like an owl among the ruins
A Meditation by Bruce Harman Maggie [Nichols], Carrie [Hinman] by Lora Webb Nichols, Wyoming 1900, University of Wyoming American Heritage Center Runner, University High School, San Franscisco, CA Bear Mask by Susan Rothenberg by Dakota Lewallen by john parkinson brushstroke tv homer polar bear rothenberg caillebotte boots pietown russell lee Mike Disfarmer powazek twins bartenders Well prepared; not said nor vexed . . . cute baby vermeer i can't remember where this came from; if you know, email me at malabarjettison at copyright: john parkinson click me photo by virginia parrott from The Sartiorialist snow and bike by Sabrina copyright: john parkinson Ichabod Twerpwhistle by Ryan McGinley Diebenkorn in New Mexico chuckdooce stanfordquarry.png copyright Jay Parkinson, MD photo by Tony Hall art by James Nolan Gandy: by Randal Ford Professor Martin Evans David_Lowery+Augustine_Frizzell by chloe dewe mathews by Dickie Hill Fr. Hill by Dickie Hill photo: Manjari Sharma wooden robot photo by @adriacanameras on Instatagram from A Cup of Jo - by Mark Ross, Dallas Church of the Incarnation, Dallas photo by Alison V. Smith photo by Alison V. Smith Jos Van Riswick, 2015 photo by @AmyWendyWolf on Instagram photo by @AmyWendyWolf on Instagram photo by @AmyWendyWolf on Instagram photo by @AmyWendyWolf on Instagram pretty photo by loretta lux ndak farmer swamp fire landacre lartigue greta smit autumn beatrice copyright 2004 - The Boston Globe snow dogs from 'a daily dose of imagery' surf's up copyright: abelardo morell by William Flaggman wonder (c)John Perkinson Fog, El Capitan, Yosemite Park, CA Louis Lozowick - American Still Life from daily oliver two dogs tea.png chalk_avs.png nue_sable.png Milano Gent Bike sweeperMilan.jpg zoekazanpetersaarsgard.jpg by Gerhard Richter Good Girl charles walter stetson another great one by john parkinson Arch de Trimomphe by H.O. Tanner Henry Ossawa Tanner by Thomas Eakins Saint Justa by Murillo, Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas tiny polar bear by Aaron Fever Ventura County, CA wedding, flag, and band by Chad Cooper by Todd Roeth apples by ellsworth kelly 1949 copyright: grace weston chocolate and zuchinni boules huerfano county Dad watkins edourd manet: the lemon siskind Stanford Hills by Don Irwin maria schneider conducting claire, papa, nannie, mom sargent john constable: salsibury cathedral swimming lab lsju sage sparks nyc breakfast by rion rothko sargent found photos mia hamm shadows photo by mieke dalle
Malcolm Guite
A Tale Of Two Gardens
God gave us all a garden once
And walked with us at eve
That we might know him face to face
With no need to believe.

But we denied and hid from him
Concealing our own shame
Yet he still came to look for us
And call us each by name.

He found us where we hid from him
He clothed us in his grace
But still we turned our backs on him
And would not see his face.

So now he comes to us again
Not as a Lord most high
But weak and helpless as we are
That we might hear him cry.

And he who clothed us in our need
Lies naked in the straw
That we might wrap him in our rags
Whom once we fled in awe.

The strongest comes in weakness now
A stranger to our door
The king forsakes his palaces
And dwells amongst the poor.

And where we hurt he hurts with us
And when we weep he cries
He knows the heart of all our hurts
The inside of our sighs.

He does not look down from above
But gazes up at us
That we might take him in our arms
Who always cradles us.

And if we welcome him again
With open hands and heart
He’ll plant his garden deep in us
The end from which we start.

And in that garden there’s a tomb
Whose stone is rolled away
Where we and all we’ve ever loved
Were lowered in the clay.

But Lo! the tomb is empty now
And, clothed in living light,
His ransomed people walk with One
Who came on Christmas night.

So come Lord Jesus, find in me
The child you came to save
Stoop tenderly with wounded hands
And lift me from my grave.

Be with us all Emmanuel
And keep us close and true
Be with us till that Kingdom comes
Where we will be with you.
Jane Kenyon
After an illness, walking the dog
Wet things smell stronger,
and I suppose his main regret is that
he can sniff just one at a time.
In a frenzy of delight
he runs way up the sandy road—
scored by freshets after five days
of rain. Every pebble gleams, every leaf.

When I whistle he halts abruptly
and steps in a circle,
swings his extravagant tail.
The he rolls and rubs his muzzle
in a particular place, while the drizzle
falls without cease, and Queen Anne’s lace
and Goldenrod bend low.

The top of the logging road stands open
and light. Another day, before
hunting starts, we’ll see how far it goes,
leaving word first at home.
The footing is ambiguous.

Soaked and muddy, the dog drops,
panting, and looks up with what amounts
to a grin. It’s so good to be uphill with him,
nicely winded, and looking down on the pond.

A sound commences in my left ear
like the sound of the sea in a shell;
a downward, vertiginous drag comes with it.
Time to head home. I wait
until we’re nearly out to the main road
to put him back on the leash, and he
—the designated optimist—
imagines to the end that he is free.
Anne Sexton
Welcome Morning
There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “hello there, Anne”
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
dies young.
Susan Donnelly
The Bloody Mary
Sunday in late December
calls for one, with a celery stalk
and faint taste of Worcestershire,
to be sipped while eating
poached egg and corned beef hash,
in a hotel dining room
with someone you love. Touch
the hairs at his wrist
as the warmth endorses
all bed-lingering, non-churchgoing.
It's the solstice, remember,
when your frugal father
would hand around dollar bills
so the day would last longer. 
Stir ice into the rich red
and consider such Celtic rituals,
as you watch, beyond the tall windows,
pilgrims traveling the paths
past snow-fringed trees in the park.
Richard Wilbur
A Christmas Hymn
 A stable-lamp is lighted
Whose glow shall wake the sky;
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
And straw like gold shall shine;
A barn shall harbor heaven,
A stall become a shrine.

This child through David’s city
Shall ride in triumph by;
The palm shall strew its branches,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
Though heavy, dull, and dumb,
And lie within the roadway
To pave his kingdom come.

Yet he shall be forsaken,
And yielded up to die;
The sky shall groan and darken,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry
For stony hearts of men:
God’s blood upon the spearhead,
God’s love refused again.

But now, as at the ending,
The low is lifted high;
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry
In praises of the child
By whose descent among us
The worlds are reconciled.
Roger Scruton
The Friendliness of Objects

Repair was not so much a habit as an honoured custom. People respected the past of damaged things, restored them as though healing a child and looked on their handiwork with satisfaction. In the act of repair the object was made anew, to occupy the social position of the broken one. Worn shoes went to the anvil, holed socks and unravelled sleeves to the darning last — that peculiar mushroom-shaped object which stood always ready on the mantelpiece.

The custom of repair was not confined to the home. Every town, every village, had its cobbler, its carpenter, its wheelwright and its smith. In each community people supported repairers, who in tum supported things. And our surnames testify to the honour in which their occupations were held. But to where have they repaired, these people who guaranteed the friendliness of objects? With great difficulty you may still find a cobbler — but for the price of his work you could probably buy a new pair of shoes. For the cost of 15 digital watches you may sometimes find a person who will fix the mainspring of your grandfather’s timepiece.

The truth is that repair, like every serious social activity, has its ethos, and when that ethos is lost, no amount of slap-dash labour can make up for it. The person who repairs must love the broken object, and must love also the process of repair and all that pertains to it.

The critical moment of their mutual support is the moment of breakdown. Suddenly, the object on which everything depended — the car, the boiler, the drain, or the dinner suit — is unusable, and you contemplate its betrayal in helpless unbelief. It is some time before you overcome your self-pity enough to recognise that its need is greater than yours.

Alan Jacobs
Hedgehog Review: Staying for the Truth
"Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains…an un-uprooted small corner of evil." Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

The only way out of this prison of self-deception and self-justification is to love and seek the truth—and to believe that truth is something we share: not “my truth” and “your truth” but the truth, truth as a commons, a potentially fertile plot of ground we tend together and that is nurtured by our collective work or ruined by our neglect. We must shun the jesters, and pity the deceived.

In a society that does not love and seek truth and whose people do not know their own temptations and strive to expel deception from their own hearts, then, in the end, Truth will be what Power says it is. If we want to claw our way out of the mess we’re in, we have to ask ourselves the hard questions—then stay for the answers.

Wendell Berry
Sabbath Poem VI for 2003
The yellow-throated warbler, the highest remotest voice
of this place, sings in the tops of the tallest sycamores,
but one day he came twice to the railing on my porch
where I sat at work above the river. He was too close
to see with binoculars. Only the naked eye could take him in,
a bird more beautiful than every picture of himself,
more beautiful than himself killed and preserved
by the most skilled taxidermist, more beautiful
than any human mind, so small and inexact,
could hope ever to remember. My mind became
beautiful by the sight of him. He had the beauty only
of himself alive in the only moment of his life.
He had upon him like a light the whole
beauty of the living world that never dies.
The Rev. Gary D. Jones
There is More

"… this is another instance of my inclination to believe in something I can’t understand or talk ‎about very well, or at all. That’s the way it is with the things of God. If you could understand ‎them and articulate them, if these things were reasonable and easily grasped, what good would ‎they be? What kind of power would they have? Wouldn’t they be, by definition, more earthly ‎than heavenly? More mundane than divine? As Christians have affirmed through the ages, the ‎things of God are not things you can ever grasp; instead, these are things that grasp you."

Edwin Muir
The Finder Found
Will you, sometime, who have sought so long, and seek
Still in the slowly darkening searching-ground,
Catch sight some ordinary month or week
Of that rare prize you hardly thought you sought—
The gatherer gathered and the finder found,
The buyer who would buy all himself well bought—
And perch in pride in the buyer's hand, at home,
And there, the prize, in freedom rest and roam?
Denise Levertov
Talking to Grief
Ah, grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.

I should coax you
into the house and give you
your own corner,
a worn mat to lie on,
your own water dish.

You think I don’t know you’ve been living
under my porch.
You long for your real place to be readied
before winter comes. You need
your name,
your collar and tag. You need
the right to warn off intruders,
to consider my house your own
and me your person
and yourself
my own dog.
Francette Cerulli
Son at Seventeen
My son, an expert by overexposure,
recognizes the song before I do,
the best one of the year
about how sex is good for everybody.
This large man who was a boy a year ago
cranks up the radio till the car
is a bulging capsule of sound,
heavy on the bass.
As he drives, he sings every word loudly,
with cellular belief.
He will have it all, give it all
in his time, probably soon.
My heart begins to vibrate dangerously
at the lowest frequencies.
Tonight I feel old enough to be mother to a man.
I mime my fear to him,
My hand on my chest, my eyes wide.
I can feel it in my chest, I scream.
He stops singing long enough to nod,
Delighted that I have noticed.
It gets better, he yells.
Dana Gioia
California Hills in August
I can imagine someone who found 
these fields unbearable, who climbed 
the hillside in the heat, cursing the dust, 
cracking the brittle weeds underfoot, 
wishing a few more trees for shade. 
An Easterner especially, who would scorn 
the meagerness of summer, the dry 
twisted shapes of black elm, 
scrub oak, and chaparral, a landscape 
August has already drained of green. 
One who would hurry over the clinging 
thistle, foxtail, golden poppy, 
knowing everything was just a weed, 
unable to conceive that these trees 
and sparse brown bushes were alive. 
And hate the bright stillness of the noon 
without wind, without motion, 
the only other living thing 
a hawk, hungry for prey, suspended 
in the blinding, sunlit blue. 
And yet how gentle it seems to someone 
raised in a landscape short of rain – 
the skyline of a hill broken by no more 
trees than one can count, the grass, 
the empty sky, the wish for water. 
Thomas Hardy
Drummer Hodge or the Dead Drummer
They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
     Uncoffined,--just as found:
His landmark is a kopje-crest
     That breaks the veldt around;
And foreign constellations west
     Each night above his mound.
Young Hodge the Drummer never knew--
     Fresh from his Wessex home--
The meaning of the broad Karoo,
     The Bush, the dusty loam,
And why uprose to nightly view
     Strange stars amid the gloam.
Yet portion of that unknown plain
     Will Hodge for ever be;
His homely Northern breast and brain
     Grow to some Southern tree,
And strange-eyed constellations reign
     His stars eternally.
Barbara Crooker
In the Middle
of a life that's as complicated as everyone else's,
struggling for balance, juggling time.
The mantle clock that was my grandfather's
has stopped at 9:20; we haven't had time
to get it repaired. The brass pendulum is still,
the chimes don't ring. One day you look out the window,
green summer, the next, and the leaves have already fallen,
and a grey sky lowers the horizon. Our children almost grown,
our parents gone, it happened so fast. Each day, we must learn
again how to love, between morning's quick coffee
and evening's slow return. Steam from a pot of soup rises,
mixing with the yeasty smell of baking bread. Our bodies
twine, and the big black dog pushes his great head between;
his tail is a metronome, 3/4 time. We'll never get there,
Time is always ahead of us, running down the beach, urging
us on faster, faster, but sometimes we take off our watches,
sometimes we lie in the hammock, caught between the mesh
of rope and the net of stars, suspended, tangled up
in love, running out of time.
Amy Lowell
You are like the stem
Of a young beech-tree, 
Straight and swaying, 
Breaking out in golden leaves.
Your walk is like the blowing of a beech-tree
On a hill.
Your voice is like leaves 
Softly struck upon by a South wind.
Your shadow is no shadow, but a scattered sunshine; 
And at night you pull the sky down to you
And hood yourself in stars.

