Category Archives: Poetry

Oh Little Dog

my old girl

your bumps and smells

your tender blank stare

your ears full and deaf





our years together 

fill me with such joy and love

the circling

the kisses

the head rubs

the burrowing into my thigh.



my little shadow

my sweet pup

there are moments i can not find you anywhere

searching each room

afraid of what i will find


i arrive at my sanctuary

to see that you have been sleeping there all along

cuddled on the tiger blanket or

spread out along the gray shaggy draping cover or

maybe the poof has molded into the perfect form

and holds your skinny aging body snug



with relief and solicitude

i watch the rise and fall of your belly

as breath breathes your little body

i curl up beside you

wrap my soul around yours

drifting into restful awareness

together.





LLM

Finding Solace

Finding solace

surrounded by the tapping rain

following each drop

from cloud to leaf to soil



the rivers inside

running dry and desperate

for some relief

I stand mouth open to the universe


“the entire path

and all you will ever need

to walk it

you will find inside”




Fill me

sweet drops of cosmic love

so that I may walk in peace

and be on my way.

-LLM

Wind

Oh Wind

Take me away

Take my voice, my tears, my broken heart

You are so mighty 

With your roar 

And your sound

A raging river

A passing jetliner

An amtrak train

 

You who make the trees swing  and sway

You who pull the leaves from their branches

Exposing their true nature

And their bare  bodies

 

You who push and pull the birds in flight

Holding them still in mid air

As they flap their wings in fury against you

A game, a challenge, a test

 

As I sit safe inside

This warm box of love and life

With candles lit

Sweet smells of morning

And my little dog

You storm and scurry

Rage and Remove

Pick up and pass around

The surroundings of this home

 

And somehow I trust

That you will drop everything

Right in it’s place

 

Do that to me

Do that to my wandering mind

Do that to my worry and my woe

Take it

Throw it

Wind it up and send it on it’s way

 

Carry me like the leaf

Pull me from the branches 

Then place me perfectly there

In that place

On the ground

Sound

Asleep

 

LLM

Bestiary- by Joanna Macy

Short-tailed albatross

Whooping crane

Gray wolf

Woodland caribou

Hawksbill sea turtle

Rhinoceros

The list of endangered species keeps growing longer every year.  With too many names to hold in our mind, how do we honor the passing of life?  What funerals or farewells are appropriate?

Reed warbler

Swallowtail butterfly

Bighorn sheep

Indian python

Howler monkey

Sperm whale

Blue whale

Dive me deep, brother whale, in this time we have left. Deep in our mother ocean where I once swam, gilled and finned. The salt from those early seas still runs in my tears. Tears aren’t enough anymore. Give me a song, a song for a sadness too vast for my heart, for a rage too wild for my throat.

Giant sable antelope

Wyoming toad

Grizzly bear

Brown bear

Bactrian camel

Nile crocodile

Chinese alligator

Ooze me, alligator, in the mud whence I came. Belly me slow in the rich primordial soup, cradle of our molecules. Let me wallow again, before we drain your swamp and pave it over.

Gray bat

Ocelot

Pocket mouse

Sockeye salmon

Tasmanian kangaroo

Hawaiian goose

Audouin’s seagull

Quick, lift off. Sweep me high over the coast and out, farther out.  Don’t land here. Oilspills coat the beach, rocks, sea. I cannot spread my wings glued with tar.  Fly me from what we have done, fly me far.

Golden parakeet

West African ostrich

Florida panther

Galapagos penguin

Imperial pheasant

Snow leopard

Mexican prairie dog

Hide me in a hedgerow, badger. Can’t you find one? Dig me a tunnel through leaf-mold and roots, under the trees that once defined our fields. My heart is bulldozed and plowed over.  Burrow me a labyrinth deeper than longing.

Thick-billed parrot

San Francisco garter snake

Desert bandicoot

Molokai thrush

California condor

Lotus blue butterfly

Crawl me out of here, caterpillar. Spin me a cocoon. Wind me to sleep in a shroud of silk, where in patience my bones will dissolve. I’ll wait as long as all creation if only it will come again — and I take wing.

