Friday, November 6, 2009

I liked her from the first

I liked her from the first. She was of most pleasing appearance.
 She was very mild. Her eyes were the mildest I had ever seen.
 In this she was quite unlike the rest of the girls and women of the Folk,
 who were born viragos. She never made harsh, angry cries,
 and it seemed to be her nature to flee away from trouble
 rather than to remain and fight.
The mildness I have mentioned seemed to emanate from her whole being.
 Her bodily as well as facial appearance was the cause of this.
 Her eyes were larger than most of her kind, and they were not so deep-set, 
while the lashes were longer and more regular. Nor was her nose so thick
 and squat. It had quite a bridge, and the nostrils opened downward.
Her incisors were not large, nor was her upper lip long and down-hanging,
 nor her lower lip protruding. She was not very hairy, except on the outsides
 of arms and legs and across the shoulders; and while she was thin-hipped,
 her calves were not twisted and gnarly.
I have often wondered, looking back upon her from the twentieth century
 through the medium of my dreams, and it has always occurred to me
 that possibly she may have been related to the Fire People. 
Her father, or mother, might well have come from that higher stock.
~ Jack London
 from Before Adam



Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Interior Portrait

You don't survive in me
because of memories;
nor are you mine because
of a lovely longing's strength.

What does make you present
is the ardent detour
that a slow tenderness
traces in my blood.

I do not need
to see you appear;
being born sufficed for me
to lose you a little less.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke


Losing too is still ours

Losing too is still ours; and even forgetting
still has a shape in the kingdom of transformation.

When something's let go of, it circles; and though we are
rarely the center

of the circle, it draws around us its unbroken, marvelous

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
(For Hans Carossa)

Exposed on the cliffs of the heart

Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Look, how tiny down there,
look: the last village of words and, higher,
(but how tiny) still one last
farmhouse of feeling. Can you see it?
Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Stoneground
under your hands. Even here, though,
something can bloom; on a silent cliff-edge
an unknowing plant blooms, singing, into the air.
But the one who knows? Ah, he began to know
and is quiet now, exposed on the cliffs of the heart.
While, with their full awareness,
many sure-footed mountain animals pass
or linger. And the great sheltered birds flies, slowly
circling, around the peak's pure denial. - But
without a shelter, here on the cliffs of the heart... 

~ Rainer Maria Rilke 

the lovers

See how in their veins all becomes spirit:
into each other they mature and grow.

Like axles, their forms tremblingly orbit,
round which it whirls, bewitching and aglow.

Thirsters, and they receive drink,
watchers, and see:they receive sight.

Let them into one another sink
so as to endure each other outright.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, November 2, 2009

But as all severall soules containe
Mixtures of things, they know not what,
Love, these mixt soules, doth mixe again,
And makes both one, each this and that.
~ John Donne from The Extasie
    painting by Oliver Hunter


Sunday, November 1, 2009

though love be a day


(though love be a day
and life be nothing,
it shall not stop kissing)

~ e.e.cummings


Friday, October 30, 2009

show me your face


show me your face 
i crave
flowers and gardens
open your lips
i crave
the taste of honey
come out from
behind the clouds
i desire a sunny face
your voice echoed
saying "leave me alone"
i wish to hear your voice
again saying "leave me alone"
i swear this city without you
is a prison
i am dying to get out
to roam in deserts and mountains
i am tired of
flimsy friends and
submissive companions
i die to walk with the brave
am blue hearing
nagging voices and meek cries
i desire loud music
drunken parties and
wild dance
one hand holding
a cup of wine
one hand caressing your hair
then dancing in orbital circle
that is what i yearn for
i can sing better than any nightingale
but because of
this city's freaks
i seal my lips
while my heart weeps
yesterday the wisest man
holding a lit lantern
in daylight
was searching around town saying
i am tired of
all these beasts and brutes
i seek
a true human
we have all looked
for one but
no one could be found
they said
yes he replied
but my search is
for the one
who cannot be found

 ~ Rumi
Translated by Nader Khalili

)when what hugs stopping earth than silent is

)when what hugs stopping earth than silent is

more silent than more than much more is or
total sun oceaning than any this
tear jumping from each most least eye of star
and without was if minus and shall be
immeasurable happenless unnow
shuts more than open could that every tree
or than all life more death begins to grow
end's ending then these dolls of joy and grief
these recent memories of future dream
these perhaps who have lost their shadows if
which did not do the losing spectres mime
until out of merely not nothing comes
only one snowflake(and we speak our names

~ e.e.cummings

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Larry Darrells' Awakening from 'The Razor's Edge"

"How grand the sight was that was displayed before me as the day broke in its splendour...I was ravished with the beauty of the world. I'd never known such exaltation and such a transcendent joy. I had a strange sensation, a tingling that arose in my feet and traveled up to my head, and I felt as though I were suddenly released from my body and as pure spirit partook of a loveliness I had never conceived. I had a sense that a knowledge more than human possessed me, so that everything that had been confused was clear and everything that had perplexed me was explained. I was so happy that it was pain and I struggled to release myself from it, for I felt that if it lasted a moment longer I should die; and yet it was such rapture that I was ready to die rather than forego it. How can I tell you what I felt? No words can tell the ecstasy of my bliss. When I came to myself I was exhausted and trembling"

~ Somerset Maugham

click the title for background information

face to face

The human face is the icon of creation.
Each person also has an inner face, which is always sensed but never seen. 
The heart is the inner face of your life. 
The human journey strives to make this inner face beautiful. 
It is here that love gathers within you. 
Love is absolutely vital for a human life. 
For love alone can awaken what is divine within you. 
In love, you grow and come home to your self. 
When you learn to love and to let yourself be loved, 
you come home to the hearth of your own spirit. 

