Evening Poetry, November 10

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For One Who Is Exhausted, A Blessing

by John O’Donohue

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight.

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken in the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

You can find this in To Bless The Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings.

Evening Poetry, November 9

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When

by Mary Oliver

When it's over, it's over, and we don't know
any of us, what happens then.
So I try not to miss anything.
I think, in my whole life, I have never missed
the full moon
or the slipper of its coming back.
Or, a kiss.
Well, yes, especially a kiss.

You can find this in Swan: Poems and Prose Poems.

Evening Poetry, November 8

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Dreams

by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

You can find this poem in The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes.

Evening Poetry, November 7

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Mysteries, Yes

by Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads.

You can find this poem in Evidence.

Evening Poetry, November 5

Lockdown Garden

By Arvind Krishna Mehrotra 

1

Close to each other,
socially undistanced,
the mulberry leaves,

uniformly green,
shall turn brown together.
It’s like a herd dying.

2

Firm to begin with,
the mud clod
could’ve injured you.
It crumbles in your hand.

3

In the heap of  dead
leaves crinkly as
brown skins, those
breathing things
foraging around
the bamboo stand
are  jungle babblers.

4

It was planted
all wrong, too
close to a wall,
under the mango
trees. There was
nowhere for it
to go except up
like a mast and
that’s where
it went, taking
its leaves with it—
long, tapering.
I never saw them
fall. It never
flowered, which
would’ve helped
me look it up in a
book of  flowering
Indian trees. Now
I’ll never know
its name nor of
the bird singing
at evening
in the shrubbery.

5

She stood outside
the gate, a woman
my age, head covered
with flowery print,
a sickle in her hand.

Could she come
inside and cut
grass for her goats?
It was ankle high.
Her face was inches

from mine and I felt
her breath on my skin.
It’s after I’d turned
the corner that I heard
what she’d said.

6

The shingles unwalked on,
the doors bolted,
the squirrels back in their nests.

Under the moon a bird floats
and settles on a branch.
The sky is pale.

The leaves of the ironwood
when new every spring
are a deep pink.

The evening  goes out like a flame.
We’ve seen different things.
It’s always been so.

Tell me, love, what you saw today.


You can find this in the October edition of Poetry.

Evening Poetry, November 4

Nothing Is Far

by Robert Francis

Though I have never caught the word
Of God from any calling bird.
I hear all that the ancients heard.

Though I have seen no deity
Enter or leave a twilit tree,
I see all that the seers see.

A common stone can still reveal
Something not stone, not seen, yet real.
What may a common stone conceal?

Nothing is far that once was near.
Nothing is hid that once was clear.
Nothing was God that is not here.

Here is the bird, the tree, the stone.
Here in the sun I sit alone
Between the known and the unknown.

You can find this poem in Collected Poems.

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Evening Poetry, November 3

A Center

by Ha Jin

You must hold your quiet center,
where you do what only you can do.
If others call you a maniac or a fool,
just let them wag their tongues. 
If some praise your perseverance, 
don’t feel too happy about it—
only solitude is a lasting friend.

You must hold your distant center.
Don’t move even if earth and heaven quake. 
If others think you are insignificant,
that’s because you haven’t held on long enough.
As long as you stay put year after year,
eventually you will find a world
beginning to revolve around you. 

You can find this in A Distant Center.

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Evening Poetry, November 2

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – (314)

by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

You can find this in Hope Is The Thing With Feathers.

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Evening Poetry, November 21

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Start Close In

by David Whyte

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way to begin
the conversation.

Start with your own
question,
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something
simple.

To hear
another’s voice,
follow
your own voice,
wait until
that voice

becomes an
intimate
private ear
that can
really listen
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

You can find this poem in River Flow.

Evening Poetry, November 1

Wild Geese

by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

You can find this poem in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.

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