That Which is Bread

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? – Isaiah

Tag: Literature

Robinson Jeffers, “The Answer”

Jeffers, himselfI think I admire Jeffers, like Gary Snyder, more for his thoughts than for his poetry. But his thoughts are powerful, powerul.

The Answer
Robinson Jeffers

Then what is the answer? — Not to be deluded by dreams.
To know the great civilizations have broken down into violence, and their tyrants come, many times before.
When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor or choose the least ugly faction; these evils are essential.
To keep one’s own integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted and not wish for evil; and not be duped
By dreams of universal justice or happiness. These dreams will not be fulfilled.
To know this, and know that however ugly the parts appear the whole remains beautiful. A severed hand
Is an ugly thing, and man dissevered from the earth and stars and his history…for contemplation or in fact…
Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness, the greatest beauty is
Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe. Love that, not man
Apart from that, or else you will share man’s pitiful confusions, or drown in despair when his days darken.

Hope, Renewal, Blue Neckties

Bukowski himself

My son wore a blue tie to church today, and afterwards said that he can never wear a blue necktie without thinking of this poem by Charles Bukowski. It’s a favorite of mine too.

if we take—

if we take what we can see —
the engines driving us mad,
lovers finally hating;
this fish in the market
staring upward into our minds;
flowers rotting, flies web-caught;
riots, roars of caged lions,
clowns in love with dollar bills,
nations moving people like pawns;
daylight thieves with beautiful
nighttime wives and wines;
the crowded jails,
the commonplace unemployed,
dying grass, 2-bit fires;
men old enough to love the grave.

These things, and others, in content
show life swinging on a rotten axis.

But they’ve left us a bit of music
and a spiked show in the corner,
a jigger of scotch, a blue necktie,
a small volume of poems by Rimbaud,
a horse running as if the devil were
twisting his tail
over bluegrass and screaming, and then,
love again
like a streetcar turning the corner
on time,
the city waiting,
the wine and the flowers,
the water walking across the lake
and summer and winter and summer and summer
and winter again.

— Charles Bukowski, in Mockingbird Wish Me Luck