Evening Poetry, November 23

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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 in River Flow: New and Selected Poems.

Evening Poetry, November 19

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Looking Out From Clare, for John O’Donohue

by David Whyte

There's a great spring in you
all bud and blossom
and March laughter
I've always loved.

Your face framed
against the bay
and the whisper
of some arriving joke
playing at the mouth,
your lightning raid
on the eternal
melting the serious line
to absurdity.

I look round and see
the last days of winter
broken away
for all those
listening or watching,
all come to life now
with the first
pale sun on their face
for many a month,
remembering how to laugh.

But most of all I love
the heft and weight
and swing of that sea
behind it all, some other tide
racing toward the shore,
or receding to the calmness
where no light or laughter
lives for long.

The way you surface
from those atmospheres
again and again,
your emergence seems to make
you a lover of horizons
but your visitation
of darkness shows.

Then away from you
I can see you only alone
on the strand
walking to the sea
on the north shore of Clare
toward the end
of an unendurable winter
as if taking your first swim
of the year.

The March scald 
of cold ocean
even in May about to tighten
and bud you into spring.
You look across
the mountains in Connemara
framing, only for now,
your horizon.
You look and look, and look
beyond all looking.

You can find this in Everything is Waiting for You.

Evening Poetry, November 21

*This post contains affiliate links: If you click through and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I will receive a small compensation. This helps with the costs of running an ad-free blog. Thank you!

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, September 28

The Well of Stars

by David Whyte

Blue lights on the runway like stars
on the surface of a well
into which I fall each night from the sky,
emerging through the tunnel door
of the jetway, and the black waters
of the night, in the cities of America.

In the lit rooms of glass and steel,
in the still and secret towers,
under the true stars hid by cloud
and the steam shrouded roofs
of the mansions of money and hope,
I come with my quiet voice and
my insistence, and my stories,
and out of that second and
deeper well I see again those other
blue stars and that other darkness
closer even than the night outside,
the one we refuse to mention,
the darkness we know so well
inside everyone.
I have a few griefs and joys
I can call my own
and through accident it seems,
a steadfast faith in each of them
and that's what I will say
matters when the story ends.

But it takes a little while to get there,
all the unburdening
and the laying down
and the willingness
to really tire of yourself,
and the step by step
the ways
the poets through time
generously gave themselves
to us,
walking like pilgrims
through doubt,
combining their fear
their fierceness and their faith.

and you now,
in front of the room
under the florescent light
by the reflected window
hiding all the stars
you have forgotten....

One more member of the prison population
whose eyes have caught
the open gate at last.
You are the one for whom the gift was made.

Keep that look in your eyes
and you'll gladly grow tired of your reflection.

There, for all to see,
the well of stars,
the great night from which you were born.

You can find this poem in The House of Belonging.

Evening Poetry, September 18

The Journey

by David Whyte

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

Painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

first, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes of your life.

You are not leaving,
Even as the light fades quickly now,
you are arriving.

You can find this poem in The House of Belonging.

Evening Poetry, August 9

The Sea in You

by David Whyte

When I wake under the moon,

I do not know who I have become unless

I move closer to you, obeying the give and take

of the earth as it breathes the slender length

of your body, so that in breathing with the tide that breathes

in you, and moving with you as you come and go,

and following you, half in light and half in dark,

I feel the first firm edge of my floating palm touch

and then trace the pale light of your shoulder

to the faint, moonlit shadow of your smooth cheek

and drawing my finger through the pearl water of your skin,

I sense the breath on your lips touch and then warm

the finest, furthest, most unknown edge of my self of self,

so that I come to you under the moon as if I had

swum under the deepest arch of the ocean,

to find you living where no one could possibly live,

and to feel you breathing, where no one could

possibly breathe, and I touch your skin as I would

touch a pale whispering spirit of the tides that my arms

try to hold with the wrong kind of strength and my lips

try to speak with the wrong kind of love and I follow

you through the ocean night listening for your breath

in my helpless calling to love you as I should, and I lie

next to you in your sleep as I would next to the sea,

overwhelmed by the rest that arrives in me and by the weight

that is taken from me and what, by morning,

is left on the shore of my waking joy.

You can find this poem in The Sea in You.