Search Results for: "mary oliver"

Put your lips to the world

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Mornings at Blackwater” in Red Bird: Poems

Notes: Photo “Lips” by sadpunkandpastaforbreakfast. Poem: Thank you Karl @ Mindfulbalance

Driving I-95 S. With Michelango.

Thursday. I’m heading south on I-95 to Manhattan. 5:45 am.  Pre-rush hour, traffic moving smoothly.

I’m swept back to an evening in December at the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art: Michelangelo. Divine Draftsman & Artist.

My eyes pan the exhibit brochure…he was called Il Divino (“the divine one”)…the exhibit presents a stunning range and number of works…133 of his drawings, three of his marble sculptures…his wood model…his earliest paintings..the exhibition presents his stunning range.

I set down my wine glass on a tray.  And, separate myself from the group.

My ears catch the sound of my footfall on the marble floors as if to scold: “Slow down Jack. You are in the presence of a God.”

I slow my pace and pause in front of a marble sculpture. His hands built this, what, 500 years ago? This Man, Michelango, created this. He was a Man, just like you. You, a Hu-Man, just like him.  And, what did you do this week? [Read more…]

Why I Wake Early

There are things you can’t reach. But
you can reach out to them, and all day long.
The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God.
And it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier…
I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.

Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
as though with your arms open.

And thinking: maybe something will come, some
shining coil of wind,
or a few leaves from any old tree —
they are all in this too.
And now I will tell you the truth.
Everything in the world

At least, closer.
And, cordially.

Like the nibbling, tinsel-eyed fish; the unlooping snake.
Like goldfinches, little dolls of gold
fluttering around the corner of the sky

of God, the blue air.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End?” in  Why I Wake Early

Notes: Poem from Alive 0n All Channels. Photo: okdavid

Sunday Morning

When I found the seal pup alone on the far beach,
not sleeping but looking all around, I didn’t
reason it out, for reason would have sent me away,
I just
went close but not too close, and lay down on the sand
with my back toward it, and
pretty soon it rolled over, and rolled over
until the length of its body lay along
the length of my body, and so we touched, and maybe
our breathing together was some kind of heavenly conversation
in God’s delicate and magnifying language, the one
we don’t dare speak out loud,
not yet.

~ Mary Oliver, from “The Return” in From What Do We Know: Poems And Prose Poems.

Notes: Poem via Words for the YearSeal pup photo by gemma reddington

And then the butterfly rose, weightless, in the wind

The butterfly’s loping flight
carries it through the country of the leaves…
for long delicious moments it is perfect
lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft stalk
of some ordinary flower…
One or two things are all you need
to travel over the blue pond…
some deep
memory of pleasure, some cutting
knowledge of pain…
For years and years I struggled
just to love my life. And then
the butterfly
rose, weightless, in the wind.
“don’t love your life
too much,” it said,
and vanished into the world.

~Mary Oliver, from “One or Two Things” in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver 

Notes: Poem – Thank you Make Believe Boutique. Photo: Photomarc by Marc Gijsbers

Sunday Morning

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 persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t.  That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?

~Mary Oliver, “I Happened to Be Standing” from A Thousand Mornings 

Notes: Poem Source: Thank you Make Believe Boutique. Photo: Seb Rogo

DK: Proust Questionnaire

  1. What is your current state of mind? Unsettled. Restless. (Permanent Status.)
  2. What is your favorite journey? To stay home.
  3. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Solitude. Followed closely by Donuts.
  4. What is your greatest fear? Mortality. 
  5. What is your most marked characteristic? Impatience. Volatility.
  6. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Introversion. Restlessness.
  7. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Cruelty. Arrogance.
  8. What is your greatest extravagance? Gadgets. (Latest edition. Don’t ask how many.)
  9. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Optimism.
  10. On what occasion do you lie? It’s rare.
  11. Dislike most about your appearance? I’m at peace with it all (except morning weigh-ins)
  12. Which living person do you most despise? Despise, such a strong word. No one.
  13. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Are you prepared to hear this?”
  14. What is your greatest regret? Memories of cruelty.
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Family.
  16. When and where were you happiest? Right now.
  17. Which talent would you most like to have? Pianist like Beethoven. Writer like Steinbeck.
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Less introverted.
  19. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? Accept that the Patriarch is right.
  20. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Our two children.
  21. What is your most treasured possession? Gadgets. All of them.
  22. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? The poor, the cold and the hungry in winter. Cruelty to animals.
  23. Where would you like to live? Home. Wherever home is.
  24. What is your favorite occupation? The one I’m in. Love it or leave it.
  25. What is the quality you most like in a man? Humor and humility.
  26. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Grace and kindness.
  27. What do you most value in your friends? Truth.
  28. Who are your favorite writers? Haruki Murakami. Mary Oliver. Steinbeck. Ted Kooser.
  29. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Bugs Bunny.
  30. What is it that you most dislike? Meals without prodigious amounts of dessert.
  31. Who are your heroes in real life? No heros. I admire the gentle, the kind, the humble.
  32. How would you like to die? I wouldn’t.
  33. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A Golden Retriever. Or Bruce Springsteen.
  34. What is your motto? Never look back.

The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.  (Source: Vanity Fair)


Flying over I-40 W. With Orange Sticks and Ashes.

6:15 a.m. But for two rows of ambient lights lining the aisle, the cabin is dark and quiet.

A few minutes earlier, the flight attendant completes her routine: “You are seated in the emergency-exit row of this aircraft. Are you ready, willing and able to open the exit hatch if needed?” It’s the right of passage for extra legroom. 11 of us mumble “yes.”

She’s Asian. Japanese, actually. I see two of her colleagues down the aisle, Japanese too.  Kermit the frog on Sesame Street: Today, I’m going to tell you about the word ‘Same.’ 3 flight attendants. All female. All Asian. All Japanese. All ~ 5’5″. Blue skirts. Dark navy pumps. Silver wings on lapel. Hair down, long, dark. Red lipstick applied just so, no coloring outside the lines. Robert Palmer’s hits come flashing in Simply Irresistible and Addicted to Love. Ladies, cloned, playing guitars, dancing.

You can’t sleep, you can’t eat
There’s no doubt, you’re in deep
Your throat is tight, you can’t breathe

I dip my hand in my pocket to check my boarding pass. Dallas. Yes. Tokyo. No.

I steal a glance at my seat mate. There’s a soft cover book on his lap:  “Thy Kingdom Come: Tracing God’s Kingdom Program” by J. Dwight Pentecost. He’s attentive. She walks through the FAA regulatory requirements…”Life vests are located beneath, or between your seats. Remove the vest from the pouch by pulling on the tab. Place the vest over your head, and fasten the straps to the front of the vest. Adjust the straps loosely around your waist. As you leave the aircraft, inflate the vest by pulling down on the red tabs, or manually inflate by blowing into the tubes on either side…”

His finger runs down the multi-fold laminated instructional card on emergency evacuations, his lips twitching as he follows along. No, no, not twitching, He’s Praying. JesusHe closes his eyes, both hands grip the arm rests.

[Read more…]

Driving Nowhere Fast. At the DMV.

It’s 10:16 am, Saturday morning, and I’m sitting in the DMV.

My ticket #: A-160. Yes, #160. and that’s just the “A’s”.

I’m watching the attendant at the entrance. She’s conducting emergency room triage, with victims coming through the door in shock, experiencing some form of bloodless trauma.

It’s 79° F, a gorgeous Saturday in late September. And here we are, at the DMV. It’s Saturday for God’s sake, we can’t be here.

“Take a ticket,” she calls out, “grab a seat.” There’s many seats, most taken, a smattering of empties dispersed throughout the room, with a zero lot line between each.  Each incoming patron’s reaction is the same: they look around, inhale, walk slowly to a seat, shoehorn themselves in, and slump heavily into the hardback metal chair.

Now serving A (pause) 66 at Station 29″

The computer generated voice, a Male voice, calls your number over the loud speaker, calls it again, and then skips to the next. There are Categories A, B, C, D and E, which I’m sure tie to a unique DMV service, but I was unable to (and uninterested in) trying to crack the code.  My attention was on the “A’s”, and the numbers flashing on the overhead monitors.

Now serving A (pause) 68 at Station 22″

What is it with the DMV that elicits such dread? And why does such a simple process (should be) of license renewal strike such fear?

Now serving A (pause) 71 at Station 13″

There are no 1% privileges here. No Fast Passes. No Speed Passes. No TSA lines. No CLEAR. No appointments. No tips to jump the line.

You sit, and you wait.  And you wait, and you wait.

Now serving A (pause) 73 at Station 19″

Heads are down, Smartphones, Smartphones, Smartphones. Not A.D. or B.C. It’s B.S. Before Smartphones. How did we manage without smartphones. What occupied our time? What kept us from going out of our minds?

[Read more…]

how good it feels, the heat of the sun between the shoulder blades

I began to talk.
I talked about summer, and about time.
The pleasures of eating…
About this cup we call a life.
About happiness.
And how good it feels,
the heat of the sun between the shoulder blades.

– Mary Oliver, from “Toad” in New And Selected Poems, Volume Two

Notes: Photo – Elena Stepanova (via Seemoreandmore). Poem – via Everything Matters

%d bloggers like this: