Writers’ Rich Echoes

G. Sellers, Louisiana Lilies, Easter, 2018

Eros in an issue of boundaries. He exists because certain boundaries do. In the interval between reach and grasp, between glance and counterglance, between ‘I love you’ and ‘I love you too’, the absent presence of desire comes alive. But the boundaries of time and glance and I love you are only aftershocks of the main, inevitable boundary that creates Eros: the boundary of flesh and self between you and me. And it is only, suddenly, at the moment when I would dissolve that boundary, I realize I never can.

Anne Carson, from Eros the Bittersweet

All the time I kept you out of my poems,
you found a way into my body instead.
Instead of your becoming another word
for dove or wrist bone, owl or stone,
you’ve become the impulse that has me
raise cairns to mark my way. You’re
what all verbs traverse, a fuse for the urge
to look at what I can’t see within what I can;
also the stillness inside me as wind-riven
leaves are driven over the roof shingles
into the night. Kindled by earth and sky,
you’re the touch of a tongue on my skin,
contingent and mortal; and the shy
reluctant love of faithfulness to what I feel
when at times I think there are no gods.
You are in me what is crucial and crucible
when the soul, in its root-fire, lasers and welds
each fissure and craze line of my loving elusive,
if pervasive, you. How stark it is to be alive–
and, although absence is the form you take
in what we call the world, how durable …

Margaret Gibson, “Not to Remain Altogether Silent,” Not Hearing the Wood Thrush

“If you allow an experienced man of the world to introduce you to passion when you want him more than he wants you, he will own your soul, but you will not own his.”

— Mary Jo Putney, The Bargain


in the country where my dreams are like bark
peeled off by lightning I was with her […]
while the wolf had the moon by the throat
I said I love you in the field of honor
and she was like a colt
and she was water I held in my hands
and she was the canoe I worked through the river
and she was the flash at two-thirty in the morning of the suicidal knife
and she was a fire of pine cones who ran like a deer
and she was a butterfly that lit on the float of my pole
and she was night herself
she was the cape I drew over my body

Frank Stanford, lines 4906-4917, from The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You (Lost Roads Publishers, 2000)


Now the rafters are empty,
replaced by dim slats of sunlight, slanted
rungs for mote & fleck climbing to a place
where memories faintly brood, where a dove
coos softly for any heart’s longing to answer.
Outside, the carefree swallows sweep about,
another afternoon unable to keep time still.

Greg Sellers, from “Barn Forgotten,” work-in-progress (February 2016)
Summer was singing on its favorite rock when you appeared to
me, summer was singing apart as we who were silence, sympathy,
sorrowful freedom, were sea still more than the sea whose long
blue spade was playing at our feet.
Summer was singing and your heart swam far from it.
I embraced your courage, heard your confusion. Road along the
absolute of waves toward those high peaks of foam where virtues
sail, murderous to hands bearing our houses. We were not credulous.
We were surrounded.
The years passed by. The storms died down. The world went
its way. I suffered to think it was your heart which no longer perceived
me. I loved you. In my absence of visage and my emptiness
of joy. I loved you, changing in every way, faithful to you.

René Char, from ”Annals,” Furor & Mystery and Other Writings

[…] how could I forget you since I
needn’t remember you: you are the present accumulating. We will
come together without having to approach each other or forewarn
each other, as two poppies make in love one huge anemone.
I will not enter your heart to limit its memory. I will not
possess your mouth to hinder it from opening to the blue of air,
the thirst for leaving. I want to be freedom for you, and the wind
of life that crosses the threshold of always before night turns

René Char, from ”Martha,” Furor & Mystery and Other Writings

Finally I catch sight of the sea in its triple harmony, the sea
whose crescent slices into the dynasty of absurd griefs, the great
preserver of wild birds, the sea believing like a bindweed.
Oh rainbow of this shining shore, bring the ship close to its
hope. Make every supposed goal find some new innocence, a feverish
forwardness for those who are stumbling in the heaviness of

René Char, from ”The Shark and the Seagull,” Furor & Mystery and Other Writings 

When I speak to you of love
I do not speak as I am
but as I am in love with you
which is better that I am, better
than I can hope to be.
Wendell Berry, section IV of “Sabbaths,” Oxford American

It was still summer, but hardly, and they took turns,
jumping off limbs to let the wind escape them, again
and again. On purpose they fell. Their throats scratched
as they gasped for air, first he, then she. And then he
reached over, put his lips on hers and blew breath,
mouth to mouth, as if she suffered from drowning,
as if her lungs were pails of water instead of dry,
hollow. Until she breathed in, and the wind again
made her feel like tumbling, like tumbling after.

Michelle Menting, from “Jill Falls for Jack,” Leaves Surface Like Skin

I have created everything
but you, and your next move.
If you appear, so be it.
If nothing, I will lie down
with nothing and form the kiss
that will not be received.

