Monday, March 27, 2017

The Egret

From the porch
I watch the great white egret
with his tinker-toy legs
wading through the shallows of the inlet.

Always he is alone,
spending his days
in an endless search for food. 

Only at end of day
does he seem to seek 
the company of others
of his species.

White forms perch
on branches near the water.
Are they sharing stories
of the day’s fishing,
or is there a companionable silence?

One might wish  for the life of an egret ...
alone for most of the day,
but gathering with friends
to share our lives
as night falls.


© Peg Latham,  1997

Great White Egret
NPS photo by S. Zenner
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, March 20, 2017

Liturgy

In nomine

Of the water god speaking
in the stream washing
graveled roots of ferns
with all of our grief

Dominus vobiscum

Seen from within the water
may we be among the god
in the water in the root
in the leaf and wing

Confiteor

Having climbed all this way
made this fire confessed
every failing to the flames
I am still not now changed

Kyrie Eleison

This must be the height
from which angelic beings
gaze lovingly upon us even
as we writhe in our beds

Oremus

And even though we don't know
who this is the words still
pour forth in invocation
supplication contemplation

Verbum Domini

And even though words don't speak
to what this fire sees or what
it changes me into words are all
I have to know the aster's heart

Dominus sit in corde

Crystalline earth energy meets
fountains of blessings pouring
into the rag and bone shop
of the most wounded heart

Munda cor meum

By grace a gate is opened
fears fall away breathing
becomes inspiration separation
vanishes in sweet herb smoke

Gloria tibi

By dint of sitting utterly still
on this stone moved for me
There is nothing to do but
behold the blessed valley

Laus tibi

Having no offering no 
Tobacco I offer only water
until nothing is left up here
but to thank and to praise

Eucharist

Under the leaning granite altar
looming above me an exchange
occurs I feel all my relations
with me the sacred hoop whole

Sanctus

This granite this ridge
these trees budding out a
green haze in the ravine
were never not this holy

Regnum et potestas et gloria

My kingdom for a lawyer
so pitiful is my fire now
whose power is already gone
up in this smoky glory

Pax domine

Finally emptied of all I carried
the time comes to descend
reclaiming the daily bread
remaining silent at the center
Agnus dei

This is no sacrifice in the old way
no livestock given away only
the making holy of every aster,
fern, footstep down the mountain
© Bill Prindle, 2017

Asters
Photo by Tony Russell

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Validity of Hiding

Like Clint Eastwood recovering from his wounds in a cave,
His blasted flesh made whole by hiddenness,
So that he may stride out into the open a mute hero;
Like a dragon hibernating with fire-breath turned down low,
Untouchable by savage chilvary;
Like Han Shan in ebullient meditation invisible on Cold Mountain;
Like King Arthur the Once and Future King waiting armoured
With untarnished mail in misty Avalon;
Like exiled excited Euripides writing on potshards persistent
In a tabula rasa cave far from his enemies;
Like Buddha in temporary eternity passively morphing evil arrows
Aimed at him into blossoms in zazen under the Bodhi tree;
Like crusty St. Jerome in his sand-encrusted desert study,
Alone with his loyal lion except for his learned malice;
Like the Seven Sleepers snoring safe for centuries in their den;
Like lots of hermits as rocky as their refuge nourished on locusts
And their lust for separation glutted—
As illustrious as these,
My cat needs to be secreted sometimes.

He seeks barricaded enigmas of solace we can’t understand.
He restores his elegant ambiguous vulnerability in the dust under my bed.
His valuable selfhood recuperates in the soft chaos of my closet.
Master of hiddenness, master of comfort among the uncomfortable—
He can stay in a paper bag for a day,
His magisterial tail unknowingly exposed.
He recovers himself but to give himself.
His aloofness makes possible his generosity; his solitude, solidarity.
He must re-incubate, re-consolidate.
He alone fulfills the desire to return to the womb
As he alone can rebirth himself.
He is a treasure that vanishes unless returned to its hiding place.
It must be returned, retrieved, returned again and again.
He isolates himself so that he may burst into visibility,
Expanding into our space,
Ready to present himself resurrected
As our palpable companion luminosity.

Then he will be my alien, un-alien twin,
Frenzied or lethargic as I am frenzied or lethargic,
Matching me in everything I do as much as he can.
His being will be rhyming with mine.
Thus the hero emerges healthier and more sociable than Lazarus,
Forgetting that he was ever entombed.
Purified by solitude,
He is able now to endure my caresses.
Only lightning will frighten him still,
Though he himself is lightning,
Even immobile under my bed. 


