Browsing Category "Poems"
13 May
2019
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Only the Cause and End of Movement

Desire itself is movement
Not in itself desirable;
Love is itself unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement…

— from Burnt Norton, Four Quartets
by T.S. Eliot

6 May
2019
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If,

Amitabha’s vow
by Gary Snyder

“If, after obtaining Buddhahood, anyone in my land
gets tossed in jail on a vagrancy rap, may I
not attain highest perfect enlightenment.

wild geese in the orchard
frost on the new grass

“If, after obtaining Buddhahood, anyone in my land
loses a finger coupling boxcars, may I
not attain highest perfect enlightenment.

mare’s eye flutters
jerked by the lead-rope
stone-bright shoes flick back
ankles trembling: down steep rock

“If, after obtaining Buddhahood, anyone in my land
can’t get a ride hitch-hiking all directions, may I
not attain highest perfect enlightenment.

wet rocks buzzing
rain and thunder southwest
hair, beard, tingle
wind whips bare legs
we should go back
we don’t

***

(Thank you, Brian)

3 May
2019
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Then It is Time

Also Known As
by Jim Moore
published in The Sun, May 2019 issue

If you are more close to the dying
than you would like to be, then it is time for the sky
to grow larger than the earth, than the sea even.
You need to go to that place where your story
is seriously quiet. Nothing in it counts
compared to the things the sky
calls out to: birds, clouds, the occasional cypress
that has reached beyond itself.
You could call it a kind of waiting
and that would be fair. There is a green bench
— a corner of heaven, you could say —
and there you can sit in the shade
and watch the grandfather and grandson walk by,
hand in hand. The little one makes the older one laugh
again and again, and that is the way it works
in heaven. Also known as going home.
Also known as getting over yourself.

14 Mar
2019
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Or Maybe…

Waiting for a Ride, by Gary Snyder

Standing at the baggage passing time:
Austin Texas airport—my ride hasn’t come yet.
My former wife is making websites from her home,
one son’s seldom seen,
the other one and his wife have a boy and girl of their own.
My wife and stepdaughter are spending weekdays in town
so she can get to high school.
My mother ninety-six still lives alone and she’s in town too,
always gets her sanity back just barely in time.
My former former wife has become a unique poet;
most of my work,
such as it is             is done.
Full moon was October second this year,
I ate a mooncake, slept out on the deck
white light beaming through the black boughs of the pine
owl hoots and rattling antlers,
Castor and Pollux rising strong
—it’s good to know that the Pole Star drifts!
that even our present night sky slips away,
not that I’ll see it.
Or maybe I will, much later,
some far time walking the spirit path in the sky,
that long walk of spirits—where you fall right back into the
“narrow painful passageway of the Bardo”
squeeze your little skull
and there you are again

waiting for your ride

***

(Thank you, Brian)

19 Feb
2019
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Now, If Poetry Can Help…

I’ve just learned that Tony Hoagland — whose poetry I’ve had a love/hate relationship with since about the time I started this blog — died this past October, from pancreatic cancer. He was sixty-four. 

In The Beautiful Rain
by Tony Hoagland

Hearing that old phrase “a good death,”
which I still don’t exactly understand,
I’ve decided I’ve already
had so many, I don’t need another.

Though before I go
I wish to offer some revisions
to the existing vocabulary.

Let us decline the pretense
of the hyper-factual: the
myocardial infarction; the arterial embolism;
the postoperative complication.

Let us forgo the euphemistic:
the “passed away”
and “shuffled off this mortal coil,”
as worn out and passive as an old dildo.

Now, if poetry can help, it is time to say,
“She fell from her trapeze at 2 am
in the midst of a triple backflip
in front of her favorite witnesses.”

Let us say, “In broad daylight,
Ms. Abigail Miller
conducted her daring escape
before life, that Crook,
had completely picked her pocket.”

It is not too late from some hero
to appear and volunteer
in the name of setting an example:

Let us say, “He flew with abandon,
and a joyous expression on his face,
like a gust of wind
or a man in a necktie
from the last dinner party he would ever have to attend.”

To say, “He was the egg
that elected to break
for the greater cause of the omelet;
the good piece of wood
that leapt into the fire.”

“Through grudging at first,
he fell like the rain,
with his eyes wide open,
willing to change.”

***

May it be so, Tony. May it be so.

26 Nov
2018
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All the Elsewheres

Atmospherics
by Susan Hutton

Sometimes on a late clear night you can pull that station from Denver
or Boston out of the dark.

All the elsewheres alter here, as what you remember
changes what you think.

Not spider nor plum nor pebble possess any of the names we give them.

A kite tugging on its string gives you a sense of what’s up there,
though it is translated, and by a string.

Out there, in the dark, the true thing.

13 Nov
2018
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The Familiar is Not the Thing It Reminds Of

Red Berries
by Jane Hirshfield

Again the pyrocanthus berries redden in rain,
as if return were return.

It is not.

The familiar is not the thing it reminds of.
Today’s yes is different from yesterday’s yes.
Even no’s adamance alters.

From painting to painting,
century to century,
the tipped-over copper pot spills out different light;
the cut-open beeves,
their caged and muscled display,
are on one canvas radiant; obscene on another.

In the end it is simple enough–

The woman of this morning’s mirror
was a stranger
to the woman of last night’s;
the passionate dreams of the one who slept
flit empty and thin
from the one who awakens.

One woman washes her face,
another picks up the boar-bristled hairbrush,
a third steps out of her slippers.
That each will die in the same bed means nothing to them.

Our one breath follows another like spotted horses, no two alike.

Black manes and white manes, they gallop.
Piebald and skewbald, eyes flashing sorrow, they too will pass.

7 Nov
2018
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Meanwhile

Like Three Fair Branches from One Root Deriv’d
(excerpt)
by Robert Hass

Meanwhile
we are passing through the gate
with everything we love. We go
as fire, as flesh, as marble.
Sometimes it is good and sometimes
it is dangerous like the ignorance
of particulars, but our words are clear
and our movements give off light.

***

(courtesy of Pome)

25 Oct
2018
Posted in: Activism, Poems
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Don’t Go Back to Sleep

from Rumi:

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
between two worlds, which touch.

The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

***

from me:

The election is twelve days away.
Don’t go back to sleep.

23 Oct
2018
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There are Hundreds of Ways

Today, like every other day,
we wake up empty and frightened.
Don’t open the door
to the study and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love
be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways
to kneel and kiss the ground.
— Rumi