Poems

Keep looking! I change these fairly frequently.

 

With That Moon Language

by Hafiz

Admit something:
Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me.”
Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.
Still, though, think about this: this great pull in us to connect.
Why not become the one who lives with a moon in each eye,
that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language,
what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?

This poem By Mary Oliver explains why I’m an optimist:

I happen to be standing

by Mary Oliver
I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t pursuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t. That’s your business.
But I t hought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

Slow Dance

by David Weatherford

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask “How are you?”, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
’cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn’t a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.

The Darkling Thrush

by Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

   One Decision

by Brian Andreas

It takes awhile
to see this, but
there’s only one
hard decision
you have to
make:
will you trust
your own heart
to lead?
& that will give you
your whole life
no matter what
you decide.

 

Twice Blessed

From Work in Progress © David Whyte

So that
I stopped
there
and looked
into the sun,

seeing not only
my reflected face
but the great sky
that framed
my lonely figure

and after a moment
I lifted my hands
and then my eyes
and I
allowed myself
to be

astonished
by the great
everywhere
calling to me
like an
invisible
and unspoken
invitation,
like something
in one moment
both calling to me
and radiating
from where I stood,

as if I could
encompass
everything
I had been given
and everything
taken from me

as if I could be
everything
I have learned
and everything
I could know,

as if I knew
in that moment
both the way
I had come
and, secretly,

the way
I was still
promised to go,

brought together,
like this,
with the
unyielding ground
and the symmetry
of the moving sky,
caught in still waters.

Someone
I have been,
and someone
I am just,
about to become,

something I am
and will be forever,
the sheer generosity
of being loved
through loving:
the miracle reflection
of a twice blessed life.

 

Sometimes

by David Whyte

Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest

breathing
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,
and

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,

questions
that have patiently
waited for you,

questions that have no right
to go away.

from Everything is Waiting for You     ©2007 Many Rivers Press

..

The Buddha’s Last Instruction

Mary Oliver

“Make yourself a light,”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal—a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its oceans of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire—
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

..

The Circus Animals’ Desertion

by William Butler Yeats
I
I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last being but a broken man
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.
 .
 .
II
What can I but enumerate old themes,
First that sea-rider Oisin led by the nose
Through three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,
Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose,
Themes of the embittered heart, or so it seems,
That might adorn old songs or courtly shows;
But what cared I that set him on to ride,
I, starved for the bosom of his fairy bride.
  .
And then a counter-truth filled out its play,
`The Countess Cathleen’ was the name I gave it,
She, pity-crazed, had given her soul away
But masterful Heaven had intervened to save it.
I thought my dear must her own soul destroy
So did fanaticism and hate enslave it,
And this brought forth a dream and soon enough
This dream itself had all my thought and love.
  .
And when the Fool and Blind Man stole the bread
Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea;
Heart mysteries there, and yet when all is said
It was the dream itself enchanted me:
Character isolated by a deed
To engross the present and dominate memory.
Players and painted stage took all my love

And not those things that they were emblems of.

 .
 . 
III
Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

..

Body Intelligence

 by Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks

There are guides
who can show you the way.
Use them.

But they will not satisfy your longing.
Keep wanting the connection with presence
with all your pulsing energy.

The throbbing vein
will take you further
than any thinking.

Muhammed said, Do not theorize
about essence. All speculations
are just more layers of covering.
Human beings love coverings.

They think the designs on the curtains
are what is being concealed.

Observe the wonders as they occur around you.
Do not claim them. Feel the artistry
moving through, and be silent.

..

it is possible

 by Ann Betz

it is possible
we will have
endless conversations
or just one
but in our language
it doesn’t matter
only a single word
is ever really spoken

it is possible
we will spend
an infinity of nights
or just one
but in our world
it doesn’t matter
only this instant
is ever really realized

it is possible
we will touch each other
in a thousand ways
or just one
but in our bodies
it doesn’t matter
only one soul
is ever really there

..

Silentium

Fyodor Tyutchev, trans. Robert Chandler

Be silent, hide away and let
your thoughts and longings rise and set
in the deep paces of your heart.
Let dreams move silently as stars,
in wonder more than you can tell.
Let them fulfill you – and be still.

What heart can ever speak its mind?
How can some other understand
the hidden pole that turns your life?
A thought, once spoken, is a lie.
Don’t cloud the water in your well;
drink from this wellspring – and be still.

Live in yourself. There is a whole
deep world of being in your soul,
burdened with mystery and thought.
The noise outside will snuff it out.
Day’s clear light can break the spell.
Hear your own singing – and be still.

..

Light on Still Water

Angela Coleridge

Light
on still water
Stilled presence
of mind and eye
They watch
the wonder of creation

Light
on all darkness
Stilled presence
of mind and eye
May we too
watch with wonder

..

To “Let Go” Takes Love

Anon

To “let go” does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can’t do it for someone else.

To “let go” is not to cut myself off,
it is the realisation I can’t control another.

To “let go” is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.

To “let go” is to admit powerlessness,
which means that the outcome is not in my hands.

To “let go” is not to try to change or blame another,
it is to make the most of myself.

To “let go” is not to care for,
but to care about.

To “let go” is not to fix,
but to be supportive.

To “let go” is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.

To “let go” is not to be in the middle, arranging the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their own destinies,

To “let go” is not to be protective,
but to permit another to face reality.

To “let go” is not to deny,
but to accept.

To “let go” is not to nag, scold, or argue,
but to search out my own shortcomings and to correct them.

To “let go” is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take every day as it comes, and to cherish myself in it.

To “let go” is not to criticize and regulate anybody,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To “let go” is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.

To “let go” is to fear less and love more.

