Friday, February 20, 2009

February 2009 poems

Selections: Hua Hu Ching 
Lao Tzu (Chinese) b.570

Do you imagine the universe is agitated?
Go into the desert at night and look out at the stars.
This practice should answer the question.


Unless the mind, body and spirit are equally
developed and fully integrated, no [wisdom] can be sustained
This is why extremist religions and ideologies do not
bear fruit.


The highest truth cannot be put into words.
Therefore the greatest teacher has nothing to say.
He simply gives himself in service, and never worries.

R.M. Rilke

I am too alone in the world, and not alone enough
To make every minute holy.
I am too tiny in this world, and not tiny enough
Just to lie before you like a thing,
Shrewd and secretive.
I want my own will, and I want simply to be my will,
As it goes toward action,
And in the silent, sometimes hardly moving times
When something is coming near,
I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.
I want to be a mirror for your whole body,
And I never want to be blind, or to be too old
To hold up your heavy and swaying picture.
I want to unfold.
I don’t want to stay folded anywhere,
Because where I am folded, there I am a lie.
And I want my grasp of things
True before you. I want to describe myself
Like a painting that I looked at
Closely for a long time,
Like a saying that I finally understood,
Like the pitcher I use every day,
Like the face of my mother
Like a ship
That took me safely
Through the wildest storm of all.

Unfold Your Own Myth
By Rumi

But don’t be satisfied with stories, how things
have gone with others. Unfold
your own myth, without complicated explanation,
so everyone will understand the passage,
We have opened you.

Start walking towards Shams [the sun]. You legs will get heavy
and tired. Then comes a moment
of feeling the wings you’ve grown,

Questions About Angels

By Billy Collins

Of all the questions you might want to ask
about angels, the only one you ever hear
is how many can dance on the head of a pin.

No curiosity about how they pass the eternal time
besides circling the Throne chanting in Latin
or delivering a crust of bread to a hermit on earth
or guiding a boy and girl across a rickety wooden bridge.

Do they fly through God's body and come out singing?
Do they swing like children from the hinges
of the spirit world saying their names backwards and forwards?
Do they sit alone in little gardens changing colors?

What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes,
their diet of unfiltered divine light?
What goes on inside their luminous heads? Is there a wall
these tall presences can look over and see hell?

If an angel fell off a cloud, would he leave a hole
in a river and would the hole float along endlessly
filled with the silent letters of every angelic word?

If an angel delivered the mail, would he arrive
in a blinding rush of wings or would he just assume
the appearance of the regular mailman and
whistle up the driveway reading the postcards?

No, the medieval theologians control the court.
The only question you ever hear is about
the little dance floor on the head of a pin
where halos are meant to converge and drift invisibly.

It is designed to make us think in millions,
billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse
into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one:
one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet,
a small jazz combo working in the background.

She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful
eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over
to glance at his watch because she has been dancing
forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.

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