Tom Clausen Home
Longer poems
Home | Home page | Bio for Tom | Haiku & Senryu -definitions/ thoughts | Haiku Chapbooks ( 1) Autumn Wind in the Cracks (1994) | (2) Unraked Leaves ( 1995) | (3) Standing Here ( 1998) | Homework (2000) Snapshot Press, UK | being there (2005) Swamp Press | Tanka chapbooks (1) A Work of Love (1997) Tiny Poems Press | Growing Late- (2006) Snapshot Press | A Haiku Way of Life | Assorted Haiku | Assorted Senryu | Assorted Tanka | Haibun | Favorite Links | Dim Sum -Tom | Robert T. Clausen | Favorite Haiku | Favorite Senryu | Favorite Tanka | Zen Entries | Memorable Quotes | Dalai Lama | Death Poems | Cat Poems | Dog Poems | Train Poems | Longer poems | Song Lyrics | Rt. 9 Haiku Group | Rt. 9 Haiku Group-Tom 3-23-06 | Haiku Circle (6-02-07) | 4-21-09 Mann Library reading | My email address: tpc2@cornell.edu

 
 
 
Favorite Longer Poems

 Poem of the One World
 
 
This morning
the beautiful white heron
was floating along above the water
 
and then into the sky of this
the one world
we all belong to
 
where everything
 sooner or later
is a part of everything else
 
which thought made me feel
for a little while
quite beautiful myself
 
 
 
-Mary Oliver
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Blossom


In April
the ponds open
like black blossoms,
the moon
swims in every one;
there’s fire
everywhere: frogs shouting
their desire,
their satisfaction. What
we know: that time
chops at us all like an iron
hoe, that death
is a state of paralysis. What
we long for: joy
before death, nights
in the swale - everything else
can wait but not
this thrust
from the root
of the body. What
we know: we are more
than blood - we are more
than our hunger and yet
we belong
to the moon and when the ponds
open, when the burning
begins the most
thoughtful among us dreams
of hurrying down
into the black petals
into the fire,
into the night where time lies shattered
into the body of another.
 
-Mary Oliver
 
 
 
 
 
 
   With Thanks to the Field Sparrow, Whose Voice
                 Is So Delicate and Humble
 
 
I do not live happily or comfortably
with the cleverness of our times.
The talk is all about computers,
the news is all about bombs and blood.
This morning, in the fresh field,
I came upon a hidden nest.
It held four warm, speckled eggs.
I touched them.
Then went away softly,
having felt something more wonderful
than all the electricity of New York City.
 
by Mary Oliver
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Between the conscious and the unconscious,
the mind has put up a swing:
 
all earth creatures, even the supernovas,
sway between these two trees,
 
and it never winds down.
 
Angels, animals, humans, insects
by the million, also the wheeling sun and moon:
 
ages go by, and it goes on.
 
Everything is swinging: heaven, earth, water, fire,
and the secret one slowly growing a body.
 
Kabir saw that for fifteen seconds,
and it made him a servant for life.
 
 
 
Kabir (1440-1518)
 
 
 
            XV 
 
There's a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.
 
Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.
 
None may teach it anything,
'Tis the seal , despair, -
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.
 
When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, 'tis like the distance
On the look of death.
 

-Emily Dickinson

 

 
            Buddha in Glory
 
 
 

Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet--
all this universe, to the furthest stars
all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,

a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

by Rainier Marie Rilke

 

 

from The Scripture of the Golden Eternity
 
 
                                 16
 
The point is we're waiting, not how comfortable we are while waiting. Paleolithic man waited by caves for the realization of why he was there, and hunted; modern men wait in beautified homes and try to forget death and birth. We're waiting for the realization that this is the golden eternity.
 
 
                               17
 
It came on time.

 

by Jack Kerouac

 

 

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)



I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.


And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.


I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

 

 

 
 
      A Man's Household-   Wislawa Szymborska
 
 
He's one of those men who want to do everything by themselves.You need to love him along with drawers, cabinets, and shelves, with what's on top of cupboards, or inside or sticking out.
Everything is going to come in handy without a doubt.
Drills, hammers, files, chisels, melting pots, and pliers,
bundles of string, springs, and umbrella wires, squeezed-out
tubes, dried-out glue, jars big and small where something already grew, an assortment of pebbles, a little anvil, a vise, an alarm clock that's already been broken twice, a dead beetle in a soap dish, beside an empty vial, on which a skull and crossbones have been painted in grand style, a batten, short and long plugs, buckles, and a gasket, a Lake Mamry water hen's three feathers in a basket, a few champagne corks stuck in cement, two glass slides scorched in the course of an experiment, a pile of bars, some cardboard boxes, tiles, a gutter spout, and fitting uses for them all might soon be figured out, some handles to something, scraps of leather, a blanket torn to shreds, a boyish slingshot, scads of keys, and screws of varied threads...
May I throw out a thing or two? - I put this to him dearly, but in response the man I love just looked at me severely.
 
 
 
     

Prospective Immigrants Please Note

 

Either you will

go through this door

or you will not go through.

 

If you go through

there is always the risk

of remembering your name.

 

Things look at you doubly

and you must look back

and let them happen.

 

If you do not go through

it is possible

to live worthily

 

to maintain your attitudes

to hold your position

to die bravely

 

but much will blind you,

much will evade you,

at what cost who knows?

 

The door itself

makes no promises.

It is only a door.

            
 - Adrienne Rich

 

 Red Bird

Red bird came all winter
firing up the landscape
as nothing else could.

Of course I love the sparrows,
those dun-colored darlings,
so hungry and so many.

I am a God-fearing feeder of birds.
I know He has many children,
not all of them bold in spirit.

Still, for whatever reason-
perhaps because the winter is so long
and the sky so black-blue,

or perhaps because the heart narrows
as often as it opens-
I am grateful

that red bird comes all winter
firing up the landscape
as nothing else can do.

 

- Mary Oliver

 
 
                 

 How to Meditate

    -lights out-
fall, hands a-clasped, into instantaneous
ecstasy like a shot of heroin or morphine,
the gland inside of my brain discharging
the good glad fluid (Holy Fluid) as
i hap-down and hold all my body parts
down to a deadstop trance-Healing
all my sicknesses-erasing all-not
even the shred of a “I-hope-you” or a
Loony Balloon left in it, but the mind
blank, serene, thoughtless. When a thought
comes a-springing from afar with its held-
forth figure of image, you spoof it out,
you spuff it off, you fake it, and
it fades, and thought never comes-and
with joy you realize for the first time
“thinking’s just like not thinking-
So I don’t have to think
any
more”

 
                                                    - Jack Kerouac
 
 
 
                    Aimless Love
 
 
 
 
This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table
 
 
In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor's window
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.
 
 
This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.
 
 
The love of a chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.
 
 
No lust, no slam of the door-
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida,
 
 
No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor-
just a twinge every now and then
 
 
for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.
 
 
But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.
 
 
After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,
 
 
so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.
 
 
 
    - Billy Collins
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A Dream of Trees
 
 
There is a thing in me that dreamed of trees,
A quiet house, some green and modest acres
A little way from every troubling town,
A little way from factories, schools, laments.
I would have time, I thought, and time to spare,
With only streams and birds for company.
To build out of my life a few wild stanzas.
And then it came to me, that so was death,
A little way away from everywhere.

There is a thing in me still dreams of trees,
But let it go. Homesick for moderation,
Half the world’s artists shrink or fall away.
If any find solution, let him tell it.
Meanwhile I bend my heart toward lamentation
Where, as the times implore our true involvement,
The blades of every crisis point the way.

I would it were not so, but so it is.
Who ever made music of a mild day?

Mary Oliver
 
 
  Blossom
 
  In April
the ponds open
like black blossoms,
the moon
swims in every one;
there’s fire
everywhere: frogs shouting
their desire,
their satisfaction. What
we know: that time
chops at us all like an iron
hoe, that death
is a state of paralysis. What
we long for: joy
before death, nights
in the swale - everything else
can wait but not
this thrust
from the root
of the body. What
we know: we are more
than blood - we are more
than our hunger and yet
we belong
to the moon and when the ponds
open, when the burning
begins the most
thoughtful among us dreams
of hurrying down
into the black petals
into the fire,
into the night where time lies shattered
into the body of another.

Mary Oliver


Dogfish
 
  Some kind of relaxed and beautiful thing
kept flickering in with the tide
and looking around.
Black as a fisherman's boot,
with a white belly.

If you asked for a picture I would have to draw a smile
under the perfectly round eyes and above the chin,
which was rough
as a thousand sharpened nails.

And you know
what a smile means,
don't you?

*

I wanted the past to go away, I wanted
to leave it, like another country; I wanted
my life to close, and open
like a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song
where it falls
down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery;
I wanted
to hurry into the work of my life; I wanted to know,

whoever I was, I was

alive
for a little while.

*

It was evening, and no longer summer.
Three small fish, I don't know what they were,
huddled in the highest ripples
as it came swimming in again, effortless, the whole body
one gesture, one black sleeve
that could fit easily around
the bodies of three small fish.

*

Also I wanted
to be able to love. And we all know
how that one goes,
don't we?

Slowly

*

the dogfish tore open the soft basins of water.

*

You don't want to hear the story
of my life, and anyway
I don't want to tell it, I want to listen

to the enormous waterfalls of the sun.

And anyway it's the same old story - - -
a few people just trying,
one way or another,
to survive.

Mostly, I want to be kind.
And nobody, of course, is kind,
or mean,
for a simple reason.

And nobody gets out of it, having to
swim through the fires to stay in
this world.

*

And look! look! look! I think those little fish
better wake up and dash themselves away
from the hopeless future that is
bulging toward them.

*

And probably,
if they don't waste time
looking for an easier world,

they can do it.

