Thursday, December 31, 2015

Heading out, by Philip Booth

Chaconne, from Partita in D minor for solo violin (BWV 1004) by Johann Sebastian Bach
Transcribed for piano by Ferruccio Busoni 
With Hélène Grimau

Beyond here there's no map.
How you get there is where
you'll arrive; how, dawn by
dawn, you can see your way
clear: in ponds, sky, just as
woods you walk through give
to fields. And rivers: beyond
all burning, you'll cross on bridges
you've long lugged with you.
Whatever your route, go lightly,
toward light. Once you give away
all save necessity, all's
mostly well: what you used to
believe you owned is nothing,
nothing beside how you've come
to feel. You've no need now
to give in or give out: the way
you're going your body seems
willing. Slowly as it may
otherwise tell you, whatever
it comes to you're bound to know.

poem from Poetry magazine, April 1989
With gratitude for a wonder-full year behind and a new one ahead.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Mindful, by Mary Oliver

Fantasia No 3 in D minor, K 397 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
with Emil Gilels

Every Day
   I see or hear
         that more or less
kills me
   with delight,
      that leaves me
         like a needle
in the haystack
   of light.
      It is what I was born for—
         to look, to listen,
to lose myself
   inside this soft world—
      to instruct myself
         over and over
in joy,
   and acclamation.
      Nor am I talking
         about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
   the very extravagant—
      but of the ordinary,
         the common, the very drab
the daily presentations.
   Oh, good scholar,
      I say to myself,
         how can you help
but grow wise
   with such teachings
      as these—
         the untrimmable light
of the world,
   the ocean's shine,
      the prayers that are made
         out of grass?


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Quiet friend who has come so far, by RM Rilke

Adagio and Fugue in C Minor, K. 546: I. Adagio by WA Mozart
with Herbert von Karajan & Berliner Philharmoniker

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.

Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent Earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

from Part Two, Sonnet XXIX
poem from Joanna Macy's website

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Hug, by Tess Gallagher

Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour (Barcarolle) - from The Tales of Hoffmann, by Jacques Offenbach
with Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca

A woman is reading a poem on the street
and another woman stops to listen. We stop too,
with our arms around each other. The poem
is being read and listened to out here in the open.

Behind us no one is entering or leaving the houses.

Suddenly a hug comes over me and I am giving it to you,
like a variable star shooting light off to make itself comfortable,
then subsiding. I finish but keep on holding you. A man walks up
to us and we know he has not come out of nowhere, but if he could, he would have.

He looks homeless because of how he needs.
“Can I have one of those?’ he asks you, and I feel you nod.
I am surprised, surprised you don’t tell him how it is –
that I am yours, only yours, etc., exclusive as a nose to its face.

Love - that’s what we’re talking about. Love that nabs you with “for me only” and holds on.

So I walk over to him and put my arms around him and try to
hug him like I mean it. He’s got an overcoat on so thick I can’t feel him past it.
I’m starting the hug and thinking. “How big a hug is this supposed to be?
How long shall I hold this hug?” Already we could be eternal,
His arms falling over my shoulders, my hands not meeting behind his back, he is so big!

I put my head into his chest and snuggle in. I lean into him. I lean
my blood and my wishes into him. He stands for it. This is his and he’s starting
to give it back so well I know he’s getting it. This Hug. So truly,
so tenderly, we stop having arms and I don’t know if my lover has walked away
Or what, or if the woman is still reading the poem, or the houses - what about them? - the houses.

Clearly, a little permission is a dangerous thing. But when you hug someone
you want it to be a masterpiece of connection, the way the button on his coat
will leave the imprint of a planet in my cheek when I walk away.
When I try to find some place to go back to.


Friday, October 23, 2015

There is a girl inside, by Lucille Clifton

Habanera, from Carmen by Georges Bizet
with Maria Callas

There is a girl inside.
She is randy as a wolf.
She will not walk away and leave these bones
to an old woman.

She is a green tree in a forest of kindling.
She is a green girl in a used poet.

She has waited patient as a nun
for the second coming,
when she can break through gray hairs
into blossom

and her lovers will harvest
honey and thyme
and the woods will be wild
with the damn wonder of it.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Initiation Song from the Finders Lodge, by Ursula Le Guin

Gaudete - with East Carolina University Women's Choir
Erin Plisco, conductor

Please bring strange things.
Please come bringing new things.
Let very old things come into your hands.
Let what you do not know come into your eyes.
Let desert sand harden your feet.
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
and the ways you go be the lines on your palms.
Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
and your outbreath be the shining of ice.
May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.
May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.
May your soul be at home where there are no houses.
Walk carefully, well-loved one,
walk mindfully, well-loved one,
walk fearlessly, well-loved one.
Return with us, return to us,
be always coming home.

from Always Coming Home (University of California Press, 1985)
poem found on A Year of Being Here
post inspired by TreeSisters

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Eagle poem, by Joy Harjo

 Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92
with Leonard Bernstein  

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear
Can't know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River.  Circles in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon, within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Twenty-One Love Poems, VI, by Adrienne Rich

This is a re-post, for Adrienne, may you rest in peace.

