August 14th, 2007

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Good Morning!!

There is an article in the NY Times today on Zen and Alzheimer's, on how we might gently cope with those who are aging, especially since in ten or twenty years, some of us may, also, be there.   I sit with that, with how much none of us want to be a burden or out of own control, and I "try" to sit loosely with this day, and how I might let myself unfold within it, and keep all my circuits flowing as clearly as is possible for me right now.

There is another article on how this may all be someone else's computer simulation.  Now that is something to consider, and somehow I don't think so.  I sat and enjoyed the stars last night.  I saw one shooting star, just enough.   Why would anyone but I set up such a scenario?

I feel the preciousness of life more and more these days and the turn to fall.  I am reminded now of a poem by Stanley Kunitz.  I will look for it and place it here.

Happy Tuesday!   I am continually with "if I had ten more minutes to live, what would I be doing?"   Perhaps it is age, but I do better with that than one year to live, one week, one day.   Ten minutes!!   I suppose it is like carrying one dollar bills in your wallet instead of 20's.  You seem rich!
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Stanley Kunitz -

Perhaps this poem is more depressing than I remember and maybe it is a little early, but the teachers I know are in their classrooms this week, preparing for the arrival of the children.  Summer has shrunk, and time is passing, and yet, for me, this day is so rich that I live as a well deeply filled with bubbling champagne.   Happy enjoyment and appreciation of this day, lived in ten minute segments, or even five, if you so choose.  


End of Summer


An agitation of the air,

A perturbation of the light

Admonished me the unloved year

Would turn on its hinge that night.


I stood in the disenchanted field

Amid the stubble and the stones

Amaded, while a small worm lisped to me

The song of my marrow-bones.


Blue poured into summer blue,

A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,

The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew

That part of my life was forever over.


Always the iron door of the North

Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows

Order their population forth,

And a cruel wind blows.


Stanley Kunitz

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Writing Through -

Jane is on vacation in New Mexico this week so we don't share our morning talk and write and I find myself a bit discombobulated at the beginning of the day.  I realize also when things are so well with me, I move sometimes into a place of feeling very fragile, of not wanting anything to change, even though I know that is impossible, and change, for me, is usually positive.  Anyway, I began this poem in a place of wanting to "hold" this place, and fortunately, I moved on through, since even stones change or are changed, a wee bit every day.  Would we really want it any other way?


A Nobody Day


Today I don’t want to be special.

I don’t want to be the stone picked up from the path

or beach, and placed on a window sill

or piled with other chosen stones in a work of art.

I want to be invisible, observing, unaffecting,

but even the worm has its work underground,

roots are constantly moving in and out,

churning earth and water like a ferris wheel

or merry-go-round.


Why do I want to be an empty chart

for just one day?


My life is rich,  children doing well,

family a loving, buzzing hive.

I don’t want to move one little bit,

attract any force that might nudge one painful hit.

I don’t want to feel the wounds

that are part of this bubbling circus I love.


Today I want to sit inside a ball

and, yet, already I see a friendly face

heading my way with a pin

to pop this impossible mood.

Connection is

the way we live, work, play.


Though the sun is generous, tossing light at the moon,

she tries to keep her backside hidden from those of us,

who undeterred, poke, probe, inspect,

and open a view of her 360 degrees around.

Hmmm!  Choose, pick, enlist, and circle me.

I’m back.



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Louise Gluck -

This poem is in the New Yorker this week.

Village Life

by Louise Gluck

The death and uncertainty that await me

as they await all men, the shadows evaluating me

because it can take time to destroy a human being,

the element of suspense

needs to be preserved—


On Sundays I walk my neighbor’s dog

so she can go to church to pray for her sick mother.


The dog waits for me in the doorway. Summer and winter

we walk the same road, early morning, at the base of the escarpment.

Sometimes the dog gets away from me—for a moment or two,

I can’t see him behind some trees. He’s very proud of this,

this trick he brings out occasionally, and gives up again

as a favor to me—


Afterward, I go back to my house to gather firewood.


I keep in my mind images from each walk:

monarda growing by the roadside;

in early spring, the dog chasing the little gray mice


so for a while it seems possible

not to think of the hold of the body weakening, the ratio

of the body to the void shifting,


and the prayers becoming prayers for the dead.


Midday, the church bells finished. Light in excess:

still, fog blankets the meadow, so you can’t see

the mountain in the distance, covered with snow and ice.


When it appears again, my neighbor thinks

her prayers are answered. So much light she can’t control her happiness—

it has to burst out in language. Hello, she yells, as though

that is her best translation.


She believes in the Virgin the way I believe in the mountain,

though in one case the fog never lifts.

But each person stores his hope in a different place.


I make my soup, I pour my glass of wine.

I’m tense, like a child approaching adolescence.

Soon it will be decided for certain what you are,

one thing, a boy or girl. Not both any longer.

And the child thinks: I want to have a say in what happens.

But the child has no say whatsoever.


When I was a child, I did not foresee this.


Later, the sun sets, the shadows gather,

rustling the low bushes like animals just awake for the night.

Inside, there’s only firelight. It fades slowly;

now only the heaviest wood’s still

flickering across the shelves of instruments.

I hear music coming from them sometimes,

even locked in their cases.


When I was a bird, I believed I would be a man.

That’s the flute. And the horn answers,

When I was a man, I cried out to be a bird.

Then the music vanishes. And the secret it confides in me

vanishes also.


In the window, the moon is hanging over the earth,

meaningless but full of messages.


It’s dead, it’s always been dead,

but it pretends to be something else,

burning like a star, and convincingly, so that you feel sometimes

it could actually make something grow on earth.


If there’s an image of the soul, I think that’s what it is.


I move through the dark as though it were natural to me,

as though I were already a factor in it.

Tranquil and still, the day dawns.

On market day, I go to the market with my lettuces.

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and there is this - Charles Simic -

Driving Home

by Charles Simic

Minister of our coming doom, preaching

On the car radio, how right

Your Hell and damnation sound to me

As I travel these small, bleak roads

Thinking of the mailman’s son

The Army sent back in a sealed coffin.


His house is around the next turn.

A forlorn mutt sits in the yard

Waiting for someone to come home.

I can see the TV is on in the living room,

Canned laughter in the empty house

Like the sound of beer cans tied to a hearse.

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Poetry Time -

Here is another from the New Yorker.


by Adam Zagajewski

I watch William Blake, who spotted angels

every day in treetops

and met God on the staircase

of his little house and found light in grimy alleys—


Blake, who died

singing gleefully

in a London thronged

with streetwalkers, admirals, and miracles,


William Blake, engraver, who labored

and lived in poverty but not despair,

who received burning signs

from the sea and from the starry sky,


who never lost hope, since hope

was always born anew like breath,

I see those who walked like him on graying streets,

headed toward the dawn’s rosy orchid.


(Translated, from the Polish, by Clare Cavanagh.)

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Jon Carroll -

I was reading yesterday that in the "old" days, we had very few decisions to make.  We usually continued the inherited profession of our parents.  We married who our families chose for us.  We were born, lived, and died, often in the same place, among the same people.  Now we change jobs and inherit more information in a day than our ancestors did in a lifetime.   So, no wonder we can't pay attention to everything or get outraged where and when we might and ought.  Enjoy Jon Carroll today.
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Listening -

Paul Tillich - "We can only hear through the love that listens."

Listening is active, not passive.  I set intention to listen actively and compassionately.

As I walked by the bay, I watched the waves.  There is no judgment there, no good or bad, just a gentle lapping, tonguing, sweet, nudging speech to the shore.
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Enough -

The world is enlarged for us, not by new objects, but by finding more affinities and potencies in those we have.

    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Friendship -

With each true friendship we build more firmly the foundation
on which the peace of the whole world rests.

    - Mahatma Gandhi