Monday, February 28, 2022

What Hurts the Soul?



We tremble, thinking we're about to dissolve
into non-existence, but non-existence fears
even more that it might be given human form!

Loving God is the only pleasure.
Other delights turn bitter.
What hurts the soul?
To live without tasting
the water of its own essence.

People focus on death and this material earth.
They have doubts about soul-water.
Those doubts can be reduced!

Use night to wake your clarity.
Darkness and the living water are lovers.
Let them stay up together.

When merchants eat their big meals and sleep
their dead sleep, we night-thieves go to work.

Mathnawi I: 3684-3692
Coleman Barks version
Say I Am You


Sunday, February 27, 2022




Only humans believe
there is a word for goodbye
we have one in every language
one of the first words we learn
it is made out of greeting
but they are going away
the raised hand waving
the face the person the place
the animal the day
leaving the word behind
and what it was meant to say

—W.S. Merwin


Saturday, February 26, 2022

You are a little soul carrying around a corpse. —Epictetus



I have already died all deaths, and I am going to die all deaths again, die the death of the wood in the tree, die the stone death in the mountain, earth death in the sand, leaf death in the crackling summer grass and the poor bloody human death. I will be born again, flowers, tree and grass I will be born again.

—Herman Hesse



Friday, February 25, 2022

how it works



Let's face it. We're undone by each other.
And if we're not, we're missing something. 
If this seems so clearly the case with grief, it is only because it was already the case with desire.
One does not always stay intact.

—Judith Butler


Thursday, February 24, 2022

Seeing For You



The leaves left at the tops of trees
sound like rain in the wind. November—
the sparrows play at being leaves,
the leaves at being birds.

I play at seeing for you
now that you play at being gone.

 —Linda Allardt


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

the dead




The dead are always looking down on us, they say.

While we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,

they are looking down through the glass bottom boats of heaven

as they row themselves slowly through eternity.

They watch the tops of our heads moving below on earth,

and when we lie down in a field or on a couch,

drugged perhaps by the hum of a long afternoon,

they think we are looking back at them,

which makes them lift their oars and fall silent

and wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes.


—Billy Collins



Tuesday, February 22, 2022




Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.
Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

—Carol Ann Duffy


Monday, February 21, 2022

however chance


But every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, written in the heart in the hope that memory will fulfill itself, and become flesh, and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the perished, whose lack we always feel, will step through the door finally and stroke our hair with dreaming, habitual fondness, not having meant to keep us waiting long.

―Marilynne Robinson

Sunday, February 20, 2022




Where sunless rivers weep
Their waves into the deep,
She sleeps a charmed sleep:
Awake her not.
Led by a single star,
She came from very far
To seek where shadows are
Her pleasant lot.
She left the rosy morn,
She left the fields of corn,
For twilight cold and lorn
And water springs.
Through sleep, as through a veil,
She sees the sky look pale,
And hears the nightingale
That sadly sings.
Rest, rest, a perfect rest
Shed over brow and breast;
Her face is toward the west,
The purple land.
She cannot see the grain
Ripening on hill and plain;
She cannot feel the rain
Upon her hand.
Rest, rest, for evermore
Upon a mossy shore;
Rest, rest at the heart’s core
Till time shall cease:
Sleep that no pain shall wake;
Night that no morn shall break
Till joy shall overtake
Her perfect peace.

—Christina Rossetti


Saturday, February 19, 2022

no help for that



there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled
a space
and even during the
best moments
the greatest
we will know it
we will know it
more than
there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled
we will wait
in that

—Charles Bukowski 


Monday, February 14, 2022

my love is building a building



my love is building a building
around you,a frail slippery
house,a strong fragile house
(beginning at the singular beginning

of your smile)a skilful uncouth
prison,a precise clumsy
prison(building thatandthis into Thus,
Around the reckless magic of your mouth)

my love is building a magic,a discrete
tower of magic and(as i guess)

when Farmer Death(whom fairies hate)shall

crumble the mouth-flower fleet
He’ll not my tower,
laborious, casual

where the surrounded smile


—E. E. Cummings

Sunday, February 13, 2022

from Alexander Hamilton to Elizabeth Hamilton, 4 July 1804




To Elizabeth Hamilton,
New York, July 4, 1804

This letter, my very dear Eliza, will not be delivered to you, unless I shall first have terminated my earthly career; to begin, as I humbly hope from redeeming grace and divine mercy, a happy immortality.
If it had been possible for me to have avoided the interview, my love for you and my precious children would have been alone a decisive motive. But it was not possible, without sacrifices which would have rendered me unworthy of your esteem. I need not tell you of the pangs I feel, from the idea of quitting you and exposing you to the anguish which I know you would feel. Nor could I dwell on the topic lest it should unman me.

The consolations of Religion, my beloved, can alone support you; and these you have a right to enjoy. Fly to the bosom of your God and be comforted. With my last idea I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world.

Adieu best of wives and best of Women. Embrace all my darling Children for me.

Ever yours

Saturday, February 12, 2022

smile of the day :)


Zen teacher Issan Dorsey, who established the Maitri Hospice in San Francisco, was on his deathbed when one of his closest friends came to visit him.

“I’m going to miss you,” the friend said.

“I’m going to miss you, too,” responded Issan.

