Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Keeping on

I wore my shoes until the seams split,
the soles shredded, my socks showed.
I wore my shoes until I had walked
500 miles and I had walked 500 more.
My shoes carried me on this journey
---each step a revelation.

A path ahead---my shoes gone!
Rocks cut my feet, but I take one more step.

                   One more step...


Sunday, November 27, 2011

. . .In the Middle of the Air

“A whirling torch makes a circle of fire appear before the eye, yet we realize there is but one point of light.”  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

A circle of fire appeared in the sky—
It happened one day and I must tell you.
I pointed it out to the crowd around me,
But they murmured indignations
And left the hillside, and me alone.
I stood gazing at the light that hung
‘twixt heaven and me, staring til brightness
filled all my eye, my mind, my very soul.
Then it was I felt the earth beneath me
Whirling on its circuit around the sun.

Listen, people, to the voice of God.
He has but this to say:  Burn Brightly


This poem was written based on the quote from 'Abdu'l-Baha and the old spiritual, “Ezekiel saw da wheel.”  After writing it I actually read the book of Ezekiel and was appalled at the continued hard-headedness of humanity, realizing that the real story was one of fire and retribution.  But redemption comes for us all, as it turns out.  We must be loved beyond measure to be given so many chances for redemption.

    (Listen to the Charioteers sing "Ezekiel Saw Da Wheel."  Very nice.  Smooth.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nothing of Worth is Ever Lost

Crystal dishes are stacked at Goodwill,  buried deep
in bundles of baskets and faded tupperware.
Once these held pink and green mints, salted nuts,
crackers and cheese carefully carried
by smiling women in girdles and smooth taffeta,
lean men in dark suits.
My parents dreamed of big things: clean children—
boats near a summer house--an exciting future in space.
Now I hold up one plate to finger the sharp design
and rainbows fly out into the hands of a small boy nearby.
“Mira,” he says.  Look.  Look.

We carry the blessings of fractured light into our rumpled, quilted world.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ireland, 1850

Each leaf, each least bit of straw
clung to her wet clothes as she walked the old path
and tried to sing in the rising wind.

“Shule aroon” was blown back into her mouth--she blinked
with wild tears but kept singing.  For her there no way home,
only this muddy road and the hope of another place.

Her village was gone, having lost to the hunger,
but still she lived and still she sang, walking toward the Western shore.
I wonder now, what kept her walking?  And even more I wonder,

from what part of the human heart came that song?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Simple Simon listens to the Pieman's Story

"Once I knew everything," said the gaunt old man.


"You could show up with a quizzical look
and I would hand you several tasty answers
before the question mark ever left your puzzled mouth.
Good, self-assured days those were,
full of clever answers baked in my cast-iron stove.

I peddled my answers on street corners
and gave away what I couldn't sell."

Friday, November 18, 2011


My neighbor, gossip, visited.
We sat sociably on the sofa
(I had tea) and spoke of many things.
“Why do you come here so often?”  I asked.

“You called me,” said gossip. 
“I only stop by when invited.”  


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

what to eat when poor

If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
and from thy slender store two loaves alone 
to thee are left,
sell one, and with the dole
buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

               Gulistan of Moslih Eddin Saadi

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lessons in Vision

Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.

I lived with a blind girl, once upon a time—
and cried because I saw her blindness as
proof that life was unkind and random.

But from her I learned how sight
might involve more than receiving.
From her I learned how to enter the dark,
how to trust to a friend’s uncertain hand,
how blindness was also mine.
She showed me how to move with grace
through a vast and sacred night.

And when she cried, it wasn’t due to any loss of light.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Everyone is entitled to MY opinion

Let me think about giving up an opinion.
It could be any opinion. 
About weather or hem-length or toilet training. 

Here is my opinion.  See it?  I’ve polished it,
Put a little hole in the top, right here, and
hung it on a chain around my heart.  Nice, eh?

I see that you have an opinion too.  Nice chain,
by the way.  Yours is a funky color.
I think it has a bad smell and it clashes with your eyes.

You should wear one like mine, don’t you think?
I know where you can get one, and it’ll look
nicer than that old thing.

Yah, my opinion can save lives. 
Your opinion will make us all into slaves, or worse.
You’d better give yours up.  Just pitch it into the garbage.

Smart people wear opinions like mine.  Stupid people
have opinions just like yours.  People who care
wear these.  Heartless people wear those.

Sometimes I want to take the chains off my heart
and say to you, “Hey, nice heart.  Look!  I’ve got
one too!  Wow.  Sweet.”  But then I remember.

My opinion is always best…


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November by Billy Collins

After three days of steady rain -
                                          over two inches said the radio -
I follow the example of monks
who write by a window, sunlight on the page.
Five times this morning,
I loaded a wheelbarrow with wood
and steered it down the hill to the house,
and later I will cut down the dead garden
with a clippers and haul the soft pulp
to a grave in the woods,
but now there is only
my sunny page which is like a poem
I am covering with another poem
and the dog asleep on the tiles,
her head in her paws,
her hind legs played out like a frog.
How foolish it is to long for childhood,
to want to run in circles in the yard again,
arms outstretched,
pretending to be an airplane.
How senseless to dread whatever lies before us
when, night and day, the boats,
strong as horses in the wind,
come and go,
bringing in the tiny infants
and carrying away the bodies of the dead.
~ Billy Collins ~