People At Night

Nights were not made for the crowds, and they sever
You from your neighbor, so you shall never
Seek him, defiantly, at night.
But if you make your dark house light,
To look on strangers in your room,
You must reflect-on whom.

False lights that on men’s faces play
Distort them gruesomely.
You look upon a disarray,
A world that seems to reel and sway,
A waving, glittering sea.
On their foreheads gleams a yellow shine
Where thoughts are chased away.
Their glances flicker mad from wine,
And to the words they say
Strange heavy gestures make reply,
That struggle in the buzzing room;
And they say always, “I” and ‘I”;
And mean-they know not whom.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

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What Will You Do?

What will you do, God, when I die?

I,
the jar of fire-flies waving through the dark, ( if cracked, will I lie?)

Your secretive well-spring (if removed will the well go dry?)
The craft, the vesture that am I,
To lose all meaning, loosening me from your grasp.

When it is that I go, your cold house will be
Empty of language that made it sweet.
I, the sandals, your bare feet
Will seek and long for passage.

Your cloak shall fall from weary bones.
Your glance, my warmth has awakened
will depart.
What wonder will be removed from the mask
and a sun that disappears,
lies now in the lap of unknown stones.

What will you do, God?

-Joshua Fleming (remixing a translation of Rainer Maria Rilke)

I am a thorn enduring in the dark sky,
I am the one whom I have never met,
I am a swift fish shooting through the troubled waters,
I am the last inheritor crying out in deserted houses
I am the salmon hidden in the pool on the temple floor
I am what remains of the beloved
I am an insect with black enamel knees hugging the curve of insanity
I am the evening light rising from the ocean plains
I am an eternal happiness fighting in the long reeds.
. . .
The panther rejoices in the gathering dark.
Hands rush toward each other through miles of space.
All the sleepers in the world join hands.
-Robert Bly

An in-process exploration of writings about life