Sunday, July 25, 2021

pride


If I claim I was a terrible, horrible,
Evil no-good person,
It would be a lie, and it would be
Wanting always to be the best or the worst.
So now I'm destined to wander,
My bag full of pride a lot lighter,
And if I say I am done
With whatever ails me,
That would also be a lie.
I am not done, will never be done
Till the day I die,
But I am content to be human,
Naked and shaking with love
At the moment, and the next moment,
I just can't say.




Noelle Kocot
Photo: Peter Bowers





Wednesday, July 7, 2021

next time


Next time what I'd do is look at 
the earth before saying anything. I'd stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
  or to the air being still.

When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I'd watch the face, how the mouth
had to work, and see any strain, any
sign of what lifted the voice.

And for all, I'd know more - the earth
bracing itself and soaring, the air 
finding every leaf and feather over
forest and water, and for every person
the body glowing inside the clothes
  like a light. 





William Stafford
Photo:  Peter Bowers





Friday, July 2, 2021

practice


The world you see is just a movie in your mind.
Rocks don't see it.
Bless and sit down.
Forgive and forget.
Practice kindness all day to everybody
and you will realize you're already 
in heaven now.
That's the story.
That's the message.
Nobody understands it,
nobody listens, they're
all running around like chickens with heads cut
off.  I will try to teach it but it will 
be in vain, s'why I'll 
end up in a shack
praying and being
cool and singing 
by my woodstove
making pancakes.





Jack Kerouac
Photo: Peter Bowers






Tuesday, June 29, 2021

discontinuous poems


The frightful reality of things
Is my everyday discovery.
Each thing is what it is.
How can I explain to anyone how much
I rejoice over this, and find it enough?

To be whole, it is enough to exist.

I have written quite a number of poems
And may write many more, of course.
Each poem of mine explains it,
Though all my poems are different,
Because each thing that exists is always proclaiming it.

Sometimes I busy myself with watching a stone,
I don’t begin thinking whether it feels.
I don’t force myself to call it my sister,

But I enjoy it because of its being a stone,
I enjoy it because it feels nothing,
I enjoy it because it is not at all related to me.

At times I also hear the wind blow by
And find that merely to hear the wind blow makes
  it worth having been born.

I don’t know what others will think who read this;
But I find it must be good because I think it
  without effort,
And without the idea of others hearing me think,
Because I think it without thoughts,
Because I say it as my words say it.

Once they called me a materialist poet
And I admired myself because I never thought
That I might be called by any name at all.
I am not even a poet: I see.
If what I write has any value, it is not I who am
  valuable.
The value is there, in my verses.
All this has nothing whatever to do with any will
  of mine.





Fernando Pessoa 
(writing under the heteronym Alberto Caeiro)
translation: Edouard Roditi
with thanks: love is a place






Friday, June 25, 2021

to begin with, the sweet grass


1.
Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat
  of the sweet grass?
Will the owl bite off its own wings?
Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or
  forget to sing?
Will the rivers run upstream?

Behold, I say - behold
the reliability and the finery and the teachings
  of this gritty earth gift.

2.
Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets
  are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds
who are drinking the sweetness, who are
  thrillingly gluttonous.

For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.

And someone's face, whom you love, will be as a star
both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.

And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two
beautiful bodies of your lungs.

3.
The witchery of living
is my whole conversation
with you, my darlings
All I can tell you is what I know.

Look, and look again.
This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.

It's more than bones.
It's more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.
It's more than the beating of the single heart.
It's praising.
It's giving until the giving feels like receiving.
You have a life - just imagine that!
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe
  still another.

4.
Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,
the dancer, the potter,
to make me a begging bowl
which I believe
my soul needs.

And if I come to you,
to the door of your comfortable house
with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails,
will you put something into it?

I would like to take this chance.
I would like to give you this chance.

5.
We do one thing or another; we stay the same, or we
  change.
Congratulations, if
  you have changed.

6.
Let me ask you this.
Do you think that beauty exists for some
  fabulous reason?

And, if you have not been enchanted by this adventure -
  your life -
what would do for you?

7.
What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was many years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
  though with difficulty.

I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.
I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment
somehow or another.)

And I have become the child of clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself.  Then forget it.  Then, love the world.





Mary Oliver
Evidence
photo:  Peter Bowers





Saturday, June 12, 2021


Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.





Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Photo:  Peter Bowers
with thanks: Love is a Place





Monday, April 12, 2021

first breath



As soon as she is born - she, 
he - the moment the newborn breathes
for the first time, taking, from the general
supply, some air, pulling it down
half her length, into the base of the
lobe which had first existed as a mattery
idea, and then had become the folded
lung, which lay in blue wait;
as soon as the sky
is drawn in, like a
petal expanding, in fast motion,
opening into the new being -
oxygen, where it had never been,
taking the neonate's bluish shade
back into the empyrean;
as soon as she's taken the good of one breath, 
and given back the rest - look,
she is dying. I mean she is living - for a time,
maybe ninety years - but she
is on her way, now, to that ending.
She had never died at all, until now,
never before been offered the human work.





