Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Fire in the Earth


And we know, when Moses was told
      in the way that he was told,
"Take off your shoes," he grew pale from that simple

reminder of fire in the dusty earth.
      He never recovered
his complicated way of loving again

and was free to love in the same way
      the fire licking at his heels loved him.
As if the lion earth could roar

and take him in one movement.
      Every step he took
from there was carefully placed.

Everything he said mattered as if he knew
      the constant witness of the ground
and remembered his own face in the dust

the moment before revelation.
      Since then thousands have felt
the same immobile tongue with which he tried to speak.

Like the moment you too saw, for the first time,
      your own house turned to ashes.
Everything consumed so the road could open again.

Your entire presence in your eyes
      and the world turning slowly
into a single branch of flame.





David Whyte
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Saturday, October 12, 2019

where you are quiet

There is a place you can go
where you are quiet,
a place of water and the light

on the water. Trees are there,
leaves, and the light
on leaves moved by air.

Birds, singing, move
among leaves, in leaf shadow.
After many years you have come

to no thought of these,
but they are themselves
your thoughts. There seems to be

little to say, less and less.
Here they are.  Here you are.
Here as though gone.

None of us stays, but in the hush
where each leaf in the speech
of leaves is sufficient syllable

the passing light finds out
surpassing freedom of its way.




Wendell Berry
Sabbaths 1998, VII
photo:  Peter Bowers







Sunday, October 6, 2019

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                            i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)





e.e. cummings
photo:  Peter Bowers






Friday, September 27, 2019

this is it







This is It
and I am It
and You are It
and so is That
and He is It
and She is It
and It is It
and That is That

O it is This
and it is Thus
and it is Them
and it is Us
and it is Now
and Here It is
and Here We are
so This is It





James Broughton






Thursday, September 26, 2019

of being



I know this happiness
is provisional:

     the looming presences —
     great suffering, great fear —

     withdraw only 
     into peripheral vision:

but ineluctable this shimmering 
of wind in the blue leaves:

this flood of stillness 
widening the lake of sky:

this need to dance, 
this need to kneel: 
         this mystery:





Denise Levertov
Photo:  Peter Bowers












Wednesday, September 25, 2019

late fragment


And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.





Raymond Carver
Photo:  Peter Bowers







Tuesday, September 24, 2019

yes, we can talk



Having loved enough and lost enough,
I'm no longer searching
just opening,

no longer trying to make sense of pain
but trying to be a soft and sturdy home
in which real things can land.

These are the irritations
that rub into a pearl.

So we can talk for a while
but then we must listen,
the way rocks listen to the sea.

And we can churn at all that goes wrong
but then we must lay all distractions
down and water every living seed.

And yes, on nights like tonight
I too feel alone. But seldom do I
face it squarely enough
to see that it's a door
into the endless breath
that has no breather,
into the surf that human
shells call God.





Mark Nepo
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Saturday, September 14, 2019

love window






There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives,
the touch of spirit on the body.

Seawater begs the pearl
to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling.

At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face against mine.

Breathe into me.

Close the language door
and open the love-window.

The moon won't use the door,
only the window.





Rumi
photo:  Peter Bowers







Tuesday, September 3, 2019

home



reciting poems in the moonlight,

riding a painted boat...

every place the wind carries me is home.  





Yu Xuanji (A.D. 843-868)
tr. Jane Hirshfield
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Saturday, August 3, 2019

angels



This is how an angel comes
out of the earth, upwards
from the underworld
when everybody thought
they came from the light wings
of the sky - no

they are massive -
on nights of rain and sleet, split
the soil, splash and muddy the grass
wingspans wide as lakes

wearing mud armour, they crawl
full length up rivers and streams
dam ditches, seep through drains
penetrate walls, barns, chicken coops

unsettle bats with wing-beats
that shake down trees -
remind us, cradled in our prayers
how we like to remain dry,  sheltered.

This is how angels come
mouths full of earth
spitting verses
of poetry.






Miriam Darlington
Photo:  Peter Bowers







Wednesday, June 26, 2019

long before we ever tried




To meditate
is to realize
what has always
been meditating,
the vast and empty sky
in which the clouds
of meditating
and not meditating
appear and
then disappear.

To meditate
is to realize this sky
that kissed the clouds
long before
we ever tried
to love what is.





John Astin
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Saturday, May 11, 2019

keeping quiet




Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.



Pablo Neruda
photo:  Peter Bowers






Saturday, May 4, 2019

be ahead of all parting

Be ahead of all parting, as if it had already happened,
like winter, which even now is passing.
For beneath the winter is a winter so endless
that to survive it at all is a triumph of the heart.

Be forever dead in Eurydice, and climb back singing.
Climb praising as you return to connection.
Here among the disappearing, in the realm of the transient,
be a ringing glass that shatters as it rings.

Be. And know as well the need to not be:
let that ground of all that changes
bring you to completion now.