Mary Oliver


  Happiness
 
  In the afternoon I watched
the she-bear; she was looking
for the secret bin of sweetness -
honey, that the bees store
in the trees’ soft caves.
Black block of gloom, she climbed down
tree after tree and shuffled on
through the woods. And then
she found it! The honey-house deep
as heartwood, and dipped into it
among the swarming bees - honey and comb
she lipped and tongued and scooped out
in her black nails, until

maybe she grew full, or sleepy, or maybe
a little drunk, and sticky
down the rugs of her arms,
and began to hum and sway.
I saw her let go of the branches,
I saw her lift her honeyed muzzle
into the leaves, and her thick arms,
as though she would fly -
an enormous bee
all sweetness and wings -
down into the meadows, the perfections
of honeysuckle and roses and clover -
to float and sleep in the sheer nets
swaying from flower to flower
day after shining day.

Mary Oliver

  Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches
 
  Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches
of other lives -
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey,
hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning,
feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over
the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!


Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
continually?
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?


Well, there is time left -
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!


To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened

in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!



Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.



Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!



A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.



Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn't ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean's edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.

Mary Oliver


Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchard
 
  His beak could open a bottle,
and his eyes - when he lifts their soft lids -
go on reading something
just beyond your shoulder -
Blake, maybe,
or the Book of Revelation.

Never mind that he eats only
the black-smocked crickets,
and the dragonflies if they happen
to be out late over the ponds, and of course
the occasional festal mouse.
Never mind that he is only a memo
from the offices of fear -

it’s not size but surge that tells us
when we’re in touch with something real,
and when I hear him in the orchard
fluttering
down the little aliminum
ladder of his scream -
when I see his wings open, like two black ferns,

a flurry of palpitations
as cold as sleet
rackets across the marshlands
of my heart
like a wild spring day.

Somewhere in the universe,
in the gallery of important things,
the babyish owl, ruffled and rakish,
sits on its pedestal.
Dear, dark dapple of plush!
A message, reads the label,
from that mysterious conglomerate:
Oblivion and Co.
The hooked head stares
from its house of dark, feathery lace.
It could be a valentine.

Mary Oliver

Mindful
 
  Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Mary Oliver

Moccasin Flowers
 
  All my life,
so far,
I have loved
more than one thing,

including the mossy hooves
of dreams, including'
the spongy litter
under the tall trees.

In spring
the moccasin flowers
reach for the crackling
lick of the sun

and burn down. Sometimes,
in the shadows,
I see the hazy eyes,
the lamb-lips

of oblivion,
its deep drowse,
and I can imagine a new nothing
in the universe,

the matted leaves splitting
open, revealing
the black planks
of the stairs.

But all my life--sofar--
I have loved best
how the flowers rise
and open, how

the pink lungs of their bodies
enter the fore of the world
and stand there shining
and willing--the one

thing they can do before
they shuffle forward
into the floor of darkness, they
become the trees.

Mary Oliver


Fall Song
 
  Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries - roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time's measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay - how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

Mary Oliver

Morning Poem
 
  Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

Mary Oliver


  Peonies
 
  This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open ---
pools of lace,
white and pink ---
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities ---
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again ---
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

Mary Oliver


Picking Blueberries, Austerlitz, New York,1957
 
  Once, in summer
in the blueberries,
I fell asleep, and woke
when a deer stumbled against me.

I guess
she was so busy with her own happiness
she had grown careless
and was just wandering along

listening
to the wind as she leaned down
to lip up the sweetness.
So, there we were

with nothing between us
but a few leaves, and wind’s
glossy voice
shouting instructions.

The deer
backed away finally
and flung up her white tail
and went floating off toward the trees -

but the moment she did that
was so wide and so deep
it has lasted to this day;
I have only to think of her -

the flower of her amazement
and the stalled breath of her curiosity,
and even the damp touch of her solicitude
before she took flight -

to be absent again from this world
and alive, again, in another
for thirty years
sleepy and amazed,

rising out of the rough weeds
listening and looking.
Beautiful girl,
where are you?

Mary Oliver


Poem (The spirit likes to dress up...)
 
  The spirit
likes to dress up like this:
ten fingers,
ten toes,

shoulders, and all the rest
at night
in the black branches,
in the morning

in the blue branches
of the world.
It could float, of course,
but would rather

plumb rough matter.
Airy and shapeless thing,
it needs
the metaphor of the body,

lime and appetite,
the oceanic fluids;
it needs the body's world,
instinct

and imagination
and the dark hug of time,
sweetness
and tangibility,

to be understood,
to be more than pure light
that burns
where no one is --

so it enters us --
in the morning
shines from brute comfort
like a stitch of lightning;

and at night
lights up the deep and wondrous
drownings of the body
like a star.

Mary Oliver

Poppies
 
  Poppies
Mary Oliver

The poppies send up their
orange flares; swaying
in the wind, their congregations
are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin
and lacy leaves.
There isn't a place
in this world that doesn't

sooner or later drown
in the indigos of darkness,
but now, for a while,
the roughage

shines like a miracle
as it floats above everything
with its yellow hair.
Of course nothing stops the cold,

black, curved blade
from hooking forward—
of course
loss is the great lesson.

