Sunday, May 31, 2015

Any Night






.




Look, the eucalyptus, the Atlas pine,
the yellowing ash, all the trees
are gone, and I was older than
all of them. I am older than the moon,
than the stars that fill my plate,
than the unseen planets that huddle
together here at the end of a year
no one wanted. A year more than a year,
in which the sparrows learned
to fly backwards into eternity. 

Their brothers and sisters saw this
and refuse to build nests. Before
the week is over they will all
have gone, and the chorus of love
that filled my yard and spilled
into my kitchen each evening
will be gone. I will have to learn
to sing in the voices of pure joy
and pure pain. I will have to forget
my name, my childhood, the years
under the cold dominion of the clock
so that this voice, torn and cracked,
can reach the low hills that shielded
the orange trees once. I will stand
on the back porch as the cold
drifts in, and sing, not for joy,
not for love, not even to be heard. 

I will sing so that the darkness
can take hold and whatever
is left, the fallen fruit, the last
leaf, the puzzled squirrel, the child
far from home, lost, will believe
this could be any night. That boy,
walking alone, thinking of nothing
or reciting his favorite names
to the moon and stars, let him
find the home he left this morning,
let him hear a prayer out
of the raging mouth of the wind. 

Let him repeat that prayer,
the prayer that night follows day,
that life follows death, that in time
we find our lives. Don’t let him see
all that has gone. Let him love
the darkness. Look, he’s running
and singing too. He could be happy.


—Philip Levine




.
Igor Shpilenok
.






Saturday, May 30, 2015

grace approaching


mpdrolet:

Maxwell Tomlinson



 .



There is a grace approaching
that we shun as much as death,
it is the completion of our birth.

It does not come in time,
but in timelessness
when the mind sinks into the heart
and we remember.

It is an insistent grace that draws us
to the edge and beckons us surrender
safe territory and enter our enormity.

We know we must pass
beyond knowing
and fear the shedding.

But we are pulled upward
none-the-less
through forgotten ghosts
and unexpected angels,
luminous.

And there is nothing left to say
but we are That.

And that is what we sing about.


–Stephen Levine
Breaking the Drought, Visions of Grace




.
 





Thursday, May 28, 2015

question





.


My heart is so small
it's almost invisible.
How can You place
such big sorrows in it?

"Look," He answered,
"your eyes are even smaller,
yet they behold the world."


–Rumi


.






Wednesday, May 27, 2015

remembering you





.



in time of daffodils (who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why, remember how
in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so (forgetting seem)

in time of roses (who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if, remember yes

in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek (forgetting find)

and in a mystery to be
(when time from time
shall set us free)
forgetting me, remember me


–E. E. Cummings



.





Tuesday, May 26, 2015

fear of vanishing







.




The fear of vanishing which may arise with inquiry,
is the old sensation: “I am the body.”
This is not a fear of the new, but of leaving the old.
Have no fear and plunge into your own Being.
When “you” disappear, all fear will also.

Stay quiet, be still, here you are.
Stay as presence in your Heart.
Do not fear meeting the Self,
it is what you always been.
Nothing can be lost, have no fear.

There can also be fear of “losing it.”
Only when you possess something does the fear of losing arise.
Only Self cannot be held, so only Self cannot be lost.
The only way to avoid fear is to return to the inner beauty,
the Self, the Heart on the right.


–Papaji



.









Monday, May 25, 2015

not to worry






.
 


All your pain, worry, sorrow
Will someday apologize and confess
They were a great lie.

—Hafiz









Sunday, May 24, 2015

that is happiness

 




.




I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. 

Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. 

At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. 

When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.


—Willa Cather 
from My Antonia



 .






Saturday, May 23, 2015

I Am Learning to Abandon the World







 
.




I am learning to abandon the world
before it can abandon me.
Already I have given up the moon
and snow, closing my shades
against the claims of white.