Atlantic ridley turtle

Coho salmon

Helmeted hornbill

Marine otter

Humpback whale

Steller sea-lion

Monk seal

Swim me out beyond the ice floes, mama. Where are you? Boots squeeze my ribs, clubs drum my fur, the white world goes black with the taste of my blood.

Gibbon

Sand gazelle

Swamp deer

Musk deer

Cheetah

Chinchilla

Asian elephant

African elephant

Sway me slowly through the jungle. There still must be jungle somewhere, my heart drips with green secrets. Hose me down by the waterhole; there is buckshot in my hide. Tell me old stories while you can remember.

Desert tortoise

Crested ibis

Hook-billed kite

Mountain zebra

Mexican bobcat

Andrew’s frigatebird

In the time when his world, like ours, was ending, Noah had a list of the animals, too. We picture him standing by the gangplank, calling their names, checking them off on his scroll. Now we also are checking them off.

Ivory-billed woodpecker

Indus river dolphin

West Indian manatee

Wood stork

We reenact Noah’s ancient drama, but in reverse, like a film running backwards, the animals exiting.

Ferret

Gorilla

Jaguar

Wolf

Your tracks are growing fainter. Wait. Wait. This is a hard time.  Don’t leave us alone in a world we have wrecked.

-Joanna Macy

Praying by Mary Oliver

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Mary Oliver

Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver

Why I Wake Early
by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

The Bleeding-Heart by Mary Oliver

beautiful bleeding heart bloom blooming
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Bleeding-heart
by Mary Oliver
from New and Selected Poems
Volume Two

I know a bleeding-heart plant that has thrived
for sixty years if not more, and has never
missed a spring without rising and spreading
itself into a glossy bush, with many small red
hearts dangling. Don’t you think that deserves
a little thought? The woman who planted it
has been gone for a long time, and everyone
who saw it in that time has also died or moved
away and so, like so many stories, this one can’t
get finished properly. Most things that are
important, have you noticed, lack a certain
neatness. More delicious, anyway, is to
remember my grandmother’s pleasure when
the dissolve of winter was over and the green
knobs appeared and began to rise, and to cre-
ate their many hearts. One would say she was
a simple woman, made happy by simple
things. I think this was true. And more than
once, in my long life, I have wished to be her.

Morning Poem by Mary Oliver

red water flowers flower
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange
 
sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again
 
and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails
 
for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it
 
the thorn
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —
 
there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,
 
whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.


from Dream Work (1986) by Mary Oliver 
© Mary Oliver

The Five Mindfulness Trainings by Thich Nhat Hahn

buddha:stonesThe Five Mindfulness Trainings

The Five Mindfulness Trainings represent the Buddhist vision for a global spirituality and ethic. They are a concrete expression of the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, the path of right understanding and true love, leading to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and for the world. To practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings is to cultivate the insight of interbeing, or Right View, which can remove all discrimination, intolerance, anger, fear, and despair. If we live according to the Five Mindfulness Trainings, we are already on the path of a bodhisattva. Knowing we are on that path, we are not lost in confusion about our life in the present or in fears about the future.

Reverence For Life

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.

True Happiness

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and stop contributing to climate change.

True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

Loving Speech and Deep Listening

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.

Nourishment and Healing

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.

-Thich Nhat Hanh, Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices (2009)

A Friendship Blessing (Includes The Anam Ċara), by John O’Donohue

 

beautiful bloom blooming blossom
Photo by Gru on Pexels.com

From Anam Ċara

A Friendship Blessing

May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where
there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
may they bring you all the blessing, challenges, truth,
and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam ċara. 


