Search Results for: "William Stafford"

Walking. On the Edge…

+ 6:10 a.m. Saturday. 41°. Calm, light drizzle. Cove Island Park Walk. + The Body is pulled to this part of The Cove, and it softens along the gentle, sloping embankment at the estuary of the Noroton River and the Long Island Sound. There is Something about this spot that’s magic. William Stafford in his book “Even in Quiet Places“, in his poem “Time for Serenity, Anyone?“, describes it: “It stretches out there shivering toward its own creation, and I’m part of it. Even my breathing enters into this elaborate give-and-take.” And there I stand. Soft rain falls on me, the Mind rests, and I breathe it all in.  + Speaking of breathing, COVID cases have surged in Connecticut, up 50%. This in a state where vaccinations and masks are religion. Fodder for the idiots spouting that masks and vaccinations don’t work, ignoring that 75% of hospitalizations are among those not fully vaccinated. NY Times front page story this morning: “Despair Sets In As Cases Bury Hospital Staffs. Medical Workers Feel Crisis Has No End.” Hospital workers back living on the edge… Aerosmith’s Living on the Edge: “There’s something wrong with the world today / I don’t know what it is / Something’s wrong with our eyes / We’re seeing things in a different way / And God knows it ain’t his… / The light bulb’s getting dim.” + I near the end of my walk. Gulls stand in low tide, in ice cold water, preening.  Something about this act of their preening that soothes me. These beautiful creatures, with their little heart beats, and wings that keep them aloft. Yet here we are. Seemingly grounded, as the world burns.  Patricia Highsmith: “Such is the human mind with no hand on the steering wheel.


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 6:23 a.m. & 7:05 a.m. & Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. 41°. Calm. Light Drizzle.
  • Stafford quote, thank you Whiskey River.

Saturday Morning

If you will grant me one vivid morning, I can chain it to me for fifty years.

— William Stafford, from Sound of the Ax: Aphorisms and Poems


Notes:

Miracle. All of It.

Yes

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out – no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

— William Stafford, “Yes” in “The Way It Is


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 6:33 am, March 24, 2021. 39° F. Norwalk, CT
  • Post title Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Today’s Forecast: Rain

You will never be alone, you hear so deep
a sound when autumn comes. Yellow
pulls across the hills and thrums,
or the silence after lightening before it says
its names—and then the clouds’ wide-mouthed
apologies. You were aimed from birth:
you will never be alone. Rain
will come, a gutter filled, an Amazon,
long aisles—you never heard so deep a sound,
moss on rock, and years. You turn your head—
that’s what the silence meant: you’re not alone.
The whole wide world pours down.

~ William Stafford, “Assurance” in The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems


Notes:

  • Poem: Thank you The Hammock Papers
  • Photo: DK. Daybreak / Rain. September 10, 2020. 6:00 am. 68° F. At Cove Island, Stamford, CT

Sunday Morning

Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window. 
No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held 
for awhile. Some dove somewhere…
these moments 
count for a lot–peace, you know.
Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one 
stirring, no plans. Just being there.

This is what the whole thing is about.

— William Stafford, from “Just Thinking” in “Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems of William Stafford” 


Photo: Mine. 5:46 a.m. May 24, 2020. 50° F, feels like 46° F. Wind 12 mph, gusts up to 23 mph. Weed Ave/Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.

Lightly child, lightly

Just when the worst bears down
You find a pretty bubble in your soup at noon
And outside a bird says “hi”
Slowly the sun creeps along the floor;
It is coming your way. It touches your shoe.

~ William Stafford, from “It’s all Right” in The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy by John Brehm


Notes:

  • Poem: Thank you Karl Duffy @ Mindfulbalance. Photo: Hache with “my life plans” (via Mennyfox55)
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Flying over I-40 N. With Roy Orbison.

I’m in the same seat, 24E Exit.
On the same plane, an Airbus A321.
On the same airline.
On the same flight.
Returning home from same city, AA1263 DFW to LGA.

To my left, across the aisle, and up one row, is same lavatory.

And here they come.

Wife, I’m guessing, is guiding him. They are 10 rows up, and shuffling down the aisle. He’s tall, 6’4″ est.  Middle aged, gray hair. Collared short sleeved shirt. Khaki pants.

Thick, black framed Roy Orbison glasses.

Blind.

The two of them make their way down the aisle. I set my iPad down to watch. She’s smiling. He’s grinning. Not a care in the world these two. And, You? A billion interconnected miracles happening every second for you to be you, and for you to see this moment. 

My index finger reaches for the volume button on my iPad to turn off the device. You can see the button. You can see the text on the screen. You can see your bag under the seat. You can see the zipper on the bag as you open your bag. You can see the compartment where you wish to set it in. You can see the two of them approaching. [Read more…]

Now has come, an easy time

Now has come, an easy time. I let it
roll. There is a lake somewhere
so blue and far nobody owns it.
A wind comes by, and a willow listens
gracefully.

