Friday, April 7, 2023

everything that happens


Everything that happens is the message:
you read an event and be one and wait,
like breasting a wave, all the while knowing
by living, though not knowing how to live.

Or workers built an antenna - a dish
aimed at stars - and they themselves are its message, 
crawling in and out, being worlds that loom, 
dot-dash, and sirens, and sustaining beams.

And sometimes no one is calling but we turn up
eye and ear - suddenly we fall into
sound before it begins, the breathing
so still it waits there under the breath - 

And then the green of leaves calls out, hills
where they wait or turn, clouds in their frenzied
stillness unfolding their careful words:
"Everything counts.  The message is the world."





William Stafford
Photo:  Peter Bowers 








Wednesday, December 7, 2022

deep innerness of all things


You are the future, 
the red sky before sunrise
over the fields of time.

You are the cock's crow when night is done,
you are the dew and the bells of matins,
maiden, stranger, mother, death.

You create yourself in ever-changing shapes
that rise from the stuff of our days -
unsung, unmourned, undescribed,
like a forest we never know.

You are the deep innerness of all things,
the last word that can never be spoken.
To each of us you reveal yourself differently:
to the ship as coastline, to the shore as a ship.





Rainer Maria Rilke
Book of Hours, II.22
Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
photo:  Peter Bowers






its own beauty


The world is no more than the Beloved's single face;
In the desire of the One to know its own beauty, we exist.

Each place, each moment, sings its particular song of not-being and being.
Without reason, the clear glass equally mirrors wisdom and madness.

Those who claim knowledge are wrong; prayer just leads to trance;
Appearance and faith are mere lees in the Unknowing Wine.

Wherever the Footprint is found,
the handful of dust holds the oneness of worlds.  

This earth, burnished by hearing the Name, is so certain of Love
That the sky bends unceasingly down, to greet its own light.





Ghalib
Translated by Jane Hirshfield
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Wednesday, November 23, 2022

gift


When the heart rises to the insight
that everything is gift,
when it makes this discovery,
human beings no longer invent themselves. 

They cease to pretend.

They no longer need to imagine 
what they might be.

Finally they are. 

They acquire the substantial solidity 
which is displayed before their eyes
by the stars. 


Luigi Giussani





I am a man: little do I last
and the night is enormous.
But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.


Octavio Paz
Photo:  Peter Bowers
with thanks: love is a place






Tuesday, November 22, 2022

between what i see and what i say


for Roman Jakobson

1

Between what I see and what I say,
Between what I say and what I keep silent,
Between what I keep silent and what I dream,
Between what I dream and what I forget:
poetry.
            It slips
between yes and no,
                                 says
what I keep silent,
                              keeps silent
what I say,
                  dreams
what I forget.
                      It is not speech:
it is an act.
                  It is an act
of speech.
                  Poetry
speaks and listens:
                               it is real.
And as soon as I say
                                 it is real,
it vanishes.
                   Is it then more real?


2

Tangible idea,
                       intangible
word:
        poetry
comes and goes
                          between what is
and what is not.
                          It weaves
and unweaves reflections.
                                          Poetry
scatters eyes on a page,
scatters words on our eyes.
Eyes speak,
                   words look,
looks think.
                   To hear
thoughts,
               see
what we say,
                      touch
the body of an idea.
                                 Eyes close,
the words open.





Octavio Paz 
A Tree Within
Translated by Eliot Weinberger
Photo: Peter Bowers






Wednesday, November 16, 2022

i would like to describe


I would like to describe the simplest emotion
joy or sadness
but not as others do
reaching for shafts of rain or sun

I would like to describe a light
which is being born in me
but I know it does not resemble
any star
for it is not so bright
not so pure
and is uncertain

I would like to describe courage
without dragging behind me a dusty lion
and also anxiety
without shaking a glass full of water

to put it another way
I would give all metaphors
in return for one word
drawn out of my breast like a rib
for one word
contained within the boundaries
of my skin

but apparently this is not possible

and just to say - I love
I run around like mad
picking up handfuls of birds
and my tenderness
which after all is not made of water
asks the water for a face

and anger
different from fire
borrows from it
a loquacious tongue

so is blurred
so is blurred
in me
what white-haired gentlemen
separated once and for all
and said
this is the subject
and this is the object

we fall asleep
with one hand under our head
and with the other in a mound of planets

our feet abandon us
and taste the earth
with their tiny roots
which next morning
we tear out painfully






Zbigniew Herbert
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Sunday, November 13, 2022

taste of morning


Time's knife slides from the sheath,
as fish from where it swims.