But I am like a great oak under a cloudy sky,
Watching a stripling beech grow up at my feet. 
Cathy Smith Bowers
A Little Herbal Primer: Rosemary
Prostratus, Alba, Severn Sea, 
good memory
you bequeath. And 
to the woman
who wears you on her head, a man
who will be true. 
It has been said 
when Mary on 

her flight to Egypt laid her cloak 
on you, your stunned
white blossoms turned 
suddenly blue.
Alan Birkelbach
Right before you leave El Paso
going east there ought to be a kind of customs stop
where you are instructed to call to mind
all the songs you know
and sing them right into something sturdy.
Imagine that place:
"Here, Bobby, here's a candy wrapper, and, Sue, here's
a little extra room in a suitcase. Dad can have all the
 empty pop bottles
because he knows a lot of songs."
(And some folks, the ones who are poor and aren't toting much, 
will be convinced to hum right into a paper bag,
or up their shirt sleeve, or into a shoe).
Imagine a Ranger grabbing Grandma by the ankles,
shaking all the tunes loose.
"We'd better not hear you singing out loud
until you at least hit Alpine.
We can't take your radios
but we'll be listening if you sing along . . ."
Heading back south and east into the Rio Grande
the Big Bend doesn't tolerate much talking.
It's too big a place, too set in silence,
and all the people who have been here before
 have tried to fill it up.
But the Rangers say they can't tolerate any more nights
where the hot, humid wind carries pieces of
 old, foolish, brave voices
and impales them on the claws of the ocotillo and lechuguilla,
leaving torn shreds of songs
that weep and shriek and drift
from cactus to mesquite, from bush to thorny bush.
Richard Wilbur
The Reader
She is going back, these days, to the great stories
That charmed her younger mind. A shaded light
Shines on the nape half-shadowed by her curls,
And a page turns now with a scuffing sound.
Onward they come again, the orphans reaching
For a first handhold in a stony world,
The young provincials who at last look down
On the city's maze, and will descend into it,
The serious girl, once more, who would live nobly,
The sly one who aspires to marry so,
The young man bent on glory, and that other
Who seeks a burden. Knowing as she does
What will become of them in bloody field
Or Tuscan garden, it may be that at times
She sees their first and final selves at once,
As a god might to whom all time is now.
Or, having lived so much herself, perhaps
She meets them this time with a wiser eye,
Noting that Julien's calculating head
Is from the first too severed from his heart.
But the true wonder of it is that she,
For all that she may know of consequences,
Still turns enchanted to the next bright page
Like some Natasha in the ballroom door—
Caught in the flow of things wherever bound,
The blind delight of being, ready still
To enter life on life and see them through.
Dorianne Laux
Fast Gas
for Richard
Before the days of self service,
when you never had to pump your own gas,
I was the one who did it for you, the girl
who stepped out at the sound of a bell
with a blue rag in my hand, my hair pulled back
in a straight, unlovely ponytail.
This was before automatic shut-offs
and vapor seals, and once, while filling a tank,
I hit a bubble of trapped air and the gas
backed up, came arcing out of the hole
in a bright gold wave and soaked me—face, breasts,
belly and legs. And I had to hurry
back to the booth, the small employee bathroom
with the broken lock, to change my uniform,
peel the gas-soaked cloth from my skin
and wash myself in the sink.
Light-headed, scrubbed raw, I felt
pure and amazed—the way the amber gas
glazed my flesh, the searing,
subterranean pain of it, how my skin
shimmered and ached, glowed
like rainbowed oil on the pavement.
I was twenty. In a few weeks I would fall,
for the first time, in love, that man waiting
patiently in my future like a red leaf
on the sidewalk, the kind of beauty
that asks to be noticed. How was I to know
it would begin this way: every cell of my body
burning with a dangerous beauty, the air around me
a nimbus of light that would carry me
through the days, how when he found me,
weeks later, he would find me like that,
an ordinary woman who could rise
in flame, all he would have to do
is come close and touch me.
Jake Imber
Beginner's Haiku
Achy girl, sweet Scout,
Scuttles hind legs on bare floors,
Waits; then flops and sleeps.
Garden in August,
Punched in her gut by hard heat.
What will autumn bring?
Gary Snyder
I Went into the Maverick Bar
I went into the Maverick Bar   
In Farmington, New Mexico.
And drank double shots of bourbon
                         backed with beer.
My long hair was tucked up under a cap
I’d left the earring in the car.

Two cowboys did horseplay
                         by the pool tables,
A waitress asked us
                         where are you from?
a country-and-western band began to play   
“We don’t smoke Marijuana in Muskokie”   
And with the next song,
                         a couple began to dance.

They held each other like in High School dances   
                         in the fifties;
I recalled when I worked in the woods
                         and the bars of Madras, Oregon.   
That short-haired joy and roughness—
                         America—your stupidity.   
I could almost love you again.

We left—onto the freeway shoulders—
                         under the tough old stars—
In the shadow of bluffs
                         I came back to myself,
To the real work, to
                         “What is to be done.”
W.H. Auden
The Age of Anxiety
Yet the noble despair of the poets
Is nothing of the sort; it is silly
To refuse the tasks of time
And, overlooking our lives,
Cry — “Miserable wicked me,
How interesting I am.”
We would rather be ruined than changed,
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.
Annie Lighthart
A New Way to See Stars
They have been light and distance, and backward time—gone
but still bright. They have been fixity and direction, animals,
memorials, monsters, large objects, gods.
Tonight they are windows in a house set back from the road.
A man steps out with his two running dogs. Now the stars are 
stray sheep. They move toward the fold as he tosses white grain.
Despite the bleats and the crowd, this is a feat of welcome return.
Stars fly out from the arc of his hand. They land among mouths
and are eaten by day.
3 on entropy, repair, recovery

Steven J. Jackson
"Rethinking Repair" in Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality and Society

Here, then, are two radically different forces and realities. On one hand, a fractal world, a centrifugal world, an always-almost-falling-apart world. On the other, a world in constant process of fixing and reinvention, reconfiguring and reassembling into new combinations and new possibilities—a topic of both hope and concern. It is a world of pain and possibility, creativity and destruction, innovation, and the worst excesses of leftover habit and power.

The fulcrum of these two worlds is repair: the subtle acts of care by which order and meaning in complex sociotechnical systems are maintained and transformed, human value is preserved and extended, and the complicated work of fitting to the varied circumstances of organizations, systems, and lives is accomplished.

Michael Oakeshott
"A Place of Learning”

A culture comprises unfinished intellectual and emotional journeyings, expeditions now abandoned but known to us in the tattered maps left behind by the explorers; it is composed of light-hearted adventures, of relationships invented and explored in exploit or in drama, of myths and stories and poems expressing fragments of human self-understanding, of gods worshipped, of responses to the mutability of the world and of encounters with death. And it reaches us, as it reached generations before ours, neither as long-ago terminated specimens of human adventure, nor as an accumulation of human achievements we are called upon to accept, but as a manifold of invitations to look, to listen and to reflect.

Tom Stoppard
"Arcadia," Act I, Scene III

THOMASINA: Oh, Septimus! -- can you bear it? All the lost plays of the Athenians! Two hundred at least by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides -- thousands of poems -- Aristotle's own library!... How can we sleep for grief?

SEPTIMUS: By counting our stock. Seven plays from Aeschylus, seven from Sophocles, nineteen from Euripides, my lady! You should no more grieve for the rest than for a buckle lost from your first shoe, or for your lesson book which will be lost when you are old. We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again. You do not suppose, my lady, that if all of Archimedes had been hiding in the great library of Alexandria, we would be at a loss for a corkscrew?

Leonard Woolf
Downhill All the Way

One of the most horrible things at that time was to listen on the wireless to the speeches of Hitler — the savage and insane ravings of a vindictive underdog who suddenly saw himself to be all-powerful. We were in Rodmell during the late summer of 1939, and I used to listen to those ranting, raving speeches. One afternoon I was planting in the orchard under an apple-tree iris reticulata, those lovely violet flowers. … Suddenly I heard Virginia’s voice calling to me from the sitting room window: “Hitler is making a speech.” I shouted back, “I shan’t come. I’m planting iris and they will be flowering long after he is dead.”

Stewart Brand
On Average

On average, bad things happen fast and good things happen slow.

Ellen Bass
The Thing Is
to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you down like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.
Carol Ann Duffy
Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child’s name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.
John Henry Newman
"And the Busy World is Hushed"
O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows
lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is
hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.
Then in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest,
and peace at the last. Amen.
Laurie Colwin
Gourmet Magazine

“There are very few things mankind cannot live without. For centuries we survived without compact disks, without automated bank tellers, iceberg lettuce, and bubblegum-flavored toothpaste, to say nothing of the internal combustion engine. But life as we know it would be unimaginable without the tomato.”

William Shakespeare
Macbeth, Act IV, Scene III
Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.
Joe Brainard
oh, I don't know.
Wyn Cooper
I Trust the Wind and Don't Know Why
I am not the girl in the picture.
I am not the smell of hyacinths.
I might be the boy.
I am off the record.

I am not a view from the island,
not the sound of waves breaking,
not parasols scattered on sand.
I am closed for the season.

I’m fingerprints on windows
that look out on rain.
I am rain that rains harder.

I’m not the new fashion, not
hands on a clock. I don’t spring
forward. Cannot turn back.
William Hazlitt
"On Depth and Superficiality"

There must be a spice of mischief and wilfulness thrown into the cup of our existence to give it its sharp taste and sparkling colour.

Naomi Shihab Nye
The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,   
which knew it would inherit the earth   
before anybody said so.   

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds   
watching him from the birdhouse.   

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.   

The idea you carry close to your bosom   
is famous to your bosom.   

The boot is famous to the earth,   
more famous than the dress shoe,   
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it   
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.   

I want to be famous to shuffling men   
who smile while crossing streets,   
sticky children in grocery lines,   
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,   
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,   
but because it never forgot what it could do.
Leander Harding

Modernity looks forward and never up.

Simone Weill
The Need for Roots (1949)

The structure of a human heart is just as much of a reality as any other in this universe, neither more nor less of a reality than the trajectory of a planet. […] If justice is inerasable from the heart of Man, it must have a reality in this world.

Dorianne Laux
The Crossing
The elk of Orick wait patiently to cross the road
and my husband of six months, who thinks

he's St. Francis, climbs out of the car to assist.
Ghost of St. Francis, his t-shirt flapping, steps

tenderly onto the tarmack and they begin
their trek, heads lifted, nostrils flared, each footfall

a testament to stalled momentum, gracefully
hesitant, as a brace of semis, lined up, humming,

adjust the air in their brakes. They cross
the fourlane like a coronation, slow as a Greek

freize, river wind riffling the wheat grass
of their rumps. But my husband stays on,

to talk to the one who won't budge, oblivious
to her sisters, a long stalk of fennel gyrating

between her teeth. Go on, he beseeches,
Get going, but the lone Elk only stares back,

their noses less than a yard apart. One
stubborn creature staring down another.

This is how I know the marriage will last. 
Louis MacNeice
The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes— 
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands— 
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.
Donald Justice
In the Greenroom
How reassuring
To discover them
In the greenroom. Here,

Relaxing, they drop
The patronymics
By which we had come

To know them. The cross
Are no longer cross,
The old dance, nor have

The young sacrificed
Their advantages.
In this it is like

A kind of heaven
They rise to simply
By being themselves.

The sound of the axe
Biting the wood is
Rewound on the tape.

What is this green for
If not renewal?
Jen Rose Yokel
Quick now, come now
to where the veil grows thin,
where the border between 
real and more real—so real
we can't bear it—shimmers
like ghosts going silently
into moonlit mist, to 
enfolding fog, a cloud
of silvered saints hovering
over the waters.
Wisława Szymborska
translated by Clare Cavanagh & Stanisław Barańczak
So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum 
in painted quiet and concentration
keeps pouring milk day after day
from the pitcher to the bowl
the World hasn't earned
the world's end.
Mary Oliver
The Moth, The Mountains, The Rivers
Who can guess the luna's sadness who lives so
briefly? Who can guess the impatience of stone
longing to be ground down, to be part again of
something livelier? Who can imagine in what
heaviness the rivers remember their original

Strange questions, yet I have spent worthwhile
time with them. And I suggest them to you also,
that your spirit grow in curiosity, that your life
be richer than it is, that you bow to the earth as
you feel how it actually is, that we—so clever, and
ambitious, and selfish, and unrestrained—are only
one design of the moving, the vivacious many.
J. Frank Dobie
Guide to Life and Literature of the Southwest, 1952

"If during a decade a man does not change his mind on some things and develop new points of view, it is a pretty good sign that his mind is petrified and need no longer be accounted among the living."

Ronald Knox
Letter, July 1949

“I’ve now reached the stage of being in two minds about whether one ought to be in two minds about things or not; and an infinite regress beckons.”

Jack Gilbert
Failing and Flying
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was 
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars 
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say 
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.
Isak Dinesen
quoted by Kermit Lynch

There are many ways to the recognition of truth, and Burgundy is one of them.

W. H. Auden
In Memory of W. B. Yeats
He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
By mourning tongues
The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
An afternoon of nurses and rumours;
The provinces of his body revolted,
The squares of his mind were empty,
Silence invaded the suburbs,
The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
The parish of rich women, physical decay,
Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.

Earth, receive an honoured guest:
William Yeats is laid to rest.
Let the Irish vessel lie
Emptied of its poetry.

In the nightmare of the dark
All the dogs of Europe bark,
And the living nations wait,
Each sequestered in its hate;

Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye.

Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;

With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.
Faith Shearin
Music at My Mother's Funeral
During the weeks when we all believed my mother 
was likely to die she began to plan 
her funeral and she wanted us, her children, 
to consider the music we would play there. We remembered 
the soundtrack of my mother’s life: the years when she swept 
the floors to the tunes of an eight track cassette called Feelings, 
the Christmas when she bought a Bing Crosby album 
about a Bright Hawaiian Christmas Day. She got Stravinsky’s 
Rite of Spring stuck in the tape deck of her car and for months 
each errand was accompanied by some kind
of dramatic movement. After my brother was born, 
there was a period during which she wore a muumuu 
and devoted herself to King Sunny Ade and his 
African beats. She ironed and wept to Evita, painted 
to Italian opera. Then, older and heavier, she refused 
to fasten her seatbelt and there was the music
of an automated bell going off every few minutes, 
which annoyed the rest of us but did not seem to matter 
to my mother who ignored its relentless disapproval, 
its insistence that someone was unsafe.
Les Murray
Animal Nativity
The Iliad of peace began
when this girl agreed.
Now goats in trees, fish in the valley
suddenly feel vivid.

Swallows flit in the stable as if
a hatching of their kind,
turned human, cried in the manger
showing the hunger-diamond.

Cattle are content that this calf
must come in human form.
Spiders discern a water-walker.
Even humans will sense the lamb,

He who frees from the old poem
turtle-dove and snake,
who gets death forgiven
who puts the apple back.

Dogs, less enslaved but as starving
as the poorest human there,
crouch, agog at a crux of presence
remembered as a star.
Li-Young Lee
The Undressing
And we talk. We talk with our voices,
and we talk with our bodies.
And behind what we say,
the ocean's dark shoulders rise and fall all night
John L'Heureux
The Imperfect Eye
I saw tonight that he is on my side,
the lion. For the first time, I saw it.
And by God all the furniture got up

and danced (that hulking desk
a creditable tango) and I, though not much
on my feet, waltzed through Judah

like a Crazy-priest. Sometimes joy
is like that, coming quick as dandelions
springing to attention while the sun

shudders still—a little—from the melting
winter. Anyway here I was with lions
to account for and that desk

and questionable antics all along
(indignities of sun and dandelions
while our bones still creak with Lent)

and I thought God, what now, until
again I heard the music of the dance
again I waltzed through Judah.

“I something fear my father’s wrath” no more.
John Ruskin
The Stones of Venice

You were made for enjoyment, and the world was filled with things which you will enjoy, unless you are too proud to be pleased by them, or too grasping to care for what you cannot turn to other account than mere delight.

John Milton
Paradise Lost
They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand, the gate
With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide;
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity: "Hate the Sin; Love the Sinner"

For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life—namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself.

