I make skeletons that are able to walk on the wind, so they don’t have to eat… eventually I want to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives.
There’s a saying that all roads lead to Ankh-Morpork, greatest of Discworld cities.At least, there’s a saying that there’s a saying that all roads lead to Ankh-Morpork.And it’s wrong. All roads lead away from Ankh-Morpork, but sometimes people just walk along them the wrong way.Poets long ago gave up trying to describe the city. Now the more cunning ones try to excuse it. They say, well, maybe it is smelly, maybe it is overcrowded, maybe it is a bit like Hell would be if they shut the fires off and stabled a herd of incontinent cows there for a year, but you must admit that it is full of sheer, vibrant, dynamic life. And this is true, even though it is poets that are saying it. But people who aren't poets say, so what? Mattresses tend to be full of life too, and no one writes odes to them. Citizens hate living there and, if they have to move away on business or adventure or, more usually, until some statute of limitations runs out, can’t wait to get back so they can enjoy hating living there some more. They put stickers on the backs of their carts saying "Anhk-Morpork—Loathe It or Leave It.
...I shall let [Anne] Wallace put the case herself, at what I think is necessary length:'As travel in general becomes physically easier, faster, and less expensive, more people want and are able to arrive at more destinations with less unpleasant awareness of their travel process. At the same time the availability of an increasing range of options in conveyance, speed, price, and so forth actually encouraged comparisons of these different modes...and so an increasingly positive awareness of process that even permitted semi-nostalgic glances back at the bad old days...Then, too, although local insularity was more and more threatened...people also quite literally became more accustomed to travel and travellers, less fearful of 'foreign' ways, so that they gradually became able to regard travel as an acceptable recreation. Finally, as speeds increased and costs decreased, it simply ceased to be true that the mass of people were confined to that circle of a day's walk: they could afford both the time and the money to travel by various means and for purely recreational purposes...And as walking became a matter of choice, it became a possible positive choice: since the common person need not necessarily be poor. Thus, as awareness of process became regarded as advantageous, 'economic necessity' became only one possible reading (although still sometimes a correct one) in a field of peripatetic meanings that included 'aesthetic choice'.'It sounds a persuasive case. It is certainly possible that something like the shift in consciousness that Wallace describes may have taken place by the 'end' (as conventionally conceived) of the Romantic period, and influenced the spread of pedestrianism in the 1820s and 1830s; even more likely that such a shift was instrumental in shaping the attitudes of Victorian writing in the railway age, and helped generate the apostolic fervour with which writers like Leslie Stephen and Robert Louis Stevenson treated the walking tour. But it fails to account for the rise of pedestrianism as I have narrated it.
(I know, it's a poem but oh well).Why! who makes much of a miracle? As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles, Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky, Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of the water, Or stand under trees in the woods, Or talk by day with any one I love--or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love, Or sit at table at dinner with my mother, Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car, Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon, Or animals feeding in the fields, Or birds--or the wonderfulness of insects in the air, Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down--or of stars shining so quiet and bright, Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring; Or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best-- mechanics, boatmen, farmers, Or among the savans--or to the soiree--or to the opera, Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery, Or behold children at their sports, Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old woman, Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial, Or my own eyes and figure in the glass; These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles, The whole referring--yet each distinct, and in its place.To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, Every cubic inch of space is a miracle, Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same, Every foot of the interior swarms with the same; Every spear of grass--the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that concerns them, All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.To me the sea is a continual miracle; The fishes that swim--the rocks--the motion of the waves--the ships, with men in them, What stranger miracles are there?
