Friday, March 28, 2014

I dream of a quiet man

I dream of a quiet man
who explains nothing and defends
nothing, but only knows
where the rarest wild flowers
are blooming, and who goes,
and finds that he is smiling
not by his own will.

Wendell Berry, from 'Given'

I have to tell you

I have to tell you,
there are times when
the sun strikes me
like a gong,
and I remember everything,
even your ears.

Dorothea Grossman

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

You lost, Bobby!

"In today's America, no child ever loses. There are no losers anymore. Everyone's a winner. No matter what the game or sport or competition, everybody wins. Everybody wins, everybody gets a trophy, no one is a loser. No child these days ever gets to hear those all-important, character building words: "You lost, Bobby!"

"You lost, you're a loser, Bobby!" They miss out on that. You know what they tell a kid who lost these days? "You were the last winner." A lot of these kids never get to hear the truth about themselves until they're in their twenties. When their boss calls them in and says "Bobby, clean the shit out of your desk and get the fuck out of here, you're a loser."

George Carlin

We were all hungry, we were all fed


In the minute it took
to fetch the blue bowl

from the kitchen
to pick the just-ripe

cherries, the blackbirds
had come. They picked

the branches clean, ascending
into their own blue bowl.

Lacking wings, I
look for meaning.

We were all hungry.
We were all fed.

Andrea Cohen

Live from Space

Almost a kind of meditation, as you move from country to country, see ocean depths, continents emerging. Check out the options on the right and left - you can even listen to the music trending in the country the Space Station is flying over, or watch a live video from the Space Station, even listen to the crew speaking to Mission Control, if you happen to be there at the right time. A great way to keep children occupied while they learn amazing facts about the earth and various countries.

Live from Space: The International Space Station

"The International Space Station (ISS) orbits the earth at over 17,000 mph. See the world from the perspective of its astronauts and discover what's happening on the ground right now."

Click on the Explore Earth button in here -

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What astonishes is the singing

Horses at Midnight Without a Moon
Jack Gilbert

Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there's music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.

The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.

What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.

Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.


All winter

Hope and Love

All winter
the blue heron
slept among the horses.

I do not know
the custom of herons,
do not know
if the solitary habit
is their way,
or if he listened for
some missing one –
not knowing even
that was what he did –
in the blowing
sounds in the dark.

I know that hope is the hardest
love we carry.

He slept
with his long neck
folded, like a letter
put away.

Jane Hirshfield

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Now his tongue tastes of mint and apples

On the 100th anniversary of the First World War......

Boy on a Bicycle

A boy rides a bicycle before the first world war. He is eighteen,
almost nineteen - a man, really - and wears his new uniform with
pride. He is cycling along an embankment on the outskirts of a
small town. The sun is halfway towards noon, the wind tousling his
light brown hair; his pinkish lips are mouthing a music-hall ditty
under his sparse moustache. He is going to see a girl he used to know.

He has no idea he will be dead in a week, his legs thrown out the
wrong way under a snarl of barbed wire. Now he marvels at the
warmth of his muscles as the chain drives the wheels around.
Now his tongue tastes of mint and apples.

James Roderick Burns, 'Ten Poems about Bicycles'

One Hundred Years of Memory:

Wish I were here

Postcard from Home

Sitting on the deck, bare feet
on the railing, I watch and listen to
this day spilling out its myriad flow of details, one
after another, one on top of another, seamlessly,
with no apologies, not the slightest backing off:

two ruby-throated humming birds
drinking their sugar water, distant dogs
barking, the sudden shriek
of wood surrendering to a neighbor's power saw,
those boulders poking out of the hillside, another subdivision
materializing on the stripped land across the valley.

Each detail says "This!"
and has always and ever only said "This!"
Wish I were here.

Al Zolynas

And fall weightless, away from the world

For the sake of strangers
Dorianne Laux

No matter what the grief, its weight,
we are obliged to carry it.
We rise and gather momentum, the dull strength
that pushes us through crowds.

And then the young boy gives me directions
so avidly. A woman holds the glass door open,
waiting patiently for my empty body to pass through.

All day it continues, each kindness
reaching toward another—a stranger
singing to no one as I pass on the path, trees
offering their blossoms, a retarded child
who lifts his almond eyes and smiles.

Somehow they always find me, seem even
to be waiting, determined to keep me
from myself, from the thing that calls to me

as it must have once called to them—
this temptation to step off the edge
and fall weightless, away from the world.

How to Cut a Pomegranate

'Never,' said my father,
'Never cut a pomegranate
through the heart. It will weep blood.
Treat it delicately, with respect.

