Saturday, 31 January 2015

Day 927: Flit


Have you ever noticed how small birds flit and fly through the air, like little whizzing acrobats?  I've often tried to describe it, but words fall limp in comparison. As Mark Doty remarks here - 'thought has to flit/to describe it' - and that's exactly what this poem does. It succeeds in capturing that darting, flickering, quick movement of the chickadee bird (pictured above) not just aptly, but delightfully too.

Flit - Mark Doty

                 - dart - an idea
arcs the cold, then a clutch

of related thoughts;
slim branches don't even

flicker with the weight
of what's landed;

animate alphabet
whizzing past our faces,

little black and white hurry,
as if a form of notation

accompanied our walk,
a little ahead of us

and a bit behind. If we
could see their trajectory,

if their trace remained
in the winter air,

what a tunnel they'd figure:
skein of quick vectors

above our head, 
a fierce braid,

improvised, their decisions
- the way one makes poetry

from syntax - unpredictable, resolving
to wild regularity

(thought has to flit
to describe it, speech

has to try that hurry).
A scaffolding, 

a kind of argument
about being numerous. 

Thread and rethread - alight.
Study. We might be carrying

crumbs. We're not. I wish. 
Their small heads cock, 

they lift (no visible effort,
as if flight were the work

of the will only), light,
a little further along, 

and though they're silent
it seems you could hear

the minute repeating registers
of their attention,

*_____, *______, the here you are
yes here you yes. 

Pronoun reference unclear.
Who looks at us

- an aerial association
of a dozen subjectivities,

or a singular self
wearing, this snowy afternoon, 

twelve pair of wings? 
Collectivity of sparks, 

sparking collectivity? Say live 
resides not inside feathers or skin

but in the whizzing medium, 
No third person. 

Sharp, clear globe of January,
and we - the fourteen of us -

the thinking taking place.
We is instances of alertness,

grammar help me. 
Mind in the ringing day, 

a little of us ahead
and a bit behind, 

and all that action
barely disturbs the air. 

Friday, 30 January 2015

Day 926: Against Hesitation


 Against Hesitation - Charles Rafferty 

If you stare at it long enough
the mountain becomes unclimbable.
Tally it up. How much time have you spent
waiting for the soup to cool?
Icicles hang from January gutters
only as long as they can. Fingers pause
above piano keys for the chord
that will not form. Slam them down
I say. Make music of what you can.
Some people stop at the wrong corner
and waste a dozen years hoping
for directions. I can’t be them.
Tell every girl I’ve ever known
I’m coming to break her door down,
that my teeth will clench
the simple flower I only knew
not to give . . . Ah, how long did I stand
beneath the eaves believing the storm
would stop? It never did.
And there is lightning in me still.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Day 925: Blizzard

Snow forecast again. I love snow but I'm thinking now maybe I love the descriptions of it more.  Metaphorical and magical, they bring language to the utmost point of description, aesthetic awe the result.

Blizzard - Linda Pastan

the snow
has forgotten
how to stop
it falls
at the glass
of a silk windsock
of snow
under the porch light
tangling trees
which bend
like old women
in their own
snow drifts
up to the step
over the doorsill
a pointillist’s blur
the wedding
of form and motion
shaping itself
to the wish of
any object it touches
chairs become
laps of snow
the moon could be
breaking apart
and falling
over the eaves
over the roof
a white bear
shaking its paw
at the window
splitting the hive
of winter
snow stinging
the air
I pull a comforter
of snow
up to my chin
and tumble
to sleep
as the whole
of silence
falls out of the

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Day 924: Breathing Space

Yes, I love that space. 

It's Ours - Charles Bukowski

there is always that space there
just before they get to us
that space
that fine relaxer
the breather
while say
flopping on a bed
thinking of nothing
or say
pouring a glass of water from the
while entranced by

gentle pure

it's worth

centuries of


just to scratch your neck
while looking out the window at
a bare branch

that space
before they get to us
when they do
they won't
get it all


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Day 923: Still

Today is National Holocaust Remembrance Day, the theme of this year's commemorations to 'keep the memory alive.' 

Still - Wislawa Szymborska

In sealed box cars travel
names across the land,
and how far they will travel so,
and will they ever get out,
don't ask, I won't say, I don't know.

The name Nathan strikes fist against wall,
the name Isaac, demented, sings,
the name Sarah calls out for water
for the name Aaron that's dying of thirst.

Don't jump while it's moving, name David.
You're a name that dooms to defeat,
given to no one, and homeless,
too heavy to bear in this land.