To all that has run its course, and to the vast unsayable
numbers of beings abounding in Nature,
add yourself gladly, and cancel the cost.





Rainer Maria Rilke
A Year With Rilke
Sonnets to Orpheus II, 13
Translation by Joanna Macy & Anita Barrows
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Friday, March 22, 2019

love is ...



Love is what gives joy to creatures.
Love is what provides all sorts of happiness.
We were not born from women; love gave birth to us.
A hundred blessings and praises to our mothers ! 





Rumi 


Sade Helen Koskelo 
June 22, 1940 - March 9, 2019






Thursday, March 21, 2019

the departure of the prodigal son



To go forth now
from all the entanglement
that is ours and yet not ours,
that, like the water in an old well,
reflects us in fragments, distorts what we are.

From all that clings like burrs and brambles—
to go forth
and see for once, close up, afresh,
what we had ceased to see—
so familiar it had become.
To glimpse how vast and how impersonal
is the suffering that filled your childhood.

Yes, to go forth, hand pulling away from hand.
Go forth to what? To uncertainty,
to a country with no connections to us
and indifferent to the dramas of our life.

What drives you to go forth? Impatience, instinct,
a dark need, the incapacity to understand.

To bow to all this.
To let go—
even if you have to die alone.
Is this the start of a new life?





Rainer Maria Rilke
Translation by Joanna Macy & Anita Barrows
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Friday, February 22, 2019

millennium blessing ... this

There is a grace approaching
that we shun as much as death,
it is the completion of our birth.

It does not come in time,
       but in timelessness
when the mind sinks into the heart
and we remember.

It is insistent grace that draws us
to the edge and beckons us surrender
safe territory and enter our enormity.

We know we must pass
       beyond knowing
and fear the shedding.

But we are pulled upward
       none-the-less
through forgotten ghosts
       and unexpected angels,
luminous.

And there is nothing left to say
but we are That.

And that is what we sing about.

Stephen Levine
Photos:  Peter Bowers



And there is nothing left to say
but we are This.

And this is what we sing about.








Saturday, February 16, 2019

Maya



Buddha points to the earth
Zen master points to the moon
Arjuna points to the target
Mary points to her child
Jesus points to the heart
Rumi points to Shams

We all look
until we see






Ellen Grace O'Brian
Photo:  Peter Bowers
with thanks: Poetry Chaikhana







Friday, February 8, 2019

Vanishing Point



How am I a self
when I am
constantly disappearing?
A traveling venue
of water
and sinew.
I am a story
I made up
in my head:
Looks good in hats.
Won't eat oysters.
Fears infirmity.

Touch me, I am fluid.

In all my transparency
my body is
betraying me,
just as
the plot demanded.
I would deny this
distant progression
of time and cells
if the mirror
were not such a talker.

Kiss me, I am corruptible.

So what
are we
made of?

Stories - 
Just when you think
you could not take

one more
here comes another.
You keep right on

living -
piling up
your stories

like cordwood
and the lying-self
keeps pace

with daily duties:
meals to prepare,
pills to take.

How could you
keep on if you did not
deny your vanishing point?

Look at me, I won't last long.





Tina Schumann
Photo:  Peter Bowers







Sunday, January 20, 2019

white heron rises over blackwater




I wonder
    what it is
        that I will accomplish
            today

if anything
    can be called
        that marvelous word.
            It won't be

my kind of work,
    which is only putting
        words on a page,
            the pencil

haltingly calling up
    the light of the world,
        yet nothing appearing on paper
            half as bright

as the mockingbird's
    verbal hilarity
        in the still unleafed shrub
            in the churchyard -

or the white heron
    rising
        over the swamp
            and the darkness,

his yellow eyes
    and broad wings wearing
        the light of the world
            in the world -

ah yes, I see him.
    He is exactly
        the poem
            I wanted to write.






Mary Oliver
Photo:  Peter Bowers

   





Saturday, January 19, 2019

both worlds


Forever busy, it seems,
with words,
finally
I put the pen down

and crumple
most of the sheets
and leave one or two,
sometimes a few,

for the next morning.
Day after day -
year after year -
it has gone on this way,

I rise from the chair,
I put on my jacket
and leave the house
for that other world -

the first one,
the holy one -
where the trees say
nothing the toad says

nothing the dirt
says nothing and yet
what has always happened
keeps happening:

the trees flourish,
the toad leaps,
and out of the silent dirt
the blood - red roses rise.




Mary Oliver
Photo:  Peter Bowers







Saturday, January 5, 2019

where everything is music




Do not worry about saving these songs.
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it does not matter.

We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.

The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,

and even if the whole world's harp should burn up,
there will still be hidden instruments playing.

So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint and a spark.

This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.

Poems reach up like spindrift
and the edge of driftwood along the beach, wanting.

They derive
from a slow and powerful root
that we cannot see.

Stop the words now.
Open the window in the center of your chest,
and let the  spirits fly in and out.





Rumi
Photo:  Peter Bowers