Tuesday, April 13, 2021

so much

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
A wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
Something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
And disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
And now live over a quarry of noise and dust
Cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
It too could wake up filled with possibilities
Of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
And love even the floor which needs to be swept,
The soiled linens and scratched records….
Since there is no place large enough 
To contain so much happiness,
You shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
Into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
For the moon, but continues to hold it, and to share it,
And in that way, be known.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

Sunday, April 11, 2021

a life

That the stars are adamant
everyone understands—
but I won’t give up seeking joy on each blue wave
or peace below every gray stone.
If happiness never comes, what is a life?
A lily withers in the sand
and if its nature has failed? The tide
washes the beach at night.
What is the fly looking for on the spider’s web?
What does a dayfly make of its hours?
(Two wings creased over a hollow body.)

Black will never turn to white—
yet the perfume of our struggle lingers
as each morning fresh flowers
spring up from hell.

The day will come
when the earth is emptied, the skies collapse
and all goes still—
when nothing remains but the dayfly
folded in a leaf.
But no one knows it.

~  Edith Sodergran
translation by Averill Curdy




there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do

~ Charles Bukowski
from The Last Night of the Earth Poems
 art by Ayat Fawzy


a gardner digs in another time


 The gardener digs in another time, without past or future, beginning or end.
 A time that does not cleave the day with rush hours, lunch breaks, the last bus home.
 As you walk in the garden you pass into this time —
 the moment of entering can never be remembered.
 Around you the landscape lies transfigured.
 Here is the Amen beyond the prayer.

I have re-discovered my boredom here… 
where I can fight “what next” with nothing.

My garden is a memorial, each circular bed a dial and a true lover’s knot 
— planted with lavender, helichryssum and santolina.

to whom it may concern
in the dead stones of a planet
no longer remembered as earth
may he decipher this opaque hieroglyph
perform an archeology of soul
on these precious fragments
all that remains of our vanished days
here — at the sea’s edge
I have planted a stony garden
dragon tooth dolmen spring up
to defend the porch
steadfast warriors
~ Derek Jarman
from Modern Nature
with thanks to brianpickings
art by Emily Hughes


Friday, April 9, 2021

something unimportant

Happy as something unimportant
and free as a thing unimportant.
As something no one prizes
and which does not prize itself.
As something mocked by all
and which mocks at their mockery.
As laughter without serious reason. 
As a yell able to outyell itself.
Happy as no matter what,
as any no matter what.

as a dog's tail.

~ Anna Swir
from Talking to my body
translated by Czeslaw Milosz

without why

The Rose is without why
She blooms because she blooms
She does not care for herself
Asks not if she is seen.


The rose which here on earth is now perceived by me,
Has blossomed thus in God from all eternity.

~ Angelus Silesius
photo by albert koetsier

wordless and idea-less

Let your ears hear whatever they want to hear;
 let your eyes see whatever they want to see;
 let your mind think whatever it wants to think;
 let your lungs breathe in their own rhythm. 

Do not expect any special result,
 for in this wordless and idea-less state, 
where can there be past or future, 
and where any notion of purpose? 

Stop, look, and listen.

~ Alan Watts

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

the ice flow

Songs are thoughts, 
sung out with the breath when people are moved by great forces
 and ordinary speech no longer suffices. 
Man is moved just like the ice floe sailing here and there out in the current.
 His thoughts are driven by a flowing force when he feels joy, 
when he feels fear, when he feels sorrow. 
Thoughts can wash over him like a flood,
 making his breath come in gasps and his heart throb. 
Something like an abatement in the weather will keep him thawed up. 
And then it will happen that we, who think we are small, will feel still smaller.
 And we will fear to use words. 
When the words we want to use shoot up of themselves -
 we get a new song.

~ Orpingalik
 Inuit poet and shaman

nothing except what he is

people like us

There are more like us. All over the world
There are confused people, who can't remember
The name of their dog when they wake up, and people
Who love God but can't remember where

He was when they went to sleep. It's
All right. The world cleanses itself this way.
A wrong number occurs to you in the middle
Of the night, you dial it, it rings just in time

To save the house. And the second-story man
Gets the wrong address, where the insomniac lives,
And he's lonely, and they talk, and the thief
Goes back to college. Even in graduate school,

You can wander into the wrong classroom,
And hear great poems lovingly spoken 
By the wrong professor. And you find your soul,
And greatness has a defender, and even in death you're safe.