Prelude in B minor, arranged for piano by Alexander Siloti
from Prelude in E minor BWV 855a by J. S. Bach
with Emil Gilels

Your small hands, precisely equal to my own -
only the thumb is larger, longer - in these hands
I could trust the world, or in many hands like these,
handling power-tools or steering-wheel
or touching a human face...such hands could turn
the unborn child rightways in the birth canal
or pilot the exploratory rescue-ship
through icebergs, or piece together
the fine, needle-like shreds of a great krater-cup
bearing on its sides
fingers of ecstatic women striding
to the sibyl's den or the Eleusinian cave -
such hands might carry out an unavoidable violence
with such restraint, with such a grasp
of the range and limits of violence
that violence ever after would be obsolete.

in The Fact of a Door Frame: Poems Selected and New, 1950-84, WW Norton & Co (1985)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Flower Chorus, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gioachino Rossini - Overture, Il Barbiere di Siviglia

O such a commotion under the ground,
When March called: "Ho! There! Ho!"
Such spreading of rootlets far and wide
Such whisperings to and fro!
"Are you ready?" the Snowdrop asked,
"'Tis time to start, you know."
"Almost, my dear!" the Scilla replied,
"I'll follow as soon as you go."
Then "Ha! ha! ha!" the chorus came
Of laughter sweet and low,
From millions of flowers under the ground,
Yes, millions beginning to grow.

"I'll promise my blossoms, " the crocus said,
"When I hear the black bird sing."
And straight thereafter the Narcissus cried,
"My silver and gold I'll bring."
"And ere they are dulled," another spoke,
"The Hyacinth bells shall ring."
But the Violet only murmured, "I'm here,"
And sweet grew the air of Spring.

O the pretty brave things, thro' the coldest days
Imprisoned in walls of brown,
They never lost heart tho' the blast shrieked loud,
And the sleet and the hail came down;
But patiently each wrought her wonderful dress
Or fashioned her beautiful crown,
And now they are coming to ligthten the world
till shadowed by winter's frown.
And well may they cheerly laugh "Ha! ha!"
In laughter sweet and low,
The millions of flowers under the ground,
Yes, millions beginning to grow.

poem from the Parabola website

Friday, March 20, 2015

Clearing, by Morgan Farley

Franz Schubert - Impromptu No 3 in G flat major Op 90 D 899
with Grigory Sokolov

I am clearing a space
here, where the trees stand back.
I am making a circle so open
the moon will fall in love
and stroke these grasses with her silver.

I am setting stones in the four directions,
stones that have called my name
from mountaintops and riverbeds, canyons and mesas.
Here I will stand with my hands empty,
mind gaping under the moon.

I know there is another way to live.
When I find it, the angels
will cry out in rapture,
each cell of my body
will be a rose, a star.

If something seized my life tonight,
if a sudden wind swept through me,
changing everything,
I would not resist.
I am ready for whatever comes.

But I think it will be
something small, an animal
padding out from the shadows,
or a word spoken so softly
I hear it inside.

It is dark out here, and cold.
The moon is stone.
I am alone with my longing.
Nothing is happening
but the next breath.

poem from the website

Many blessings to you all on this New Moon-Eclipse-Equinox time of clearings and new beginnings.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Say Yes Quickly, by Rumi

Ludwig Van Beethoven - Fifth Symphony, I - Allegro con brio

Forget your life. Say God is Great. Get up.
You think you know what time it is. It’s time to pray.
You’ve carved so many little figurines, too many.
Don’t knock on any random door like a beggar.
Reach your long hands out to another door, beyond where
you go on the street, the street
where everyone says, “How are you?”
and no one says How aren’t you?

Tomorrow you’ll see what you’ve broken and torn tonight,
thrashing in the dark. Inside you
there’s an artist you don’t know about.
He’s not interested in how things look different in moonlight.

If you are here unfaithfully with us,
you’re causing terrible damage.
If you’ve opened your loving to God’s love,
you’re helping people you don’t know
and have never seen.

