July 11th, 2006

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thoughts -

I wake this morning feeling the fullness of the moon, even though the fog has tucked itself in around me.

Jane and I write and the poems we are working with are from March.  I was nearing the end of chemo and feeling my fear.  She wrote of rescuing earthworms.

I wrote easily this morning, feeling myself as one of her rescued earthworms.  She struggled with facing the force of fear.  We agreed that when we go to Inverness we will delve more deeply into this subject of our fragility and vulnerability.  How do we let go into the place of trust, of knowing death is just an expanding, and not an ending?

There is much with me this morning, and I feel light like a feather, and grounded like my favorite rocks.  After all,  I lift (I first typed life)  them, and carry them through the air.   (Are we rocks lifted to life?)

Blessings to us all today, and ease.   Presence requires more consciousness now, and I am doing well with it.  I smile at,  and with myself.  
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I whipple down to the Shoreline Cafe for coffee and breakfast.  The ever-faithful Alice is there.   I learn today she is 72, and, there she is, each time I go, a smiling waitress with a coffee pot almost always in her hand.  She didn't like retirement, so came to work for Sante at the Shoreline.  She walks on the bike path each day after work.  She says, "It's pretty hard to have problems when you're on the bike path."  She speaks of the birds, the tides, the sunset.   When she turned seventy, she hired a live orchestra and invited 80 friends to her party.  She says she knew her kids couldn't know what she wanted, and she did, so she gave it to herself.  She says she likes to go to the movies, and she is fine going with friends or alone.  She is quite the example of how to live, and how to age.

My cup is well-filled!!
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Honoring -

Today, I debate washing the comforter cover which still has the scent and essence of Mandu.  Steve and I agree it is too soon.  We need that little piece of him still here.   Each time I come into this room, I expect to see him sleeping in the chair.  I place some books there, so his pillow is not empty.  I find some comfort in knowing the space is filled.  Roots and Wings, poetry of Spain, dealing with Duende, rests there. 

This is what Garcia Lorca has to say about Duende.   I copy it from Wikipedia. 

The duende is a rarely explained concept in Spanish art, particularly flamenco, having to do with emotion, expression and authenticity. In Spanish, the primary definition of duende refers to a fairy- or goblin-like mythological character. While its nature varies throughout Spain and Latin America, in many cases its closest equivalent known to the Anglophone world is the Irish leprechaun.

From this original meaning, the artistic and especially musical term was derived.

"So, then, the duende is a force not a labour, a struggle not a thought. I heard an old maestro of the guitar say: ‘The duende is not in the throat: the duende surges up, inside, from the soles of the feet.’ Meaning, it’s not a question of skill, but of a style that’s truly alive: meaning, it’s in the veins: meaning, it’s of the most ancient culture of immediate creation.
"This ‘mysterious force that everyone feels and no philosopher has explained’ is, in sum, the spirit of the earth, the same duende that scorched Nietzsche’s heart as he searched for its outer form on the Rialto Bridge and in Bizet’s music, without finding it---"
"The arrival of the duende presupposes a radical change to all the old kinds of form, brings totally unknown and fresh sensations, with the qualities of a newly created rose, miraculous, generating an almost religious enthusiasm."
"All the arts are capable of duende, but where it naturally creates most space, as in music, dance and spoken poetry, the living flesh is needed to interpret them, since they have forms that are born and die, perpetually, and raise their contours above the precise present." [1]
García Lorca, Theory and Play of the Duende
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fear and death -

I take the new American Poetry Review to the Shoreline Cafe, and amazingly,  the first poems are by Federico Garcia Lorca, as translated by Ralph Angel.

The poems are perfect to fulfill what Jane and I discussed this morning. 

I think of Death as the Cup that holds us as it dissolves.

I believe we need purpose.  Without it, we are lost.  

I offer here some poems of Lorca as translated by Angel.


    to Jorge Zalamea

Dry land,
quiet land
of night's

(Wind in the olive groves,
wind in the Sierra.)

of oil lamps
and grief.
of deep cisterns.
of death without eyes
and arrows.

(Wind on the roads.
Breeze in the poplar groves.)


The dagger
enters the heart
the way plowshares turn over
the wasteland.

Do not cut into me.

Like a ray of sun,
the dagger
ignites terrible

Do not cut into me.


Wearing black mantillas,
she thinks the world is tiny
and the heart immense.

Wearing black mantillas.

She thinks that tender sighs
and cries disappear
into currents of wind.

Wearing black mantillas.

The door was left open,
and at dawn the entire sky
emptied onto her balcony.

Ay yayayayay,
wearing black mantillas

from "Clamor"

Death travels down a road
crowned with withered orange blossoms.
Death sings and sings
a song
with her ancient white guitar ....

Wind and dust
fashion prows of silver.

The Cry

The ellipse of a cry
echoes from mountain
to mountain.

From the olive trees
a black rainbow
veils the blue night.


Like the bow of a viola
the cry vibrates long strings
of wind.


(The cave dwellers'
oil lamps begin to appear.)


Lorca was murdered at the age of thirty-eight, during the Spanish Civil War, by order of Francisco Franco.  His writings and the details of his death were not openly discussed in Spain until Franco's death in 1975.  And, yet, as we see, all good eventually comes to light.  
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Eyes -

Today I consider those who do not see what surrounds, and none of us see all.  We all must screen to survive, and yet, I want open eyes all over my body, today, to see and absorb as much as I can.  I want to tap sight on the shoulder and say here I am.   Sit with me, with all my eyes, open, as open as the sound of finely tuned sand.

Today the birds are singing,

and the trees are swirling the sky on their toes.

Many do not see,

and so I open eyes

like cans

and set them there

for the clouds to drink,

and wink,

opening and closing

the distance

we constantly wean

when we sense

the rim of the tide.  

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Federico Garcia Lorca -

I feel a need to continue with Lorca.

In 1933, Lorca gave a lecture in Buenos Aires.  He described duende as a "black sound."    Here are his words, some of which I have already given.

    "I have heard an old maestro of the guitar say, 'The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet."

    "Spain is moved by the duende, for it is a country of ancient music and dance where the duende squeezes the lemons of dawn - a country of death.  A country open to death.

     Everywhere else, death is an end. Death comes, and they draw the curtains.  Not in Spain.  In Spain they open them.  Many Spaniards live indoors until the day they die and are taken out into the sunlight.  A dead man in Spain is more alive as a dead man ....  [H]is profile wounds like the edge of a barber's razor."

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Poem by Stephen Dunn -


Too young to take pleasure
from those privileged glimpses
you're sometimes given after failure,
or to see the hidden opportunity
in not getting what you want,

each day I subwayed into Manhattan
in my new, blue serge suit,
looking for work.  College, I thought
had whitened my collar, set me up,
but I'd majored in history.
What did I know about the world?

At interviews, if asked about the world,
I might have responded - citing Carlyle -
Great men make it go.  I want to be one of those.
But they wanted someone entry-level,
pleased for a while to be small.

Others got the jobs;
no doubt, later in the day, the girls.
At Horn & Hardarts, for solace
at lunch time, I'd make a sandwich emerge
from its cell of pristine glass.
It took just a nickel and a dime.

Nickels and dimes could make
a middleman disappear, easy as that,
no big deal, a life or two
destroyed, others improved.
But I wasn't afraid of capitalism.
All I wanted was a job like a book
so good I'd be finishing it
for the rest of my life.

Had my education failed me?
I felt a hankering for the sublime,
its dangerous subversions
of the daily grind.
Oh I took a dull, well-paying job.
History major?  the interviewer said, I think
you might be good at designing brochures.

I was.  Which filled me with desire
for almost everything else in the world.
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Poem by Jane Hirshfield!


Even now,
decades after,
I wash my face with cold water -

not for discipline,
nor memory,
nor the icy, awakening slap,

but to practice
to make the unwanted wanted.

Jane Hirshfield    ( from Given Sugar, Given Salt )
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Neurons -

A neuron paying attention is three times as active as a distracted neuron.    Hmmmm!!    I focus on you and the lyrics of our dance.  
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rebirth -

Here is Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's reply to the question "How do you exhaust karma?"

    "When things come up in your life, you feel them completely and fully and you don't hold back.  You live them right through until they have completed themselves."

This is as true for bliss and happiness, as sorrow and pain.  Feel through, through your nose, head, tummy, heart, and toes.