Li-Young Lee’s Poetry Of Reconciliation
I believe the only possible ethical consciousness is one that accounts for the whole human being, that doesn’t leave any of it out — and this is precisely what poetry can achieve. On a social scale, this would be a government that accounts for all of its population — the poor, the rich, women, men, children, old people, black, white. Poetry is a way to integrate all of who we are: the saint, the murderer, all of it. By this, I don’t mean to suggest that we give the murderer free rein, but we have to account for that aspect of human psychology and understand it, not just push it aside.
Confessions Of A Book Junkie
Here in this high-desert penal colony, boredom is king, and although prison is not nearly as harrowing as it is made out to be in the media, simple pleasures are in short supply. Under these diminished circumstances, passing the time with a good book takes on new meaning. Books are cherished, hoarded, reread, traded, borrowed, begged for, and accumulated in any way possible.
Outside of a psychotic who attacked me a few months ago (I stuck his head into a snowbank until he promised to leave me alone) and a middle-aged fellow who drives around town shouting obscenities from a riding mower, there is not much happening here in Middlebury, Vermont.
For twenty-five years I lived an unsettled life in a city abandoned by history. Successively occupied by the Ottomans, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Germans, and the Soviets, Bucharest was slowly transformed from a cosmopolitan Romanian capital (the “other Paris,” it was nicknamed in the 1900s) into a Stalinist Disneyland.
I was fucking a near stranger in northeast Chicago when my mother died. His name was Jonathan. He was tall, long-limbed with enormous hands and prematurely gray hair, an activist who lectured on “the struggle” so genuinely I almost believed him: that we would win this, whoever “we” were, whatever it was.
The big lights make everything as bright as day, although the sky is black. Lots and lots and lots of people sit in the stands, all looking down on the track, where he and the other boys are getting ready to run. His mommy ties his shoes for him. “How’s that, sweetheart?” she says and kisses his forehead.
My mother’s call came on a white December morning. I had forgotten to expect it. There was a time when I’d waited for it daily: the news that my father’s emphysema had finished him. He’d been given three to six months, and it was now five years after the prognosis. I was mystified by his survival.