..

The Summer Day

 by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

..

I’m Nobody! Who are You

by Emily Dickinson

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you — Nobody — Too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! They’d advertise — you know!

How dreary — to be — Somebody!
How public — like a Frog –
To tell one’s name — the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

 

Brief reflection on accuracy

by Miroslav Holub

Fish
always accurately know where to move and when,
and likewise
birds have an accurate built-in time sense
and orientation.

 Humanity, however,
lacking such instincts resorts to scientific
research. Its nature is illustrated by the following
occurrence.

A certain soldier
had to fire a cannon at six o’clock sharp every evening.
Being a soldier he did so. When his accuracy was
investigated he explained:

 I go by
the absolutely accurate chronometer in the window
of the clockmaker down in the city. Every day at seventeen
forty-five I set my watch by it and
climb the hill where my cannon stands ready.
At seventeen fifty-nine precisely I step up to the cannon
and at eighteen hours sharp I fire.

 And it was clear
that this method of firing was absolutely accurate.
All that was left was to check that chronometer. So
the clockmaker down in the city was questioned about
his instrument’s accuracy.

Oh, said the clockmaker,
this is one of the most accurate instruments ever. Just imagine,
for many years now a cannon has been fired at six o’clock sharp.
And every day I look at this chronometer
and always it shows exactly six.

Chronometers tick and cannon boom.

 

Today, like every other day

by Rumi, 13th century

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.

 

No Better Love

by Rumi, 13th century
No better love than love with no object.
No more satisfying work
than work with no purpose.
If you could give up tricks and cleverness
that would be the cleverest trick

 

Enough

by David White

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now

You Are As You Are

by Rumi, 13th century
You do not resemble anyone
You are not the bride or the groom.
.
You do not fit in a house with anyone.
You have left the closed-in corner
where you lived. Domestic animals
get ridden to work. Not you.
.
You are as you are,
an indescribable message on the air.
 

You’re It!

by Hafiz (c.1320-1389)

God
Disguised
As a myraid things and
Playing a game
Of tag
Has kissed you and said,
“You’re it–
“I mean, you’re Really IT!”
Now
It does not matter
What you believe or feel
For something wonderful,
Major-league Wonderful
Is someday going
to
Happen.

 

There is a Stage

by Adrian Scott

There is a stage
called the present moment
that you are constantly stepping onto.

If you concentrate you can sense
its curtain call just under your navel,
that union of courage and instinct.

A breathing anchor
that keeps you right here
in the present action of your life.

A whole cast crosses this space,
playing parts not listed in the jaded
program notes of your past.

Only by being centered
are you able to grasp their
roles in the current production.

Only by choosing to value your life
as a performance worth watching
will you start to catch its gist.

Only by acting your part with
utter conviction will you know that
you are not the only author of your lines

This peculiar kind of remembering,
is a calling forth, a reaching that releases
the brilliant self hidden in your wings.

 

When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego

by D H Lawrence

When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego,
and when we escape like squirrels turning in the
     cages of our personality
and get into the forests again,
we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us
so that we don’t know ourselves.

Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies taut with power,
we shall stamp our feet with new power
and old things will fall down,
we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like
     burnt paper.

 

The Mystery of Presence

by Rumi, 13th century

 

The mystery of presence

will not arrive through the mind,

but do some physical work, and it comes clear.

 

An intellectual gets bound and wrapped

in complicated nets of connectedness.

Whereas the Friend rides the intelligence

that is creating genius at the center.

 

The mind is husk, and the appetites love coverings.

They look for them everywhere.

That which loves the kernel and the oil

inside the nut has no interest in shells.

 

Mind carries reams of reasons into court,

but universal awareness does not move a step

without some definite intuition.

One covers volumes of pages

The other fills the horizon with light and color.

The value of scrip resides in gold

stored somewhere else. The value of a body

stems from the soul. The value of soul

derives from presence. Soul cannot live

without a connection there.

__________________________________

From East Coker

by T S Eliot (1888-1965)

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

 

__________________________________

I’ll Meet You There

by Rumi (13th Century)

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I will meet you there

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

 

__________________________________

 

Today like every other day

by Rumi  1207-73

Today like every other day

We wake up empty and scared.

Don’t open the door of your study

And begin reading.

Take down a musical instrument

let the beauty we love be what we do

There are hundreds of way to kneel

And kiss the earth.

__________________________________

Everything is clapping today

by Hafiz c. 1320-89

Everything is clapping today,
Light,
Sound,
Motion,
All movement.

A rabbit I pass pulls a cymbal
From a hidden pocket
Then winks.

This causes a few planets and I
To go nuts
And start grabbing each other.

Someone sees this,
Calls a
Shrink,

Tries to get me
Committed
For Being
Happy.

Listen: this world is the lunatic’s sphere,
Don’t always agree it’s real,

Even with my feet upon it
And the postman knowing my door

My address is somewhere else.

__________________________________

Exploration

by Claire Pitt

If not now, when?
A whole lifetime of learning
results in knowing

what you cannot do.
A lifetime of wondering
about new places

can teach you to know
the real unknown is yourself.
Boundaries, borders,

Barriers I find
Mostly here in my own head;
to go round, over,

To go beyond, through.
Take the steps to the unknown,
see what happens next.

__________________________________

 

 

Exploration

by Claire Pitt

If not now, when?
A whole lifetime of learning
results in knowing

what you cannot do.
A lifetime of wondering
about new places

can teach you to know
the real unknown is yourself.
Boundaries, borders,

Barriers I find
Mostly here in my own head;
to go round, over,

To go beyond, through.
Take the steps to the unknown,
see what happens next.