Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

The best moment at Wild Goose…a sendoff by Gareth Higgins

~ Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Jill and JamesyA BLESSING FOR FRIENDSHIP WITH YOUR OWN SOUL

JULY 12, 2016
You deserve to be known by the miracle of a day.
You are cradled through the night, the dusk affirming yesterday’s work.
You don’t just wake. You awaken unto something.

The miracle of a day.

What can happen in a day?
Everything.
Stand in front of the mirror and repeat twenty times

‘I’m super-cool, and beautiful, and thrillingly alive.’

In the shower, be gentle with your skin, as if you were caressing a Rodin sculpture.
Pick up the first piece of trash you see, and turn it into an origami Yoda.
Make breakfast as if you were making love, and eat it that way too.

Make sure no one’s looking.

This time is for you.
To ready yourself for the miracle of a day.

Your day.

Go out into the world of wonder – trees and cars and roads and buildings and books and restaurants and computers and desks and the greatest wonder: people!
Oh, people, fucked-up and gorgeous; alive and dying; deceitful and trying; and trying hard to be good.

They need you.

We need you.

Show us your love, and your origami Yoda.

Hold yourself like you believe in your own glory – not more than or less than others, but inviting them into the same.
Take delight in your foibles. Laugh when you lose your keys (again). Smile a wry smile at the first fifteen sexual fantasies that interrupt your conference call.

Stretch your arms and legs and neck and let your voice transcend Whitman, for goodness’ sake: make it a beatific yawp!
Take yourself out to lunch and enjoy the sacrament of interruption that is queuing and choosing and eating.

Look up at the sky!
Look up at the sky!
Look up at the sky!

This is your roof.

Know that you’re not the only one thinking this. And that both of you are right.

Then, when the working day is winding down,
readying itself to give way to rest and play,
find someone who needs your smile.

Give it to them. And you’ll never lose it.

May you find the Anam Cara within.
Soul Friendship with yourself,
that opens unto others,
makes a home for them,
and transfigures your inner life.

May you be the friend to yourself that we are all waiting for.

Without a Sound

~ Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

1-27-2016 10-13-23 AMThe Fourth Sign of the Zodiac
-by Mary Oliver
1.
Why should I have been surprised?
Hunters walk the forest
without a sound.
The hunter, strapped to his rifle,
the fox on his feet of silk,
the serpent on his empire of muscles—
all move in a stillness,
hungry, careful, intent.
Just as the cancer
entered the forest of my body,
without a sound.

2.
The question is,
what will it be like
after the last day?
Will I float
into the sky
or will I fray
within the earth or a river—
remembering nothing?
How desperate I would be
if I couldn’t remember
the sun rising, if I couldn’t
remember trees, rivers; if I couldn’t
even remember, beloved,
your beloved name.

3.
I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you’re in it all the same.

so why not get started immediately.

I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.

And to write music or poems about.

Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
Bless touching.

You could live a hundred years, it’s happened.
Or not.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.

4.
Late yesterday afternoon, in the heat,
all the fragile blue flowers in bloom
in the shrubs in the yard next door had
tumbled from the shrubs and lay
wrinkled and fading in the grass. But
this morning the shrubs were full of
the blue flowers again. There wasn’t
a single one on the grass. How, I
wondered, did they roll back up to
the branches, that fiercely wanting,
as we all do, just a little more of
life?

Was I in search of something?

~ Saturday, December 13th, 2014

keep-calm-you-are-my-platonic-love
“Platonic” by Mary Ruefle:

Did it mean anything? The stone, the rose,
darkness, wood, wind, flame, the violin.
The practical man, the visible world,
the painted ponies, the sea, the wilderness
of cellophane, my last word, my crumpled message
to my friend? Was I in search of something,
tools maybe, or seeds, for many odd things
are stowed under the overthinking.
Let’s begin to talk about things,
and what they should be named,
and whether it will be necessary
to draw any of them.
The sound of the teakettle—
it was the most terrible thing in the world.
Sometimes it was a wolf, and sometimes
a man or a woman, whatever it felt like,
even falling cherry blossoms, and always
it could take you out, and then it did,
leaving the whole room as impressive
as an unexplored cave.

the sacrament of letting go

~ Monday, December 16th, 2013

12-16-2013 12-51-22 PM-by Macrina Wiederkehr

Slowly
she celebrated the sacrament of letting go.
First she surrendered her green,
then the orange, yellow, and red
finally she let go of her brown.
Shedding her last leaf
she stood empty and silent, stripped bare.
Leaning against the winter sky
she began her vigil of trust.
Shedding her last leaf
she watched its journey to the ground.
She stood in silence
wearing the color of emptiness,
her branches wondering;
How do you give shade with so much gone?

And then,
the sacrament of waiting began.
The sunrise and sunset watched with tenderness.
Clothing her with silhouettes
they kept her hope alive.

They helped her understand that
her vulnerability,
her dependence and need,
her emptiness,
her readiness to receive
were giving her a new kind of beauty.
Every morning and every evening they stood in silence
and celebrated together
the sacrament of waiting.

