Thursday, November 30, 2017

not to worry


I died from minerality and turned vegetable

and from vegetableness I died and then turned animal.
I died from animality and became a man.

Then why fear disappearance by death?

Next time I die
I'll sprout wings like those of angels;

then, after that, soaring higher than mere angels -
what you cannot imagine -
that's what I'll be.



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

lute music


The Earth will be going on a long time
Before it finally freezes;
Men will be on it; they will take names,
Give their deeds reasons.
We will be here only
As chemical constituents-
A small franchise indeed.
Right now we have lives,
Corpuscles, Ambitions, Caresses,
Like everybody had once-

Here at the year's end, at the feast
Of birth, let us bring to each other
The gifts brought once west through deserts-
The precious metal of our mingled hair,
The frankincense of enraptured arms and legs,
The myrrh of desperate, invincible kisses-
Let us celebrate the daily
Recurrent nativity of love,
The endless epiphany of our fluent selves,
While the earth rolls away under us
Into unknown snows and summers,
Into untraveled spaces of the stars.

–Kenneth Rexroth
Sacramental Acts


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

a home in the dark grass


In the deep fall, the body awakes,
And we find lions on the seashore—
Nothing to fear.
The wind rises, the water is born,
Spreading white tomb-clothes on a rocky shore,
Drawing us up
From the bed of the land.

We did not come to remain whole.
We came to lose our leaves like the trees,
The trees that are broken
And start again, drawing up on great roots;
Like mad poets captured by the Moors,
Men who live out
A second life.

That we should learn of poverty and rags,
That we should taste the weed of Dillinger,
And swim in the sea,
Not always walking on dry land,
And, dancing, find in the trees a saviour,
A home in the dark grass,
And nourishment in death.

–Robert Bly


Saturday, November 25, 2017

in passing


On the Canadian side, we're standing far enough away the Falls look like photography, the roar a radio. In the real rain, so vertical it fuses with the air, the boat below us is starting for the caves. Everyone on deck is dressed in black, braced for weather and crossing against the current of the river. They seem lost in the gorge dimensions of the place, then, in fog, in a moment, gone. In the Chekhov story, the lovers live in a cloud, above the sheer witness of a valley. They call it circumstance. They look up at the open wing of the sky, or they look down into the future. Death is a power like any other pull of the earth.
The people in the raingear with the cameras want to see it from the inside, from behind, from the dark looking into the light. They want to take its picture, give it size— how much easier to get lost in the gradations of a large and yellow leaf drifting its good-bye down one side of the gorge. There is almost nothing that does not signal loneliness, then loveliness, then something connecting all we will become. All around us the luminous passage of the air, the flat, wet gold of the leaves. I will never love you more than at this moment, here in October, the new rain rising slowly from the river.

–Stanley Plumley


Friday, November 24, 2017

Glass Microbiology


HIV sculpture

Editions of this work are on display in The Wellcome Collection, London,  Bristol City Museum and the Corning Museum, New York. One edition was auctioned for the HIV/Aids Charity AVERT, raising money for victims in South Africa.

A letter from a stranger received Sept '09.......

Dear Luke,
I just saw a photo of your glass sculpture of HIV.
I can't stop looking at it. Knowing that millions of those guys are in me, and will be a part of me for the rest of my life. Your sculpture, even as a photo, has made HIV much more real for me than any photo or illustration I've ever seen. It's a very odd feeling seeing my enemy, and the eventual likely cause of my death, and finding it so beautiful.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

if i wish


I am born for the second time.
I am light
as the eyelash of the wind.
I froth, I am froth.
I walk dancing,
if I wish, I will soar.
The condensed lightness
of my body
condenses most forcibly
in the lightness of my foot
and its five toes.
The foot skims the earth
which gives way like compressed air.
An elastic duo
of the earth and of the foot. A dance
of liberation.

I am born for the second time,
happiness of the world
came to me again.
My body effervesces,
I think with my body which effervesces.

If I wish,
I will soar.

–Anna Swirszczynska
Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan translation


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

not to worry


You have wakened not out of sleep,
but into a prior dream,
and that dream lies within another, and so on,
to infinity, which is the number of grains of sand.
The path that you are to take is endless,
and you will die before you have truly awakened.

–Jorge Luis Borges


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Visiting the Graveyard


When I think of death
it is a bright enough city,
and every year more faces there
are familiar

but not a single one
notices me,
though I long for it,
and when they talk together,

which they do

very quietly,
it's in an unknowable language -
I can catch the tone
but understand not a single word -
and when I open my eyes
there's the mysterious field, the beautiful trees.
There are the stones.

–Mary Oliver
Red Bird


Saturday, November 18, 2017

the present


I wanted to give you something —
no stone, clay, bracelet,
no edible leaf could pass through.
Even a molecule's fragrance by then too large.
Giving had been taken, as you soon would be.
Still, I offered the puffs of air shaped to meaning.
They remained air.
I offered memory on memory,
but what is memory that dies with the fallible inks?
I offered apology, sorrow, longing. I offered anger.
How fine is the mesh of death. You can almost see through it.
I stood on one side of the present, you stood on the other.

–Jane Hirshfield


Friday, November 17, 2017



Awareness is not limited to consciousness. It is of all that is.
Consciousness is of duality. There is no duality in awareness.
It is one single block of pure cognition.