Sharon Olds
Photo:  Peter Bowers
with thanks Love is a Place





Friday, March 12, 2021

the teachers




Owl in the black morning,
   mockingbird in the burning
      slants of the sunny afternoon
         declare so simply

to the world
   everything I have tried but still
      haven't been able
         to put into words,

so I do not go
   far from that school
      with its star-bright
         or blue ceiling,

and I listen to those teachers,
   and others too -
      the wind in the trees
         and the water waves -

for they are what lead me
   from the dryness of self
      where I labor
         with the mind-steps of language -

lonely, as we all are
   in the singular,
      I listen hard
         to the exuberances

of the mockingbird and the owl,
   the waves and the wind.
      And then, like peace after perfect speech,
         such stillness.





Mary Oliver
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Friday, February 12, 2021

practice

 

Once someone asked a well-known Thai meditation master, "In this world where everything changes, where nothing remains the same, where loss and grief are inherent in our very coming into existence, how can there be any happiness? How can we find security when we see that we can't count on anything being the way we want it to be?" The teacher, looking compassionately at this fellow, held up a drinking glass which had been given to him earlier in the morning and said, "You see this goblet? For me, this glass is already broken. I enjoy it, I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on a shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say,  'Of course.' But when I understand this glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious. Every moment is just as it is and nothing need be otherwise."

When we recognize that, just as that glass, our body is already broken, that indeed we are already dead, then life becomes precious and we open to it just as it is, in the moment it is occurring. When we understand that all our loved ones are already dead - our children, our mates, our friends - how precious they become. How little fear can interpose, how little doubt can estrange us. When you live your life  as though you're already dead, life takes on new meaning. Each moment becomes a whole lifetime, a universe unto itself.  

When we realize we are already dead, our priorities change, our heart opens, our mind begins to clear of the fog of old holdings and pretendings. We watch all life in transit and what matters becomes instantly apparent: The transmission of love, the letting go of obstacles to understanding, the relinquishment of our grasping, our hiding from ourselves. Seeing the mercilessness of our self-strangulation, we begin to come gently into the light we share with all beings. Taking each teaching, each loss, each gain, each fear, each joy, as it arises and experiencing it fully, life becomes workable...

If our only spiritual practice were to live as though we were already dead, relating to all we meet, to all we do, as though it were our final moments in the world, what time would there be for old games or falsehoods or posturing? If we lived our life as though we were already dead, as though our children were already dead, how much time would there be for self-protection and the re-creation of ancient mirages? Only love would be appropriate, only the truth.





Stephen and Ondrea Levine
Excerpt: Who Dies?
Photo:  Peter Bowers



 



Friday, February 5, 2021

at the seven-mile ranch, comstock, texas


I live like I know what I'm doing.

When I hand the horses a square of hay,
when I walk the road of stones 
or chew on cactus pulp,
there's a drumming behind me,
the day opens up to let me pass through.

I know the truth,
how always I'm following each small sign that appears.

This sheep that materialized behind a clump of cenizo bushes
knows I didn't see him till he raised his head.

Out here it's impossible to be lonely.
The land walking beside you is your oldest friend,
pleasantly silent, like already you've told the best stories
and each of you knows how much the other made up.





Naomi Shihab Nye
Photo:  Peter Bowers
with thanks: A Year of Being Here







Thursday, January 28, 2021

attention


"Well... ...That's what you always forget, isn't it? I mean, you forget to pay attention to what's happening. And that's the same as not being here and now."

Aldous Huxley,  Island


If this were the last time we met in this world 
what would I wish I had said     or done?
I know death is always somewhere in the neighborhood
for someone as old as I,
just as I know, no matter how much I might beg,
God would never forbid you might die.

There is no perfect word to speak,
no perfect deed to perform.
When after today I have left or am left,
if I am never to see you again,
then I just want to be fully here    now,
to be fully awake while we may.

There will be time for sleep after today.





Ron Stone
Photo: Peter Bowers
with thanks: A Year of Being Here






Monday, December 14, 2020

a path in the woods


I don't trust the truth of memories
because what leaves us
departs forever
There's only one current of this sacred river
but I still want to remain faithful
to my first astonishments
to recognize as wisdom the child's wonder
and to carry in myself until the end a path
in the woods of my childhood
dappled with patches of sunlight
to search for it everywhere
in museums in the shade of churches
this path on which I ran unaware
a six-year old
toward my primary mysterious aloneness





Anna Kamienska
Photo:  Peter Bowers