Poetry

Handful of Stars

I believed in a good home, in sane and sound living, in good food, good times, work, faith and hope. I have always believed in these things. It was with some amazement that I realized I was one of the few people in the world who really believed in these things without going around making a dull middle class philosophy out of it. I was suddenly left with nothing in my hands but a handful of crazy stars.
— Jack Kerouac, On the Road
IOWA NIGHT, 2010 by Philip Sweeck

IOWA NIGHT, 2010 by Philip Sweeck

The Exterior World

I follow the course of my dreams, making them images into steps toward other images; folding casual metaphors like fans into grand pictures of interior vision; I untie life from myself, and I toss it aside as if it were a too-tight suit.
— Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
PARIS, 2017 by Philip Sweeck

PARIS, 2017 by Philip Sweeck

3 A.M.

I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
— T.S. Eliot, East Coker, from The Four Quartets
IOWA, 2010 by Philip Sweeck

IOWA, 2010 by Philip Sweeck

You Who Never Arrived

DEPARTURE by Philip Sweeck

DEPARTURE by Philip Sweeck

You Who Never Arrived by Rainer Maria Rilke

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don't even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me—the far-off, deeply-felt landscape,
cities, towers, and bridges, and un-
suspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods—
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house—, and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me. Streets that I chanced
upon,—
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and, startled, gave back
my too-sudden image. Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...


— Translated by Stephen Mitchell

A Challenge to the Dark

PARIS ANGEL by Philip Sweeck

PARIS ANGEL by Philip Sweeck

A Challenge to the Dark by Charles Bukowski

shot in the eye

shot in the brain

shot is the ass

shot like a flower in the dance

 

amazing how death wins hands down

amazing how much credence is given to idiot forms of life

 

amazing how laughter has been drowned out

amazing how viciousness is such a constant

 

I must soon declare my own war on their war

I must hold my last piece of ground

I must protect the small space I have made that has allowed me life

 

my life not their death

my death not their death...

 

All the Way

 

Roll the Dice by Charles Bukowski

if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
otherwise, don’t even start.

if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.

go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
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.

do it, do it, do it.
do it.

all the way
all the way

you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter, its
the only good fight
there is