Izumi Shikibu
translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani
Although the Wind
Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.
Jim Rain
Birth Day
In the yellow morning,‎
Her water broke; it was a shock.‎
A call into the doctor,‎
Then the drive down Walnut Hill.‎

Next, the dark cave of the Presbyterian garage;‎
Blue fluorescents in admitting;‎
Ice chips, the labor room, the bed; 
Wires taped to her belly.‎

A monitor drew contractions on its screen,‎
Your heart-rate jumped at every squeeze.‎
And my own raced and rushed with yours‎
Each time her muscles clenched.

Then, the epidural.
Which they would not let me see.
(Probably a good idea.)

You took a long time; 
You were in no hurry.
But at the end, you came on fast!‎

The bed rolled out on great fat wheels,
Smooth and silent, like an ocean liner or a limo, ‎
down the hall and through some doors
I could not pass.‎

They handed me a paper gown and hat and shoes,‎
And kept me in that hall for way too long.‎
I thought you’d come before they’d call me.‎
But at last they brought me to delivery.‎

And your mother was so beautiful and strong.‎
She pushed. She breathed. We saw your head.‎
And then your shoulder. One more push,‎
And here you were.‎
At that moment, ‎
When you slipped into the world, ‎
My changed life began as well.‎
W.H. Auden
Herman Melville
(for Lincoln Kirstein)
Towards the end he sailed into an extraordinary mildness,
And anchored in his home and reached his wife
And rode within the harbour of her hand,
And went each morning to an office
As though his occupation were another island.

Goodness existed: that was the new knowledge.
His terror had to blow itself quite out
To let him see it; but it was the gale had blown him
Past the Cape Horn of sensible success
Which cries: "This rock is Eden. Shipwreck here."

But deafened him with thunder and confused with lightning:
--The maniac hero hunting like a jewel
The rare ambiguous monster that had maimed his sex,
The unexplained survivor breaking off the nightmare--
All that was intricate and false; the truth was simple.

Evil is unspectacular and always human,
And shares our bed and eats at our own table,
And we are introduced to Goodness every day,
Even in drawing-rooms among a crowd of faults;
He has a name like Billy and is almost perfect,
But wears a stammer like a decoration:

And every time they meet the same thing has to happen;
It is the Evil that is helpless like a lover
And has to pick a quarrel and succeeds,
And both are openly destroyed before our eyes.

For now he was awake and knew
No one is ever spared except in dreams;
But there was something else the nightmare had distorted--
Even the punishment was human and a form of love:
The howling storm had been his father's presence
And all the time he had been carried on his father's breast.

Who now had set him gently down and left him.
He stood upon the narrow balcony and listened:
And all the stars above him sang as in his childhood
"All, all is vanity," but it was not the same;
For now the words descended like the calm of mountains--
--Nathaniel had been shy because his love was selfish--
Reborn, he cried in exultation and surrender
"The Godhead is broken like bread. We are the pieces."

And sat down at his desk and wrote a story.
Richard Wilbur
Advice to a Prophet
When you come, as you soon must, to the streets of our city,   
Mad-eyed from stating the obvious,
Not proclaiming our fall but begging us
In God’s name to have self-pity,

Spare us all word of the weapons, their force and range,   
The long numbers that rocket the mind;
Our slow, unreckoning hearts will be left behind,   
Unable to fear what is too strange.

Nor shall you scare us with talk of the death of the race.   
How should we dream of this place without us?—
The sun mere fire, the leaves untroubled about us,   
A stone look on the stone’s face?

Speak of the world’s own change. Though we cannot conceive   
Of an undreamt thing, we know to our cost
How the dreamt cloud crumbles, the vines are blackened by frost,   
How the view alters. We could believe,

If you told us so, that the white-tailed deer will slip   
Into perfect shade, grown perfectly shy,
The lark avoid the reaches of our eye,
The jack-pine lose its knuckled grip

On the cold ledge, and every torrent burn
As Xanthus once, its gliding trout
Stunned in a twinkling. What should we be without   
The dolphin’s arc, the dove’s return,

These things in which we have seen ourselves and spoken?   
Ask us, prophet, how we shall call
Our natures forth when that live tongue is all
Dispelled, that glass obscured or broken

In which we have said the rose of our love and the clean   
Horse of our courage, in which beheld
The singing locust of the soul unshelled,
And all we mean or wish to mean.

Ask us, ask us whether with the worldless rose   
Our hearts shall fail us; come demanding   
Whether there shall be lofty or long standing   
When the bronze annals of the oak-tree close.
Orestes Brownson
The Works of Orestes A. Brownson

... the doctrine we maintain... concedes the liberty of error, and places it and truth on the footing of equality before the civil authority...

We do not in this assert the indifference of truth and error... Truth cannot tolerate even so much as the semblance of error... Nor do we with Milton and Jefferson maintain that error is harmless where truth is free to combat it. Error makes the circuit of the globe while Truth is pulling on her boots, and no error ever is or ever can be harmless. What we assert is not what is called theological tolerance but what is called civil tolerance. Error has no rights, but the man who errs has equal rights with him who errs not.

T.S. Eliot
Four Quartets: The Dry Salvages
... But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint—
No occupation either, but something given
And taken, in a lifetime's death in love,
Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender.
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.
Here the impossible union
Of spheres of existence is actual,
Here the past and future
Are conquered, and reconciled ...
Henry Vaughn
They are all Gone into the World of Light
They are all gone into the world of light! 
And I alone sit ling’ring here; 
Their very memory is fair and bright, 
And my sad thoughts doth clear. 

It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast, 
Like stars upon some gloomy grove, 
Or those faint beams in which this hill is drest, 
After the sun’s remove. 

I see them walking in an air of glory, 
Whose light doth trample on my days: 
My days, which are at best but dull and hoary, 
Mere glimmering and decays. 

O holy Hope! and high Humility, 
High as the heavens above! 
These are your walks, and you have show’d them me 
To kindle my cold love. 

Dear, beauteous Death! the jewel of the just, 
Shining nowhere, but in the dark; 
What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust 
Could man outlook that mark! 

He that hath found some fledg’d bird’s nest, may know 
At first sight, if the bird be flown; 
But what fair well or grove he sings in now, 
That is to him unknown. 

And yet as angels in some brighter dreams 
Call to the soul, when man doth sleep: 
So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes 
And into glory peep. 

If a star were confin’d into a tomb, 
Her captive flames must needs burn there; 
But when the hand that lock’d her up, gives room, 
She’ll shine through all the sphere. 

O Father of eternal life, and all 
Created glories under thee! 
Resume thy spirit from this world of thrall 
Into true liberty. 

Either disperse these mists, which blot and fill 
My perspective still as they pass, 
Or else remove me hence unto that hill, 
Where I shall need no glass.
Gary Soto
The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December. Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge. I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing
Before a drugstore. We
Entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleachers,
And asked what she wanted -
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth. I fingered
A nickle in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn’t say anything.
I took the nickle from
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter. When I looked up,
The lady's eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was all

A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl's hand
In mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.
Seamus Heaney
Not the one who takes up his bed and walks 
But the ones who have known him all along 
And carry him in—

Their shoulders numb, the ache and stoop deeplocked 
In their backs, the stretcher handles 
Slippery with sweat. And no let-up

Until he’s strapped on tight, made tiltable 
And raised to the tiled roof, then lowered for healing. 
Be mindful of them as they stand and wait

For the burn of the paid-out ropes to cool, 
Their slight lightheadedness and incredulity 
To pass, those ones who had known him all along.
T.S. Eliot
Four Quartets: East Coker
In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur, and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation
And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where the field mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.

  In my beginning is my end.  Now the light falls
Across the open field, leaving the deep lane 
Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon,
Where you lean against a bank while a van passes,
And the deep lane insists on the direction 
Into the village, in the electric heat
Hypnotized. In a warm haze the sultry light
Is absorbed, not reflected, by grey stone.
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence.
Wait for the early owl.
                       In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music 
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman 
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie—
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth
Mirth of those long since under earth
Nourishing the corn. Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts.  Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking.  Dung and death.
  Dawn points, and another day
Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides. I am here
Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning.
James Merrill
Banks of a Stream
   Where Creatures Bathe
Through slits in the plantain leaf,
Celestial surge!
The fabulous old Goat
Extends nightlong

Ancien régime
Propositions. Stick with him
And you'll be wearing diamonds . . .
Barely relenting

You of the cool breast 
Unclasp the rivière. 
Facets reassembled 
Pulse and scatter.

The courts of heaven 
In sparkling shambles 
Struggle against you 
Like a shack on poles.

I can't compete. 
Giving of my very 
Self, I've seen you 
Clouded by the gift.

You want diversions
Deeply pure, is that it? 
Trust me. I keep trying 
Not to break down.

I know the hoof
Imprinted on my clay,
His bulk and poise
Who drinks you, enters you;

And hold you close,
Too close to make the best
Of that recurrently
Real beast in you.

At dawn asleep
In fairness take these colors. 
Do not sweep me 
Downstream with the stars.
Howard Nemerov
A Moon Eclipsed
“You see,” the learned astronomer said to us,
“When instruments first came into the world,
Map, globe, chart, astrolabe and orrery,
And after them the planetarium
Projecting as from inside the brain and through the eye,
They brought along with them out of the earlier earth
A grand consortium of remaindered gods
With their associated nymphs and satyrs,
Centaurs and giants, which only slowly faded.
When that chimaeric thereomorphic chorus
Ceased from their song and presently disappeared,
The telescopes worked just as well, the maps
Still better, without the ornaments of fancy,
And we were left alone with nameless mind
Projecting its immense geometries
At the speed of light, the limiting speed of time,
To the great improvement of our understanding.”

He said; and stood. When we stayed up to see
(but was it seeing, or seeing's opposite?)
A second darkness move across the night,
We saw exactly what he said we should:
The transit of the Earth with Sun and Moon
Casting a shadow intercepted and cupped
(a small vanilla scoop in a cone of shade)
As by a golf ball sitting on a tee
So big as to conceal it from the ground
Till it fell off the other side and life
Resumed its course. But at totality
We saw that we were seeing nothing, black
On black, the absent Moon. We saw it with
Our depth-perceiving and single-power eyes.
Jane Hirshfield
More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam
returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous
tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,
mitochondria, figs — all this resinous, unretractable earth.
Elizabeth Pierson Friend
My husband is watching me iron
My husband is watching me iron.
Steam reassures him. The hiss of starch
The probing slide around each button of his shirt
Speaks to him of Solway Street in Pittsburgh.
As for me, the wicker basket is a reproach.
There is last summer's nightgown,
And several awkward tablecloths
Which refuse to lie flat.

My house specializes in these challenges.
Bags of mail I did not ask to receive
choke the floor of my linen closet.
A photograph of me, holding a baby on a beach.
But which beach and, for that matter, which baby?
A Japanese chest whose bottom drawer
  has irresponsibly locked itself,
And who can remember where I put the key?

That night, waiting for sleep, I whisper,
I did only trivial things today.
And he asks, Why aren't you painting?
J. Frank Dobie
The Mustangs
I see them running, running, running,
From the Spanish caballadas to be free,
From the mustanger's rope and rifle to keep free,
Over seas of pristine grass, like fire-dancers on a mountain,
Like lightning playing against the unapproachable horizon.

I see them standing, standing, standing,
Sentinels of alertness in eye and nostril,
Every toss of maned neck a Grecian grace,
Every high snort bugling out the pride of the free.

I see them vanishing, vanishing, vanished,
The seas of grass shriveled to pens of barbwired property,
The wind-racers and wind-drinkers bred into property also.

But winds still blow free and grass still greens,
And the core of that something which men live on believing
Is always freedom.

So sometimes yet, in the realities of silence and solitude, 
For a few people unhampered a while by things, 
The mustangs walk out with dawn, stand high, then 
Sweep away, wild with sheer life, and free, free, free
Free of all confines of time and flesh. 
Annie Lighthart
The Second Music
Now I understand that there are two melodies playing,
one below the other, one easier to hear, the other

lower, steady, perhaps more faithful for being less heard
yet always present.

When all other things seem lively and real,
this one fades. Yet the notes of it

touch as gently as fingertips, as the sound
of the names laid over each child at birth.

I want to stay in that music without striving or cover.
If the truth of our lives is what it is playing,

the telling is so soft
that this mortal time, this irrevocable change,

becomes beautiful. I stop and stop again
to hear the second music.

I hear the children in the yard, a train, then birds.
All this is in it and will be gone. I set my ear to it 
    as I would to a heart.
William Shakespeare
Sonnet XXX
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unus'd to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan th' expense of many a vanish'd sight;
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor'd, and sorrows end.
John Updike
Dog's Death
She must have been kicked unseen or brushed by a car.
Too young to know much, she was beginning to learn
To use the newspapers spread on the kitchen floor
And to win, wetting there, the words, "Good dog! Good dog!"

We thought her shy malaise was a shot reaction.
The autopsy disclosed a rupture in her liver.
As we teased her with play, blood was filling her skin
And her heart was learning to lie down forever.

Monday morning, as the children were noisily fed
And sent to school, she crawled beneath the youngest's bed.
We found her twisted and limp but still alive.
In the car to the vet's, on my lap, she tried

To bite my hand and died. I stroked her warm fur
And my wife called in a voice imperious with tears.
Though surrounded by love that would have upheld her,
Nevertheless she sank and, stiffening, disappeared.

Back home, we found that in the night her frame,
Drawing near to dissolution, had endured the shame
Of diarrhoea and had dragged across the floor
To a newspaper carelessly left there. Good dog.
James Wright
A Blessing
Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness   
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.   
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.   
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me   
And nuzzled my left hand.   
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.
Sheila Packa
Driving at Night
Up north, the dashboard lights of the family car
gleam in memory, the radio
plays to itself as I drive
my father plied the highways
while my mother talked, she tried to hide
that low lilt, that Finnish brogue,
in the back seat, my sisters and I
our eyes always tied to the Big Dipper
I watch it still
on summer evenings, as the fireflies stream
above the ditches and moths smack
into the windshield and the wildlife's
red eyes bore out from the dark forests
we flew by, then scattered like the last bit of star
light years before.
It's like a different country, the past
we made wishes on unnamed falling stars
that I've forgotten, that maybe were granted
because I wished for love.
Vaclav Havel
"Politics and Conscience" (1984)

Certainly, the family farm was a source of endless and intensifying social conflict of all kinds. Still, we cannot deny it one thing: it was rooted in the nature of its place, appropriate, harmonious, personally tested by generations of farmers and certified by the results of their husbandry. It also displayed a kind of optimal mutual proportionality in extent and kind of all that belonged to it; fields, meadows, boundaries, woods, cattle, domestic animals, water, roads, and so on. For centuries no farmer made it the topic of a scientific study. Nevertheless, it constituted a generally satisfactory economic and ecological system, within which everything was bound together by a thousand threads of mutual and meaningful connection, guaranteeing its stability as well as the stability of the product of the farmer's husbandry.

Dick Davis
A Monorhyme for the Shower
Lifting her arms to soap her hair
Her pretty breasts respond—and there
The movement of that buoyant pair
Is like a spell to make me swear
Thirty-odd years have turned to air;
Now she's the girl I didn't dare
Approach, ask out, much less declare
My love to, mired in young despair.