But I also say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,

when it's done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.
Inside the bright fields,

touched by their rough and spongy gold,
I am washed and washed
in the river
of earthly delight—

and what are you going to do—
what can you do
about it—
deep, blue night?

Mary Oliver


Skunk Cabbage
 
  And now as the iron rinds over
the ponds start dissolving,
you come, dreaming of ferns and flowers
and new leaves unfolding,
upon the brash
turnip-hearted skunk cabbage
slinging its bunches leaves up
through the chilling mud.
You kneel beside it. The smell
is lurid and flows out in the most
unabashed way, attracting
into itself a continual spattering
of protein. Appalling its rough
green caves, and the thought
of the thick root nested below, stubborn
and powerful as instinct!
But these are the woods you love,
where the secret name
of every death is life again - a miracle
wrought surely not of mere turning
but of dense and scalding reenactment. Not
tenderness, not longing, but daring and brawn
pull down the frozen waterfall, the past.
Ferns, leaves, flowers, the last subtle
refinements, elegant and easeful, wait
to rise and flourish.
What blazes the trail is not necessarily pretty.

Mary Oliver

Sleeping in the Forest
 
  I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

Mary Oliver


  Snowy Night
 
  Last night, an owl
in the blue dark
tossed
an indeterminate number
of carefully shaped sounds into
the world, in which,
a quarter of a mile away, I happened
to be standing.
I couldn’t tell
which one it was –
the barred or the great-horned
ship of the air –
it was that distant. But, anyway,
aren’t there moments
that are better than knowing something,
and sweeter? Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness. I suppose
if this were someone else’s story
they would have insisted on knowing
whatever is knowable – would have hurried
over the fields
to name it – the owl, I mean.
But it’s mine, this poem of the night,
and I just stood there, listening and holding out
my hands to the soft glitter
falling through the air. I love this world,
but not for its answers.
And I wish good luck to the owl,
whatever its name –
and I wish great welcome to the snow,
whatever its severe and comfortless
and beautiful meaning.

Mary Oliver

Some Things The World Gave
 
  1
Times in the morning early
when it rained and the long gray
buildings came forward from darkness
offering their windows for light.

2
Evenings out there on the plains
when sunset donated farms
that yearned so far to the west that the world
centered there and bowed down.

3
A teacher at a country school
walking home past a great marsh
where ducks came gliding in --
she saw the boy out hunting and waved.

4
Silence on a hill where the path ended
and then the forest below
moving in one long whisper
as evening touched the leaves.

5
Shelter in winter that day --
a storm coming, but in the lee
of an island in a cover with friends --
oh, little bright cup of sun.

Mary Oliver

Stars
 
  Here in my head, language
Keeps making its tiny noises.

How can I hope to be friends
with the hard white stars

whose flaring and hissing are not speech
but a pure radiance?

How can I hope to be friends
with the yawning spaces between them

where nothing, ever, is spoken?
Tonight, at the edge of the field,

I stood very still, and looked up,
and tried to be empty of words.

What joy was it, that almost found me?
What amiable peace?

Then it was over, the wind
roused up in the oak trees behind me

and I fell back, easily.
Earth has a hundred thousand pure contraltos--

even the distant night bird
as it talks threat, as it talks love

over the cold, black fields.
Once, deep in the woods,

I found the white skull of a bear
and it was utterly silent--

and once a river otter, in a steel trap,
and it too was utterly silent.

What can we do
but keep on breathing in and out,

modest and willing, and in our places?
Listen, listen, I'm forever saying,

Listen to the river, to the hawk, to the hoof
to the mockingbird, to the jack-in-the-pulpit--

then I come up with a few words, like a gift.
Even as now.

Even as the darkness has remained the pure, deep darkness.
Even as the stars have twirled a little, while I stood here,

looking up,
one hot sentence after another.

Mary Oliver


The Fish
 
  The first fish
I ever caught
would not lie down
quiet in the pail
but flailed and sucked
at the burning
amazement of the air
and died
in the slow pouring off
of rainbows. Later
I opened his body and separated
the flesh from the bones
and ate him. Now the sea
is in me: I am the fish, the fish
glitters in me; we are
risen, tangled together, certain to fall
back to the sea. Out of pain,
and pain, and more pain
we feed this feverish plot, we are nourished
by the mystery.

Mary Oliver

The Buddha's Last Instruction
 
  "Make of yourself a light"
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal-a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire-
clearly I'm not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

Mary Oliver

  The Rapture
 
  All summer
I wandered the fields
that were thickening
every morning,

every rainfall,
with weeds and blossoms,
with the long loops
of the shimmering, and the extravagant-

pale as flames they rose
and fell back,
replete and beautiful-
that was all there was-

and I too
once or twice, at least,
felt myself rising,
my boots

touching suddenly the tops of the weeds,
the blue and silky air-
listen,
passion did it,

called me forth,
addled me,
stripped me clean
then covered me with the cloth of happiness-

I think there is no other prize,
only rapture the gleaming,
rapture the illogical the weightless-

whether it be for the perfect shapeliness
of something you love-
like an old German song-
or of someone-

or the dark floss of the earth itself,
heavy and electric.
At the edge of sweet sanity open
such wild, blind wings.

