Thursday, May 14, 2009

There is many a small betrayal in the mind

This one gets cut and pasted all over the place, but it felt like a redeeming act to put it up in yet another corner. My favorite poem lately. Ladies and gentlemen, William Stafford...

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.


OKC Herbivore said...

Thanks much for your thoughts David and Sarah-noticed a review of "Everyday Apocalypse" on Amazon asked, "since when was Flannery O' Connor a pop-culture icon?" And there was Everything That Rises Must Converge being read on "Lost" last night...which I only saw parts of due to tornado coverage here in OKC...anyways. Full circle...

Andrew Krinks said...

Yes! I read this one to Lindsey a few nights ago, and we were both moved. Stafford opens me up in a way I haven't yet figured out. So delicate, deft with his words. Glad you're feeling it, too.

LittleBird said...

man, that's good stuff.

t'anks for the reminder.


Angela Hart said...

hi there!! this is so funny because just tonight I was perusing my own blog (a rare occasion for me these days) and saw my own blog rendering of this poem, re-read it, and thought, "Damn, this is such a grand writing!" Whilst in the blogosphere, I clicked over to your and here it is again.

We'll always have Stafford. :)

I MISS you guys!

Drew said...

Thank you for sharing this. I only today discovered this blog and this poem (living in the UK I'm ashamed to say it's my first encounter with Stafford).

These words speak to my life and pierce me with a haunting honesty.

Peace and Love

Atar Jacob Kashat said...
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Atar Jacob Kashat said...
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Anonymous said...

let's keep each other awake?

hope you are both well.... plus your tribe who i have yet to meet

mjaneb said...


amen amen.

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David Maddox said...

Thanks for posting this. I was about to ask you for the title to see if I could dig it up.

beth said...

Thanks, this is one of my favorites as well. It is a big enough poem to go timeless - it could apply to anything, many things, the human being condition in which we find ourselves. As I read it at this point in my life, remembering reading it at other times in my life, it begins to make a wonderful echo......
Sometimes, it's not so bad , getting old.