Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Art of Showing Up

Prayer and I have an on again, off again relationship—
There are days or weeks in which the praying
and the thanking and the obligating become perfunctory. 
Up and down I go mouthing meaningless sounds
only to finish in the wrong position
or find myself at the end of a sentence
with no idea of the road ahead.
Just as it seems to be a profound waste of time
there comes a day of light in darkness—
a day of lifting up, a day of slamming down.
A day when the words speak me.

Poetry is like that. 
Days of “interesting” poems,
days of revision, with no new words worth working with. 
Weeks of waiting, with wheels whining in little circles,
going nowhere. 
And then comes a day when something
drops out of my hand like a jewel
and I turn it over and over searching for any flaw.

Sometimes, my Dad said, the most important work
is just showing up.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Man's reality is his thought...

Let’s pretend that we live in two worlds at the same time.
A simultaneous life—we’re just pretending, you see.
In one world is a lot of smog, dirty water and bad breath.

In the other simultaneous world
love lasts forever, and we all have good skin.
Singing happens as often as eating in this place.

One world: sadness.  One world: joy.
I’m told they exist together in this poem and wind around,
fold through each other like a moebius strip.

What tips the balance? How do we hold the
two worlds in one hand?  I’m thinking
of a fast train moving in two directions
and here’s a golden ticket in my hand. 
The promised land is under my feet.

I go to meet my expectations
who live in a vast and heavily
forested region of Brazil,
where the air is sweet,
and no chain saw has ever been seen. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The New Name

The boy shivered, listening to a distant mortar fire.
Around him other children cried softly,
drowsing only in the lightest dreams,
avoiding the deep pools of sleep.
The boy fingered dog-tags under his shirt,
feeling the rough letters and whispering the new name.
This was his nightly prayer,
his rosary, his Greatest Name.
His own small name had lately become
too familiar to the angel of death and so he let it go,
letter by letter,
sound by sound,
along with the memory of his mother's face,
his father's voice,
his right leg.
The man who had worn the name no longer needed it,
indeed, had held it in outstretched hand as he lay
eyes and heart open to the sun, wind, moon and stars.
The boy had taken it gently from his hand,
had traded names with the open man,
had gone back to wait with the other children--
telling them stories of his new name
and the trick he would play on everyone,
on the world,
on death.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The wisdom of light

Without a doubt, she said, I’ve been true.
True to the night, true to all wild things—
true to my beliefs. 

South of here, in another city, a city
that knows how to keep its secrets,
she might not speak such blatant nonsense.

She would carry wisdom in her belly
like an unborn child and never, never
pretend to be other than a beacon of light.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Surface Tension

Molecules of water are slippery.
They ripple out of my way too quickly to get any foothold and so
I step into the puddle, rather than onto it,
thus muddying shoes and woolen stockings which will need serious drying time.
But I can imagine walking onto the sea,
reaching out to hold hands with Someone
who holds me carefully in His mind and heart.
Someone Who teaches the art of surface tension
and bodies in motion.
I can feel the rubbery give of the water
as we step between waves,
avoiding dolphins rising before us
and ignoring salt spray in our eyes.
Can we do this forever?  I ask, heart full of tremulous joy.
Can we live out here on the waves forever?
Storm clouds appear on a distant horizon.
The hard part isn't walking on water, He says.
The hard part is living on land.
We move toward the beach, and the city and the crowds.
Just don't let go of My hand, He says.
But His voice is already sounding faint and thin.
When I look back He is gone.
Salt spray dries on my skin.  My socks are wet.
The storm comes ashore to fill the hollows with more water.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

What would we do without this metaphor, earth?

There would be nothing to compare ourselves to,
and we would disappear into a black and starry sky
with no eyes,
with nothing at all to witness our arrival,
our departure.

We know we exist because of this ripe and wet metaphor
holding our fetal selves,
telling us we are more than vague traces
of wandering dust and empty space.

We've ignored it in the past,
pretending we were sun, moon and stars.
Time to take our place with the
mountains, motes, ants and beauty
to the right of us,
Beauty to the left of us,

Beauty behind us,

Beauty before us.

Beauty around us.

Friday, July 6, 2012

After the War

All around lie hosts of the dead, mumbling in their dark beds
about missed opportunities and endless meetings.
They gripe with closed eyes and complain
about misunderstandings,
late appointments,
rude taxi drivers.
Their cold, dead fingers grip guns, pens, I-Pads.
Toys lie around them in serried rank.
I pick through these piles for anything
that might be put in my pocket for later investigation.

A cell phone wakes at my feet with the blare of trumpets.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Rumi

Icaros by P. Picasso

In the haphazard way of true anarchists
Rumi travels from heart to heart
without apparent map,
without explainable schema.
Engineers shudder when they hear his name.
He sings law beyond law.
His music lies beyond the ease of breath.

In the comfortably obscure way of true poets
Rumi encourages us to leap
into a stratospheric understanding of flight.
Shams, he said, will teach us about wings.
From him we will learn re-entry and flames.
From him we will learn the delectable arc
of longing,
and return.


Monday, July 2, 2012

For Immigrant Mothers Everywhere

For Immigrant Mothers Everywhere

War-tossed and famine blown
they built the nest where we were grown
and sang us songs of far-off home.

                                                         Rhonda Palmer