I hear all this, every summer…
That lake stays blue and free; it goes
on and on.

And I know where it is.

~ William Stafford, from “Why I Am Happy” in Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford by Kim Stafford 


Notes: Poem – Thank you Hammock Papers. Photo: Elena Morelli

Saturday Morning

Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.
No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
for awhile. Some dove somewhere …

Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one
stirring, no plans. Just being there.
This is what the whole thing is about.

William Stafford, from “Just Thinking” in Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems of William Stafford


Notes: Poem – Thank you Whiskey River. Photo Credit: Strandgut and Kulturmuscheln. Related Posts: William Stafford.

Lower your standards. Now!

Carl Richards, from Free Yourself of Your Harshest Critic, and Plow Ahead:

You’re fired. No, seriously. Pack up your stuff, and get out. But let me be clear: The job you’re fired from is one you never should have had in the first place — being a critic of your own work. Done, finished, not your job anymore. When you finish creating something and you start to wonder if it’s any good … nope! Don’t try to answer. You no longer get to decide. If you need me to fire you, awesome, consider it done. But in fact, what would be even better is if you fire yourself. Let me tell you why.

Five or six years ago, when I first started writing the weekly Sketch Guy column, I would have pieces I was certain would go viral. I said to myself, “I nailed it, everyone’s going to love it, a million people are going to share it!” And then, I would hear nothing. For some reason, it just didn’t get the play — no comments, no feedback, nothing. Then there were times when I was completely surprised in the opposite way…I had this experience enough times to realize that I was simply terrible at judging whether my work was good or not. And guess what? So are you. You’re just too close to it.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to matter, as your job now officially has nothing to do with deciding if the work is good. Your job is to do the work, put it out there and let the world decide.  Now, I know that sounds scary. But let’s be dead clear about something: You’re not John Steinbeck (and neither was he, at the start). You have to get there first. And the only way to do that is through practice and criticism. But the only way to get practice and criticism is to make and share your work. This isn’t just about writing. It’s about anything meaningful you do. Singing, painting, entrepreneurship, giving financial advice, museum curating, boat building, skiing, whatever. Whatever it is, your job is to do the work, to become the best you can be. [Read more…]

Light child, lightly (2)

bird-in-hand-kiss

I heard a bird congratulating itself
all day for being a jay.
Nobody cared. But it was glad
all over again, and said so, again

~ William Stafford, “News Every Day” from Passwords

 


Notes:

  • Poem: Thank you Karl @ Mindfulbalance.
  • Photo: wsj.com – Youssef Badawi – A bird seller getting close to the merchandise at al-Shaalan market in Damascus, Syria.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Sunday Morning

face,portrait,red,

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out – no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

~ William Stafford, “Yes,” The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems


Sources:

Protect those early mornings: A symposium with the self

handwriting-light

Kim Stafford’s father was the West Coast poet William Stafford, a man whose “rich beginnings” lay in the calm and quiet of his own sleeping house. Every morning for more than forty years, he would get up at 4 a.m., at least two hours before the rest of his family, and settle down to work. Stafford himself described his practice in terms of “just plain receptivity.”

When I write, I like to have an interval before me when I am not likely to be interrupted. For me, this usually means the early morning, before others are awake. I get pen and paper, take a glance out of the window (often it is dark out there), and wait. It is like fishing. But I do not wait very long, for there is always a nibble—and this is where receptivity comes in. To get started I will accept anything that occurs to me.

Years later, Kim Stafford wrote a memoir about his father entitled Early Morning. He described William’s steady practice as a “symposium with the self.” A particular day’s writing might include images from a recent dream, news of the family and the world at large—and a couple of poems. Often, these first drafts didn’t seem to amount to very much. Stafford himself said that they were “often so colorless, so apparently random, so homeless and unaccountable,” that most people wouldn’t have bothered to work with them. But by making time for them, by lending “faith and attention” to what he called those “waifs of thought,” a total of more than sixty books made their slow way into print.

“A good life is partly a matter of luck,” wrote William Stafford. “I can look for it and cherish its intervals. But I can’t control it.” Still, he could choose to set aside that time: to protect those early mornings. “To get up in the cold, then make a warm place, have paper, pen, books to hand, look out at the gleaming rain, shadows, the streetlight steadfast. You could stay awake all night, not give away those hours.”

~ Christian McEwen, World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down


Notes:

 

Some days I do this again and again

sunlight, sun

Now I carry those days
in a tiny box wherever I go.
I open the lid like this
and let the light glimpse
and then glance away.
There is a sigh
like my breath when I do this.
Some days I do this again and again.