And the world has taken
my father, my friends.
I have given up melodic lines of hills,
moving to a flat, tuneless landscape.
And every night I give my body up
limb by limb, working upwards
across bone, towards the heart.
But morning comes with small
reprieves of coffee and birdsong.
A tree outside the window
which was simply shadow moments ago
takes back its branches
twig by leafy twig.
And as I take my body back
the sun lays its warm muzzle on my lap
as if to make amends.


—Linda Pastan
 




.









Friday, May 22, 2015

this will be all?







.




And this will be all?
And the gates will never open again?
And the dust and the wind will play around the rusty door
hinges and the songs of October moan, Why-oh, why-oh?

And you will look to the mountains
And the mountains will look to you
And you will wish you were a mountain
And the mountain will wish nothing at all?
  This will be all?
The gates will never-never open again?

The dust and the wind only
And the rusty door hinges and moaning October
And Why-oh, why-oh, in the moaning dry leaves,
  This will be all?

Nothing in the air but songs
And no singers, no mouths to know the songs?
You tell us a woman with a heartache tells you it is so?
  This will be all?

–Carl Sandburg




.






Thursday, May 21, 2015

the message of the skeleton, excerpts







.



A melancholy autumn wind
Blows through the world;
The pampas grass waves,
As we drift to the moor,
Drift to the sea.


What can be done
With the mind of a man
That should be clear
But though he is dressed up in a monk’s robe,
Just lets life pass him by?
Why do people
Lavish decorations
On this set of bones
Destined to disappear
Without a trace?
The original body
Must return to
Its original place:
Do not search
For what cannot be found.
No one really knows
The nature of birth
Nor the true dwelling place.
We return to the source
And turn to dust.
Many paths lead
from the foot of the mountain,
But at the peak
We all gaze at the
Single bright moon.


If at the end of our journey
There is no final
Resting place,
Then we need not fear
Losing our Way. 


No beginning,
No end.
Our mind
is born and dies:
The emptiness of emptiness! 


Rain, hail, snow and ice:
All are different,
But when they fall
They become the same water
As the valley stream. 


The ways of proclaiming
The Mind vary,
But the same heavenly truth
Can be seen
In each and every one. 


Cover your path
With the fallen pine needles
So no one will be able
To locate your
True dwelling place.


As Ikkyu does not think of his body
As if it were his body,
He lives in the same place,
Whether it is town or country.


This world
Is but
A fleeting dream
So why by alarmed
At its evanescence? 


The vagaries of life,
Though painful
Teach us
Not to cling
To this floating world. 


If you break open the cherry tree,
Where are the flowers?
But in the spring time, see how they bloom!


To write something and leave it behind us,
It is but a dream.
When we awake we know
There is not even anyone to read it.


Look at the cherry blossoms!
Their color and scent fall with them,
Are gone forever,
Yet mindless
The spring comes again.


why is it all so beautiful this fake dream
this craziness why?

this ink painting of wind
blowing through pines
who hears it?


oh yes things exist like the echo when you yell
at the foot of a huge mountain 


sin like a madman until you can't do anything else
no room for any more


one long pure beautiful road of pain
and the beauty of death and no pain


mirror facing mirror
nowhere else 


sick of it whatever it's called sick of the names
I dedicate every pore to what's here


a well nobody dug filled with no water
ripples and a shapeless weightless man drinks 


oh green green willow wonderfully red flower
but I know the colors are not there

the mind is exactly this tree that grass
without thought or feeling both disappear


not two not one either
and the unpainted breeze in the ink painting feels cool


Ikkyu this body isn't yours I say to myself
wherever I am I'm there 


nature's a killer I won't sing to it
I hold my breath and listen to the dead singing under the grass


suddenly nothing but grief
so I put on my father's old ripped raincoat


when I was forty-seven everybody came to see me
so I walked out forever


my monk friend has a weird endearing habit
he weaves sandals and leaves them secretly by the roadside


even before trees rocks I was nothing
when I'm dead nowhere I'll be nothing


no nothing only those wintry crows
bright black in the sun


if there's nowhere to rest at the end
how can I get lost along the way?


that stone Buddha deserves all the birdshit it gets
I wave my skinny arms like a tall flower in the wind


no words sitting alone night in my hut eyes closed hands open
wisps of an unknown face


the wise know nothing at all
well maybe one song


melons eggplants rice rivers the sky
I offer them to you on this holiday


go down on your silly knees pray
for what? tomorrow is yesterday


I found my sparrow Sonrin dead one morning
and buried him just as gently as I would my own daughter


I hate it I know it's nothing but I
suck out the world's sweet juicy plum

you stand inside me naked infinite love
the dawn bell rips my dreaming heart


When it blows,
The mountain wind is boisterous,
But when it blows not,
It simply blows not.