Childbearing, rows, domestic care—
All the prosaic wear and tear
That constitute the life we share—
Slip from her beautiful and bare
Bright body as, made half aware
Of my quick surreptitious stare,
She wrings the water from her hair
And turning smiles to see me there.
Gerald Manley Hopkins
The Windhover
To Christ our Lord

I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
  dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
  Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
  As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
  Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
  Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

  No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
  Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion
W.H. Auden
"Symmetries & Asymmetries"
Could any tiger
Drink martinis, smoke cigars,
And last as we do?
May Sarton
Christmas Light
When everyone had gone
I sat in the library
With the small silent tree,
She and I alone.
How softly she shone!

And for the first time then
For the first time this year,
I felt reborn again,
I knew love's presence near.

Love distant, love detached
And strangely without weight,
Was with me in the night
When everyone had gone
And the garland of pure light
Stayed on, stayed on.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Spring and Fall

to a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving 
Over Goldengrove unleaving? 
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you? 
Ah! ás the heart grows older 
It will come to such sights colder 
By and by, nor spare a sigh 
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie; 
And yet you wíll weep and know why. 
Now no matter, child, the name: 
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same. 
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed 
What heart heard of, ghost guessed: 
It ís the blight man was born for, 
It is Margaret you mourn for.
Leigh Hunt
Jenny Kissed Me
Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I'm growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.
Donald Hall
Pale gold of the walls, gold
of the centers of daisies, yellow roses
pressing from a clear bowl. All day 
we lay on the bed, my hand
stroking the deep
gold of your thighs and your back.
We slept and woke
entering the golden room together,
lay down in it breathing
quickly, then 
slowly again, 
caressing and dozing, your hand sleepily
touching my hair now. 

We made in those days
tiny identical rooms inside our bodies
which the men who uncover our graves
will find in a thousand years,
shining and whole.
Joseph Brodsky
Odysseus to Telemachus
My dear Telemachus,

The Trojan War is over now; I don't recall who won it. The Greeks, no doubt, for only they would leave so many dead so far from their own homeland. But still, my homeward way has proved too long. While we were wasting time there, old Poseidon, it almost seems, stretched and extended space. I don't know where I am or what this place can be. It would appear some filthy island, with bushes, buildings, and great grunting pigs. A garden choked with weeds; some queen or other. Grass and huge stones . . . Telemachus, my son! To a wanderer the faces of all islands resemble one another. And the mind trips, numbering waves; eyes, sore from sea horizons, run; and the flesh of water stuffs the ears. I can't remember how the war came out; even how old you are—I can't remember. Grow up, then, my Telemachus, grow strong. Only the gods know if we'll see each other again. You've long since ceased to be that babe before whom I reined in the plowing bullocks. Had it not been for Palamedes' trick we two would still be living in one household. But maybe he was right; away from me you are quite safe from all Oedipal passions, and your dreams, my Telemachus, are blameless.

Seamus Heaney
Masons, when they start upon a building, 
Are careful to test out the scaffolding; 
Make sure that planks won't slip at busy points, 
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints. 
And yet all this comes down when the job's done 
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone. 
So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be 
Old bridges breaking between you and me 

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall 
Confident that we have built our wall.
Donald Hall
An old life
Snow fell in the night. 
At five-fifteen I woke to a bluish 
  mounded softness where 
the Honda was. Cat fed and coffee made, 
  I broomed snow off the car 
and drove to the Kearsarge Mini-Mart 
  before Amy opened 
to yank my Globe out of the bundle. 
  Back, I set my cup of coffee 
beside Jane, still half-asleep, 
  murmuring stuporous 
thanks in the aquamarine morning. 
  Then I sat in my blue chair 
with blueberry bagels and strong 
   black coffee reading news, 
the obits, the comics, and the sports. 
  Carrying my cup twenty feet, 
I sat myself at the desk 
   for this day's lifelong 
engagement with the one task and desire.
Jane Kenyon
Let Evening Come
Let the light of late afternoon 
shine through chinks in the barn, moving 
up the bales as the sun moves down. 

Let the cricket take up chafing 
as a woman takes up her needles 
and her yarn. Let evening come. 
Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned 
in long grass. Let the stars appear 
and the moon disclose her silver horn. 
Let the fox go back to its sandy den. 
Let the wind die down. Let the shed 
go black inside. Let evening come. 
To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop 
in the oats, to air in the lung 
let evening come. 
Let it come, as it will, and don't 
be afraid. God does not leave us 
comfortless, so let evening come.
A South Dakota third-grader
quoted by Kathleen Norris
When My Third Snail Died
When my third snail died, I said, 
'I'm through with snails.' 
But I didn't mean it.
My Dream
This is my dream, 
It is my own dream, 
I dreamt it. 
I dreamt that my hair was kempt. 
Then I dreamt that my true love unkempt it.
Robert Herrick
To Find God
Weigh me the fire; or canst thou find 
A way to measure out the wind? 
Distinguish all those floods that are 
Mixed in that wat'ry theater, 
And taste thou them as saltless there, 
As in their channel first they were. 
Tell me the people that do keep 
Within the kingdoms of the deep; 
Or fetch me back that cloud again, 
Beshivered into seeds of rain. 
Tell me the motes, dust, sands, and spears 
Of corn, when summer shakes his ears; 
Show me that world of stars, and whence 
They noiseless spill their influence. 
This if thou canst; then show me Him 
That rides the glorious cherubim.
Always Marry An April Girl
Praise the spells and bless the charms, 
I found April in my arms. 
April golden, April cloudy, 
Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy; 
April soft in flowered languor, 
April cold with sudden anger, 
Ever changing, ever true – 
I love April, I love you.
R.S. Gwynn
Slow for the sake of flowers as they turn
     Toward sunlight, graceful as a line of sail
          Coming into the wind. Slow for the mill-
Wheel's heft and plummet, for the chug and churn
     Of water as it gathers, for the frail 
          Half-life of spraylets as they toss and spill.
For all that lags and eases, all that shows
     The winding-downward and diminished scale
          Of days declining to a twilit chill,
Breathe quietly, release into repose:
                    Be still.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Pied Beauty
Glory be to God for dappled things–
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him.
Fragment 31
He seems to me equal to gods that man 

whoever he is who opposite you
sits and listens close
to your sweet speaking

and lovely laughing – oh it
puts the heart in my chest on wings
for when I look at you, even a moment, no speaking
is left in me

no: tongue breaks and thin
fire is racing under skin
and in eyes no sight and drumming
fills ears

and cold sweat holds me and shaking
grips me all, greener than grass
I am and dead – or almost
I seem to me.

But all is to be dared, because even a person of poverty
Dorianne Laux
The Shipfitter's Wife
I loved him most
when he came home from work,
his fingers still curled from fitting pipe,
his denim shirt ringed with sweat
and smelling of salt, the drying weeds
of the ocean. I'd go to where he sat
on the edge of the bed, his forehead
anointed with grease, his cracked hands 
jammed between his thighs, and unlace
the steel-toed boots, stroke his ankles
and calves, the pads and bones of his feet. 
Then I'd open his clothes and take
 the whole day inside me – the ship's
gray sides, the miles of copper pipe,
the voice of the foreman clanging 
off the hull's silver ribs. Spark of lead 
kissing metal. The clamp, the winch,
the white fire of the torch, the whistle,
and the long drive home.
Richard Wilbur
The Writer
In her room at the prow of the house
Where the light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.
I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.
I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.
Li Po
Translated by Ezra Pound
The River-Merchant's Wife
While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse, 
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan: 
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion. 
At fourteen I married My Lord you. 
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever. 
Why should I climb the look out?

At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-en, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.
You dragged your feet when you went out. 
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away! 
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
As far as Cho-fu-Sa.
T.S. Eliot
Four Quartets: Little Gidding
We shall not cease from exploration 
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time. 
Through the unknown, unremembered gate 
When the last of earth left to discover 
Is that which was the beginning; 
At the source of the longest river 
The voice of the hidden waterfall 
And the children in the apple-tree 
Not known, because not looked for 
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness 
Between two waves of the sea. 
Quick now, here, now, always – 
A condition of complete simplicity 
(Costing not less than everything) 
And all shall be well and 
All manner of thing shall be well 
When the tongues of flame are in-folded 
Into the crowned knot of fire 
And the fire and the rose are one.
Dana Gioia
New Year's
Let other mornings honor the miraculous.
Eternity has festivals enough.
This is the feast of our mortality,
The most mundane and human holiday.

 On other days we misinterpret time,
 Pretending that we live the present moment.
 But can this blur, this smudgy in-between,
 This tiny fissure where the future drips

 Into the past, this flyspeck we call now
 Be our true habitat? The present is
 The leaky palm of water that we skim
 From the swift, silent river slipping by.

 The new year always brings us what we want
 Simply by bringing us along—to see
 A calendar with every day uncrossed,
 A field of snow without a single footprint.
Jorge Luis Borges
Translated by Genia Gurarie
Adam Cast Forth
Was there a Garden or was the Garden a dream? 
Amid the fleeting light, I have slowed myself and queried, 
Almost for consolation, if the bygone period 
Over which this Adam, wretched now, once reigned supreme, 

Might not have been just a magical illusion 
Of that God I dreamed.  Already it's imprecise
In my memory, the clear Paradise,
But I know it exists, in flower and profusion,

Although not for me.  My punishment for life 
Is the stubborn earth with the incestuous strife 
Of Cains and Abels and their brood; I await no pardon. 
Yet, it's much to have loved, to have known true joy, 
To have had – if only for just one day –  
The experience of touching the living Garden.
Iliana Rocha
Domestic Violence
To relearn how to drive in the rain—
slippery saliva on the city’s tongue
in slate. A song propels despite
the radio, & I wonder how many people
listening have to pull their cars off the road
because it’s so beautiful.
When it’s over, a dedication: To my late wife, Betty—

this is how I felt about my life with you.
From this distance, we are becoming ever-
softening echoes of each other.

Our landscape was one rock piled on top of another.
No, not piled, the guide in Arizona
corrected, but a fissure made more
of a fissure over time—unlike how
my mouth fell into my hands: a brutal
swipe of coral onto my thumb, then the entire
scream in my palm, the color of the South

Rim with its yellows & aubergines.
I’ve tried to carve away this nothingness
with the spoon of my car, as I pass a trailer hauling

cows with fluorescent pink numbers
scrawled across their lazy haunches, another
truck with several windshields filed in its bed,
my careless tailgate of blood & glass.
Like you, the rain is more hologram
than tear, more sugar than skull.
I can almost feel it between my toes,
almost gently enough to want you through.
Lawrence Kessenich
During Lent, season of discipline,
I drag myself early out of bed, ride
to Mass with Mom and Mrs. Crivello,
warm in the front seat between their
woolen coats, soothed by familiar perfume.

Headlights carve the ebony darkness.
The women talk in low tones
about people I don’t know, the thrum
of their voices reassuring. I doze
for seconds that seem like minutes.

In the half-acre lot, we park among
a small band of cars huddled near
the entrance of St. Monica’s. Inside,
stained glass windows, a feast of color
in daylight, are black. The church is barn-cold.

Candles burn, bells ring, prayers are murmured,
songs sung. The church warms slowly. I sit,
stand, kneel between the two women,
rituals washing over me like soft waves
on Lake Michigan in August.

Later, I carry the sacred mood
out on my route, dispensing papers
like Communion to my neighbors.
Ezra Pound
And the days are not full enough
And the days are not full enough 
And the nights are not full enough 
And life slips by like a field mouse 
Not shaking the grass.
Philip Larkin
The Whitsun Weddings
That Whitsun, I was late getting away: 
  Not till about 
One-twenty on the sunlit Saturday 
Did my three-quarters-empty train pull out, 
All windows down, all cushions hot, all sense 
Of being in a hurry gone. We ran 
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street 
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence 
      The river's level drifting breadth began, 
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet. 
All afternoon, through the tall heat that slept 
  For miles inland, 
A slow and stopping curve southwards we kept. 
Wide farms went by, short-shadowed cattle, and 
Canals with floatings of industrial froth; 
A hothouse flashed uniquely: hedges dipped 
And rose: and now and then a smell of grass 
Displaced the reek of buttoned carriage-cloth 
Until the next town, new and nondescript, 
Approached with acres of dismantled cars. 
At first, I didn't notice what a noise 
  The weddings made 
Each station that we stopped at: sun destroys 
The interest of what's happening in the shade, 
And down the long cool platforms whoops and skirls 
I took for porters larking with the mails, 
And went on reading. Once we started, though, 
We passed them, grinning and pomaded, girls 
In parodies of fashion, heels and veils, 
All posed irresolutely, watching us go, 
As if out on the end of an event 
  Waving goodbye 
To something that survived it. Struck, I leant 
More promptly out next time, more curiously, 
And saw it all again in different terms: 
The fathers with broad belts under their suits 
And seamy foreheads; mothers loud and fat; 
An uncle shouting smut; and then the perms, 
The nylon gloves and jewellery-substitutes, 
The lemons, mauves, and olive-ochres that 
Marked off the girls unreally from the rest. 
  Yes, from cafés 
And banquet-halls up yards, and bunting-dressed 
Coach-party annexes, the wedding-days 
Were coming to an end. All down the line 
Fresh couples climbed aboard: the rest stood round; 
The last confetti and advice were thrown, 
And, as we moved, each face seemed to define 
Just what it saw departing: children frowned 
At something dull; fathers had never known 
Success so huge and wholly farcical; 
  The women shared 
The secret like a happy funeral; 
While girls, gripping their handbags tighter, stared 
At a religious wounding. Free at last, 
And loaded with the sum of all they saw, 
We hurried towards London, shuffling gouts of steam. 
Now fields were building-plots, and poplars cast 
Long shadows over major roads, and for 
Some fifty minutes, that in time would seem 
Just long enough to settle hats and say 
  I nearly died, 
A dozen marriages got under way. 
They watched the landscape, sitting side by side 
 – An Odeon went past, a cooling tower, And 
someone running up to bowl – and none 
Thought of the others they would never meet 
Or how their lives would all contain this hour. 
I thought of London spread out in the sun, 
Its postal districts packed like squares of wheat: 
There we were aimed. And as we raced across 
  Bright knots of rail 
Past standing Pullmans, walls of blackened moss 
Came close, and it was nearly done, this frail 
Travelling coincidence; and what it held 
stood ready to be loosed with all the power 
That being changed can give. We slowed again, 
And as the tightened brakes took hold, there swelled 
A sense of falling, like an arrow-shower 
Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming rain.
John Donne
Batter my heart, three person'd God
Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you 
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend; 
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee, and bend 
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new. 
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due, 
Labour to'admit you, but Oh, to no end, 
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend, 
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue. 
Yet dearely 'I love you,' and would be loved faine, 
But am betroth'd unto your enemie: 
Divorce mee, untie, or breake that knot againe; 
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I 
Except you enthrall mee, never shall be free, 
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish mee.
Philip Larkin
If I were called in 
To construct a religion 
I should make use of water. 
Going to church 
Would entail a fording 
To dry, different clothes; 
My litany would employ 
Images of sousing, 
A furious devout drench, 
And I should raise in the east 
A glass of water 
Where any-angled light 
Would congregate endlessly.
Maiden Name
Marrying left your maiden name disused.
Its five light sounds no longer mean your face,
Your voice, and all your variants of grace; 
For since you were so thankfully confused
By law with someone else, you cannot be
Semantically the same as that young beauty:
It was of her that these two words were used.

