Monday, January 31, 2022



Now my whole being breathes the wind that blows through the belfry and my hand is on the door through which I see the heavens. The door swings out upon a vast sea of darkness and of prayer. 
Will it come like this, the moment of my death? Will You open a door upon the great forest and set my feet upon a ladder under the moon and take me out among the stars?

—Thomas Merton
from The Seeker and the Monk: Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton, Sophfronia Scott, p. 175-176


Sunday, January 30, 2022

Saturday, January 29, 2022

dark spots



In the late nineteenth century, some photographers
claimed not only to capture images 
of loved ones from beyond 
the grave, but to be able to photograph memories
of the deceased, their auras still glowing 
around the bereaved, 
as if to capture light reflected off a body could preserve
that body over time. As Beatrice explains 
the presence of the dark 
spots on the moon to Dante in Paradiso, how
the brightness of a celestial body 
reveals the angelic 
gladness that quickens the body, Letizia that shines as joy
shines through an eye. Visit Fort
Courage—Take Pictures
of the Past, the billboards across Arizona advised,
and at the base of the mountain in 
New Mexico, a note taped 
to the gasoline pump read, Hold tight to your money—the wind
will carry it away. In the snapshot of 
my grandmother in her 
casket, wearing the Elizabethan collar and perm'd
curls she never wore, my mother 
gazes through her 
to a planet she always knew existed but which, without
the darkness, she could never see 
before. They call 
some bruises shiners like the violet stars of the Rose of Sharon
that come out in the morning and shine 
all day in their leaf-black 
shade, shade carved into the yard like fish scales covering
the sarcophagus in Sant'Apollinare in 

Classe near Ravenna 
or the stiff, veined hands of the sycamore stretched wide
in applause, the Italian gesture of mourning.

—Angie Estes


Friday, January 28, 2022

Why Are Your Poems So Dark?



Isn't the moon dark too,
most of the time?

And doesn't the white page
seem unfinished

without the dark stain
of alphabets?

When God demanded light,
he didn't banish darkness.

Instead he invented
ebony and crows

and that small mole
on your left cheekbone.

Or did you mean to ask
"Why are you sad so often?"

Ask the moon.
Ask what it has witnessed.

—Linda Pastan

Pedro Luis Raota

Tuesday, January 25, 2022



In one of those stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night. 

And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend…I shall not leave you.

—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Little Prince



Monday, January 24, 2022

Contemplation on No Coming, No Going


This body is not me. I am not limited by this body. 
I am life without boundaries. 
I have never been born, and I have never died. 

Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars, manifestations from my wondrous true mind. Since before time, I have been free. 

Birth and death are only doors through which we pass, sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a game of hide-and-seek. 
So laugh with me, hold my hand, let us say good-bye,
say good-bye, to meet again soon. 
We meet today. We will meet again tomorrow.

We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life. 

—Thich Nhat Hanh


Sunday, January 23, 2022

death cannot harm me more than you have harmed me, my beloved life. —Louise Glück




The body is at home in time and space
and loves things, 
how they come and go, and such
distances as it might cross or place
between the things it loves, and its own touch.
But for you, soul, whom the body bred in error
like some weird pearl, everything is wrong.
Space is stone, and time a breakneck terror
where you hold to nothing but your own small song.

No wonder you would rather stay asleep
than wake again to your live burial.

But sometimes, shrinking in your tiny keep
you make out through the thousand-mile-thick wall
the faint tapped code of one as trapped as you,
saying: those high white mansions—I dream them too—

—Don Paterson
Ploughshares, Spring 2011

.   .   .


My soul is ten thousand miles wide and extremely invisibly deep. It is the same size as the sea, it is bigger than the sea, it holds the sea, and you cannot, you cannot cram it into beer cans and fingernails and stake it out in lots and own it. It will drown you all and never even notice.

—Ursula K. Le Guin
Hand, Cup, Shell

.   .   .

Hold faith, for within the soul is the homing device.
We all can find our way back.

—Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Women who Run with the Wolves

Louise GlückOctober

Saturday, January 22, 2022

we are our ancestors



When we hear the sound of the bell, we should open ourselves up 
to allow all the generations of ancestors in us to hear the bell 
at the same time as we do. 

It means we shouldn’t imprison ourselves in a shell of self – 
we should allow our ancestors to listen to the bell at the same time. 

That is our practice at that moment, because all the generations of ancestors,
including our father and our mother are in us in a very concrete way – 
in every cell of our body. 

The body contains the mind – the soma contains the psyche,
and we could say that the mind also contains the body. 

That means that the psyche contains the soma and that psyche includes 
feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness
and we should learn to see our mental formations are made out of cells, 
just as the body is made out of cells. 

The cells of the body contain the cells of the consciousness
and the cells of the consciousness contain the cells of the body.

