from Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

The places we have known do not belong only to the world of space on which we map them for our own convenience. None of them was ever more than a thin slice, held between the contiguous impressions that composed our life at that time; the memory of a particular image is but regret for a particular moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fugitive, alas, as the years.

translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff & Terence Kilmartin

how one gets where one gets even when one is going somewhere else

there were roads taken
miles and miles of track
Ohio winters
LA springs
NY summers
autumn nowhere
and everywhere
leaves turning color
dropping in my path
with memories of you
I remember hair length
mine and yours
there was Anthony
our first shared hair stylist
who transformed me into someone
even I didn’t recognize
and you sold your waist length hair
to a wig maker
what did you use the money for
those acting lessons
the vocal coach
to buy presents for the men
in your life
when I was not quite in it
I remember sitting on the curb
in Hollywood
discussing Franny & Zooey
later listening to Henry Miller
talk movies
with your teacher/lover
in between drinks
and deep dish pizza
with Alex and Vimal
who didn’t drink
but liked to watch me
in case I fell down
and I came pretty close
on several occasions
those days/nights
when you were breaking my heart
you sang Without You
to me in some club on Melrose
before you went home
with someone else
and those 2am visits
to my place in Malibu
the door never locked
just in case you came
from that strip club
where you did lap dances
in a g-string and tassles
to pretend there was still a chance
that what we once had could work
there were the stories
even you weren’t sure of
the truth
the deceptions
that guy from your acting class
hiding in the loft
when George Bellenich came to call
and what happened that night
on 85th Street anyway
when I was away
you were always a bit vague
in your recollection
just like the time you called
for me to save you
from date rape in Santa Monica
you never could explain
what you were doing there
in the first place
there was that tryst
on the floor of a classroom
with an instructor
the first time I cried
the lies you said
years later in counseling
all mingled together
why I even tried
I’ll never really know
the Calabrese in me
stubborn to the end
believing in vows
words of honor
even when it’s obvious
to everyone else
you can’t go backward
on these roads
of life
just forward
regardless of potholes
toward whatever future
lies ahead

for Robert Burns’ birthday

We’ll gently walk, and sweetly talk,
While the silent moon shines clearly;
I’ll clasp thy waist, and fondly prest,
Swear how I lo’e thee dearly;
Not vernal show’rs to budding flow’rs,
Not Autumn to the farmer,
So dear can be, as thou to me,
My fair, my lovely Charmer!

on dancing from Rumi

Dance, when you’re broken open.
Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance, when you’re perfectly free.

translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne

Upon Seeing the Fireflies by Tu Fu

On Witch Mountain the fireflies flit in the autumn night:
Cleverly they enter the open lattice to alight on my clothes.
Suddenly I am startled at the coldness of my lute and books in the room;
Then I confuse the fireflies’ light with the sparse stars over the eaves.
Rounding the well’s railings, they come in an endless file;
Passing by chance the flower petals, they gambol and glow.
On this cold riverbank, my hair white, I feel sad when I look at them–
By this time next year, shall I have returned home?

translated by Wu-chi Liu