Friday, May 25, 2012

Listening by Raymond Carver



It was a night like all the others. Empty
of everything save memory. He thought
he'd got to the other side of things.
But he hadn't. He read a little
and listened to the radio. Looked out the window
for a while. Then went upstairs. In bed
realized he'd left the radio on.
But closed his eyes anyway. Inside the deep night,
as the house sailed west, he woke up
to hear voices murmuring. And froze.
Then understood it was only the radio.
He got up and went downstairs. He had
to pee anyway. A little rain
that hadn't been there before was
falling outside. The voices
on the radio faded and then came back
as if from a long way. It wasn't
the same station any longer. A man's voice
said something about Borodin,
and his opera Prince Igor. The woman
he said this to agreed, and laughed.
Began to tell a little of the story.
The man's hand drew back from the switch.
Once more he found himself in the presence
of mystery. Rain. Laughter. History.
Art. The hegemony of death.
He stood there, listening.

from “Where Water Comes Together With Other Water” (1985)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Larson's Holstein Bull by Jim Harrison




Death waits inside us for a door to open.
Death is patient as a dead cat.
Death is a doorknob made of flesh.
Death is that angelic farm girl
gored by the bull on her way home
from school, crossing the pasture
for a shortcut. In the seventh grade
she couldn't read or write. She wasn't a virgin.
She was "simpleminded," we all said.
It was May, a time of lilacs and shooting stars.
She's lived in my memory for sixty years.
Death steals everything except our stories.

from In Search of Small Gods. © Copper Canyon Press, 2009

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