December 29, 2008


The man looked at Chigurh's eyes
for the first time. Blue as lapis.
At once glistening and totally opaque.
Like wet stones.
-- Cormac McCarthy, "No Country for Old Men"

November 30, 2008


I paused, but not long.

there's no time
to decide what's
the best answer.

you can only
give the true answer.
--Stephen King, "Duma Key"

November 22, 2008


For children,
is usually
funny only
when it's
-- Stephen King, "Duma Key"

November 15, 2008


the unsuspecting,
often violently,
just like love.
-- Andrew Davidson, "The Gargoyle"

November 11, 2008


It's a pretty bad idea
to wring what happens
to get every drop
of meaning out of it.
-- Saul Bellow, "A Theft"

November 9, 2008


She listens to the bells
from slot machines
and the cascades of nickels
falling into steel shells.

Of course, this was what
you heard at the end
of the world.

It wasn't a whimper
at all. It had nothing
to do with anything
not with the mouth
or the ear.

It was the sound
of symbol and motion.
It was the sound
of tin.
-- Kate Braverman, "The Woman Who Said Communion"
(McSweeney's 14)

November 8, 2008


The shape of her name,
sharp as metal filings,
gets caught between your teeth
even as you try to force it out
in a shout.
-- Jodi Picoult, "The Tenth Circle"

November 5, 2008


We saved some of the story
for ourselves,
like the words
of the songs we sang,
and the contents of our prayers.
-- Daniel Alarcon, "The Thousands"
(McSweeney's 28)

November 2, 2008


Their beauty was still there,
but it was beauty in the broad sense,
the general sense,
the way a forest is beautiful,
or a field of waving grass is beautiful,
whereas any single tree or stalk,
on closer inspection, might be flawed.
-- Michael Blumlein, "The Roberts"
(Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 2008)

November 1, 2008


The best decisions in a marriage
were based not on honesty

but on the number of casualties
that the truth might cause,

versus the number saved by ignorance.

--Jodi Picoult, "The Tenth Circle"

October 23, 2008


The whole world was afraid of mother:
the trees shivered in the wind,
the bushes hunched together, trying to hide,
the grass lay flat and silent on the ground.
Even the air shrieked.
-- Jessica Lamb Shapiro, "The Animal Kingdom"
(McSweeney's 14)

October 21, 2008


Like a skater on thinning ice,
she accelerated to save herself from drowning.
She tore through her sentences,
as though speed alone would generate sense,
as though she could propel him too past contradictions,
swing him so fast along the curve of her intention
that there could be no objection he could grasp at.
-- Ian McEwan, "On Chesil Beach"

October 18, 2008


The tears you shed over a child
were not the same as any others.
They burned your throat and
your corneas. They left you blind.
-- Jodi Picoult, "The Tenth Circle"

October 16, 2008


For the first time,
her love for Edward
was associated with a definable
physical sensation, as irrefutable as vertigo.
Before, she had known only
a comforting broth of warm emotions,
a thick winter blanket of kindness and trust.

That had always seemed enough,
an achievement in itself.

Now here at last
were the beginnings of desire,
precise and alien, but clearly her own;
and beyond, as though suspended
above and behind her, just out of sight,
was relief that she was just like everyone else.
-- Ian McEwan, "On Chesil Beach"

October 14, 2008


They had slept so close to each other
that their body heat would rise up
each night like a spirit on the ceiling,
and they'd wake up with the covers
kicked off on the floor.
-- Jodi Picoult, "The Tenth Circle"

October 13, 2008


"Gosh, I didn't know
he was such a shrimp."

"Yeah, he's little.
But so is a tarantula."
--Truman Capote, "In Cold Blood"

October 12, 2008


The magician seemed to promise
that something torn to bits
might be mended without a seam ...
The true magic of this broken world
lay in the ability of the things
it contained to vanish,
to become so thoroughly lost,
that they might never have existed in the first place.
-- Michael Chabon, "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay"

October 11, 2008


She got so she received all things
with the stolidness of the earth
which soaks up urine and perfume
with the same indifference.
-- Zora Neale Hurston, "Their Eyes Were Watching God"

October 10, 2008


She told him that she wished
there were another commandment,
an eleventh etched into the tablets:
Do not change.
--Jonathan Safran Foer, "Everything Is Illuminated"

October 9, 2008


A story was a form of telepathy.
By means of inking symbols onto a page,
she was able to transfer thoughts and feelings
from her mind to her reader's.
It was a magical process, so commonplace
that no one stopped to wonder at it.
Reading a sentence and understanding it
were the same thing ...
There was no gap
during which the symbols were unravelled.
-- Ian McEwan, "Atonement

October 7, 2008


A minute later
she asked me
if I loved her.
I told her
it didn't mean
anything but that
I didn't think so.
-- Albert Camus, "The Stranger"
(trans. Matthew Ward)

October 6, 2008


After a while, she took her hair from its bun;
it cascaded across her face like a black veil.
The hair smelled extravagant and secret,
the smell of a rare flower
that only bloomed at night.
-- Scott Heim, "Mysterious Skin"

October 5, 2008


Nothing would have surprised him,
because he knew that women are just like men
in their secret adventures:
the same strategems,
the same sudden inspirations,
the same betrayals without remorse.
-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "Love in the Time of Cholera"

October 3, 2008


The end of the world has come often,
and continues to often come.
Unforgiving, unrelenting,
bringing darkness upon darkness,
the end of the world is something
we have become well acquainted with,
habitualized, made into a ritual.

It is our religion
to try to forget it
in its absence, make peace
with it when it is undeniable,
and return its embrace
when it finally comes for us,
as it always does.

