Oh, that perfect moment,
Elusive, secretive, rare,
When an idea is there to be plucked
From the murky waters of confusion.
I’m nearly old, she said… to no one,
Before the mirror,
Tracing a line down her cheek
With a fingertip,
Lost in memory.
A chill; her soul shivers .
This is the face that boys
Longed to kiss, she remembers,
Remembering the power of it.
Yet now the boys are men, although not as many.
The face that felt the chubby caress of
Her children’s hands,
The face she could depend upon.
A breeze ruffles the curtains,
Touches the flower beside the mirror.
Her eye caresses the exquisite
Design of it,
Of perfect purpose.
“You are nearly old, too,” she says, tracing the line of the
Petal with her finger.
She smiles, newly aware…
All things must pass.
All things are temporary.
©Hemmingplay 2015… Originally published in June.
by Stephen Dobyns
How close the clouds press this October first
and the rain-a gray scarf across the sky.
In separate hospitals my father and a dear friend
lie waiting for their respective operations,
hours on a table as surgeons crack their chests.
They were so brave when I talked to them last
as they spoke of the good times we would share
in the future. To neither did I say how much
I loved them, nor express the extent of my fear.
Their bodies are delicate glass boxes
at which the world begins to fling its stones.
Is this the day their long cry will be released?
How can I live in this place without them?
But today is also my son’s birthday.
He is eight and beginning his difficult march.
To him the sky is welcoming, the road straight.
Far from my house he will open his presents-
a book, a Swiss army knife, some music. Where
is his manual of instructions? Where is his map
showing the dark places and how to escape them?
“No Map” by Stephen Dobyns from Velocities. © Penguin, 1994. (buy now)
Like an explosion of elemental particles,
Thrusting up with grace and power;
With arms cocked and balanced, ready to strain to Heaven;
Tender curves coiled, tensed, aligned, ready to fill the void with creation.
The eye pulls my spirit into the fertile chaos of life.
Courage, at last.
I step out into the fog, put the first foot on the dusty road, lightly, risking everything.
I walked the dog at dusk down the alley behind our house last night. It was just after the sun had slid behind the mountain and the light shifted to that peculiar deep shade where daytime things start fading into the shadows.
The growing gloom entices the frightened from their burrows, and we hear the quick shuffling of the leaves as a critter darts, stops, listens, darts, stops, eats, listens for sudden death. The dog hears other things I cannot, and strains against the leash, blood rushing to her ears, hunter’s heart quickening. If I let her loose, she would visit swift destruction on anything too slow to escape. It is her nature.
I sympathize, but keep her tethered, sympathizing with those potential victims more.
The wide, quiet back yards exude an air of solidity and age, guarded by huge oaks and elms and Copper Beech and towering, dour Hemlocks. They show a different face than the fronts do. Back here, there is less grooming, less concern with status and social norms. Here, tools are left leaning against sheds to rust by older residents no longer able to care. Here, the grass isn’t cut quite as often, and Nature has more of a presence.
Old carriage house doors sag against rusting hinges, grass and weeds grow in some yards, and you can read the signs.
There is one place with a brick barbecue pit that is covered by vines and wild bushes, with roots growing through mortar joints weakened by rain and too many winter nights. It has been 40 years since the kids and their cousins and friends grew up there, give or take a decade. The grandkids are already away at college or playing in a rock band, or married and living in Baltimore or California. They don’t visit the old people any more.
They did, once. They spent summers there learning about themselves, exploring the same back yard their parent(s) had, basking in the tolerant love of grandparents who learned lessons the hard way. But the visits gradually slowed until they stopped altogether, and the laughter of children stopped.
The grandparents have grown old, and maybe one has died, but the vines and wild overgrowth says they no longer believe in parties in the yard in the summer night, when children’s excited cries bounced off neighbors’ houses from a game of hide-and-seek in a pretend jungle full of scary possibilities.
The adults in that remembered, lost time sat in a circle of chairs with drinks in their hands, talking about football and schools and trips and heartbreaks and that cousin or sister everyone thinks is crazy. Those nights when a picnic table was loaded with food everyone has brought, flickering torches made shadows dance on the canopy of leaves overhead, on the lilac bush by the corner of the house. The scene could have been from an ancient campfire on the Mongolian plain, or in the forests of Europe 10,000 years ago, and only the clothes would be different.
The smoke from the bricked fire, the smell of roasting steaks and hotdogs and hamburgers and sweetcorn kept some bugs away and drew others to the feast, and made the children hungry enough to come in from the game, complaining about someone who cheated, and scratching at mosquito bites.
I stopped last night by the ruins , felt the passage of time, and savored the way life’s sweetest times are so fleeting, and all the sweeter for that, in that relentless, broad, slow flow of the River of the Present into the future.
The dog wants to follow a scent into the underbrush, but I tug on the leash and she gives up and trots down the alley ahead, head down, looking for something to chase. It is her nature.
It happens. The dry spells drift in around my ankles like sand, and before I know it, I can’t move.
Oh, well. These times happen, and we try to figure out what to do. It will pass, and then something new will either delight or dismay, sometimes simultaneously. On this day, a day of sad remembrance, it is a time to pause, and think of the People.
The summer was eventful, meaningful, powerful and full of the closing of some doors and the exciting, tentative opening of others. And over it all hovers the terrible news of murder and suffering and liars loose on the land, of children dying for no reason, of the sins of the powerful, the stupidity of the masses.
In the meantime, I read your posts and silently urge you on. Don’t worry about me. I’m resting, that’s all. Getting down to basics. It happens. It will pass. I look out on the rooflines of old mansions from my high perch. The Fall sunshine kisses the leaves that still grace the trees and suggests things in dappled shadows on the wall. It is a good place to be, a perfect place to rise in order to sink down into the meat of things.
And in the meantime, I read, keeping company with others to show me the way to kick my feet free and to step out onto the long road again….
I SHALL foot it Down the roadway in the dusk, Where shapes of hunger wander And the fugitives of pain go by. I shall foot it In the silence of the morning, See the night slur into dawn, Hear the slow great winds arise Where tall trees flank the way And shoulder toward the sky. The broken boulders by the road Shall not commemorate my ruin. Regret shall be the gravel under foot. I shall watch for Slim birds swift of wing That go where wind and ranks of thunder Drive the wild processionals of rain. The dust of the traveled road Shall touch my hands and face.
What a prickle of hedgehogs we are,
Ultimately alone, denying the brutal reality of that,
Compulsively looking for love,
For warmth and deep tenderness,
For a touch that says “Come to me. I see you as you are.”
For a look that says
“Let’s mix it up but good, buster!
Let’s leave the sheets damp, the room smoldering and the neighbors jealous.”
All the while bristly with defenses: automatic, deadly.
When we are close enough, and when the sheets have dried;
When we’re drinking coffee and cursing traffic jams;
When silences grow; when the unknowns press against the window,
There come in under the door the sounds of small clawed feet,
Snuffling old things, blind and dangerous things.
Things we’d rather keep hidden.
From each other.
What a prickle of hedgehogs we are,
Driven together, driven apart, dancing on the points
And finding a way.
I put a soundtrack together for the retirement party, songs from my life. This was one of several of those that she wrote. (Godspeed, Joni. Get well soon.)
–by Joni Mitchell
Well I came across a child of God,
he was walking along the road
And I asked him where are you going
And this he told me
I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm *
I’m going to join in a rock ‘n’ roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
I’m going to try an’ get my soul free
We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who I am
But you know life is for learning
We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation
We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves
back to the garden
© Siquomb Publishing Company
Yesterday was the last day of work. I was feeling a little weird this morning– not bad, just feeling the change in the routine. A friend shared this with me (I don’t know the source):
GREAT NEWS !!!!!
I’m a Seenager. (Senior teenager)
I have everything that I wanted as a
teenager, only 60 years later.
I don’t have to go to school, or to work.
I get an allowance but they call it a pension.
I have my own pad.
I don’t have a curfew.
I have a driver’s license and my own car.
I have ID that gets me into bars and the Beer Store.
The people I hang around with are not afraid of getting pregnant.
And I don’t have acne.
Life is great!
