"Poetry creates a chapel for everyday experience."
-Billy Collins, US Poet Laureate.
If you open your eyes,
night opens doors of musk,
the secret kingdom of the water opens
flowing from the centerr of the night.
And if you close your eyes,
a river fills you from within,
flows forward, darkens you:
night brings its wetness to beaches in your soul.
-Octavio Paz, excerpted from the longer poem.
However innumerable sentient beings are, |
I vow to save them.
However inexhaustible the defilements are,
I vow to extinguish them.
However immeasurable the dharmas are,
I vow to master them.
However incomparable enlightenment is,
I vow to attain it.
Song to the Mother
Hail, O greenest branch,
you who came forth in the windy blast
of the questioning of saints.
When the time came
that you blossomed in your branches--
hail, hail, was the word to you!
for th warmth of the sun distilled in you
a fragrance like balsam.
For in you blossomed the beautiful flower
that gave fragrance
to all the spices
which had been dry.
And they appeared
in full verdure.
Hence the heavens dropped dew
upon the grass
and the whole earth was made glad,
because her womb brought forth wheat, and
because the birds of heaven
had nests in it.
Then a meal was prepared for humanity,
and great joy for the banqueters.
-from a lyric by Hildegard Von Bingen
The Face in the Toyota
|I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d'oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depressed head surpasses any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillians of infidels,
And I could come every afternoon of my life to look at the farmer's
girl boiling her iron tea-kettle and baking shortcake.
|-WaltWhitman, Leaves of Grass|
The same wind that uproots trees
makes the grasses shine.
The lordly wind loves the weakness
and the lowness of grasses.
Never brag of being strong.
The axe doesn't worry how thick the braches are.
It cuts them to pieces. But not the leaves.
It leaves the leaves alone.
A flame doesn't consider the size of the woodpile.
A butcher doesn't run from a flock of sheep.
What is the form in the presence of reality?
Very feeble. Reality keeps the sky turned over
like a cup above us, revolving. Who turns
the sky wheel? The universal intelligence.
And the motion of the body comes
from the spirit like a waterwheel
that's held in a stream.
The inhaling-exhaling is from spirit,
now angry, now peaceful.
Wind destroys and wind protects.
There is no reality but God,
says the completely surrendered sheikh,
who is an ocean for all beings.
The levels of creation are straws in that ocean.
The movement of the straws comes from an agitation
in the water. When the ocean wants the straws calm,
it sends them close to shore. When it wants them
back in the deep surge, it does with them
as the wind does with the grasses.
This never ends.
-Rumi, from The Essential Rumi
One river moans underground,
Looking for her child.
She is dark red
The color of fires
Buried in the coal floor.
She is all the blood
Drained into the soil.
One river melts
The meat-flavored clay
Out of the universe.
She is melting skirts
Into the ground
And the daylight from bodies.
She tangles hair with hair
And is the daughter of the green
And blue oceans.
She is their union
That never stops.
Her daughter is the night
She melts between us.
She is always opening musky coasts,
Like a river of musky coasts.
One river is on top
Of another river.
The rivers are looking for themselves
Looking for other rivers.
One river is a translation
Of one less river,
And so on.
One river becomes someone
Becoming another river.
Rivers are open mirrors.
One river is a tunnel of mirrors
Where the one man is the only light,
And light is waves of men.
One river is a river of mouths,
And so on.
One river explodes in the sun
Coiled in the seed.
It is only the passing of water,
But lightning is schools of fish
Inside each molecule.
It is only water stopping and going,
But the flesh of the woman
Burns the room, the passing
Of water between thought and flesh,
The passing of the river through seed,
River of water seeds,
And so on.
One river meanders between us.
Instead of fish it carries bees
Through the maze of petals.
Instead of petals each blossom
Is nothing but smell.
Instead of bees the river meanders
Like the smooth flesh
We give each other.
And the flesh becomes light
Inside the river.
The water swells as we grow close
And empties into silence.
One river washes through
The things we leave
To themselves, thoughtless,
Except for one river
Pouring through pieces,
Pouring through chlorophyll
Like the scent of an empty field,
A future wind, a knowledge
Of where to go to survive,
One river rising out of all
Things, flowing, beyond water.
One river is a starfish
Deep in the hand,
Sensitive to forms of the water.
It is the magnet with five poles
We lift into the open space
Which is closest to flesh,
Which responds with the heat
Submerged in the heat.
But one river also comes
Like a tool or cord, a ring,
Magnetized with our ancestors.
The ancients are still currents,
Through which electricity
Still is passing.
When we move we are more
Than we know. We are always
No matter what! --Currents
In the open water,
One river deep in the hands
Reaching up from the river bottom,
Swaying like the magnetized
Blood, the stalks of each nerve,
Whose spores are full of light!
(excerpted from the larger poem)
|Footnote to Howl
The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy!
The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy!
Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in
eternity! Everyman's an angel!
Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the locomotive
holy the visions holy the hallucinations holy the miracles
holy the eyeballs holy the abyss!
Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Holy! Ours! bodies!
Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the
|-Allen Ginsburg, excerpted from Howl.|
Carriers of the Dream Wheel|
This is the Wheel of Dreams.
Which is carried on their voices,
By means of which their voices turn
And center upon being.
It encircles the First World,
This powerful wheel.
They shape their songs upon the wheel
And spin the names of earth and sky,
The aboriginal names.
They are old men, or men
Who are old in their voices,
And they carry the wheel among the camps
Saying: Come, come,
Let us tell the old stories,
Let us sing the sacred songs.
-N. Scott Momaday, A Kiowa Indian, From Carriers of the Dream Wheel-Native American Poetry