He was silent for a moment.

Then he asked, “Are you going somewhere?”

—Sean Murphy 
One Bird, One Stone


Friday, February 11, 2022

not to worry



It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, how great the mistake. 

A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.

—Emmet Fox


Thursday, February 10, 2022

love says



I know of a place not ruled by flatness 
Or constant risings and depressions, 
and those alive are not afraid to die. 

There wild flowers come up through the leafy floor, 
and the fragrance of "I am he" floats on the wind.

...There the love bee stays deep inside the flower 

and cares for no other thing.


.  .  .

... love

"I will, I will take care of you,"

To everything that is

The Gift
Daniel Ladinsky version



Wednesday, February 9, 2022

it took the ocean

Andrew Garfield on losing his mother, The Believer


Tuesday, February 8, 2022

some(times, some(thing




There is no escaping the awful fact of it: the sparrow fell. I know of no explanation, no justification, no meaning or larger picture that will make sense of it. I will forever be gazing into that gap, that absence, tracing the shimmering outline of the broken sparrow, the brilliance that passed into this world and out of it bearing my husband’s name.

What I know is that sometimes, something slips through the gap. The absence sings, coaxing us to trust there is more than emptiness, more than an eternal void that opens where a life has been.

Jan Richardson
Sparrow: A Book of Life and Death and Life, postscript


Monday, February 7, 2022




What are we?

A fleeting, intricate presence riding a tiny speck of water and rock, out here in the dark, sailing the ship of wonder ever more deeply into the void from which we came, that is our true home and mysterious destination.

—Whitley Strieber & Jeffrey J. Kripal
The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained

.   .   .

All will come again into its strength:
the fields undivided, the waters undammed,
the trees towering and the walls built low.
And in the valleys, people as strong and varied as the land.

And no churches where God
is imprisoned and lamented
like a trapped and wounded animal.
The houses welcoming all who knock
and a sense of boundless offering
in all relations, and in you and me.

No yearning for an afterlife, no looking beyond,
no belittling of death, but only longing for what belongs to us
and serving earth, lest we remain unused.

—Ranier Maria Rilke
Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God 


Saturday, February 5, 2022

妈妈 (Child)



A poem, 'simultaneously unbearable and exquisite,'
in Chinese with English translation by Alex Tang, 
a Toronto-based earthquake engineer. 


快 (Hurry up)
抓紧妈妈的手 (Tightly hold your Mom’s hand)
去天堂的路 (The road to heaven)
太黑了 (is too dark)
妈妈怕你 (Mom is afraid that)
碰了头 (you hit your head)
快 (Hurry up)
抓紧妈妈的手 (Tightly hold your Mom’s hand)
让妈妈陪你走 (Let Mom keep you company)

妈妈 (Child)
怕 (I am afraid)
天堂的路 (The road to heaven)
太黑 (is too dark)
我看不见你的手 (I cannot see your hand)
自从 (since)
倒塌的墙 (the wall collapsed)
把阳光夺走 (it took the sun light away)
我再也看不见 (I cannot see )
你柔情的眸 (your lovely eyes again)

孩子 (Mom)
你走吧 (You can go)
前面的路 (the road in front of you)
再也没有忧愁 (has no sorrow any more)
没有读不完的课本 (there are no books that you cannot finish reading)
和爸爸的拳头 (and your father’s fist)
你要记住 (you have to remember)
我和爸爸的摸样 (my face and your father’s face)
来生还要一起走 (let’s finish walking this road together in our next life)

妈妈 (Child)
别担忧 (do not worry)
天堂的路有些挤 (the road to heaven is a bit crowded)
有很多同学朋友 (I have a lot classmates and friends)
我们说 (we all say)
不哭 (don’t cry)
哪一个人的妈妈都是我们的妈妈 (anyone’s Mom is our Mom)
哪一个孩子都是妈妈的孩子 (any child is Mom’s child)
没有我的日子 (the days without me)
你把爱给活的孩子吧 (give your love to the children alive)

妈妈 (Mom)
你别哭 (don’t cry)
泪光照亮不了 (tears cannot light up the road)
我们的路 (our road)
让我们自己 (let us)
慢慢的走 (walk slowly)

妈妈 (Child)
我会记住你和爸爸的模样 (I will remember your face and father’s face)
记住我们的约定 (remember our appointment)
来生一起走 (of walking together in our next life)

via Andrew C. Revkin, 
the NY Times Earth Blog 
May 22, 2008

Thursday, February 3, 2022

i am this


I see that this body made of the four elements is not really me and I am not limited by this body. I am the whole of the river of life of blood and spiritual ancestors that has been continuously flowing for thousands of years and flows on for thousands of years into the future. I am one with my ancestors and my descendants. I am life that is manifest in countless different forms. I am one with all species whether they are peaceful and joyful or suffering and afraid.

I am present everywhere in this world. I have been present in the past and will be there in the future. The disintegration of this body does not touch me, just as when the petals of the plum blossom fall it does not mean the end of the plum tree.

—Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Death poem of a Japanese Zen Master



Empty-handed I entered
the world 
Barefoot I leave it. 
My coming, my going — 
Two simple happenings 
That got entangled.

Like dew drops 
on a lotus leaf 

I vanish.

—Shinsui, 1769