Confronted with the problems that characterize our herding culture, we are perhaps like the metaphorical man wounded by an arrow that the Buddha discussed with his students. He said that the man would be foolish if he tried to discover who shot the arrow, why he shot it, where he was when he shot it, and so forth, before having the arrow removed and the wound treated, lest he bleed to death attempting to get his questions answered. We, likewise, can all remove the arrow and treat the wound of eating animal foods right now. We don't need to know the whole history. We can easily see it is cruel and that it is unnecessary; whatever people have done in the past, we are not obligated to imitate them if it is based on delusion. Perhaps in the past people thought they needed to enslave animals and people to survive, and that the cruelty involved in it was somehow allowed them. It's obviously not necessary for us today, as we can plainly see by walking into any grocery store, and the sooner we can awaken from the thrall of the obsolete mythos that we are predatory by nature, the sooner we'll be able to evolve spiritually and discover and fulfill our purpose on this earth.
Irma, she said. But I had started to walk away. I heard her say some more things but by then I had yanked my skirt up and was running down the road away from her and begging the wind to obliterate her voice. She wanted to live with me. She missed me. She wanted me to come back home. She wanted to run away. She was yelling all this stuff and I wanted so badly for her to shut up. She was quiet for a second and I stopped running and turned around once to look at her. She was a thimble-sized girl on the road, a speck of a living thing. Her white-blond hair flew around her head like a small fire and it was all I could see because everything else about her blended in with the countryside. He offered you a what? she yelled. An espresso! I yelled back. It was like yelling at a shorting wire or a burning bush. What is it? she said. Coffee! I yelled. Irma, can I come and live--I turned around again and began to run.
I remember walking across Sixty-second Street one twilight that first spring, or the second spring, they were all alike for a while. I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out out of the West and reached the mirage. I could taste the peach and feel the soft air blowing from a subway grating on my legs and I could smell lilac and garbage and expensive perfume and I knew that it would cost something sooner or later—because I did not belong there, did not come from there—but when you are twenty-two or twenty-three, you figure that later you will have a high emotional balance, and be able to pay whatever it costs. I still believed in possibilities then, still had the sense, so peculiar to New York, that something extraordinary would happen any minute, any day, any month.
Oh I could be out, rollicking in the ripeness of my flesh and others’, could be drinking things and eating things and rubbing mine against theirs, speculating about this person or that, waving, indicating hello with a sudden upward jutting of my chin, sitting in the backseat of someone else’s car, bumping up and down the San Francisco hills, south of Market, seeing people attacking their instruments, afterward stopping at a bodega, parking, carrying the bottles in a paper bag, the glass clinking, all our faces bright, glowing under streetlamps, down the sidewalk to this or that apartment party, hi, hi, putting the bottles in the fridge, removing one for now, hating the apartment, checking the view, sitting on the arm of a couch and being told not to, and then waiting for the bathroom, staring idly at that ubiquitous Ansel Adams print, Yosemite, talking to a short-haired girl while waiting in the hallway, talking about teeth, no reason really, the train of thought unclear, asking to see her fillings, no, really, I’ll show you mine first, ha ha, then no, you go ahead, I’ll go after you, then, after using the bathroom she is still there, still in the hallway, she was waiting not just for the bathroom but for me, and so eventually we’ll go home together, her apartment, where she lives alone, in a wide, immaculate railroad type place, newly painted, decorated with her mother, then sleeping in her oversized, oversoft white bed, eating breakfast in her light-filled nook, then maybe to the beach for a few hours with the Sunday paper, then wandering home whenever, never-Fuck. We don't even have a baby-sitter.
