In the Nansemond River


A man comes to love the ground where he lives, yet
how does this begin, in what sun-vanished split
of time, what yellow leaf-fall, what graying scrape
rain drags long the dirt road? I cannot hope
to know who I am until I have learned what
all seems to know in unfailing flow: moment
by moment life is life, and death is more life.
The braiding wallside cries of cardinals climb
past where I lie, a boy, hoping I will go
far, trying to dream its shape, know what I’ll know.
What day is it I feel my father’s boat drift
slowly out, then back, caught in the tidal shift?
Pieces sail by, grass, paper, wood, frayed rope.

Dave Smith, from Fate’s Kite: Poems, 1991-1995 (Louisiana State University Press, 1995)



““Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself - expanding and learning as you go - you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.””

— Dean Karnazes 


“But sadness is also beautiful, maybe because it rings so true and goes so deep, because it is about the distances in our lives, the things we lose, the abyss between what the lover and the beloved want and imagine and understand that may widen to become unbridgeable at any moment, the distance between the hope at the outset and the eventual outcome, the journeys we have to travel, including the last one out of being and on past becoming into the unimaginable: the moth flown into the pure dark. Or the flame.”

Rebecca Solnit, from The Faraway Nearby (Viking, 2013)


“There are two birds in your head, raven and crow, and only one of them is yours. A ghost and a robot doing battle, singing like telephones, the phone is ringing, a headache word. You are dancing with the birdcage girl, banging your head against a cage that isn’t there. You want to say yes: yes to the bathtub, yes to the gumdrops, no to the laughing skullheads. The holes in this picture are not flowers, they are not wheels, and the phone is ringing ringing, a headache word, it’s ringing for you. This is in the second person. This is happening to you because I don’t want to be here. Is there anything I won’t put words around? Yes, there is.”

Richard Siken, opening two paragraphs to “Black Telephone,” from the “Editor’s Page" of Spork (No. 1.3, Winter 2001-2002)

Sometimes this does feel just like that.