On Returning to Sung Mountain by Wang Wei

The clear stream girdles the long copse,
Carriage horses amble with ease, with ease.
Flowing water seems to be purposeful.
Evening birds in pairs return.
Barren city walls overlook the cold ford,
Fading sunlight fills the autumn mountains.
Far and distant–below Sung’s height;
I’ve come home, and close the gate.

translated by Paul Kroll

at home, more or less

Noirmy cat looks up
as he hears a cat crying in the night
he looks at me with wide eyes
and no, I say
this is not New York
and you do not hear another you
we are aliens here, I say
this is Istanbul
and Turkish cats are crying
for food, for shelter
but you are safe
there is food in your bowl
water, treats
no hunger here for a stray New Yorker
and life goes on
in relative peace
climb back on the bed
and sleep, little friend
you are more or less
at home

Edward Albee on writing

Interviewer: You have said that it is through the actual process of writing that you eventually come to know the theme of your play. Sometimes you’ve admitted that even when you have finished a play you don’t have any specific idea about its theme. What about that?

Albee: Naturally, no writer who’s any good at all would sit down and put a sheet of paper in a typewriter and start typing a play unless he knew what he was writing about. But at the same time, writing has got to be an act of discovery. Finding out things about what one is writing about. To a certain extent I imagine a play is completely finished in my mind–in my case at any rate–without my knowing it, before I sit down to write. So in that sense, I suppose, writing a play is finding out what the play is. I always find that the better answer to give. It’s a question I despise, and it always seems to me better to slough off the answer to a question which I consider to be a terrible invasion of privacy–the kind of privacy that a writer must keep for himself. If you intellectualize and examine the creative process too carefully, it can evaporate and vanish. It’s not only terribly difficult to talk about, it’s dangerous. You know the old story about the–I think it’s one of Aesop’s Fables, or perhaps not, or a Chinese story–about the very clever animal that saw a centipede that he didn’t like. He said, “My God, it’s amazing and marvelous how you walk with all those hundreds and thousands of legs. How do you do it? How do you get them all moving that way?” The centipede stopped and thought and said, “Well,I take the left front leg and then I–” and he thought about it for a while, and he couldn’t walk.

thanksgiving on the other side of the world

there are voices calling my name
on the other side of the world
an empty chair
a glass not filled with wine
dark meat with gravy
stuffing with mushrooms
and Robert’s famous meatballs and gravy
hot and sweet sausage
broccoli with garlic, lemon and oil
Johnny bought blueberry pie
only I’m not getting a piece
’cause I’m over here
on the other side of the world
quietly finishing a bottle of wine
trying not to think of your voice
the sorrow in the air
fresh flowers don’t quite kill the smell
of disappointment
another year gone by
that empty chair
that bottle of wine unopened
ice cream melting on a plate
Al Martino singing love songs
George serving salad
and you sliding food onto my plate
the cat under the table
my hand reaching across
grabbing nothing
grabbing air
on the other side
of the world

hear my voice

“Out of the depths I cry to Thee, Oh Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.”

when no one else is listening
when no one else is there
it’s comforting to think
to believe
one’s voice isn’t lost
no matter how far one has drifted
out to sea

long way from home

I am like some weary traveler
in a hotel room
lost between the shower and the ice machine
with plans to come home
for the holidays
we would have coffee
a candle flickers on the table
your hands play with your spoon
I watch you brush the hair from your forehead
loosen the scarf at your neck
your eyes look beyond me
to some future that almost was
and I fade from the table
stranded on some stretch of highway
a long way from home

the crack in my heart: for ZW

for the first time
in many years
I heard sorrow in your voice
the other night
as you said you wished
I was there
but more than miles separate us now
there are those years
and the hurt
we both inflicted
if only you spoke that way
before I left
maybe I would still be there
but now the only sound louder
than the pain in your voice
is the crack
my heart made
in my chest