Friday, May 30, 2014

to the next centuries






Is there autumn there, is there leaf smoke, is the air
blued and mapled, oaked and appled and wined,
is that tang, that ache for who knows?
gone from your sweaters and hair?
Are there trees even, do they break out
in uncontrollable cold fires,
do they shatter in long, unreal downstreamings,
is October the same without them, is our sadness
so river-and-wind swift, and so free, is it still
our sharpest seeing, if we have not learned from them
how to be taken apart, how to be blown away? 

Are clouds the same, are they still our clouds
if leaves have never seethed against them
on a tempestuous night, are they wild, is the moon the same
if it has never wildly sailed through wild clouds,
is there a Hunter’s Moon, a Blood Moon tinged
with the rust and incandescence of the leaves,
is there a moon at all, a hanging stone,
a white astonishment, the exile’s breath on a pane? 

There is sun, I am sure—has it grown more dangerous,
has its shine through thin ozone whited out your eyes,
does it drive dunes through your forests, has it warmed
the seas to exactly body temperature?
What is it like to have won and won and won,
no mile without its grid of roads,
no block unwired, no handswidth without wireless,
when every breeze has been rebreathed
each current steered, each cliff a mirror?
Is there no wild desire, no wild with all regret
because no animals are wild, because the hills
are leveled and the valleys raised
because there is no clear and endless sky? 

And what has endangered my imagination
that imagines you pale and bodiless and scanned,
not a shadow left in your floodlit brain,
your sleep hard in coming, dreams shallow and bright?
Why do I see you in a white room floating
among machines and drips and feeds
as if you were my dead, who went before me
on white boats launched into the future,
as if you were me, when I am tired,
as I am tired now, tired of the expertise
that says there is nothing new,
no thoughts or feelings not already words,
no words I have not said again and again,
thinking how long this trip has been, so near its end
that I will never again put down new roots,
change jobs, raise children, fall in love.
I can lighten my suitcase now, discarding my ticket,
since there is no return, the map of the city
I’ll never get back to, the little blue phrase book
for the language I’ll never speak again, the sweater,
the half-read novel, the comb, the end of this thought.... 

I know you will never hear the squeak of a mail box,
church bells (already quaint here), a van
graveling around a turn, a CD (surely gone).
I won’t ask (couldn't endure to know) are there birds there
still building the dawn. I know you can’t hear
the wind I’m hearing though there will be winds, the song
that’s blowing me away, though there will be song
after song. And you can’t hear this, though you, like me,
will lose what seems like everything and go on, cry
against your weariness with leaves and moon and wind,
or whatever passes then for moon and leaves and wind,
cry out against death and the dead world,
the dead world, and the death in you, until, like me,
you can stand again unborn, unused, unknown.




~ James Richardson
with thanks to the mark on the wall
photo by Christine de Grancy



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

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

it is born




Here I came to the very edge 
where nothing at all needs saying,
everything is absorbed through weather and the sea,
and the moon swam back,
its rays all silvered,
and time and again the darkness would be broken
by the crash of a wave,
and every day on the balcony of the sea,
wings open, fire is born,
and everything is blue again like morning.



~ Pablo Neruda
from On the Blue Shores of Silence

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


Saturday, May 3, 2014

wisdom of a storyteller







~ Elif Shafak


work song - part 2 a vision






If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it...
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides...
The river will run
clear, as we will never know it...
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields...
Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its reality.




~ Wendell Berry
art by Andrew Wyeth


Thursday, May 1, 2014

the holy longing





Tell a wise person, or else keep silent 
for the massman will mock it right away. 
I praise what is truly alive, 
what longs to be burned to death.

In the calm waters of the love-nights 
where you were begotten, where you have begotten, 
a strange feeling comes over you 
when you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught 
in this obsession with darkness, 
and a desire for higher love-making 
sweeps you upward.

Distance does not make you falter, 
now, arriving in magic, flying, 
and, finally, insane for the light, 
you are the butterfly and you are the light.

And so long as you haven’t experienced 
this: to die and so to grow, 
you are only a troubled guest 
on the dark earth. 






~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
translation by Robert Bly



do not be ashamed





You will be walking some night
in the comfortable dark of your yard
And suddenly a great light will shine
round about you, and behind you
will be a wall you never saw before.
It will be clear to you suddenly
that you were about to escape,
And that you are guilty: you misread
The complex instructions, you are not
a member, you lost your card
or never had one. And you will know
that they have been there all along,
Their eyes on your letters and books,
their hands in your pockets,
their ears wired to your bed.
Though you have done nothing shameful.
They will want you to be ashamed.
They will want you to kneel and weep
and say you should have been like them.
And once you are ashamed,
reading the page they hold out to you,
Then such light as you have made
In your history will leave you.
They will no longer need to pursue you,
You will pursue them, begging forgiveness.
They will not forgive you.
There is no power against them.
It is only candor that is aloof from them,
only an inward clarity, unashamed,
that they cannot reach. Be ready.
When their light has picked you out
and their questions are asked, say to them:
“I am not ashamed.” A sure horizon
will come around you. The heron will begin
his evening flight from the hilltop.



~ Wendell Berry
from Antiques and Collectibles