~ William Stafford, closing strophe to “Remembering”


Credits: Poem – Memory’s Landcape. Photograph: catching light by karin.krn via eikadan

 

MMM*: Follow the thread

thread-blue

Lately, when people ask me what I’m doing, the most honest reply (manifest in my daily writing, prayer, meditation, contemplation & conversations) would be to say I am following my thread. It’s a reference to this small, spectacular poem by William Stafford that is taped to my bathroom mirror. Whatever our “thread” is – a question, an invitation, an awareness of what matters most – it always takes us home to ourselves, to our belonging in this world, to the Infinite Love that holds & keeps us. These days, I become aware that I can hold & follow my thread in a variety of places – washing dishes or buying groceries; in solitude or with others; in the city or the forest. Mostly, I admit, the key for me to following my thread is to slow down. Rushing makes me lose awareness of the thread I hold. As the work week begins, let’s consider together: How do I hold the thread that guides me?

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer


The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

~ William Stafford


Notes:

A Guide For the Perplexed

a guide for the perplexed

I’ve been chewing through a new book titled “Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin.” Werner, 72, is an award winning German film director, producer and screen writer for Fitzcarraldo, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Woyzeck and Where the Green Ants Dream.

Why choose this book out of the thousands available to you?

No idea. Hard to explain why I was drawn to this. I do recall my finger hovering over the “BUY NOW” button on Amazon and wondering if this will be yet another abandoned, start-but-not-come-close-to-finishing e-book, in my groaning stack of Incompletes weighing on my consciousness.

Why a book by a film director? Do you have interest in film production?

None.

Why this book then? A dense 600-pager with footnotes?

Pay attention. Refer back to question 1. (No idea). In hindsight, I do think that perhaps I was attracted by the potential of finding my community, a brotherhood in “A Guide for the Perplexed” and possibly finding my way out. And I heard a bell – – far softer than a Siren, gentler than a Clarion Call, a chime of sorts from William Stafford: “Listen—something else hovers out here, not color, not outlines or depth when air relieves distance by hazing far mountains, but some total feeling or other world almost coming forward, like when a bell sounds and then leaves the whole countryside waiting.”

So, what do you think of the book? [Read more…]

The Biggest Thing There Is

moon,photography,sky,blue,winter,Nebraska

INTERVIEWER:

There’s a sense of great space in your poems. Would you trace that to growing up in Kansas?

STAFFORD:

I sometimes have thought about that, yes. In our world at least half of the world was sky; that is the way I’ve sometimes phrased it to myself. I mean, there’s the land, but it isn’t as big as the sky. Someone told me a wonderful story about a woman who came out from Nebraska and wanted to see the Pacific Ocean. The motel person said, Yes, you can see it if you walk down to the end of the road. This visitor stood there a few moments on the beach, and then walked back, and the motel person said, What do you think of it? And she said, Well, it’s all right, but I can’t help but think it isn’t as big as I thought it would be. This was the Pacific Ocean! Well, she was from Nebraska, I know about that. That’s the biggest thing there is—the sky! It’s there, and it’s an abiding puzzle, presence, and invitation.

—William Stafford, from “The Art of Poetry No. 67,” The Paris Review (Winter 1993, No. 129)


Credits:


Maybe. Just Maybe.

king's throne

They miss the whisper that runs
any day in your mind,
“Who are you really, wanderer?”
and the answer you have to give
no matter how dark and cold
the world around you is:
“Maybe I’m a King.”

– William Stafford


Credits: (1) Quote-Thank you Whiskey River. (2) King’s Throne Chair Image

Related William Stafford Posts:

You Reading This, Be Ready

woman, face, portrait, eyes

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life –

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

William Stafford  (The Way It Is)


Sources: Poem – Thank you WhiskeyRiver.  Photograph: Rangefinder

Lean Closer…

When It Comes

Any time. Now. The next minute.
Years from today. You lean forward
and wait. You relax, but you don’t forget.

Someone plans an elaborate party
with a banquet, dancing, even fireworks
when feasting is over. You look at them:

All those years when you searched the world
like a ferret, these never happened – your marriage,
your family, prayers, curses. Only dreams.

A vacuum has opened everywhere. Cities,
armies, those chairs ranked in the great
hall for the audience – there isn’t anyone.

Like a shutter the sky opens and closes
and the show is over. The next act
will deny that anything ever happened.

Your hand falls open. It is empty. It never
held a knife, a flower, gold,
or love, or now. Lean closer –

Listen to me: there isn’t any hand.

William Stafford

 

 

 


Thank you Whiskey River for sharing William Stafford poetry: The Answers Are Inside the Mountains

Thank you Anake Goodall for sharing Artist: Tanha, Iran

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