raccolta di citazioni

a commonplace for quotes from my current reading


In defiance of the dark

For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all. Don't we all secretly know this? It's a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. Behind it? Below it and around it? Chaos, storms. Men with hammers, men with knives, men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.

King, Stephen. 11/22/63. Scribner, 2011. pp. 615-616.


New Classics

In bold are the titles I've read from Entertainment Weekly's list of the New Classics; books I own but haven't (yet) read are in italics.

1. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996).
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990).
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Ann Patchett (2001)
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005) [saw her @ UNC]
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998).
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000).
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
47. World's Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987).
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001).
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000) [awesome!]
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997).
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997).
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983).
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984) .
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999).
90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003).
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)

(Summary: 27 read; 29 others owned and as yet unread.)

via Pages Turned and Kristin's Book Log (peer pressure!)


I am the question

"Hello again," said the Moon.

"Hello," said the Girl. She had forgotten, in her wonder, that she had promised not to talk with the Moon. "You've changed again."

"Is that so?" said the Moon. Its voice was fainter and farther away than ever.

"Unless," the Girl said, "there are three Moons: one fat one, one thin one, and one that shines in the day. Is that the answer?"

"What's the question?" asked the Moon.

The Girl couldn't think just what the question was. She sat down and looked up at the Moon. She thought: I am the question. For a long time she only sat and looked up, thinking: I am the question. But she could not think how to ask it. [93]

from 'The Nightingale Sings at Night'

Crowley, John. Novelties and Souvenirs : Collected Short Fiction. Harper Perennial, 2004. ISBN: 0380731061.


A large wardrobe of Humour's cast-off clothes

"Dry-goods! What are American dry-goods?" asked the Duchess, raising her large hands in wonder and accentuating the verb.

"American novels," answered Lord Henry, helping himself to some quail.

The duchess looked puzzled.

"Don't mind him, my dear," whispered Lady Agatha. "He never means anything that he says."

"When America was discovered," said the Radical member, and he began to give some wearisome facts. Like all people who try to exhaust a subject, he exhausted his listeners. The Duchess sighed and exercised her privilege of interruption. "I wish to goodness it never had been discovered at all!" she exclaimed. "Really, our girls have no chance nowadays. It is most unfair."

"Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered," said Mr. Erskine; "I myself would say that it had merely been detected."

"Oh! but I have seen specimens of the inhabitants," answered the duchess vaguely. "I must confess that most of them are extremely pretty. And they dress well, too. They get all their dresses in Paris. I wish I could afford to do the same."

"They say that when good Americans die they go to Paris," chuckled Sir Thomas, who had a large wardrobe of Humour's cast-off clothes.

"Really! And where do bad Americans go to when they die?" inquired the duchess.

"They go to America," murmured Lord Henry. [182]

Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. In Aldington, Richard & Weintraub, Stanley (eds). The Portable Oscar Wilde. Viking, 1981. ISBN: 0140150935.


Secret Names

"Dorian Gray? Is that his name?" asked Lord Henry, walking across the studio towards Basil Hallward.

"Yes, that is his name. I didn't intend to tell it to you."

"But why not?"

"Oh, I can't explain. When I like people immensely I never tell their names to anyone. It seems like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvellous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it." [143]

Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. In Aldington, Richard & Weintraub, Stanley (eds). The Portable Oscar Wilde. Viking, 1981. ISBN: 0140150935.