Dimly for thirty years;
Faintly for thirty years, -
Dinly and faintly for sixty years:
At my death, I pass my faeces and offer them to Brahma.


–Ikkyu Sojun/Ikkyuu Soojun (1394-1481)
Excerpted from Wild Ways
John Stevens translation





.
Andrew Wyeth painting, on the death of a friend
.









Wednesday, May 20, 2015

worth a look







 
.







Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Another Night in the Ruins







.


7

How many nights must it take
one such as me to learn
that we aren't, after all, made
from that bird that flies out of its ashes,
that for us
as we go up in flames, our one work
is
to open ourselves, to be
the flames?

–Galway Kinnell
1927-2014



.







Monday, May 18, 2015

On Death, without Exaggeration







.




It can’t take a joke, 
find a star, make a bridge. 
It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming, 
building ships, or baking cakes.
In our planning for tomorrow, 
it has the final word, 
which is always beside the point.

It can’t even get the things done 
that are part of its trade: 
dig a grave, 
make a coffin, 
clean up after itself.

Preoccupied with killing, 
it does the job awkwardly, 
without system or skill. 
As though each of us were its first kill.

Oh, it has its triumphs, 
but look at its countless defeats, 
missed blows, 
and repeat attempts!

Sometimes it isn’t strong enough 
to swat a fly from the air. 
Many are the caterpillars 
that have outcrawled it.

All those bulbs, pods, 
tentacles, fins, tracheae, 
nuptial plumage, and winter fur 
show that it has fallen behind 
with its halfhearted work.

Ill will won’t help 
and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d’etat 
is so far not enough.

Hearts beat inside eggs. 
Babies’ skeletons grow. 
Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves 
and sometimes even tall trees fall away.

Whoever claims that it’s omnipotent 
is himself living proof 
that it’s not.

There’s no life 
that couldn’t be immortal 
if only for a moment.

Death
always arrives by that very moment too late.

In vain it tugs at the knob 
of the invisible door. 
As far as you’ve come 
can’t be undone.


–Wislawa Szymborska





.









Sunday, May 17, 2015

i shall be released







.







Saturday, May 16, 2015

Because I could not stop for Death






.




Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labour, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ‘tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.


–Emily Dickinson




.







Friday, May 15, 2015

III






.



We come at last to the dark
and enter in. We are given bodies
newly made out of their absence
from one another in the light
of the ordinary day. We come
to the space between ourselves,
the narrow doorway, and pass through
into the land of the wholly loved.


–Wendell Berry
This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems




.





Thursday, May 14, 2015

After a Miscarriage





 
.




When spring came I came alive again.
The air was finally gentle
and I breathed deeply of sweet

lilac and hyacinth and some faint
scent I couldn’t find or name.
It wafted through the house

like light, forgotten in our long
winter of darkness. The plums
and cherry trees around the block

were laced with flowerlets
and tiny leaves and made a subtle
dazzling of hope. Not a forgetting

but a softening, as if the harsh
outlines of loss were growing
over now with something like the tender

grass of spring, its blades a clear
luminous green, a color from childhood,
from a time before grief and its

terrible healing makes traitors of us all.


Harriet Brown












Wednesday, May 13, 2015

part 48







.




I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud,
And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the earth,
And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel'd universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.

And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God,
For I who am curious about each am not curious about God,
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and about death.)

I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.
Why should I wish to see God better than this day?

I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe'er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.


–Walt Whitman
Song of Myself, Leaves of Grass




.