Mary Oliver


Turtle
 
  Now I see it--
it nudges with its bulldog head
the slippery stems of the lilies, making them tremble;
and now it noses along in the wake of the little brown teal

who is leading her soft children
from one side of the pond to the other; she keeps
close to the edge
and they follow closely, the good children--

the tender children,
the sweet children, dangling their pretty feet
into the darkness.
And now will come--I can count on it--the murky splash,

the certain victory
of that pink and gassy mouth, and the frantic
circling of the hen while the rest of the chicks
flare away over the water and into the reeds, and my heart

will be most mournful
on their account. But, listen,
what's important?
Nothing's important

except that the great and cruel mystery of the world,
of which this is a part,
not to be denied. Once,
I happened to see, on a city street, in summer,

a dusty, fouled turtle plodded along--
a snapper--
broken out I suppose from some backyard cage--
and I knew what I had to do--

I looked it right in the eyes, and I caught it--
I put it, like a small mountain range,
into a knapsack, and I took it out
of the city, and I let it

down into the dark pond, into
the cool water,
and the light of the lilies,
to live.

Mary Oliver

When Death Comes
 
  When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Mary Oliver

Wild Geese
 
  You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

  Why I Wake Early
 
  Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.
 
Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?
 
  Don't call this world adorable, or useful, that's not it.
It's frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.
But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn't the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven't the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?
Don't call this world an explanation, or even an education.
When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking
to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,
as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?

Mary Oliver


The Chance to Love Everything
 
  All summer I made friends
with the creatures nearby -
they flowed through the fields
and under the tent walls,
or padded through the door,
grinning through their many teeth,
looking for seeds,
suet, sugar; muttering and humming,
opening the breadbox, happiest when
there was milk and music. But once
in the night I heard a sound
outside the door, the canvas
bulged slightly - something
was pressing inward at eye level.
I watched, trembling, sure I had heard
the click of claws, the smack of lips
outside my gauzy house -
I imagined the red eyes,
the broad tongue, the enormous lap.
Would it be friendly too?
Fear defeated me. And yet,
not in faith and not in madness
but with the courage I thought
my dream deserved,
I stepped outside. It was gone.
Then I whirled at the sound of some
shambling tonnage.
Did I see a black haunch slipping
back through the trees? Did I see
the moonlight shining on it?
Did I actually reach out my arms
toward it, toward paradise falling, like
the fading of the dearest, wildest hope -
the dark heart of the story that is all
the reason for its telling?

Mary Oliver

Featured poem for September by Dave Etter
 
 
 
Hollyhocks
 
 
Hollyhocks are swaying gently
under the blue branches of an elm.
 
I watch 82 freight cars
sink into the corn leaves
and drop over the rim of the prairie.
 
On my back now, I watch the sky
make wool pictures of mothers.
 
Two blackbirds fly toward the river:
the muddy river of endless regret.
 
I could lie here forever
and look up at these hollyhocks.
 
I will never get on in the world.


Burning Oneself Out by Adrienne Rich
We can look into the stove tonight
as into a mirror, yes,

the serrated log, the yellow-blue gaseous core

the crimson-flittered grey ash, yes.
I know inside my eyelids
and underneath my skin

Time takes hold of us like a draft
upward, drawing at the heats
in the belly, in the brain

You told me of setting your hand
into the print of a long-dead Indian
and for a moment, I knew that hand,

that print, that rock,
the sun producing powerful dreams
A word can do this

or, as tonight, the mirror of the fire
of my mind, burning as if it could go on
burning itself, burning down

feeding on everything
till there is nothing in life
that has not fed that fire
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Play's the Thing

 
Forgive me, Lord,
for all the tasks
that went undone today.
But this morning when my child
toddled in and asked, “Mommy play?”
I simply had to say yes.
And between the puzzles and trucks
and blocks and dolls and old hats and
books and giggles,
we shared a thousand special thoughts,
a hundred hopes and dreams and hugs.
And tonight, when prayer time came
and he folded his hands and softly whispered,
“Thank you, God, for Mommy and Daddy and
toys and french fries, but ‘specially
for Mommy playing,”
I knew it was a day well wasted.
And I knew You’d understand.

 - by   Jayne Jaudon Ferrer
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
               " The Green Noise of Ohio Hardwoods "
 
 
 
I sit in my woody house
and in the same midnight moment hear
the soft voice of the radio woman
one more genteel
instrumental piece, sure
to come from a safe century ago;
the windchimes on my front porch,
yellow plexiglass bird flying perpetually
into harmony by my old neighbor;
and the train:
this railroad town's persistent
romantic distant hooting.
 
