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Night Sky ~~ Richard Jackson

Can you believe what the eloquence of these asteroids
tells us? that we are thrown through space from one
explosion to another? How amazing any love has endured!
In spite of the fact that so many tendrils of hope
wither in the sun, in spite of the way the flower now
seems to feed on the bees, that the lake seems to shackle
the sky, that the roots pull down the tree, in spite of the fact
that the clouds drag the earth towards some new final solution.
It doesn’t matter where. There’s a whole alphabet of hate,
a syntax of torture we can hardly understand. Petrified
promises take the day by the hand and lead her off
into some jungle. A couple of cigarettes walk towards
the dark end of a pier. A child’s music shatters
like a broken violin. I used to think that any love we could
find is enough. It isn’t. It isn’t enough to plant our precious
gardens of hope in the sky. It isn’t enough to write
by the fading candle of our eyes. It isn’t enough to read
some future by the petals of the flower. Never enough.
We have to understand this love in the way the thorn defends it.
We can’t let the moon rest its drowsy head on our rooftops.
We have to capture every wayward flash on the night sky and
not let our words burn up in the atmosphere. We have to follow
wherever they were heading. Sometimes I think we are all
hurtling through love at the speed of light. Maybe it is a question
of what galaxy we will crash into. Even now, you have to hear
what the arrow says before it strikes. You have to know
I will follow you over rivers of stone, even while you hold
my heart in your fist, that every love is filled with guilt, every love
tries to conquer a new world. I think sometimes we breathe
through the pores of the earth. It’s the only way we know
the soul’s body. It’s the only way we can pass over the hobbled
roads of hate, the only way to shudder as the birds shudder
crossing the horizon. I am watching a bat scoop the emptiness
from the night, watching the hackberry embrace the moon.
Sometimes we have to hold hands with our own nightmares.
When I tell you that the voice of the nightingale turns dark
you have to understand what this love is trying to overcome,
you have to know that if you ever leave, if you ever disappear,
the sky would rip, and the stars would lose their way.

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White-Eyes ~~ Mary Oliver

In winter
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
but he’s restless—
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.

So, it’s over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he’s done all he can.

I don’t know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds—

which he has summoned
from the north—
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent—
that has turned itself
into snow.

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Life is an onslaught. It’s imagination, or art itself, which makes life interesting. Henry James says “art makes life, art makes importance;” that’s kind of what I think life is, this onslaught that you deal with through your imagination.
Richard Ford

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