In the same way one can talk of the pure being and pure creation—
nameless, formless, silent and yet absolutely real, powerful, effective.
Their being indescribable does not affect them in the least.

While they are unconscious, they are essential.
The conscious cannot change fundamentally, it can only modify.

Any thing, to change, must pass through death, through obscuration
and dissolution. Gold jewellery must be melted down before it is cast
into another shape. What refuses to die cannot be reborn.

–Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

take nothing with you


As a person abandons worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out a new one is acquired by the Self, who lives within.
–Bhagavad Gita


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

the promise


Stay, I said
to the cut flowers.
They bowed
their heads lower.
Stay, I said to the spider,
who fled.

Stay, leaf.
It reddened,
embarrassed for me and itself.

Stay, I said to my body.
It sat as a dog does,
obedient for a moment,
soon starting to tremble.

Stay, to the earth
of riverine valley meadows,
of fossiled escarpments,
of limestone and sandstone.
It looked back
with a changing expression, in silence.

Stay, I said to my loves.
Each answered,

–Jane Hirshfield


Sunday, November 12, 2017

the distinction between past, present, and future


Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing.

People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.

—Albert Einstein


Saturday, November 11, 2017

losing singularity


[A]s soon as one speaks, as soon as one enters the medium of language, one loses that very singularity. […] Speaking relieves us, Kierkegaard notes, for it ‘translates’ into the general. […] Once I speak, I am never and no longer myself, alone and unique.”

–Jacques Derrida
The Gift of Death (60-61)

Friday, November 10, 2017



After three days of steady rain -
over two inches said the radio -
I follow the example of monks
who write by a window, sunlight on the page.

Five times this morning,
I loaded a wheelbarrow with wood
and steered it down the hill to the house,
and later I will cut down the dead garden

with a clippers and haul the soft pulp
to a grave in the woods,
but now there is only
my sunny page which is like a poem

I am covering with another poem
and the dog asleep on the tiles,
her head in her paws,
her hind legs played out like a frog.

How foolish it is to long for childhood,
to want to run in circles in the yard again,
arms outstretched,
pretending to be an airplane.

How senseless to dread whatever lies before us
when, night and day, the boats,
strong as horses in the wind,
come and go,

bringing in the tiny infants
and carrying away the bodies of the dead.

–Billy Collins


Thursday, November 9, 2017

we are a wave


No permanence is ours,
we are a wave that flows to fit whatever form it finds.

–Hermann Hesse


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

transparent with rain


The man of earth abides in the flow.
The ground moves beneath him, and he knows
it moves. His house is his vessel, afloat
only for a while. He moves, willing,
through a thousand phases of the sun,
changing as the day changes, and the year.

His mind is like the dirt, lightened
by bloom, weighted by rain.
The fragment of the earth
that is now me is only on its way
through me. It is on its way
from having been a tree,
a school of fish, a terrapin,
a flock of birds. It will pass
through all those forms again.

–Wendell Berry

Diphylleia grayi, also known as the skeleton flower.
The petals turn transparent with the rain.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Half-Finished Heaven

Despondency breaks off its course.
Anguish breaks off its course.
The vulture breaks off its flight.

The eager light streams out,
even the ghosts take a draught.

And our paintings see daylight,
our red beasts of the ice-age studios.

Everything begins to look around.
We walk in the sun in hundreds.

Each man is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

The endless ground under us.

The water is shining among the trees.

The lake is a window into the earth.

–Tomas Tranströmer
Robin Fulton translation

Saturday, November 4, 2017

concerning survival

You are too much concerned with past and future.
It is all due to your longing to continue, to protect yourself against extinction. 

And as you want to continue, you want others to keep you company, hence your concern with their survival. 

But what you call survival is but the survival of a dream.

–Nisargadatta Maharaj 


Friday, November 3, 2017



THEN Almitra spoke, saying,
"We would ask now of Death."

And he said:

You would know the secret of death.

But how shall you find it unless you seek it
in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day
cannot unveil the mystery of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death,
open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one,
even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies
your silent knowledge of the beyond;

And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow
your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams,
for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd
when he stands before the king whose hand is to be
laid upon him in honour.

Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling,
that he shall wear the mark of the king?

Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind
and to melt into the sun?

And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath
from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand
and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence
shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top,
then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs,
then shall you truly dance.

–Kahlil Gibran

the prophet, excerpt


Thursday, November 2, 2017



Death is a favour to us,
But our scales have lost their balance.
The impermanence of the body
Should give us great clarity, deepening the wonder in our
Senses and eyes
Of this mysterious existence we share
And surely are just traveling through.

If I were in the tavern tonight,
Hafiz would call for drinks
And as the Master poured, I would be reminded
That all I know of life and myself is that
We are just a mid-air flight of golden wine
Between His Pitcher and His cup.

If I were in the tavern to night,
I would buy freely for everyone in this world
Because our marriage with the Cruel Beauty
Of time and space cannot endure very long. 

Death is a favour to us,
But our minds have lost their balance. 
The miraculous existence and impermanence of
Always makes the illumined ones
Laugh and sing.



Wednesday, November 1, 2017