Now it's a phrase applicable to no one,
Lying just where you left it, scattered through
Old lists, old programmes, a school prize or two
Packets of letters tied with tartan ribbon–
Then is it scentless, weightless, strengthless, wholly
Untruthful? Try whispering it slowly.
No, it means you. Or, since you're past and gone,

It means what we feel now about you then:
How beautiful you were, and near, and young,
So vivid, you might still be there among 
Those first few days, unfingermarked again.
So your old name shelters our faithfulness,
Instead of losing shape and meaning less
With your depreciating luggage laden.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls
The tide rises, the tide falls, 
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls; 
Along the sea-sands damp and brown 
The traveler hastens toward the town, 
And the tide rises, the tide falls. 

Darkness settles on roofs and walls, 
But the sea, the sea in darkness calls; 
The little waves, with their soft, white hands
Efface the footprints in the sands, 
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveler to the shore.
And the tide rises, the tide falls.
Richard Wilbur
For C. [for M.]
After the clash of elevator gates 
And the long sinking, she emerges where, 
A slight thing in the morning’s crosstown glare, 
She looks up toward the window where he waits, 
Then in a fleeting taxi joins the rest 
Of the huge traffic bound forever west. 

On such grand scale do lovers say good-bye— 
Even this other pair whose high romance 
Had only the duration of a dance, 
And who, now taking leave with stricken eye, 
See each in each a whole new life forgone. 
For them, above the darkling clubhouse lawn, 

Bright Perseids flash and crumble; while for these 
Who part now on the dock, weighed down by grief 
And baggage, yet with something like relief, 
It takes three thousand miles of knitting seas 
To cancel out their crossing, and unmake 
The amorous rough and tumble of their wake. 

We are denied, my love, their fine tristesse 
And bittersweet regrets, and cannot share 
The frequent vistas of their large despair, 
Where love and all are swept to nothingness; 
Still, there’s a certain scope in that long love 
Which constant spirits are the keepers of, 

And which, though taken to be tame and staid, 
Is a wild sostenuto of the heart, 
A passion joined to courtesy and art 
Which has the quality of something made, 
Like a good fiddle, like the rose’s scent, 
Like a rose window or the firmament.
Mark Meynell
Tectonic Words
Words need thew and heft to move
or melt the front that's spent or bruised
since talk that's glib or small or slight
can't prop or ease those hearts that hide

Whereas, idle, relentless triviality
with fitfull vacuum-filling spasms
exasperate with careless conversing
neither relieving nor compassing
always congesting air's tranquility with
informations, directions,
impressions, descriptions,
prattlings and rattlings,
natterings or blabbings,
pontifications or punditry
without sensibility to ignorance
or sympathy for privations.

such want of balm, such waste of wind.
Since spans of life get trimmed and hewn
and time (too brief!) ekes breath and limb,
why not rise to grant some salve
or hint at dawn for souls' stretched night?
Li-Young Lee
From Blossoms
From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches. 
From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat. 
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach. 
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
Jean Nordhaus
To Hold
Before I left for camp, my mother sewed my name
with a firm stitch into everything I owned.
She even looped a string of nametapes
through the scissors I keep to this day on my desk.
She wanted to be sure, when she sent me into the woods,
she'd get the right child back at summer's end,
that I'd not be left in the laundry drum
like an unmarked sock. Others—
careless lazy mothers—favored marking pens,
illegible black letters bleeding into stain.
My mother knew nothing was permanent.
She'd seen how fast a child could disappear:
her two dead sisters with names like flowers:
Lily, Rose, their summery smells, indelible voices.
That's why she sewed my name so tight
on all four sides, double-knotted the knots.
So I wouldn't forget when she sent me off
into the wet, the dark, the wild: I was hers.
Carl Sandburg
Back Yard
Shine on, O moon of summer.  
Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak,  
All silver under your rain to-night.  
An Italian boy is sending songs to you to-night from an accordion.  
A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month;
     to-night they are throwing you kisses.
An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a
     cherry tree in his back yard.  
The clocks say I must go—I stay here sitting on the back porch drinking
     white thoughts you rain down.  
     Shine on, O moon,  
Shake out more and more silver changes.
Janet Lewis
Remembered Morning
The axe rings in the wood
And the children come,
Laughing and wet from the river;
And all goes on as it should.
I hear the murmur and hum
Of their morning, forever.

The water ripples and slaps
The white boat at the dock;
The fire crackles and snaps.
The little noise of the clock
Goes on and on in my heart,
Of my heart parcel and part.

O happy early stir!
A girl comes out on the porch,
And the door slams after her.
She sees the wind in the birch,
And then the running day
Catches her into its way.
John Updike
It looks easy from a distance,
easy and lazy, even,
until you stand up to the plate
and see the fastball sailing inside,
an inch from your chin,
or circle in the outfield
straining to get a bead
on a small black dot
a city block or more high,
a dark star that could fall
on your head like a leaden meteor.

The grass, the dirt, the deadly hops
between your feet and overeager glove:
football can be learned,
and basketball finessed, but
there is no hiding from baseball
the fact that some are chosen
and some are not—those whose mitts
feel too left-handed,
who are scared at third base
of the pulled line drive,
and at first base are scared
of the shortstop's wild throw
that stretches you out like a gutted deer.

There is nowhere to hide when the ball's
spotlight swivels your way,
and the chatter around you falls still,
and the mothers on the sidelines,
your own among them, hold their breaths,
and you whiff on a terrible pitch
or in the infield achieve
something with the ball so
ridiculous you blush for years.
It's easy to do. Baseball was
invented in America, where beneath
the good cheer and sly jazz the chance
of failure is everybody's right,
beginning with baseball.
Sharon Olds
The Month of June: 13 1/2
As our daughter approaches graduation and   
puberty at the same time, at her 
own, calm, deliberate, serious rate, 
she begins to kick up her heels, jazz out her   
hands, thrust out her hipbones, chant 
I’m great! I’m great! She feels 8th grade coming   
open around her, a chrysalis cracking and   
letting her out, it falls behind her and   
joins the other husks on the ground, 
7th grade, 6th grade, the 
magenta rind of 5th grade, the 
hard jacket of 4th when she had so much pain,   
3rd grade, 2nd, the dim cocoon of 
1st grade back there somewhere on the path, and   
kindergarten like a strip of thumb-suck blanket 
taken from the actual blanket they wrapped her in at birth.   
The whole school is coming off her shoulders like a   
cloak unclasped, and she dances forth in her   
jerky sexy child’s joke dance of 
self, self, her throat tight and a 
hard new song coming out of it, while her   
two dark eyes shine 
above her body like a good mother and a   
good father who look down and 
love everything their baby does, the way she   
lives their love.
Tony Hoagland
Summer in a Small Town
Yes, the young mothers are beautiful,
with all the self-acceptance of exhaustion,
still dazed from their great outpouring,
pushing their strollers along the public river walk.

And the day is also beautiful—the replica 19th-century paddle-wheeler
perpetually moored at the city wharf
                with its glassed-in bar and grill
for the lunch-and-cocktail-seekers
who come for the Mark Twain Happy Hour
which lasts as long as the Mississippi.

This is the kind of town where the rush hour traffic halts
                to let three wild turkeys cross the road,
and when the high school music teacher retires
after thirty years

the movie marquee says, "Thanks Mr. Biddleman!"
and the whole town comes to hear
                the tuba solos of old students.

Summer, when the living is easy
and we store up pleasure in our bodies
like fat, like Eskimos,
for the coming season of privation.

All August the Ferris wheel will turn
                           in the little amusement park,
and screaming teenage girls will jump into the river
with their clothes on,
right next to the No Swimming sign.

Trying to cool the heat inside the small towns
                                               of their bodies,
for which they have no words;
obedient to the voice inside which tells them,
"Now. Steal Pleasure."
Michael Berryhill

Poetry is not decorative, she writes in her notebook, but is chaste and desperate. It is an attempt to pare away lies, then find a core of lies that can’t be touched and are acknowledged as necessary. By turning toward the process, the poet tries not to get an ultimate, definable truth, but a sentence, a phrase, a picture, that is perhaps a little truer.

Charles Wright
In Murray, Kentucky, I lay once
On my side, the ghost-weight of a past life in my arms,
A life not mine. I know she was there,
Asking for nothing, heavy as bad luck, still waiting to rise.
I know now and I lift her.

Evening becomes us.
I see myself in a tight dissolve, and answer to no one.
Self-traitor, I smuggle in
The spider love, undoer and rearranger of all things.
Angel of Mercy, strip me down.

This world is just a little place,
Just red in the sky before the sun rises.
Hold hands, hold hands
That when the birds start, none of us is missing.
Hold hands, hold hands.
The Assembly
A Poem for Mornings
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee,
Coffee. Coffee. 
Everyone shut up.
Philip Larkin
High Windows
When I see a couple of kids
And guess he’s fucking her and she’s   
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,   
I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives—   
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the long slide

To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if   
Anyone looked at me, forty years back,   
And thought, That’ll be the life;
No God any more, or sweating in the dark

About hell and that, or having to hide   
What you think of the priest. He
And his lot will all go down the long slide   
Like free bloody birds. And immediately

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:   
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.
Rabindranath Tagore
Time after time I came to your gate
Time after time I came to your gate
with raised hands, asking for more and yet more.
You gave and gave, now in
slow measure, now in sudden excess.
I took some, and some things I let
drop; some lay heavy on my hands;
some I made into playthings and broke
them when tired; till the wrecks and
the hoard of your gifts grew immense,
hiding you, and the ceaseless expectation
wore my heart out.

Take, oh take - has now become my cry.

Shatter all from this beggar's bowl;
put out the lamp of the importunate
watcher; hold my hands, raise me from
the still-gathering heap of your gifts
into the bare infinity of your uncrowded
W.S. Merwin
The New Song
For some time I thought there was time
and that there would always be time
for what I had a mind to do
and what I could imagine
going back to and finding it
as I had found it the first time
but by this time I do not know
what I thought when I thought back then

there is no time yet it grows less
there is the sound of rain at night
arriving unknown in the leaves
once without before or after
then I hear the thrush waking
at daybreak singing the new song
George Bilgere
Just when you’d begun to feel
You could rely on the summer,
That each morning would deliver
The same mourning dove singing
From his station on the phone pole,
The same smell of bacon frying 
Somewhere in the neighborhood,
The same sun burning off
The coastal fog by noon,
When you could reward yourself
For a good morning’s work
With lunch at the same little seaside cafe
With its shaded deck and iced tea,
The day’s routine finally down
Like an old song with minor variations,
There comes that morning when the light
Tilts ever so slightly on its track,
A cool gust out of nowhere
Whirlwinds a litter of dead grass
Across the sidewalk, the swimsuits
Are piled on the sale table,
And the back of your hand,
Which you thought you knew,
Has begun to look like an old leaf.
Or the back of someone else’s hand.
Lee Robinson
What I Know
What I know for sure is less and less:
that a hot bath won’t cure loneliness.

That bacon is the best bad thing to chew
and what you love may kill you.

The odd connection between perfection
and foolishness, like the pelican
diving for his fish.

How silly sex is.
How, having it, we glimpse
our holiness.

What I know is less and less.
What I want is more and more:

you against me—
your ferocious tenderness—

love like a star,
once small and far,
now huge, now near.
Naomi Shihab Nye
Cross That Line
Paul Robeson stood
on the northern border
of the USA
and sang into Canada
where a vast audience
sat on folding chairs
waiting to hear him.

He sang into Canada.
His voice left the USA
when his body was
not allowed to cross
that line.

Remind us again,
brave friend.
What countries may we
sing into?
What lines should we all
be crossing?
What songs travel toward us
from far away
to deepen our days?
Mary Oliver
Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting 
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.
Maxine Kumin
All day he’s shoveled green pine sawdust
out of the trailer truck into the chute.
From time to time he’s clambered down to even
the pile. Now his hair is frosted with sawdust.
Little rivers of sawdust pour out of his boots.

I hope in the afterlife there’s none of this stuff
he says, stripping nude in the late September sun
while I broom off his jeans, his sweater flocked
with granules, his immersed-in-sawdust socks.
I hope there’s no bedding, no stalls, no barn

no more repairs to the paddock gate the horses
burst through when snow avalanches off the roof.
Although the old broodmare, our first foal, is his,
horses, he’s fond of saying, make divorces.
Fifty years married, he’s safely facetious.

No garden pump that’s airbound, no window a grouse
flies into and shatters, no ancient tractor’s
intractable problem with carburetor
ignition or piston, no mowers and no chain saws
that refuse to start, or start, misfire and quit.

But after a Bloody Mary on the terrace
already frost-heaved despite our heroic efforts
to level the bricks a few years back, he says
let’s walk up to the field and catch the sunset
and off we go, a couple of aging fools.

I hope, he says, on the other side there’s a lot
less work, but just in case I’m bringing tools.
Hillarie Belloc
The Elephant
When people call this beast to mind,
They marvel more and more
At such a little tail behind,
So large a trunk before.
John Clare
First Love
I ne'er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet,
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.
My face turned pale as deadly pale.
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked, what could I ail?
My life and all seemed turned to clay.

And then my blood rushed to my face
And took my eyesight quite away,
The trees and bushes round the place
Seemed midnight at noonday.
I could not see a single thing,
Words from my eyes did start —
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burnt round my heart.

Are flowers the winter’s choice?
Is love’s bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silent voice,
Not love’s appeals to know.
I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling-place
And can return no more.
William Carlos Williams
The Ivy Crown
                                           crowned by excess,
it breaks forcefully,
                 one way or another,
                                           from its confinement –
or find a deeper well.
                 Antony and Cleopatra
                                           were right;
they have shown
                the way. I love you
                                       or I do not live
at all.

                is past. This is
                                          summer, summer!
the heart says,
                and not even the full of it.
                                      No doubts
are permitted –
                though they will come
                                       and may
before our time
                overwhelm us.
                                       We are only mortal
but being mortal
                can defy our fate.
                                       We may
by an outside chance
                even win! We do not
                                       look to see
jonquils and violets
               come again
                                       but there are,
                the roses!

ROMANCE HAS no part in it.
                The business of love is
                                          cruelty which,
by our will,
                   we transform
                                       to live together.
It has its seasons,
                for and against,
                                          whatever the heart
fumbles in the dark
                to assert
                                          toward the end of May.

JUST AS THE nature of briars
                is to tear flesh,
                                       I have proceeded
through them.
                                       the briars out,
they say.
                You cannot live
                                       and keep free of
the briars.

                 Let them.
                                      Though having them
in hand they have
                 no further use for them
                                        but leave them crumpled
at the curb’s edge.