A world lies hidden behind each human face. When you look at some faces, you can see the turbulence of the infinite beginning to gather to the surface. Suddenly...their gaze becomes the vehicle of some primal inner presence. The human face carries mystery and is the exposure point of the mystery of the individual life. It is where the private inner world of a person protrudes into the anonymous world. Your face is the icon of your life. In the human face, a life looks out at the world and also looks in on itself. When a persons life has been bleak, much of its negativity can remain unhealed...the bleakness lodges in the face ... instead of being a warm presence, has hardened into a mask. Yet one also encounters the opposite, namely, the beautiful presence of an old face deeply lined ...that has retained a lovely innocence.


~ John O'Donohue

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a sadness fell upon me

Only now and again a sadness fell upon me,
and I started up from my dream and felt a sweet
trace of a strange fragrance in the south wind.

That vague sweetness made my heart ache with
longing and it seemed to me that it was the eager 
breath of the summer seeking for its completion.

I knew not then that it was so near, that it was 
mine, and that this perfect sweetness had 
blossomed in the depth of my own heart.

~ Gitanjali
translated from original Bengali by Tagore

from the Tao Te Ching

Nothing in the world,
Is as yielding and receptive as water;
Yet in attacking the firm and inflexible,
Nothing triumphs so well.
Because of what it is not, 
This becomes easy.
The receptive triumphs over the inflexible;
The yielding triumphs over the rigid.
-Lao Tzu

On the Road Home

It was when I said,
"There is no such thing as the truth,"
That the grapes seemed fatter.
The fox ran out of his hole.

You...You said,
"There are many truths,
But they are not parts of a truth."
Then the tree, at night, began to change,

Smoking through green and smoking blue.
We were two figures in a wood.
We said we stood alone.

It was when I said.
"Words are not forms of a single word.
In the sum of the parts, there are only the parts.
The world must be measured by the eye";

It was when you said,
"The idols have seen lots of poverty,
Snakes and gold and lice,
But not the truth";

It was at that time, that the silence was largest
And longest, the night was roundest,
The fragrance of the autumn warmest,
Closest and strongest.

~ Wallace Stevens

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun ; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
~ Wallace Stevens



At dawn a knot of sea-lions lies off the shore
In the slow swell between the rock and the cliff,
Sharp flippers lifted, or great-eyed heads, as they roll in the sea,
Bigger than draft-horses, and barking like dogs
Their all-night song. It makes me wonder a little
That life near kin to human, intelligent, hot-blooded, idle and 
     singing, can float at ease
In the ice-cold midwinter water. Then, yellow dawn
Colors the south, I think about the rapid and furious lives
     in the sun :
They have little to do with ours; they have nothing to do with
     oxygen and salted water ; they would look monstrous
If we could see them : the beautiful passionate bodies of living
    flame, batlike flapping and screaming,
Tortured with burning lust and acute awareness, that ride the
Of the great fire-globe. They are animals, as we are. There are
     many other chemistries of animal life
Besides the slow oxidation of carbohydrates and amino-acids.
~ Robinson Jeffers

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

seeker of truth
follow no path
all paths lead where
truth is here

~ e.e. cummings

I dwell in Possibility

I dwell in Possibility--
A fairer House than Prose--
More numerous of Windows--
Superior--for Doors--
Of Chambers as the Cedars--
Impregnable of Eye--
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky--
Of Visitors--the fairest--
For Occupation--This--
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise--
~ Emily Dickinson

Thoreau's Journal

The obstacles which the heart meets with are like granite blocks which one alone cannot move. She who was as the morning light to me is now neither the morning star nor the evening star. We meet but to find each other further asunder, and the oftener we meet the more rapid our divergence. So a star of the first magnitude pales in the heavens, not from any fault in the observer’s eye nor from any fault in itself, perchance, but because its progress in its own system has put a greater distance between.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Monday, October 26, 2009

magic words

In the very earliest time,

when both people and animals lived on earth,
a person could become an animal if he wanted to
and an animal could become a human being.
Sometimes they were people
and sometimes animals
and there was no difference.
All spoke the same language.
That was the time when words were like magic.
The human mind had mysterious powers.
A word spoken by chance
might have strange consequences.
It would suddenly come alive
and what people wanted to happen could happen—
all you had to do was say it.
Nobody can explain this:
That's the way it was.