Just slit the upper skin across four quarters.
This is a magic fruit,
so when you split it open, be prepared
for the jewels of the world to tumble out,
more precious than garnets,
more lustrous than rubies,
lit as if from inside.
Each jewel contains a living seed.
Separate one crystal.
Hold it up to catch the light.
Inside is a whole universe.
No common jewel can give you this.’

Afterwards, I tried to make necklaces
of pomegranate seeds.
The juice spurted out, bright crimson,
and stained my fingers, then my mouth.

I didn't mind. The juice tasted of gardens
I had never seen, voluptuous
with myrtle, lemon, jasmine,
and alive with parrot's wings.

The pomegranate reminded me
that somewhere I had another home.

Imtiaz Dharker

We have to learn to trust our hearts like that

For the Sleepwalkers

Tonight I want to say something wonderful
for the sleepwalkers who have so much faith
in their legs, so much faith in the invisible

arrow carved into the carpet, the worn path
that leads to the stairs instead of the window,
the gaping doorway instead of the seamless mirror.

I love the way that sleepwalkers are willing
to step out of their bodies into the night,
to raise their arms and welcome the darkness,

palming the blank spaces, touching everything.
Always they return home safely, like blind men
who know it is morning by feeling shadows.

And always they wake up as themselves again.
That's why I want to say something astonishing
like: Our hearts are leaving our bodies.

Our hearts are thirsty black handkerchiefs
flying through the trees at night, soaking up
the darkest beams of moonlight, the music

of owls, the motion of wind-torn branches.
And now our hearts are thick black fists
flying back to the glove of our chests.

We have to learn to trust our hearts like that.
We have to learn the desperate faith of sleep-
walkers who rise out of their calm beds

and walk through the skin of another life.
We have to drink the stupefying cup of darkness
and wake up to ourselves, nourished and surprised.

Edward Hirsch

Something about the Orient

Chinese Restaurant
After an argument, my family always dined at the Chinese
restaurant. Something about the Orient washed the bitterness
away. Like a riverbank where you rest for awhile. The owner
bowed as we entered. The face of one who had seen too much.

A revolution. The torture of loved ones. Horrors he would never
reveal. His wife ushered us to our table. Her steps smaller than
ours. The younger daughter brought us tea. The older one took
our orders in perfect English. Each year her beauty was more
delicate than before. Sometimes we were the only customers
and they smiled from afar as we ate duck and shrimp with our
chopsticks. After dinner we sat in the comfort of their silence.

My brother told a joke. My mother folded a napkin into the shape
of a bird. My sister broke open our cookies and read our fortunes
aloud. As we left, my father always shook the old man's hand.

David Shumate

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Walking Alone in Late Winter

How long the winter has lasted—like a Mahler
symphony, or an hour in the dentist's chair.
In the fields the grasses are matted
and gray, making me think of June, when hay
and vetch burgeon in the heat, and warm rain
swells the globed buds of the peony.

Ice on the pond breaks into huge planes. One
sticks like a barge gone awry at the neck
of the bridge....The reeds
and shrubby brush along the shore
gleam with ice that shatters when the breeze
moves them. From beyond the bog
the sound of water rushing over trees
felled by the zealous beavers,
who bring them crashing down.... Sometimes
it seems they do it just for fun.

Those days of anger and remorse
come back to me; you fidgeting with your ring,
sliding it off, then jabbing it on again.

The wind is keen coming over the ice;
it carries the sound of breaking glass.
And the sun, bright but not warm,
has gone behind the hill. Chill, or the fear
of chill, sends me hurrying home.

Jane Kenyon, from The Boat of Quiet Hours. © Graywolf Press, 1986.

Trying to Name What Doesn't Change

Roselva says the only thing that doesn't change  
is train tracks. She's sure of it.
The train changes, or the weeds that grow up spidery  
by the side, but not the tracks.
I've watched one for three years, she says,
and it doesn't curve, doesn't break, doesn't grow.

Peter isn't sure. He saw an abandoned track
near Sabinas, Mexico, and says a track without a train  
is a changed track. The metal wasn't shiny anymore.  
The wood was split and some of the ties were gone.

Every Tuesday on Morales Street
butchers crack the necks of a hundred hens.  
The widow in the tilted house
spices her soup with cinnamon.
Ask her what doesn't change.

Stars explode.
The rose curls up as if there is fire in the petals.  
The cat who knew me is buried under the bush.

The train whistle still wails its ancient sound  
but when it goes away, shrinking back
from the walls of the brain,
it takes something different with it every time.

