Friday, September 29, 2017

plan






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Thursday, September 28, 2017

in the museum of your last day






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there is a coat on a coat hook in a hall. Work-gloves
in the pockets, pliers and bent nails.

There is a case of Quaker State for the Ford.
Two cans of spray paint in a crisp brown bag.

A mug on a book by the hi-fi.
A disk that starts on its own: Boccherini.

There is a dent in the soap the shape of your thumb.
A swirl in the glass when it fogs.

And a gray hair that twines
through the tines of a little black comb.

There is a watch laid smooth on a wallet.
And pairs of your shoes everywhere.

A phone no one answers. A note that says Friday.
Your voice on the tape talking softly.


–Patrick Phillips



.
Swainson's Hawk by Jen Hall
.








Wednesday, September 27, 2017

from 640





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I could not die — with You —
For One must wait
To shut the Other’s Gaze down —
You — could not —

—Emily Dickinson



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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

i am this one






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I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;

who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives gently, when I hate,

who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.

–Juan Ramón Jiménez 



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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Fall Song






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Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries - roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time's measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay - how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.


–Mary Oliver



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Saturday, September 23, 2017

dying is fine)but Death

 




.


dying is fine)but Death
?o

baby
i
wouldn't like
Death if Death
were
good:for
when(instead of stopping to think)you
begin to feel of it,dying
's miraculous
why?be
cause dying is

perfectly natural;perfectly
putting
it mildly lively(but
Death
is strictly
scientific
& artificial & 
evil & legal)
we thank thee
god
almighty for dying
(forgive us,o life!the sin of Death


–E. E. Cummings



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Friday, September 22, 2017

death is a dialogue





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Death is a Dialogue between
The Spirit and the Dust.
"Dissolve" says Death—The Spirit "Sir
I have another Trust"—

Death doubts it—Argues from the Ground—
The Spirit turns away
Just laying off for evidence
An Overcoat of Clay. 

–Emily Dickinson
976









Thursday, September 21, 2017

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



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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Testament








.



And now to the Abyss I pass
Of that unfathomable grass...


1.
Dear relatives and friends, when my last breath
Grows large and free in air, don't call it death --
A word to enrich the undertaker and inspire
His surly art of imitating life; conspire
Against him. Say that my body cannot now
Be improved upon; it has no fault to show
To the sly cosmetician. Say that my flesh
Has a perfect compliance with the grass
Truer than any it could have striven for.

You will recognize the earth in me, as before
I wished to know it in myself: my earth
That has been my care and faithful charge from birth,
And toward which all my sorrows were surely bound,
And all my hopes. Say that I have found
A good solution, and am on my way
To the roots.  And say I have left my native clay
At last, to be a traveler, that too will be so.
Traveler to where?  Say you don't know.



2.
But do not let your ignorance
Of my spirit's whereabouts dismay
You, or overwhelm your thoughts.
Be careful not to say

Any thing too final.  Whatever
Is unsure is possible, and life is bigger
Than flesh.  Beyond reach of thought
Let imagination figure

Your hope. That will be generous
To me and to yourselves.  Why settle
For some know-it-all's despair
When the dead may dance to the fiddle

Hereafter, for all anybody knows?
And remember that the Heavenly soil
Need not be too rich to please
One who was happy in Port Royal.

I may be already heading back,
A new and better man, toward
That town. The thought's unreasonable,
But so is life, thank the Lord!



3.
So treat me, even dead,
As a man who has a place
To go, and something to do.
Don't muck up my face

With wax and powder and rouge
As one would prettify
An unalterable fact
To give bitterness the lie.

Admit the native earth
My body is and will be,
Admit its freedom and
Its changeability.

Dress me in the clothes
I wore in the day's round
Lay me in a wooden box.
Put the box in the ground.


–Wendell Berry



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Sunday, September 17, 2017

rush naked






 
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A lover looks at creek water and wants to be that quick
to fall, to kneel, then all

the way down in full prostration. A lover wants to die of
his love like a man with

dropsy who knows that water will kill him, but he can't deny
his thirst. A lover loves

death, which is God's way of helping us evolve from mineral
to vegetable to animal, the one

incorporating the others. Then animal becomes Adam, and the
next will take us beyond what

we can imagine, into the mystery of we are all returning.
Don't fear death. Spill your

jug in the river! Your attributes disappear, but the essence
moves on. Your shame and fear

are like felt layers covering coldness. Throw them off, and
rush naked into the joy of death.


–Rumi



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Saturday, September 16, 2017

real(ities






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The first undeniable reality is that every living thing dies, and the second undeniable reality is that we suffer throughout our lives because we don’t understand death. The truth derived from these two points is the importance of clarifying the matter of birth and death. 
The third undeniable reality is that all of the thoughts and feelings that arise in my head simply arise haphazardly, by chance. And the conclusion we can derive from that is not to hold on to all that comes up in our head. 
That is what we are doing when we sit zazen.


–Kosho Uchiyama



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Friday, September 15, 2017

directions, excerpt







.



The best time is late afternoon
when the sun strobes through
the columns of trees as you are hiking up,
and when you find an agreeable rock
to sit on, you will be able to see
the light pouring down into the woods
and breaking into the shapes and tones
of things and you will hear nothing
but a sprig of birdsong or the leafy
falling of a cone or nut through the trees,
and if this is your day you might even
spot a hare or feel the wing-beats of geese
driving overhead toward some destination.

But it is hard to speak of these things
how the voices of light enter the body
and begin to recite their stories
how the earth holds us painfully against
its breast made of humus and brambles
how we who will soon be gone regard
the entities that continue to return
greener than ever, spring water flowing
through a meadow and the shadows of clouds
passing over the hills and the ground
where we stand in the tremble of thought
taking the vast outside into ourselves.


–Billy Collins
The Art of Drowning



 .







Thursday, September 14, 2017

ain't afraid






 .



Can you find another market like this?
Where, with your one rose
you can buy hundreds of rose gardens?

Where, for one seed you get a whole wilderness?
For one weak breath, the divine wind?

You have been fearful of being absorbed
in the ground, or drawn up by the air.

Now your waterbead lets go
and drops into the ocean, where it came from.

This giving up is not a repenting.
It is a deep honoring of yourself.

When the ocean comes to you as a lover,
marry, at once, quickly for God's sake.

Don't postpone it. Existence has no better gift.
No amount of searching will find this.

A perfect falcon, for no reason,
has landed on your shoulder, and become yours.



–Rumi
Coleman Barks version



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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Celestial Music






.
 


I have a friend who still believes in heaven.
Not a stupid person, yet with all she knows, she literally talks to God.
She thinks someone listens in heaven.
On earth she's unusually competent.
Brave too, able to face unpleasantness.

We found a caterpillar dying in the dirt, greedy ants crawling over it.
I'm always moved by disaster, always eager to oppose vitality
But timid also, quick to shut my eyes.
Whereas my friend was able to watch, to let events play out
According to nature. For my sake she intervened
Brushing a few ants off the torn thing, and set it down
Across the road.

My friend says I shut my eyes to God, that nothing else explains
My aversion to reality. She says I'm like the child who
Buries her head in the pillow
So as not to see, the child who tells herself
That light causes sadness-
My friend is like the mother. Patient, urging me
To wake up an adult like herself, a courageous person-

In my dreams, my friend reproaches me. We're walking
On the same road, except it's winter now;
She's telling me that when you love the world you hear celestial music:
Look up, she says. When I look up, nothing.
Only clouds, snow, a white business in the trees
Like brides leaping to a great height-
Then I'm afraid for her; I see her
Caught in a net deliberately cast over the earth-

In reality, we sit by the side of the road, watching the sun set;
From time to time, the silence pierced by a birdcall.
It's this moment we're trying to explain, the fact
That we're at ease with death, with solitude.
My friend draws a circle in the dirt; inside, the caterpillar doesn't move.
She's always trying to make something whole, something beautiful, an image
Capable of life apart from her.
We're very quiet. It's peaceful sitting here, not speaking, The composition
Fixed, the road turning suddenly dark, the air
Going cool, here and there the rocks shining and glittering-
It's this stillness we both love.
The love of form is a love of endings.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

note to self

 




 .


When it’s over, it’s over, and we don’t know
any of us, what happens then.
So I try not to miss anything.

I think, in my whole life, I have never missed
the full moon
Or the slipper of its coming back.

Or, a kiss,
Well, yes, especially a kiss. 


–Mary Oliver


.
 





Sunday, September 10, 2017

enter with mercy






.



If there is a single definition of healing it is to enter with mercy an awareness of those pains, mental and physical, from which we have withdrawn in judgment and dismay. 

–Stephen Levine



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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Ode 959






.



If you could not feel tenderness and hurt.
If you could live in the poorhouse of non-wanting
and never be indignant.
If you could take two steps away from the beautiful one
you want so much to lie down with.
If you could trust there's a spirit-wife
for you somewhere, a whole harem of wives,
a nest, a jewel-setting where
when you sit down, you know
you've always wanted to be.
If you could quit living here and go there.
If you could remember clearly what you've done.

But strong hooks hold you in this wind.
So many people love you,
you mix with the color and smell and taste of surroundings.
Champion lovemaker and leader of men!
You can't give up your public fascination,
or your compassion for the dying.

There's another compassion you don't know yet,
but you may, when griefs disappear.
It's a place,
with no questioning thorns in the pasture grass.
If you could remember you're not a crow,
but the mystic osprey that never needs to light,
you could be walking there
with Shams.


–Rumi

Coleman Barks version




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Friday, September 8, 2017

illusion

 




.



God and I in space alone
And nobody else in view.
“And where are the people, O Lord!” I said.
“The earth below and the sky o’erhead
And the dead whom once I knew?”

“That was a dream,” God smiled and said,
“A dream that seemed to be true,
There were no people, living or dead,
There was no earth and no sky o’erhead
There was only Myself–and you.”

“Why do I feel no fear,” I asked,
“Meeting you here in this way,
For I have sinned I know full well,
And there is heaven and there is hell,
And is this the judgment day?”

“Nay, those were dreams,” the great God said,
“Dreams that have ceased to be.
There are no such things as fear or sin,
There is no you–you have never been–
There is nothing at all but Me.”



–Edna Wheeler Wilcox



.







Thursday, September 7, 2017

nothing's a gift






.



Nothing's a gift, it's all on loan.
I'm drowning in debts up to my ears.
I'll have to pay for myself
with my self,
give up my life for my life.

Here's how it's arranged:
The heart can be repossessed,
the liver, too,
and each single finger and toe.

Too late to tear up the terms,
my debts will be repaid,
and I'll be fleeced,
or, more precisely, flayed.

I move about the planet
in a crush of other debtors.
some are saddled with the burden
of paying off their wings.
Others must, willy-nilly,
account for every leaf.

Every tissue in us lies
on the debit side.
Not a tenacle or tendril
is for keeps.

The inventory, infinitely detailed,
implies we'll be left
not just empty-handed
but handless too.

I can't remember
where, when, and why
I let someone open
this account in my name.

We call the protest against this
the soul.
And it's the only item
not included on the list.


–Wislawa Szymborska




.










Wednesday, September 6, 2017

questions






.



I died as a mineral and became a plant, 
I died as plant and rose to animal, 
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?

Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels blest; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.

When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones, ‘To Him we shall return.’


–Rumi


.








Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Final Words






.



I cannot leave you without saying this:
the past is nothing,
a nonmemory, a phantom,
a soundproof closet in which Johann Strauss
is composing another waltz no one can hear.

It is a fabrication, best forgotten,
a wellspring of sorrow
that waters a field of bitter vegetation.

Leave it behind.
Take your head out of your hands
and arise from the couch of melancholy
where the window-light falls against your face
and the sun rides across the autumn sky,
steely behind the bare trees,
glorious as the high strains of violins.

But forget Strauss.
And forget his younger brother,
the poor bastard who was killed in a fall
from a podium while conducting a symphony.

Forget the past,
forget the stunned audience on its feet,
the absurdity of their formal clothes
in the face of sudden death,
forget their collective gasp,
the murmur and huddle over the body,
the creaking of the lowered curtain.

Forget Strauss
with that encore look in his eye
and his tiresome industry:
more than five hundred finished compositions!
He even wrote a polka for his mother.

That alone is enough to make me flee the past,
evacuate its temples,
and walk alone under the stars
down these dark paths strewn with acorns,
feeling nothing but the crisp October air,
the swing of my arms
and the rhythms of my stepping--
a man of the present who has forgotten
every composer, every great battle,
just me,
a thin reed blowing in the night.



–Billy Collins
Sailing Alone Around the Room




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