AT OUR AGE the imagination
                 across the sorry facts
                                           lifts us
to make roses
                 stand before the thorns.
love is cruel
                 and selfish
                                       and totally obtuse –
at least, blinded by the light,
                 young love is.
                                        But we are older,
I to love
                 and you to be loved,
                                        we have,
no matter how,
                 by our wills survived
                                        to keep
the jewelled prize
                   always at our finger tips.
We will it so
                  and so it is
                                       past all accident.
Kay Barnes
The day has gone slack, but not for the noisy grackles
who darken my pear trees, who want what they want, nor
for the sylphy single mom next door who thumps like a heart

on her treadmill. Passion fails for most of us, that's the truth.
But worse things happen in a life. Pre-teen daughters, left
with a live-in, hug designer handbags, slight their cats,
refuse my smiles. A boyfriend in Malibu, she told
my husband, uncoiling from her Jaguar in tights
and furs. Do I dare pass judgment
in the Age of Whatever? It's the North Dallas way,
molting lives like birds drop feathers,
as long as you're happy the length 
of a marriage. If I said something other than
have a good time, if I spoke like a nun, self-
denial? Or foretold like a sibyl the woeful
outcome? But I'm just an old neighbor
on the wrong side of a rose-covered fence.
And who can stand to see ahead the cost of her decisions?
Evening after evening my grackles come back
screeching, a babel of brute gesture
so unlike the bird I can't name
whose call begins with the pluck of a kiss
but ends at once with a sigh, a not unwelcome release
from the tight zero of desire. I've heard that bird, 
yes, I have, not in this place, but always at this hour.
John Donne
A Hymn to God the Father
Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
          Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin through which I run,
          And do run still, though still I do deplore?
              When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
                  For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
          Others to sin and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
          A year, or two, but wallowed in a score?
              When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
                  For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
          My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
Swear by thyself that at my death Thy Son
          Shall shine as He shines now, and heretofore;
              And having done that, Thou hast done,
                  I fear no more.
Julia Kasdorf
Before Dawn in October
The window frame catches a draft
that smells of dead leaves and wet street,
and I wrap arms around my knees,
look down on these small breasts,
so my spine forms a curve as perfect
as the rim of the moon. I want to tell
the man sleeping curled as a child beside me
that this futon is a raft. The moon
and tiny star we call sun are the parents
who at last approve of us. For once,
we haven’t borrowed more than we can return.
Stars above our cement backyard are as sharp
as those that shine far from Brooklyn,
and we are not bound for anything worse
than we can imagine, as long as we turn
on the kitchen lamp and light a flame
under the pot, as long as we sip coffee
from beautiful China-blue cups and love
the steam of the shower and thrusting
our feet into trousers. As long as we walk
down our street in sun that ignites
red leaves on the maple, we will see
faces on the subway and know we may take
our places somewhere among them.
Rosalind Brackenbury
Morning in May
Grass grows in the night
and early the mockingbirds begin
their fleet courtships over puddles,
upon wires, in the new green
of the Spanish limes.

Their white-striped wings flash
as they flirt and dive.
Wind in the chimes pulls music
from the air, the sky’s cleared
of its vast complications.

In the pause before summer,
the wild sprouting of absolutely
everything: hair, nails, the mango’s
pale rose pennants, tongues of birds
singing daylong.

Words, even, and sudden embraces,
surprising dreams and things I’d never
imagined, in all these years of living,
one more astonished awakening.
Hayden Carruth
Dearest, I never knew such loving. There
in that glass tower in the alien city, alone,
we found what somewhere I had always known
exists and must exist, this fervent care,
this lust of tenderness. Two were aware
how in hot seizure, bone pressed to bone
and liquid flesh to flesh, each separate moan
was pleasure, yes, but most in the other's share.
Companions and discoverers, equal and free,
so deep in love we adventured and so far
that we became perhaps more than we are,
and now being home is hardship. Therefore are we
diminished? No. We are of the world again
but still augmented, more than we've ever been.
Kenneth Rexroth
Open the Blind
Nests in the eaves stir in the dawn
Ephemeral as our peace
Morning prayer
Grace before food
I understand
The endless sky the small earth
The shadow cone
Your shining
Lips and eyes
Your thighs drenched with the sea
A telescope full of fireflies
Innumerable nebulae all departing
Ten billion years before we ever met
Mary Logue
In the Shed
While we are gone,
our neighbor finds
a long-dead buck in our shed,
steeped in snow and wood.
A broken leg took him down
and he found refuge.
The deer that had wandered the hills,
had run in front of a car.
This is the story we make up to
understand how he got there.
It’s sad, the part about dying.
It scares us, we want to turn
our faces away, drag the deer
back to the forest.
But there is something else
we should look at—
a small gladness that he found
shelter close to our house,
that he came out of the wind and snow
to curl up near the wood pile.
All deer die.
This one is a testament.
Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Everything We Don't Want Them to Know
At eleven, my granddaughter looks like my daughter
 did, that slender body, that thin face, the grace

with which she moves. When she visits, she sits
 with my daughter; they have hot chocolate together

and talk. The way my granddaughter moves her hands,
 the concentration with which she does everything,

knocks me back to the time when I sat with my daughter
 at this table and we talked and I watched the grace

with which she moved her hands, the delicate way
 she lifted the heavy hair back behind her ear.

My daughter is grown now, married
 in a fairy-tale wedding, divorced, something inside

her broken, healing slowly. I look at my granddaughter
 and I want to save her, as I was not able

to save my daughter. Nothing is that simple,
 all our plans, carefully made, thrown into a cracked
 pile by the way love betrays us.
Faith Shearin
Spelling Bee
In the spelling bee my daughter wore a good
brown dress and kept her hands folded.
There were twelve children speaking

into a microphone that was taller than
they were. Each time it was her turn
I could barely look. It wasn't that I wanted

her to win but I hoped she would be
happy with herself. The words were too hard
for me; I would have missed chemical,

thermos, and dessert. Each time she spelled
one correctly my heart became a bird.
She once fluttered so restlessly beneath

my skin and, on the morning of her arrival,
her little red hands held nothing.
Her life since has been a surprise: she can

sew; she can draw; she can read. She hates
raisins but loves science. All the parents
must feel this, watching from the cheap

folding chairs. Somewhere inside them
love took shape and now
it stands at the microphone, spelling.
Robert Frost
Hyla Brook
By June our brook's run out of song and speed.	
Sought for much after that, it will be found	
Either to have gone groping underground	
(And taken with it all the Hyla breed	
That shouted in the mist a month ago,
Like ghost of sleigh-bells in a ghost of snow)—	
Or flourished and come up in jewel-weed,	
Weak foliage that is blown upon and bent	
Even against the way its waters went.	
Its bed is left a faded paper sheet
Of dead leaves stuck together by the heat—	
A brook to none but who remember long.	
This as it will be seen is other far	
Than with brooks taken otherwhere in song.	
We love the things we love for what they are.
Charile Maguire
When my cows no longer care to go
Out to their pasture far or near 
But stand close in the last warm sun 
Around the place, I'll know that fall is here
And when the corn goes into dint 
Across the fields like old men appear 
And we pick it and store it all away 
Around the place, I'll know that fall is here
When the limbs of the apple and the pear 
Lean down with their fruit so near 
And my children go a'gathering 
Around the place, I'll know that fall is here
And when the hunters come from town 
Seeking the pheasant and the deer 
With their dogs in front to point the game 
Around the place, I'll know that fall is here 
When the hay and straw are in the barn 
Stacked to the roof, tier on tier 
Smelling like a summer come and gone 
Around the place, I'll know that fall is here 
Around the place, I'll know that fall is here 
When the evenings come early and the mornings are clear 
Over all the fields I've worked this year 
Around the place, I'll know that fall is here
Karl Kirchwey
Those nights the fireflies love best—
 windless and a little humid—
when they are current in the pasture,
busy in their greeny traffic,
signaling beneath the stars
("Like a nightclub's marquee," she says,
remembering Fifty-Second Street),
then I think pleasure is like this,
accomplished in a perfect silence
undeceived by loneliness.
And in the morning on the lawn,
seedpods of Eastern cottonwood
lie scattered open, white and brilliant,
as if true to some child's account
of what pleasure becomes with daylight.
Dana Gioia
Summer Storm
We stood on the rented patio
While the party went on inside.
You knew the groom from college. 
I was a friend of the bride. 

We hugged the brownstone wall behind us
To keep our dress clothes dry
And watched the sudden summer storm
Floodlit against the sky.

The rain was like a waterfall
Of brilliant beaded light,
Cool and silent as the stars
The storm hid from the night.

To my surprise, you took my arm – 
A gesture you didn't explain – 
And we spoke in whispers, as if we two
Might imitate the rain.

Then suddenly the storm receded
As swiftly as it came.
The doors behind us opened up.
The hostess called your name.

I watched you merge into the group,
Aloof and yet polite.
We didn't speak another word
Except to say goodnight.

Why does that evening's memory
Return with this night's storm – 
A party twenty years ago,
Its disappointments warm?

There are so many might have beens,
What ifs that won't stay buried,
Other cities, other jobs,
Strangers we might have married.

And memory insists on pining
For places it never went,
As if life would be happier
Just by being different.
High Society
Mike: Is that for me?
Dexter: It's for Sam. You want one?
Mike: You know how I feel about my grandmother, but I'd sell her for a drink.
Dexter: Uncle Willie's in the pantry doing weird and wonderful things with healing waters. Tell him you'd like one of the same.
Mike: Can I ask for two?
Dexter: Keep going till you run out of grandmothers.
Kenneth Fields
Watermelon in Easter Hay
Summer is a day. The whole world is autumn.
Leaves are falling, the river’s flowing by
Dimpled with tiny insects. They swarm in clouds,
Clusters undulating.

The last student, the pupil (someone moistens
The eyes and lips) dilates, does not stop down
At the sharp beam of the penlight. Nothing moves.
I tell myself

Do not welcome the dark though your life
Has changed. Rather, behold the heaven
Of flying things, trout rising, worlds,
Japanese lanterns in the trees.
G.K. Chesterton
from Orthodoxy

Love is not blind. That is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.

Stephen Dunn

Driving the Garden State Parkway to New York, I pointed out two crows to a woman who believed crows always travel in threes. And later just one crow eating the carcass of a squirrel. "The others are nearby," she said, "hidden in trees." She was sure. Now and then she'd say "See!" and a clear dark trinity of crows would be standing on the grass. I told her she was wrong to under- or overestimate crows, and wondered out loud if three crows together made any evolutionary sense. I was almost getting serious now. Near Forked River, we saw five. "There's three," she said, "and two others with a friend in a tree." I looked to see if she was smiling. She wasn't. Or she was. "Men like you," she said, "need it written down, notarized, and signed."

Paul Muldoon
Why Brownlee Left
Why Brownlee left, and where he went,
Is a mystery even now.
For if a man should have been content
It was him; two acres of barley,
One of potatoes, four bullocks,
A milker, a slated farmhouse.
He was last seen going out to plough
On a March morning, bright and early.

By noon Brownlee was famous;
They had found all abandoned, with
The last rig unbroken, his pair of black
Horses, like man and wife,
Shifting their weight from foot to
Foot, and gazing into the future.
Hal Sirowitz
Lending Out Books

You're always giving, my therapist said.
You have to learn how to take. Whenever
you meet a woman, the first thing you do
is lend her your books. You think she'll
have to see you again in order to return them.
But what happens is, she doesn't have the time
to read them & she's afraid if she sees you again
you'll expect her to talk about them, & will
want to lend her even more. So she
cancels the date. You end up losing
a lot of books. You should borrow hers.

James V. Schall
[On Two Kinds of Education]

If I might be so bold, there are two types of education that must be pursued at the same time. In the first, we have to look to making a living. This is not an ignoble task, and it usually requires some such relatively dull enterprise as going to law school or figuring out the stock market or passing the foreign service examination. The second is of quite a different nature. For this we need what Aristotle called leisure—space and time for questions that have little directly to do with business or keeping alive. . . . For this latter, we want friends, and we want to know what others, mostly before our era, have held. This does not simply mean having a lot of books to cart about, but it means having some good ones, ones we have read, marked, and read again, and ones we intend to keep.

Frank O'Hara
I'm going to New York!
(what a lark! what a song!)
where the tough Rocky's eaves
hit the sea. Where th'Acro-
polis is functional, the trains
that run and shout! the books
that have trousers and sleeves!

I'm going to New York!
(quel voyage! jamais plus!)
far from Ypsilanti and Flint!
where Goodman rules the Empire
and the sunlight's eschato-
logy upon the wizard's bridges
and the galleries of print!

I'm going to New York!
(to my friends! mes semblables!)
I suppose I'll walk back West.
But for now I'm gone forever!
the city's hung with flashlights!
the Ferry's unbuttoning its vest!
Buson (translated by Robert Hass)
I go,
you stay;
two autumns.
Joyce Sutphen
My father taught me how to eat breakfast
those mornings when it was my turn to help
him milk the cows. I loved rising up from

the darkness and coming quietly down
the stairs while the others were still sleeping.
I'd take a bowl from the cupboard, a spoon

from the drawer, and slip into the pantry
where he was already eating spoonfuls
of cornflakes covered with mashed strawberries

from our own strawberry fields forever.
Didn't talk much—except to mention how
good the strawberries tasted or the way

those clouds hung over the hay barn roof.
Simple—that's how we started up the day.
Czeslaw Milosz
After Paradise
Don't run any more. Quiet. How softly it rains
On the roofs of the city. How perfect
All things are. Now, for the two of you
Waking up in a royal bed by a garret window.
For a man and a woman. For one plant divided
Into masculine and feminine which longed for each other.
Yes, this is my gift to you. Above ashes
On a bitter, bitter earth. Above the subterranean
Echo of clamorings and vows. So that now at dawn
You must be attentive: the tilt of a head,
A hand with a comb, two faces in a mirror
Are only forever once, even if unremembered,
So that you watch what it is, though it fades away,
And are grateful every moment for your being.
Let that little park with greenish marble busts
In the pearl-gray light, under a summer drizzle,
Remain as it was when you opened the gate.
And the street of tall peeling porticos
Which this love of yours suddenly transformed.
Carol Ann Duffy
Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears 
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.
Robert Louis Stevenson
In the Highlands
In the highlands, in the country places,
Where the old plain men have rosy faces,
   And the young fair maidens
     Quiet eyes;
Where essential silence cheers and blesses,
And for ever in the hill-recesses
   Her more lovely music
     Broods and dies–

O to mount again where erst I haunted;
Where the old red hills are bird-enchanted,
   And the low green meadows
     Bright with sward;
And when even dies, the million-tinted,
And the night has come, and planets glinted,
   Lo, the valley hollow

O to dream, O to awake and wander
There, and with delight to take and render,
   Through the trance of silence,
     Quiet breath!
Lo! for there, among the flowers and grasses,
Only the mightier movement sounds and passes;
   Only winds and rivers,
     Life and death.
Tom Stoppard
THOMASINA: Septimus, what is carnal embrace?
SEPTIMUS: Carnal embrace is the practice of throwing one's arms around a side of beef.
David Ferry
Lake Water
The plane of the water is like the page on which
Phrases and even sentences are written,
But because of the breeze, and the turning of the year,
And the sense that this lake water, as it is being
Experienced on a particular day, comes from
Some source somewhere, beneath, within, itself,
Or from somewhere else, nearby, a spring, a brook,
Its pure origination somewhere else
It is like an idea for a poem not yet written
And maybe never to be completed, because
The surface of the page is like lake water,
That takes back what is written on its surface,
And all my language about the lake and its
Emotions or its sweet obliviousness,
Or even its being like an origination,
Is all erased with the changing of the breeze
Or because of the heedless passing of a cloud.