Originally posted on Gulab Jamman Writes ♥:
This is what slow drowning feels like:
You are plunging from bright light into darkness. Time decelerates. Death…
Then the waves propel you backwards, upwards – from silence into rushing sound. Life –
Each time that upward thrust prevails, you break the surface and take a breath. Your third-last breath. Your second-last breath. The world is so lucid – a hallucination – every colour is amplified, edged with iridescence. You have never been so conscious of oxygen: of the roar of it in your eardrums, of its sharpness in the gasp of your lungs. Each mouthful floods your mind with a cutglass clarity. For a second as fleeting as joy itself, you realise what it means to be living… Then that moment is wrenched from you, and you are pulled below to death again.
Beneath the water, the world is much darker – yet a little light still penetrates from…
View original 61 more words
Monday’s the official last day of work. At this job.
Twenty-six years, four months and 21 days in one place. I’ve hated it for 10 years and some odd number of months. (I’m not sure when that started; it sort of sneaks up on you and you only realize it long after it’s happened.)
I’m working on some things that are part of processing this, but the party’s Saturday night. A gang is coming, including two of our oldest friends who are coming in from the West and the Far Northwest (Cheyenne, Wy, and Sequim, WA, respectively). Just for this. I’m assembling a playlist and a slideshow to have up on the screen, and have been trying to find songs that hold some meaning. This is one:
Originally posted on anntogether:
I think during sleep
and rest at sunup.
I like my coffee black
as long as it’s the color of caramel.
I enjoy warm red wine from a tumbler–
glass stems make me nervous.
is the voice you may speak to me in.
For several years,
a guitar and banjo have held up a wall–
I’m supposed to embrace them.
When the piano cries for attention,
I occasionally oblige.
My mother has a beautiful voice.
My family doesn’t enjoy when I rattle the walls in song.
A boisterous Italian belting out, “Danny Boy”
may not grant me, “luck of the Irish,”
but I often feel fortunate.
Did you know that?
I cherish the people in and around my humble life.
Next time I talk with God–
he doesn’t like pianos
I’ll be sure to say thank you…
portrait – acrylic – my Catholic school interpretation of…
View original 5 more words
Booking flight now….
Originally posted on TwistedSifter:
Across the canyon, which was carved by the Gravina river, we see the ancient city of Matera in southern Italy. It was recently declared the European Capital of Culture for 2019.
At the edge of the canyon you can see the Sassi di Matera, ancient cave dwellings that are suspected to be among the first human settlements in Italy, dating back as early as 7000 BC. Situated in the old town, the historical center of Matera was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
by David Shumate
Here the highways cross. One heads north. One heads east
and west. On the comer of the square adjacent to the
courthouse a bronze plaque marks the place where two Civil
War generals faced one another and the weaker surrendered.
A few pedestrians pass. A beauty parlor sign blinks. As I tum
to head west, I become the schoolteacher living above the
barber shop. Polishing my shoes each evening. Gazing at the
square below. In time I befriend the waitress at the cafe and
she winks as she pours my coffee. Soon people begin to
talk. And for good reason. I become so distracted I teach my
students that Cleopatra lost her head during the French
Revolution and that Leonardo perfected the railroad at the
height of the Renaissance. One day her former lover returns
from the army and creates a scene at the school. That evening
she confesses she cannot decide between us. But still we spend
one last night together. By the time I pass the grain elevators
on the edge of town I am myself again. The deep scars of love
already beginning to heal.
“Passing Through a Small Town” by David Shumate from High Water Mark. © University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004. (buy now)
An old printer has sat in the dark
In my oldest’s neglected closet
For seven years,
Barely usable for a year
Before it was replaced.
$400 was the cost. I remember things like that,
Which tells you something…
Mainly that my parents survived
The Great Depression and WWII,
And it was “waste not, want not,”
Every damned day.
If I were to throw that printer out,
It would mean admitting that I spent
I can hear the disapproval even now.
But it doesn’t bother me much any more.
Expensive mistakes have taught even me, finally.
