Samuel Hazo The Necessary Brevity of Pleasure
William Butler Yates The Second Coming
Lawrence Ferlinghetti i am waiting
Allison Pearson Wife of the Year
Spit Sir Elliot Husband of the Year
David P Barash Want a Man or a Worm?
Various On Travel & Travelers
Anand Girdharadas Bombay Striving & Sinking
Gregory David Gregory Shantaram
William Matthews Misgivings
Lopate It's Good We See Each Other Only
AE Housman When The Eye of Day is Shut
Robert Graves Among Thieves



  The Necessary Brevity of Pleasures

Prolonged, they slacken into pain
  or sadness in accordance with the law
  of apples.
           One apple satisfies.
Two apples cloy.
                 Three apples
      Call it a tug-of-war  between enough and more
  than enough, between sufficiency
  and greed, between the stay-at-homers
  and globe-trotting see-the-worlders.
Like lovers seeking heaven in excess,
  the hopelessly insatiable forget
  how passion sharpens appetites
  that gross indulgence numbs.
      The haves have not
  what all the have-nots have
  since much of having is the need
  to have.
           Even my dog
  knows that - and more than that.
He slumbers in a moon of sunlight,
  scratches his twitches and itches
  in measure, savors every bite
  of grub with equal gratitude
  and stays determinedly in place
  unless what's suddenly exciting
           Viewing mere change
  as threatening, he relishes a few
  undoubtable and proven pleasures
  to enjoy each day in sequence
  and with canine moderation.
They're there for him in waiting,
  and he never wears them out.

                       Samuel Hazo,
                        from A Flight to Elsewhere.



Heaven is not reached at a single bound
But we build the ladder by which we rise
From the lowly earth to the vaulted skies,
And we mount to its summit round by round.

                          --  J Gilbert Holland - 1819






    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

                                                  --William Butler Yates  


     THE SECOND COMING  Take: 2  

  I am Waiting  

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
Of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe 
for anarchy
and I am waiting for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the second coming
And I am waiting
For a religious revival
To sweep thru the state of Arizona
And I am waiting
For the grapes of wrath to be stored
And I am waiting
For them to prove
That God is really American
And I am waiting
To see God on television
Piped into church altars
If they can find
The right channel
To tune it in on
And I am waiting 
for the last supper to be served again
and a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting 
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the great divide to be crossed
and I anxiously waiting
For the secret of eternal life to be discovered
By an obscure practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and TV rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am waiting for retribution
for what America did to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for the American Boy
to take off Beauty's clothes
and get on top of her
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting for Aphrodite 
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeting lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

               ---Lawrence Ferlinghetti    


Husbands and wives
With children between them
Sit in the subway
So I have seen them
One word only from station to station
So much talk for so close a relation.

                      [See Also: The Divorce]

  Wife of the Year

(Reporting From Cape Town, Allison Pearson)

Unstoppable as the Duracell bunny, gobbier than Sharon Osbourne, enjoying the same firm grasp on reality as Mohamed Al Fayed and with more issues than Reader's Digest, Heather Mills finally announced her divorce settlement of £24.3million with all the shy grace and modesty which we have come to expect of Lady McCartney

The poor coppers on duty behind the ranting Heather started to nod off.

On the roof of nearby St Paul's Cathedral, pigeons slipped into a coma and fell to their deaths as Heather began her 97th sentence without drawing breath.
On and on she moaned. Who says you can't turn sour grapes into whine?

Paul McCartney had just parted with almost 25 million quid to be shot of this woman.
Worth every penny, Paul, love.
You know what they say: Marry in haste, repent at heather.

Mills is comically oblivious to how she comes across.

