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[JANUARY 2013.]

J.: “I was prepared to be pretty annoyed at this article until she started talking about the evictions, 10 or so paragraphs in, and then it abruptly switched to WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON, MOTHERFUCKER? WHOSE SIDE?”

Devils: the stench of their step. The dish of vinegar shoved under the door.

No, Nietzsche, we can’t stand ourselves except by reframing, and the only excuse for poets is that they will crop and color-correct the nervous lump on the futon until it looks like Napoleon.

Said Shuvalkin to the dolomite cliffs: “Sirs, I contract for three years of adult life in this collapsing republic before I finish with an aneurysm.”

The dolomite cliffs mocked him with echoes. To show he was serious, he threw himself from the cliffs, but he was already standing at the base; and he threw himself into an ocean that was a trick of light and warm air; and he threw himself south of a northbound train that whistled with his own laughter, returned as the cliffs’ prisoner.

“Stoicism was perhaps the best,” as Henry Adams said to himself, but you can’t get over the worry that there is something ridiculous in building this citadel around your heart, and that once behind the wall, all you can do is pay off debts to yourself in currency with your own face printed on it.

The other idea is what the Zen masters seem to recommend, so far as we understand the Zen masters, which is to take down the wall entirely and throw the bricks into the sea. You could spend a lifetime in trepidation, staring at those bricks and wondering which to pull out first. Is there not the ocean on the other side? The void? Yes, it is possible to spend a lifetime with your hands in your pockets, and as Simone Weil said to herself, “if he does not lose courage, if he goes on walking, it is absolutely certain that he will finally arrive at the center of the labyrinth. And there God is waiting to eat him.”

Hints for Don J — which appears to me a soliloquy upon his own ill-luck — Ungraceful & selfish — like a beggar hawking his own sores about and which create disgust instead of Pity.

—Claire Claremont, journals, 1 February 1820

sweating like Judas
tired of dying
tired of policemen
feet in marmalade
perspiring profusely
heart in marmalade

—Samuel Beckett, “Enueg II”

I wondered for a long time about the marmalade, thinking he must have felt some cloy packed under his breastbone, a sticky runoff from what the world calls happiness; but finally someone pointed out the French en marmelade: “crushed to a pulp, smashed up.”

Young poets, and poets who refuse to grow up, insist on a principle of possibility or unreality out of fear of pressing on the lever of the real world. Not because they think the lever won’t move. The fear is that it will move just barely, opening the narrowest of cracks. They would then be forced to claim that crack—it’s what you’ve made, the best that was in you—and slide their narrow hearts inside, to beat sideways the rest of their days.

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