A printer isn’t the worst of it, as much as
Falling hard for the wrong person,
(And who hasn’t done that?);
Or falling for the right person at the wrong time,
Or failing to see moments of joy inside pain;
Or not learning that true courage means acting despite great fear.
Or living too much on the surface of things;
And choosing blindness to the gift that is each day;
Or letting life make me ever smaller inside,
Instead of choosing the wisdom of wide arms,
Embracing the passing parade while it lasts.
The printer in the closet needs to go,
Because expensive mistakes
Cannot be redeemed until forgiven.
Enjoyed this one.
Originally posted on Julian Beach :: Writing:
We went north and west, remember?
winding from Irish Sea to fretting Atlantic
calling at the favoured places; Tara of Kings
yellow-flagged, wind-ruffled Ramore and Erne
the Calf House at Blacklion, tinted with old moss.
Were you moved?
Did your soul stir?
Or were you obdurate
Lia Fáil to a false claimant?
Leaving the gulls to their dive-bombing
of the returning lobstermen at Killybegs
we topped the rise to Lurganboy
and below, the widening Owenea winked
reflected westering beams, pink with salmon
driving against the current to spawn.
Moving Hearts was on the stereo
and even the ineffable sorcery
of Spillane’s mournful low whistle
could not quicken you.
We wandered Tramore’s glistening sands.
You, under way, steamed ahead in review order
dressed overall, stem to stern, single-handed
leaving steaming new glass in your wake.
I stopped, dug for razor clams, called you to help
but a fling of…
View original 332 more words
by Roger McGough
Let me die a youngman’s death not a clean and in between the sheets holy water death
Not a famous-last-words peaceful outofbreath death
When I’m 73 and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car on my way home from an allnight party
Or when I’m 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber’s chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommy guns burst in
and give me a short back and insides
Or when I’m 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one
Let me die a young man’s death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
‘what a nice way to go‘ death
It’s long. But for anyone interested in the future uses of technology, or the environment, or simply whether we want our skies filled with Amazon’s drone robots, this is worth some time.
Originally posted on LibrarianShipwreck:
Who amongst us has not gazed up at the sky and thought, “yes, those clouds and birds are a nice sight but what I really wish I was seeing is several hundred delivery drones buzzing about”? Perhaps it would be better to frame this in the opposite direction, who amongst us has gazed up at the sky and actually thought that? It seems like it is pretty safe to assume that the answer is “not terribly many people.” Nevertheless the image of, at least metropolitan, skies filled with drones going to and fro is a vision of the future being articulated in some quarters, particularly vocally by Amazon which has recently proposed reserving air space for its, as yet un-deployed, delivery drone armada.
Drones, of course, have been in use for quite some time – they are not particularly new; however, proposals and plans that would see swarms of the…
View original 2,780 more words
A talented and thoughtful blogger friend took the plunge.
Originally posted on Being Southern Somewhere Else:
Hello, WordPress Friends. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my recent–and I do mean recent–experience. I am doing an enforced happy dance to counteract my tendency to downplay any accomplishments. Pardon me if I seem to crow a little loudly over simple self publication, but it was something I was actually afraid to do. I was worried it would be harder than I could manage or some unexpected trial would result from even trying. Yes, I suffer from that tiresome habit of not believing in myself. But I believe Stephen King has the right of it in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
Here’s where you all come in. I couldn’t have done it without you. If you’re asking what hand you played in me publishing my own work, well, without this blog there…
View original 109 more words
Note: This is evidence why it’s a bad idea to put me in charge of anything.
Memo To: t
he “Under-appreciated and Whiny” code Monkeys downstairs Web Development Department
From: That Idiot Upstairs Who Signs the Checks
Hi, guys. I need to talk to a web developer. We’ve got a little bug in the code on the Hello Poetry site. Our pages are telling readers to submit “suggestions” on a mouse-over of the little pencil icon.
To Carl Sandburg, in this example. Of all people.
I know….Yes, none of us, including me, saw the problem when we OK’d the final design. No fingers are being pointed. However, now that I see it, live, next to Sandburg’s name, and others, it doesn’t seem like our finest move.
