Thursday, December 18, 2014

no words for them that are equal to them






The country seems bigger, for you can see through the bare trees. There are times when the woods is absolutely still and quiet. The house holds warmth. A wet snow comes in the night and covers the ground and clings to the trees, making the whole world white. For a while in the morning the world is perfect and beautiful. You think you will never forget.

You think you will never forget any of this, you will remember it always just the way it was. But you can't remember it the way it was. To know it, you have to be living in the presence of it right as it is happening. It can return only by surprise. Speaking of these things tells you that there are no words for them that are equal to them or that can restore them to your mind. And so you have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, and you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment, in this presence.

But you have a life too that you remember. It stays with you. You have lived a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present, and your memories of it, remember now, are of a different life in a different world and time. When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. You are remembering it as it is. It is a vision or a dream, present with you in the present, alive with you in the only time you are alive.




~ Wendell Berry
with thanks to whiskey river


the skinny birds of non-existence









~ Robert Bly



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

trees in winter








All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.







~ William Carlos Williams
photo by Callahan








Sunday, December 14, 2014

the deep pull of love






When I am not present to myself, 
then I am only aware of that half of me, 
that mode of my being which turns outward to created things. 

And then it is possible for me to lose myself among them. 
Then I no longer feel the deep secret pull 
of the gravitation of love which draws my inward self toward God. 

My will and my intelligence lose their command of the other faculties. 
My senses, my imagination, my emotions, 
scatter to pursue their various quarries all over the face of the earth. 

Recollection brings them home. 
It brings the outward self into line with the inward spirit, 
and makes my whole being answer the deep pull of love 
that reaches down into the mystery of God.





~ Thomas Merton 
from No Man is an Island
sketch by the author

from the beginning








From the beginning

the flying birds have left

no footprints on the blue sky






~ Miso Soseki
translated by W.S. Merwin

Muso Soseki first practiced Zen under the guidance of a Chinese teacher but he "failed miserably." He later studied with the Japanese Zen master Koho Kennichi and soon began to unfold into profound awakening, receiving inka or certification of enlightenment in 1339.

Muso Soseki went on to teach large numbers of students and, like many Zen practitioners, write poetry. He also became an advisor to the first Ashikaga Shogun and helped to re-establish trade and communications between Japan and China.

Soseki is perhaps most famous, however, for his profound influence in the art of Zen gardening as spaces to cultivate awareness. 

comments from Poetry Chaikhana


one loss





One loss
folds itself inside another.
It is like the origami
held inside a plain sheet of paper
Not creased yet.
Not yet more heavy.
The hand stays steady.





~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come Thief

kind









I hadn't noticed
till a death took me outside
and left me there
that grass lifts so quietly
to catch everything
we drop and we drop 
everything.



~ Leonard Nathan



Saturday, December 13, 2014

a "real you?"









~ Julian Baggini


Thursday, December 11, 2014

vanished into wonder





What is, simply is,
And "I" am nowhere to be found.


Far from the village,
Road vanished into path,
Path vanished into hillside,
Hillside vanished into Vastness,
The Known vanished into Wonder,

Look!


~ Jnaneshwar
the 13th Century Indian

a 13th century saint who, although he lived only twenty-two years, left a profound impact on Hindu spirituality. In Jnaneshwar's writings, Shiva is the formless, unmanifest Absolute, and Shakti is manifest form. Shiva is "That", and Shakti is "This" – all that arises in and as That. But the most precious gift of Jnaneshwar is his communication in words of the inexpressible truth that Shiva and Shakti are One. Shakti is merely Shiva – unmanifest, objectless, unmoving – moving into and as form. Jnaneshwar brilliantly communicates this inexpressible truth through verse, in which "He" is Shiva, and "She" is Shakti.

commentary by Chuck Surface


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

what Jesus said








The wind blows where it likes: that is what
Everyone is like who is born from the wind.
Oh now it’s getting serious. We are the ones
Born from the wind that blows along the plains
And over the sea where no one has a home.
And that Upsetting Rabbi, didn't he say:
‘Take nothing with you, no blanket, no bread.
When evening comes, sleep wherever you are.
And if the owners say no, shake out the dust
From your sandals; leave the dust on their doorstep.’
Don’t hope for what will never come. Give up hope,
Dear friends, the joists of life are laid on the winds





~ Robert Bly
from Eating The Honey of Words. New and Selected Poems



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

don't wander aimlessly





My heart, sit only with those
who know and understand you.