~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems

every time

Let people realize clearly 

that every time they threaten someone
 or humiliate or unnecessarily
 hurt or dominate or reject
 another human being, 
they become forces for
 the creation of psychopathology, 
even if these be small forces.
 Let them recognize that every person
 who is kind, helpful, decent, 
psychologically democratic, 
affectionate, and warm,
 is a psychotheraputic force.

  ~ Abraham H. Maslow

those irrational fears

Most parents, when they see children not terrorized by the things that terrorize them, 
they work very hard until they've finally got you terrorized. 
They teach you those irrational fears. 
Well-meaning, but they do just the same. 

~  Abraham / Hicks

Two Look at Two


Love and forgetting might have carried them
A little further up the mountainside
With night so near, but not much further up.
They muct have halted soon in any case
With thoughts of the path back, how rough it was
With rock and washout, and unsafe in darkness;
When they were halted by a tumbled wall
With barbed-wire binding. They stood facing this,
Spending what onward impulse they still had
In one last look the way they must not go,
On up the failing path, where, if a stone
Or earthslide moved at night, it moved itself;
No footstep moved it. "This is all," they sighed,
"Good-night to woods." But not so; there was more.
A doe from round a spruce stood looking at them
Across the wall, as near the wall as they.
She saw them in their field, they her in hers.
The difficulty of seeing what stood still,
Like some up-ended boulder split in tow,
Was in her clouded eyes: they saw no fear there.
She sighed and passed unscared along the wall.
"This, then is all. What more is there to ask?"
But no, not yet. A snort to bid them wait.
A buck from round the spruce stood looking at them
Across the wall, as near the wall as they.
This was an antlered buck of lusty nostril,
Not the same doe come back into her place.
He viewed them quizzically with jerks of head,
As if to ask, "Why don't you make some motion?
Or give some sign of life? Because you can't.
I doubt if you're living as you look."
Thus till he had them almost feeling dared
To stretch a proffering hand-and a spell-breaking.
Then he too passed uncsared along the wall.
Two had seen two, whichever side you spoke from.
"This must be all." It was all. Still they stood,
A great wave from it going over them,
As if the earth in one unlooked-for favor
Had made them certain earth returned their love.


~ Robert Frost


Saturday, April 3, 2021

toward me

Existence leans its mouth
toward me,
because my love
cares for
~ Meister Eckhart
art by Coleen-Joy Page

see no stranger



See no stranger has become a practice that defines my relationships. . . .
 Seeing no stranger begins in wonder. 
It is to look upon the face of anyone and choose to say: 
You are a part of me I do not yet know. 
Wonder is the wellspring for love. 
Who we wonder about determines whose stories we hear 
and whose joy and pain we share. Those we grieve with,
 those we sit with and weep with, are ultimately those we organize
 with and advocate for. 
When a critical mass of people come together to wonder about one another,
 grieve with one another, and fight with and for one another, we begin to build
 the solidarity needed for collective liberation and transformation
—a solidarity rooted in love. . . .

Out in the world, I notice the unconscious biases that arise in me
 when I look at faces on the street or in the news. 
To practice seeing each of them as a sister or brother or family member, 
I say in my mind: You are a part of me I do not yet know. 
Through conscious repetition, I am practicing orienting to the world
 with wonder and preparing myself for the possibility of connection.
 (Sometimes I do this with animals and the earth, too!) 
It opens me up to pay attention to their story. When their story is painful, 
I make excuses to turn back—“It’s too overwhelming” or “It’s not my place”
—but I hold the compass and remember that all I need to do is be present
 to their pain and find a way to grieve with them. 
If I can sit with their pain, I begin to ask:

What do they need?
Valarie Kaur
 Australian aboriginal art

Thursday, April 1, 2021

red brocade

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he's come from,
where he's headed.
That way, he'll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you'll be
such good friends
you don't care.

Let's go back to that.
Rice?  Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.

No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That's the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.

I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye
from 19 Varieties of Gazelle