Monday, August 3, 2009

August 2009 poems

On a Perfect Day
by Jane Gentry
... I eat an artichoke in front
of the Charles Street Laundromat
and watch the clouds bloom
into white flowers out of
the building across the way.
The bright air moves on my face
like the touch of someone who loves me.
Far overhead a dart-shaped plane softens
through membranes of vacancy. A ship,
riding the bright glissade of the Hudson , slips
past the end of the street. Colette's vagabond
says the sun belongs to the lizard
that warms in its light. I own these moments
when my skin like a drumhead stretches on the frame
of my bones, then swells, a bellows filled
with sacred breath seared by this flame,
this happiness.
By Gary Synder
The glimpse of a once loved face
gone on a train.
Lost in a new town, no one knows the name.
lone man sitting in the park
Chanced on by a friend
of thirty years before,
what do they say.
Play chess with bottle caps.
"for sale" sign standing in the field:
dearest, dearest,
Soot on the sill,
a garden full of weeds

"Prayer is the peace of our spirit, the stillness of our thoughts, the evenness of recollection, the seat of meditation, the rest of our cares and the calm of our tempest; prayer is the issue of a quiet mind, of untroubled thoughts, it is the daughter of charity, and the sister of meekness."
-- Jeremy Taylor, 1653
Enjoy the Day
By Gary Snyder
One morning on a ridgetop east of Loowit
after campfire coffee

looking at the youthful old volcano
breathing steam and sulfer
sunrise lava
bowls of snow

went up behind a mountain hemlock
asked my old advisors where they lay

what's going on?

they say

"New friends and dear sweet old tree ghosts
here we are again. Enjoy the day."
Red Bird Explains Himself
by Mary Oliver
“Yes, I was the brilliance floating over the snow
and I was the song in the summer leaves, but this was
only the first trick
I had hold of among my other mythologies,
for I also knew obedience: bring sticks to the nest,
food to the young, kisses to my bride.

But don’t stop there, stay with me: listen.

If I was the song that entered your heart
then I was the music of your heart, that you wanted and needed,
and thus wilderness bloomed that, with all its
followers: gardeners, lovers, people who weep
for the death of rivers.

And this was my true task, to be the
music of the body. Do you understand? for truly the body needs
a song, a spirit, a soul. And no less, to make this work,
the soul has need of a body,
and I am both of the earth and I am of the inexplicable
beauty of heaven
where I fly so easily, so welcome, yes,
and this is why I have been sent, to teach this to your heart.”

The tender flesh itself
will be found one day
-- quite surprisingly --
to be capable of receiving,
and yes, full
capable of embracing
the searing energies of God.
Go figure. Fear not.
For even at its beginning
the humble clay received
God’s art, whereby
one part became the eye,
another the ear, and yet
another this impetuous hand.
Therefore, the flesh
is not to be excluded
from the wisdom and the power
that now and ever animates
all things. His life-giving
agency is made perfect,
we are told, in weakness –
made perfect in the flesh.

St. Irenaeus
Adapted and translated by Scott Cairns

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