The Anam Ċara

In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship.  One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul-love; the old Gaelic term for this is anam ċara.  Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and ċara is the word for friend.  So anam ċara in the Celtic world was the “soul friend.”  In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide was called an anam ċara.  It originally referred to someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life.  With the anam ċara you could share your innermost self, your mind, and your heart.  This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging.  When you had an anam ċara, your friendship cut across all convention, morality, and category.  You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the “friend of your soul.”  The Celtic understanding did not set limitations of space or time on the soul.  There is no cage for the soul.  The soul is a divine light that flows into you and into your Other.  This art of belonging awakened and fostered a deep and special companionship.  In his Conferences, John Cassian says this bond between friends is indissoluble: “This, I say, is what is broken by no chances, what no interval of time or space can sever or destroy, and what even death itself cannot part.”

In everyone’s life, there is great need for an anam ċara, a soul friend.  In this love, you are understood as you are without mask or pretension.  The superficial and functional lies and half-truths of social acquaintance fall away, you can be as you really are.  Love allows understanding to dawn, and understanding is precious.  Where you are understood, you are at home.  Understanding nourishes belonging.  When you really feel understood, you feel free to release yourself into the trust and shelter of the other person’s soul.  This recognition is described in a beautiful line from Pablo Neruda: “You are like nobody since I love you.”  This art of love discloses the special and sacred identity of the other person.  Love is the only light that can truly read the secret signature of the other person’s individuality and soul.  Love alone is literate in the world of origin; it can decipher identity and destiny.

It is precisely in awakening and exploring this rich and opaque inner landscape that the anam-ċara experience illuminates the mystery and kindness of the divine.  The anam ċara is God’s gift.  Friendship is the nature of God.  The Christian concept of God as Trinity is the most sublime articulation of otherness and intimacy, an eternal interflow of friendship.  This perspective discloses the beautiful fulfillment of our immortal longing in the words of Jesus, who said, Behold, I call you friends.  Jesus, as the son of God, is the first Other in the universe; he is the prism of all difference.  He is the secret anam ċara of every individual.  In friendship with him, we enter the tender beauty and affection of the Trinity.  In the embrace of this eternal friendship, we dare to be free.  There is a beautiful Trinitarian motif running through Celtic spirituality.  This little invocation captures this:

The Sacred Three
My fortress be
Encircling me
Come and be round
My hearth and my home.

Consequently, love is anything but sentimental.  In fact, it is the most real and creative form of human presence.  Love is the threshold where divine and human presence ebb and flow into each other.

All presence depends on consciousness.  Where there is a depth of awareness, there is a reverence for presence.  Where consciousness is dulled, distant, or blind, the presence grows faint and vanishes.  Consequently, awareness is one of the greatest gifts you can bring to your friendship.  Many people have an anam ċara of whom they are not truly aware.  Their lack of awareness cloaks the friend’s presence and causes feelings of distance and absence.  Sadly, it is often loss that awakens presence, by then it is too late.  It is wise to pray for the grace of recognition.  Inspired by awareness, you may then discover beside you the anam ċara of whom your longing has always dreamed.

The Celtic tradition recognized that an anam-ċara friendship was graced with affection.  Friendship awakens affection.  The heart learns a new art of feeling.  Such friendship is neither cerebral nor abstract.  In Celtic tradition, the anam ċara was not merely a metaphor or ideal.  It was a soul-bond that existed as a recognized and admired social construct.  It altered the meaning of identity and perception.  When your affection is kindled, the world of your intellect takes on a new tenderness and compassion.  The anam ċara brings epistemological integration and healing.  You look and see and understand differently.  Initially, this can be disruptive and awkward, but it gradually refines your sensibility and transforms your way of being in the world.  Most fundamentalism, greed, violence, and oppression can be traced back to the separation of idea and affection.  For too long we have been blind to the cognitive riches of feeling and the affective depth of ideas.  Aristotle said in De Anima, “Perception is ex hypothesi a form of affection and being moved; and the same goes for thinking and knowing. . .  .  Thinking particularly is like a peculiar affection of the soul.”  The anam-ċara perspective is sublime because it permits us to enter this unity of ancient belonging.