Naomi Shihab Nye

When one has lived a long time alone

When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone (excerpt)
Galway Kinnell


When one has lived a long time alone,
one refrains from swatting the fly
and lets him go, and one is slow to strike
the mosquito, though more than willing to slap

the flesh under her, and one hoists the toad
from the pit too deep to hop out of
and carries him to the grass, without minding
the poisoned urine he slicks his body with,

and one envelops, in a towel, the swift
who fell down the chimney and knocks herself
against window glass, and releases her outside
and watches her fly free, a life line flung at reality,

when one has lived a long time alone.

And nothing in the whole world was lacking

On the Road

Our roof was grapes and the broad hands of the vine
as we two drank in the vine-chinky shade
of harvest France;
and wherever the white road led we could not care,
it had brought us there
to the arbour built on the valley side where time,
if time any more existed, was that river
of so profound a current, it at once
both flowed and stayed.

We two.  And nothing in the whole world was lacking.
It is later one realizes.  I forget
the exact year or what we said.  But the place
for a lifetime glows with noon.  There are the rustic
table and the benches set; beyond the river
forests as soft as fallen clouds, and in
our wine and eyes I remember other noons.
It is a lot to say, nothing was lacking;
river, sun and leaves, and I am making
words to say 'grapes' and 'her skin'.

Bernard Spencer, With Luck Lasting (1963).

Hold fast what seems ephemera

A South Wind

Short grass, electric green, the ground
soggy from winter rain, Chaucerian
eyes of day, minute petals rose-tented,
nourished by droppings of ducks and geese.

Hold fast what seems ephemera -
plain details that rise clear
beyond the fogs of half-thoughts,
that rustling static, empty of metaphor.

Nothing much, or everything; all depends
on how you regard it.
On if you regard it.

Note the chalk -
yellow of hazel catkins, how in the wet
mild wind they swing toward spring.

Denise Levertov, 'Sands of the Well'

Something that smells like the air in silver boxes

The Answer

Why do you give the impression that you'd rather
not be loved? You almost tell people not to bother.
Why are you neither one thing nor the other?

Why do you fluctuate between ticks and crosses,
alternate between flippancy and neurosis?
Won't you confirm or contradict my guesses?

What is it that you do, by simply sitting
with your elbows raised, that makes me sick of waiting?
Why is your absence tantamount to cheating?

I know you're real, which means  you must pay taxes,
catch colds and snore. I know you know what sex is.
Still, there is something in you that never mixes,

something that smells like the air in silver boxes.

It makes me suddenly afraid of asking,
suddenly sure of all the things I'm risking.

Page 32, 'The Hero and the Girl Next Door', Sophie Hannah

The end of love should be a big event

The End of Love

The end of love should be a big event.
It should involve the hiring of a hall.
Why the hell not? It happens to us all.
Why should it pass without acknowledgement?

Suits should be dry-cleaned, invitations sent.
Whatever form it takes - a tiff, a brawl -
The end of love should be a big event.
It should involve the hiring of a hall.

Better than the unquestioning descent
Into the trap of silence, than the crawl
From visible to hidden, door to wall.

Get the announcements made, the money spent.
The end of love should be a big event.
It should involve the hiring of  a hall.

Sophie Hannah

To your voice, a mysterious virtue

A Toast
Ilya Kaminsky

To your voice, a mysterious virtue,
to the 53 bones of one foot, the four dimensions of breathing,

to pine, redwood, sworn-fern, peppermint,
to hyacinth and bluebell lily,

to the train conductor's donkey on a rope,
to smells of lemons, a boy pissing splendidly against the

Bless each thing on earth until it sickens,
until each ungovernable heart admits: "I confused myself

and yet I loved--and what I loved
I forgot, what I forgot brought glory to my travels,

to you I traveled as close as I dared, Lord."

Questions that have patiently waited for you

David Whyte

if you move carefully
through the forest

like the ones
in the old stories

who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

that can make
or unmake
a life,

that have patiently
waited for you,

that have no right
to go away.

Desire Paths

 “Planners love telling us which way to walk. Our built environment– especially our mercantile spaces, shopping centres and the like – is carefully constructed to control footfall and footflow. But we do like to collectively, unconsciously defy them. That is why we see desire paths in our landscape. Desire paths are lines of footfall worn into the ground, tracks of use. They are frowned upon in our national parklands, where they are seen as scars and deviations. PLEASE KEEP TO THE FOOTPATH…

Desire paths are interesting because of the way they come into being: a ‘bottom up’ system against the ‘top down’ methodology of the planner, and proof of human unpredictability. Nobody decides to make a desire path. There is no ribbon-cutting. These are the kinds of paths that begin over time, imperceptibly, gathering definition as people slowly recognize and legitimize the footfall of their peers.”

Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts, 'Edgelands: Journeys into England’s True Wilderness'

And for that minute a blackbird sang

Edward Thomas

Yes, I remember Adlestrop --
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop -- only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

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