Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Formulas For Oblivion by Mark Strand

Formulas For Oblivion

1.  Casting the first stone after which the hands cast
 themselves and the arms and so on until you feel
you have cast yourself after the first stone
into oblivion.

2.  Eating your own words by which you will grow thin,
depleted, finally, of even a mouth to care for
the orphaned tongue or the tired foot.

3.  Turning yourself inside out so the features you are
known by become obvious secrets and the hidden
parts of yourself become a mask of honesty.
Thus you will never know who you are; oblivion
has begun to tell you who you are

4.  Lending the helping hand and keeping the other one
to yourself. The helping hand will feed your
friend, the other one will feel abandoned.
What happens is clear: you lose your friend
and die alone, a victim of the helping hand’s
selfish refusal to aid the other one.

5.  Cutting off your nose to spite your face. For the
beauty of absence is catching and the face will
want to spite the nose by having it back and then
will beg to be cut off from it. This will go on.

6.  Taking everything to heart and allowing yourself no
rest but what is impossible to take, which is

7.  Killing the thing you love and spending each night
with its ghost. Forcing your passion into an
absence is a common approach to oblivion.

8.  Sticking your head in the lion’s mouth and seeing
the remnants of your past: the tongue of your
father, the teeth of your mother, your own head
grinning back.

9.  Saving the best for last while consuming the worst
at the start. For the worst tastes better when
you know the best is to come. Doubts will arise.
After a while you may not believe the best will
be last and oblivion will take you for better
or worse.

10.  Giving yourself the benefit of the doubt which is the
surest and truest formula for oblivion.

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