In some compartment of that mad fantasist's brain, she honestly believes she is the big-hearted "Campaigning Girl" raking in alimony to hand it over "to me charities".
To the rest of us she is the worst kind of Nouveau Celeb - gauche, greedy, self-obsessed and constantly carping about the media while taking out a 999-year lease on the limelight.
Even the judge had to conclude that Ms Mills's evidence was, ahem, "less than candid."
How did Heather think it would go down when she moaned that the £35,000-a-year allocated to her daughter would not be enough to fly Beatrice 'A-Class'?
Puts that little crisis in Darfur into perspective, doesn't it, pet?
Millions are starving but, for Lady Mucca, hardship is a four-year-old rock princess roughing it in Business.
Besides, thirty-five grand sounds plenty to me.
Enough for a few party frocks and the rest to go on a therapist when the poor kid is old enough to realise what sort of mother she's been landed with.
Heather may have bagged herself a title, but she never did acquire any class. Chucking water over Fiona Shackleton, Paul's solicitor, was cheap.
It was also cheap to bitch about the ex-Beatle's "low offer of 15.8" (that's millions, in case you were wondering).
Heather had set her sights on a jawdropping £125 million for an exhausting four years of marriage.
Normally, I am the first person to insist that a divorced wife gets an equal share of the cake. But Heather Mills made a mockery of marriage. She was only two weeks away from her wedding to film-maker Chris Terrill when she announced she was getting together with Paul.

The love for this multi-millionaire was so powerful that, overnight, Lancashire hotpot-loving Heather discovered she had been a vegan all along!
Heather is brilliant at faking it. She could be anything a man wanted her to be. And she saw that what widower Paul wanted her to be was Linda.
No wonder Stella McCartney hated her. Talk about the Wicked Stepmother.
Heather may accuse Fiona Shackleton of behaving in "the worst manner you could imagine". But it is Heather who is an embarrassment to her sex.
Frankly, I have more respect for Ashley Dupré, who provided escort services to disgraced New York governor Eliot Spitzer for $1,000 an hour. At least Ashley made her price clear up front and never claimed to be doing it for charity.
As the old joke goes: A gold-digger married the guy for money.
She divorced him for the same reason.
Now, who does that sound like?
                                            --Allison Pearson


And Speaking of Elliott-I wanna-wife-2-Spitzer hear this:

       The Governor's House /    Trained Man


Husband of the Year:

And did we say, A House Trained Man?  From The Capitol Steps

Want a shrew or a worm?  Beware:  The "whisper" within every man:  

On Monagomy:

Want a man, or a worm?

Among mammals, expecting monogamy tends to run against the grain of nature.
By David P. Barash
March 12, 2008
As an evolutionary biologist, I look at New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's now-public sexual indiscretions and feel justified in saying, "I told you so."

One of the most startling discoveries of the last 15 years has been the extent of sexual infidelity (scientists call it "extra-pair copulations" or EPCs) among animals long thought to be monogamous. It's clear that social monogamy -- physical association and child rearing between a male and a female -- and sexual monogamy are very different things. The former is common; the latter is rare.

At one point in the movie "Heartburn," Nora Ephron's barely fictionalized account of her marriage to reporter Carl Bernstein, the heroine tearfully tells her father about her husband's infidelities, only to be advised, "You want monogamy? Marry a swan." Yet thanks to DNA evidence, we know now that even those famously loyal swans aren't sexually monogamous.

One species that is, and, significantly, perhaps the only one that could be reliably designated as such, is Diplozöon paradoxum, a parasitic worm that inhabits the intestines of fish. Among these animals, male and female pair up while adolescents; their bodies literally fuse together, whereupon they remain sexually faithful until death does not them part.

One of the most important insights of modern evolutionary biology has been an enhanced understanding of male-female differences, deriving especially from the production of sperm versus eggs. Because sperm are produced in vast numbers, with little if any required parental follow-through, males of most species are aggressive sexual adventurers, inclined to engage in sex with multiple partners when they can. Males who succeed in doing so leave more descendants.

