Monday, June 22, 2015

When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone

When one has lived a long time alone,
one refrains from swatting the fly
and lets him go, and one hesitates to strike
the mosquito, though more than willing to slap

the flesh under her, and one lifts the toad
from the pit too deep to hop out of
and carries him to the grass, without minding
the poisoned urine he slicks his body with,

and one envelops, in a towel, the swift
who fell down the chimney and knocks herself
against window glass and releases her outside
and watches her fly free, a life line flung at reality,

when one has lived a long time alone.

Galway Kinnell

Monday, June 8, 2015

This is peace and contentment. It's new.




















The Orange

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange—
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I got a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It's new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I'm glad I exist.

Wendy Cope

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What was said

This is what Jesus said
to the deaf man: Ephphatha.

Be opened. This is what Jesus said.

This is what a painter said of love:
he said, Love is paying attention.
This is what the painter said.

Another, I forget who, said,
You can trust the present. That
is what she said. And as for faith,
one says, It is a verb, another says,

It is resting in the gamble, while for another
it is traveling miles and days
to that great and final lion
to be consumed — what an honor! —
consumed to the very bones.

Teddy Macker, This World, 2015

Ephphatha: http://biblehub.com/topical/e/ephphatha.htm

Man at the End of Something

Admit the day’s veering toward something
else, the tiny flag of your heart inverted.
Admit the pause between words, wearing
away at the febrile. Admit jealousy, the want
for what you have if you didn’t have it.
Admit hunger. And an absence of which
you are far too aware. Admit the necessity
of breathing, the sound of several thousand
humming birds in torpor, ruby throats
pinched against their breasts. Admit sorrow,
which is the only heirloom that lasts.

Admit the deity, hallowed be his hollow
name. Admit change, but not so much
its progress or lack thereof cannot be seen.
Admit intrigue. Admit hangnail. Admit lovely,
how it casually and often passes you by.
Fail, because you won’t find respite.
Recourse, only as an occupation for the hands.
Reject delicate because you have walked
on glass for reasons. Admit deduction,
how easy it was to itemize. Then possibility,
but limit it to the aroma of an orchid, wilting.

John Hogan

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Astonished

Tilicho Lake

In this high place
it is as simple as this,
leave everything you know behind.

Step toward the cold surface,
say the old prayer of rough love
and open both arms.

Those who come with empty hands
will stare into the lake astonished,
there, in the cold light
reflecting pure snow
the true shape of your own face.

David Whyte

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilicho_Lake

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Consider the Space between Stars

Consider the white space
between words on a page, not just
the margins around them.

Or the space between thoughts:
instants when the mind is inventing
exactly what it thinks

and the mouth waits
to be filled with language.
Consider the space

between lovers after a quarrel,
the white sheet a cold metaphor
between them.

Now picture the brief space
before death enters, hat in hand:
vanishing years, filled with light.

Linda Pastan

On Feeling Young

"It was only in my forties that I really began to feel young. By then I was ready for it. By this time I had lost many illusions, but fortunately not my enthusiasm, nor the joy of living, nor my unquenchable curiosity."

"With this attribute goes another which I prize above everything else, and that is the sense of wonder. No matter how restricted my world may become I cannot imagine it leaving me void of wonder. In a sense I suppose it might be called my religion. I do not ask how it came about, this creation in which we swim, but only to enjoy and appreciate it."

"If you can fall in love again and again… if you can forgive as well as forget, if you can keep from growing sour, surly, bitter and cynical… you’ve got it half licked.”

Curiosity and Wonder as Religion: Henry Miller on Growing Old, the Perils of Success, and the Secret of Remaining Young at Heart
http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/06/26/henry-miller-on-turning-eighty/

Monday, April 13, 2015

You Loved A Woman Once

She told you of childhood summers, mayflies trembling
beside the bridge of her nose, hunting frogs. Skinning them
on a brick, the house smelling like their small, fried legs.

All she wanted was for you to carry her home in a canoe
with paddles, life vests, a flare. You promised
to teach her how to swim when she was in your arms.

Your own body, broken into so many times, became a clear lake
for her to bathe in. Remember pulling the one tiny, suckering
leech from below her neck, the pale collarbone Braille it left.

You said the boat was her shoulder in your mouth, even when
you couldn’t bear her epaulets of freckles, even when nothing
but a body would do and there was no body but her own.

