Evening Poetry, March 22

Have you all read this yet? I had to share it in case you haven’t. Love to you all!

Pandemic

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
 
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
 
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
 
–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

You can purchase her new book of poetry here and you can visit her website here.

Evening Poetry, March 21

Spring

(by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks)

Again, the violet bows to the lily.
Again, the rose is tearing off her gown!

The green ones have come from the other world,
tipsy like the breeze up to some new foolishness.

Again, near the top of the mountain
the anemone’s sweet features appear.

The hyacinth speaks formally to the jasmine,
“Peace be with you.” “And peace to you, lad!
Come walk with me in this meadow.”

Again, there are sufis everywhere!
The bud is shy, but the wind removes
her veil suddenly, “My friend!”

The Friend is here like water in the stream,
like a lotus on the water.

The narcissus winks at the wisteria,
“Whenever you say.”

And the clove to the willow, “You are the one
I hope for.” The willow replies, “Consider
these chambers of mine yours. Welcome!”

The apple, “Orange, why the frown?”
“So that those who mean harm
will not see my beauty.”

The ringdove comes asking, “Where,
where is the Friend?

With one note the nightingale
indicates the rose.

Again, the season of Spring has come
and a spring-source rises under everything,
a moon sliding from the shadows.

Many things must be left unsaid, because it’s late,
but whatever conversation we haven’t had
tonight, we’ll have tomorrow.

You can find this in The Essential Rumi.

Evening Poetry, March 20

Then Bluebird Sang

by Mary Oliver

Bluebird

slipped a little tremble

out of the triangle

of his mouth

and it hung in the air

until it reached my ear

like a froth or a frill

that Schumann

might have written in a dream.

Dear morning

you come

with so many angels of mercy

so wondrously disguised

in feathers, in leaves,

in the tongues of stones,

in the restless waters,

in the creep and the click

and the rustle

that greet me wherever I go

with their joyful cry: I’m still here, alive!

You can find this poem in Evidence.

Evening Poetry, March 19

Joy

by Lisel Mueller

“Don’t cry, it’s only music,”

someone’s voice is saying.

“No one you love is dying.”

It’s only music. And it was only spring,

the world’s unreasoning body

run amok, like a saint’s, with glory,

that overwhelmed a young girl

into unreasoning sadness.

“Crazy,” she told herself,

“I should be dancing with happiness.”

But it happened again. It happens

when we make bottomless love–

there follows a bottomless sadness

which is not despair

but its nameless opposite.

It has nothing to do with the passing of time.

It’s not about loss. It’s about

two seemingly parallel lines

suddenly coming together

inside us, in some place

that is still wilderness.

Joy, joy, the sopranos sing,

reaching for the shimmering notes

while our eyes fill with tears.

You can find this poem in Alive Together.

Evening Poetry, March 18

Swans

by Mary Oliver

They appeared

over the dunes,

they skimmed the trees

and hurried on

to the sea

or some lonely pond

or wherever it is

that swans go,

urgent, immaculate,

the heat of their eyes

staring down

and then away,

the thick spans

of their wings

as bright as snow,

their shoulder-power

echoing

inside my own body.

How could I help but adore them?

How could I help but wish

that one of them might drop

a white feather

that I should have

something in my hand

to tell me

that they were real?

Of course

this was foolish.

What we love, shapely and pure,

is not to be held,

but to be believed in.

And then they vanished, into the unreachable distance.

You can find this in Evidence.

Evening Poetry, March 15

For Equilibrium

by John O’ Donohue

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore, 
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul. 

As the wind loves to call things to dance, 
May your gravity by lightened by grace. 

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth, 
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect. 

As water takes whatever shape it is in, 
So free may you be about who you become. 

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said, 
May your sense of irony bring perspective. 

As time remains free of all that it frames, 
May your mind stay clear of all it names. 

May your prayer of listening deepen enough 
to hear in the depths the laughter of God.

You can find this in To Bless the Space Between Us.

Evening Poetry, March 14

For One Who Is Exhausted

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 laboursome 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 for 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 travelled 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 colour
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.

Evening Poetry, March 13

For a Leader

by John O’Donohue

May you have the grace and wisdom
To act kindly, learning
To distinguish between what is
Personal and what is not.

May you be hospitable to criticism.

May you never put yourself at the center of things.

May you act not from arrogance but out of service.

May you work on yourself,
Building up and refining the ways of your mind.

May those who work for you know
You see and respect them.

May you learn to cultivate the art of presence
In order to engage with those who meet you.

When someone fails or disappoints you,
May the graciousness with which you engage
Be their stairway to renewal and refinement.

May you treasure the gifts of the mind
Through reading and creative thinking
So that you continue as a servant of the frontier
Where the new will draw its enrichment from the
old,
And may you never become a functionary.

May you know the wisdom of deep listening,
The healing of wholesome words,
The encouragement of the appreciative gaze,
The decorum of held dignity,
The springtime edge of the bleak question.

May you have a mind that loves frontiers
So that you can evoke the bright fields
That lie beyond the view of the regular eye.

May you have good friends
To mirror your blind spots.

May leadership be for you
A true adventure of growth.

You can find this in To Bless the Space Between Us.

Evening Poetry, March 12

For Citizenship

by John O’Donohue

In these times when anger
Is turned into anxiety
And someone has stolen
The horizons and mountains,

Our small emperors on parade
Never expect our indifference
To disturb their nakedness.

They keep their heads down
And their eyes gleam with reflection
From aluminum economic ground,

The media wraps everything
In a cellophane of sound,
And the ghost surface of the virtual
Overlays the breathing earth.

The industry of distraction
Makes us forget
That we live in a universe.

We have become converts
To the religion of stress
And its deity of progress;

That we may have courage
To turn aside from it all
And come to kneel down before the poor,
To discover what we must do,
How to turn anxiety
Back into anger,
How to find our way home.

You can find this in To Bless the Space Between Us.

Evening Poetry, March 11

The Leaky Faucet

by Ted Kooser

All through the night, the leaky faucet

searches the stillness of the house

with its radar blip: who is awake?

Who lies out there as full of worry

as a pan in the sink? Cheer up,

cheer up, the little faucet calls,

someone will help you through your life.

You can find this poem in Flying at Night.