© Stephen Margulies, 2017   

Young cat hiding
by 0XX010C
on Wikimedia Commons

Monday, February 13, 2017

Mementos

Small things
seem to take on fresh meaning
as pages yellow
through time
filed in drawers labeled "junk."

Old photos
and love letters,
a golden locket
still untarnished
that seemed real when
presented long ago
by a special beau.

A display of colorful objects  
look up when brushed
with a duster,
that swishes quickly by stolid ceramic faces,
mementos from a loving friend
to dance upon the shelf.

These objects remain
and letters retain
wafts of cologne
once carefully applied
to hold the message
unstained and lasting,
as if the message could disappear!
It endures in wisps of memories
and things stored, but not forgotten.

© Shelly Sitzer, 2017

Knick knacks
Photo by Francisco Anzola
from Wikimedia Commons



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Winter Morning, -13°

Waking up in longjohns and socks
under so many quilts your body hurts,
windows rattling in the winds
and puffs of snow sprinkling
the sill and the floor beneath—

you fire up the stove with dry cobs and oak,
lean into it and rub your hands,

your mind unsettled by the linoleum rug
which won’t lie still. When a squall hits broadside,
the rug rises, billows. You press a foot and pump it slowly,

feel it push back against your toes
too soft for something that cold,
spongy as moss beside a spring.

Pants and shirt now, then ham and red-eye gravy,
eggs, yesterday’s biscuits, 
coffee as hot as you can take it
while three feet away snow won’t melt.

Last fall’s venison in the freezer is warmer than this,
but you’re not that dead, not yet. There are chores out there,

and at the mill logs whose frozen hearts
will make a four-foot blade cut a crooked track.

Into as many layers as will fit.
Wrap a towel around your head,
another around your neck,
walk to the door. Beneath your feet
you feel the rug rippling
and you think of summer

and a field of clover
rising and falling, rising and falling,
and how every green and growing thing will die.


              © David Black, 2017

White clover in the meadow
Photo by Steve Daniels, UK
from Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Chance

Life is messy and irrational.
I make a plan, just to watch it fall apart.
So I concentrate on doable things,
sort out the dirtiness of real life
from the spotless world of my imagination,
even as these incompatible things
sow seeds of madness
in my burning, buzzing brain.
  
I try to distract myself
by looking at dancing birds,
I spend the day picnicking,
but cannot stop the seeds from sprouting.
Beautiful life and hope
are destroyed 
by a stroke of bad luck,
by lack of money,
or the cultural tide
crashing against the cliff face of reality.

I feel threatened by the power of my will
and take a break from struggle.
I listen to hit songs,
study my successful peers,
read a person’s character by his garb.
I dismiss words and smirks.
I let things pass.
Cultish servitude to the past is gone:
today I worship Chance.

I no longer mistake a coincidence
for self-conscious Providence.
I create order out of chaos,
make a superior plan
from the debris of salvaged ideas— 
and watch the new plan fall apart.
Chance is blind.


© Helen Kanevsky, 2017

Waves from the Indian Ocean crash against the cliffs of Eagle Gorge,
Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia
Photo by Gypsy Denise
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, January 9, 2017

Giving/Receiving

Oh, the lessons we must learn
Because we have to grow.
Oh, the message given when young
That you know must be changed.
“You are to give of yourself,
So reach out and help those less fortunate.”
“Be benevolent and give a helping hand.”
“Be strong and reach down to lift others up.”
“Don’t let others see you cry
Because that means you’re weak.”
And so your life follows those paths,
Until one day a cardboard box stands in your way,
And you fall into awareness.
The depths of the hole
Feel like an upside-down world.
You must reach out and ask for help.
You must allow others to help you.
Simple chores are too much for you,
And you must sit and watch while others work for you.
You cry because you feel so vulnerable,
And you don’t know how to accept.
But you learn the lessons
Of allowing others the giving gift,
And you sit and see the rainbows
That were always there to see.
So you now can give the gift of giving
To others as you sit quietly to receive.
What a gift!


        © Hilda Ward, 2017

Nurse tending patient in Kettering hypertherm cabinet
WPA photo taken in New Orleans, U.S. Marine Hospital
from Wikimedia Commons