I make my way back whistling. Gerry nods towards Mrs Brady who is standing beside the trolleys.Morning, Mrs Brady, I say cheerfully.I push her provisions out to the car.Things are something terrible, she says. You can't trust anybody.No.It's come to a sorry pass.It has.There's hormones in the beef and tranquillizers in the bacon. There's men with breasts and women with mickeys. All from eating meat.Now.I steer a path between a crowd of people while she keeps step alongside.Can you believe it - they're feeding the pigs Valium. If you boil a bit of bacon you have to lie down afterwards. Dear oh dear.Yes, I nod.The thought of food makes me ill.The pigs are getting depressed in those sheds. If they get depressed they lose weight. So they tranquillize them. Where will it end?I don't know, Mrs Brady, I say. I begin filling the boot. That's why I started buying lamb. Then along came Chernobyl. Now you can't even have lamb stew or you'll light up at night! I swear. And when they've left you with nothing safe to eat, next thing they come along and tell you you can't live in your own house.I haven't heard of that one, Mrs Brady.Listen to me. She took my elbow. It could all happen that you're in your own house and the next thing is there's radiation bubbling under the floorboards.What?It comes right at you through the foundations. Watch the yogurts. Did you hear of that?No.I saw it in the Champion. Did you not see it in the Champion?I might have.No wonder we're not right.I brought the lid of the boot down. She sits into the car very decorously and snaps her bag open on her lap. She winds down the window and gives me 50p for myself and £1 for the trolley.
During the act of making something, I experience a kind of blissful absence of the self and a loss of time. When I am done, I return to both feeling as restored as if I had been on a trip. I almost never get this feeling any other way. I once spent sixteen hours making 150 wedding invitations by hand and was not for one instance of that time tempted to eat or look at my watch. By contrast, if seated at the computer, I check my email conservatively 30,000 times a day. When I am writing, I must have a snack, call a friend, or abuse myself every ten minutes. I used to think that this was nothing more than the difference between those things we do for love and those we do for money. But that can't be the whole story. I didn't always write for a living, and even back when it was my most fondly held dream to one day be able to do so, writing was always difficult. Writing is like pulling teeth. From my dick.
There were days when I still put on make up in case you’d come back,but I wear the same clothes and shower in the rainand eat when I can and sleep when I can,which is rare and not often,so if you’d see me nowon these streetswhere I once imagined walking with youyou’d have a hard time recognising me.I takes a lot to run away.
Am I making something worth while?I’m not sure.I write and I sing and I hear words from time to time about my life and choices making ways, into other lives, other hearts,but am I making something worth while?I’m not sure.There was a boy last night who I never spoke to because I was too drunk and still shy, but mostly lonely, and I couldn’t find anything lightly to say,so I simply walked awaybut still wondered what he did with his lifebecause he didn’t even speak to meor look at mebut still made me wonder who he wasand I walked away askingAm I making something worth while?I am not sure.I am a complicated person with a simple lifeand I am the reason for everything that ever happened to me.
I feel life trembling within me, in my tongue, on the soles of my feet, in my desire or my suffering, I want my soul to be a wandering thing, able to move back into a hundred forms, I want to dream myself into priests and wanderers, female cooks and murderers, children and animals, and, more than anything else, birds and tress; that is necessary, I want it, I need it so I can go on living, and if sometime I were to lose these possibilities and be caught in so-called reality, then I would rather die.
And I told him, I said: "One day you're going to miss the subway because it's not going to come. One of these days, it's going to break down and it's not going to come around and everyone else will just wait for the next one or will take the bus, or walk, or run to the next station: they will go on with their lives. And you're not going to be able to go on with your life! You'll be standing there, in the subway station, staring at the tube. Why? Because you think that everything has to happen perfectly and on time and when you think it's going to happen! Well guess what! That's not how things happen! And you'll be the only one who's not going to be able to go on with life, just because your subway broke down. So you know what, you've got to let go, you've got to know that things don't happen the way you think they're going to happen, but that's okay, because there's always the bus, there's always the next station...you can always take a cab.