Let your son have a Slavic name,
for here they count hairs on the head,
for here they tell good from evil
by names and by eyelids' shape.

Don't jump while it's moving. Your son will be Lech.
Don't jump while it's moving. Not time yet.
Don't jump. The night echoes like laughter
mocking clatter of wheels upon tracks.

A cloud made of people moved over the land,
a big cloud gives a small rain, one tear,
a small rain - one tear, a dry season.
Tracks lead off into black forest.

Cor-rect, cor-rect clicks the wheel. Gladeless forest.
Cor-rect, cor-rect. Through the forest a convoy of clamors.
Cor-rect, cor-rect. Awakened in the night I hear
cor-rect, cor-rect, crash of silence on silence. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

Day 922: Ancient Music


A modernist take on winter. And an accurate one!

Ancient Music - Ezra Pound

Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm.
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.

Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.

Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm.
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM. 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Day 921: Night Walk

'Nighthawks' by Edward Hopper
Night Walk - Franz Wright
The all-night convenience store’s empty
and no one is behind the counter.
You open and shut the glass door a few times
causing a bell to go off,
but no one appears. You only came
to buy a pack of cigarettes, maybe
a copy of yesterday’s newspaper —
finally you take one and leave
thirty-five cents in its place.
It is freezing, but it is a good thing
to step outside again:
you can feel less alone in the night,
with lights on here and there
between the dark buildings and trees.
Your own among them, somewhere.
There must be thousands of people
in this city who are dying
to welcome you into their small bolted rooms,
to sit you down and tell you
what has happened to their lives.
And the night smells like snow.
Walking home for a moment
you almost believe you could start again.
And an intense love rushes to your heart,
and hope. It’s unendurable, unendurable.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Day 920: The Trouble With Poetry

'Poetry fills me with joy /and I rise like a feather in the wind...'

I have mentioned a few times here how much I love Billy Collins. Here's yet another reason why:

The Trouble With Poetry - Billy Collins

The trouble with poetry, I realized
as I walked along a beach one night -
 cold Florida sand under my bare feet,
a show of stars in the sky -

the trouble with poetry is
that it encourages the writing of more poetry,
more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.

And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,

and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.

Poetry fills me with joy
and I rise like a feather in the wind.
Poetry fills me with sorrow
and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge.

But mostly poetry fills me
with the urge to write poetry,
to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame
to appear at the tip of my pencil.

And along with that, the longing to steal,
to break into the poems of others
with a flashlight and a ski mask.

And what an unmerry band of thieves we are,
cut-purses, common shoplifters,
I thought to myself
as a cold wave swirled around my feet
and the lighthouse moved its megaphone over the sea,
which is an image I stole directly
from Lawrence Ferlinghetti -
to be perfectly honest for a moment -

the bicycling poet of San Francisco
whose little amusement park of a book
I carried in a side pocket of my uniform
up and down the treacherous halls of high school.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Day 919: Devotion

Devotion - Robert Frost 

The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to ocean -
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Day 918: Power


It's lovely to see poetry pop up in film. If you've seen the film 'Wild' or read the book, then this poem will be familiar. A meditation on power, real power that is - willpower, perseverance power, power that comes ultimately from pain - from Adrienne Rich.

Power - Adrienne Rich

Living in the earth-depositis of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
her wounds came from the same source as her power

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Day 917: Yes After No


On faith, hope, lost and newfound causes, a brilliantly illuminating poem from Wallace Stevens. I love the idea in this poem of new ideas all the time being born, as one commentator puts it: 'this hope of renewal comes from the eternal restlessness of the mind, which cannot by its nature accept that there are any final nos.' No it cannot. And a big yes to that!

The Well-Dressed Man With a Beard - Wallace Stevens

After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future world depends.
No was the night. Yes is this present sun.
If the rejected things, the things denied,
Slid over the western cataract, yet one,
One only, one thing that was firm, even
No greater than a cricket's horn, no more
Than a thought to be rehearsed all day, a speech
Of the self that must sustain itself on speech,
One thing remaining, infallible, would be
Enough. Ah! douce campagna of that thing!
Ah! douce campagna, honey in the heart,
Green in the body, out of a petty phrase,
Out of a thing believed, a thing affirmed:
The form on the pillow humming while one sleeps,
The aureole above the humming house...

It can never be satisfied, the mind, never. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Day 916: Stealing a Snowman

Stealing - Carol Ann Duffy

The most unusual thing I ever stole? A snowman.
Midnight. He looked magnificent; a tall, white mute
beneath the winter moon. I wanted him, a mate
with a mind as cold as the slice of ice
within my own brain. I started with the head.