for Sven, Rik, and Nigel


Cabins on the Cape Fear River

Mr. Burns had set up a small artistic community down in the Carolinas, on a particularly wild, changing edge of the Atlantic, at the place where the Cape Fear River empties into the sea. He'd sold a little community of about twelve quixotic, sunstruck cabins on spindly stilts to various artists -- novelists, painters, potters, actors, musicians -- most of them from New York City.
Of course these buildings had been about to fall into the sea. This had been apparent even to the untrained eye. Perhaps Mr. Burns hadn't told this to the artists directly, but they should have noticed. I was surprised actually that the place lasted as long as it did -- over three years. But after a few intersections of the high tide with the full moon, and three small hurricanes, the houses came down, crouching at first like injured, long-legged animals, then fully kneeling, bowing, their shoulders to the earth. The photographs of the buildings that now hung at the front of the courtroom, as the prosecution built its case, were vivid reminders that everything is brought to its knees, everything except the sea. I thought this was exactly the kind of lesson artists were always trying to learn, and I believed they should have all cut their losses and run. [36-37]

Lee, Rebecca. The City is a Rising Tide. Simon & Schuster, 2006. ISBN: 0743276655.


She looked more than ever like Harry Truman

There was a big brass latch on the wall. Howard jiggled it and finally it slipped free and the bed fell out on top of him. It took him by surprise and almost knocked him down but he kept his footing and managed to push the bed back into the wall. Then he read the barometer and opened and closed the drawers. The upper drawers contained several bars of soap in miniature packets. Howard slipped a few in his pocket and opened the porthole and stuck his head out. Other people had their heads stuck out too. He battened the porthole and read the barometer again, then picked up the intercom.

"Testing," he said. "One two three four testing. Night Raider this is Black Hawk. Testing."
A voice crackled from the speaker. "Steward here."
"It's me, Howard. Just testing. Over and out."
Nora came back into the cabin and made her way to the couch. "It's too small in there. I couldn't breathe."
"I could have told you this wouldn't be any palace."
"I feel awful. I bet I look awful too."
Nora's face had gone white. The burst veins in her cheeks and along her upper lip stood out like notations on a map. Her eyes glittered feverishly behind her spectacles. Sick, she looked more than ever like Harry Truman, for whom Howard had not voted. [89-90]

from 'Maiden Voyage'

Wolff, Tobias. In the Garden of the North American Martyrs : stories. ISBN: 0912946822.


Traceleen Turns East

While we waited for November we decided to try yoga. Miss Crystal found this young woman named Ruthie Horowitz who agreed to come on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and teach us how to do it. It is the ancient art of India and the kind Miss Horowitz teaches is called Mahayana yoga. These postures, as they are called, are like very slow exercises. The stretch out parts of your body you didn't know you had and call attention to the fact that you are made of flesh and blood. Most people walking around now never give that a thought. They have forgotten they are breathing and think the main thing they are here for is to drive cars and go to the mall. This yoga gets you back to thinking about what you are really made of.

At first I didn't want to do it with them but Miss Crystal insisted that I give it a try. She is always worrying about my blood pressure so the first thing I knew there I was pulling myself into postures and breathing into my chakras, which is what you call the different parts of the spiritual development. This is all from the Hindu religion. My pastor at my church said not to worry, it wouldn't hurt me to see some heathen practices and might give me something to tell my Sunday school class about. [117-118]

from 'Traceleen Turns East'

Gilchrist, Ellen. Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle : stories. Little, Brown, 1989. ISBN: 0316313122.


Let it come to me

Her voice was as beautiful as the song of birds, more beautiful than temple bells. Her voice was light made manifest. Now Lin Tan's throat was thick with desire. He suffered it. There was nothing in the world as beautiful as her face, her voice, her hands, the smell of her dress. She took a small blue flower from the bouquet on the table and twisted it between her fingers. She looked at him. She returned his look. This was the moment men live for. This was philosophy and reason. Shiva, Beatrice, the dance of birth and death. If I enter into this moment, Lin Tan knew, I will be changed forever. If I refuse this moment then I will go about the world as an old man goes, with no hope, no songs to sing, no longing or desire, no miracles of sunlight. So I will allow this to happen to me. As if a man can refuse his destiny. As if the choice were mine. Let it come to me. [66]

from 'Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle'

Gilchrist, Ellen. Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle : stories. Little, Brown, 1989. ISBN: 0316313122.