Being closer and closer is the desire 
of the body. Don't wish for union!

There's a closeness beyond that. Why 
would God want a second God?  Fall in 

love in such a way that it frees you 
from any connecting. Love is the soul's 

light, the taste of morning, no me, no
we, no claim of being. These words 

are the smoke the fire gives off as it
absolves its defects, as eyes in silence,

tears, face. Love cannot be said.





Rumi
Translation: Coleman Barks





Wednesday, November 9, 2022

seeing each other


They were like two mirrors facing each other.  
Who sees, who is seen?
Seeing each other like this, 
they experienced the recognition everyone craves  - 
to be seen exactly as we are, 
nothing more, 
and nothing less.
Seen like this, 
all the many forms in the world 
are the same 
as one's own hand,
one's own face.





Women of the Way
the iron grinder, Liu Tiemo (780-859)
 Sallie Tisdale






Tuesday, September 27, 2022

an ordinary day



I believe in the ordinary day
that is here at this moment and is me

I do not see it going its own way
but I never saw how it came to me

it extends beyond whatever I may
think I know and all that is real to me

it is the present that it bears away
where has it gone when it has gone from me

there is no place I know outside today
except for the unknown all around me

the only presence that appears to stay
everything that I call mine it lent me

even the way that I believe the day
for as long as it is here and is me





W.S. Merwin
"A Momentary Creed"
The Shadow of Sirius
Photo: Peter Bowers






Sunday, September 25, 2022

lost


Stand still.  The trees ahead and bushes beside you 
Are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes.  Listen.  It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost.  Stand still.  The forest knows
Where you are.  You must let it find you.





David Wagoner
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Friday, June 24, 2022

happiness


What we really want to do is serve happiness.
We want everyone to be happy, never unhappy even for a moment.
We want the animals to be happy. The happiness of every living thing is what we want.
We want it very much but we cannot bring  it about.
We cannot make even one individual happy.
It seems that this thing that we want most of all is out of our reach.
But we were born to serve happiness and we do serve it.
The confusion is due to our lack of awareness of real happiness. 
Happiness is pervasive.
It is everywhere. And everywhere the same.
And it is forever.
When people are really happy they say: 'This will last forever even after death', and that is true.
When we are unhappy it is because something is covering our minds and we are not able to be aware of happiness. When the difficulty is past we find happiness again.
It is not that happiness is all around us. That is not it at all. 
It is not this or that or in this or that.
It is an abstract thing.
Happiness is unattached. Always the same. It does not appear and disappear. It is not sometimes more and sometimes less. It is our awareness of happiness that goes up and down.
Happiness is our real condition.
It is reality.
It is life.
When we see life we call it beauty. It is magnificent - wonderful.
We may be looking at the ocean when we are aware of beauty but it is not the ocean. We may be in the desert and we say that we are aware of the 'living desert' but it is not the desert.
Life is ever present in the desert and everywhere, forever.
By awareness of life we are inspired to live.

Life is consciousness of life itself.




Agnes Martin
prepared for a lecture at the University of New Mexico, Santa Fe 1979
Agnes Martin, Paintings, Writings, Remembrances, Arne Glimcher
Photo: Peter Bowers






between each word


A poem written three thousand years ago

about a man who walks among horses
grazing on a hill under the small stars

comes to life on a page in a book

and the woman reading the poem
in her kitchen filled with a gold metallic light

finds the experience of living in that moment

so vividly described as to make her feel known
to another, until the woman and the poet share

not only their souls but the exact silence

between each word.  And every time the poem is read,
no matter her situation or her age,

this is more or less what happens.





Jason Shinder
Photo:  Peter Bowers