A story is told in New Zealand about the early 19th century visit of an Episcopal bishop to an isolated Maori village. As everyone was about to retire after an evening of high-spirited feasting and dancing, the village headman -- wanting to show sincere hospitality to his honored guest -- called out, "A woman for the bishop." Seeing a scowl of disapproval on the prelate's face, the host roared even louder, "Two women for the bishop!"

On balance, the Maori headman had an acute understanding of men. He also reflected a powerful cross-cultural universal: Around the world, high-ranking men have long enjoyed sexual access to comparatively large numbers of women, typically young and attractive. Moreover, women have by and large found such men appealing beyond what may be predicted from their immediate physical traits. "Power," wrote Henry Kissinger, "is the ultimate aphrodisiac."

Power-as-pheromone is pretty much the default among mammals. Elk, elephant seal, baboon or chimpanzee, in a wide array of species, females eagerly mate with dominant males while disdaining subordinates. And they do so, more or less, in harems.

Not surprisingly, before the homogenization of cultures that resulted from Western colonialism, more than 85% of human societies unabashedly favored polygamy. In such societies, men who accumulate power, wealth and status gain additional wives and consorts. In avowedly monogamous cultures, successful males accumulate a wife and often additional girlfriends. Even if, thanks to birth control technology, they do not actually reproduce as a result (and thus enhance their evolutionary "fitness"), they are responding to the biological pressures that whisper within men.

Part of being successful, moreover, is a tendency to feel entitled and often to be uninhibited -- in part because one outcome of our species-wide polygamous history is that successful men have been those who took risks, which paid off. The losers were mostly found among the unsuccessful bachelors who, by definition, did not contribute very much to succeeding generations of men, or to their inclinations.

All of which contributes to the apparent sex appeal of such less-than-stunning physical specimens as Kissinger, Woody Allen and Bill Clinton, not to mention the persistence of sex scandals among the popular and powerful across the political and ideological spectrum, including Thomas Jefferson, JFK, Hugh Grant, Newt Gingrich, Larry Craig and a long list, receding almost to the infinite past as well as likely into the indefinite future. For men at the top -- rock stars, successful athletes, politicians, wealthy CEOs, the jet-set glitterati -- such opportunities are exceedingly numerous, not so much because they have insatiable sex drives but because they are dominant males in a biologically randy species.

Some readers may bridle at this characterization of Homo sapiens as EPC-inclined, but the evidence is overwhelming. That doesn't justify adultery, by either sex, especially because human beings -- even those burdened by a Y chromosome and suffering from testosterone poisoning -- are presumed capable of exercising control over their impulses. Especially if, via wedding vows, they have promised to do so. After all, "doing what comes naturally" is what nonhuman animals do. People, most of us like to think, have the unique capacity to act contrary to their biologically given inclinations. Maybe, in fact, it is what makes us human.

But even a smidgen of evolutionary insight suggests that maleness plus money plus political power isn't likely to add up to the kind of sexual restraint that the public expects. A concluding word, therefore, to the outraged voters of New York state: You want monogamy? Elect a swan. Or better yet, a Diplozöon paradoxum.

David P. Barash, an evolutionary biologist, is professor of psychology at the University of Washington.


   On Travel and Travelers   
What's in your Passport?

I hate a room without an open suitcase in it... it seems so permanent
--Zelda Fitzgerald (1900-1948) American writer

The soul of the journey is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do just as one pleases. 
–William Hazlitt (178-1830) English writer

“Go West,” said Horace Greely, but my slogan is “Go Anyplace.” 
–Richard Bissell (1913-1981) American writer

The only aspect of our travels that is guaranteed to hold an audience is disaster
–Matha Gellman (1908-2006) American writer

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.  And all plans, safeguards policies, and coercion are fruitless.  We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; the trip takes us. 
–John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer

I think there is a fatality in it –I seldom go to the place I set out for. 
 –L. Sterne (1713- 1768) English writer

