Thursday, April 24, 2014

elegy for a walnut tree






Old friend now there is no one alive
who remembers when you were young
it was high summer when I first saw you
in the blaze of day most of my life ago
with the dry grass whispering in your shade
and already you had lived through wars
and echoes of wars around your silence
through days of parting and seasons of absence
with the house emptying as the years went their way
until it was home to bats and swallows
and still when spring climbed toward summer
you opened once more the curled sleeping fingers
of newborn leaves as though nothing had happened
you and the seasons spoke the same language
and all these years I have looked through your limbs
to the river below and the roofs and the night
and you were the way I saw the world



~ W. S. Merwin
with thanks to Writer's Almanac



Monday, April 21, 2014

a struggle with water and wind






All my life’s a struggle with water and wind. 
two against one must be my story— 
as I make my way into the earth
 under the waves. There’s no country
 I can call my own. But I’ve learned
 to grow strong by being still. I know
 if I fail I’ll be broken, and all
 that’s part of me will be torn from me. 
Let me find my place 
 among the stones, and be held.



~ Lawrence Raab
from The Word Exchange
Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation


who am i being?








~ Benjamin Zander

Saturday, April 19, 2014

far away





Keep far away. 

You should never be here too much; be so far away that they can’t find you, they can’t get at you to shape, to mould.

Be so far away, like the mountains, like the unpolluted air; be so far away that you have no parents, no relations, no family, no country; be so far away that you don’t know even where you are.

Don’t let them find you; don’t come into contact with them too closely.

Keep far away where even you can’t find yourself; keep a distance which can never be crossed over; keep a passage open always through which no one can come.

Don’t shut the door for there is no door, only an open, endless passage; if you shut any door, they will be very close to you, then you are lost.

Keep far away where their breath can’t reach you and their breath travels very far and very deeply; don’t get contaminated by them, by their word, by their gesture, by their great knowledge; they have great knowledge but be far away from them where even you cannot find yourself.

For they are waiting for you, at every corner, in every house to shape you, to mould you, to tear you to pieces and then put you together in their own image.

Their gods, the little ones and the big ones, are the images of themselves, carved by their own mind or by their own hands.

They are waiting for you, the churchman and the Communist, the believer and the non-believer, for they are both the same; they think they are different but they are not for they both brainwash you, till you are of them, till you repeat their words, till you worship their saints, the ancient and the recent; they have armies for their gods and for their countries and they are experts in killing.

Keep far away but they are waiting for you, the educator and the businessman; one trains you for the others to conform to the demands of their society, which is a deadly thing.

They have a thing called society and family: these two are their real gods, the net in which you will be entangled.

They will make you into a scientist, into an engineer, into an expert of almost anything from cooking to architecture to philosophy.

Keep far, far away; they are waiting for you, the politician and the reformer; the one drags you down into the gutter and then the other reforms you; they juggle with words and you will be lost in their wilderness.

Keep far away; they are waiting for you, the experts in God and the bomb throwers: the one will convince you and the other show you how to kill; there are so many ways to find God and so many, many ways to kill.

But besides all these, there are hoards of others to tell you what to do and what not to do; keep away from all of them, so far away that you cannot find yourself or any other.

You too would like to play with all of them who are waiting for you but then the play becomes so complicated and entertaining that you will be lost.

You should never be here too much, be so far away that even you cannot find yourself.



They were all sitting in a row in the fairly well kept garden; they had on the light and they were eating and the big house was behind them. There was the scent of many flowers in the air and the breeze was coming from the restless sea. On that road there was hardly any car and your brain was utterly still and the movement of a flash was taking place. The meditation was the flash and that flash can only be in emptiness; the flash that opens the door into the unknown. That flash has no time but it’s only a fleeting second. You can never keep that flash any more than you can hold the winds in your fists.



~ J. Krishnamurti
from his notebook
with thanks to Love is a Place




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

the great way is not difficult





Be serene in the oneness of things.

The Great Way is not difficult 
for those who have no preferences. 
When love and hate are both absent 
everything becomes clear and undisguised.

Make the smallest distinction, however 
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth 
then hold no opinions for or against anything. 
To set up what you like against what you dislike 
is the disease of the mind. 

When the deep meaning of things is not understood 
the minds essential peace is disturbed to no avail. 

The Way is perfect like vast space 
where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess. 
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject 
that we do not see the true nature of things. 

Live neither in the entanglements of outer things, 
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.

Be serene in the oneness of things 
and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity 
your very effort fills you with activity. 

As long as you remain in one extreme or the other 
you will never know Oneness.



~ Seng-T’san
with thanks to Love is a Place



why we tell stories





Because we used to have leaves 
and on damp days 
our muscles feel a tug, 
painful now, from when roots 
pulled us into the ground 

and because our children believe 
they can fly, an instinct retained 
from when the bones in our arms 
were shaped like zithers and broke 
neatly under their feathers 

and because before we had lungs 
we knew how far it was to the bottom 
as we floated open-eyed 
like painted scarves through the scenery 
of dreams, and because we awakened 

and learned to speak 

We sat by the fire in our caves, 
and because we were poor, we made up a tale 
about a treasure mountain 
that would open only for us 

and because we were always defeated, 
we invented impossible riddles 
only we could solve, 
monsters only we could kill, 
women who could love no one else 
and because we had survived 
sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, 
we discovered bones that rose 
from the dark earth and sang 
as white birds in the trees 

Because the story of our life 
becomes our life 

Because each of us tells 
the same story 
but tells it differently 

and none of us tells it 
the same way twice 

Because grandmothers looking like spiders 
want to enchant the children 
and grandfathers need to convince us 
what happened happened because of them 

and though we listen only 
haphazardly, with one ear, 
we will begin our story 
with the word and



~ Lisel Mueller

with thanks to wiskey river



Monday, April 14, 2014

a friend's umbrella






Ralph Waldo Emerson, toward the end
of his life, found the names
of familiar objects escaping him.
He wanted to say something about a window,
or a table, or a book on a table.

But the word wasn't there,
although other words could still suggest
the shape of what he meant.
Then someone, his wife perhaps,

would understand: "Yes, window! I'm sorry,
is there a draft?" He'd nod.
She'd rise. Once a friend dropped by
to visit, shook out his umbrella
in the hall, remarked upon the rain.

Later the word umbrella
vanished and became
the thing that strangers take away.

Paper, pen, table, book:
was it possible for a man to think
without them? To know
that he was thinking? We remember
that we forget, he'd written once,
before he started to forget.

Three times he was told
that Longfellow had died.

Without the past, the present
lay around him like the sea.
Or like a ship, becalmed,
upon the sea. He smiled

to think he was the captain then,
gazing off into whiteness,
waiting for the wind to rise. 




~ Lawrence Raab
from The History of Forgetting
found here: http://deathdeconstructed.blogspot.com/




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

something unimportant






Happy as something unimportant
and free as a thing unimportant.
As something no one prizes
and which does not prize itself.
As something mocked by all
and which mocks at their mockery.
As laughter without serious reason. 
As a yell able to outyell itself.
Happy as no matter what,
as any no matter what.

Happy
as a dog's tail.



~ Anna Swir
from Talking to my body
translated by Czeslaw Milosz
with thanks to Poetry Chaikhana


Friday, March 21, 2014

the power of introverts







~ Susan Cain

Thursday, March 20, 2014

all kinds of minds







~ Temple Grandin

Thursday, March 6, 2014

on finding a guide





You wear coarse wool, but you're a king,
as the soul's energy hides, as love
remembers. You enter this room in a human
shape and as the atmosphere we breathe.

You are the central pole through the nine
levels connecting them and us to absolute
absence. So that we can have what we want,
you give failure and frustration. You want

only the company of the lion and the lion
cub, no wobbly legs. That man there, you
suggest, might remove his head before
entering the temple. Then he could listen

without ears to a voice that says, My
creature. A month of walking the road, you
make that distance in one day. Never mind
gold and silver payments. When you feel

generous, give your head. My beauty,
you have no need for a guide. The one
who follows and the one who leads are
inseparable, as the moon and the circle

around it. An Arab drags his camel town
to town. You go through your troubles
and changing beliefs, both no different from
the moon moving across or basil growing

and getting cut for a bouquet. It doesn't
matter you've been lost. The hoopoe is
still looking for you. It's another
beginning, my friend, this waking in a

morning with no haze, and help coming
without your asking! A glass submerged
is turning inside the wine. With grief
waved away, sweet gratefulness arrives.





~ Rumi 
Coleman Barks, Nevit Ergin version
with thanks to alixe at love is a place


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

inside




How something is made flesh
no one can say. The buffalo soup
becomes a woman
who sings every day to her horses
or summons another to her private body
saying, come, touch, this is how
it begins, the path of a newly born
who, salvaged from other lives and worlds,
will grow to become a woman, a man,
with a heart that never rests,
and the gathered berries,
the wild grapes
enter the body,
human wine
which can love,
where nothing created is wasted;
the swallowed grain takes you through the dreams
of another night,
the deer meat becomes hands
strong enough to work.


But I love most
the white-haired creature
eating green leaves;
the sun shines there
swallowed, showing in her face
taking in all the light,


and in the end
when the shadow from the ground
enters the body and remains,
in the end, you might say,
This is myself,
still unknown, still a mystery.




–Linda Hogan
from Rounding the Human Corners
with thanks to Love is a Place



Sunday, March 2, 2014

happiness and bare consciousness









~ Matthieu Ricard


Saturday, March 1, 2014

silence and meditation






One day some people came to a solitary monk  . 

They asked him:
"What is the meaning of silence and meditation? "

The monk was just the scooping of water 
from a deep well. 
He said to his visitors: 

"Look into the well. What do you see?" 

The people looked into the deep well and responded: 
"We see nothing!"

The monk put down his bucket. 
After a short while, he urged the people once more: 
"Look into the well! 
What do you see now? " 

The people looked down again: 
"Now we see ourselves!" 

"You could not see anything," replied the monk, 
"Because the water was restless as your life. 
But now it's quiet. 
This is what the silence gives us : one sees himself "


Then the monk told the people to wait a while. 
Finally, he asked them: 
"And now look again into the well. 
What do you see? " 

The man looked down.
"Now we see the stones on the bottom of the well." 

The monk said: 
"This is the experience of silence and meditation. 

If you wait long enough, you can see the reason of all things. "




~ author unknown






after a death






Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside.  It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.

One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.

It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.




~ Tomas Transtromer
from The Half-Finished Heaven
translated by Robert Bly