Better off dead than giving in, not taking
what you want. He weighed a ton; his torso,
frozen stiff, hugged to my chest, a fierce chill
piercing my gut. Part of the thrill was knowing
that children would cry in the morning. Life's tough.

Sometimes I steal things I don't need. I joy-ride cars
to nowhere, break into houses just to have a look.
I'm a mucky ghost, leave a mess, maybe pinch a camera.
I watch my gloved hand twisting the doorknob.
A stranger's bedroom. Mirrors. I sigh like this - Aah.

It took some time. Reassembled in the yard,
he didn't look the same. I took a run
and booted him. Again. Again. My breath ripped out
in rags. It seems daft now. Then I was standing
alone among lumps of snow, sick of the world.

Boredom. Mostly I'm so bored I could eat myself.
One time, I stole a guitar and thought I might
learn to play. I nicked a bust of Shakespeare once,
flogged it, but the snowman was the strangest.
You don't understand a word I'm saying, do you?

Monday, 19 January 2015

Day 915: January Wind

January - a good month for writers!

January - William Carlos Williams

Again I reply to the triple winds
running chromatic fifths of derision
outside my window:
Play louder.
You will not succeed. I am
bound more to my sentences
the more you batter at me
to follow you.
And the wind,
as before, fingers perfectly
its derisive music.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Day 914: White Eyes

A lovely snow poem from Mary Oliver.  (And if you haven't read this one of hers before - 'First Snow' - I urge you to do so by clicking: here)

White Eyes - Mary Oliver

In winter
    all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees
              where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
    shoves and pushes
         among the branches.
              Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
    but he's restless—
         he has an idea,
              and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
    as long as he stays awake
         But his big, round music, after all,
             is too breathy to last.

So, it's over.
    In the pine-crown
         he makes his nest,
              he's done all he can.

I don't know the name of this bird,
    I only imagine his glittering beak
         tucked in a white wing
              while the clouds—

which he has summoned
    from the north—
         which he has taught
              to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
    into the world below
         like stars, or the feathers
              of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
    that is asleep now, and silent—
         that has turned itself
              into snow.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Day 913: Shoveling Snow With Buddha

 'This is the true religion, the religion of snow...'

Another gem from the brilliant mind of Billy Collins that will bring a smile to your face. I don't know exactly what this poem means or where to begin to analyse it, but heck, I like it. I like it a lot! 

Shoveling Snow With Buddha - Billy Collins
In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.

Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow. 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Day 912: Snowflakes


 More snow forecast for today - oh the giddy delight of it!

Snowflakes (45) - Emily Dickinson 

I counted till they danced so
Their slippers leaped the town –
And then I took a pencil
To note the rebels down –
And then they grew so jolly
I did resign the prig –
And ten of my once stately toes
Are marshalled for a jig!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Day 911: Winter Morning Poem


Winter Morning Poem - Ogden Nash 
Winter is the king of showmen,
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,
The world looks good enough to bite.
That's the season to be young,
Catching snowflakes on your tongue!
Snow is snowy when it's snowing.
I'm sorry it's slushy when it's going.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Day 910: Snow and Snow

Well we finally had snow here today! And hopefully we will have more. Not the 'soft snow' but 'muffled armies' described so eloquently here by Ted Hughes.

Snow and Snow - Ted Hughes

Snow is sometimes a she, a soft one.
Her kiss on your cheek, her finger on your sleeve
In early December, on a warm evening,
And you turn to meet her, saying "It''s snowing!"
But it is not. And nobody''s there.
Empty and calm is the air.

Sometimes the snow is a he, a sly one.
Weakly he signs the dry stone with a damp spot.
Waifish he floats and touches the pond and is not.
Treacherous-beggarly he falters, and taps at the window.
A little longer he clings to the grass-blade tip
Getting his grip.

Then how she leans, how furry foxwrap she nestles
The sky with her warm, and the earth with her softness.
How her lit crowding fairylands sink through the space-silence
To build her palace, till it twinkles in starlight—
Too frail for a foot
Or a crumb of soot.

Then how his muffled armies move in all night
And we wake and every road is blockaded
Every hill taken and every farm occupied
And the white glare of his tents is on the ceiling.
And all that dull blue day and on into the gloaming
We have to watch more coming.

Then everything in the rubbish-heaped world
Is a bridesmaid at her miracle.
Dunghills and crumbly dark old barns are bowed in the chapel of her sparkle.
The gruesome boggy cellars of the wood
Are a wedding of lace
Now taking place.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Day 909: Winter Weather

Well we're definitely getting our share of winter weather now! Hello hail, sleet and (hopefully) snow!

Winter - Walter de la Mare
Clouded with snow
The cold winds blow,
And shrill on leafless bough
The robin with its burning breast 
Alone sings now. 
The rayless sun,
Day's journey done,
Sheds its last ebbing light
On fields in leagues of beauty spread
Unearthly white. 
Thick draws the dark,
And spark by spark,
The frost-fires kindle, and soon
Over that sea of frozen foam
Floats the white moon.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Day 908: A Winter Resolution

January from The Months - Linda Pastan

Contorted by wind,
mere armatures for ice or snow,
the trees resolve
to endure for now,

they will leaf out in April.
And I must be as patient
as the trees—
a winter resolution

I break all over again,
as the cold presses
its sharp blade
against my throat.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Day 907: About Angels and Trees

About Angels and Trees - Mary Oliver

Where do angels
        fly in the firmament,
and how many can dance
        on the head of a pin?

Well, I don't care
        about that pin dance,
what I know is that
        they rest, sometimes,
in the tops of the trees

  and you can see them,
        or almost see them,
or, anyway, think: what a
        wonderful idea.

I have lost as you and
        others have possibly lost a
beloved one,
        and wonder, where are they now?

The trees, anyway, are
        miraculous, full of
angels (ideas);even
        empty they are a
good place to look, to put
        the heart at rest--all those
leaves breathing the air, so

peaceful and diligent, and certainly
        ready to be
the resting place of
        strange, winged creatures
that we, in this world, have loved.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Day 906: The Ex-Angel

Thank you Cheryl for this suggestion. A beautiful poem, the language is just exquisite.

The Ex-Angel – Judy Brown

My ballroom shoulders were ruined
by those wings.  Now there’s hardly a scar,
just a sheen on the skin as if the light
falling right there had passed
through frosted glass.  As it has.

I imagined them taking their leave
of my back: the exit hole fist-sized;
paramedics; a tussle of sinew and rag.
But it wasn’t like that.  When I turned
my face from flying, they shrivelled

like spiderplants freeing their young.
Feathers husked into onion-skin,
flaked, choking the shower.
You’ll miss the sky, more than one
person said.  They were wrong.

These days the strength of my body
is held in my legs and I like it that way.
I hung long enough like a doll
from the beating white engines of God.
(That kind of talk does no good.)

You never forget the standing start,
the torque of the upward stroke,
the rowing into the sun.  Yet I’d rather
sweat here, down on the dance floor,
tasting the street – if it weren’t for the birds.

When I see a swan, like a last clench of snow
at winter’s end, my eyes drizzle
melted light, my nose starts to drip.
Whatever I’ve done, it’s holy water still.
I dispose of the tissues with due respect.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Day 905: Everyday Splendour


Be on the watch - there is splendour everywhere.

Walking to Work - Ted Kooser

Today, it's the obsidian
ice on the sidewalk
with its milk white bubbles
popping under my shoes
that pleases me, and upon it
a lump of old snow
with a trail like a comet,
that somebody,
probably falling in love,
has kicked
all the way to the corner.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Day 904: Monotone

Monotone - Carl Sandburg

The monotone of the rain is beautiful,
And the sudden rise and slow relapse
Of the long multitudinous rain.

The sun on the hills is beautiful,
Or a captured sunset sea-flung,
Bannered with fire and gold.

A face I know is beautiful--
With fire and gold of sky and sea,
And the peace of long warm rain. 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Day 903: Body & Mind, Heart & Soul

Ah, yes.

The Night House - Billy Collins

Every day the body works in the fields of the world
Mending a stone wall
Or swinging a sickle through the tall grass -
The grass of civics, the grass of money -
And every night the body curls around itself
And listens for the soft bells of sleep.

But the heart is restless and rises
From the body in the middle of the night,
Leaves the trapezoidal bedroom
With its thick, pictureless walls
To sit by herself at the kitchen table
And heat some milk in a pan.

And the mind gets up too, puts on a robe
And goes downstairs, lights a cigarette,
And opens a book on engineering.
Even the conscience awakens
And roams from room to room in the dark,
Darting away from every mirror like a strange fish.