I will include my fingerprints

My name is Rhoda Katherine Manning. I weigh 82. We are in a war. They might come at any minute. I have auburn hair and brown eyes. I was born on a plantation in the Delta and as soon as the war is over I'll be going back. Mrs. Allen's son died in the war. She has a gold star in the window and I go and visit her quite frequently. The pope wouldn't let her be my brother's godmother. She isn't allowed to go inside our church. No one tells me what to do. I am just like my father.

Well, I see I am running out of paper. When you find this think of me. It is summer and the sun is shining and everything is fine around here so far. I will include my fingerprints.
Yours truly,
Rhoda Manning

from 'The Time Capsule'

Gilchrist, Ellen. Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle : stories. Little, Brown, 1989. ISBN: 0316313122.


Life, the Universe and Everything

There are of course many problems connected with life, of which some of the most popular are Why are people born? Why do they die? Why do they want to spend so much of the intervening time wearing digital watches? [166]

"Seven and a half million years our race has waited for this Great and Hopefully Enlightening Day!" cried the cheerleader. "The Day of the Answer!"
"Never again," cried the man, "never again will we wake up in the morning and think Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Does it really, cosmically speaking, matter if I don't get up and go to work? For today we will finally learn once and for all the plain and simple answer to all these nagging little problems of Life, the Universe and Everything!" [176-177]

"You know," said Arthur thoughtfully, "all this explains a lot of things. All through my life I've had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, even sinister, and no one would tell me what it was."

"No," said the old man, "that's just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that." [191]

Adams, Douglas. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Harmony Books, 2004. ISBN: 1400052920.


So long and thanks for all the fish

It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons.

Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending destruction of the planet Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind of the danger; but most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs or whistle for tidbits, so they eventually gave up and left the Earth by their own means shortly before the Vogons arrived.

The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backwards-somersault through a hoop while whistling the "Star Sprangled Banner", but in fact the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish.

In fact there was only one species on the planet more intelligent than dolphins, and they spent a lot of their time in behavioral research laboratories running round inside wheels and conducting frighteningly elegant and subtle experiments on man. The fact that once again man completely misinterpreted this relationship was entirely according to these creatures' plans. [156-157]

Adams, Douglas. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Harmony Books, 2004. ISBN: 1400052920.


There was a terrible ghastly silence.

Only one man stood and watched the sky, stood with terrible sadness in his eyes and rubber bungs in his ears. He knew exactly what was happening and had known ever since his Sub-Etha Sens-O-Matic had started winking in the dead of night beside his pillow and wakened him with a start. It was what he had waited for all these years, but when he had deciphered the signal pattern sitting alone in his small dark room a coldness had gripped him and squeezed his heart. Of all the races in all of the Galaxy who could have come and said a big hello to planet Earth, he thought, didn't it just have to be the Vogons. [33-34]

Adams, Douglas. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Harmony Books, 2004. ISBN: 1400052920.


A predilection for little fur hats

Mr. L. Prosser was, as they say, only human. In other words, he was a carbon-based bipedal life form descended from an ape. More specifically, he was forty, fat and shabby and worked for the local council. Curiously enough, though he didn't know it, he was also a direct male-line descendant of Genghis Khan, though intervening generations and racial mixing had so juggled his genes that he had no discernable Mongoloid characteristics, and the only vestiges left in Mr. L. Prosser of his mighty ancestry were a pronounced stoutness about the tum and a predilection for little fur hats. [7]

Adams, Douglas. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Harmony Books, 2004. ISBN: 1400052920.

Yes, I'm finally reading it, Sven!


