Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October 2008 poems

Halloween Prayer

From ghoulies and ghosties 

And long-leggedy beasties 

And things that go bump in the night, 

Good Lord, deliver us! 

Everything is waiting for you

by David Whyte


Your great mistake is to act the drama

as if you were alone.  As if life

were a progressive and cunning crime

with no witness to the tiny hidden

transgressions.  To feel abandoned is to deny

the intimacy of your surroundings.  Surely,

even you, at times, have felt the grand array;

the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding

out your solo voice.  You must note

the way the soap dish enables you,

or the window latch grants you freedom.

Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.

The stairs are your mentor of things

to come, the doors have always been there

to frighten you and invite you,

and the tiny speaker in the phone

is your dream-ladder to divinity.


Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into

the conversation.  The kettle is singing

even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots

have left their arrogant aloofness and

seen the good in you at last.  All the birds

and creatures of the world are unutterably

themselves.  Everything is waiting for you.



by Terence Winch

from Boy Drinkers


Father Cahir kept us holy.

He smoked cigars in the confessional.

He had a distracted air about him,

as though he wasn't sure what

he was supposed to do next.


I don't remember what he taught.

History, probably. It was his

liberal attitude as a confessor

that made him a legend.


No matter what you confessed to,

he always barked out the same penance:

“Three Hail Marys and a Good Act

of Contrition. Next!”

So we tested

this leniency, confessing

to rape, murder, burglary.


Cahir paid no attention.

He knew we were a bunch

of high school punks.

Puffing his cigar,

he'd issue his standard

penance and absolve all sins,

real or imagined,

with godlike aloofness,

his vast indifference to

or total acceptance of the darkness

within the human soul

exactly how I hope the deity

regards us. Take forgiveness

any way you can get it.

The Sacred

by Stephen Dunn


After the teacher asked if anyone had

       a sacred place

and the students fidgeted and shrank


in their chairs, the most serious of them all

      said it was his car,

being in it alone, his tape deck playing


things he’d chosen, and others knew the truth

       had been spoken

and began speaking about their rooms,


their hiding places, but the car kept coming up,

      the car in motion,

music filling it, and sometimes one other person


who understood the bright altar of the dashboard

     and how far way

a car could take him from the need


to speak, or to answer, the key

    in having a key

        and putting it in, and going.

Elk Trails

Gary Snyder


Ancient, world-old Elk paths

Narrow, dusty Elk paths

Wide-trampled, muddy,

Aimless . . . wandering . . .

Everchanging Elk paths.


I have walked you, ancient trails,

Along the narrow rocky ridges

High above the mountains that

Make up your world:

Looking down on giant trees, silent

In the purple shadows of ravines—

Above the spire-like alpine fir

Above the high, steep-slanting meadows

Where sun-softened snowfields share the earth

With flowers


I have followed narrow twisting ridges,

Sharp-topped and jagged ass a broken crosscut saw

Across the roof of all the Elk-world

On one ancient wandering trail,

Cutting crazily over rocks and dust and snow—

Gently slanting through high meadows,

Rich with scent of Lupine,

Rich with smell of Elk-dung,

Rich with scent of short-lived

Dainty flowers.

And from the ridgetops I have followed you

Down through heather fields, through timber,

Downward winding to the hoof-churned shore of

One tiny blue-green mountain lake

Untouched by lips of men.


Ancient, wandering trails

Cut and edged by centuries of cloven hooves

Passing from one pasture to another—

Route and destination seeming aimless, but

Charted by the sharp-tempered guardian of creatures,

Instinct. A God coarse-haired, steel muscled,

Thin-flanked and musky. Used to sleeping lonely

In the snow, or napping in the mountain grasses

On warm summer afternoons, high in the meadows.

And their God laughs low and often

At the man-made trails,

Precise-cut babies of the mountains

Ignorant of the fine, high-soaring ridges

And the slanting grassy meadows

Hanging over space—

Trails that follow streams and valleys

In well-marked switchbacks through the trees,

Newcomers to the Elk World.


(High above, the Elk walk in the evening

From one pasture to another

Scrambling on the rock and snow

While their ancient, wandering

Aimless trails

And their ancient, coarse-haired,

Thin-flanked God

Laugh in silent wind-like chuckles

At man, and all his trails.)

Camas Lilies

by Lynn Ungar


Consider the lilies of the field,

the blue banks of camas

opening into acres of sky along the road.

Would the longing to lie down

and be washed by that beauty

abate if you knew their usefulness,

how the natives ground their bulbs

or flour, how the settlers’ hogs

uprooted them, grunting in gleeful

oblivion as the flowers fell?


And you — what of your rushed

and useful life? Imagine setting it all down —

papers, plans, appointments, everything —

leaving only a note: “Gone

to the fields to be lovely. Be back

when I’m through with blooming.”


Even now, unneeded and uneaten,

the camas lilies gaze out above the grass

from their tender blue eyes.

Even in sleep your life will shine.

Make no mistake. Of course

your work will always matter.

A Spiritual Journey 

by Wendell Berry


And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,

no matter how long,

but only by a spiritual journey,

a journey of one inch,

very arduous and humbling and joyful,

by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,

and learn to be at home.

Bernardo Taiz

Inside an open rose
A tree frog
no bigger
than my thumbnail.
I try to imagine
rest like that,
in such a bed of petals.
I try to imagine
prayer like that,
so intently
in the early light
saying so little.

The summer
into old age,
as do I,
those blackberries
that still cling
to their thorny arms
readying themselves
to trust the earth again,
for a moment
at least,
there is a place for everything.

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