The next best thing to being rich is traveling as though your were. 
–Stephen Brinbaum (b. 1937) American editor and writer

The vagabond, when rich, is called a tourist. 
–Paul Richard (b. 1939) American writer

Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car. 
–E. B. White (1899-1985) American writer

When you go by boat or train or car you travel.  When you go by plane, you are sent. 
–Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer

Not traveling is like living in the Library of Congress but never taking out more than one or two  books. 
–Marilyn Van Savant (b.1946) American writer

Travel is the most private of pleasures.  There is no greater bore than the travel bore.
We do not in the least want to hear what he has seen in Hong Kong. 
 –Vita Sackvile-West (1892-1962) English writer

Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion. 
–Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) English writer

Women have always yearned for far away places. It was no accident that a woman financed the first package tour of the New World, and you can bet Isabella would have taken the trip herself, only Ferdinand wouldn’t let her go. 
–Roslyn Friedman (b. 1924) American writer

Road, n. A strip of land over which one must pass from where it is too tiresome to be and where it is too futile to go.  –Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) American writer

The border means more than a customs house, a passport officer, a man with a gun.  Over there everything is going to be different; life will never be the same again after your passport has been stamped. 
--Graham Greene (1904-1991) English writer

Here I am, safely returned over those peaks from a journey far more beautiful and strange than anything I had hope for or imagined—how is it that this safe return brings such regret?   
—Peter Matthiessen  (b. 1927) American writer

It is so like living in a new world, so free, so fresh, so vital, so careless,
so unfettered . . . that one grudges being asleep. 
—Isabella Bird, 1831 English Traveler 

There are three wants which can never be satisfied:  that of the rich, who wants something more; that of the sick, who wants something different, and that of the traveler, who says “Anywhere but here.” 
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Three kinds of people die poor:  those who divorce, those who incur debts,
and those who move around too much.  —Senegalese proverb 

Down to Gehenna or up to the throne,
   He travels the fastest who travels alone.  —Kipling, The Winners

They change their clime, not their frame of mind, who rush across the sea.  —Horace

I have not told even half of the things that I have seen. —Marco Polo

Travel is the ruin of all happiness!
  There’s no looking at a building here after seeing Italy.  —Fanny Burney,1782,  Cecillia

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the older a part of experience.
   He that travelleth into a country before he hath some entrance into the language,
   Goeth to school, and not to travel.  —Francis Bacon, 1625

Some minds improve by travel, others, rather
  Resemble copper wire or brass,
  Which gets narrower by going further!  —Thomas Hood, 1799

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour. 
                                                                     —Robert Louis Stevenson

A good traveler is one who does not where he is going,
  and a perfect traveler does not know where he came from.
                                                    —Lin Yutang 1895, The Importance of Living

The Devil himself had probably re-designed Hell in the light of information
  he had gained from observing airport layouts. 
                                                                      —Anthony Price, 1928

The shape of Africa resembles a revolver, and Congo is the trigger.
                                                                            —Frantz Fanon, 1925

Faust never reached a place where he wanted to ‘remain’.  I cannot even glimpse
anywhere worth the attempt.
                                                   —Fridtjof Nansen, 1861

Sir, Saturday morning, although recurring at regular and well-foreseen intervals, always seems to take this railway by surprise. 
                       —W. S. Gilbert, 1911
letter to the Station Master at Baker Street, on the Metro Line

I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it.  Those whistles sing bewitchment:  railways are irresistible bazaars, snaking along perfectly level no matter what the landscape, improving your mood with speed, and never upsetting your drink. 
                                              —Paul Theroux, 1975 The Great Railway Bazaar

But how strange the change from major to minor
Every time we say goodbye.   
                          —Cole Porter, 1944, Every Time We Say Goodbye

All traveling becomes dull in exact proportion to its rapidity. 
                                                        —John Rusk

The routines of tourism are even more monotonous than those of daily life. 
                                                                                    —Mason Cooley

