‘I am I, with all the individuality of an earthworm.’

– Sylvia Plath, The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962

‘I was nauseated at the sight of bobby pins. I would not touch them. Once, on the day I was going home from the hospital after having my tonsils out, a woman in my ward asked me to carry some bobby pins to the lady in the next bed. Revolted, I held out a stiff unwilling hand, flinching as the cold clammy little pins touched my skin. They were cold and shiny, as with grease, and sickeningly suggestive of warmth and disgusting, intimate contact with dirty hair.’

– Sylvia Plath, The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962

‘Antoine St. Exupery once mourned the loss of a man and the secret treasures that he held inside him. I loved Exupery; I will read him again, and he will talk to me, not being dead, or gone. Is that life after death – mind living on paper and flesh living in offspring? Maybe. I do not know.’

– Sylvia Plath, The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962

‘I am not content, because my lot is limiting, as are all others. People specialise; people become devoted to an idea; people “find themselves.” But the very content that comes from finding yourself is overshadowed by the knowledge that by doing so you are admitting you are not only a grotesque, but a special kind of grotesque.’

– Sylvia Plath, The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962

‘to learn that you might-have-been more of an “artist” than you are if you had been born into a family of wealthy intellectuals. + to learn that you can never learn anything valid for truth, only momentary, transitory sayings that apply to you in your moment, your locality, and your present state of mind. + to despise money, which is a farce, mere paper, and to hate what you have to do for it, and yet to long to have it in order to be free from slaving for it. + to know that millions of others are unhappy and that life is a gentleman’s agreement to grin and paint your face gay so others will feel they are silly to be unhappy, and try to catch the contagion of joy, while inside so many are dying of bitterness and unfulfillment + to take a walk with Marcia Brown and love her for her exuberance, to catch some of it, because it’s real, and once again love life day by day, color by color, touch by touch…’

– Sylvia Plath, The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962

‘Today is the first of August. It is hot, steamy and wet. It is raining. I am tempted to write a poem. But I remember what it said on one rejection slip: After a heavy rainfall, poems titled RAIN pour in from across the nation.’

– Sylvia Plath, The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962

‘I may never be happy, but tonight I am content. Nothing more than an empty house, the warm hazy weariness from a day spent setting strawberry runners in the sun, a glass of cool sweet milk, and a shallow dish of blueberries bathed in cream. Now I know how people can live without books, without college. When one is so tired at the end of the day one must sleep, and at the next dawn there are more strawberry runners to set, and so one goes on living, near the earth. At times like this I’d call myself a fool to ask for more…’

– Sylvia Plath, The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962

I am the dust particles in sunlight.
I am the round sun.

To the bits of dust I say, Stay.
To the sun, Keep moving.

Rumi, extract from Say I Am You

Solitary Animal

– Marilyn Chin

The solitary animal walks alone. She has no uterus. She has no bone.
She slithers around dark bars and libraries. She carves
a beautiful girl on the cave wall. She dances with Aurora Borealis,
but goes home alone.

We are 7.5 billion. Thrust onto Earth together, we are not alone.
We shout at the stars, perhaps a Martian is listening, she/he/they
with ten thousand antennae, transversal labia quivering, searching for love.

Your half-drawn monolid eyes are most tantalizing, may I take you home?
Slime you with a green kiss? Breathe magma into your bones? Claw rainbows
onto your lips? Redecorate your home?

Our vertebrae are vibrating, signally: we are not alone. Sacrificed by a greedy
admiralty, we shall live forlornly, and be devoured, headfirst, by reptilian clones.

Inch back into your fern pods, why don’t ya! Baby, I call you, but you are not home. Somewhere in the cosmos, our lies are reverberating. Fake news is sad news. Shrapnel calcifying

into bone. Each day we begin on Earth as a dying person, each breath is one less
than yesterday, we shall die alone

‘The cemetery is just a melancholy
Marina and rain
Is the tallest girl I know.’

– James Galvin, extract from Grief’s Aspect. (quoted by  Mark Doty in The Art of Description)

Once…………………..I tried to give hate up
But I was born to feel a great pettiness
To lie face-down in my catholic schoolgirl outfit
and pound the cobblestones of the Royal Albert Hall 

– Hera Lindsay Bird, extract from Hate

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

– Lawrence Ferlinghetti , extract from I Am Waiting

The Counter

My days are burning
My brain is a flower
Hasten flower to bloom
my days are burning

Quietly the flower
opens its petals
My days are burning
My brain is a flower

My brain a flower lost
to its own fragrance
indifferent, idle –
my days are burning

– William Carlos Williams

The Horse

The horse moves
without reference
to his load

He has eyes
like a woman and
turns them
about, throws

back his ears
and is generally
conscious of
the world. Yet

he pulls when
he must and
pulls well, blowing
fog from

his nostrils
like fumes from
the twin
exhausts of a car.

– William Carlos Williams

This is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

 William Carlos Williams

You enjoy a cigar and a clear view of Jersey.
The tide is going out across the shingle,
and nothing on earth can stop it.
The smooth stones you pick up and examine
under the moon’s light have been made blue
from the sea. Next morning when you pull them
from your trouser pocket, they are still blue.

– Raymond Carver, extract from The Blue Stones

I Taught Myself To Live Simply

– Anna Akhmatova

I taught myself to live simply and wisely,
to look at the sky and pray to God,
and to wander long before evening
to tire my superfluous worries.
When the burdocks rustle in the ravine
and the yellow-red rowanberry cluster droops
I compose happy verses
about life’s decay, decay and beauty.
I come back. The fluffy cat
licks my palm, purrs so sweetly
and the fire flares bright
on the saw-mill turret by the lake.
Only the cry of a stork landing on the roof
occasionally breaks the silence.
If you knock on my door
I may not even hear.

Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

– James Wright

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

Ocean, don’t be afraid.
The end of the road is so far ahead
it is already behind us.
Don’t worry. Your father is only your father
until one of you forgets. Like how the spine
won’t remember its wings
no matter how many times our knees
kiss the pavement. Ocean,
are you listening? The most beautiful part
of your body is wherever
your mother’s shadow falls.

– Ocean Vuong, extract from Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong