Sunday, March 31, 2013


Spring has returned.
The Earth is like a child that knows poems. 

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, March 30, 2013

quiet & quick

by Frank O'Hara 
The only way to be quiet
is to be quick, so I scare
you clumsily, or surprise
you with a stab. A praying
mantis knows time more
intimately than I and is
more casual. Crickets use
time for accompaniment to
innocent fidgeting. A zebra
races counterclockwise.
All this I desire. To
deepen you by my quickness
and delight as if you
were logical and proven,
but still be quiet as if
I were used to you; as if
you would never leave me
and were the inexorable
product of my own time.

Friday, March 29, 2013

road to beauty

The road to beauty may be shorter and less costly than you think.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

chaff and grain together

“A friend is one to whom
one may pour out the contents
of one's heart, chaff and grain together,
knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it,
keep what is worth keeping,
and with a breath of kindness,
blow the rest away.” 

― George Eliot

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

world of cracks

All we can do in the world of cracks is
  now and then to call out, Mr Director, mind your step on
     the stairs,
  you have a crack, sir, if I may say so.

— Miroslav Holub, from the poem "Brief Thoughts on Cracks"
read the whole poem here

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


“...who shall measure the heat and violence of a poet's heart when caught and tangled in a woman's body?”

― Virginia Woolf, A Room Of One's Own

Monday, March 25, 2013

calm and orderly

It is spring. I plan to try to control myself this year, to watch the progress of the season in a calm and orderly fashion. In spring I am prone to wretched excess. 

— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

ducks in a row

I wish I could keep my thoughts in order
and my ducks in a row.
I wish I could keep my ducks in a thought
or my thoughts in a duck.
My point is that we all exist, wetly, in the hunt.
The ducks are aware of this
in their own way, which is floating.
The way of the mind is brevity.
There may be other thoughts on other days
in the minds of other and better men
and their constant companions, the women,
but these same tidy capsules — never.
This is just one of the things
I noticed about my thoughts
as they passed easefully by.

— from Poetry, January 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

for a further union

Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning. 

— T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets, from East Coker V

Friday, March 22, 2013

some things

"Not everything will be OK but some things will."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

being alive

"I must tell you my dreams have been disturbing (darkness, darkness), but I am still able to see and feel beauty everywhere. Dread and delight at the same time. That is the truth about being alive."
— Maira Kalman, On Beauty

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

the life being lived

And yet, though we strain
against the deadening grip
of daily necessity,
I sense there is this mystery:

All life is being lived.

Who is living it, then?
Is it the things themselves,
or something waiting inside them,
like an unplayed melody in a flute?

Is it the winds blowing over the waters?
Is it the branches that signal to each other?

Is it flowers
interweaving their fragrances,
or streets, as they wind through time?

Is it animals, warmly moving,
or the birds, that suddenly rise up?

Who lives it, then? God, are you the one
who is living life?

— Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Hours II, 12

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

the hill

The Hill
by Mark Strand 
I have come this far on my own legs,
missing the bus, missing taxis,
climbing always. One foot in front of the other,
that is the way I do it. 
It does not bother me, the way the hill goes on.
Grass beside the road, a tree rattling
its black leaves. So what?
The longer I walk, the farther I am from everything. 
One foot in front of the other. The hours pass.
One foot in front of the other. The hours pass.
The colors of arrival fade.
That is the way I do it.

Monday, March 18, 2013


“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd - The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.”  
― Fernando Pessoa

Sunday, March 17, 2013

ideal leader

The greatest leader is unknown to the people,
a good leader is known and beloved,
an adequate leader is treated with respect,
a poor leader is treated with disdain.  
Trust in oneself is not sufficient.
Indeed, the leader is not worthy of such trust from others.
Self-effacing, the leader is careful with words.  
Fulfilling duties and accomplishing works for all people,
who then will say that they did it all themselves. 
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching 

Saturday, March 16, 2013


We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store
and the gas station and the green market and
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.

Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?
Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,
Honey I'm sorry I keep saying Hurry—
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.

And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking
back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.

Friday, March 15, 2013

shawl of tears

The sheer luminous gown
               The fountain wears
Where Phoebe’s very own
              Color appears
Falls like a summer rain
              Or shawl of tears.

— Charles Baudelaire, from "The Fountain"
read the whole poem here

Thursday, March 14, 2013



I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love. 
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise. 
— Jane Kenyon

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

how much

“Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.” 

― Zelda Fitzgerald

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


“Can anything harm us, mother, after the night-lights are lit?"

Nothing, precious," she said;
"they are the eyes a mother leaves behind her to guard her children.” 

― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Monday, March 11, 2013

that single fleeting moment

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive." 
― Merce Cunningham


Sunday, March 10, 2013

in the silent lines of its lips

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”  
― Walt Whitman

Saturday, March 9, 2013


“Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, 
but by integration of the contraries.” 
― Carl Jung

Friday, March 8, 2013

the smallest word

Of all that God has shown me
I can speak just the smallest word,
Not more than a honey bee
Takes on his foot
From an overspilling jar.

— Mechtild of Magdeburg (13th c)
[translated by Jane Hirshfield]Mechtild of Magdeburg, “Of all that God has shown me,” translated by Jane Hirshfield, from Women in Praise of the Sacred. Copyright 1994 by Jane Hirshfield.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

the great Yes and the great No

Che Fece… Il Gran Refiuto

For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes from honor to honor, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he’d still say no. Yet that no—the right no—
drags him down all his life.

— C.P. Cavafy (Alexandria, 1863-1933)
[translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard] 
Constantine Cavafy, “Che Fece… Il Gran Refiuto,” translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Copyright 1975 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

under your skin

It is not so much light that falls
over the world
extended by your body
its suffocating snow,
as brightness, pouring itself out of you,
as if you were
burning inside.

Under your skin the moon is alive

— Pablo Neruda, from "Ode to a Naked Beauty"
read the whole poem here

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

stay, I said

The Promise

Stay, I said
to the cut flowers.
They bowed
their heads lower.

Stay, I said to the spider,
who fled.

Stay, leaf.
It reddened,
embarrassed for me and itself.

Stay, I said to my body.
It sat as a dog does,
obedient for a moment,
soon starting to tremble.

Stay, to the earth
of riverine valley meadows,
of fossiled escarpments,
of limestone and sandstone.
It looked back
with a changing expression, in silence.

Stay, I said to my loves.
Each answered,

Monday, March 4, 2013

cast the emptiness

      Cast the emptiness from your arms
into the spaces we breathe: perhaps the birds
will sense the increase of air with more passionate flying.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, from The First Elegy, Duino Elegies

Sunday, March 3, 2013

watch, now

“Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields...
Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.” 

― Mary Oliver

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Learn to enjoy the little things —
there are so many of them.

— Anonymous

Friday, March 1, 2013

a birthday

A Birthday

My heart is like a singing bird
               Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
               Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
               That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
               Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
               Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
               And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
               In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
               Is come, my love is come to me.