I owe my travels to myself, to my need to touch the world with my own hands.  I never paid attention to the premise that you don’t have to leave your own bedroom to know the world.  I traveled, I continue traveling, and I sometimes think that in all those displacements, parts of myself are being left behind. 
—Luisa Valenzuela (b. 1938) Argentinian writer



Before The Terror

 9 November, 2008

 The  World 

Mumbai, Striving and Sinking

MUMBAI, India — This city, before it was a city, was a dusting of seven islands in the choppy brine off India’s western coast.  Beginning nearly three centuries ago, it was gradually reclaimed from the sea, seven masses forging one, and claimed by the teeming country at its back.  Dangling in the Arabian Sea, it has become Mumbai, India’s stock-trading and film-making capital and its window to the world.

But if the reclaiming was complete, the claiming never was.  The city was tethered to the subcontinent by a land bridge in the northern suburbs, 20 miles from the upper-crust stronghold of South Mumbai, where mainland India felt remote.  The rich were in India but not of it.  When news arrived of distant floods and famines, malfeasance and malnutrition, they told themselves that theirs was a world apart.

Escapism was constant.  In the 1960s, young elites observed the Western music hour on All India Radio like a religion. In the 1980s, wealthy women flew to London to avoid the steamy bazaars.  Recent years have brought diversions like gelato, sushi, fashion shows with Russian models, velvet-rope nightclubs, restaurants that cook the ever-less-sacred cow medium-rare.

Here the highest social boast is that you “just got back” from abroad; the loftiest praise for a restaurant is, “It’s like you’re not in India.”  Mumbai’s globalized class hungers for it to be a world city, and its leaders pledge to make it Shanghai-like by 2020; the plan is, to put it gently, behind schedule.  The rich blush when Madonna dines at Salt Water Grill and Angelina Jolie drinks at Indigo: portents, they say, that Mumbai will join New York, London, Paris in that coterie of names emblazoned on the epidermis of boutiques everywhere.

Arriving from overseas, one encounters first this outward-looking city. But in the layers below, a strange truth is buried. If the elite live in virtual exile, seeing Mumbai as a port of departure, the city teems with millions of migrants who see it as the opposite — a mesmeric port of arrival, offering what the mainland doesn’t: a chance to invent oneself, to break destiny.

For the writer, the Dickensian lens offers an easy view of Mumbai: wealthy and poor, apartment-dwelling and slum-dwelling, bulbous and malnourished.  In office elevators, the bankers and lawyers are a foot taller, on average, than the less-fed delivery men.

Luscious skyscrapers sprout beside mosquito-prone shantytowns. This is at once a city of paradise and of hell. But Mumbai’s paradox is that it is often the dwellers of paradise who feel themselves in hell and the dwellers of hell who feel themselves in paradise.

What you see in Mumbai depends on what else you have seen. For those who grew up in Westernized homes, the standard is New York. That comparison is hard on Mumbai.

To be sure, in my five years here, which are now ending, the city has inched toward world-city status. Restaurants began to serve miso-encrusted sea bass. Indian-Western fashion boutiques started to attract global jet-setters. The air kiss became as Indian as not kissing once was.

But it takes a muscular suspension of disbelief to pretend that Mumbai, which used to be called Bombay, is what its elite wishes it were.  Residents will tell you that Mumbai is “just like New York,” before launching a tirade about why it isn’t: nowhere nice to eat, same incestuous social scene, no offbeat films, no privacy.  There is a sense in this crowd of a city forever striving to be what it isn’t.

Still, minute after minute, migrants pour in with starkly different pasts and starkly different ideas of Mumbai.

They arrive from India’s 660,000 villages.  Perhaps the monsoon failed and crops perished. Perhaps their mother is ill and needs money for surgery.  Perhaps they took a loan whose mushrooming interest cannot be repaid from cow-milking and wheat-sheafing. Perhaps they are tired of waiting for the future to come to them.