~ after Nalungiaq

from The Angelic Poems

Before they ripen into diffused spirits
angels are leaf-stalks
and their wings begonia leaves
with dark surfaces
and red glitterings within.
Slowly, very slowly, they emerge out of the flower-pot
of the body,
take on the face of Bill or Bob,
pierce through the cool bower 
of the world and ascend like the promise
of a harmonious end;
on their lips shine
the last bubbles of our breathing,
those droplets 
of our unrelieved loneliness.
~ Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke

Sunday, October 25, 2009

We come unsighted


We come, unsighted, in the dark,
to the great feast of lovers
where nothing is withheld.
That we are there we know
by touch, by inner sight.
They all are here, who by
their giving take, by taking
give, who by their living
love, and by loving live.
~ Wendell Berry

Saturday, October 24, 2009

To a Stranger

Passing stranger! you do not know
How longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking,
Or she I was seeking
(It comes to me as a dream)

I have somewhere surely
Lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall'd as we flit by each other,
Fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,

You grew up with me,
Were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become
not yours only nor left my body mine only,

You give me the pleasure of your eyes,
face, flesh as we pass,
You take of my beard, breast, hands,
in return,

I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you
when I sit alone or wake at night, alone
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

~ Walt Whitman

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Seventh Day Seventh Month

Tangle together like painted
Clouds on a screen, then,
Thighs enlaced, heads together
On the pillow we sing softly
To the full moon and watch time pass.
The declining moon marks the hours.
Suddenly we are seized by grief and fear.
Three o’clock in the morning
Has gone by but we cannot
Get enough of one another. Insatiable
Passion, night swift as the shuttle
In the loom. Oh heaven, what is
Your price for one more hour?

~ Kuan Yun She



If we are peaceful.
If we are happy.
We can smile and blossom
Like a flower.
And everyone
In our family,
Our entire society
Will benefit
From our peace.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Our deepest fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

~ Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For you to hear me


For you to hear me
my words
thin themselves out, at times,
like the trails of gulls on the shore.
A necklace of bones, a crazed rattle
for your fingers smooth as grapes.
And I look at my words from a distance.
More than mine they are yours.
Like tendrils they climb my ancient suffering.
They climb, like this, inside damp walls.
It is you the guilty one in this blood-wet round.
They are escaping from my dark covert.
You pervade everything, you, pervade everything.
They live, before you, in the solitude you enter,
and are accustomed, more than you, to my sadnesses.
Now I want them to say what I want them to tell you,
for you to hear as I want you to hear me.
The winds of misery may still bring them down.
Hurricanes of dream may still make them tumble.
You attend other voices, in my voice of pain,
Cries, of ancient mouths: blood, of ancient pleas.
Love me. Don’t leave me, friend. Follow me.
Follow me, friend, in this wave of misery.
They go on being miserly, with your love, my words.
You enter everything, you, enter everything.
I make, out of all this, an infinite necklace,
for your white fingers, smooth as grapes.
~ Pablo Neruda

Give me your hand

Give me your hand
Make room for me to lead
and follow you
beyond this rage of poetry.
Let othes have
the privacy of 
touching words
and love of loss
 of love.
For me 
Give me your hand.
~ Maya Angelou

When you are old and grey


When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
~ William Butler Yeats


sublime generosity

I was dead, then alive.
Weeping, then laughing.
The power of love came into me,
and I became fierce like a lion,
then tender like the evening star.
He said, "You're not mad enough.
You don't belong in this house."
I went wild and had to be tied up.
He said, "Still not wild enough
to stay with us!"
I broke though another layer
into joyfulness.
He said, "It's not enough."
I died.
He said, "You're a clever little man,
full of fantasy and doubting."
I plucked out my feathers and became a fool.
He said, "Now you're the candle
for this assembly."
But I'm no candle. Look!
I'm scattered smoke.
He said, "You are the sheikh, the guide."
But I'm not a teacher. I have not power.
He said, "You already have wings.
I cannot give you wings."
But I wanted his wings.
I felt like some flightless chicken.
Then nw events said to me,
"Don't move. A sublime generosity is
coming toward you."
And old love said, "Stay with me."
I said, "I will."
You are the fountain of the sun's light.
I am a willow shadow on the ground.
You make my raggedness silky.
The soul at dawn is like darkened water
that slowly begins to say Thank you, thank you.
Then at sunset, again, Venus gradually
changes into the moon and then the whole nightsky.
This comes of smiling back
at your smile.
The chess master says nothing,
other than moving the silent chess piece.
That I am part of the ploys
of this game makes me
amazingly happy.
~ Rumi

who empty the self

I honor those who try
to rid themselves of any lying,
who empty the self
and have only clear being there.
~ Rumi

In your light I learn how to love


In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.
~ Rumi


Monday, October 19, 2009

I go by a field

I go by a field where once
I cultivated a few poor crops.
It is now covered with young trees,
for the forest that belongs here
has come back and reclaimed its own.
And I think of all the effort
I have wasted and all the time,
and of how much joy I took
in that failed work and how much 
it taught me. For in so failing
I learned something of my place,
something of myself, and now
I welcome back the trees.
~ Wendell Berry