The Ache of Marriage [Poem]

The ache of marriage:
thigh and tongue, beloved,
are heavy with it,
it throbs in the teeth
We look for communion
and are turned away, beloved,
each and each
It is leviathan and we
in its belly
looking for joy, some joy
not to be known outside it
two by two in the ark of
the ache of it.

BY DENISE LEVERTOV

A Note from the EditorToday is the birthday of the poet Denise Levertov (1923-1997).

Denise Levertov, “The Ache of Marriage” from Poems 1960-1967. Copyright © 1966 by Denise Levertov. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation, www.wwnorton.com/nd/welcome.htm.
Source: Selected Poems ( New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2002 )
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Summer – John Clare

Come we to the summer, to the summer we will come,
For the woods are full of bluebells and the hedges full of bloom,
And the crow is on the oak a-building of her nest,
And love is burning diamonds in my true lover’s breast;
She sits beneath the whitethorn a-plaiting of her hair,
And I will to my true lover with a fond request repair;
I will look upon her face, I will in her beauty rest,
And lay my aching weariness upon her lovely breast.
The clock-a-clay is creeping on the open bloom of May,
The merry bee is trampling the pinky threads all day,
And the chaffinch it is brooding on its grey mossy nest
In the whitethorn bush where I will lean upon my lover’s breast;
I’ll lean upon her breast and I’ll whisper in her ear
That I cannot get a wink o’sleep for thinking of my dear;
I hunger at my meat and I daily fade away
Like the hedge rose that is broken in the heat of the day.
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Wind, Water, Stone By Octavio Paz

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Wind, Water, Stone

for Roger Caillois

Water hollows stone,
wind scatters water,
stone stops the wind.
Water, wind, stone.
Wind carves stone,
stone’s a cup of water,
water escapes and is wind.
Stone, wind, water.
Wind sings in its whirling,
water murmurs going by,
unmoving stone keeps still.
Wind, water, stone.
Each is another and no other:
crossing and vanishing
through their empty names:
water, stone, wind.
Translated by Eliot Weinberger
A note from the editor: Today is Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates the Mexican Army’s important victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. In the United States, the holiday has become a celebration of Mexican American culture.
Octavio Paz, “Wind, Water, Stone” from The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987. Copyright © 1979 by Octavio Paz.  Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Source: The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987 ( New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1987 )

Before Dawn on Bluff Road

The crow’s raw hectoring cry
scoops clean an oval divot
of sky, its fading echo
among the oaks and poplars swallowed
first by a jet banking west
then the Erie-Lackawanna
sounding its horn as it comes through the tunnel
through the cliffs to the river
and around the bend of King’s Cove Bluff,
full of timber, Ford chassis, rock salt.
You can hear it in the dark
from beyond what was once the amusement park.
And the wind carries along as well,
from down by the river,
when the tide’s just so,
the drainage just so,
the chemical ghost of old factories,
the rotted piers and warehouses:
lye, pigfat, copra from Lever Bros.,
formaldehyde from the coffee plant,
dyes, unimaginable solvents—
a soup of polymers, oxides,
tailings fifty years old
seeping through the mud, the aroma
almost comforting by now, like food,
wafting into my childhood room
with its fevers and dreams.
My old parents asleep,
only a few yards across the hall,
door open—lest I cry?
                                 I remember
almost nothing of my life.
By August Kleinzahler

“NARRATIVE” Fall Story Contest

FINAL DAY TO ENTER
Deadline: Thursday, November 30, at midnight, PDT.

The Fall Story Contest is open to all writers, and all entries will be considered for publication.

      • $2,500 First Prize
$1,000 Second Prize
$500 Third Prize
• Ten finalists receive $100 each

See the Guidelines. Read prior winners, and view recent awards won by Narrative authors.

Since 2003 Narrative has proudly published emerging writers alongside established authors, and we continue to look for exciting, meaningful new writing.

Narrative reaches a worldwide audience of 250,000 readers, and our contest winners and finalists have seen their exposure in Narrative bring great attention to their work.

Works from Narrative often appear in collections such as the Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Prize Stories, the Pushcart Prize series, and many others.

We look forward to reading your work.

Interesting Reads: The Written World

As the general editor of the Norton Anthology of World Literature, Harvard professor Martin Puchner is superbly qualified to cover the subject of The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization. Circling the globe and spanning human history from the invention of writing to the Internet age, Puchner’s book is a lively account of how literature has transformed humanity.

The Written World proceeds in roughly chronological fashion, but Puchner structures his narrative around what he identifies as four stages of the story of literature: small groups of scribes responsible for assembling foundational texts like the Hebrew Bible; “teachers’ literature” (written accounts of the words of charismatic figures like Jesus and the Buddha recorded by their followers); the emergence of individual authors like Cervantes; and the era of mass production and mass literacy. Whether it’s the development of paper or the invention of the printing press, Puchner is also comfortable discussing the decisive impact of technology on the creation and dissemination of literary texts at every stage.

As he brings his account to a close, reflecting on the challenges rapid technological change will pose when it comes to preserving our literature for future generations, Puchner recognizes that we are “still in the middle of this, an ongoing story.” Whatever form our literature may take in the coming centuries, this stimulating history leaves little doubt that its influence on every aspect of human life will be profound and enduring. —Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Discover: Harvard professor Martin Puchner offers an invigorating global survey of literature’s influence on the course of history.