Below her—lily pads, dragonflies, the worms
dug up last summer and thrown from the dock to see fish
rise in a boil—now all snapped raw in the frozen pond. And speaker,

coded “you"—what about the light straining through her dampened
hair, will you catch it in your jaws? There’s the smell of paper
on her skin and you pressing her body like a flower in a book.

Keetje Kuipers

Valediction, on Arriving in a Distant Land

I am not one to travel with no destination. No city or continent
charms me with the vague glee of flight. Nor would I go alone,
for every day, we wake warmth to warmth, your breath in my ear,

my hand on your thigh. Yesterday, the planet bowed before us,
and cool distance clarified a curve measurable in miles, in feet
pacing dutifully through the world. I’ve crossed deserts and seas,

rivers and peaks from which the waters flow, the sun westering
and a moon pierced by sky while morning melts into noon. All
space intensifies, blue, absolute, definite and dismal, magnified

by our finite human measures when we mark our roads with signs
and lines and lights that regulate. Even now, with old mountains
at my back and a thin river lost in a valley of dust, I am with you.

The rays from stars cascade through darkness limitless and lit
too little. Light is slow beside the speed with which my thoughts
turn to you. And no world is large enough to come between us.


Eric Paul Shaffer

Vanishing years, filled with light

Consider the Space between Stars

Consider the white space
between words on a page, not just
the margins around them.

Or the space between thoughts:
instants when the mind is inventing
exactly what it thinks

and the mouth waits
to be filled with language.
Consider the space

between lovers after a quarrel,
the white sheet a cold metaphor
between them.

Now picture the brief space
before death enters, hat in hand:
vanishing years, filled with light.

Linda Pastan

Lessons in being here



\
















"Mindfulness practice, of whatever sort, calls us home to where we are, and helps us abide there. It helps us pay attention. It helps us inhabit our lives instead of just going through the motions.

One of the best tools in mindfulness practice today, as it has been for millennia, is poetry. Why? Because the very act of reading a poem cultivates mindfulness. To fully experience any poem, we must stop whatever else we’re doing and give it our full and gracious attention, start to finish, just as the poet did when writing it.

...If all good poetry deepens our engagement with “this moment we have,” as Rukeyser believed, certain poems do so in especially memorable fashion, because their makers have brought to their topics not only exceptional craft but extraordinary awareness.

Whether these poems demonstrate what mindfulness is, or recount an experience of it, or offer advice on how to practice it, all of them show us how to be more present in the living of our lives. They are exquisite lessons in being here."

http://www.ayearofbeinghere.com/p/mindfulness-poetry.html

Lilac opening, ship lights

"Let me begin by telling you that I was in love.

An ordinary statement, to be sure, but not an ordinary fact, for so few of us learn that love is tenderness, and tenderness is not, as a fair proportion suspect, pity; and still fewer know that happiness in love is not the absolute focusing of all emotion in another: one has always to love a good many things which the beloved must come only to symbolize; the true beloveds of this world are in their lover's eyes lilac opening, ship lights, school bells, a landscape, remembered conversations, friends, a child's Sunday, lost voices, one's favorite suit, autumn and all seasons, memory, yes, it being the earth and water of existence, memory."

Truman Capote, 'Other Voices, Other Rooms'

The lightest touch

Lines To Be Put Into Latin

The lightest touch
if it is gently giv-

en can yield as much
affection as a deep

embrace, soft as a
glance, swift as a

drop of rain, light
as a leaf, I give

you these again.

James Laughlin

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Only the terrible blessing of the journey

Passover

Then you shall take some of the blood, and put it on the door posts and the lintels of the houses . . . and when I see the blood, I shall pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.


—Exodus 12:7 & 13

They thought they were safe
that spring night, when they daubed
the doorways with sacrificial blood.
To be sure, the angel of death
passed them over, but for what?
Forty years in the desert
without a home, without a bed,
following new laws to an unknown land.
Easier to have died in Egypt
or stayed there a slave, pretending
there was safety in the old familiar.

But the promise, from those first
naked days outside the garden,
is that there is no safety,
only the terrible blessing
of the journey. You were born
through a doorway marked in blood.
We are, all of us, passed over,
brushed in the night by terrible wings.

Ask that fierce presence,
whose imagination you hold.
God did not promise that we shall live,
but that we might, at last, glimpse the stars,
brilliant in the desert sky.

Lynn Ungar

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