For JennAt 12 years old I started bleeding with the moonand beating up boys who dreamed of becoming astronauts.I fought with my knuckles white as stars,and left bruises the shape of Salem.There are things we know by heart,and things we don't. At 13 my friend Jen tried to teach me how to blow rings of smoke.I'd watch the nicotine rising from her lips like halos,but I could never make dying beautiful.The sky didn't fill with colors the night I convinced myselfveins are kite strings you can only cut free.I suppose I love this life,in spite of my clenched fist.I open my palm and my lifelines look like branches from an Aspen tree,and there are songbirds perched on the tips of my fingers,and I wonder if Beethoven held his breaththe first time his fingers touched the keysthe same way a soldier holds his breaththe first time his finger clicks the trigger.We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe.But my lungs rememberthe day my mother took my hand and placed it on her bellyand told me the symphony beneath was my baby sister's heartbeat.And I knew life would tremblelike the first tear on a prison guard's hardened cheek,like a prayer on a dying man's lips,like a vet holding a full bottle of whisky like an empty gun in a war zone…just take me just take meSometimes the scales themselves weigh far too much,the heaviness of forever balancing blue sky with red blood.We were all born on days when too many people died in terrible ways,but you still have to call it a birthday.You still have to fall for the prettiest girl on the playground at recessand hope she knows you can hit a baseballfurther than any boy in the whole third gradeand I've been running for homethrough the windpipe of a man who singswhile his hands playing washboard with a spoonon a street corner in New Orleanswhere every boarded up window is still painted with the wordsWe're Coming Backlike a promise to the oceanthat we will always keep moving towards the music,the way Basquait slept in a cardboard box to be closer to the rain.Beauty, catch me on your tongue. Thunder, clap us open.The pupils in our eyes were not born to hide beneath their desks.Tonight lay us down to rest in the Arizona desert,then wake us washing the feet of pregnant womenwho climbed across the border with their bellies aimed towards the sun.I know a thousand things louder than a soldier's gun.I know the heartbeat of his mother.Don't cover your ears, Love.Don't cover your ears, Life.There is a boy writing poems in Central Parkand as he writes he movesand his bones become the bars of Mandela's jail cell stretching apart,and there are men playing chess in the December coldwho can't tell if the breath rising from the boardis their opponents or their own,and there's a woman on the stairwell of the subwayswearing she can hear Niagara Falls from her rooftop in Brooklyn,and I am remembering how Niagara Falls is a city overrunwith strip malls and traffic and vendorsand one incredibly brave river that makes it all worth it. Ya.I am not the type to mistake a streetlight for the moon.I know our wounds are deep as the Atlantic.But every ocean has a shorelineand every shoreline has a tidethat is constantly returningto wake the songbirds in our hands, to wake the music in our bones,to place one fearless kiss on the mouth of that brave riverthat has to run through the center of our heartsto find its way home.
Andrea Gibson
But what I would like to know, says Albert, is whether there would not have been a war if the Kaiser had said No.I am sure there would, I interject, he was against it from the first.Well, if not him alone, then perhaps if twenty or thirty people in the world had said No.That's probable, I agree, but they damned well said Yes.It's queer, when one thinks about it, goes on Kropp, we are here to protect our fatherland. And the French are over there to protect their fatherland. Now who's in the right?Perhaps both, say I without believing it.Yes, well now, pursues Albert and I see that he means to drive me into a corner, but our professors and parsons and newspapers say that we are the only ones that are right and let's hope so;--but the French professors and parsons and newspapers say that the right is on their side, now what about that?That I don't know, I say, but whichever way it is there's war all the same and every month more countries coming in.Tjaden reappears. He is still quite excited and again joins the conversation, wondering just how a war gets started.Mostly by one country badly offending another, answers Albert with a slight air of superiority.Then Tjaden pretends to be obtuse. A country? I don't follow. A mountain in Germany cannot offend a mountain in France. Or a river, or a wood, or a field of wheat.Are you really as stupid as that, or are you just pulling my leg? growls Kropp, I don't mean that at all. One people offends the other--Then I haven't any business here at all, replies Tjaden, I don't feel myself offended.Well, let me tell you, says Albert sourly, it doesn't apply to tramps like you.Then I can be going home right away, retorts Tjaden and we all laugh, Ach, man! he means the people as a whole, the State-- exclaims Mller.State, State--Tjaden snaps his fingers contemptuously, Gendarmes, police, taxes, that's your State;--if that's what you are talking about, no, thank you.That's right, says Kat, you've said something for once, Tjaden. State and home-country, there's a big difference.But they go together, insists Kropp, without the State there wouldn't be any home-country.True, but just you consider, almost all of us are simple folk. And in France, too, the majority of men are labourers, workmen, or poor clerks. Now just why would a French blacksmith or a French shoemaker want to attack us? No, it is merely the rulers. I had never seen a Frenchman before I came here and it will be just the same with the majority of Frenchmen as regards us. They weren't asked about it any more than we were.Then what exactly is the war for? asks Tjaden.Kat shrugs his shoulders. There must be some people to whom the war is useful.Well, I am not one of them, grins Tjaden.Not you, nor anybody else here.Who are they then? persists Tjaden. It isn't any use to the Kaiser either. He has everything he can want already.I am not so sure about that, contradicts Kat, he has not had a war up till now. And every full-grown emperor requires at least one war, otherwise he would not become famous. You look in your school books.And generals too, adds Detering, they become famous through war.Even more famous than emperors, adds Kat.There are other people back behind there who profit by the war, that's certain, growls Detering.I think it is more of a kind of fever, says Albert. No one in particular wants it and then all at once there it is. We didn't want the war, the others say the same thing--and yet half the world is in it all the same.
Erich Maria Remarque
Miss Mackintosh waved her arms wildly.Oh, please stop and let me guess, she cried. I shall go crazy with joy if I am right. It was an old Peerage and so she found that Lady Deal was Helena Herman--Whom she had seen ten years ago at a music hall as a male impersonator, cried Diva.And didn't want to know her, interrupted Miss Mackintosh.Yes, that's it, but that is not all. I hope you won't mind, but it's too rich. She saw you this morning coming out of your house in your bath-chair and was quite sure that you were that Lady Deal.The three ladies rocked with laughter. Sometimes one recovered and sometimes two, but they were re-infected by the third and so they went on, solo and chorus and duet and chorus, till exhaustion set in.But there's still a mystery, said Diva at length, wiping her eyes. Why did the Peerage say that Lady Deal was Helena Herman?Oh, that's the last Lady Deal, said Miss Mackintosh. Helena Herman's Lord Deal died without children and Florence's Lord Deal, my Lady Deal, succeeded. Cousins.If that isn't a lesson for Elizabeth Mapp, said Diva. Better go to the expense of a new Peerage than make such a muddle. But what a long call we've made. We must go.Florence shall hear every word of it to-morrow night, said Miss Mackintosh. I promise not to tell her till then. We'll all tell her.Oh, that is kind of you, said Diva.It's only fair. And what about Miss Mapp being told?She'll find it out by degrees, said the ruthless Diva. It will hurt more in bits.Oh, but she mustn't be hurt, said Miss Mackintosh. She's too precious, I adore her.So do we, said Diva. But we like her to be found out occasionally. You will, too, when you know her.
E.F. Benson