Portable Sanity, Volume two: Favorite Words from Fertile Brains

“It’s all as if words, phrases, images, syntax were small glass beads from a necklace which was wrenched from some neck and spilled on the floor and down the sides of sofa cushions and armchairs and under bookshelves and maybe swallowed by the cat. I’ve got to find all the glass pieces before I can even reorder the color sequence, and restring it and tie it tighter than before. There’s always a splendor in beginning all over. Even if it         means getting on one’s knees to search beneath that bookshelf or prospecting through years of lint and ashes beneath those cushions. Even if it means breaking open that cat’s shit, which it conveniently has deposited in a plastic box, more orderly than any secretary could ever hope to be.

He was a hoopster.Then I’ll appreciate the value of each bead – rather, each word and image – that much more, never wasting another. And I will, I swear to myself, get it all back in time, string it all together, tighter, as I said, than before.”

~ Jim Carroll

Mountain Drinking Song

To drown the ancient sorrows,

we drank a hundred jugs of wine

there in the beautiful night.

We couldn’t go to bed with the moon so bright.

The finally the wine overcame us

and we lay down on the empty mountain–

the earth for a pillow,

and a blanket made of heaven.

-Li Po

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”

— Charlie Bukowski


You are falling in love again. This time

it is a South American general’s daughter.

You want to be stretched on the rack again.

You want to hear awful things said to you

and to admit these things are true.

You want to have unspeakable acts

committed against your person, things

nice people don’t talk about in classrooms.

You want to tell everything you know

on Simon Bolivar, on Jorge Luis Borges,

on yourself most of all.

You want to implicate everyone in this!

Even when it’s four o’clock in the morning

and the lights are burning still –

those lights that have been burning night and day

in your eyes and brain for two weeks –

and you are dying for a smoke and a lemonade,

but she won’t turn off the lights that woman

with the green eyes and little ways about her,

even when you want to be her gaucho.

Dance with me, you imagine hearing her say

as you reach for the empty beaker of water.

Dance with me, she says again and no mistake.

She picks this minute to ask you, hombre,

to get up and dance with her in the nude.

No, you don’t have the strength of a fallen leaf,

not the strength of a little reed basket

battered by waves on Lake Titicaca.

But you bound out of bed

just the same, amigo, you dance

across wide open spaces.

~ Raymond Carver