Sunday, March 27, 2016

I wish I could speak like music








I wish I could speak like music.

I wish I could put the swaying splendor
Of the fields into words

So that you could hold Truth
Against your body
And dance.

I am trying the best I can
With this crude brush, the tongue, 

To cover you with light
.
I wish I could speak like divine music.

I want to give you the sublime rhythms
Of this earth and the sky's limbs

As they joyously spin and surrender,
Surrender
Against God's luminous breath.

Hafiz Wants you to hold me
Against your precious
Body

And dance
Dance.


–Hafiz
from The Gift: Poems by Hafiz
translations by Daniel Ladinsky
art by van gogh


my doubt







I wake, doubt, beside you,
like a curtain half-open.

I dress doubting,
like a cup 
undecided if it has been dropped.

I eat doubting,
work doubting,
go out to a dubious cafe with skeptical friends.

I go to sleep doubting myself,
as a herd of goats
sleep in a suddenly gone-quiet truck.

I dream you, doubt,
nightly—
for what is the meaning of dreaming
if not that all we are while inside it
is transient, amorphous, in question?

Left hand and right hand,
doubt, you are in me,
throwing a basketball, guiding my knife and my fork.
Left knee and right knee,
we run for a bus,
for a meeting that surely will end before we arrive.

I would like
to grow content in you, doubt,
as a double-hung window
settles obedient into its hidden pulleys and ropes.

I doubt I can do so:
your own counterweight governs my nights and my days.

As the knob of hung lead holds steady
the open mouth of a window,
you hold me,
my kneeling before you resistant, stubborn,
offering these furious praises
I can't help but doubt you will ever be able to hear.


~ Jane Hirshfield
art by van gogh


now all the fingers of this tree(darling)have







now all the fingers of this tree(darling)have
hands, and all the hands have people; and
more each particular person is(my love)
alive than every world can understand

and now you are and i am now and we're
a mystery which will never happen again,
a miracle which has never happened before–
and shining this our now must come to then

our then shall be some darkness during which
fingers are without hands; and i have no
you: and all trees are(any more than each
leafless)its silent in forevering snow

—but never fear(my own, my beautiful
my blossoming)for also then's until

luminous tendril of celestial wish

luminous tendril of celestial wish

(whying diminutive bright deathlessness
to these my not themselves believing eyes
adventuring,enormous nowhere from)

querying affirmation; virginal

immediacy of precision: more
and perfectly more most etereal
silence through twilight's mystery made flesh–

dreamslender exquisite white firstful flame

—new moon! as(by the miracle of your
sweet innocence refuted)clumsy some
dull cowardice called a world vanishes,

teach disappearing also me the keen
illimitable secret of begin 


e. e. cummings



Tuesday, January 5, 2016

to the new year







With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible




~ W. S. Merwin
from Present Company




Thursday, December 24, 2015

nothing I can give you which you have not





Most Noble Contessina:

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.

There is nothing I can give you which you have not. 
But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. 
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. 
Take heaven! 

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. 
Take peace! 

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. 
Take Joy! 

There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see.
 And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, 
cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, 
and you will find beneath it a living splendor, 
woven of love by wisdom, with power. 

Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you. 
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, 
that angel's hand is there.

The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. 
Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. 
They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, 
that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. 
Courage then to claim it; that is all! 
But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, 
wending through unknown country home.


And so, at this time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings, 
but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, 
now and forever, the day breaks and shadows flee away.


your servant,
 Fra Giovanni


~ Ernest Temple Hargrove

The name of a certain "16th century monk" is familiar now to millions of people but, he never lived; he was created by an English barrister, Ernest Temple Hargrove.  With the arrival of Christmas season each year, the monk, Fra Giovanni, becomes better known, and his creator drifts farther into obscurity.  This is the way Mr. Hargrove wanted it.  Hargrove was born into a distinguished English family, came to the United States as a young man and spent many years in religious endeavors, particularly in the field of writing.

