Monday, September 30, 2013

I see my beauty in you

I see my beauty in you,
I become a mirror
that cannot close its eyes to your longing.

My eyes wet with yours in the early light.
My mind every moment giving birth,
always conceiving, always in the ninth month,
always the come-point.

How do I stand this?
We become these words we say,
a wailing sound moving out into the air.

These thousands of worlds that rise from nowhere,
how does your face contain them?

I am a fly in your honey, then closer,
a moth caught in the flame's allure,
then empty sky stretched out in homage.

— Rumi

Today is Rumi's birthday, b. September 30, 1207, d. December 17, 1273

Saturday, September 28, 2013

songs of fairies robbing an orchard

Song of Fairies Robbing an Orchard 
by Leigh Hunt 
We, the Fairies, blithe and antic,
Of dimensions not gigantic,
Though the moonshine mostly keep us,
Oft in orchards frisk and peep us. 
Stolen sweets are always sweeter,
Stolen kisses much completer,
Stolen looks are nice in chapels,
Stolen, stolen, be your apples. 
When to bed the world are bobbing,
Then's the time for orchard-robbing;
Yet the fruit were scarce worth peeling,
Were it not for stealing, stealing.

Friday, September 27, 2013

an effort to enter into morning

An Effort to Enter into Morning
by Brenda Hillman 
Orange thorns snag the hair.
The old fist of bourbon
flowers in the mouth
as you step out,
the doormat wet and straight
behind your foot,
the screendoor shutting and shutting
like a fact in the mind.
The most difficult thing
is to see the morning
for what it is: a foolish
autumn, a pale crust of dragonflies
frantic in their amber
coats, circling in slow
difficult joy.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

men say brown

Men Say Brown
by Henry M. Seiden

On the radio this morning: The average woman knows
275 colors—and men know eight. Women say coffee,
mocha, copper, cinnamon, taupe. Men say brown.

Women know an Amazon of colors I might have said
were green, an Antarctica of whites, oceans of colors
I'd stupidly call blue, fields of color, with flowers in them
I would have said were red.

From women, I've learned to love the browns,
the earths, the dusts, the clays, the soft colors, the colors
brought out from the mines, hardened ones,
hardened in fires I would call red; the colors of the furies;
the reconciling colors of the cooling ash.

By myself I know the evening colors when the sky goes
from blue to another blue to black—although it's a lonely,
whitish black sometimes,
like the color of sleep—
the way dreams are lit by the light that's thrown
from nowhere on the things you find in them. Last night
there was a turtle, I would say it was brown or green,
or it was a snake, mottled, a kind of grey, disguised
as a turtle, red spots as if painted on the shell,
a palish greenish underside—vulnerable, alone
swimming in water I would say was colorless.

I woke to the pale colors of the morning—no one
has a name for those: the white-rose white you see
through the white of the curtains on the window,
the milks, the creams, the cream a galactic swirl
before it turns to brown when your wife stirs it in the coffee,
the faint drying oval on the silver of the spoon.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

what you see

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.

― Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

sumac: it isn't about the photos

We are not prisoners.

No traps or snares are set around us; there is nothing that should frighten or torment us.

We have been put into life as into the element we most accord with, and we have moreover,

through millennia of adaptation, come to resemble this life so greatly,

that we, when we hold still,

through a happy mimicry,

can hardly be distinguished

from everything that surrounds us.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Monday, September 23, 2013

lost and found

I travelled the old road every day, I took my fruits to the market,
my cattle to the meadows, I ferried my boat across the stream and
all the ways were well known to me.

One morning my basket was heavy with wares. Men were busy in
the fields, the pastures crowded with cattle; the breast of earth
heaved with the mirth of ripening rice. 
Suddenly there was a tremor in the air, and the sky seemed to
kiss me on my forehead. My mind started up like the morning out of
I forgot to follow the track. I stepped a few paces from the
path, and my familiar world appeared strange to me, like a flower
I had only known in bud. 
My everyday wisdom was ashamed. I went astray in the fairyland
of things. It was the best luck of my life that I lost my path that
morning, and found my eternal childhood. 

― Rabindranath Tagore

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wendell Berry's manifesto

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front 
By Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed. 
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns. 
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

perishable, it said

Perishable, It Said
by Jane Hirshfield

Perishable, it said on the plastic container,
and below, in different ink,
the date to be used by, the last teaspoon consumed. 
I found myself looking:
now at the back of each hand,
now inside the knees,
now turning over each foot to look at the sole. 
Then at the leaves of the young tomato plants,
then at the arguing jays. 
Under the wooden table and lifted stones, looking.
Coffee cups, olives, cheeses,
hunger, sorrow, fears—
these too would certainly vanish, without knowing when. 
How suddenly then
the strange happiness took me,
like a man with strong hands and strong mouth,
inside that hour with its perishing perfumes and clashings.

Friday, September 20, 2013

close in spirit

The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden. 

― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I would not change it

And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. I would not change it. 

― William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

the animal spell

The Animal Spell
by Zachary Schomburg

Someone once told me that animals are people under spells, and if you fall in love with them the spell will be lifted. I recently fell in love with a black trumpeter swan. I watched her ruffle her neck feathers for hours, watched her peck bugs from her breast. I was sure she would make a beautiful bride, but she was always a black trumpeter swan. I once brushed a horse’s hair for 3 straight years until it crumpled into death. The truth is there is no such thing as spells. The world is always as it is, and always as it seems. And love is just our own kind voice that we whisper into our own blood.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

the interior of the exterior

So the contemplative becomes an avenue not only into a kind of interiority for ourselves, you know, our own moral and, say, lives of purpose and meaning and so forth that we may brood over, which is something different than meditating. But also there's an objective character to the contemplative inquiry, the kind that [Rudolph] Steiner is interested in where one's oriented towards the other, towards the world around us, towards nature.

And one comes to know — I think of it this way — that one comes to know the interior of the exterior. One comes to know the inside of every outside. It's not only human beings that have an interior or an inside, but that the world around us as well can be known inwardly. Strike a bell and you can listen to the sound, but you can also move towards the qualities that are more aesthetic and even moral in nature that deal with the sounding bell or the particular color or that painting that's there or the music that you're hearing.

So life is dense with those levels of experience, but we need to calm ourselves, get clear, get quiet, direct attention, sustain the attention, open up to what is normally invisible, and certain things begin to show themselves. Maybe gently to begin with, but nonetheless it deepens and enriches our lives. If we are committed to knowledge, then we ought to be committed also to exploring the world with these lenses, with this method in mind and heart.

You know, otherwise we're kind of doing it halfway. And then when we go to solve the problems of our world, whether they're educational or environmental, we're bringing only half of our intelligence to bear; we've left the other half idle or relegated it to religious philosophers. But if we're going to be integral ourselves, you know, have a perspective which is whole, then we need to bring all of our capacities to the issues that we confront, spiritual capacities as well as more conventional sensory-based intellects and the like.

Monday, September 16, 2013



When I wake up earlier than you and you
are turned to face me, face
on the pillow and hair spread around,
I take a chance and stare at you,
amazed in love and afraid
that you might open your eyes and have
the daylights scared out of you.
But maybe with the daylights gone
you’d see how much my chest and head
implode for you, their voices trapped
inside like unborn children fearing
they will never see the light of day.
The opening in the wall now dimly glows
its rainy blue and gray. I tie my shoes
and go downstairs to put the coffee on. 

— Ron Padgett

Sunday, September 15, 2013


History overflows time. Love overflows the allowance of the world. All the vessels overflow, and no end or limit stays put. Every shakable thing has got to be shaken. In a sense, nothing that was ever lost in Port William ever has been replaced. In another sense, nothing is ever lost, and we are compacted together forever, even by our failures, our regrets, and our longings. 

― Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow

Saturday, September 14, 2013

letters from home

Letters from home

That’s what poems are.
We are migrants from
somewhere that loves us.
Poems come from there.
News of a death,
news of a birth, both
in one letter. We want only
the truth, and nothing
held back. Things that
have come to pass,
and dreams held fast.
Read them again;
read them over again,
softened with time
in the shifting dust
of this foreign place.

