"Every living thing
~ Jim Dollar
How can we ever know the difference we make to the soul of the earth? Where the infinite stillness of the earth meets the passion of the human eye, invisible depths strain towards the mirror of the name.
In the word, the earth breaks silence. It has waited a long time for the word. Concealed beneath familiarity and silence, the earth holds back and it never occurs to us to wonder how the earth sees us. Is it not possible that a place could have huge affection for those who dwell there?
~ John O'Donohue
Beyond junk bonds and oil spills,
beyond the collapse of Savings and Loans,
beyond liquidations and options on futures,
beyond basket trading and expanding foreign markets,
the Dow Jones industrial average, the Standard
& Poor’s stock index, mutual funds, commodities,
beyond the rising tide of debits and credits,
opinion polls, falling currencies, the signs
for L. A. Gear and Coca Cola Classic,
the signs for U.S. Steel and General Motors,
hi-grade copper, municipal bonds, domestic sugar,
beyond fax it and collateral buildups,
beyond mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts,
hostile takeovers, beyond the official policy
on inflation and the consensus on happiness,
beyond the national trends in buying and selling,
getting and spending, the market stalled
and the cost passed on to consumers,
beyond the statistical charts on prices,
there is something else that drives us, some
rage or hunger, some absence smoldering
like a childhood fever vaguely remembered
or half-perceived, some unprotected desire,
greed that is both wound and knife,
a failed grief, a lost radiance.
by Katie Peterson, from T Magazine, April 3, 2014 (read by the poet)
The eye is the lamp of the body so I tried
to make a world where all I ate was light. Butterflies
complete a similar labor in the summer
garden, beating their wings slowly like a healthy
person, the kind of person who runs for fun, could
run from an attacker, eats greens in the same
quantity as the salty meats the storytelling part
of us appears to favor. I couldn’t decide
whether I wanted to stay alive or wanted to go
faster, they appeared to contradict each other, I tried
in all I did to eat light. I left the argument
about the difference between a slave and a servant
on the table though I think what I think is that
consent to servitude is as much a fiction as a butterfly
having a nervous breakdown because of the beauty
of the lavender. The longer your hunger takes
to find a shape the longer you can hold it. Consider the butterfly,
only at rest in the middle of consumption, but even
then practicing for departure, for disappearance,
closing in the middle of the landscape.
Trying to manage a world in which all you eat
is light is difficult. Labor, and the lungs should be like wings
of the butterfly beating, closing, slowly, the moonlight
tensing the edge of each, almost lifting the edge of each
towards the middle distance. So all that I consume
can make me healthy, illuminate my throat
and the interstate of my digestive tract
with what a butterfly’s been swimming in.
Again I resume the long lesson: how small a thing
can be pleasing, how little
in this hard world it takes
to satisfy the mind
and bring it to its rest.
With the ongoing havoc
the woods this morning is
almost unnaturally still.
Through stalled air, unshadowed
light, a few leaves fall
of their own weight.
is gray. It begins in mist
almost at the ground
and rises forever. The trees
rise in silence almost
natural, but not quite,
almost eternal, but
What more did I
think I wanted? Here is
what has always been.
Here is what will always
be. Even in me,
the Maker of all this
returns in rest, even
to the slightest of His works,
a yellow leaf slowlyfalling, and is pleased.
by E.E. Cummings
it may not always be so; and i say
that if your lips, which i have loved, should touch
another's, and your dear strong fingers clutch
his heart, as mine in time not far away;
if on another's face your sweet hair lay
in such silence as i know, or such
great writhing words as, uttering overmuch,
stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;
if this should be, i say if this should be—
you of my heart, send me a little word;
that i may go unto him, and take his hands,
saying, Accept all happiness from me.
Then shall i turn my face and hear one bird
sing terribly afar in the lost lands
I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the
beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.
Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
100 Acres, June 16, 2012
Excerpt from The Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels:
Everyone one of us has a fantasy of a "magical something"—a relationship, job, achievement, or possession—that will remove us from the treadmill that is real life...Phil [Stutz] calls this fantasy of living an effort-free, undemanding life "exoneration." Most people think of exoneration in terms of being cleared of a crime, but it has another meaning: to be excused from a task or obligation. Here, it refers to the ultimate obligation—to make an effort for the rest of your life.
Deep down, we all wish for a magical something that will exonerate us. It could be money, an award, a high-achieving child, looking cool in front of your friends, etc. Take a moment to identify what it is for you.
It doesn't matter what it is, it could be the smallest thing; just be honest with yourself. Then, try the following exercise:
Let yourself fantasize that you get the "magical something" and it does take the struggle out of your life. Let yourself feel that for a moment. Now, crush that fantasy: imagine it can never become reality. How does it feel knowing you can never escape life's endless struggles?
...Exoneration is impossible—for an individual or for a society. When, inevitably, this false hope for "easy street" is shattered, we're left demoralized. This is an inescapable law: exoneration always ends in demoralization.
There's a path that can lead us out of this mess. But we have an enemy that's dead set against us taking it. It attacks us every waking moment: when we turn on the TV, go on the Internet, or read a magazine; it gets to us even while we're driving, and especially when we enter the dark, inner sanctum of its power, the shopping mall.
The enemy is called "consumerism." It speaks to us through every advertisement, endorsement, logo, roadside billboard, etc. Its underlying message is always the same: there's something out there you must have. Helpless to resist, we feel compelled to acquire thing after thing. Yet we don't enjoy each new item for long; once we possess it, we shift our focus to the next thing.
Inevitably, consumerism insinuates itself into all of our activities, not just shopping. We consume life experiences the same way we consume iPods, jeans, and European cars. A given song, idea, or friend is new and different until it's not. Then we discard it and go on to the next thing. Consumerism has become our model for living. This is the tail wagging the dog...
