Archive for literature

12.09.2008

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , on December 9, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

The Jewel (a poem by James Wright)

There is this cave
In the air behind my body
That nobody is going to touch:
A cloister, a silence
Closing around a blossom of fire.
When I stand upright in the wind,
My bones turn to dark emeralds.

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07.13.2008

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , on July 14, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Meditations in a Swine Yard (a poem from the book Talking Dirty to the Gods, by Yusef Komunyakaa)

A god isn’t worth the salt
In our bread if we can’t
Stamp our feet & shake a balled fist
At eaters of the brightest insects

On their first day here.
Sometimes we must tug him out
Into the hog’s bloody mud.
His beauty is our blue

Derision, like a child banging
Her rag doll against the floor,
Calling for Daddy. A god isn’t worth
A drop of water in the hell of his good

Imagination, if we can’t curse
Sunsets & threaten to forsake him
In his storehouse of belladonna,
Tiger hornets, & snakebites.

06.26.2008

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Dundun (an excerpt from the short story from the collection Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson)

Dundun tortured Jack Hotel at the lake outside of Denver. He did this to get information about a stolen item, a stereo belonging to Dundun’s girlfriend, or perhaps to his sister. Later, Dundun beat a man almost to death with a tire iron right on the street in Austin, Texas, for which he’ll also someday have to answer, but now he is, I think, in the state prison in Colorado.

Will you believe me when I tell you there was kindness in his heart? His left hand didn’t know what his right hand was doing. It was only that certain important connections had been burned through. If I opened up your head and ran a hot soldering iron around in your brain, I might turn you into someone like that.

06.24.2008

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

How To Be Alone (an excerpt from the book of essays by Jonathan Franzen)

I mourn the eclipse of the cultural authority that literature once posessed, and I rue the onset of an age so anxious that the pleasure of a text becomes difficult to sustain. I don’t suppose that many other people will give away their TVs. I’m not sure I’ll last long myself without buying a new one. But the first lesson reading teaches us is how to be alone.

06.20.2008

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , on June 20, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Manhattan Island Poem (a poem by Gregory Orr)

Thin river woman with a concrete star
wedged in her ear. I wrap
a blue scarf of old movies around my eyes.
At night I am a jar of fireflies dying.

06.15.2008

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , on June 16, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Midnight (a poem by Frederick Seidel)

God begins. The universe will soon.
The intensity of the baseball bat
Meets the ball. Is the fireball
When he speaks and then in the silence
The cobra head rises regally and turns to look at you.
The angel burns through the air.
The flower turns to look.

The cover of the book opens on its own.
You do not want to see what is on this page.
It looks up at you,
Only it is a mirror you are looking into.
The truth is there, and all around the truth fire
Makes a frame.
Listen. An angel. These sounds you hear are his.

A dog is barking in a field.
A car starts in the parking lot on the other side.
The ocean heaves back and forth three blocks away.
The fire in the wood stove eases
The inflamed cast-iron door
Open, steps out into the room across the freezing floor
To your perfumed bed where as it happens you kneel and pray.

06.04.2008

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , on June 5, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

the ordinary cafe of the world (a poem by Charles Bukowski)

new worlds shine in the dust
come up through the slums of the mind only
to choke on mosquito
ideas.

it’s most difficult
like eating a salad
in the ordinary cafe of the world;
it’s most difficult
to create art
here.

look about. the pieces to work with are
missing. they must be created or
found.
the critics should be generous but the critics are
seldom
generous.
they think it’s easy to
put out water with fire.

but there’s been no wasted effort
no matter what they’ve done
to us:

the critics
the lost women
the lost jobs,
damn them all anyhow
they’re hardly as interesting as

this ordinary cafe, this ordinary world,
we know there should be a better place,

an easier place,
but there’s not;
that’s our secret
and it’s not
much.
but it’s enough.

we have chosen the ordinary,
withering fire.

to create art means
to be crazy alone
forever.