A Dialogue on Moreau

Peter Straub: What sort of book is it, this Island of Dr. Moreau? As one races pell-mell through the narrative, moving smartly from one nasty shock to another on the way toward revelation and resolution, it seems like nothing so much as a boy's adventure novel adapted to the field of science fiction. [ix]

Margaret Atwood: 'Science fiction' as a term was unknown to Wells. [...] Wells himself referred to his science-oriented fictions as 'scientific romances' [...] There are several interpretations of the term 'science'. If it implies the known and the possible, then Wells's scientific romances are by no means scientific: he paid little attention to such boundaries. In both 'scientific romance', and 'science fiction', the scientific element is merely an adjective; the nouns are 'romance' and 'fiction'. [xvii-xviii]

Straub: For the most part, the tone of the narrative is that of reliability and assurance, blandly professional in its assumptions about the contract between reader and writer. Dear reader, this tone seems to say, come along with me, for I guarantee an entertaining journey and a safe return to shore. [...] To Wells' enormous credit, [the first readers] did not find anything so reassuring. [R]eviewers recoiled from the book as if it carried a contagious disease, excoriating Wells for the horrors to which he had exposed the tender reader, the chief among them being blasphemy. [x]

Atwood: [I]n Christianity, God is a Trinity, and on Moreau's island, there are three beings whose names begin with M. [...] [Moreau] means 'Moor' in French. So the very white Moreau is also the Black Man of witchcraft tales, a sort of anti-God. [xxii] But he isn't a real God, because he cannot create; he can only imitate, and his imitations are poor. [xxi] [Montgomery] acts as the intercessor between the Beast Folk and Moreau, and in this function stands in for Christ the Son. [...] Is there a hint of the communion service here - blood drink, flesh of the Lamb? [...] [M'Ling] too enters into the communion of blood.... The Holy Spirit as a deformed and idiotic man-animal? As a piece of youthful blasphemy, The Island of Dr. Moreau was even more blasphemous than most commentators have realized. [xxii]

Straub: Since vivisection...was a controversial method of research, a novel with an anti-vivisection bias should have had no problem with general acceptance; but a fable in which religion appears to be a manipulative sham, science a poisonous threat, and mankind in general so thoroughly implicated in a Mad Vivisectionist's savagery that man himself is a ravening beast was another matter. [xii]

Atwood: Borges' use of the word 'fable' is suggestive, for [...] '[f]able' points to a certain fokloric quality that lurks in the pattern of this curious work.... [xiii] The Island of Dr. Moreau is...a work of fantasy, and its' more immediate grandparents are to be found elsewhere. The Tempest springs immediately to mind.... [xx]

Straub: [Prendick] cannot escape the perception that civilization is but a larger version of the island. Wells has so liberated himself from the conventions and underlying consolations of the adventure tale that his subtext floods up onto the page. The optimistic Edwardian world softens and gutters into fresh horrors, gibberish, and intimations of death. Author and narrator have come to the heart of darkness, and it is...London. [xxvi-xxvii]

Atwood: There are no female human being on Moreau's island, but Moreau is busy making one. [...] Like many men of his time, Wells was obsessed with the New Woman. On the surface of it he was all in favor of sexual emancipation...but the freeing of Woman apparently had its frightening aspects. [I]f women are granted power, men are doomed.... Once the powerful monstrous sexual cat tears her fetter out of the wall and gets loose, minus the improved brain she ought to have courtesy of Man the Scientist, look out. [xxiii]

Straub: In various ways, [Wells' late-life pessimism] inhabits Dr. Moreau, and one reason the book continues to be vital is that Wells can be seen throughout to resist and deny the implications suggested by his own imaginiation. [xiii]

Margaret Atwood, Foreword to The Island of Dr. Moreau, Penguin Classics edition, 2005. ISBN: 014144102X.

