Wednesday, April 30, 2014

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” 
 

RECOGNIZE, ALLOW, INVESTIGATE WITH KINDNESS

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver


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

Monday, April 28, 2014

For What Binds Us by Jane Hirshfield


There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,

as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—

And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.

Desire by Jane Hirshfield

For years, the habit of wanting you,
carried like something unnoticed,
lint in a pocket, or manzanita
seed waiting a fire-
you come to me
changed, an old photograph
blurred with motion,
the shutter too low to keep you the same.
After a while, the light, an old habit
between us, drains off:
simple to meet, to walk towards evening
in a park at the continent’s edge;
simple to talk
until conversation drains off,
a newly decanted wine,
and we’re left with the sediment dark
at bottom between us,
desire,
simple to say,
and all the decision pours out of my life,
leaving me buoyant, empty, to float
towards your hand.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Ponds by Mary Oliver


Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe
their lapping light crowding the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them—
the muskrats swimming
can reach out and touch
only so many, they are that
rife and wild.

But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided--
and that one wears an orange blight--
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away--
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled--
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing--
that the light is everything--that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.

This Niçoise Salad is one of my faves!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

Bereavement by Kevin Young


Behind his house, my father’s dogs
sleep in kennels, beautiful,
he built just for them.

They do not bark.
Do they know he is dead?
They wag their tails

& head. They beg
& are fed.
Their grief is colossal

& forgetful.
Each day they wake
seeking his voice,

their names.
By dusk they seem
to unremember everything—

to them even hunger
is a game. For that, I envy.
For that, I cannot bear to watch them

pacing their cage. I try to remember
they love best confined space
to feel safe. Each day

a saint comes by to feed the pair
& I draw closer
the shades.

I’ve begun to think of them
as my father’s other sons,
as kin. Brothers-in-paw.

My eyes each day thaw.
One day the water cuts off.
Then back on.

They are outside dogs—
which is to say, healthy
& victorious, purposeful

& one giant muscle
like the heart. Dad taught
them not to bark, to point

out their prey. To stay.
Were they there that day?
They call me

like witnesses & will not say.
I ask for their care
& their carelessness—

wish of them forgiveness.
I must give them away.
I must find for them homes,

sleep restless in his.
All night I expect they pace
as I do, each dog like an eye

roaming with the dead
beneath an unlocked lid.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Delicacies by Stephen Dunn

You can walk a long time
among oaks and pines
before you realize small animals
have been watching you
from their hideaways,
recording, for the good
of their species, how you move,
and what you might do next.

And it's rare when the wind
in the leaves reminds you
of the laughter you heard
one day, far off, the kind
you wanted to move towards,
so devoid of malice, joyous,
at no one's expense.

And even rarer, when out
looking for raspberries,
to come across a bra
on the ground, other articles
of clothing voluntarily-
you're sure-strewn about,

and be moved to turn
and go back to your car
with its tank full of supreme
quite certain you don't need
to disturb what's sufficient
to imagine or dream.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


A Color of the Sky by Tony Hoagland



Windy today and I feel less than brilliant,
driving over the hills from work.
There are the dark parts on the road
when you pass through clumps of wood
and the bright spots where you have a view of the ocean,
but that doesn’t make the road an allegory.

I should call Marie and apologize
for being so boring at dinner last night,
but can I really promise not to be that way again?
And anyway, I’d rather watch the trees, tossing
in what certainly looks like sexual arousal.

Otherwise it’s spring, and everything looks frail;
the sky is baby blue, and the just-unfurling leaves
are full of infant chlorophyll,
the very tint of inexperience.

Last summer’s song is making a comeback on the radio,
and on the highway overpass,
the only metaphysical vandal in America has written
MEMORY LOVES TIME
in big black spraypaint letters,

which makes us wonder if Time loves Memory back.

Last night I dreamed of X again.
She’s like a stain on my subconscious sheets.
Years ago she penetrated me
but though I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed,
I never got her out,
but now I’m glad.

What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle.
What I thought was a brick wall turned out to be a tunnel.
What I thought was an injustice
turned out to be a color of the sky.

Outside the youth center, between the liquor store
and the police station,
a little dogwood tree is losing its mind;

overflowing with blossomfoam,
like a sudsy mug of beer;
like a bride ripping off her clothes,

dropping snow white petals to the ground in clouds,

so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.
It’s been doing that all week:
making beauty,
and throwing it away,
and making more.
 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Admonitions to a Special Person by Anne Sexton


Watch out for power,

for its avalanche can bury you,
snow, snow, snow, smothering your mountain.

Watch out for hate,
it can open its mouth and you'll fling yourself out
to eat off your leg, an instant leper.

Watch out for friends,
because when you betray them,
as you will,
they will bury their heads in the toilet
and flush themselves away.

Watch out for intellect,
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.

Watch out for games, the actor's part,
the speech planned, known, given,
for they will give you away
and you will stand like a naked little boy,
pissing on your own child-bed.

Watch out for love
(unless it is true,
and every part of you says yes including the toes) ,
it will wrap you up like a mummy,
and your scream won't be heard
and none of your running will end.

Love? Be it man. Be it woman.
It must be a wave you want to glide in on,
give your body to it, give your laugh to it,
give, when the gravelly sand takes you,
your tears to the land. To love another is something
like prayer and can't be planned, you just fall
into its arms because your belief undoes your disbelief.

Special person,
if I were you I'd pay no attention
to admonitions from me,
made somewhat out of your words
and somewhat out of mine.
A collaboration.
I do not believe a word I have said,
except some, except I think of you like a young tree
with pasted-on leaves and know you'll root
and the real green thing will come.

Let go. Let go.
Oh special person,
possible leaves,
this typewriter likes you on the way to them,
but wants to break crystal glasses
in celebration,
for you,
when the dark crust is thrown off
and you float all around
like a happened balloon.

 

Monday, April 21, 2014

“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.” Joan Didion

Embrace by Billy Collins

You know the parlor trick.
wrap your arms around your own body
and from the back it looks like
someone is embracing you
her hands grasping your shirt
her fingernails teasing your neck
from the front it is another story
you never looked so alone
your crossed elbows and screwy grin
you could be waiting for a tailor
to fit you with a straight jacket
one that would hold you really tight.

A Brief for the Defense by Jack Gilbert

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Egoic issues


1. Stop being offended.
The behavior of others isn’t a reason to be immobilized. That which offends you only weakens you. If you’re looking for occasions to be offended, you’ll find them at every turn. This is your ego at work convincing you that the world shouldn't be the way it is. But you can become an appreciator of life and match up with the universal Spirit of Creation. You can’t reach the power of intention by being offended. By all means, act to eradicate the horrors of the world, which emanate from massive ego identification, but stay in peace. As A Course in Miracles reminds us: Peace is of God, you who are part of God are not at home except in his peace. Being is of God, you who are part of God are not at home except in his peace. Being offended creates the same destructive energy that offended you in the first place and leads to attack, counterattack, and war.

2. Let go of your need to win.
Ego loves to divide us up into winners and losers. The pursuit of winning is a surefire means to avoid conscious contact with intention. Why? Because ultimately, winning is impossible all of the time. Someone out there will be faster, luckier, younger, stronger, and smarter-and back you’ll go to feeling worthless and insignificant.

You’re not your winnings or your victories. You may enjoy competing, and have fun in a world where winning is everything, but you don’t have to be there in your thoughts. There are no losers in a world where we all share the same energy source. All you can say on a given day is that you performed at a certain level in comparison to the levels of others on that day. But today is another day, with other competitors and new circumstances to consider. You’re still the infinite presence in a body that’s another day (or decade) older. Let go of needing to win by not agreeing that the opposite of winning is losing. That’s ego’s fear. If your body isn’t performing in a winning fashion on this day, it simply doesn’t matter when you aren’t identifying exclusively with your ego. Be the observer, noticing and enjoying it all without needing to win a trophy. Be at peace, and match up with the energy of intention. And ironically, although you’ll hardly notice it, more of those victories will show up in your life as you pursue them less.

3. Let go of your need to be right.
Ego is the source of a lot of conflict and dissension because it pushes you in the direction of making other people wrong. When you’re hostile, you’ve disconnected from the power of intention. The creative Spirit is kind, loving, and receptive; and free of anger, resentment, or bitterness. Letting go of your need to be right in your discussions and relationships is like saying to ego, I’m not a slave to you. I want to embrace kindness, and I reject your need to be right. In fact, I’m going to offer this person a chance to feel better by saying that she’s right, and thank her for pointing me in the direction of truth.

When you let go of the need to be right, you’re able to strengthen your connection to the power of intention. But keep in mind that ego is a determined combatant. I’ve seen people end otherwise beautiful relationships by sticking to their need to be right. I urge you to let go of this ego-driven need to be right by stopping yourself in the middle of an argument and asking yourself, Do I want to be right or be happy? When you choose the happy, loving, spiritual mood, your connection to intention is strengthened. These moments ultimately expand your new connection to the power of intention. The universal Source will begin to collaborate with you in creating the life you were intended to live.

