Tag Archives: longing

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Tell me it was for the hunger
& nothing less. For hunger is to give
the body what it knows

it cannot keep. That this amber light
whittled down by another war
is all that pins my hand

to your chest.

i

You, drowning

between my arms —
stay.

You, pushing your body
into the river
only to be left
with yourself —
stay.

i

I’ll tell you how we’re wrong enough to be forgiven. How one night, after

backhanding
mother, then taking a chainsaw to the kitchen table, my father went to kneel
in the bathroom until we heard his muffled cries through the walls.
And so I learned that a man, in climax, was the closest thing
to surrender.

i
Say surrender. Say alabaster. Switchblade.
Honeysuckle. Goldenrod. Say autumn.
Say autumn despite the green
in your eyes. Beauty despite
daylight. Say you’d kill for it. Unbreakable dawn
mounting in your throat.
My thrashing beneath you
like a sparrow stunned

with falling.

by Ocean Vuong, read the rest at Poetry Magazine

All Hallow’s Eve, Sheldon Vanauken

Tonight, while weighing wild winged hope with fears

Of loss, again the girl’s voice crying gay

And sweet – O playmate of lost pagan years! –

Comes ringing in the glory of the May.

O singing beauty! Singing though there nears

The moment of all finding and all loss:

Together in our laughter and our tears,

Wind-driven to the centre where ways cross.

Rose garden in blue night, where souls embraced

In holy silence, timeless ecstasy:

Truth grew between us, final beauty laced

The stars, and awed we knew eternity.

A secret sharing passed from eye to eye:

In death the singing beauty does not die.

-Sheldon Vanauken

Don’t Go Far Off

Don’t go far off, not even for a day, because —
because — I don’t know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.

Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.

Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don’t leave me for a second, my dearest,

because in that moment you’ll have gone so far
I’ll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?

-Pablo Neruda

Saudade in Summer Heat

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(Madang, Morobe Province)

Every year from May to July I get a humming in my bones. Somewhere between an ache and a pull, a sensation that I can’t quite feel but is always there, like a sound just above the human ability to register. It’s a longing to go home. Or perhaps more specifically and also more generally, a longing for the tropics.

The seasons change between May and July – everything turns slowly to summer. And in that in-between place, as the temperature shifts to a bold blaze of heat but the moisture from spring is still in the air and everything seems to be vibrating yet holding still in place, not quite ready to be in the midst of steady summer heat – it’s than that it feels like New Guinea. And Honolulu. Every place I’ve been in the tropics, for eight weeks or so in the United States as the temperature turns it feels like that.

I’d always get restless, in college and later, at a certain point in the year. It took me a long time to realize when, and why. But it seems to intensify and get worse with every year since I left New Guinea – a pull that creeps up slowly and stays as spring shifts to summer.

And I get this insane urge to make my way somewhere tropical, preferably home, but anywhere really that resembles it, that can promise it, this heavy air, this tease of tropical heat, the warm ocean and the humming of cicadas and or other insects, slow winds in palm trees, the smell of hibiscus and a faint scent of saltwater…anywhere with these conditions. I’ve been dreaming of Hawaii, lately – because home is so inaccessible. Can almost feel it sometimes around the corner, hitting me on a warm afternoon here in the Northwest as I leave an air-conditioned office and the weather can be felt, alive like a slowly shifting beast.

When you leave home, they never tell you that it will be the weather that will make you the most homesick.

I miss sea and saltwater and and especially humidity and a wild green manifesting itself firmly everywhere. Saudade, is what they call it.

Neolithic Burial

When he died they hunched him up
like baby in womb, curled him
into a shallow scoop in the cave-floor,
planted him like a seed as he slowly stiffened,
covering his slumped and earthen limbs
with a layer of red ochre,
sprinkling him with wildflowers—
then turned away.

Moon comes back each month, so bright,
then curls itself into a dying crescent—
baby struggles out of a woman’s darkness—
petals of delicate blue, pale yellow, in the wet woods,
how do they know
when sun is past dying and comes
to life again?

This is older than cities or books,
older than prayers or earnest discussions,
older than farming,
something buried and burst open
long before words, ideas, church or temple or crudest holy place,
older even than itself,

this longing.

-Tim Myers, Rattle

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