Don’t Speak to Me of Heartbreak

~ Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

grief
Grief by Gail Mazur

Don’t speak to me of heartbreak, I have an argument
with habits of metaphor—it’s not the heart

In April I brought tulips white
pale green and orange in from the garden

you mean but the ineffable—character soul
locus of feeling—don’t tell me that muscle

and with his fine pen he drew page after
page of delicate ravishing tulips

is made whole by breaking—the thready beat
made stronger if ravaged, then repaired

In June plush peonies named for Paean
the physician to ancient gods

Could we salvage joy from each day loosening
Then July I brought the overabundance

of the Oriental lily’s perfume
our ravenous hold on the world?

his hand transfigured the rich ivory paper
Where could it be written,

to a garden room various edenic alive
why would anyone say, why would

a rabbi teach the heart survives by breaking?
August now and great maples tall oaks darken

and cool the garden so flowers know not to thrive
that in black ink my love may still shine bright

Happy March…Happy Resilience

~ Friday, March 1st, 2013

From Rob Hardies, my pastor at All Souls Church, Unitarian comes this:
springThough the dry leaves still cling to the oak tree’s branches outside my study window, below I see the first green shoots of crocus pushing up through the dark earth. March is the month of the earth’s return to life-it’s the month the earth bounces back. In so doing, she reminds us of an important quality of the soul-resilience. Resilience is our ability to bounce back from loss, setback or despair. After love, it is perhaps the most important human attribute. Resilience will be the subject of our reflection in worship and in small groups this month, and to start us off I offer you this poem by the Mexican poet Octavio Paz.

after

after chopping off all the arms that reached out to me;
after boarding up all the windows and doors;
after filling all the pits with poisoned water;
after building my house on the rock of no,
inaccessible to flattery and fear;
after cutting off my tongue and eating it;
after hurling handfuls of silence
and monosyllable of scorn at my loves;
after forgetting my name;
and the name of my birthplace;
and the name of my race;
after judging and sentencing myself
to perpetual waiting,
and perpetual loneliness, I heard
against the stones of my dungeon of syllogisms,
the humid, tender, insistent
onset of spring.

Inaugural Poetry

~ Friday, January 25th, 2013


One Today, by Richard Blanco

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores, peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies. One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors, each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day: pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper— bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,

on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives— to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day: equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined, the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches 2
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands

as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs, buses launching down avenues, the symphony

of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways, the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,

or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open for each other all day, saying: hello| shalom,
buon giorno |howdy |namaste |or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language spoken into one wind carrying our lives

without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands: weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report for the boss on time, stitching another wound 3
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes tired from work: some days guessing at the weather of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother who knew how to give, or forgiving a father

who couldn’t give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home, always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together

Spectacular

~ Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

The Real Work by Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

The Vacation

~ Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

The Vacation

The Vacation by Wendell Berry

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
behind which he stood with his camera
preserving his vacation even as he was having it
so that after he had had it he would still
have it. It would be there. With a flick
of a switch there it would be. But he
would not be in it. He would never be in it.

Almost anything can happen

~ Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Aristotle
BY BILLY COLLINS

This is the beginning.
Almost anything can happen.
This is where you find
the creation of light, a fish wriggling onto land,
the first word of Paradise Lost on an empty page.
Think of an egg, the letter A,
a woman ironing on a bare stage
as the heavy curtain rises.
This is the very beginning.
The first-person narrator introduces himself,
tells us about his lineage.
The mezzo-soprano stands in the wings.
Here the climbers are studying a map
or pulling on their long woolen socks.
This is early on, years before the Ark, dawn.
The profile of an animal is being smeared
on the wall of a cave,
and you have not yet learned to crawl.
This is the opening, the gambit,
a pawn moving forward an inch.
This is your first night with her,
your first night without her.
This is the first part
where the wheels begin to turn,
where the elevator begins its ascent,
before the doors lurch apart.

This is the middle.
Things have had time to get complicated,
messy, really. Nothing is simple anymore.
Cities have sprouted up along the rivers
teeming with people at cross-purposesi
a million schemes, a million wild looks.
Disappointment unshoulders his knapsack
here and pitches his ragged tent.
This is the sticky part where the plot congeals,
where the action suddenly reverses
or swerves off in an outrageous direction.
Here the narrator devotes a long paragraph
to why Miriam does not want Edward’s child.
Someone hides a letter under a pillow.
Here the aria rises to a pitch,
a song of betrayal, salted with revenge.
And the climbing party is stuck on a ledge
halfway up the mountain.
This is the bridge, the painful modulation.
This is the thick of things.
So much is crowded into the middlei
the guitars of Spain, piles of ripe avocados,
Russian uniforms, noisy parties,
lakeside kisses, arguments heard through a walli
too much to name, too much to think about.

And this is the end,
the car running out of road,
the river losing its name in an ocean,
the long nose of the photographed horse
touching the white electronic line.
This is the colophon, the last elephant in the parade,
the empty wheelchair,
and pigeons floating down in the evening.
Here the stage is littered with bodies,
the narrator leads the characters to their cells,
and the climbers are in their graves.
It is me hitting the period
and you closing the book.
It is Sylvia Plath in the kitchen
and St. Clement with an anchor around his neck.
This is the final bit
thinning away to nothing.
This is the end, according to Aristotle,
what we have all been waiting for,
what everything comes down to,
the destination we cannot help imagining,
a streak of light in the sky,
a hat on a peg, and outside the cabin, falling leaves.