And the soul is up on the roof
In her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
Singing a song about the wildness of the sea
Until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
The way a flock of birds settles back into a tree,

Resuming their daily colloquy,
Talking to each other or themselves
Even through the heat of the long afternoons.
Which is why the body - the house of voices -
Sometimes puts down its metal tongs, its needle, or its pen
To stare into the distance,

To listen to all its names being called
Before bending again to its labor.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Day 902: Epiphany

January is such a cold and dreary month isn't it? Oh but it is also one ripe for epiphanies. I love the 
realisation at the end of this seemingly despairing poem. 

1 January 1965 - Joseph Brodsky
The Wise Men will unlearn your name.
Above your head no star will flame.
One weary sound will be the same—
the hoarse roar of the gale.
The shadows fall from your tired eyes
as your lone bedside candle dies,
for here the calendar breeds nights
till stores of candles fail.

What prompts this melancholy key?
A long familiar melody.
It sounds again. So let it be.
Let it sound from this night.
Let it sound in my hour of  death—
as gratefulness of eyes and lips
for that which sometimes makes us lift
our gaze to the far sky.

You glare in silence at the wall.
Your stocking gapes: no gifts at all.
It's clear that you are now too old
to trust in good Saint Nick;
that it's too late for miracles.
—But suddenly, lifting your eyes
to heaven's light, you realize:
your life is a sheer gift.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Day 900: That Is That


I can think of no better post-Christmas poem that describes the ominous back-to-reality slump of after Christmas than this glorious piece of insightful wisdom by WH Auden.

For The Time Being from Christmas Oratorio  - WH Auden

Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes -
Some have got broken - and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week -
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted - quite unsuccessfully -
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off. But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid's geometry
And Newton's mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays. The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
The office was as depressing as this. To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened. Now, recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
And craving the sensation but ignoring the cause,
We look round for something, no matter what, to inhibit
Our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose
Would be some great suffering. So, once we have met the Son,
We are tempted ever after to pray to the Father;
"Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake."
They will come, all right, don't worry; probably in a form
That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
More dreadful than we can imagine. In the meantime
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance. The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon:
When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God's Will will be done, That, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Day 899: For The New Year

For The New Year, 1981 - Denise Levertov

I have a small grain of hope–
one small crystal that gleams
clear colors out of transparency.

I need more.

I break off a fragment
to send you.

Please take
this grain of a grain of hope
so that mine won’t shrink.

Please share your fragment
so that yours will grow.

Only so, by division,
will hope increase,

like a clump of irises, which will cease to flower
unless you distribute
the clustered roots, unlikely source–
clumsy and earth-covered–
of grace.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Day 898: An Almanac of Awe

Winter Trees - Mary Oliver

First it was only the winter treess -
their boughs eloquent at midnight

with small but mortal explosions, and always a humming
under the lashings of storm.

Nights I sat at the kitchen door
listening out into the darkness

until finally spring came, and everything
transcended. As one by one

the ponds opened, took the white ice
painfully into their dark bellies,

I began to listen to them shore-slapping and rock-leaping
into the growl of creeks,

and then of course the ocean, far off,
pouring everything, over and over,

from jar to enormous jar. You'd think
it would stop somewhere, but next it was the rocks

flicking their silver tongues all summer, panting
a little on their damp under-sides.

Now I listen as fall rides
in the wagons of the wind, lighting up the world

with red, yellow, and the long-leaved ash
as blue as fire, and I know

there's no end to it, the kingdoms
crying out - and no end

to the voices the heart can hear once
it's started. Already like small white birds

snow is falling from the ledges of the north, each flake
singing with its tiny mouth as it wings out

into the wind, whispering about love, about darkness
as it balances in the clear air, as it whirls down.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Day 897: New Year Resolve

Time to make those New Year Resolutions, the real kind.

New Year Resolve - May Sarton

The time has come
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow,
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.

Time for a change,
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.

Let silence in.
She will rarely speak or mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.

For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Day 896: New Year's Day

There's something luminously quiet about New Year's Day. After the heady celebrations of the night before, everything is still and as Ted Kooser says here, 'a promise'. Yes, a promise. The year to come a benevolent blessing, full of all kinds of beckoning possibilities. 

Happy New Year to you all. May it be full of promise.

New Year's Day - Ted Kooser

Each thing in the clear morning light
is a promise. I start the day
by building a feeding place for birds,
stacking up castaway crates in the snow.
How they come! Sparrows and blue jays
dropping like leaves from the elms,
which though burned with disease
still promise some sort of a spring,
their branches lined with hard buds
like birds perching, or the seeds of birds,
still more birds to come.