Sunday, November 22, 2015

for citizenship

In these times when anger
Is turned into anxiety
And someone has stolen
The horizons and mountains,

Our small emperors on parade
Never expect our indifference
To disturb their nakedness.

They keep their heads down
And their eyes gleam with reflection
From aluminum economic ground,

The media wraps everything
In a cellophane of sound,
And the ghost surface of the virtual
Overlays the breathing earth.

The industry of distraction 
Makes us forget
That we live in a universe.

We have become converts 
To the religion of stress
And its deity of progress;

That we may have courage 
To turn aside from it all
And come to kneel down before the poor,
To discover what we must do,
How to turn anxiety
Back into anger,
How to find our way home.

~ John O'Donohue
from To Bless the Space Between Us
photo by Robert Frank

Saturday, November 21, 2015

are animals thinking and feeling?

~ Carl Safina

Thursday, November 19, 2015

the black figure below the boat

We hear phrases: "He made me do it."
"I never wanted that."  The boy's boat gets
Pushed out on the sea, and before long the tidal
Currents guide it from beneath.  He goes to sleep.

He meets a woman, and marries her even though
He doesn't want to.  He says, "It was the current."
But some tiny black figure swims below the boat,
Pushing it.  This man or god works all night.

Then what?  Months go by, years, twenty years.
A lot of water.  The boat hits gravel.
It's an island - the kind where giants live.
"Don't say you didn't want it.  Just get ready."

~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

the green cookstove

A lonely man once sat on a large flat stone.
When he lifted it, he saw a kitchen: a green
Enamel range with big claw feet, familiar.
Someone lives in that room, cooking and cackling.

"I saw her once," Virgil said. "She was Helen's
Younger sister."  Helen's betrayed husband
Sits by the window, peeling garlic cloves,
And throwing crusts to Plymouth Rocks.

We'll never understand this, Somewhere below
The flat stone of the skull, a carnivorous couple
Lives and plans future wars.  Are we innocent?
These wars don't happen by accident - they occur

Too regularly. How often do we lift the plate
At the bottom of our brain and throw some garlic
And grain down to the kitchen?  "Keep cooking,
My dears," "Something good will come of this."

~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems

who one is

One never knows who one is. 
The others tell you who you are, 
don't they? 

And as you're told so a million times 
if you live a long life, in the end you don't know at all 
who you are. Everyone says something different. 
You yourself also say something 
different each new moment.

~  Thomas Bernhard

Monday, November 16, 2015

out of my deeper heart

Out of my deeper heart a bird rose and flew skyward.
Higher and higher did it rise, yet larger and larger did it grow.
At first it was but like a swallow, then a lark, then an eagle, then as vast as a spring cloud, and then it filled the starry heavens.
Out of my heart a bird flew skyward. And it waxed larger as it flew.  Yet it left not my heart.

~ Kahlil Gibran
from The Forerunner, His Parables and Poems
drawing: Veiled Face, by the author

the taste of sorrow

When young, I did not know the taste of sorrow.
I went up the tower.
I went up the tower

to write a poem on pretended sorrow.

By now I’ve completely tasted sorrow, but already
I do not want to speak about it.
I do not want to speak about it,
I only say: what a beautiful, cold autumn.

~   Xing Qijia

Monday, November 9, 2015

I found

My dear,
In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.
In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.
In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.
I realized, through it all, that…
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, 
within me, there’s something stronger – 
something better, pushing right back.

Truly yours,
Albert Camus

from Retour à Tipasa, 1952 
(Return to Tipasa, 1952)
with thanks to whiskey river

Sunday, November 8, 2015

first step

The first step in love
is losing your head.

After the petty ego
you then give up your life
and bear the calamity.

With this behind you, proceed:
Polish the ego's rust
from the mirror
of your self

~ Fakhr al-Din Iraqi
from Love's Alchemy
translations by David and Sabrineh Fideler

Saturday, November 7, 2015



hiding in this cage
of visible matter

is the invisible

pay attention
to her

she is singing
your song

~ Kabir
Sushil Rao translation

our group identities

When you seek to affirm your unity by denying that you have anything to do with anyone else, by negating everyone else in the universe until you come down to you: what is there left to affirm? 

 The true way is just the opposite: the more I am able to affirm others, to say “yes” to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says “yes” to everyone.

 I will be a better Catholic, not if I can refute every shade of Protestantism, but if I can affirm the truth in it and still go further. So, too, with the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, etc. . If I affirm myself as a Catholic merely by denying all that is Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., in the end I will find that there is not much left for me to affirm as a Catholic: and certainly no breath of the Spirit with which to affirm it.

~ Thomas Merton
from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

Thursday, November 5, 2015

the heart's value

On God's pathway
there are two Ka'bas.

One is the Ka'ba you can see;
the other, the Ka'ba of the heart.

As much as you can,
make pilgrimage to the heart -

The heart's value
is greater
than a thousands Ka'bas.

~ Awhad al-Din Kirmani
from Love's Alchemy
translations by David and Sabrineh Fideler
Kneeling "Chinese" Man, 13th-14th centuries. 
Terracotta, Brooklyn Museum

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bach cello Solo Nr.1, BWV 1007


Not a single soul lacks
a pathway to you.

There's no stone,
no flower-
not a single piece of straw-
lacking your existence.

In every particle of the world,
the moon of your love
causes the heart
of each atom to glow.

~ Muhammad Shirin Maghribi  
from Love's Alchemy
Poems from the Sufi Tradition
translations by David and Sabrineh Fideler

Monday, November 2, 2015

a thousand years of joy - the film trailer