He’s been dead for several decades—30 years before the Internet—for one thing, so there’s little chance he’s going to get any emails. For another, he won three Pulitzers, and we haven’t won any, nor have our readers, as far as we know. And he probably wrote a couple of million poems. Let’s quietly disable that feature before writers everywhere see it and say mean things about us on their blogs. You know what drama kings and queens they are …..
You weren’t my first summer girl—
But were the first one to take me over
Body and soul (and OK, I admit, it wasn’t all that hard to do)
But you are the one from the early days I remember
With only a few sharp regrets, since softened by time.
But also rises in me a wistful toast
To our being so young and eager, so serious, so clumsy,
So lost in hormones and music on the radio
Sitting on the lawn under a black sky sprinkled with stars,
Fumbling, clutching, giddy with freedom, while
Bullfrogs’ song charged the humid darkness with need.
I could always find your lips in the dark, ready, curious, eager,
As glad as mine were to find yours
And we both bubbled with happiness at this secret joy we’d found.
The years have not all been easy, for either of us,
And our paths have never crossed again.
I wonder about you sometimes,
Hope you remember, a little,
The same summer nights, and imagine that you raise a glass
With a smile, and think kindly of me, as I do you,
My summer girl, in the last days of our childhood.
by Carl Sandburg
I wrote a poem on the mist And a woman asked me what I meant by it. I had thought till then only of the beauty of the mist, how pearl and gray of it mix and reel, And change the drab shanties with lighted lamps at evening into points of mystery quivering with color. I answered: The whole world was mist once long ago and some day it will all go back to mist, Our skulls and lungs are more water than bone and tissue And all poets love dust and mist because all the last answers Go running back to dust and mist.
Reminded me of some of the jobs I’ve had…. H.
by Jim Daniels
An average joe comes in
and orders thirty cheeseburgers and thirty fries.
I wait for him to pay before I start cooking.
He ain’t no average joe.
The grill is just big enough for ten rows of three.
I slap the burgers down
throw two buckets of fries in the deep frier
and they pop pop spit spit…
The counter girls laugh.
It is the crucial point-
They are ready for the cheese:
my fingers shake as I tear off slices
toss them on the burgers/fries done/dump/
refill buckets/burgers ready/flip into buns/
beat that melting cheese/wrap burgers in plastic/
into paper bags/fries done/dump/fill thirty bags/
bring them to the counter/wipe sweat on sleeve
and smile at the counter girls.
I puff my chest out and bellow:
“Thirty cheeseburgers, thirty fries!”
They look at me funny.
I grab a handful of ice, toss it in my mouth
do a little dance and walk back to the grill.
Pressure, responsibility, success,
thirty cheeseburgers, thirty fries.
“Short-order Cook” by Jim Daniels from Places/Everyone. © The University of Wisconsin Press, 1985. (buy now)
I see her beauty and am charmed, utterly, but then something makes me look ahead in her life. What will she be like in 10 years? In 20? In 50?
All I know now is that it is a long journey she is on, and nothing stays the same. Everything changes, many times. We each roll the dice and play the game, whether we know the rules or not. We roll up the faces of chance, with whatever faith we have. In the end, the ways and honesty with which we love and have been loved is all that matters. And I refuse to believe that something so good, even if it does not last, can ever be bad.
We change as we grow older, become a different person, over and over, but always the same person, too. The things that happen to us do that, but whatever they are, they’re just part of life. Nothing need be wasted unless we stop squeezing meaning from everything, even the disasters. The living of it is the point. And that is what gives up its sweetness to us to taste, and to remember.
So I see her beauty and am charmed, utterly. She is youth, and life, and promise and potential. She makes me remember many things, good things, and some things that still sting.
And, for just the briefest of moments in the grand sweep of changing moments, life is just a little sweeter, a little more good.
–Inspired by the BBC production of “Every Human Heart,” Try it on Amazon.
I’ve meant to tell you many things about my life, and every time the moment has conquered me. I’m strangely unhappy because the pattern of my life is complicated, because my nature is hopelessly complicated; a mass of contradictory impulses; and out of this, to my intense sorrow, pain to you must grow. The centre of me is always and eternally a terrible pain—a curious wild pain—a searching for something beyond what the world contains, something transfigured and infinite—the beatific vision—God—I do not find it, I do not think it is to be found—but the love of it is my life—it’s like a passionate love for a ghost. At times it fills me with rage, at times with wild despair, it is the source of gentleness and cruelty and work, it fills every passion that I have— it is the actual spring of life within me.