This "treasure hunt" is a quest for the impossible, but rather than admitting that, we relentlessly search for the next magical something.
This misdirected search for magic surrounds you every day. Consumers might deny this, but it shows in their behavior. They pursue something—a new spouse, a new wardrobe, a new hobby—with tremendous expectation. The expectation is never met, and that just makes them search even harder...
But you're not really free until all hope for magic is crushed.
"We naturally long to sequester our doubts and fears, to disavow pain and worry. Unfortunately, to vanquish doubt is to leave the domain of the human being. Conversely, to embrace both one’s doubt and faith, one’s fear and courage, is to relate to the totality of the human experience."
~ Dennis Palumbo
The wind blows
through the doors of my heart.
It scatters my sheet music
that climbs like waves from the piano, free of the keys.
Now the notes stripped, black butterflies,
flattened against the screens.
The wind through my heart
blows all my candles out.
In my heart and its rooms is dark and windy.
From the mantle smashes birds' nests, teacups
full of stars as the wind winds round,
a mist of sorts that rises and bends and blows
or is blown through my rooms of my heart
that shatters the windows,
rakes the bedsheets as though someone
had just made love. And my dresses
they are lifted like brides come to rest
on the bedstead, crucifixes,
dresses tangled in trees in the rooms
of my heart. To save them
I've thrown flowers to fields,
so that someone would pick them up
and know where they came from.
Come the bees now clinging to flowered curtains.
Off with the clothesline pinning anything, my mother's trousseau.
It is not for me to say what is this wind
or how it came to blow through the rooms of my heart.
Wing after wing, through the rooms of the dead
the wind does not blow. Nor the basement, no wheezing,
no wind choking the cobwebs in our hair.
It is cool here, quiet, a quilt spread on soil.
But we will never lie down again.
What we love
will leave us
or is it
what we love,
to walk the block
after all week
outside to smile—
I think of you, warm
in your underground room
reading the book
of bone. It's hard going—
your body a dead
to feel, if not
hope then what
comes just after—
Let's not call it
The ice wanting
The streams of two planes
a cross fading.
I was so busy
telling you this I forgot
to mention the sky—
how in the dusk
its steely edges
have just begun to rust.
A TAG film production.
Pity the beautiful,
the dolls, and the dishes,
the babes with big daddies
granting their wishes.
Pity the pretty boys,
the hunks, and Apollos,
the golden lads whom
success always follows.
The hotties, the knock-outs,
the tens out of ten,
the drop-dead gorgeous,
the great leading men.
Pity the faded,
the bloated, the blowsy,
the paunchy Adonis
whose luck’s gone lousy.
Pity the gods,
no longer divine.
Pity the night
the stars lose their shine.
Everything That Ever Was
by Tracy K. Smith, from Life on Mars, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for poetry
Like a wide wake, rippling
Infinitely into the distance, everything
That ever was still is, somewhere,
Floating near the surface, nursing
Its hunger for you and me
And the now we’ve named
And made a place of.
Like groundswell sometimes
It surges up, claiming a little piece
Of where we stand.
Like the wind the rains ride in on,
It sweeps across the leaves,
Pushing in past the windows
We didn’t slam quickly enough.
Dark water it will take days to drain.
It surprised us last night in my sleep.
Brought food, a gift. Stood squarely
There between us, while your eyes
Danced toward mine, and my hands
Sat working a thread in my lap.
Up close, it was so thin. And when finally
You reached for me, it backed away,
Bereft, but not vanquished. Today,
Whatever it was seems slight, a trail
Of cloud rising up like smoke.
And the trees that watch as I write
Sway in the breeze, as if all that stirs
Under the soil is a little tickle of knowledge
The great blind roots will tease through
And push eventually past.
Smith, T. K. (2012, April 7). Why poetry is essential to democracy. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://on.wsj.com/HSPWzd
How many nights have I lain here like this, feverish with plans,
with fears, with the last sentence someone spoke, still trying to finish
a conversation already over? How many nights were wasted
in not sleeping, how many in sleep — I don’t know
how many hungers there are, how much radiance or salt, how many times
the world breaks apart, disintegrates to nothing and starts up again
in the course of an ordinary hour. I don’t know how God can bear
seeing everything at once: the falling bodies, the monuments and burnings,
the lovers pacing the floors of how many locked hearts. I want to close
my eyes and find a quiet field in fog, a few sheep moving toward a fence.
I want to count them, I want them to end. I don’t want to wonder
how many people are sitting in restaurants about to close down,
which of them will wander the sidewalks all night
while the pies revolve in the refrigerated dark. How many days
are left of my life, how much does it matter if I manage to say
one true thing about it—how often have I tried, how often
failed and fallen into depression? The field is wet, each grassblade
gleaming with its own particularity, even here, so that I can’t help
asking again, the white sky filling with footprints, bricks,
with mutterings over rosaries, with hands that pass over flames
before covering the eyes. I’m tired, I want to rest now.
I want to kiss the body of my lover, the one mouth, the simple name
without a shadow. Let me go. How many prayers
are there tonight, how many of us must stay awake and listen?
"Everyone tries to make his life a work of art. We want love to last and we know that it does not last; even if, by some miracle, it were to last a whole lifetime, it would still be incomplete. Perhaps, in this insatiable need for perpetuation, we should better understand human suffering, if we knew that it was eternal. It appears that great minds are, sometimes, less horrified by suffering than by the fact that it does not endure. In default of inexhaustible happiness, eternal suffering would at least give us a destiny. But we do not even have that consolation, and our worst agonies come to an end one day. One morning, after many dark nights of despair, an irrepressible longing to live will announce to us the fact that all is finished and that suffering has no more meaning than happiness."