Monday, December 29, 2014

to Mary






A child unborn, the coming year
Grows big within us, dangerous,
And yet we hunger as we fear
For its increase: the blunted bud

To free the leaf to have its day,
The unborn to be born.  The ones
Who are to come are on their way,
And though we stand in mortal good

Among our dead, we turn in doom
In joy to welcome them, stirred by 
That Ghost who stirs in seed and tomb,
Who brings the stones to parenthood.



~ Wendell Berry
from This Day - Collected and New Sabbath Poems



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

for those with eyes to see






The Angel Standing in the Sun
~ J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851)
from The Tate Gallery, London




their prefabricated picture




English and German troops together, Christmas 1914



It was on this day in 1914 that the last known Christmas truce occurred along the Western Front during World War I. In the week leading up to Christmas, soldiers all over the battlefields had been decorating their trenches with candles and makeshift trimmings when groups of German and British soldiers began shouting seasonal greetings and singing songs to each other. On occasion, a soldier or two would even cross the battlefield to take gifts to the enemy. Then, on Christmas Eve, the men of the Western Front put the war on hold and many soldiers from both sides left their trenches to meet in No Man's Land, where they mingled and exchanged tobacco, chocolate, and sometimes even the buttons from their own uniforms as souvenirs. They played games of football, sang carols, and buried fallen comrades together as the unofficial truce lasted through the night.


The most remarkable group is the group of soldiers who, after having met the enemy between the trenches, started thinking about all they had read and heard about them.

For many, the former hatred was vanished. They now recognized the soldiers from the other side of the trenches as human as themselves. They were not mercenaries, no inhuman monsters eager for war, just humans. The stereotypes they knew from the time before the war and before they met their enemies did not fit after meeting their enemies. Not all Germans acted like it was described in the newspaper and were not as arrogant as the German Kaiser. On the other hand not all the English soldiers were mercenaries fighting for material well-being.

These soldiers started to reflect their own experiences and started to compare their experiences with what they knew before about their enemies. The conclusion they made was that their prefabricated picture and the experiences they gained did not fit together. It was hard for the soldiers, faced with the reality of the war, to keep the black and white picture. The reality they saw was a grey picture with blurry boundaries.










Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hallelujah








Saturday, December 20, 2014

there is a brokenness






There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken, 
a shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable. 
There is a sorrow beyond grief which leads to joy 
and a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength. 
There is a hollow space too vast for words 
through which we pass with each loss, 
out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being. 
There is a cry deeper than all sound 
whose serrated edges cut the heart as we break open 
to the place inside which is unbreakable and whole, 
while learning to sing. 




~ Rashani


Sunday, December 14, 2014

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

a "real you?"









~ Julian Baggini


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

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



Saturday, November 15, 2014

drifting was becoming a passion





.

We were thrilled anew by the expanse of swift water that was the Mississippi.
 Drifting was becoming a passion. Though there was nothing new, 
nothing changed, we looked around each succeeding bend 
with undiminished interest. No prospect was quite like any we had seen before;
 no landing was like another, each afforded new problems handling the boat; 
and when on shore, we climbed the bank or threaded the woods
 with keen expectation - of what, we could not say, but our zest for new shores
 and reaches of river was sharp as ever. The details of drifting and landing,
 of each shore we explored, of towns, boats, people, 
even of the weather, remain vivid in our minds.




~ Harlan Hubbard
from Shantyboat Journal
edited by Don Wallis


Sunday, November 9, 2014

compassion







Joan Halifax

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

memories








~ Maya Beiser

middle of the way






1

I wake in the night,
An old ache in the shoulder blades.
I lie amazed under the trees
That creak a little in the dark,
The giant trees of the world.

I lie on earth the way
Flames lie in the woodpile,
Or as an imprint, in sperm or egg, of what is to be.
I love the earth, and always
In its darkness I am a stranger.