4. Let go of your need to be superior.
True nobility isn’t about being better than someone else. It’s about being better than you used to be. Stay focused on your growth, with a constant awareness that no one on this planet is any better than anyone else. We all emanate from the same creative life force. We all have a mission to realize our intended essence; all that we need to fulfill our destiny is available to us. None of this is possible when you see yourself as superior to others. It’s an old saw, but nonetheless true: we are all equal in the eyes of God. Let go of your need to feel superior by seeing the unfolding of God in everyone. Don’t assess others on the basis of their appearance, achievements, possessions, and other indices of ego. When you project feelings of superiority that’s what you get back, leading to resentments and ultimately hostile feelings. These feelings become the vehicle that takes you farther away from intention. A Course in Miracles addresses this need to be special and superior: Special ness always makes comparisons. It is established by a lack seen in another, and maintained by searching for, and keeping clear in sight, all lacks it can perceive.

5. Let go of your need to have more.
The mantra of ego is more. It’s never satisfied. No matter how much you achieve or acquire, your ego will insist that it isn’t enough. You’ll find yourself in a perpetual state of striving, and eliminate the possibility of ever arriving. Yet in reality you’ve already arrived, and how you choose to use this present moment of your life is your choice. Ironically, when you stop needing more, more of what you desire seems to arrive in your life. Since you’re detached from the need for it, you find it easier to pass it along to others, because you realize how little you need in order to be satisfied and at peace.

The universal Source is content with itself, constantly expanding and creating new life, never trying to hold on to its creations for its own selfish means. It creates and lets go. As you let go of ego’s need to have more, you unify with that Source. You create, attract to yourself, and let it go, never demanding that more come your way. As an appreciator of all that shows up, you learn the powerful lesson St.Francis of Assisi taught:”…it is in giving that we receive.” By allowing abundance to flow to and through you, you match up with your Source and guarantee that this energy will continue to flow.

6. Let go of identifying yourself on the basis of your achievements.
This may be a difficult concept if you think you are your achievements. God writes all the music, God sings all the songs, God builds all the buildings, God is the source of all your achievements. I can hear your ego loudly protesting. Nevertheless, stay tuned to this idea. All emanates from Source! You and that Source are one! You’re not this body and its accomplishments. You are the observer. Notice it all; and be grateful for the abilities you’ve accumulated. But give all the credit to the power of intention, which brought you into existence and which you’re a materialized part of. The less you need to take credit for your achievements and the more connected you stay to the seven faces of intention, the more you’re free to achieve, and the more will show up for you. It’s when you attach yourself to those achievements and believe that you alone are doing all of those things that you leave the peace and the gratitude of your Source.

7. Let go of your reputation.
Your reputation is not located in you. It resides in the minds of others. Therefore, you have no control over it at all. If you speak to 30 people, you will have 30 reputations. Connecting to intention means listening to your heart and conducting yourself based on what your inner voice tells you is your purpose here. If you’re overly concerned with how you’re going to be perceived by everyone, then you’ve disconnected yourself from intention and allowed the opinions of others to guide you. This is your ego at work. It’s an illusion that stands between you and the power of intention. There’s nothing you can’t do, unless you disconnect from the power source and become convinced that your purpose is to prove to others how masterful and superior you are and spend your energy attempting to win a giant reputation among other egos. Do what you do because your inner voice always connected to and grateful to your Source-so directs you. Stay on purpose, detach from outcome, and take responsibility for what does reside in you: your character. Leave your reputation for others to debate; it has nothing to do with you. Or as a book title says: What You Think of Me Is None of My Business!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I miss you.

The Question by Pablo Neruda

Love, a question
has destroyed you.

I have come back to you
from thorny uncertainty.

I want you straight as
the sword or the road.

But you insist
on keeping a nook
of shadow that I do not want.

My love,
understand me,
I love all of you,
from eyes to feet, to toenails,
inside,
all the brightness, which you kept.

It is I, my love,
who knocks at your door.
It is not the ghost, it is not
the one who once stopped
at your window.
I knock down the door:
I enter your life:
I come to live in your soul:
you cannot cope with me.

You must open door to door,
you must obey me,
you must open your eyes
so that I may search in them,
you must see how I walk
with heavy steps
along all the roads
that, blind, were waiting for me.

Do not fear,
I am yours,
but
I am not the passenger or the beggar,
I am your master,
the one you were waiting for,
and now I enter
your life,
no more to leave it,
love, love, love,
but to stay. 


“Longed for him. Got him. Shit.”