life: acoustic & amplified

poetry, quotes & thoughts about life


You ask me again this evening

at what price

Does wisdom finally come

in any life

Or at any age & now I think

I know

The answer swear to me that

when I tell you

It is only everything you believe

You will travel as far from this city

as you can before

The streets grow smeared & lost

to the smug

& promiscuous coming of the day


Before Dawn by David St. John

I couldn’t name it, the sweet

sadness welling up in me for weeks.

So I cleaned, found myself standing

in a room with a rag in my hand,

the birds calling time-to-go, time-to-go.

And like an old woman near the end

of her life I could hear it, the voice

of a man I never loved who pressed

my breasts to his hips and whispered

“My little doves, my white, white lilies.”

I could almost cry when I remember it.

I don’t remember when I began

to call everyone “sweetie,”

as if they were my daughters,

my darlings, my little birds.

I have always loved too much,

or not enough. Last night

I read a poem about God and almost

believed it—God sipping coffee,

smoking cherry tobacco. I’ve arrived

at a time in my life when I could believe

almost anything.

Today, pumping gas into my old car, I stood

hatless in the rain and the whole world

went silent—cars on the wet street

sliding past without sound, the attendant’s

mouth opening and closing on air

as he walked from pump to pump, his footsteps

erased in the rain—nothing

but the tiny numbers in their square windows

rolling by my shoulder, the unstoppable seconds

gliding by as I stood at the Chevron,

balancing evenly on my two feet, a gas nozzle

gripped in my hand, my hair gathering rain.

And I saw it didn’t matter

who had loved me or who I loved. I was alone.

The black oily asphalt, the slick beauty

of the Iranian attendant, the thickening

clouds—nothing was mine. And I understood

finally, after a semester of philosophy,

a thousand books of poetry, after death

and childbirth and the startled cries of men

who called out my name as they entered me,

I finally believed I was alone, felt it

in my actual, visceral heart, heard it echo

like a thin bell. And the sounds

came back, the slish of tires

and footsteps, all the delicate cargo

they carried saying thank you

and yes. So I paid and climbed into my car

as if nothing had happened—

as if everything mattered — What else could I do?

I drove to the grocery store

and bought wheat bread and milk,

a candy bar wrapped in gold foil,

smiled at the teenaged cashier

with the pimpled face and the plastic

name plate pinned above her small breast,

and knew her secret, her sweet fear—

Little bird. Little darling. She handed me

my change, my brown bag, a torn receipt,

pushed the cash drawer in with her hip

and smiled back.


—Dorianne Laux, What We Carry

Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: