Wednesday, July 31, 2013

present light

Present Light
by Charles Ghigna

If I could
hold light
in my hand

I would
give it
to you

and watch it
your shadow.

[I am posting a photo of a small light catcher, the smallest ever made by Wayne of Stratoz. He sent it to me as a small thank you for the daily posts at small, and today is Wayne's birthday. Happy Birthday, Wayne!]

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

ordinary time

Which are the magic
moments in ordinary
time? All of them,
for those who can see.

— Tim Dlugos, from "Ordinary Time"
Read the whole poem here

[Susie at the cottage in 2009, making me birthday pie]

Monday, July 29, 2013

to be

Whoever has experienced the oneness of life and the joy of life knows that to be is the all. "Ripeness is all," said Shakespeare. It is the same thing.

— Henry Miller, Stand Still Like the Hummingbird, "Children of the Earth"

[James with a lake fly]

Sunday, July 28, 2013

midnight planets

blueberries in a
pancake, midnight planets and
no less mystery

[lake haiku series]

Saturday, July 27, 2013


linoleum blocks
uncle carved ­­— violin, birds,
a small dove, alive

Friday, July 26, 2013


two pileated
woodpeckers high in the oaks.
an acorn hits the roof

[lake haiku series]

Thursday, July 25, 2013

onto the surface

minnows watch for bugs
while my paper and pen blow
onto the surface

[lake haiku series]

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

moon rising

moon rising on the lake
a child's face from behind
her mom's skirt flowing

[lake series]

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

over the water

over the water
with weeds the paired Dragonflies
confound Time and me

[I am at the lake for a couple of weeks, sitting, staring, reading, writing, photographing, . . . being.
I'd like to write a haiku for small each day I'm here. This remembering, simply remembering,
is what I wish. There is great help all around me to do so.]

Monday, July 22, 2013

any portion

“The world is big but it is comprehensible," says R. Buckminster Fuller. But it seems to me that the world is not nearly big enough and that any portion of its surface, left unpaved and alive, is infinitely rich in details and relationships, in wonder, beauty, mystery comprehensible only in part. The very existence of existence is itself suggestive of the unknown - not a problem, but a mystery. We will never get to the bottom of it, never know the whole of even so small and trivial and useless and precious a place as Aravaipa. Therein lies our redemption.

― Edward Abbey, The Serpents of Paradise: A Reader

Sunday, July 21, 2013

human spirit

The human spirit glows from that small inner light of doubt whether we are right, while those who believe with certainty that they possess the right are dark inside and darken the world outside with cruelty, pain, and injustice.

― Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals

Saturday, July 20, 2013

each moment

Black Maps
by Mark Strand

Not the attendance of stones,
nor the applauding wind,
shall let you know
you have arrived,

not the sea that celebrates
only departures,
nor the mountains,
nor the dying cities.

Nothing will tell you
where you are.
Each moment is a place
you’ve never been.

You can walk
believing you cast
a light around you.
But how will you know?

The present is always dark.
Its maps are black,
rising from nothing,

in their slow ascent
into themselves,
their own voyage,
its emptiness,

the bleak, temperate
necessity of its completion.
As they rise into being
they are like breath.

And if they are studied at all
it is only to find,
too late, what you thought
were concerns of yours

do not exist.
Your house is not marked
on any of them,
nor are your friends,

waiting for you to appear,
nor are your enemies,
listing your faults.
Only you are there,

saying hello
to what you will be,
and the black grass
is holding up the black stars.

Friday, July 19, 2013


you will always be waiting
for what you do not know,
knowing that when at last
it appears you will not know it ...  
— John Haines

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Those who attempt to lead by force
will find that this never ends with success.

People are mysterious entities –
try to take hold of them
and you will only lose them.
Thus, sometimes it is better to show the way,
and sometimes it is better to follow.

Some people blow hot, while others blow cold;
some people are strong, while others are weak;
some people can overcome adversity, while others give in.

Therefore, the wise person avoids extremes,
withdraws from extravagance,
and discards arrogance.

— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


The great majority of us are required to live a life of constant systematic duplicity. Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike and rejoice at what brings you nothing but misfortune. Our nervous system isn't just a fiction; it's a part of our physical body, and our soul exists in space and is inside us, like the teeth in our mouth. It can't be forever violated with impunity.
— Boris Pasternak

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Never mind. The self is the least of it. Let our scars fall in love.

— Galway Kinnell, from "Dear Stranger"

[old lampshade]

Monday, July 15, 2013


Queen Anne's Lace
by June Jordan

Unseemly as a marvellous and astral renegade
now luminous and startling (rakish)
at the top of its thin/ordinary stem
the flower overpowers or outstares me
as I walk by thinking of weeds and poison 
ivy, bush and fern or runaway grass:
You (where are you, really?) never leave me
to my boredom: numb as I might like to be.
you do revive
arouse alive

a suffering.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

our breath is not our own

Something pummels us, something barely sheathed. Power broods and lights. We’re played on like a pipe; our breath is not our own. James Houston describes two young Eskimo girls sitting cross-legged on the ground, mouth on mouth, blowing by turns each other’s throat cords, making a low, unearthly music. When I cross again the bridge that is really the steers’ fence, the wind has thinned to the delicate air of twilight; it crumples the water’s skin. I watch the running sheets of light raised on the creek’s surface. The sight has the appeal of the purely passive, like the racing of light under clouds on a field, the beautiful dream at the moment of being dreamed. The breeze is the merest puff, but you yourself sail headlong and breathless under the gale force of the spirit.

— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Saturday, July 13, 2013

the little flute

The Little Flute
by Rabindranath Tagore

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail
vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with
fresh life.

This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales,
and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.

At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its
limits in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.

Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of
mine. Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room
to fill.

— from Gitanjali

Friday, July 12, 2013

the opposite direction

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

― E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful

[African basket]

Thursday, July 11, 2013

whatever gives pleasure

Whatever gives pleasure
is the fragrance of the Friend.

Whatever makes us wonder
comes from that light.

What is inside the ground
begins to sprout
because you spilled wine there.

What dies in autumn comes up in spring,
because this way of saying no
becomes in spring your praise-song, yes.

— Rumi


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

too taken?

Is my mind too taken with light?
If my face were not visible,
would I still feel separate from other things?

— Rainer Maria Rilke, from "Prayer" 
Read the whole poem here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

intangible and indescribable

If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal — that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched. 

― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

[leek scape]

Monday, July 8, 2013

food and security and love

“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”

— M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

Sunday, July 7, 2013

women & the pen

The extreme activity of mind which showed itself in the later eighteenth century among women—the talking, and the meeting, the writing of essays on Shakespeare, the translating of the classics—was founded on the solid fact that women could make money by writing. Money dignifies what is frivolous if unpaid for. It might still be well to sneer at "blue stockings with an itch for scribbling," but it could not be denied that they could put money in their purses. Thus, towards the end of the eighteenth century a change came about which, if I were rewriting history, I should describe more fully and think of greater importance than the Crusades or the Wars of the Roses. The middle-class woman began to write. For if Pride and Prejudice matters, and Middlemarch and Villette and Wuthering Heights matter, then it matters far more than I can prove in an hour's discourse that women generally, and not merely the lonely aristocrat shut up in her country house among her folios and her flatterers, took to writing. Without those forerunners, Jane Austen and the Brontes and George Eliot could no more have written than Shakespeare could have written without Marlowe, or Marlowe without Chaucer, or Chaucer without those forgotten poets who paved the ways and tamed the natural savagery of the tongue. For masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice. Jane Austen should have laid a wreath upon the grave of Fanny Burney, and George Eliot done homage to the robust shade of Eliza Carter—the valiant old woman who tied a bell to her bedstead in order that she might wake early and learn Greek. All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds. It is she—shady and amorous as she was—who makes it not quite fantastic for me to say to you tonight: Earn five hundred a year by your wits.

— Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Friday, July 5, 2013

it is because

It is because we don't know Who we are, because we are unaware that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, that we behave in the generally silly, the often insane, the sometimes criminal ways that are so characteristically human. 
— Aldous Huxley

Thursday, July 4, 2013

decisions of the flesh

...when we say we're looking for a spiritual adviser, we're really looking for someone to tell us what to do with our bodies. Decisions of the flesh. We forget to learn from pleasure as well as pain.

― Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces

[leek scape with shed sepal attached, and chicken]

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

and really meant it

Down on the lake rosy reflections of celestial vapor appeared, and I said, "God, I love you" and looked to the sky and really meant it. "I have fallen in love with you, God. Take care of us all, one way or the other." To the children and the innocent it's all the same.  

― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

the world is green

My Life
by Mark Strand

The huge doll of my body
refuses to rise.
I am the toy of women.
My mother

would prop me up for her friends.
“Talk, talk,” she would beg.
I moved my mouth
but words did not come.

My wife took me down from the shelf.
I lay in her arms. “We suffer
the sickness of self,” she would whisper.
And I lay there dumb.

Now my daughter
gives me a plastic nurser
filled with water.
“You are my real baby,” she says.

Poor child!
I look into the brown
mirrors of her eyes
and see myself

diminishing, sinking down
to a depth she does not know is there.
Out of breath,
I will not rise again.

I grow into my death.
My life is small
and getting smaller. The world is green.
Nothing is all.

Monday, July 1, 2013

faded song

That the future is a faded song, a Royal Rose or a lavender spray
Of wistful regret for those who are not yet here to regret,
Pressed between yellow leaves of a book that has never been opened,
And the way up is the way down, the way forward is the way back,
You cannot face it steadily, but this thing is sure,
That time is no healer; the patient is no longer here.

— T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets, The Dry Salvages