Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Summer and Fall Poems

Poems from Summer/Fall 2008:

In the Storm

by Mary Oliver

Some black ducks

were shrugged up

on the shore.

It was snowing

hard, from the east,

and the sea

was in disorder.

Then some sanderlings,

five inches long

with beaks like wire,

flew in,

snowflakes on their backs,

and settled

in a row

behind the ducks --

whose backs were also

covered with snow --

so close

they were all but touching,

they were all but under

the roof of the duck's tails,

so the wind, pretty much,

blew over them.

They stayed that way, motionless,

for maybe an hour,

then the sanderlings,

each a handful of feathers,

shifted, and were blown away

out over the water

which was still raging.

But, somehow,

they came back

and again the ducks,

like a feathered hedge,

let them

crouch there, and live.

If someone you didn't know

told you this,

as I am telling you this,

would you believe it?

Belief isn't always easy.

But this much I have learned --

if not enough else --

to live with my eyes open.

I know what everyone wants

is a miracle.

This wasn't a miracle.

Unless, of course, kindness --

as now and again

some rare person has suggested --

is a miracle.

As surely it is.

Things to Think

by Robert Bly

Think in ways you've never thought before.

If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message

Larger than anything you've ever heard,

Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,

Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose

Has risen out of the lake, and he's carrying on his antlers

A child of your own whom you've never seen.

When someone knocks on the door,

Think that he's about

To give you something large: tell you you're forgiven,

Or that it's not necessary to work all the time,

Or that it's been decided that if you lie down no one will die.

Miracle Fair

by Wislawa Szymborska

The commonplace miracle:

that so many common miracles take place.

The usual miracles:

invisible dogs barking

in the dead of night.

One of many miracles:

a small and airy cloud

is able to upstage the massive moon.

Several miracles in one:

an alder is reflected in the water

and is reversed from left to right

and grows from crown to root

and never hits bottom

though the water isn't deep.

A run-of-the-mill miracle:

winds mild to moderate

turning gusty in storms.

A miracle in the first place:

cows will be cows.

Next but not least:

just this cherry orchard

from just this cherry pit.

A miracle minus top hat and tails:

fluttering white doves.

A miracle (what else can you call it):

the sun rose today at three fourteen a.m.

and will set tonight at one past eight.

A miracle that's lost on us:

the hand actually has fewer than six fingers

but still it's got more than four.

A miracle, just take a look around:

the inescapable earth.

An extra miracle, extra and ordinary:

the unthinkable

can be thought.

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?


Father, Mother God,
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.

Thank you for your presence
during the bright and sunny days,
for then we can share that which we have
with those who have less.

And thank you for your presence
during the Holy Days, for then we are able
to celebrate you and our families
and our friends.

For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.

For those who feel unworthy,
we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.

For those who live in pain,
we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.

For those who are lonely, we ask
you to keep them company.

For those who are depressed,
we ask you to shower upon them
the light of hope.

Dear Creator, You, the borderless
sea of substance, we ask you to give all the
world that which we need most -- Peace.

-- Maya Angelou

Lousy at Math

by Hafiz

Once a group of thieves stole a rare diamond

Larger than a goose egg.

Its value could have easily bought

One thousand horses

And two thousand acres

Of the most fertile land in Shiraz .

The thieves got drunk that night

To celebrate their great haul,

But during the course of the evening

The effects of the liquor

And their mistrust of each other grew to such

An extent

They decided to divide the stone into pieces.

Of course then the Priceless became lost.

Most everyone is lousy at math

And does that to God -

Dissects the Indivisible One,

By thinking, saying,

"This is my Beloved, he looks like this

And acts like that,

How could that moron over there




* * *

All Will Come Again

By Ranier Maria Rilke

All will come again into its strength:

the fields undivided, the waters undammed,

the trees towering and the walls built low.

And in the valleys, people as strong and varied as the land.

And no churches where God

is imprisoned and lamented

like a trapped and wounded animal,

The houses welcoming all who knock

and a sense of boundless offering

in all relations, and in you and me.

No yearning for an afterlife, no looking beyond,

no belittling of death,

but only what belongs to us

and serving earth, lest we remain unused.

* * *

The world is not a courtroom
By Saadi

The world is not a courtroom,
there is no judge, no jury, no plaintiff

This is a caravan,
filled with eccentric beings
telling wondrous stories about God

* * *

“The Eclipse”
by Richard Eberhart

I stood out in the open cold
To see the essence of the eclipse
Which was its perfect darkness.

I stood in the cold on the porch
And could not think of anything so perfect
As man's hope of light in the face of darkness.

* * *

Lori and I joined 25 other people on June 26 on a fabulous High Sierra hike to Cascade Falls near Mount Tallac. And at the foot of the falls, David and Joanne got married! And they asked me to read this poem, which I share with you:


By Robert Francis

Keep me from going to sleep too soon

Or if I go to sleep too soon

Come wake me up. Come any hour

Of night. Come whistling up the road.

Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door.

Make me get out of bed and come

And let you in and light a light.

Tell me the northern lights are on

And make me look. Or tell me clouds

Are doing something to the moon

They never did before, and show me.

See that I see. Talk to me till

I'm half as wide awake as you

And start to dress wondering why

I ever went to bed at all.

Tell me the walking is superb.

Not only tell me but persuade me.

You know I'm not too hard persuaded.

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