When, moments after she died, I looked into her face,
It was as untelling as something natural,
A lake, say, the surface of it unreadable,
Its sources of meaning unfindable anymore.
Her mouth was open as if she had something to say;
But maybe my saying so is a figure of speech.
Dana Gioia
The Country Wife
She makes her way through the dark trees
Down to the lake to be alone.
Following their voices on the breeze,
She makes her way. Through the dark trees
The distant stars are all she sees.
They cannot light the way she's gone.
She makes her way through the dark trees
Down to the lake to be alone.

The night reflected on the lake,
The fire of stars changed into water.
She cannot see the winds that break
The night reflected on the lake
But knows they motion for her sake.
These are the choices they have brought her:
The night reflected on the lake,
The fire of stars changed into water.
Stuart Kestenbaum
In Praise of Hands
It's not just the people
who live in the city

who've lost the thread
that ties them to the woven

world of stones and earth,
fields alive with pollen and wings.

Who among us understands
how oceans rise and fall,

currents swirling around the planet
with messages in bottles

floating on the water.
When the tide is out

we can go to the shore
dig clay with our bare hands

and make something beautiful from it,
a vessel with thin walls

that holds a canyon.
In both hands, like an offering,

we can hold the memory
of eroded stones and earth,

eons contained in this empty bowl.
We can fill it with water

that reflects the sky that has
witnessed everything since

time began, we can drink and be blessed,
clouds gathering over us.
Emily Dickinson
It's all I have to bring today
It's all I have to bring today –
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.
Emily Perl Kingsley
Welcome to Holland

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability—to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills... and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things... about Holland.

Thomas R. Smith
It's like so many other things in life
to which you must say no or yes.
So you take your car to the new mechanic.
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.
The package left with the disreputable-looking
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers?
all show up at their intended destinations.
The theft that could have happened doesn't.
Wind finally gets where it was going
through the snowy trees, and the river, even
when frozen, arrives at the right place.
And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life
is delivered, even though you can't read the address.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal
Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:
The firefly wakens: waken thou with me.

Now droops the milkwhite peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake:
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.
Kenneth Fields
Right Now
It's nineteen years today since he last held
A drink in his hand or held his breath while smoke
Filled as much of him as he could stand
Till, letting it out, he sought oblivion
Of the trace of memory or anticipation,
And his life fell into a death spiral. Since then
He's been around folks like him. When he's been asked,
And sometimes, eager, when he hasn't been,
He talks to the ones who are not even sure
They want to learn how to stop killing themselves.
That feeling still seems close to him some days.
Right now he's okay, and that's enough, right now.
Richard Brautigan
As the bruises fade, the lightning aches
As the bruises fade, the lightning aches.
Last week, making love, you bit me.
Now the blue and dark have gone
and yellow bruises grow toward pale daffodils,
then paler to become until my body
is all my own and what that ever got me.
Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson
Boswell: Sir Alexander Dick tells me he remembers having a thousand people in a year to dine at his house.
Johnson: That, sir, that is about three a day.
Boswell: How your statement lessens the idea!
Johnson: That, sir, is the good of counting. It brings everything to a certainty which before floated in the mind indefinitely.
William Bruce Cameron
On the other hand...
...not everything that can be counted counts, 
and not everything that counts can be counted.
Vaclav Havel

I am talking about all of us. We had all become used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an unchangeable fact and thus helped to perpetuate it. In other words, we are all - though naturally to differing extents - responsible for the operation of the totalitarian machinery. None of us is just its victim. We are all also its cocreators.

Why do I say this? It would be very unreasonable to understand the sad legacy of the last forty years as something alien, which some distant relative bequeathed to us. On the contrary, we have to accept this legacy as a sin we committed against ourselves. If we accept it as such, we will understand that it is up to us all, and up to us alone to do something about it. We cannot blame the previous rulers for everything, not only because it would be untrue, but also because it would blunt the duty that each of us faces today: namely, the obligation to act independently, freely, reasonably and quickly. Let us not be mistaken: the best government in the world, the best parliament and the best president, cannot achieve much on their own. And it would be wrong to expect a general remedy from them alone. Freedom and democracy include participation and therefore responsibility from us all.

Li-Young Lee
I Ask My Mother to Sing
She begins, and my grandmother joins her.
Mother and daughter sing like young girls.
If my father were alive, he would play 
his accordion and sway like a boat. 

I've never been in Peking, or the Summer Palace,
nor stood on the great Stone Boat to watch
the rain begin on Kuen Ming Lake, the picnickers
running away in the grass.

But I love to hear it sung;
how the waterlilies fill with rain until
they overturn, spilling water into water,
then rock back, and fill with more,

Both women have begun to cry.
But neither stops her song.
It was May before my 
attention came 
to spring and 
my word I said 
to the southern slopes 
missed it, it 
 came and went before 
I got right to see: 
don't worry, said the mountain,  
try the later northern slopes 
or if 
you can climb, climb 
into spring: but  
said the mountain 
it's not that way 
with all things, some  
that go are gone
Jane Hirshfield
A Blessing for Wedding
Today when persimmons ripen
Today when fox-kits come out of their den into snow
Today when the spotted egg releases its wren song
Today when the maple sets down its red leaves
Today when windows keep their promise to open
Today when fire keeps its promise to warm
Today when someone you love has died
     or someone you never met has died
Today when someone you love has been born
     or someone you will not meet has been born
Today when rain leaps to the waiting of roots in their dryness
Today when starlight bends to the roofs of the hungry and tired
Today when someone sits long inside his last sorrow
Today when someone steps into the heat of her first embrace
Today, let this light bless you
With these friends let it bless you
With snow-scent and lavender bless you
Let the vow of this day keep itself wildly and wholly
Spoken and silent, surprise you inside your ears
Sleeping and waking, unfold itself inside your eyes
Let its fierceness and tenderness hold you
Let its vastness be undisguised in all your days
Phillip Larkin
An Arundel Tomb
Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd -
The little dogs under their feet.

Such plainness of the pre-baroque
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.

They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigy
Was just a detail friends would see:
A sculptor's sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.

They would not guess how early in
Their supine stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away; 
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read.  Rigidly, they
Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time.  Snow fell, undated.  Light
Each summer thronged the glass.  A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground.  And up the paths
The endless altered people came,

Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only an attitude remains:

Time has transfigured them into
Untruth.  The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.
Naomi Shihab Nye
San Antonio
Tonight I lingered over your name,
the delicate assembly of vowels
a voice inside my head.
You were sleeping when I arrived.
I stood by your bed
and watched the sheets rise gently.
I knew what slant of light
would make you turn over.
It was then I felt 
the highways slide out of my hands.
I remembered the old men
in the west side cafe,
dealing dominoes like magical charms.
It was then I knew,
like a woman looking backward,
I could not leave you,
or find anyone I loved more.
Alain de Botton
The Art of Travel

If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest - in all its ardour and paradoxes - than our travels. They express, however inarticulately, an understanding of what life might be about, outside the constraints of work and the struggle for survival.

Michael Flanders & Donald Swann
Miller's Dale for Tideswell ...
Kirby Muxloe ...
Mow Cop and Scholar Green ...

No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Mortehoe 
On the slow train from Midsomer Norton and Mumby Road. 
No churns, no porter, no cat on a seat 
At Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Chester-le-Street. 
We won't be meeting again 
On the Slow Train.

I'll travel no more from Littleton Badsey to Openshaw. 
At Long Stanton I'll stand well clear of the doors no more. 
No whitewashed pebbles, no Up and no Down 
From Formby Four Crosses to Dunstable Town. 
I won't be going again 
On the Slow Train.

On the Main Line and the Goods Siding 
The grass grows high 
At Dog Dyke, Tumby Woodside 
And Trouble House Halt.

The Sleepers sleep at Audlem and Ambergate. 
No passenger waits on Chittening platform or Cheslyn Hay. 
No one departs, no one arrives 
From Selby to Goole, from St Erth to St Ives. 
They've all passed out of our lives 
On the Slow Train, on the Slow Train.

Cockermouth for Buttermere ... on the Slow Train, 
Armley Moor Arram ... 
Pye Hill and Somercotes ... on the Slow Train, 
Windmill End.
John Ciardi
Most Like an Arch This Marriage
Most like an arch—an entrance which upholds   
and shores the stone-crush up the air like lace.   
Mass made idea, and idea held in place.   
A lock in time. Inside half-heaven unfolds.

Most like an arch—two weaknesses that lean   
into a strength. Two fallings become firm.   
Two joined abeyances become a term   
naming the fact that teaches fact to mean.

Not quite that? Not much less. World as it is,   
what's strong and separate falters. All I do   
at piling stone on stone apart from you   
is roofless around nothing. Till we kiss

I am no more than upright and unset.   
It is by falling in and in we make
the all-bearing point, for one another's sake,   
in faultless failing, raised by our own weight.
Saul Bennett
From their back room they sold you
if they knew you
and you called ahead
to this one family Auto Supply
gefilte fish they worked up themselves
in big pots on a stove behind a curtain
like Prohibition.

My mother
for the holidays would go there around
the corner across under the El from Sunnyside Garden
where my father took me to the fights
fifty for the winner a watch for the loser.

Their recipe was so delicious
the mothers said
big carp
and pike boulders spiked
with carrot pebbles shuddering
in a pond of pale yellow jelly
they sold on the sly smelling
against front-of-the-store
new rubber and sunny precious
oils enough to grease
every Polo Grounds seat.

When mothers asked for it they winked
but never gave away
their recipe.
George Eliot
from Middlemarch
But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
Mary Leader
Her Door
for my daughter Sara Marie
There was a time her door was never closed.
Her music box played "Für Elise" in plinks.
Her crib new-bought: I drew her sleeping there.

The little drawing sits beside my chair.
These days, she ornaments her hands with rings.
She's seventeen. Her door is one I knock.

There was a time I daily brushed her hair
By window light; I bathed her, in the sink
In sunny water, in the kitchen, there.

I've bought her several thousand things to wear,
And now this boy buys her silver rings.
He goes inside her room and shuts the door.

Those days, to rock her was a form of prayer.
She'd gaze at me, and blink, and I would sing
Of bees and horses, in the pasture, there.

The drawing sits as still as nap-time air.
Her curled-up hand, that precious line, her cheek...
Next year her door will stand, again, ajar
But she herself will not be living there.
Richard Wilbur
Wedding Toast
St. John tells how, at Cana's wedding feast,
The water-pots poured wine in such amount
That by his sober count
There were a hundred gallons at the least.
It made no earthly sense, unless to show
How whatsoever love elects to bless
Brims to a sweet excess
That can without depletion overflow.
Which is to say that what love sees is true;
That this world's fullness is not made but found.
Life hungers to abound
And pour its plenty out for such as you.
Now, if your loves will lend an ear to mine,
I toast you both, good son and dear new daughter.
May you not lack for water,
And may that water smack of Cana's wine. 
Self-Portrait, With Birds

In recent decades it has become customary, and right, I guess, and easy enough with hindsight, to damn the ancestral frame of mind that ravaged the world so fully and so soon. What I myself seem to damn mainly though, is just not having seen it. Without any virtuous hindsight I would likely have helped in the ravaging as did even most of those who loved it best.

But God! To have viewed it entire, the soul and guts of what we had and gone forever now, except in books and such poignant remnants as small swift birds that journey to and from the distant Argentine, and call at night in the sky.

Christian Marie de Chergé

(Dom Christian de Chergé, prior of the monastery Notre-Dame de l'Atlas in Algeria, was one of the monastery's seven monks assassinated by terrorists in 1996.)

If it should happen one day—and it could be today—that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to engulf all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church and my family to remember that my life was GIVEN to God and to this country.

I ask them to accept the fact that the One Master of all life was not a stranger to this brutal departure. I would ask them to pray for me: for how could I be found worthy of such an offering?

I ask them to associate this death with so many other equally violent ones which are forgotten through indifference or anonymity. My life has no more value than any other. Nor any less value.

In any case, it has not the innocence of childhood. I have lived long enough to know that I am an accomplice in the evil which seems to prevail so terribly in the world, even in the evil which might blindly strike me down. I should like, when the time comes, to have a moment of spiritual clarity which would allow me to beg forgiveness of God and of my fellow human beings, and at the same time forgive with all my heart the one who would strike me down.

I could not desire such a death. It seems to me important to state this. I do not see, in fact, how I could rejoice if the people I love were indiscriminately accused of my murder. It would be too high a price to pay for what will perhaps be called, the "grace of martyrdom" to owe it to an Algerian, whoever he might be, especially if he says he is acting in fidelity to what he believes to be Islam.

I am aware of the scorn which can be heaped on the Algerians indiscriminately. I am also aware of the caricatures of Islam which a certain Islamism fosters. It is too easy to soothe one's conscience by identifying this religious way with the fundamentalist ideology of its extremists.

For me, Algeria and Islam are something different: it is a body and a soul. I have proclaimed this often enough, I think, in the light of what I have received from it. I so often find there that true strand of the Gospel which I learned at my mother's knee, my very first Church, precisely in Algeria, and already inspired with respect for Muslim believers. Obviously, my death will appear to confirm those who hastily judged me naïve or idealistic: "Let him tell us now what he thinks of his ideals!"

But these persons should know that finally my most avid curiosity will be set free. This is what I shall be able to do, God willing: immerse my gaze in that of the Father to contemplate with him His children of Islam just as He sees them, all shining with the glory of Christ, the fruit of His Passion, filled with the Gift of the Spirit whose secret joy will always be to establish communion and restore the likeness, playing with the differences.

For this life lost, totally mine and totally theirs, I thank God, who seems to have willed it entirely for the sake of that JOY in everything and in spite of everything. In this THANK YOU, which is said for everything in my life from now on, I certainly include you, friends of yesterday and today, and you, my friends of this place, along with my mother and father, my sisters and brothers and their families. You are the hundredfold granted as was promised!

And also you, my last-minute friend, who will not have known what you were doing: Yes, I want this THANK YOU and this GOODBYE to be a "GOD-BLESS" for you, too, because in God's face I see yours.

May we meet again as happy thieves in Paradise, if it please God, the Father of us both.

Wendell Berry
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
... Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.

* * *

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.
Dietrich Bonhoffer
Peace is the opposite of security.