This is the philosopher Bertrand Russell writing to his lover Constance Malleson on October 23, 1946.
Lithe embodiment of Grace.
Stay with me a while.
From better writers… a series
Maybe Alone On My Bike
by William Stafford
I listen, and the mountain lakes
hear snowflakes come on those winter wings
only the owls are awake to see,
their radar gaze and furred ears
In that stillness a meaning shakes;
And I have thought (maybe alone
on my bike, quaintly on a cold
evening pedaling home), Think!-
the splendor of our life, its current unknown
as those mountains, the scene no one sees.
O citizens of our great amnesty:
we might have died. We live. Marvels
coast by, great veers and swoops of air
so bright the lamps waver in tears,
and I hear in the chain a chuckle I like to hear.
“Maybe Alone On My Bike” by William Stafford from The Way It Is. © Graywolf Press, 1999. (buy now)
There’s a good reason pro authors finish a book’s first draft as quickly as possible: If you wait too long, you lose touch with the energy and lives in that created world. They both die of asphyxiation.
This means one of two things. Each and severally—as the lawyers say—is and are quite bad.
(There’s a third, quitting, but …. just no.)
Either you have to pray that there’s something salvageable after you shit-can the 95-plus percent of it that makes no sense anymore, and probably never did…
OR you knife the useless bastard in its hard drive sector like Macbeth stabbed Duncan.
……….Besides, you never know…..
Originally posted on Retkon Poet:
Nothing worth having is
its longest nights.
No wars worth
their salt come
without a human fault.
When tea lights are all
your tired optimism can muster,
and you lust for the
dying flicker of melted wax
and wilting wickers
to blow you down,
you’ve got to stand tall,
you’ve got to rally;
back alleys become
templates for city squares,
and hate is
the only quality
a people have left to share;
when civilizations lie
in rubble, your
the shovel clearing
away intolerance, lending
bereaved who wonder what
to call their
only sense of
this long-perverted rhapsody,
all that’s empowering
something born forever powerless.
In this world run
by cowardice, nothing worth keeping is
the endless nights or
a life spent searching the bottom to set
the ship right.
I’m sharing a new writer I’ve been reading, and appreciating. So good. I hope you enjoy her talent, as well.
Originally posted on Gulab Jamman Writes ♥:
as tears dry, so dries this ink.
let this line be the last. give me
a new poem, page, and pen –
and the sky
churn my sorrows
but let this line be the last. Some words
are louder left (unspoken)
❤️ Yusra Gulab Jamman
My father worked with a horse-plough,
His shoulders globed like a full sail strung
Between the shafts and the furrow.
The horses strained at his clicking tongue.
An expert. He would set the wing
And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.
The sod rolled over without breaking.
At the headrig, with a single pluck
Of reins, the sweating team turned round
And back into the land. His eye
Narrowed and angled at the ground,
Mapping the furrow exactly.
I stumbled in his hobnailed wake,
Fell sometimes on the polished sod;
Sometimes he rode me on his back
Dipping and rising to his plod
I wanted to grow up and plough,
To close one eye, stiffen my arm.
All I ever did was follow
In his broad shadow round the farm.
I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,
Yapping always. But today
It is my father who keeps stumbling
Behind me, and will not go away.
“Follower” by Seamus Heaney from Selected Poems: 1966-1987. © Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1987.
“Fair goes the dancing when the Sitar is tuned.
Tune us the Sitar neither high nor low,
And we will dance away the hearts of men.
But the string too tight breaks, and the music dies.
The string too slack has no sound, and the music dies.
There is a middle way.
Tune us the Sitar neither low nor high.
And we will dance away the hearts of men.”
—Sir Edwin Arnold, “The Light of Asia” (often misattributed to a saying of Buddha)
All those years ago
And I remember the first time,
In the moonlight,
When you stood before me
Shy, uncertain, serene,
While I tried to start breathing,
Soaking in the sight of you
With your gown fallen, body free.