Lines and Squares Whenever I walk in a London street,I'm ever so careful to watch my feet;And I keep in the squares,And the masses of bears,Who wait at the corners all ready to eatThe sillies who tread on the lines of the street,Go back to their lairs,And I say to them, "Bears,Just look how I'm walking in all of the squares!"And the little bears growl to each other, "He's mine,As soon as he's silly and steps on a line."And some of the bigger bears try to pretendThat they came round the corner to look for a friend;And they try to pretend that nobody caresWhether you walk on the lines or squares.But only the sillies believe their talk;It's ever so portant how you walk.And it's ever so jolly to call out, "Bears,Just watch me walking in all the squares!
eat, baby.eat.chew.please.I know it hurts. I know it doesn’t feel good.please.I know your hunger is different than mine.I know it doesn’t taste the same as mine.imagine you could grow up all over againand pinpoint the millisecond that you startedcounting calories like casualties of war,mourning each one like it had a family.would you?sometimes I wonder that.sometimes I wonder if you would go backand watch yourself reappear and disappear right in front of your own eyes.and I love you so much.I am going to hold your little hand through the night.just please eat. just a little.you wrote a poem once,about a city of walking skeletons.the teacher called home because youtold her you wished it could be like thathere.let me tell you something about bones, baby.they are not warm or soft.the wind whistles through them like they areholes in a tree.and they break, too. they break right in half.they bruise and splinter like wood.are you hungry?I know. I know how much you hate that question.I will find another way to ask it, someday.please.the voices.I know they are all yelling at you to stretch yourself thinner.l hear them counting, always counting.I wish I had been there when the world made yousnap yourself in half.I would have told you that your body is not a war-zone,that, sometimes,it is okay to leave your plate empty.
THE BARROW In this high field strewn with stones I walk by a green mound, Its edges sheared by the plough. Crumbs of animal bone Lie smashed and scattered round Under the clover leaves And slivers of flint seem to grow Like white leaves among green. In the wind, the chestnut heaves Where a man's grave has been. Whatever the barrow held Once, has been taken away: A hollow of nettles and dock Lies at the centre, filled With rain from a sky so grey It reflects nothing at all. I poke in the crumbled rock For something they left behind But after that funeral There is nothing at all to find. On the map in front of me The gothic letters pick out Dozens of tombs like this, Breached, plundered, left empty, No fragments littered about Of a dead and buried race In the margins of histories. No fragments: these splintered bones Construct no human face, These stones are simply stones. In museums their urns lie Behind glass, and their shaped flints Are labelled like butterflies. All that they did was die, And all that has happened since Means nothing to this place.Above long clouds, the skiesTurn to a brilliant redAnd show in the water's faceOne living, and not these dead." — Anthony Thwaite, from The Owl In The Tree
Woman lost (skin deep) like a damn fine thread in the fireWoman of the world caught up in your black machinationsI was a woman who cried alone at night, who gave it all away when she saw the good heart of the man insideWoman caught standing up; her open parts are broken -Someone's armour broke right through, it was you, youFor some reason I've been thinking about you, your lightToday, you poured out all the tension, the ego undergroundHibernating inside my heart. I was so close to it, to the flicker Of love in a lonely street and I turned my head and walkedAway from the flame in your arms. As I put away the fun inA house of fight I came across you and a mechanism inMy brain shifted chemically, walls caved in like the cadenceIn your words and I was lost in the darkness. Even now inMiddle age I remember when desire was a popular drugAnd everyone was selling it but I don't live to explore to beAble to illuminate the proof of my existence, live to burnVicariously though the diamond mouth of sleeping stars.From so much love, pictures of death arrived in black andWhite photographs and you're perfect, you always were -Illusions have no flaws; they're dangerous beings, smoke.Could I take the moon back and still live with my greatExpectations of nostalgia, laughter, tears and suffering -But they are all a part of me not the people of the stars,Long dead videotape, the past has stained the symphonyOf my soul (like the wind through the trees) throughoutMe finding myself, my two left feet as a female poetThe warning was there of the noise of eternity, signs That said, don't anger the sea, you have an ally in her.When men grow cold listen to their stories and bask inThe glory of their genuine deaths, their winters, putThem away so you can read them like the newspaper.Once in a while you can go back to where you stoodIn youth with your afternoon tea, the sun of God in ourEyes - I am that kind of woman who lives in the past