They arrive by train and locate relatives or friends to help get them on their feet.  They walk the streets asking building security guards if the tenants inside need a servant. They live in cramped rooms or huts in a vast slum like Dharavi, where one million people pack one square mile.

In these labyrinthine hives, spaces and lives are shared, card games last all night and rivers of sludge navigate the gullies.  And the slums ever metastasize.

These dueling claims on Mumbai explain its mongrel look:  like a duty-free mall in parts, in parts like a refugee camp.  The wealthy complain that the surge in migration has strained public services, turned 15-minute drives into two-hour odysseys, rendered real estate into slum estates.  They say migrants spit, steal electricity, commit crime, harass women, drain the public dole.

Perhaps this is why the affluent dream of New York.

But the migrants relish Mumbai, for they know other places.  Places where tradition tells you to die where you were born and live as your parents lived.  Places where a son of the leather-working caste with a scientific mind must let it atrophy.  Places where unapproved love can bring murder.

And in these squalid acres they savor what the wealthy take for granted: the ability to get a job without “knowing somebody”;  the lightness of being without roots; the possibility of reinvention; the dignity of anonymity.

Yet it is a strange, absentee dignity.  They suffer the indignities of sleeping in shanties, on sidewalks, on the hoods of their own taxis in order to earn respect in villages they may never revisit.

Walking amid the polychromatic chaos of Mumbai, one might ask:  What other city so concentratedly distills the human predicament, in the fullness of its tragedy, its comedy, its absurdity and its promise?

Mumbaikars, as they are known, cannot resist one another, cannot resist Mumbai.  Those who crave departure could depart if they wanted. They are still here.  The newly arrived could have stayed in the villages, basking in their certainties.  They too, choose to invest themselves here.

Neither investment is total, unreserved.  But Mumbai works on the agglomeration of these hopes: Because so many cast their lots here, it becomes a place worth casting lots.  The longer you remain, the less you notice what Mumbai looks, smells, sounds like.  You think instead of what it could be.  You become addicted to the companionship of 19 million other beings. Surrounded by hells, you glimpse paradise.


The International Herald-Tribune

     See Also:  SHANTARAM
     By Gregory David Roberts






When a man opens the car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.
Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, 1921


"Perhaps you'll tire of me," muses
my love, although she's like a great city
to me, or a park that finds new
ways to wear each flounce of light
and investiture of weather.
Soil doesn't tire of rain, I think,

but I know what she fears: plans warp,
planes explode, topsoil gets peeled away
by floods. And worse than what we can't
control is what we could; those drab,
scuttled marriages we shed so
gratefully may augur we're on our owns

for good reasons. "Hi, honey," chirps Dread
when I come through the door, "you're home."
Experience is a great teacher
of the value of experience,
its claustrophobic prudence,
its gloomy name-the-disasters-

in-advance charisma. Listen,
my wary one, it's far too late
to unlove each other. Instead let's cook
something elaborate and not
invite anyone to share it but eat it
all up very very slowly.

      -William Matthews, from After All: Last Poems

Yes, We Do, Even at Our Age
Nancy Price Freedman

The heart of marriage is memories.
                                  --Bill Crosby


Walking In The Air
We're walking in the air
We're floating in the moonlit sky
The people far below are sleeping as we fly
We're holding very tight
I'm riding in the midnight blue
I'm finding I can fly so high above with you
Far across the world
The villages go by like dreams
The rivers and the hills
The forest and the streams
Children gaze open mouthed
Taken by surprise
Nobody down below believes their eyes
We're surfing in the air
We're swimming in the frozen sky
We're drifting over icy
mountains floating by
Suddenly swooping low on an ocean deep
Arousing of a mighty monster from its sleep
We're walking in the air
We're dancing in the midnight sky
And everyone who sees us greets us as we fly




              GROWING OLD

What is it to grow old?
Is it to lose the glory of the form,
The lustre of the eye?
Is it for beauty to forego her wreath?
Yes, but not for this alone.