All these years, as you leaned in
Asking me to find the music,
To clumsily compose songs of our life,
Teaching me how it should go,
With you as the instrument upon which
Our song would be played.
Originally posted on Live to Write - Write to Live:
If you want your writing to be effective, you need to have a point: a purpose, something specific you’re trying to say, a “Why” behind the writing. This rule applies no matter what you’re crafting – novel, short story, poem, personal essay, op-ed, sales page, website, flash fiction, screenplay. Having a point is what stokes your creative fire, and it’s what gives you the ability to write something that will make people care.
I have written in the past about the magic of clarity:
Clarity brings focus and purpose to your writing. It illuminates the ultimate reason you’re driven to write a thing and it helps you make critical decisions about what to include and what to leave out. Clarity is like a pair of enchanted glasses that filters out everything extraneous so you can hone in on exactly the things you need to tell your story. When you have clarity…
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I don’t know if this old story is true or not, but pass it along just as I heard it… a long time ago.
All I know is that, even as the old man I now am, my soul can still feel the pull of the moon and a girl such as this.
The night of the full moon calls her,
This daughter of Leda.
She feels it in her neck and belly,
As prickles in the middle of her back.
Her mother sheltered a swan fleeing an eagle,
Not knowing it was the lecherous old liar, Zeus,
Transformed for seduction—
He admired her mother and devised a ruse to
Gain her bed.
Or so the story goes. Helen never knew for sure.
Her mother would never discuss it,
But palaces are alive with gossip,
And she heard the dark story of her conception.
There are always enemies who would make sure she knew.
Helen was her name,
Born nine months from that night.
Her beauty outshone the mother’s,
And that had captured a god’s considerable lust.
Helen was not the contriver, the schemer Leda was, though;
She was a child of shame.
Of wildness and arrogance and desire.
Her beauty would launch a thousand ships
Against doomed Troy, and
Bring the death of Agamemnon.
It was a curse.
The cause of betrayals and death for those she loved.
A widow, she wept and kept silent. And waited….
But every full moon pulled her, secretly,
To the path to the lake.
Stones jabbed her bare feet,
The path, lighted by the pale blue of the moon,
Led through the dark wood, to the cool waters…
Where shimmering ripples whispered her name
And parted silently as she slipped in,
To glide across the waters, in the moonlight.
Rooted in the Earth,
Yearning for Heaven’s blessing
Strength. Desire. Woman.
By Leo Babauta
We all suffer, every day: worry, procrastination, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, irritated, angry, frustrated, wishing things were different, comparing ourselves to others, worried we’re missing out, wishing other people would be different, feeling offended, loneliness, fear of failure, not wanting to do something, wishing we had less fat or bigger boobs or bigger muscles, angry at being controlled, wanting to find the perfect someone, wishing our partner was more perfect, stressed about finances, not wanting to think about problems, not knowing how to fix things, uncertain about choices, rushing from one task to the next, not liking our jobs.
And yet, these problems are self-created.
They’re real, but our tricky minds have created them. The problems are in our heads, created by some ideal/fantasy/expectation of how we wished the world would be, or hope it will be but fear it won’t be. It exists in our heads.
Try this, for a minute: let all of that go for a moment, and just pay attention to the physical things around you right now. Your body, the light, sounds, the thing you’re sitting on, the things moving or sitting still around you. Don’t judge them against what they should be, but just observe what they actually are.
See this moment as it is, without all the things you’re worried/frustrated/angry about. Let go of all of those things, and just see this moment.
It is perfect, as it is.
Accept this moment. Cherish it. This is real, and it is wonderful.
You can go back to worrying about everything else in a moment.
How difficult this would be, especially in our consumerist culture that fetishisizes instant gratification:
1. Accept everything just the way it is
2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
6. Do not regret what you have done.
7. Never be jealous.
8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
11. In all things have no preferences.
12. Be indifferent to where you live.
13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
17. Do not fear death.
18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
20. You may abandon your own body but you must
preserve your honour.
21. Never stray from the Way.
― Miyamoto Musshi