— Ruth Mowry

Friday, September 13, 2013

lay thy sheaf adown

by Thomas Hood

She stood breast high amid the corn,
Clasped by the golden light of morn,
Like the sweetheart of the sun,
Who many a glowing kiss had won.

On her cheek an autumn flush,
Deeply ripened;—such a blush
In the midst of brown was born,
Like red poppies grown with corn.

Round her eyes her tresses fell,
Which were blackest none could tell,
But long lashes veiled a light,
That had else been all too bright.

And her hat, with shady brim,
Made her tressy forehead dim;—
Thus she stood amid the stooks,
Praising God with sweetest looks:—

Sure, I said, heaven did not mean,
Where I reap thou shouldst but glean,
Lay thy sheaf adown and come,
Share my harvest and my home.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

be still in haste

Be Still in Haste 
by Wendell Berry 
How quietly I
begin again 
from this moment
looking at the
clock, I start over 
so much time has
passed, and is equaled
by whatever
split-second is present 
from this
moment this moment
is the first

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

got to live

We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.

— D.H. Lawrence

[September 11, 1885 is D.H. Lawrence's birthday.]

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

not to speak

Ivory Black [not to speak]

    Not to speak
To see and to translate into moans     It's not pain
   To moan from birth
   Only the eye and a conquering of the tongue
   (that you wanted to say that for the "slit"?)

   To return toward hearing (to touch oneself) via the
   heart is heard slowly
   Is guarded like a black poem as if it were an eye
                                  who might rain

— Myriam Moscona

Monday, September 9, 2013

an ordinary life

Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

― William Martin, The Parent's Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

Sunday, September 8, 2013

filled with being

“If there is nothing you can share with other people, try to be close to Things. Things will not abandon you. The nights are still there, and the winds that move through the trees and across many lands. Everything in the world of Things and animals is filled with being, of which you are part.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, September 7, 2013

To the Light of September

To the Light of September
by W. S. Merwin

When you are already here
you appear to be only
a name that tells of you
whether you are present or not

and for now it seems as though
you are still summer
still the high familiar
endless summer
yet with a glint
of bronze in the chill mornings
and the late yellow petals
of the mullein fluttering
on the stalks that lean
over their broken
shadows across the cracked ground

but they all know
that you have come
the seed heads of the sage
the whispering birds
with nowhere to hide you
to keep you for later

who fly with them

you who are neither
before nor after
you who arrive
with blue plums
that have fallen through the night

perfect in the dew

Friday, September 6, 2013

I remember

"I remember awakening one morning and finding everything smeared with the color of forgotten love."

— Charles Bukowski

Thursday, September 5, 2013

why we must struggle

Why We Must Struggle
by Kay Ryan

If we have not struggled
as hard as we can
at our strongest
how will we sense
the shape of our losses
or know what sustains
us longest or name
what change costs us
saying how strange
it is that one sector
of the self can step in
for another in trouble
how loss activates
a latent double how
we can feed
as upon nectar
upon need?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

restorers of balance

HELPED are those whose every act is a prayer for harmony in the Universe, for they are the restorers of balance to our planet. To them will be given the insight that every good act done anywhere in the cosmos welcomes the life of an animal or a child.

— Alice Walker, from her list of beatitudes called The Gospel According to Shug

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

all are inscribed

I have found
A myriad particles
And each is all
That can ever be told,
But all are inscribed
With a signature
That I cannot read . . .

Each is the presence of the all,
And all things bear the signature
Of one unfathomable thought
Lucid as universal light ...

— Kathleen Raine, from "On a Shell-strewn Beach" as remembered by Wendell Berry in Imagination in Place, "Against the Nihil of the Age"

Monday, September 2, 2013

don't just do something

Many people have taken action, but if their state of being is not peaceful or happy, the actions they undertake only sow more troubles and anger and make the situation worse. So instead of saying "Don't just sit there; do something," we should say the opposite, "Don't just do something; sit there."

— Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, September 1, 2013

people I used to be

“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were. I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be…”

— Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem