Tuesday Morning

Rain to come – the sky lies gray-silver behind
soft clouds of a darker gray.  The trees are quiet,
their colors dark and heavy.  So one enters the morning
softly as if taking off one’s hat in church.  Now comes
the cathedral of rain, – gothic, tall, severe – intense.
We worship the god of inwardness.

Nils Peterson, “Rain to Come” in A Walk to the Center of Things


Notes: Poem: via 3quarksdaily.com. Photo by Susan Kanigan, Long Island Sound (January 2018)

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
comes.

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

Saturday Morning (Soul Train)

There is in the soul a desire
for not thinking.
For being still.

~ Raymond Carver, from “Radio Waves,” in All of Us: The Collected Poems

– – –

the body remains at home
tending to the housekeeping. It sweeps
and sweeps while the soul sits on a
riverbank somewhere, looking at clouds
The soul, it seems, has kept the best
memories: a silver dress that
knew how to dance, a kiss from mama,
and the one good year. Or maybe two…

~ Eleanor Lerman, from “A Myth Sitting by a River”


Notes:

 

Miracle. All of it.

Behind me the sun settles
into the sea but I’m facing
a fire flickering in a great stone
hearth not big enough to roast
an ox, but big enough.
It’s taken the universe fifteen
billion years to get me here
and I find I’m grateful.

Nils Peterson, “Christmas Eve By the Sea” in A Walk to the Center of Things


Notes:

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

It’s been a long day (from ~ A.D. 409)

Bryan-jones

I live in town without all that racket
horses and carts stir up, and you wonder

How that could be. Wherever the mind
dwells apart is itself a distant place.

Picking chrysanthemums at my east fence,
far off, I see South Mountain: mountain

air lovely at dusk, birds in flight
returning home. All this means something

something absolute. Whenever I start
explaining it, I’ve forgotten the words.

Colors infusing autumn chrysanthemums
exquisite, I pick dew-bathed petals,

float them on that forget-your-cares
stuff. Even my passion for living apart

Soon grows distant. I’m alone, but after
that first cup, the wine jar pours itself.

Everything at rest, dusk: a bird calls,
returning to its forest home. Chanting,

I settle into my breath. Somehow, on this
east veranda, I’ve found my life again.

~T’ao Ch’ien, No. #3 and #4 from Drinking Wine in The Selected Poems of T’ao Ch’ien


Notes:

Sunday Morning

After a century, humpbacks migrate
again to Queens. They left
due to sewage and white froth

banking the shores from polychlorinated-
biphenyl-dumping into the Hudson
and winnowing menhaden schools.

But now grace, dark bodies of song
return. Go to the seaside—

Hold your breath. Submerge.
A black fluke silhouetted
against the Manhattan skyline …

Our songs will pierce the dark
fathoms. Behold the miracle:

what was once lost
now leaps before you.

~ Rajiv Mohabir, from “Why Whales Are Back in New York City


Notes:

Lightly Child, Lightly.

I think the trees
are firework taxidermy. A steady
reminder of celebration and
light. How quiet. I’m a collaps-
ing house. Come collect me.

Dalton Day, “Stepping Out of Sorrow,” published in Souvenir


Notes:

  • Photo:lichtwelt, Light, 2017
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • 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.”

 

It’s been a long day

The Chinese poet Po Chü-I (772-846) recounts in a poem how he’d traveled so long on horseback that he’d fallen asleep in the saddle. For a moment, his reins had slackened. It seemed like an instant but he’d gone a hundred lengths while asleep. He’d exhausted himself all day; prodding the horse to push on; to go here, then there. But in his sleep, he loosened his grip, gave up control, and the horse, which seemed to wait for this chance, carried him easily. This is the tension between will and surrender. We push and push; insistent on keeping pace with the urgency of our dream. All for the moment that we exhaust ourselves. And letting go the reins, the horse of spirit quickens its pace and carries us on.

~ Mark Nepo, Will and Surrender (Huffpost, Nov 6, 2017)


Notes:

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