it wasn't there anymore. My husband thought the fox from the woods was the recovered animal that we had nursed, and that's why it wasn't afraid of me.

I don't know why the fox didn't fear me, but it made me feel so much less alone, living as a foreigner here in Japan, to be recognized and honored by the fox. And also the crows, who I feel sure know me.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Comfort of Cannot

The other day blogger John Biesnecker posted about "The Joys of Having a Forever Project," a project that he describes as one that "despite its audacity and seeming impossibility, simply will not put itself to bed. . . . that is hard to imagine actually embarking on, but whose mental cost of abandonment is far too high to even consider."

The next day he wrote another blog post about "Why the Forever Project Hit a Nerve," as it had--getting over 45,000 hits in 18 hours and becoming a focus on Hacker News and Reddit.

When I (finally) found out about Biesnecker's forever project, I was immediately reminded of the quote by Henry Moore: "The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for the rest of your life. And the most important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do.”

I have loved this Henry Moore quote for years, have turned to it when I have wondered why I spend so much of my life writing poems, never getting written what I really want to write. And I turn to this quote when I wonder if I have wasted my life, which I wonder quite a bit...

There is something that cheers me to work on what I know is impossible but what I know I will never stop trying to do.

And then I started thinking about the beauty in all the things that cannot be:
"I cannot seem to feel alive unless I am alert," Charles Bowden writes in his recent book, Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), "and I cannot feel alert unless I push past the point where I have control."

". . . The aim is to become / something broken / that cannot be broken further . . "
from Jorie Graham’s Overlord

"Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature because we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery we are trying to solve. " Max Planck

The Pieces That Fall To Earth                           Kay Ryan

One could
almost wish
they wouldn't;
they are so
far apart,
so random.
One cannot
wait, cannot
abandon waiting.
The three or
four occasions
of their landing
never fade.
Should there
be more, there
will never be
enough to make
a pattern
that can equal
the commanding
way they matter.

Your eyes are on your side, for you cannot see your eyes, and your eyes cannot see themselves. Eyes only see things outside, objective things. If you reflect on yourself, that self is not your true self any more. You cannot project yourself as some objective thing to think about. The mind which is always on your side is not just your mind, it is the universal mind, always the same, not different from another’s mind. It is Zen mind. It is big, big mind. The mind is whatever you see. Your true mind is always with whatever you see. Although you do not know your own mind, it is there—at the very moment you see something, it is there. This is very interesting. You mind is always with the things you observe. So you see, this mind is at the same time everything. Shunryu Suzuki, Zen’s Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Iris Murdoch once wrote, “The bereaved cannot communicate with the unbereaved.”
…you cannot always be happy, but you can almost always be focused, which is the next best thing.  Winifred Gallagher, Rapt

40. Wind cannot blow the wind away, nor water wash away the water. From James Richardson's Vectors: Aphorisms & Ten-Second Essays
207. Sometimes I hate beauty because I don’t have a choice about loving it. I must be wrong in this, but whether because I take freedom too seriously, or love, I cannot tell. From James Richardson's Vectors: Aphorisms & Ten-Second Essays
The prose poem is the result of two contradictory impulses, prose and poetry, and therefore cannot exist, but it does. This is the sole instance we have of squaring the circle. Charles Simic, The Monster Loves His Labyrinth
Contemporary poets have for the most part forgotten about symbolism, especially its one great insight that Being cannot be stated but only hinted at.  Charles Simic, The Monster Loves His Labyrinth

Girder                                                 Nan Cohen
The simplest of bridges, a promise
that you will go forward,
that you can come back.
So you cross over.
It says you can come back.
So you go forward,
But even if you come back
then you must go forward.
I am always either going back
or coming forward. There is always
something I have to carry,
something I leave behind.
I am a figure in a logic problem,
standing on one shore
with the things I cannot leave,
looking across at what I cannot have.