James Kavanaugh · 80 pages
Rating: (237 votes)
“I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know - unless it be to share our laughter.
We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we love and want to be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.
For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves.”
“Maria, lonely prostitute on a street of pain,
You, at least, hail me and speak to me
While a thousand others ignore my face.
You offer me an hour of love,
And your fees are not as costly as most.
You are the madonna of the lonely,
The first-born daughter in a world of pain.
You do not turn fat men aside,
Or trample on the stuttering, shy ones,
You are the meadow where desperate men
Can find a moment's comfort.
Men have paid more to their wives
To know a bit of peace
And could not walk away without the guilt
That masquerades as love.
You do not bind them, lovely Maria, you comfort them
And bid them return.
Your body is more Christian than the Bishop's
Whose gloved hand cannot feel the dropping of my blood.
Your passion is as genuine as most,
Your caring as real!
But you, Maria, sacred whore on the endless pavement of pain,
You, whose virginity each man may make his own
Without paying ought but your fee,
You who know nothing of virgin births and immaculate conceptions,
You who touch man's flesh and caress a stranger,
Who warm his bed to bring his aching skin alive,
You make more sense than stock markets and football games
Where sad men beg for virility.
You offer yourself for a fee--and who offers himself for less?
At times you are cruel and demanding--harsh and insensitive,
At times you are shrewd and deceptive--grasping and hollow.
The wonder is that at times you are gentle and concerned,
Warm and loving.
You deserve more respect than nuns who hide their sex for eternal love;
Your fees are not so high, nor your prejudice so virtuous.
You deserve more laurels than the self-pitying mother of many children,
And your fee is not as costly as most.
Man comes to you when his bed is filled with brass and emptiness,
When liquor has dulled his sense enough
To know his need of you.
He will come in fantasy and despair, Maria,
And leave without apologies.
He will come in loneliness--and perhaps
Leave in loneliness as well.
But you give him more than soldiers who win medals and pensions,
More than priests who offer absolution
And sweet-smelling ritual,
More than friends who anticipate his death
Or challenge his life,
And your fee is not as costly as most.
You admit that your love is for a fee,
Few women can be as honest.
There are monuments to statesmen who gave nothing to anyone
Except their hungry ego,
Monuments to mothers who turned their children
Into starving, anxious bodies,
Monuments to Lady Liberty who makes poor men prisoners.
I would erect a monument for you--
who give more than most--
And for a meager fee.
Among the lonely, you are perhaps the loneliest of all,
You come so close to love
But it eludes you
While proper women march to church and fantasize
In the silence of their rooms,
While lonely women take their husbands' arms
To hold them on life's surface,
While chattering women fill their closets with clothes and
Their lips with lies,
You offer love for a fee--which is not as costly as most--
And remain a lonely prostitute on a street of pain.
You are not immoral, little Maria, only tired and afraid,
But you are not as hollow as the police who pursue you,
The politicians who jail you, the pharisees who scorn you.
You give what you promise--take your paltry fee--and
Wander on the endless, aching pavements of pain.
You know more of universal love than the nations who thrive on war,
More than the churches whose dogmas are private vendettas made sacred,
More than the tall buildings and sprawling factories
Where men wear chains.
You are a lonely prostitute who speaks to me as I pass,
And I smile at you because I am a lonely man.”
“Where are you hiding my love?
Each day without you will never come again.
Even today you missed a sunset on the ocean,
A silver shadow on yellow rocks I saved for you,
A squirrel that ran across the road,
A duck diving for dinner.
My God! There may be nothing left to show you
Save wounds and weariness
And hopes grown dead,
And wilted flowers I picked for you a lifetime ago,
Or feeble steps that cannot run to hold you,
Arms too tired to offer you to a roaring wind,
A face too wrinkled to feel the ocean's spray.”
“I saw my face today
And it looked older,
Without the warmth of wisdom
Or the softness
Born of pain and waiting.
The dreams were gone from my eyes,
Hope lost in hollowness
On my cheeks,
A finger of death
Pulling at my jaws.
So I did my push-ups
And wondered if I'd ever find you,
To see my face
With friendlier eyes than mine.”
“I have no past--the steps have disappeared
the wind has blown them away.”
“Little world, full of little people
shouting for recognition, screaming for love,
Rolling world, teeming with millions,
carousel of the hungry,
Is there food enough? Wheat and corn will not do.
The fat are the hungriest of all, the skinny the most silent.”
“I played God today
And it was fun!
I made animals that men had never seen
So they would stop and scratch their heads
Instead of scowling.
I made words that men had never heard
So they would stop and stare at me
Instead of running.
And I made love that laughed
So men would giggle like children
Instead of sighing.
Tomorrow, perhaps, I won't be God
And you will know it
Because you won't see any three-headed cats
Or bushes with bells on...
I wish I could always play God
So that lonely men could laugh!”
“Little world, full of scars and gashes, ripened with another's pain,
Your flowers feed on carrion--so do your birds;
Men feed on each other because you taught them life was cheap,
Flowing from your endless womb without pain or understanding.
No midwife caresses your flesh or bathes clean your progeny,
Life spurts from you, little world,
and you regard it with disdain.
Only bruised men sense your cruelty,
men whose life has lost its meaning.”
“Come to the beach with me
And watch the pelicans die,
Hear their feeble screams
Calling to an empty sky
Where once they played
And scouted for food,
Not scavenging like the gulls
But plummeting unafraid
Into friendly waters.
Come to the beach with me
And watch the pelicans die,
Listen to their feeble screams
Calling to an empty sky.
Maybe Christ will walk by
And save them in their final toil
Or work a miracle from the shore,
A courtesy of Union Oil.
Come to the beach with me
And watch the pelicans die.
My God! They'll never fly again.
It's worse than Normandy somehow,
For there we only murdered men.”
“The principal wasn’t using his normal office because I’d blown it up by firing a mortar round into it. (It was an accident.)”
“I know this disbelief I feel, the disbelief on the others’ faces, is a survival mechanism. You draw a line in the sand and say you won’t cross it, you won’t believe or do a particular thing. But once you’ve grown accustomed to the unbelievable, or you’ve done what you’ve sworn you’d never do, you redraw the line a little farther back. You let the waves wash the first away like it never existed.”
“There is far more spiritual potential within than most people realize. The potential is so great that to define it in words would be impossible.”
“Because he can't imagine a time when the heavy darkness will lift.”
“But inside your sob-sodden Kleenex
And your Saturday night panics,
Under your hair done this way and that way,
Behind what looked like rebounds
And the cascade of cries diminuendo,
You were undeflected.
You were gold-jacketed, solid silver,
Nickel-tipped. Trajectory perfect
As through ether.”
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