There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared; it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God's commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross. -- August, 1934

Sheenagh Pugh
Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.
A people sometimes step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care 
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.
Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to you.
Marina Tsvetaeva
Where does this tenderness come from?
Where does this tenderness come from?
These are not the – first curls I
have stroked slowly – and lips I
have known are – darker than yours
as stars rise often and go out again
(where does this tenderness come from?)
so many eyes have risen and died out
in front of these eyes of mine.
and yet no such song have
I heard in the darkness of night before,
(where does this tenderness come from?):
here, on the ribs of the singer.
Where does this tenderness come from?
And what shall I do with it, young
sly singer, just passing by?
Your lashes are – longer than anyone's. 
e.e. cummings
i carry your heart with me
  i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                        i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)
Eavan Boland
This Moment
A neighbourhood.
At dusk.
Things are getting ready
to happen
out of sight.
Stars and moths.
And rinds slanting around fruit.
But not yet.
One tree is black.
One window is yellow as butter.
A woman leans down to catch a child
who has run into her arms
this moment.
Stars rise.
Moths flutter.
Apples sweeten in the dark.
W.B. Yeats
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.
Robert Herrick
Give me a kiss, and to that kiss a score;
Then to that twenty, add a hundred more:
A thousand to that hundred: so kiss on,
To make that thousand up a million.
Treble that million, and when that is done,
Let's kiss afresh, as when we first begun.
Matthew Arnold
Empedocles on Etna
Is it so small a thing
To have enjoyed the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done;
To have advanced true friends, and beat down baffling foes?
Francette Cerulli
Valentine for Zepher, Age 12
The night before valentines are due,
I take you to the movie about Vincent
whose paintings you love. Too late
I realize it's a mistake. You knew about his ear
and you know the definition of prostitute,
but neither one of us was ready
to see him cut himself until he bled,
see him in the brothel
with his rotten teeth and his real women.
On the way home in the starry night we hold hands,
wonder what his parents must have been like,
what cruelty may have happened to him,
and you show me the belt of Orion,
clean and shining and always in place.
Remember this forever, then:
I cannot imagine not loving you,
even when this body is gone.
So if I ever die, look up into the dark
and find me hundreds of times there,
each place you can faintly imagine a line
tracing the shape of a valentine.
Johnny Mercer
Something's Gotta Give
when an ir - re - sis - ti - ble force, such as you,
meets an old im - mov - a - ble ob - ject like me,
you can bet as sure as you live,
something's gotta give, something's gotta give,
something's gotta give!
when an ir - re - pres - si - ble smile, such as yours,
warms an old im - plac - a - ble heart, such as mine,
don't say no because i insist.
somewhere, somehow, someone's gonna be kissed.
so en garde! who knows what the fates have in store
from their vast mysterious sky?
i'll try hard ignoring those lips i adore
but how long can anyone try?
fight, fight, fight, fight, fight it with all of our might,
chances are some heav - en - ly star span - gled night
we'll find out as sure as we live
something's gotta give, something's gotta give,
something's gotta give!
Dorianne Laux
Someone spoke to me last night,
told me the truth. Just a few words,
but I recognized it.
I knew I should make myself get up,
write it down, but it was late,
and I was exhausted from working
all day in the garden, moving rocks.
Now, I remember only the flavor—
not like food, sweet or sharp.
More like a fine powder, like dust.
And I wasn't elated or frightened,
but simply rapt, aware.
That's how it is sometimes—
God comes to your window,
all bright light and black wings,
and you're just too tired to open it.
Vikram Seth
Sit, Drink Your Coffee Here; Your Work Can Wait Awhile...
Sit, drink your coffee here; your work can wait awhile.
You're twenty-six, and still have some life ahead.
No need for wit; just talk vacuities, and I'll
Reciprocate in kind, or laugh at you instead.
The world is too opaque, distressing and profound.
This twenty minutes' rendezvous will make my day:
To sit here in the sun, with grackles all around,
Staring with beady eyes, and you two feet away.
Billy Collins
How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hilltowns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.
There are no abbeys here, no crumbling frescoes or famous
domes and there is no need to memorize a succession
of kings or tour the dripping corners of a dungeon.
No need to stand around a sarcophagus, see Napoleon's
little bed on Elba, or view the bones of a saint under glass.
How much better to command the simple precinct of home
than be dwarfed by pillar, arch, and basilica.
Why hide my head in phrase books and wrinkled maps?
Why feed scenery into a hungry, one-eyed camera
eager to eat the world one monument at a time?
Instead of slouching in a café ignorant of the word for ice,
I will head down to the coffee shop and the waitress
known as Dot. I will slide into the flow of the morning
paper, all language barriers down,
rivers of idiom running freely, eggs over easy on the way.
And after breakfast, I will not have to find someone
willing to photograph me with my arm around the owner.
I will not puzzle over the bill or record in a journal
what I had to eat and how the sun came in the window.
It is enough to climb back into the car
as if it were the great car of English itself
and sounding my loud vernacular horn, speed off
down a road that will never lead to Rome, not even Bologna.
Marianne Moore
What Are Years?
    What is our innocence,
what is our guilt? All are
    naked, none is safe. And whence
is courage: the unanswered question,
the resolute doubt,—
dumbly calling, deafly listening—that
in misfortune, even death,
        encourages others
        and in its defeat, stirs
    the soul to be strong? He
sees deep and is glad, who
    accedes to mortality
and in his imprisonment, rises
upon himself as
the sea in a chasm, struggling to be
free and unable to be,
         in its surrendering
         finds its continuing.
     So he who strongly feels,
behaves. The very bird,
     grown taller as he sings, steels
his form straight up. Though he is captive,
his mighty singing
says, satisfaction is a lowly
thing, how pure a thing is joy.
         This is mortality,
         This is eternity.
Anne Carson
XII. Here's Our Clean Business Now Let's Go Down the Hall to the Black Room Where I Make My Real Money
from The Beauty of the Husband: a fictional essay in 29 tangos
You want to see how things were going
  from the husband's point of view—
let's go round the back,
there stands the wife
gripping herself at the elbows and facing the husband.
Not tears he is saying, not tears again. But still they fall.
She is watching him.
I'm sorry he says. Do you believe me.
I never wanted to harm you.
This is banal. It's like Beckett. Say something!
I believe
your taxi is here she said.
He looked down at the street. She was right. It stung him,
the pathos of her keen hearing.
There she stood a person with particular traits,
a certain heart, life beating on its way in her.
He signals to the driver, five minutes.
Now her tears have stopped.
What will she do after I go? he wonders.
  Her evening. It closed his breath.
Her strange evening.
Well he said.
Do you know she began.
If I could kill you I would then have to make
  another exactly like you.
To tell it to.
Perfection rested on them for a moment like calm on a lake.
Pain rested.
Beauty does not rest.
The husband touched his wife's temple
and turned
and ran
Kay Ryan

Extreme exertion
isolates a person
from help,
discovered Atlas.
Once a certain
ratio collapses,
there is so little
others can do:
they can't
lend a hand
with Brazil
and not stand
on Peru.

Jane Kenyon
Dutch Interiors
Christ has been done to death
in the cold reaches of northern Europe
a thousand thousand times.
Suddenly bread
and cheese appear on a plate
beside a gleaming pewter beaker of beer.

Now tell me that the Holy Ghost
does not reside in the play of light
on cutlery!
A woman makes lace,
with a moist-eyed spaniel lying
at her small shapely feet.
Even the maid with the chamber pot
is here; the naughty, red-cheeked girl...
And the merchant's wife, still
in her yellow dressing gown
at noon, dips her quill into India ink
with an air of cautious pleasure.
Billy Collins

You are so beautiful and I am a fool
to be in love with you
is a theme that keeps coming up
in songs and poems.
There seems to be no room for variation.
I have never heard anyone sing
I am so beautiful
and you are a fool to be in love with me,
even though this notion has surely
crossed the minds of women and men alike.
You are so beautiful, too bad you are a fool
is another one you don't hear.
Or, you are a fool to consider me beautiful.
That one you will never hear, guaranteed.

For no particular reason this afternoon
I am listening to Johnny Hartman
whose dark voice can curl around
the concepts on love, beauty, and foolishness
like no one else's can.
It feels like smoke curling up from a cigarette
someone left burning on a baby grand piano
around three o'clock in the morning;
smoke that billows up into the bright lights
while out there in the darkness
some of the beautiful fools have gathered
around little tables to listen,
some with their eyes closed,
others leaning forward into the music
as if it were holding them up,
or twirling the loose ice in a glass,
slipping by degrees into a rhythmic dream.

Yes, there is all this foolish beauty,
borne beyond midnight,
that has no desire to go home,
especially now when everyone in the room
is watching the large man with the tenor sax
that hangs from his neck like a golden fish.
He moves forward to the edge of the stage
and hands the instrument down to me
and nods that I should play.
So I put the mouthpiece to my lips
and blow into it with all my living breath.
We are all so foolish,
my long bebop solo begins by saying,
so damn foolish
we have become beautiful without even knowing it.

e.e. cummings
“i thank You God for most this amazing”
i thank You God for most this amazing 
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees 
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything 
which is natural which is infinite which is yes 
(i who have died am alive again today, 
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth 
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay 
great happening illimitably earth) 
how should tasting touching hearing seeing 
breathing any – lifted from the no 
of all nothing – human merely being 
doubt unimaginable You? 

(now the ears of my ears awake and 
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
Planting a Sequoia
All afternoon my brothers and I have worked in the orchard,
Digging this hole, laying you into it, carefully packing the soil.
Rain blackened the horizon, but cold winds kept it over the Pacific,
And the sky above us stayed the dull gray
Of an old year coming to an end.
In Sicily a father plants a tree to celebrate his first son's birth – 
An olive or a fig tree – a sign that 
    the earth has one more life to bear. 
I would have done the same, proudly laying new stock 
    into my father's orchard, 
A green sapling rising among the twisted apple boughs, 
A promise of new fruit in other autumns. 

But today we kneel in the cold planting you, our native giant, 
Defying the practical custom of our fathers, 
Wrapping in your roots a lock of hair, 
     a piece of an infant's birth cord, 
All that remains above earth of a first-born son, 
A few stray atoms brought back to the elements. 

We will give you what we can – our labor and our soil, 
Water drawn from the earth when the skies fail, 
Nights scented with the ocean fog, 
     days softened by the circuit of bees. 
We plant you in the corner of the grove, bathed in western light, 
A slender shoot against the sunset. 

And when our family is no more, all of his unborn brothers dead, 
Every niece and nephew scattered, the house torn down, 
His mother's beauty ashes in the air, 
I want you to stand among strangers, all young and ephemeral to you, 
Silently keeping the secret of your birth.
Howard Nemerov
Because You Asked About The Line Between Prose And Poetry
Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned into pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn't tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.
The Blues
When the shoe strings break
On both your shoes
And you're in a hurry–
That's the blues.

When you go to buy a candy bar
And you've lost the dime you had–
Slipped through a hole in your pocket somewhere–
That's the blues, too, and bad!
The Lake Isle (of Innisfree):  Yeats |  Pound
Seamus Heaney
Mid-Term Break
I sat all morning in the college sick bay 
Counting bells knelling classes to a close. 
At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home. 
In the porch I met my father crying – 
He had always taken funerals in his stride – 
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow. 
The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram 
When I came in, and I was embarrassed 
By old men standing up to shake my hand 
And tell me they were "sorry for my trouble," 
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest, 
Away at school, as my mother held my hand 
In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs. 
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived 
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses. 
Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops 
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him 
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now, 
Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple, 
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot. 
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear. 
A four foot box, a foot for every year.
Ars Poetica
A poem should be palpable and mute 
As a globed fruit, 
As old medallions to the thumb, 
Silent as the sleeve-worn stone 
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown – 
A poem should be wordless 
As the flight of birds. 
A poem should be motionless in time 
As the moon climbs, 
Leaving, as the moon releases 
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees, 
Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves, 
Memory by memory the mind – 
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs. 
A poem should be equal to: 
Not true. 
For all the history of grief 
An empty doorway and a maple leaf. 
For love 
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea – 
A poem should not mean
But be.
Sandra Cisneros
You Called Me Corazón
That was enough 
for me to forgive you. 
To spirit a tiger 
from its cell. 
Called me corazón 
in that instant before 
I let go the phone 
back to its cradle. 
Your voice small. 
Heat of your eyes, 
how I would've placed 
my mouth on each. 
Said corazón 
and the word blazed 
like a branch of jacaranda.
Love, We Must Part Now
Love, we must part now: do not let it be 
Calamitious and bitter. In the past
There has been too much moonlight and self-pity; 
Let us have done with it, for now at last 
Never has sun more boldly paced the sky, 
Never were hearts more eager to be free, 
To kick down worlds, lash forests; you and I 
No longer hold them; we are husks, that see 
The grain going forward to a different use. 
There is regret. Always, there is regret 
But it is better that our lives unloose 
As two tall ships, wind-mastered, wet with light 
Break from an estuary with their courses set 
And waving part, and waving drop from sight.
William Carlos Williams
The Young Housewife
At ten A.M. the young housewife 
moves about in negligee behind 
the wooden walls of her husband's house. 
I pass solitary in my car. 
Then again she comes to the curb 
to call the ice-man, fish-man, and stands 
shy, uncorseted, tucking in 
stray ends of hair, and I compare her 
to a fallen leaf. 
The noiseless wheels of my car 
rush with a crackling sound over 
dried leaves as I bow and pass smiling.
Seamus Heaney
In Memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984
The cool that came off the sheets just off the line 
Made me think the damp must still be in them 
But when I took my corners of the linen 
And pulled against her, first straight down the hem 
And then diagonally, then flapped and shook 
The fabric like a sail in a cross-wind, 
They made a dried-out undulating thwack. 
So we'd stretch and fold and end up hand to hand 
For a split second as if nothing had happened 
For nothing had that had not always happened 
Beforehand, day by day, just touch and go, 
Coming close again by holding back 
In moves where I was x and she was o 
Inscribed in sheets she'd sewn from ripped-out flour sacks. 
Jane Kenyon
Ice Out
As late as yesterday ice preoccupied
the pond—dark, half-melted, waterlogged.
Then it sank in the night, one piece,
taking winter with it. And afterward
everything seems simple and good.
All afternoon I lifted oak leaves
from the flowerbeds, and greeted
like friends the green-white crowns
of perennials. They have the tender,
unnerving beauty of a baby's head.
How I hated to come in! I've left
the windows open to hear the peepers'
wildly disproportionate cries.
Dinner is over, no one stirs. The dog
sighs, sneezes, and closes his eyes.
Carl Sandburg
Let Love Go On

Let it go on; let the love of this hour be poured out till all the answers are made, the last dollar spent and the last blood gone.

Time runs with an ax and a hammer, time slides down the hallways with a pass-key and a master-key, and time gets by, time wins.

Let the love of this hour go on; let all the oaths and children and people of this love be clean as a washed stone under a waterfall in the sun.

Time is a young man with ballplayer legs, time runs a winning race against life and the clocks, time tickles with rust and spots.

Let love go on; the heartbeats are measured out with a measuring glass, so many apiece to gamble with, to use and spend and reckon; let love go on.