Monday, November 30, 2015

precipice


not what was said

but what you would say

if yours were the first words

ever spoken



Sunday, November 29, 2015

Matins


And what is courage

if not the study of oneself

in the adversity

of plenty?



Saturday, November 28, 2015

winter watch


my dear trembling friend

what better place than this cold room

to burn our beloved poems?



Friday, November 27, 2015

heritage


a tiny stream singing

beneath the ice

and a crack

in your mirror

that takes you there



Thursday, November 26, 2015

birch lace leaf flake


birch

lace

leaf

flake

day

light

might

wait

this

long

to

grace

your

cold

cold

palm



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Brevity


As each petal is wise in the purpose and symmetry of a flower, so must be the words we choose, each an action with a will to bloom. Be brave, be brief, beware the power you wield; thoughtless use is profound abuse. Brevity is depth of character, the moral courage to speak to love in beauty’s light. Do not say, “I am right.” Say, rather, “Now is the time.”



Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Winter’s Tale


Lonely word, I see by the lines in your face
a life to grace a novel paragraph;

Lonely man, I see by the words in your face
the lines to grace a tragic epitaph;

Lonely muse, I see by the light in your face
the poem you now waste on poor William;

Be it such and so; yet praise the naked limb
that calls him out to sing as best he can.



Friday, November 20, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

No Man’s Land



No Man’s Land

November 19, 2015




Body Language


Words are actions far more potent than what we think they mean. They are the sinew and bowel of thought and dream. Therefore speak not, write not, quote not blindly. Live kindly, and let that meaning be your means. Sing the language of our larger body, which is silence, and moves on wings.



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

Identity and Self-Understanding


In terms of the individual, I think one of the surest signs of self-understanding, which is suggested in courage and nobility but is really something much deeper and more subtle, is shown by he or she who no longer identifies with struggle, be it personal, national, religious, or political. To the degree which we identify with our physical and psychological pain, do we come to be identified with them by others. When groups, communities, and nations so identify, the obstacles to be overcome, rather than being more easily dealt with by larger and ever larger numbers, are strengthened by resistance until they seem nigh insurmountable. In turn, we see our struggle against powerful odds as justification of our acts, and proof of their worth. But are they worthy? Are they evidence of an enlightened, unselfish outlook and attitude? Or are they merely a helpless reaction and direct result of our refusal to look beyond habit and upbringing to see and understand things more deeply? If, instead of steadily and patiently examining things for ourselves, we accept each tired old maxim served us and handed down, do we not help perpetuate the problems we claim ourselves highly qualified and intelligent enough to overcome?

Here a lesson might be had from the willow, graceful year-round, willingly yielding superfluous branches and twigs to the greater good of its symmetry and grace, a shelter for cattle and lovers alike at water’s edge, gazed upon with admiration by stars and humans. So our strength lies, not in resistance, but in surrender. If, rather than being universal star-stuff in musical motion, I am merely an Armenian and a Swede, and you are a German, Christian, or Japanese, what hope is there? We are intimately related to each other and to the other animals and the rocks and the trees, yet caught up in and blinded by our surface differences. Every bomb dropped, every life taken, every man cheated, every person not tolerated, hated, or brushed aside, shows how little we understand what can be a great source of joy — that of living together, and of being willows for each other, through whatever obstacle or difficulty we face — that of being star-bright and willow-wise, on our flight of love through space.



Sunday, November 15, 2015

Easy


What need for explanation? See how the trees
grant ascendance to the wind, yet display a glad expression;
and how the wind, in haste its news to bring, makes its own confession;
how silence sings the truth by means of perennial creation;
while you from all this, with profound steps,
take a new direction.



Saturday, November 14, 2015

Canvas 591



Canvas 591

November 14, 2015




Overheard


How like the November wind, with urgency
its one demand, your chance again to write, speak,
make, and act, that I may know you; seek not
an end, fly off again; no habit or creed
can hold you; trust your wings,
and in using them, forget
who told you.



Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Attitude


One danger of making your personal complaints known, is that they become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I hurt, I have trouble sleeping, my digestion is not what it should be — once such things are spoken aloud, to justify yourself they must be lived up to. Therefore I do hurt, I do have trouble sleeping, and my digestion really isn’t what it should be — in other words, noble sufferer that I am, it is just as I have told you, only much worse. But please don’t feel sorry for me — just give me your undivided attention and tell me what a hero I am.

Complaint is a powerful force. It has a dramatic negative effect on how we are seen, and on how we see ourselves. A positive attitude, on the other hand, has just the opposite result. By patiently adopting it, we teach ourselves strength, and are an example of strength for others. “Ah, but if you only knew . . .” And just what makes you think I don’t? Am I not human like you, and do we not share the common lot of our kind? All humanity is crying out, suffering pain, loss, grief, hunger, satiety, loneliness. We have too much. We have too little. We have everything. We have nothing at all — except this glorious, outwardly expanding breath . . . .

I remember my father, suffering terribly with osteoarthritis, his back a crumpled mass of calcified, cushion-less bone, answering friends’ and neighbors’ inquiries after his health by saying how good he felt. Gone twenty years now, free from his agony, his attitude is still a positive outward vibration.

I also remember my daily visits with a friend, who, with one leg, died of cancer when he was eighteen and I was seventeen. Always a joke, always a smile, painting beautiful pictures while propped up on his side in bed, the soft winter light entering through his window and falling on his hand . . . .

And so I ask, what will be your legacy? What will be my own?



Saturday, November 7, 2015

Open eye know I no


Bright leaf down

dark damp ground

paper birch

scroll flight

in sight

open eye

know

I

no

I

sing

now

perch



Friday, November 6, 2015

Shall I mention it?


Shall I mention it — the vein in a leaf, the stain on a hand, the scent of mold from the land, how they each lend grace to a man, if space is made while he can, to shovel his way to the grave he digs, even as the digging makes him glad — and how, by the light that is in you, it seems I already have?



Wednesday, November 4, 2015

One minute, two, a lifetime, the world


I think one of the most revolutionary, transformative acts we can undertake, is to set aside a moment during which we do not criticize anything or anyone, including ourselves. Criticize no husband, no wife, no child, no acquaintance, or friend. Criticize no politician, no religious leader, no organization, no criminal, no celebrity, no teacher. Criticize no form of employment, no way of life, no sexual orientation, no perceived shortcoming. Do not even criticize the weather. See if you can do it. See if you can let go of that deadly old habit, and with it the familiar illusions of superiority and inferiority, failure and success, long held so dear, and then feel those undermining elements within you subside. It is not strength and resistance we need most in this life, but to learn the art of acceptance and letting go. One minute, two, a lifetime, the world. Love, help, and a positive sense, are sweet, essential nourishment.



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November


The ear fills with sky-sounds, the eye with cloud-motion and leaf-fall. Distances are not what we think them at all, but blessings ripe and uncountable. The glad-spent remains of the summer garden are brought to the pile. Manure is spread on the ground, each shovelful a soft aromatic reminder of childhood on the farm, a great love-pasture rimmed by plum trees and sparrows. The rudder-sea-shovel plies welcoming soil, makes amatory metal shine, brings a shout up through mast-wood to the hands and the arms. Where it ends, no one knows. The brain and the heart are wise with their cards, the show of their tell the patience of art. Sunflower seeds. Leaf-mold. The plumpness of worms. Shovel to keyboard sail our words, spider the web of our space. Computer grace. Charon, old ferryman, pass by this place.