Ice Friday: Robert Hunter’s “Loser”

All that I am asking for is ten gold dollars
And I could pay you back with one good hand
You can look around about the wide world over
And you’ll never find another honest man. Everybody prayin’ and drinkin’ that wine
I can tell the Queen of Diamonds by the way she shines
Come to daddy on the inside straight,
Well I got no chance of losin’ this time

Ice Good Friday: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

My da had more wrong with him than my ma. There was nothing wrong with my ma except sometimes she was too busy. My da sometimes lost his temper and he liked it. He had black things across the top of his back, like black insects clinging to him. . He was useless at lots of things. He never finished games. he read newspapers. He coughed. He sat too much. Usually he was fair, and he listened when we were in trouble. He listened to me more that to Sinbad. There must have been a reason why he hated Ma. There must have been something wrong with her, at least one thing. I couldn’t see it. I wanted to. I wanted to understand. I wanted to be on both sides. He was my da.

Ice Friday: Raymond Carver’s “At Least”

I want to get up early one more morning,

before sunrise. Before the birds, even.

I want to throw cold water on my face

and be at my work table

when the sky lightens and smoke                          

begins to rise from the chimneys

of the other houses.

I want to see the waves break

on this rocky beach, not just hear them

break as I did all night in my sleep.                                    

I want to see again the ships

that pass through the Strait from every

seafaring country in the world—

old, dirty freighters just barely moving along,

and the swift new cargo vessels                              

painted every color under the sun

that cut the water as they pass.

I want to keep an eye out for them.

And for the little boat that plies

the water between the ships                                   

and the pilot station near the lighthouse.

I want to see them take a man off the ship

and put another up on board.

I want to spend the day watching this happen

and reach my own conclusions.                               

I hate to seem greedy—I have so much

to be thankful for already.

But I want to get up early one more morning, at least.

And go to my place with some coffee and wait.

Just wait, to see what’s going to happen.  

Ice Friday: Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”

SHYLOCK: What judgement shall I dread, doing no wrong? / You have among you many a purchased slave, / Which like your asses and your dogs and your mules / You sue in abject and slavish parts / Because you bought them. Shall I say to you, / “Let them be free, marry them to your heirs! / Why sweat they under their burdens? Let their beds / Be mades as soft as yours, and their all their palates / Be seasoned with such viands?” You will answer / “The slaves are ours!” So do I answer you: / The pound of flesh which I demand of him / Is dearly bought, ’tis mine and I will have it. / If you deny me, fie upon your law! / There is no force in the decrees of Venice. / I stand for judgement. Answer: shall I have it?

Ice Friday: Dante’s “Inferno”

Canto XXIII

Silent, alone, sans escort, with one behind/ And one before, as Friars Minor use,/ We journeyed. The present fracas turned my mind To Aesop’s fable of the frog and the mouse:/Now and this moment are not more similar/Than did the tale resemble the newer case,

If one is conscientious to compare/Their ends and their beginning, Then as one thought/ Springs from one before it, this now bore

Another which redoubled my terror: that-/ Having been fooled because of us, with wounds/ And mockery to make them the more irate With anger added to their malice- the fiends/ More fiercely than a dog attacks a hare,/ Would soon come after us.

Ice Friday: Highsmith’s “Talented Mr. Ripley”

The economical prose of Patricia Highsmith compel the reader to not only read on, but more importantly, to empathize with the mind of a killer:

The white, taut sheet of his berth on the train seemed the most wonderful luxury he had ever known. He caressed them with his hands before he turned the light out. And the clean blue-gray blankets, the spanking efficiency of the little black net over his head – Tom had an ecstatic moment when he thought of all the pleasures that lay before him now with Dickie’s money, other beds, tables, seas, ships, suitcases, shirts, years of freedom, years of pleasure. Then he turned the light out and put his head down and almost at once fell asleep, happy, content, and utterly, utterly confident, as he had never been before in his life.

Ice Friday: John Updike’s “Perfection Wasted”

And another regrettable thing about death

is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,

which took a whole life to develop and market–

the quips, the witticisms, the slant

adjusted to a few, those loves ones nearest

the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched

in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,

their tears confused with their diamond earrings,

their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,

their response and your performance twinned.

The jokes over the phone. The memories packed

in the rapid-access file. The whole act.

Who will do it again? That’s it: no one,

imitators and descendants aren’t the same.