When I die I shall go to May.
It will be green, the colour green
in all its thousand shining faces.

Every day will feel like Christmas Eve
when I was ten. Every green leaf
will be perfection exactly

as it is and yet will grow and change
every time I turn my eyes to it.
Every moment will be like the arc

of a diver breaking the waters
of a green lake. I know this because
this is what May is like

here and now. Almost unbearable.
It does not hold for half an hour.
Yet in the shifting, growing hymn

of light and colour and leaf
is the still, simple reason that I garden.

(Monty Don in The Ivington Diaries, 2010)

The sun keeps climbing

Even nature wants to pay homage
to the mothers who feel unhappy
because they can’t realize
the desires of their children.

Dona Teresinha came to visit me.
She gave me 15 cruzeiros and said
it was for Vera to go to the circus.
I’m going to use the money to buy bread.

Yesterday I got half a pig’s head.
We ate the meat and saved the bones.
Today I put the bones on to boil
and into the broth I put some potatoes.

Night came. The stars are hidden.
The shack is filled with mosquitoes.
I lit a page from a newspaper
and ran it over the walls.

This is the way the favela dwellers kill
mosquitoes. My children are always hungry.

(From Carolina Maria de Jesus’ diary, Mothers’ Day 1958)

Catching color

In the afternoon, he took us to the mosque.
The sun darted through, and how!
We rode a while on the donkey.

In the evening, through the streets.
A café decorated with pictures.
Beautiful watercolors.

We ransacked the place buying.
A street scene around a mouse.
Finally someone killed it with a shoe.

We landed at a sidewalk café.
An evening of colors as tender
as they were clear.

Virtuosos at checkers. Happy hour.
Louis found exquisite color tidbits
and I — was to catch them.

(From Paul Klee’s diary, April 1914)

God help me

What I will bring to that altar
is this nauseating sack of guts—

selfish, small, lecherous,
a mind like a whorehouse,
a tongue like a longshoreman’s,
a soft mousy body that seeks
always its own comforts,

a will deluded by hyperactive desires.
Poor wreck that I am.

Can I give over to God’s service
only so little,
and that so badly damaged,
so in and out
of sin and desire?

(John L’Heureux’s diary, April 1966)


Opt for the treadmill, you’ll be running in the nude,
My cat slept through a blizzard in Florida this year.
One person says something that sounds true.

Install a fake microwave on the wall you never use;
Surprise! If a funny looking cat appears,
Opt for the treadmill, you’ll be running in the nude.

Sleep in the middle of the room;
Just wait until the third of April when your friends hear.
One person says something that sounds true.

Have a tortoise deliver your package for you,
Flowing through the water in a reindeer.
Opt for the treadmill, you’ll be running in the nude.

Prank: put your name on a balloon.
Putting your car keys in the freezer;
One person says something that sounds true.

Don’t be surprised if it sings Happy Birthday back at you.
In my house, there are porcelain ponies, I swear.
Opt for the treadmill, you’ll be running in the nude;
One person says something that sounds true.

(From AI generated April Fools pranks)

A magnificent fire

“Last night the English Opera House was burnt down — a magnificent fire.” 

Charles Greville

All the gentility of London was there
from Princess Esterhazy’s ball and all
the clubs; gentlemen in their fur cloaks, pumps,
and velvet waistcoats mixed with objects like

the sans-culottes in the French Revolution —
men and women half-dressed, covered with rags
and dirt, some with nightcaps or handkerchief
round their heads — then the soldiers, the firemen,

and the engines, and the new police running
and bustling, clearing the way, clattering
along, with that intense interest and restless
curiosity, which received fresh stimulus

at every renewed burst of the flames as
they rose in a shower of sparks like gold dust.

(From The Greville Memoirs, January 1830)

The empty room

I dreamt of you again last night. 
And when I woke up it was as if 
you had died afresh. I read 
all your letters this afternoon.

I feel as if we had collected all 
our wheat into a barn to make bread 
and beer for the rest of our lives 
and now our barn has been burnt down 

and we stand on a cold winter morning 
looking at the charred ruins. For this 
little room was the gleanings of our life. 
All our happiness was over this fire 

and with these books. Voltaire blessing us 
with up-raised hand on the wall. No one 
to talk to about my pleasures. I write in 
an empty book. I cry in an empty room.

(Dora Carrington’s diary, February 1932)