Peter Straub, Foreword to The Island of Dr. Moreau, Modern Library edition, 1996. ISBN: 0679602305.

for the August Slaves of Golconda reading group, selected by Stefanie


Alaskan summer evening

It was a beautiful sunny night on the water. Alice was ecstatic about the wilderness she had discovered and the eskimo culture, intertwined in peaceful harmony with the seasons and the mountains and the wind, and all the magazine stories she could write. Warm air blew by our faces. Occasionally we motored through pockets of cold air near shaded cutbanks. Cottonwood cotton floated on the water. The land was dry and wild rhubarb was already beginning to go to seed along the shore, and that meant wild onions would soon be past, too, and the bull caribou would have dark velvety horns, and the bulls would be getting fat but would still taste like summer meat from eating greens; and salmon would be flooding upstream to spawn, and trout would follow, silver-blue and heavy with oil; and it all was truly wonderful, but something irked me about the way this pretty woman -- who might never see the land we called winter -- could swoop in and harvest our world with her camera and words and spoon it back as if only she understood its profundity. [299-300]

Kantner, Seth. Ordinary Wolves : A novel. Milkweed Editions, 2005. ISBN: 1571310479.


Daring to leap into transcendence

No one ever told us we had to study our lives,
make of our lives a study, as if learning natural history
or music, that we should begin
with the simple exercises first
and slowly go on trying
the hard ones, practicing till strength
and accuracy became one with the daring
to leap into transcendence, take the chance
of breaking down in the wild arpeggio
or faulting the full sentence of the fugue. [73]

from 'Transcendental Etude' (1977)

Rich, Adrienne. The Dream of a Common Language: Poems, 1974-1977. W.W. Norton, 1978. ISBN: 0393045021.


Baptized into the glory of ninja

Bruce Lee arrived in moving color on the back wall of the Takunak church house in February 1978, the year I turned twelve. Takunak had been converted by missionary Quakers, but everyone under seventy, regardless of whether they spoke English, lined up at the cabin door to be baptized into the glory of ninja. [...] Three glass windows in the school were broken the following night with throwing stars of frozen Cream of Wheat. [44]

Kantner, Seth. Ordinary Wolves : A novel. Milkweed Editions, 2005. ISBN: 1571310479.

for Sven (aka Ken, thwarter of ninjas)


The French disease

"I had hoped," Karswell continued, his voice the very model of pained disappointment, "that of all my junior colleagues, you might have remained professionally chaste. Your dissertation, while deficient in certain crucial respects, was admirably reasonable for someone your age." He gazed sorrowfully through the blinds, tapping her rolled-up paper against his palm. His face was in shadow, but strips of light fell across his waistcoat and his bow tie.

"But I see that you are, or have become," he went on, "intellectually promiscuous, giving yourself wantonly, like the rest of your thrill-seeking generation, to the vulgar pleasures of postmodernism."
"And what is the result of your promiscuity, my dear Virginia?" Kaswell seemed to be waiting for an answer, but she would deny him that at least. After an awful moment, he lifted her paper by a corner between his thumb and forefinger, letting it uncurl like a shriveled flower.

"The result," he said sharply, "is that you have become infected with the French disease." [192-193]

Hynes, James. Publish and Perish: Three Tales of Tenure and Terror. Picador, 1997. ISBN: 0312156286.


Outlaw women

View back over the shoulder, crick
in the neck, suspicious of even
that three-legged dog in the road
teetering like a birthing chair.
Hand always at the gun, trigger for a
ghost in window glass. So hyper-
active, you can't keep your hands
to yourself while you sit in your
corner knitting your private angel. [13]

from 'What it is like to be an outlaw'

Messer, Sarah. Bandit Letters : Poems. Western Michigan University / New Issues, 2001. ISBN: 1930974086.


we're driving through the desert
wondering if the water will hold out
the hallucinations turn to simple villages
the music on the radio comes clear—
neither Rosenkavalier nor Götterdämmerung
but a woman's voice singing old songs
with new words, with a quiet bass, a flute
plucked and fingered by women outside the law. [31]

from XIII of 'Twenty-one Love Poems' (1974-1976)

Rich, Adrienne. The Dream of a Common Language: Poems, 1974-1977. W.W. Norton, 1978. ISBN: 0393045021.