Sit only under a tree
that is full of blossoms.

In the bazaar of herbs and potions
don't wander aimlessly,
find the shop with a potion that is sweet.

If you don't have a measure
people will rob you in no time.

You will take counterfeit coins
thinking they are real.

Don't fill your bowl with food from
every boiling pot you see.

Not every joke is humorous, so don't search
for meaning where there isn't one.

Not every eye can see,
not every sea is full of pearls.

My heart, sing the song of longing
like nightingale.

The sound of your voice casts a spell
on every stone, on every thorn.

First, lay down your head,
then one by one
let go of all distractions.

Embrace the light and let it guide you
beyond the winds of desire.

There you will find a spring and 
nourished by its sweet waters
like a tree you will bear fruit forever.




~ Rumi
Ghazal 563 
from Divan-e Shams
translation by Kolin and Mafi
and Professor Arberry



Sunday, December 7, 2014

embracing otherness, embracing self,








~ Thandie Newton


Friday, December 5, 2014

be foolishly in love.







A spirit that lives in this world
and does not wear the shirt of love,
such an existence is a deep disgrace.
Be foolishly in love,
because love is all there is.

There is no way into presence
except through a love exchange.
If someone asks, But what is love?
answer, Dissolving the will.

True freedom comes to those
who have escaped the questions
of freewill and fate.
Love is an emperor.
The two worlds play across him.
He barely notices their tumbling game.

Love and lover live in eternity.
Other desires are substitutes
for that way of being.
How long do you lay embracing a corpse?
Love rather the soul, which cannot be held.

Anything born in spring dies in the fall,
but love is not seasonal.
With wine pressed from grapes,
expect a hangover.
But this love path has no expectations.

You are uneasy riding the body?
Dismount. Travel lighter.
Wings will be given.
Be clear like a mirror
reflecting nothing.

Be clean of pictures and the worry
that comes with images.
Gaze into what is not ashamed
or afraid of any truth.
Contain all human faces in your own
without any judgment of them.

Be pure emptiness.
What is inside that? you ask.
Silence is all I can say.
Lovers have some secrets
That they keep.





~ Rumi
art by van gogh




casida of the rose

     .


The rose
was not searching for the sunrise:
almost eternal on its branch,
it was searching for something else.

The rose
was not searching for darkness or science:
borderline of flesh and dream,
it was searching for something else.

The rose
was not searching for the rose.
Motionless in the sky
it was searching for something else.





~ Federico Garcia Lorca
translation by Robert Bly



Friday, November 21, 2014

response and reconciliation





I


Ah life! Does no one answer?
His words rolled, bolts of lightning etched
in years that were boulders and now are mist.
Life never answers.
It has no ears and doesn't hear us;
it doesn't speak, it has no tongue.
It neither goes nor stays:
we are the ones who speak,
the ones who go,
while we hear from echo to echo, year to year,
our words rolling through a tunnel with no end.

That which we call life
hears itself within us, speaks with our tongues,
and through us, knows itself.
As we portray it, we become its mirror, we invent it.
An invention of an invention: it creates us
without knowing what it has created,
we are an accident that thinks.

It is a creature of reflections
we create by thinking,
and it hurls into fictitious abysses.
The depths, the transparencies
where it floats or sinks: not life, its idea.

It is always on the other side and is always other,
has a thousand bodies and none,
never moves and never stops,
it is born to die, and is born at death.
Is life immortal? Don't ask life,
for it doesn't even know what life is.

We are the ones who know
that one day it too must die and return
to the beginning, the inertia of the origin.
The end of yesterday, today, and tomorrow,
the dissipation of time
and of nothing, its opposite.

Then--will there be a then?
will the primogenious spark light
the matrix of the worlds,
a perpetual re-beginning of a senseless whirling?
No one answers, no one knows.
We only know that to live is to live for.