Is it to feel our strength -
Not our bloom only, but our strength -decay?
Is it to feel each limb
Grow stiffer, every function less exact,
Each nerve more weakly strung?

Yes, this, and more! but not,
Ah, 'tis not what in youth we dreamed 'twould be!
'Tis not to have our life
Mellowed and softened as with sunset-glow,
A golden day's decline!

'Tis not to see the world
As from a height, with rapt prophetic eyes,
And heart profoundly stirred;
And weep, and feel the fullness of the past,
The years that are no more!

It is to spend long days
And not once feel that we were ever young.
It is to add, immured
In the hot prison of the present, month
To month with weary pain.

It is to suffer this,
And feel but half, and feebly, what we feel:
Deep in our hidden heart
Festers the dull remembrance of a change,
But no emotion -none.

It is -last stage of all -
When we are frozen up within, and quite
The phantom of ourselves,
To hear the world applaud the hollow ghost
Which blamed the living man.

Matthew Arnold


"Women, when they have made a sheep of a man, always tell him that he is a lion with a will of iron.  --Balzac, 1799

Marriage is a wonderful invention; but then again so is a bicycle repair kit.   --Billy Connolly, 1976

They laughed when I said I was going to be a comedian.  They're not laughing now.
                                            --Bob Monkhouse, comedian (1928-2003)

It's Good We Only See Each Other
Once a Week

It's good we only see each other once a week.
A young man about to move in with his fiancée
died of a sudden heart attack at twenty-six.
One hears these stories all the time.
The heart is trained to handle deprivation,
not unforeseen happiness.  Just as when you
throw your arms around me I start to overflow,
but then I think of course, where was she before?
I deserve it and a lot more besides—
your love gets soaked up quickly
and I pull back brooding over something
I never had.
But don't stop on that account, keep going.
I was brought up to make
the most of accidental brushes with kindness.
My pleasures were collected almost unawares
from stationary models, like the girl
who sat in front of me in tenth grade,
who let me stroke and braid her golden hair
and never acknowledged it.
I wouldn't know what to do with frontal love;
would I?  One snowy winter night in Montreal
I felt so great I danced a flamenco
and insisted that everyone call me Fernando.
But then I was by myself.  And last night,
if there are many more nights
like last night with you —
when I think of all my nights of total happiness
I get the panicky sense that the balance
has already tipped,
and I will never again feel free
to pass myself off as a have-not.
Maybe it's good we only see each other once a week.
But don't stop on that account, keep going.

                                           --Phillip Lopate


People who live entirely by the fertility of their own imaginations are fascinating,
brilliant and often charming, but they should be sat next to at dinner parties, not lived with.
 Scottie Fitzgerald


When The Eye of Day is Shut

   When the eye of day is shut,
     And the stars deny their beams,
   And about the forest hut
     Blows the roaring wood of dreams,

   From deep clay, from desert rock,
     From the sunk sands of the main,
   Come not at my door to knock,
     Hearts that loved me not again.

   Sleep, be still, turn to your rest
     In the lands where you are laid;
   In far lodgings east and west
     Lie down on the beds you made.

   In gross marl, in blowing dust,
     In the drowned ooze of the sea,
   Where you would not, lie you must,
     Lie you must, and not with me.


A.E. Housman



Among Thieves

Lovers in the act dispense
With such meum-teum sense
As might warmingly reveal
What they must not pick or steal,
And their nostrum is to say:
You and I are both away

After, when they disentwine
You from me and yours from mine,
Neither can be certain who
Was that me whose mine was you.

To the act again they go
More completely now to know
Theft is theft and raid is raid
Though reciprocally made.

Lovers, the conclusion is
Doubled sighs and jealousies
In a single heart that grieves
For lost honor among thieves.

Robert Graves