2

6 A.M. Water frozen again. Melted it and made tea. Ate a raw egg and the last orange. Refreshed by a long sleep. the trail practically indistinguishable under 8" of snow. 9:30 A.M. Snow up to my knees in places. Sweat begins freezing under my shirt when I stop to rest. The woods are filled, anyway, with the windy noise of the first streams. 10:30 A.M. the sun at last. The snow starts to melt off the boughs at once, falling with little ticking sounds. Mist clouds are lying in the valleys. 11:45 A.M. Slow, glittering breakers roll in on the beaches ten miles away, very blue and calm. 12 noon. An inexplicable sense of joy, as if some happy news had been transmitted to me directly, by-passing the brain. 2 P.M. From the top of Gauldy I looked back into Hebo valley. Castle Rock sticks into a cloud. A cool breeze comes up from the valley, it is a fresh, earthly wind and tastes of snow and trees. It is not like those transcendental breezes that make the heart ache. It bring happiness. 2:30 P.M. Lost the trail. A woodpecker watches me wade about through the snow trying to locate it. The sun has gone back of the trees. 3:10 P.M. Still hunting for the trail. Getting cold. From an elevation I have an open view to the SE, a world of timberless, white hills, rolling, weirdly wrinkled. Above them a pale half moon. 3:45 P.M. Going on by map and compass. A minute ago a deer fled touching down every fifteen feet or so. 7:30 P.M. Made camp near the heart of Alder Creek. Trampled a bed into the snow and filled it with boughs. Concocted a little fire in the darkness. Ate pork and beans. A slug or two of whiskey burnt my throat. The night very clear. Very cold. That half moon is up there and a lot of stars have come out among the treetops. The fire has fallen to coals.


3

The coals go out,
The last smoke weaves up
Losing itself in the stars.
This is my first night to lie
In the uncreating dark.

In the heart of a man
There sleeps a green worm
That has spun the heart about itself,
And that shall dream itself black wings
One day to break free into the beautiful black sky.

I leave my eyes open,
I lie here and forget our life,
All I see is we float out
Into the emptiness, among the great stars,’
On this little vessel without lights.

I know that I love the day,
The sun on the mountain, the Pacific
Shiny and accomplishing itself in breakers,
But I know I live half alive in the world,
Half my life belongs to the wild darkness.




~ Galway Kinnell
who died today, at home in Sheffield, Vt. at age 87.


Monday, October 27, 2014

be the mystery






Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.






~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from Sonnets of Orpheus II, 29
translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows







Friday, October 10, 2014

to the happy few






Do you know who you are 

O you forever listed
under some other heading
when you are listed at all 

you whose addresses
when you have them
are never sold except
for another reason
something else that is
supposed to identify you 

who carry no card
stating that you are—
what would it say you were
to someone turning it over
looking perhaps for
a date or for
anything to go by 

you with no secret handshake
no proof of membership
no way to prove such a thing
even to yourselves 

you without a word
of explanation
and only yourselves
as evidence



~ W.S. Merwin
 from Collected Poems
photo by ansel adams






Saturday, September 13, 2014

imagination, paths of spirit







~ John O'Donohue



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

one light






‘I’ and ‘you’ are but the lattices,
in the niches of a lamp,
through which the One Light shines.
‘I’ and ‘you’ are the veil
between heaven and earth;
lift this veil and you will see
no longer the bonds of sects and creeds.
When ‘I’ and ‘you’ do not exist,
what is mosque, what is synagogue?
What is the Temple of Fire?



~ Mahmud Shabistari




Mahmud Shabistari was one of Sufi’s greatest poets of the 14th Century. Like Rumi, Shabistari lived in turbulent times. This period was often fraught with dangers, in particular the Mongol invasions brought much devastation. However Shabistari was able to write much poetry and synthesise much of the Sufi wisdom. He had a style similar to Ibn Arabi and expressed Sufi philosophy in a moving and simple language. As David Fieldler says of Shabistari

“ Shabistari possessed a unique genius for summarizing the profound and often complex teachings of Sufism in a beautiful, aphoristic, and concise fashion, which often leaves the reader speechless when the deeper meanings of his verse are grasped. “


The Secret Rose Garden by Shabistari Shabistari (1317 A.D.) must be reckoned among the greatest mystical poetry of any time or land. Treating such themes as the Self and the One, The Spiritual Journey, Time and this Dream-World, and the ecstasy of Divine Inebriation, Shabistari’s work is a perennial witness to the capabilities and destiny of humanity. Stressing the One Light that exists at the heart of all religious traditions, Shabistari's work is one of the clearest and most concise guides to the inner meaning of Sufism, and offers a stunningly direct exposition of Sufi mystical thought in poetic form.