Thus suddenly alerted, I look
at my wood table, wooden chairs,
heavy wood sideboard, light wooden desk.
on a low chair ( wood) , I lean
against a little wood chest; my foot
rests on the base of the bookcase
that conjoins the central wooden pillars
holding up my house. I am living
inside a tree.
Squirrels come to the windows.
 
The little ficus from my sister
has stopped dropping leaves.
The looming hemlock never does.
These trees face each other,
outside and in.
I am leafborne, Tschaikovsky borne,
all my treetown grief transmuted
into woody vibrations.
 
   by  Kathe Davis  ( from  American Zen)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
        Legacy
 
 
 
No easy task this
Cleanup of basement workbench

Full of multifarious clutter,
Dusty mementos of hand-me-downs.

The real chore is in tossing the
Handmade tools my father

Crafted as a machinist under
The final shadows of WW II

And the scraped-up pale-blue tackle box
Full of Lazy Ikes, Bombers, Jitterbugs,

River Runt Spooks, and
Hula Poppers.

A simple matter on the surface
But what’s not seen is

The slippery thought of
Letting go of steel craft and memories,

Lovingly bequeathed as if
They were brothers whose being

I’m now releasing like unwanted
Fish, letting them drop from my hands

To the trash bin below, letting them go
While I suppress a traitor’s smile,

Great Judas at the workbench, son
Who is not much more than an ingrate

Who will probably keep only the tackle box
In the end.
 

by Stephen Anderson
 
 
 
 


           Ochre and Blue
 
 
 
Waking to ochre birch leaves
sinking in the blue undersea of dawn,
 
I swim in the same currents,
needing nothing.
 
Later I'll forget this,
and mourn the end of autumn.
 
What's left to be said
about being human?
 
 
   by Chase Twichell
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
November
 
 

No sun — no moon!

No morn — no noon —

No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day.

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,

No comfortable feel in any member —

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,

No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! —

November!

 


 by Thomas Hood 1844
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

We Used to Live North

So many long rides back home,

I can see certain stretches of highway

but only as one might remember

home movies of impressionist landscapes.

At one end of the Empire State,

on the approach to Lake Erie,

an open stretch of Devonian seabed

inhabited by families of evergreen;

at the other end the moody Catskills

gathered around the Hudson

like the guardians of a powerful secret.

The two ends of the earth

where our tribes dug in for the duration.

After church and feasting,

the elders looking past us said little

about the success of the occasion,

asking instead:

were the children healthy,

were they happy,

did we still have jobs,

did everyone have enough?

Then let the fire die,

let the stars climb

the galactic stairway,

let the wind intone

its hushed hosanna.

Then to bed.

- Walt Cybulski

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Huddled Beneath the Sky


The saddness I have caused any face
by letting a stray word
strike it,

any pain
I have caused you
What can I do to make us even?
Demand a hundred fold of me- I'll pay it.
During the day I hold my feet accountable
to watch out for wondrous insects and their friends.

Why would I want to bring horror
into their extraordinary
world?

Magnetic fields draw us to light; they move our limbs and thoughts.
But it is still dark; if our hearts do not hold a lantern,
we will stumble over each other,

                                   huddled beneath the sky
                                   as we are.
 
                                                            ~ Rumi ~

 
 
 
 
 
 
at the beginning and the end
 
 
 is there any love
 
 
 more intimate
 
 
than breathing
 
 
 is there any song
 
 
more exquisite
 
 
 than silence
 
 
is there any reason
 
 
more compelling
 
 
 than union
 
 
is there any truth
 
 
 beyond
 
 
 One.
 
 
~  by Deborah Wenzel
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
See it Through

When you're up against a trouble,
Meet it squarely, face to face;
Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
Plant your feet and take a brace.
When it's vain to try to dodge it,
Do the best that you can do;
You may fail, but you may conquer,
See it through!
Black may be the clouds about you
And your future may seem grim,
But don't let your nerve desert you;
Keep yourself in fighting trim.
If the worst is bound to happen,
Spite of all that you can do,
Running from it will not save you,
See it through!

Even hope may seem but futile,
When with troubles you're beset,
But remember you are facing
Just what other men have met.
You may fail, but fall still fighting;
Don't give up, whate'er you do;
Eyes front, head high to the finish.
See it through!

Edgar Albert Guest



 

 
Mindful


Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less
 
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle
 
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for--
to look, to listen,
 
to lose myself
inside this soft world--
to instruct myself
over and over
 
in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
 
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant--
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
 
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
 
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these--
the untrimmable light
 
of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?
 