—Thich Nhat Hanh


Friday, January 21, 2022

Elegy for a Year, excerpt


Winter, Wintering, listen: I think of you
long gone now

through the valley, scissoring
your ancient way

through the pitch pines. Not waiting, but the great elk
in the dark door. Not ravens

where they stay, awhile, in furor,
but the lost thing backing out

among the saplings, dancing off the madness
of its antlers. Not stone, not cold

stone, but fire. The wild thing, musk-blooded, at my open
door, wakening and wakening and

wakening, migrations
in the blindness of its wild eyes,

saying Look at them, look at how they have to.
Do something with the wildness that confounds you.

—Joseph Fasano

Thursday, January 20, 2022



What goes too long unchanged destroys itself. 

The forest is forever because it dies and dies and so lives.

Ursula Le Guin
Tales From Earthsea: Dragonfly


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

your blinded hand



Suppose that 
everything that greens and grows 

should blacken in one moment, flower and branch. 

I think that I would find your blinded hand.
Suppose that your hand and mine were lost among numberless cries 
in a city of fire when the earth is afire, 
I must still believe that I would find your blinded hand. 

Through flames everywhere 
consuming earth and air 
I must believe that somehow, if only one moment were offered, 
I would 
find your hand. 

I know as, of course, you know 
the immeasurable wilderness that would exist 
in the moment of fire. 

But I would hear your cry and you’d hear mine and each of us  
would find 
the other’s hand. 

We know 
that it might not be so. 
But for this quiet moment, if only for this 
and against all reason 
let us believe, and believe in our hearts, 
that somehow it would be so. 

I’d hear your cry, you mine – 
And each of us would find a blinded hand.

—Tennessee Williams


Tuesday, January 18, 2022



Our real self, the soul, is immortal. We may sleep for a little while in that change called death, but we can never be destroyed. We exist, and that existence is eternal. 

The wave comes to the shore, and then goes back to the sea; it is not lost. It becomes one with the ocean, or returns again in the form of another wave. 

This body has come, and it will vanish; but the soul essence within it will never cease to exist. Nothing can terminate that eternal consciousness.

—Paramahansa Yogananda


Sunday, January 16, 2022




The brief span of an individual life is misleading. 
Each one of us is as old as the entire biological kingdom, and our bloodstreams are tributaries of the great sea of its total memory. 
The uterine odyssey of the growing foetus recapitulates the entire evolutionary past, and its central nervous system is a coded time scale, each nexus of neurones and each spinal level marking a symbolic station, a unit of neuronic time. 

—J.G Ballard
The Drowned World



Saturday, January 15, 2022

I need not bother now



Drifting pitifully in the whirlwind of birth and death,
As if wandering in a dream,
In the midst of illusion I awaken to the true path;

There is one more matter I must not neglect,
But I need not bother now,
As I listen to the sound of the evening rain
Falling on the roof of my temple retreat
In the deep grass of Fukakusa.

—Eihei Dōgen (1200 - 1253)


Friday, January 14, 2022

tonight, I am with old friends

I have drunk the night
and swallowed the stars.
I am dancing with abandon
and singing with rapture.

There is not a thing I do not love.
There is not a person I have not forgiven.
I feel a universe of love.
I feel a universe of light.

Tonight, I am with old friends
and we are returning home.
The moon is our witness.

―Kamand Kojouri


Thursday, January 13, 2022

Angel of Duluth, excerpt



I lied a little. There are things I don’t want to tell you. How lonely I am today and sick at heart. How the rain falls steadily and cold on a garden grown greener, more lush and even less tame. I haven’t done much, I confess, to contain it. The grapevine, as usual, threatens everything in its path, while the raspberry canes, aggressive and abundant, are clearly out of control. I’m afraid the wildflowers have taken over, being after all the most hardy and tolerant of shade and neglect. This year the violets and lilies of the valley are rampant, while the phlox are about to emit their shocking pink perfume. Oh, my dear, had you been here this spring, you would have seen how the bleeding hearts are thriving.

—Madelon Sprengnether 


Tuesday, January 11, 2022



Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. 
Our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits.

—Ludwig Wittgenstein


Monday, January 10, 2022

sorrow passes and we remain



In July of 1883, Henry James, the famed novelist responsible for writing, most notably, The Portrait of a Lady, received a worryingly emotional letter from Grace Norton, a friend of some years and successful essayist who, following a recent death in the family, had seemingly become depressed and was desperate for direction. James, no stranger to depression himself, responded with a stunning letter which, despite beginning, “...I hardly know what to say to you,” contains some of the greatest, most compassionate advice ever put to paper—a feat made all the more impressive on learning that it was written just months after the deaths of his own parents.

For more information about depression, visit Mind.

(Source: Henry James: Selected Letters; Image: Henry James in 1912, via.)

131 Mount Vernon St., 

July 28th

My dear Grace, 

Before the sufferings of others I am always utterly powerless, and the letter you gave me reveals such depths of suffering that I hardly know what to say to you. This indeed is not my last word—but it must be my first. You are not isolated, verily, in such states of feeling as this—that is, in the sense that you appear to make all the misery of all mankind your own; only I have a terrible sense that you give all and receive nothing—that there is no reciprocity in your sympathy—that you have all the affliction of it and none of the returns. However—I am determined not to speak to you except with the voice of stoicism. 