~ Comments from Poet Seers



Monday, June 30, 2014

reply to a letter







In the bottom drawer I find a letter which arrived for the first time twenty- six years ago. A letter written in panic, which continues to breathe when it arrives for the second time.
A house has five windows; through four of them daylight shines clear and still. The fifth window faces a dark sky, thunder and storm. I stand by the fifth window. The letter.
Sometimes a wide abyss separates Tuesday from Wednesday, but twenty-six years may pass in a moment. Time is no straight line. but rather a labyrinth. and if you press yourself against the wall, at the right spot, you can hear the hurrying steps and the voices, you can hear yourself walking past on the other side.
Was that letter ever answered? l don't remember, it was a long time ago. The innumerable thresholds of the sea continued to wander. The heart continued to leap from second to second, like the toad in the wet grass of a night in August.
The unanswered letters gather up above, like cirrostratus clouds foreboding a storm. They dim the rays of the sun. One day l shall reply. One day when I am dead and at last free to collect my thoughts. Or at least so far away from here that l can rediscover myself. When recently arrived I walk in the great city. On 25th Street, on the windy streets of dancing garbage. I who love to stroll and merge with the crowd, a capital letter T in the infinite body of text.





~ Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Göran Malmqvist
from The Blue House
art by emile claus



Saturday, June 28, 2014

tribute








~ Jane Goodall

Thursday, June 26, 2014

the blue house






It is night with glaring sunshine. I stand in the woods and look towards my house with its misty blue walls. As though I were recently dead and saw the house from a new angle.

It has stood for more than eighty summers. Its timber has been impregnated, four times with joy and three times with sorrow. When someone who has lived in the house dies it is repainted. The dead person paints it himself, without a brush, from the inside.

On the other side is open terrain. Formerly a garden, now wilderness. A still surf of weed, pagodas of weed, an unfurling body of text, Upanishads of weed, a Viking fleet of weed, dragon heads, lances, an empire of weed.

Above the overgrown garden flutters the shadow of a boomerang, thrown again and again. It is related to someone who lived in the house long before my time. Almost a child. An impulse issues from him, a thought, a thought of will: “create. . .draw. ..” In order to escape his destiny in time.

The house resembles a child’s drawing. A deputizing childishness which grew forth because someone prematurely renounced the charge of being a child. Open the doors, enter! Inside unrest dwells in the ceiling and peace in the walls. Above the bed there hangs an amateur painting representing a ship with seventeen sails, rough sea and a wind which the gilded frame cannot subdue.

It is always so early in here, it is before the crossroads, before the irrevocable choices. I am grateful for this life! And yet I miss the alternatives. All sketches wish to be real.

A motor far out on the water extends the horizon of the summer night. Both joy and sorrow swell in the magnifying glass of the dew. We do not actually know it, but we sense it: our life has a sister vessel which plies an entirely different route. While the sun burns behind the islands.





~ Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Göran Malmqvist


Sunday, June 22, 2014

a blaze of light








There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah


~ Leonard Cohen





My eyes so fix
upon your image
that whatever I gaze at
I imagine you.



~ Fakhruddin Iraqi
from Divine Flashes



Thursday, June 19, 2014

after work






I stop the car along the pasture edge,
gather up bags of corncobs from the back,
and get out.
Two whistles, one for each,
and familiar sounds draw close in darkness—
cadence of hoof on hardened bottomland,
twinned blowing of air through nostrils curious, flared.
They come deepened and muscular movements
conjured out of sleep: each small noise and scent
heavy with earth, simple beyond communion,
beyond the stretched-out hand from which they calmly
take corncobs, pulling away as I hold
until the mid-points snap.
They are careful of my fingers,
offering that animal-knowledge,
the respect which is due to strangers;
and in the night, their mares' eyes shine, reflecting stars,
the entire, outer light of the world here.




~ Jane Hirshfield 
from Of Gravity and Angels



Sunday, June 15, 2014

reflected





Reflected
in the dragonfly's eye -
mountains.




Kobayashi Issa
(1763-1828)
from Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter
translated by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto





Friday, June 13, 2014

sea foam











Moment by moment you await understanding, 
spiritual perception, peace and good to arrive from nonexistence. 
Nonexistence, then, is God's factory from which He continually produces goods.

He has caused what is nonexistent to appear magnificently existent,
 while the truly existent He has caused to appear as nonexistent.
He has hidden the Sea, yet made the foam visible;
He has concealed the Wind, but displayed the dust.