 
- Mary Oliver
 
 
 
 
 
 
CARBON GIRL
 
 
Silica will never really thrill me.
The highways I remember
were the kind
that threw wind in your face
and blew freedom
into your bones and heart
and made you tramp on
no matter what
because the rain
was only just ahead
or minutes behind,
and who wants to be soaking
wet when one could be high
and dry if only one were
to keep on moving.
And surf
is where all that I remember
or lived or dreamed or hoped
or wished
or cared for
became nothing
...this starfish
clinging to the battered rocks,
where water is the Friend
and the Enemy both,
to bask in or hide from
depending on the hour
and one's ultimate
condition; oh, I am
a carbon girl.
what gives me hope is
this moth fluttering out
of the curtain when I open
my window
to the morning air,
and you can hear
its wings, and
you can see
its tiny eyes, and soft
oh so soft
little feelers,
feeling.
what could you be sensing
little moth?
what could you know
about this morning,
this hour,
that perhaps
I haven't considered?
with wings already made of dust
could you understand, perhaps
better than I,
that the hour is less
than a moment long,
and the wind
is the Friend
and the Enemy both,
depending,
depending on
whether you are
holding on or
letting go, ah,
the wind,
the wind,
the wind.
which brings me back
to the surf
which brings me back
to the mountain
which brings me back
to the valley which
brings me back to this prism thing
I saw once hanging impossibly
in the sky;
there are names for it,
but really,
there are no names
for it;
oh,
I am
a water girl, waiting,
before carbon
even entered the lexicon.
don't you remember?
before all this,
before this inscription
of encoded structure
stamped itself
upon the double helix
that we call home,
don't you remember?
oh,
I am a carbon girl all right;
agreed to set this prism self
in living stone
and mix it up
for years
and years
and years to come;
I'm clinging to this rock,
and water seems to me
to be the Friend and the Enemy
both, depending,
depending on
whether I am
holding on
or letting go
these powder wings.

 

-Deborah Wenzel


 
 
 
 
Prayer for What is Lost
We are moving forward
or in some direction up,
down, east, west, to the side,
down the canyon walls,
watching the light fall
on the cliffs, which makes
the light seem ancient because
the red stone is hundreds
of millions of years old,
but the light is from today,
it is what the plants are moving
out of the earth to meet,
it heats the air that lifts the birds
that float and hover
over what is made from now.
 
-Stuart Kestenbaum
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Was it Light
 
 
Was it light?
Was it light within?
Was it light within light?
Stillness becoming alive,
Yet still?
 
A lively understandable spirit
Once entertained you.
It will come again.
Be still.
Wait.
 
by
 
Theodore Roethke
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  How to Parachute
 

 
Disregard what they tell you—
the pose doesn’t matter

when you jump: feet first
eyes first, cannonball knees into

chest.  Don’t think about
how full the sky is how devastating

the blowing wind feels
against goggles. The ripcord

is another detail your body
will remember

like right and left, gas and brake.
Folded silk is stronger

than you’d suspect.
Hold your hand out

as though the world is Braille
and passing through each cloud,

you are a missile dispatched
by someone who knows missiles,

spinning out into nothing, rushing
to the corn fields, the ocean even,

answering all the questions you’ve
had strapped to your back,

knowing at the end
you’ll sway from puppet strings

and be right with the sky.
 
 
by Ethan Joella
 
 
 
 
 
 
Open Road: Indiana
 
 
On the way north out of South Bend,
the faded gray skull of an abandoned Studebaker
stares out from a field. One of the ghosts
of the old prosperity that flourished,
dried up, moved on, leaving behind
a trail of artifacts and dust.
 
All colors and names and directions fall away
in a moment of open road loneliness-truth, all caught
and spun into the still, empty sky
by the twister of change that leaves nothing untouched.
 
All that remains is speed and motion, and the will
to arrive somewhere, to stop and see something
because whatever falls by the wayside is gone.
 
The ground hard and dry, dust rising up
and moving with more spirit than men.
 
At a roadside stand the farmer leans his chair
against the wall of splintered wood,
listens to the weather on the radio. He says
the hard times come any year, any season.
 
- by Walter Cybulski
           

 
 




They don’t get much odder than this, mister

You were not there in my dream of you.

Others arrived like birds gathering before a migration

hovering, landing nearby, rising, hovering,

turning from raindrops into clouds

and back into raindrops.

I knew we were in the vicinity of the old homestead

but everything felt a bit strange. Why the fake nose?

Why the clown shoes? Why the greasy piano?

Old mother crow in her ebony housecoat and indigo babushka

smoked a pipe and puffed smoke signals to the moon.

She wore bottle cap glasses and kept flicking

scraps of used light from her ever-busy wings.

Such are dreams they provide us with pictures

that invite analysis but do not demand it.

In the same midnight that surrounds my sleep

babies are being born deals are going down.

The dreaming dog’s restless legs churn

as if to escape from a primordial menace.

When the night shift cop flips a switch

his cruiser begins to flash and howl.

Down the road they barrel, sheriff and thief,

until the sorry climax of the episode

explodes in silent fireworks a million miles away.

Do not ask if it makes any sense.

Death walks toward us from the factory ruins

dangling a set of keys from a bony finger.

The night watchman turns to you and asks

if you want to meet the author, so you answer

yes or no depending on the intensity of your fear.

All I have learned so far is that in certain souls

what you would call light is barely visible

and consists mainly of what remains

after spending all the lottery winnings on darkness.