— Stephen Dunn, from “Creating the Conditions,” A Circus of Needs: Poems

This is the secret: when I encounter myself on the page, I am shocked at how forceful I seem. On the page I am strong, because that is where I put my strength. On the page I am everything that I am not, because that is where I put myself. I am no longer whispering through the small skirted shape of a keyhole: the door is knocked down and the roof is blown off and I am aimed once more at the entire wide night.
Patricia Lockwood, from Priestdaddy: A Memoir

So much I’ll
never understand about the reasons
I survived when others didn’t. Years
ago I found a book, like a gift, fallen
between two shelves. Inside, someone
had penciled, Language isn’t sad but
meaning is
. I’ve held those words as
close as any I have known, having felt
a pull toward nothingness, toward lack
of anyone or anything that might repair
my ruined thoughts, and just as often
I have stood in shallow creeks, waiting
on my world to end, assured I have no
place, no name, no face, no words to say
the source of what I’m always reaching
toward. I have followed driftwood,
imagined my own dead self assigned
to stir above the silt. I’ve watched
the motions course along through shadows
soon to reach a bend and carry on unseen.
Still, I have a faith that what is next is what
the story most requires so that the shape
of time allotted, ordained to be, can then
reveal itself. Bend, mend—the echo isn’t
lost on me—and giving in to where I’m
being taken has been the way I’ve come
to know my life, to speak its mysteries.

Jeff Hardin, from “Concerning the Shape of Time,” Southern Review

I live and die from one end of this line to the other
This strangely measured line that links my heart to your window ledge
I correspond through it with all the world’s prisoners.

André Breton, from “A Thousand Times and More,” Poems of  André Breton: A Bilingual Anthology

I want to talk about what happened without mentioning how much it hurt. There has to be a way. To care for the wounds without reopening them. To name the pain without inviting it back into me.
Lora MathisIf There’s A Way Out I’ll Take It
If you really love a writer, [make love to her] her on a coffee table. Find a gravestone of someone who shares her name and take her to it. When her door is plastered with an eviction notice, do not offer your home. Say I Love You, then call her the wrong name. If you really love a writer, bury her in all your awful and watch as she scrawls her way out.
Megan Falley, “If You Really Love a Writer”

Write naked. That means to write what you would never say.
Write in blood. As if ink is so precious you can’t waste it.
Write in exile, as if you are never going to get home again, and you have to call back every detail.

Lawrence Wright, from “Remembering Denis Johnson,” The New Yorker

Touching your face, I am like that boy
brought back to his body, steeped
in the moment, fulfilled but unable to speak.
Michael Waters, from “The Inarticulate,” Parthenopi: New and Selected Poems
When I’m writing, I’m trying to immerse myself in the chaos of an emotional experience, rather than separate myself from it and look back at it from a distance with clarity and tell it as a story. Because that’s how life is lived, you know? Life is not lived 10 years ahead of itself—there’s a lie to that. The conventional wisdom is—people say this all the time—you should only write something when you’re far enough away from it that you can have a perspective. But that’s not true. That’s a story that you’re telling. The truth of it is here, right now. It’s the only truth that we ever know.
Charlie Kaufman, from an interview, avclub.com
If you know what’s it’s like to sleep under the stars at night, you’ll know that, when we are normally asleep, a mysterious world awakens in the solitude and silence. It’s the time the springs babble more clearly, and the ponds light up their will o’ the wisps. All mountain spirits roam freely about, and there are rustlings in the air, imperseptible sounds, that might be branches thickening or grass growing. Day-time is for everyday living things, night-time is for strange, unknown things.
Alphonse Daudet
This web of time–the strands of which approach one another, bifurcate, intersect or ignore each other through the centuries–embraces every possibility. We do not exist in most of them. In some you exist and not I, while in others I do, and you do not, and yet in others both of us exist. In this one, in which chance has favored me, you have come to my gate. In another, you, crossing the garden, have found me dead. In yet another, I say these very same words but am in error, a phantom Time is forever dividing itself toward innumerable futures.
Jorge Luis Borges, from “Garden of Forking Paths,” Collected Fictions

A letter, not to her, likely to no one. It lacks both feeling and idea, you’d say, has a bland aftertaste and smells like wet cardboard, if words can be said to aromate. Words, that’s all they are, and perhaps that’s why. There are hundreds of them, it seems, swirling in no apparent order, looking shriveled and wrinkly in the light of recollection, and beside me on the desk are stacks of papers with thousands more, thousands and thousands more, a lifetime timeline string of words strung together by virtue of nothing more than placement and position and passage, nothing more.

— M, art and insolence wordpress blog


Something had unfurled inside her, her own personality that had asserted itself with the certainty that there was something in the world akin to her . . . She’d been taken by surprise: so she could speak of . . . of “that” as if it were something palpable, of her dissatisfaction that she’d hidden in shame and fear . . . Now . . . Someone had lightly touched the mysterious mists from which she’d been living for some time and suddenly they had solidified, formed a unit, existed. Until now all she had lacked was for someone to recognize her, for her to recognize herself . . . Everything was transforming! How? She didn’t know . . .

Clarice Lispector, from “Gertrudes Asks for Advice,” The Complete Stories