The dust whirls in the air higher than a minaret: does it rise by itself? 
You see the dust borne high, but the Wind you don't see, although you can surmise it.

You see the white-capped waves tumbling in every direction, 
but without the Sea the foam has no way to move.
You see the foam by sense perception and the Sea by induction:
just as speech is manifest and thought is hidden.


~ Rumi
art by O'Keeffe


Saturday, June 7, 2014

the "I" creature and the moon






There’s a moon in my body, but I can't see it!
A moon and a sun.
A drum never touched by hands, beating, and I can’t hear it! 

As long as a human being worries about when he will die,
and what he has that is his, all of his works are zero.

When affection for the I-creature and what it owns is dead,
then the work of the Teacher is over.

The purpose of labor is to learn;
when you know it, the labor is over.

The apple blossom exists to create fruit; when that
comes, the petal falls.

The musk is inside the deer, but the deer does not
look for it: it wanders around looking for grass.



~ Kabir



no problem







The problem is there is no problem and
the problem solvers have nothing to do
so they start creating problems out
of thin air, out of nothing. Then the problem
is not to see that there are big problems
everywhere and it is woe unto
him or her who cannot see or who will
not acknowledge the problems—they become
part of the problem, a big part of it,
their apathy or obstinacy holding
progress back until they are educated
to the fact that, one, there are big problems,
and, two, if you are not part of solving
them then you represent the problem
the problem solvers have been talking about
all along. So you see now how it is:
there is no problem worse than no problem.





~ Kevin McCaffrey
 from Laughing Cult


Thursday, May 29, 2014

selective blindness









~ Margaret Heffernan



Sunday, May 18, 2014

when I heard






When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before
me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide
and measure them, 
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander' d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.





~  Walt Whitman

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

annunciation




It is not always joy
that is announced to you
in the mundane light.

Not always a wing
or a flood of new knowledge

delivering its atoms of change
to your body.
Sometimes it is

a wound delivered,
just as plainly as in those
paintings, her head tilted

up or down, in some angle
of understood responsibility.

No fanfare in the room
other than some structure inside
made flat

by what you have received,
the heart a putty-colored

folding chair knocked
to the ground.
And the room itself emptied,

this is part of the recognition.
The room a wound,
the light a wing on the floor,

the atoms of dust
in the shaft. And the quiet,
that is grief’s appetite.



~ Rick Barot
with thanks to Cerise Press
art by van gogh




Wednesday, May 7, 2014

without willing





Learn who it is within you who makes everything his own 
and says, “My God, my mind, my thought, my soul, my body.” 

Learn the sources of sorrow, joy, love, hate. 

Learn how it happens that one watches without willing, 
rests without willing, becomes angry without willing, 
loves without willing.




~ Hippolytus of Rome


Sunday, May 4, 2014

thirst and ... mirage





The appearance of water in a mirage persists after the fact that it is a mirage has dawned on us. 
So it is with the world. 

Though knowing it to be unreal, it continues to manifest - 
but we do not try to satisfy our thirst with the water of the mirage. 

As soon as one knows that it is a mirage, 
one gives it up as useless and does not run after it to get water. 




~ Ramana Maharshi




to give myself utterly






I want to give myself
utterly
as this maple
that burned and burned
for three days without stinting
and then in two more
dropped off every leaf;
as this lake that,
no matter what comes
to its green-blue depths,
both takes and returns it.

In the still heart that refuses nothing,
the world is twice-born—
two earths wheeling,
two heavens,
two egrets reaching
down into subtraction;
even the fish
for an instant doubled,
before it is gone.
I want the fish.

I want the losing it all
when it rains and I want
the returning transparence.
I want the place
by the edge-flowers where
the shallow sand is deceptive,
where whatever
steps in must plunge,
and I want that plunging.

I want the ones
who come in secret to drink
only in early darkness,
and I want the ones
who are swallowed.

I want the way
the water sees without eyes,
hears without ears,
shivers without will or fear
at the gentlest touch.

I want the way it
accepts the cold moonlight
and lets it pass,
the way it lets
all of it pass
without judgment or comment.

There is a lake,
Lalla Ded sang, no larger
than one seed of mustard,
that all things return to.
O heart, if you
will not, cannot, give me the lake,
then give me the song.





~ Jane Hirshfield
art by Georgia O'Keeffe