David Wagoner: After the Point of No Return

David Wagoner

After that moment when you’ve lost all reason
for going back where you started, when going ahead
is no longer a Yes or No, but a matter of fact,
you’ll need to weigh, on the one hand, what will seem,
on the other, almost nothing against something
slightly more than nothing and must choose
again and again, at points of fewer and fewer
chances to guess, when and which way to turn.

                                                                 

Tu Fu: Standing Alone

Empty skies. And beyond, one hawk.
Between river banks, two white gulls
Drift and flutter. Fit for an easy kill,
To and fro, they follow contentment.

Dew shrouds grasses. Spiderwebs are still
Not gathered in. The purpose driving
Heaven become human now, I stand where
Uncounted sorrows begin beginning alone.

          –Tu Fu, trans. David Hinton

Walt Whitman: Thought (Of persons arrived at high positions)

(Walt Whitman: May 31, 1819-March 26, 1892)

Of persons arrived at high positions, ceremonies, wealth,
   scholarships, and the like;
(To me all that those persons have arrived at sinks away from
   them, except as it results to their bodies and souls,
So that often to me they appear gaunt and naked,
And often to me each one mocks the others, and mocks
   himself or herself,
And of each one the core of life, namely happiness, is full of
   the rotten excrement of maggots,
And often to me those men and women pass unwittingly the
   true realities of life, and go toward false realities,
And often to me they are alive after what custom has served
   them, but nothing more,
And often to me they are sad, hasty, unwaked
   sonnambules walking the dusk.)

                          –Walt Whitman