-- Jonathan Safran Foer, "Everything Is Illuminated"

October 2, 2008


I crawl home at midnight,
staggering and limping --
it's both the beer and
the wound deep inside me.
Tipsily, I'm licking
my wound like a cat:
my thought probes it
like a loose tooth,
inviting the dull sweet pain
over and over again --
dreams and wishes that won't
stand the light of day.
-- Johanna Sinisalo, "Troll"

October 1, 2008


... his own face enthralled him.
Each angle of it induced
a different impression.
It was a changeling's face,
and mirror-guided experiments
had taught him how to ring the changes,
how to look now ominous,
now impish,
now soulful;
a tilt of the head,
a twist of the lips,
and the corrupt gypsy
became the gentle romantic.
-- Truman Capote, "In Cold Blood"

September 30, 2008


She was forced to consider
the startling fact
that the love of her life
might not actually be someone
with whom she could spend a lifetime.
-- Jodi Picoult, "The Tenth Circle"

September 29, 2008


The secret was a hole
in the middle of me
that every happy thing fell into.
-- Jonathan Safran Foer, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"

September 28, 2008


Her old thoughts
were going to come in handy now,
but new words
would have to be made and said
to fit them.
-- Zora Neale Hurston, "Their Eyes Were Watching God"

September 27, 2008


I think it's easy
to mistake
for empathy --
we want
so badly.
Maybe learning
to make
that distinction
is part of
growing up.
It's hard
and ugly
to know
can understand
you without
even liking you.
-- Thomas Harris, "Hannibal"

September 25, 2008


There were faint wrinkles
of habitual good nature
about his eyes.
-- Roy Phillips, "The Yellow Pill"
(Astounding Science Fiction, 1958)

September 24, 2008


"Why do beautiful songs make you sad?"
"Because they aren't true."
"Nothing is beautiful and true."
-- Jonathan Safran Foer, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"

September 23, 2008


Hope is the refusal of the inevitable,
a hand lifted to the clouds.
Hope is what makes us human.
For when reality threatens to destroy us,
we reach inward and we create hope.
It's the greatest gift we can give each other.
-- Brian Azzarello, "Lex Luthor: Man of Steel" No. 5

September 22, 2008


Through the crisscrossing nets
of branches above us,
an airplane trailed across the blue air,
sparkling like tinsel,
scarring the sky with its vapor.
-- Scott Heim, "Mysterious Skin"

September 21, 2008


Snowflakes were rare enough
in Franklin to give pause,
but not rare enough
to bring joy.
-- Robert Hicks, "The Widow of the South"

September 20, 2008


Sammy felt an ache in his chest
that turned out to be,
as so often occurs when
memory and desire cojoin
with a transient effect of weather,
the pang of creation.
-- Michael Chabon, "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay"

September 19, 2008


She knows that a poet
like Richard would move sternly
through the same morning,

editing it,

dismissing incidental ugliness
along with incidental beauty.
-- Michael Cunningham, "The Hours"

September 18, 2008


My mother made a sound
and reached out her hand.
The sound was a metallic squeak,
a human-as-machine breaking down,
uttering last sounds
before the whole engine locks.
-- Alice Sebold, "The Lovely Bones"

September 17, 2008


The trailer park gave off
an eerie glow,
as if it were
the chosen setting
for an upcoming miracle.
-- Scott Heim, "Mysterious Skin"

September 16, 2008


At night
the drapes looked
liked ghosts,
moving around
in the drafts
that broke through
the walls and
under the doors.
-- Robert Hicks, "The Widow of the South"

September 15, 2008


All gods who receive homage are cruel.
All gods dispense suffering without reason.
Otherwise they would not be worshipped.
Through indiscriminate suffering
men know fear
and fear is the most divine emotion.
It is the stones for altars
and the beginning of wisdom.
Half gods are worshipped
in wine and flowers.
Real gods require blood.
-- Zora Neale Hurston, "Their Eyes Were Watching God"

September 14, 2008


Their gasp
was like cold wind
passing through
dead trees.
-- Stephen King, "The Little Sisters of Eluria"
(from "Everything's Eventual")

September 12, 2008


Poetry is not a lost art.
Poetry is better than ever. ...
The short story is also not
a lost art, but I would agree
it is a good deal closer
than poetry to the lip
of the drop
into extinction's pit.
-- Stephen King, introduction to "Everything's Eventual"

September 11, 2008


A head unusually big.
In a person of an inert character
a head of such size
might have seemed a deformity;
in Clara, because
she had so much personal force,
it came across
as ruggedly handsome.
She needed that head;
a mind like hers demanded space.
-- Saul Bellow, "A Theft"

September 10, 2008


In case you haven't figured it out,
this isn't a neighborhood, anyhow.
It's where people come
to be private and left alone.
-- Patricia Cornwell, "Trace"

September 9, 2008


It was possible
that a miracle
was not something
that happened to you,
but rather something
that didn't.
-- Jodi Picoult, "The Tenth Circle"

September 8, 2008


By now the sun was overpowering.
It shattered
into little pieces
on the sand and water.
- Albert Camus, "The Stranger"
(translated by Matthew Ward)

September 7, 2008


Pop Olafsson was this fattish
bald guy with a face
like a wrinkled dishrag
left in the sun to dry.
-- Joyce Carol Oates, "High Lonesome"
(Zoetrope: All-Story, Winter 2005)

September 6, 2008


"It's personal what people do with each other."
She won't look at her.
-- Patricia Cornwell, "Trace"

September 5, 2008


The matter lay between them, as solid
as a geographical feature, a mountain,
a headland. Unnameable, unavoidable.
-- Ian McEwan, "On Chesil Beach"

September 4, 2008


Seconds pass and love for him grows suddenly,
like ice crystals or sea monkeys, all over my body.
-- Alissa Nutting, "Hot, Fast, and Sad"
(Tin House, Fall 2007)