I don't know why we live—the gift of life comes to us from I don't know what source or for what purpose; but I believe we can go on living for the reason that (always of course up to a certain point) life is the most valuable thing we know anything about and it is therefore presumptively a great mistake to surrender it while there is any yet left in the cup. In other words consciousness is an illimitable power, and though at times it may seem to be all consciousness of misery, yet in the way it propagates itself from wave to wave, so that we never cease to feel, though at moments we appear to, try to, pray to, there is something that holds one in one's place, makes it a standpoint in the universe which it is probably good not to forsake. You are right in your consciousness that we are all echoes and reverberations of the same, and you are noble when your interest and pity as to everything that surrounds you, appears to have a sustaining and harmonizing power. Only don't, I beseech you, generalize too much in these sympathies and tendernesses—remember that every life is a special problem which is not yours but another's, and content yourself with the terrible algebra of your own. Don't melt too much into the universe, but be as solid and dense and fixed as you can. We all live together, and those of us who love and know, live so most. We help each other—even unconsciously, each in our own effort, we lighten the effort of others, we contribute to the sum of success, make it possible for others to live. Sorrow comes in great waves—no one can know that better than you—but it rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us it leaves us on the spot and we know that if it is strong we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain. It wears us, uses us, but we wear it and use it in return; and it is blind, whereas we after a manner see. 

My dear Grace, you are passing through a darkness in which I myself in my ignorance see nothing but that you have been made wretchedly ill by it; but it is only a darkness, it is not an end, or the end. Don't think, don't feel, any more than you can help, don't conclude or decide—don't do anything but wait. Everything will pass, and serenity and accepted mysteries and disillusionments, and the tenderness of a few good people, and new opportunities and ever so much of life, in a word, will remain. You will do all sorts of things yet, and I will help you. The only thing is not to melt in the meanwhile. I insist upon the necessity of a sort of mechanical condensation—so that however fast the horse may run away there will, when he pulls up, be a somewhat agitated but perfectly identical G. N. left in the saddle. Try not to be ill—that is all; for in that there is a future. You are marked out for success, and you must not fail. You have my tenderest affection and all my confidence. 

Ever your faithful friend—

Henry James


Sunday, January 9, 2022

turn, turn, turn


In the right-hand pocket of my former life I’ve left something for you.

That is, darling, your turn will come.

I’d walk out on myself if I could.

I love the distant glow in the nighttime desert sky

like a worn yellow spot in the dark

everything might still slip through.

—Charlie Smith 
from section 1 Outside Las Vegas of Late Days 
Jump Soul: New and Selected Poems


Saturday, January 8, 2022

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, January 7, 2022

oliver sacks


I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. 

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

—Oliver Sacks

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Empedocles at Etna (1852)



To the elements it came from
Everything will return—
Our bodies to earth,
Our blood to water,
Heat to fire,
Breath to air.

They were well born, they will be well entomb’d—
But mind?…

—Matthew Arnold


Monday, January 3, 2022

the trees


The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief. 
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In full grown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

—Philip Larkin 


Sunday, January 2, 2022

use a distant brush to paint these things

source unknown, sadly

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Sky Full of Song


How deeply are you sleeping
Or are you still awake?
A good friend told me
You've been staying out so late
Be careful, oh, my darling
Oh, be careful what it takes
From what I've seen so far
The good ones always seem to break
And I was screaming at my father
And you were screaming at me
And I can feel your anger
From way across the sea
And I was kissing strangers
I was causing such a scene
Oh, the heart, it hides such unimaginable things
Grab me by my ankles, I've been flying for too long
I couldn't hide from the thunder in a sky full of song
And I want you so badly but you could be anyone
I couldn't hide from the thunder in a sky full of song
Hold me down, I'm so tired now
Aim your arrow at the sky
Take me down, I'm too tired now
Leave me where I lie
And I can tell that I'm in trouble
When that music starts to play
In a city without seasons
It keeps raining in L.A.
I feel like I'm about to fall
The room begins to sway
And I can hear the sirens
But I cannot walk away
Grab me by my ankles
I've been flying for too long
I couldn't hide from the
Thunder in a sky full of song
And I want you so badly
But you could be anyone
I couldn't hide from the thunder
In a sky full of song
Hold me down, I'm so tired now
Aim your arrow at the sky
Take me down, I'm too tired now
Leave me where I lie
I thought I was flying
But maybe I'm dying tonight
I thought I was flying
But maybe I'm dying tonight
And I thought I was flying
But maybe I'm dying tonight
And I thought I was flying
But maybe I'm dying tonight
Hold me down, I'm so tired now
Aim your arrow at the sky (shoot, shoot, shoot)
Take me down, I'm too tired now
Leave me where I lie (fire)
Hold me down, I'm so tired now
Aim your arrow at the sky (shoot, shoot, shoot)
Take me down, I'm too tired now
Leave me where I lie (fire)