Is what I say true? Say yes quickly,
if you know, if you’ve known it
from before the beginning of the universe.

poem from The Threshold Society website
translated by Coleman Barks

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lost, by David Wagoner

Vincenzo Bellini - Casta Diva, from Norma
with Angela Gheorghiu (2001)

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

poem from Riverbed
(Indiana University Press, 1972) 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Violins, by Anna Margolin

Niccolò Paganini - Concerto for Violin 1 in D major, Op. 6, III
with Yehudi Menuhin

The blue dream of violins.

I and you,

such a revelation,

such a revelation,

and nobody knows,

that we circle

in golden rings

like butterflies,

in the blue night of violins.

You, my peace,

our night,

the blue violins play

for me and for you.

poem from Drunk from the bitter truth: Poems of Anna Margolin
State University of New York Press, 2005

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved, by Gregory Orr

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Laudate Dominum
from Vesperae solenne de confessore KV 339
with Lucia Popp

Resurrection of the body of the beloved,
Which is the world.
                               Which is the poem
Of the world, the poem of the body.

Mortal ourselves and filled with awe,
We gather the scattered limbs
Of Osiris.
                That he should live again.
That death not be oblivion.


The beloved is dead. Limbs
And all the body's
Miraculous parts
Scattered across Egypt,
Stained with dark mud.

We must find them, gather
Them together, bring them
Into a single place
As an anthologist might collect
All the poems that matter
Into a single book, a book
Which is the body of the beloved,
Which is the world.

Who wants to lose the world,
For all its tumult and suffering?
Who wants to leave the world,
For all its sorrow?
                            Not I.
And so I come to the Book,
Which is also the body
Of the beloved. And so
I come to the poem.
The poem is the world
Scattered by passion, then
Gathered together again
So that we may have hope.

The shape of the Book
Is the door to the grave,
Is the shape of the stone
Closed over us, so that
We may know terror
Is what we pass through
To reach hope, and courage
Is our necessary companion.

The shape of the Book
Is dark as death, and every page
Is lit with hope, glows
With the light of the vital body.

When I open the Book
I hear the poets whisper and weep,
Laugh and lament.

In a thousand languages
They say the same thing:
"We lived. The secret of life
Is love, which casts its wing
Over all suffering, which takes
In its arms the hurt child,
Which rises green from the fallen seed."

It's not magic; it isn't a trick.
Every breath is a resurrection.
And when we hear the poem
Which is the world, when our eyes
Gaze at the beloved's body,
We're reborn in all the sacred parts
Of our own bodies:
                              the heart
Contracts, the brain
Releases its shower
Of sparks,
                 and the tear
Embarks on its pilgrimage
Down the cheek to meet
The smiling mouth.

Sadness is there, too.
All the sadness in the world.
Because the tide ebbs,
Because wild waves
Punish the shore
And the small lives lived there.
Because the body is scattered.
Because death is real
And sometimes death is not
Even the worst of it.

If sadness did not run
Like a river through the Book,
Why would we go there?
What would we drink?

Isis kneels on the banks
Of the Nile. She is assembling
The limbs of Osiris.
Her live limbs moving
Above his dead, moving
As if in a dance, her torso
Swaying, her long arms
Reaching out in a quiet
Constant motion.

And the river below her
Making its own motions,
Eddies and swirls, a burbling
Sound the current makes
As if a throat was being cleared,
As if the world was about to speak.

The poem is written on the body,
And the body is written on the poem.

The Book is written in the world,
And the world is written in the Book.

This is the reciprocity of love
That outwits death. Death looks
In one place and we're in the other.

Death looks there, but we are here.

"What is life?"
                      When you first
Hear that question
It echoes in your skull
As if someone shouted
In an empty cave.
The same answer each time:
The resurrection of the body
Of the beloved, which is
The world.

Every poem different but
Telling the same story.
And we've been gathering
Them in a book
Since writing began
And before that as songs
Or poems people memorized
And recited aloud
When someone asked: "What is life?"

The things that die
Do not die,
Or they die briefly
To be born again
In the Book.

Did you think
You would see
The loved one again
In this world
Or in some other?

No, that cannot happen.
But we have been
Gathering, all of us,
The scattered remnants
Of the loved one
Since the beginning.

In Egypt, the loved
One is not in the pyramids
But in the poem
Carved in stone
About the lover's lips
And eyes.
                In the igloo
The poem gathers
The dark hair of the beloved.

All the poems of the world
Have been gathering the beloved's
Body against your loss.
Read in the Book. Open
Your eyes and your heart;
Open your voice.
                           The beloved
Is there and was never lost.

from Part One of Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved
Copper Canyon Press