II


Sudden spring, a girl who wakes
on a green bed guarded by thorns;
tree of noon, heavy with oranges:
your tiny suns, fruits of cool fire,
summer gathers them in transparent baskets;
the fall is severe, its cold light
sharpens its knife against the red maples;
Januaries and Februaries: their beards are ice,
and their eyes sapphires that April liquefies,
the wave that rises, the wave that stretches out,
appearances-disappearances
on the circular road of the year

All that we see, all that we forget,
the harp of the rain, the inscription of the lightning,
the hurried thoughts, reflections turned to birds,
the doubts of the path as it meanders,
the wailing of the wind
as it carves the faces of the mountains,
the moon on tiptoe over the lake,
the breezes in gardens, the throbbing of night,
the camps of stars on the burnt field,
the battle of reflections on the white salt flats,
the fountain and its monologue,
the held breath of outstretched night
and the river that entwines it, the pine under the evening star
and the waves, instant statues, on the sea,
the flock of clouds that the wind herds
through drowsy valleys, the peaks, the chasms,
time turned to rock, frozen eras,
time maker of roses and plutonium,
time that makes as it razes.

The ant, the elephant, the spider, and the sheep,
our strange world of terrestrial creatures
that are born, eat, kill, sleep, play, couple,
and somehow know that they die;
our world of humanity, far and near,
the animal with eyes in its hands
that tunnels through the past and examines the future,
with its histories and uncertainties,
the ecstasy of the saint, the sophisms of the evil,
the elation of lovers, their meetings, their contentions,
the insomnia of the old man counting his mistakes,
the criminal and the just, a double enigma,
the Father of the People, his crematory parks,
his forests of gallows and obelisks of skulls,
the victorious and the defeated,
the long sufferings and the one happy moment,
the builder of houses and the one who destroys them,
this paper where I write, letter by letter,
which you glance at with distracted eyes,
all of them and all of it, all
is the work of time that begins and ends.



III



From birth to death time surrounds us
with its intangible walls.
We fall with the centuries, the years, the minutes.
Is time only a falling, only a wall?

For a moment, sometimes, we see
--not with our eyes but with our thoughts--
time resting in a pause.
The world half-opens and we glimpse
the immaculate kingdom,
the pure forms, presences
unmoving, floating
on the hour, a river stopped:
truth, beauty, numbers, ideas
--and goodness, a word buried
in our century.

A moment without weight or duration,
a moment outside the moment:
thought sees, our eyes think.
Triangles, cubes, the sphere, the pyramid
and the other geometrical figures
thought and drawn by mortal eyes
but which have been here since the beginning,
are, still legible, the world, its secret writing,
the reason and the origin of the turning of things,
the axis of the changes, the unsupported pivot
that rests on itself, a reality without a shadow.

The poem, the piece of music, the theorem,
unpolluted presences born from the void,
are delicate structures
built over an abyss:
infinities fit into their finite forms,
and chaos too is ruled by their hidden symmetry.

Because we know it, we are not an accident:
chance, redeemed, returns to order.
Tied to the earth and to time,
a light and weightless ether,
thought supports the worlds and their weight,
whirlwinds of suns turned
into a handful of signs
on a random piece of paper.

Wheeling swarms
of transparent evidence
where the eyes of understanding
drink a water simple as water.

The universe rhymes with itself,
it unfolds and is two and is many
without ceasing to be one.

Motion, a river that runs endlessly
with open eyes through the countries of vertigo
--there is no above nor below, what is near is far--
returns to itself
--without returning, now turned
into a fountain of stillness.

Tree of blood, man feels, thinks, flowers,
and bears strange fruits: words.
What is thought and what is felt entwine,
we touch ideas: they are bodies and they are numbers.

And while I say what I say
time and space fall dizzyingly,
restlessly. They fall in themselves.
Man and the galaxy return to silence.

Does it matter? Yes--but it doesn't matter:
we know that silence is music and that
we are a chord in this concert.


–Octavio Paz
awarded the 1990 Nobel Prize for literature. 
Response and Reconciliation was the last poem he published 
before his death on April 19,1998
translated by Eliot Weinberger
with thanks to http://deathdeconstructed.blogspot.com/