Having a Coke with You
Frank O'Hara - 1926-1966
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles
and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together for the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I’m telling you about it
Love has something to do with the notion of being seen — the opposite of invisibility. The invisible, the unwitnessed, the unacknowledged, the isolated, the lonely — these are the unloved. Loving attention illuminates the unseen, escorting them from the frontiers of lovelessness into the observed world. To truly see someone — anyone — is an act that acknowledges and forgives our common and imperfect humanity. Love enacts a kind of vigilant perception — whether it is to a partner, a child, a co-worker, a neighbour, a fellow citizen, or any other person one may encounter in this life. Love says softly — I see you. I recognise you. You are human, as am I.
— Nick Cave, The Red Hand Files Issue #103
The only thing that I can bring to this illogical, irresponsible, and cruel universe is my love.
Awe is appreciation. Awe is curiosity. It gets you to look closer, to lead with patience and compassion, acceptance and intrigue. There is no shortage of wonder in the human spirit. We were born to ask why. We are here to make up our own answers. This is the poetry of being alive. Today we will hone in on our awe, we will uncover it like an aquifer and bring it to the surface so that it never goes silent again.
Bourdain: To sit alone or with a few friends, half-drunk under a full moon, you just understand how lucky you are; it’s a story you can’t tell. It’s a story you almost by definition, can’t share. I’ve learned in real time to look at those things and realize: I just had a really good moment.
In my closest partnerships, I am liberated by spaciousness. I am intrigued by everything I can never really know about the other. I hold space for their secret life of the mind
“After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: if anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately. Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there. An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly. Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she did this. I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly. Shu dow-a, shu-biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick, sho bit se-wee? The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—she stopped crying. She thought our flight had been canceled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late. Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him. We called her son and I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother until we got on the plane and would ride next to her—Southwest. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out, of course, they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours. She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California, the lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies. And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—non-alcoholic—and the two little girls from our flight, one African American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice and lemonade, and they were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere. And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, this is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped—has seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too. This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.”
— Naomi Shihab Nye, “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal.”
None of us have felt good this year:
pus around the eyes,
sores that come and go with no explanation.
But we still believe we will come through it!
I signal this news
by lifting a little finger.
James Tate (1970)
It's all gone, like someone stopped pounding me in the head with a hammer. I didn't even know the hammer was there. Why did I let someone pound me in a hammer all that time? What in hell was I thinking? Why did I think any of that made sense? Once you're out of the system, it makes no sense at all. None of the carrots they dangled before you mean anything, and you start to truly comprehend just how much stress you were under. You see things you never would have believed while you were in the system. And the relief is greater than you ever could have imagined while you were enmeshed.