 

- by Walt Cybulski

 






Smokey the Bear Sutra

Once in the Jurassic about 150 million years ago,
the Great Sun Buddha in this corner of the Infinite
Void gave a Discourse to all the assembled elements
and energies: to the standing beings, the walking beings,
the flying beings, and the sitting beings -- even grasses,
to the number of thirteen billion, each one born from a
seed, assembled there: a Discourse concerning
Enlightenment on the planet Earth. 

"In some future time, there will be a continent called
America. It will have great centers of power called
such as Pyramid Lake, Walden Pond, Mt. Rainier, Big Sur,
Everglades, and so forth; and powerful nerves and channels
such as Columbia River, Mississippi River, and Grand Canyon
The human race in that era will get into troubles all over
its head, and practically wreck everything in spite of
its own strong intelligent Buddha-nature." 

"The twisting strata of the great mountains and the pulsings
of volcanoes are my love burning deep in the earth.
My obstinate compassion is schist and basalt and
granite, to be mountains, to bring down the rain. In that
future American Era I shall enter a new form; to cure
the world of loveless knowledge that seeks with blind hunger:
and mindless rage eating food that will not fill it." 

And he showed himself in his true form of

SMOKEY THE BEAR

  • A handsome smokey-colored brown bear standing on his hind legs, showing that he is aroused and
    watchful.

  • Bearing in his right paw the Shovel that digs to the truth beneath appearances; cuts the roots of useless
    attachments, and flings damp sand on the fires of greed and war;

  • His left paw in the Mudra of Comradely Display -- indicating that all creatures have the full right to live to their limits and that deer, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, dandelions, and lizards all grow in the realm of the Dharma;

  • Wearing the blue work overalls symbolic of slaves and laborers, the countless men oppressed by a
    civilization that claims to save but often destroys;

  • Wearing the broad-brimmed hat of the West, symbolic of the forces that guard the Wilderness, which is the Natural State of the Dharma and the True Path of man on earth: all true paths lead through mountains --

  • With a halo of smoke and flame behind, the forest fires of the kali-yuga, fires caused by the stupidity of
    those who think things can be gained and lost whereas in truth all is contained vast and free in the Blue Sky and Green Earth of One Mind;

  • Round-bellied to show his kind nature and that the great earth has food enough for everyone who loves her and trusts her;

  • Trampling underfoot wasteful freeways and needless suburbs; smashing the worms of capitalism and
    totalitarianism;

  • Indicating the Task: his followers, becoming free of cars, houses, canned foods, universities, and shoes;
    master the Three Mysteries of their own Body, Speech, and Mind; and fearlessly chop down the rotten
    trees and prune out the sick limbs of this country America and then burn the leftover trash.

Wrathful but Calm. Austere but Comic. Smokey the Bear will
Illuminate those who would help him; but for those who would hinder or
slander him,

HE WILL PUT THEM OUT.

Thus his great Mantra:

Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana
Sphataya hum traka ham nam

"I DEDICATE MYSELF TO THE UNIVERSAL DIAMOND
BE THIS RAGING FURY DESTROYED"

And he will protect those who love woods and rivers,
Gods and animals, hobos and madmen, prisoners and sick
people, musicians, playful women, and hopeful children: 

And if anyone is threatened by advertising, air pollution, television,
or the police, they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR'S WAR SPELL:

DROWN THEIR BUTTS
CRUSH THEIR BUTTS
DROWN THEIR BUTTS
CRUSH THEIR BUTTS

And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surely appear to put the enemy out
with his vajra-shovel.

  • Now those who recite this Sutra and then try to put it in practice will accumulate merit as countless as the sands of Arizona and Nevada.

  • Will help save the planet Earth from total oil slick.

  • Will enter the age of harmony of man and nature.

  • Will win the tender love and caresses of men, women, and beasts.

  • Will always have ripe blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at.

  • AND IN THE END WILL WIN HIGHEST PERFECT ENLIGHTENMENT. 

    thus have we heard. 

    (may be reproduced free forever)


 by Gary Snyder








March    


Do you ask me what matters?

Very little I say to you,
    except that the forsythia hangs
    again, as it always has,
    like lady's hair over that rock wall.

That I heard the geese again tonight
    flying by the moon,
    toward whatever peace there is,
        if there is peace at all,
    to the north of here.

It matters that the water is freed
    again, always again,
    and trickles between the wet rocks,
        and takes this or that flake of shale
        to some new place,
        after forty million years perhaps
        of lying still.

There is nothing else that matters here.
    Our human hearts still ache and ache,
    and we still clamber from corner to corner,
        looking for an answer,
        looking for something more.

but I tell you there is no more.
    only the forsythia hanging.
    and the geese again,    
        calling to the liquid moon.



by Deborah Wenzel








      Value


Which is worth more, a crowd of thousands,
or your own genuine solitude?
Freedom, or power over an entire nation?

A little while alone in your room
will prove more valuable than anything else
that could ever be given you.



by Rumi









Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
to watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake
The only other sound's a sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

by Robert Frost

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