Before his death in 1939 Hargrove composed a Christmas greeting to a friend, writing in literary style that gave a medieval  flavor to his message.  The greeting took the form of a letter from a monk to an Italian countess.  According to a close friend, G.M.W. Kobbe of New York, Hargrove secured no copyright, feeling that if his greeting carried a real message there should be no impediment to it's circulation. With the passage of years, the letter is now thought of as the perfect Christmas card by a great host of appreciative readers, many of whom believe Fra Giovanni was a real person.

The monk is imaginary but the letter and the message are real.

~ Max L. Christensen - 1997

Ernest Temple Hargrove, of England, married to Amy Virginia Tehula Neresheimer, the daughter of Emil August Neresheimer, NYC diamond broker, on Tuesday, January 18, 1899, Church of the Holy Apostles, NYC.They had at least two children, William A, born in about 1902, and a daughter Joan, born about 1905.Hargrove was a prominent figure in the NY Theosophical Society, and later in life was known to have resided as a caretaker of the Chapel of the Comforter, located at 10 Horation St. in NYC.he eventually died in 1939.


Monday, December 14, 2015

no words







People come a long way to reach Parrot Lake
anxious to ask about practice
this old monk tells them the truth
the gatha that frees you has no words


~ Stonehouse
from The Zen Works of Stonehouse
Poems and Talks of a 14th Century Chinese Hermit
translated by Red Pine


Sunday, December 13, 2015

behind the word consciousness








~ Mauro Bergonzi

companion of my heart








You are the companion of my heart
Though my body I offer to those who desire it.

My body is friendly to guests

But you the companion of my heart
Are the guest of my soul.


~ Rabia

(712 - 801)
After a life of hardship, she spontaneously achieved a state of self-realization. 
When asked by Shaikh Hasan al-Basri how she discovered the secret, she responded by stating:

"You know of the how, but I know of the how-less."


a blessing






Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota, 
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass. 
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies 
Darken with kindness. 
They have come gladly out of the willows 
To welcome my friend and me. 
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture 
Where they have been grazing all day, alone. 
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness 
That we have come. 
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other. 
There is no loneliness like theirs. 
At home once more, 
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness. 
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms, 
For she has walked over to me 
And nuzzled my left hand. 
She is black and white, 
Her mane falls wild on her forehead, 
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear 
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist. 
Suddenly I realize 
That if I stepped out of my body I would break 
Into blossom.



~ James Wright
from Above the River







Monday, December 7, 2015

the present has abated its urgencies






For people who live in the country there is a charming freedom in such days. One is free of obligations to the ground.  There is no outside work that one ought to do, simply because, with the ground frozen deep and covered with snow, no such work is possible.  Growth has stopped; there is plenty of hay and grain in the barn; the present has abated its urgencies.  The mind may again turn freely to the past and look back on the way it has come.

This morning has been bearing down out of the future toward this bit of riverbank forever. And for perhaps as long, in a sense, my life has been approaching from the opposite direction. The approach of a man's life out of the past is history, and the approach of time out of the future is mystery. Their meeting is the present, and it is consciousness, the only time life is alive. The endless wonder of this meeting is what causes the mind, in its inward liberty of a frozen morning, to turn back and question and remember. The world is full of places. Why is it that I am here?




- Wendell Berry
from The Long-Legged House
photo by Harry Callahan
with thanks to whiskey river


Saturday, December 5, 2015

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




Friday, December 4, 2015

a star on the horizon of my heart







Ever in my life have I sought thee with my songs. 
It was they who led me from door to door, 
and with them have I felt about me, 
searching and touching my world.

It was my songs that taught me all the lessons I ever learnt; 
they showed me secret paths, 
they brought before my sight many a star on the horizon of my heart.

They guided me all the day long to the mysteries of the country of pleasure and pain, 
and, at last, 
to what palace gate have they brought me in the evening at the end of my journey?




~ Rabindranath Tagore
art by van gogh



Saturday, November 21, 2015

are animals thinking and feeling?










~ Carl Safina

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