Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Failing and Flying by Jack Gilbert

A collaged journal I made...

Failing and Flying

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

Jack Gilbert, "Failing and Flying" from Refusing Heaven. Copyright © 2005 by Jack Gilbert.

Monday, January 29, 2018

More Than Sixty by Jack Gilbert

Beside my chair...

More Than Sixty by Jack Gilbert

Out of money, so I'm sitting in the shade
of my farmhouse cleaning the lentils
I found in the back of the cupboard.
Listening to the cicada in the fig tree
mix with the cooing doves on the roof.
I look up when I hear a goat hurt far down
the valley and discover the sea
exactly the same blue I used to paint it
with my watercolors as a child.
So what, I think happily. So what!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Slow Dance by Matthew Dickman

This is one of the most popular poems on my blog.  I posted it in 2010, so this is a worthy repost.  It's a magical poem.


By Matthew Dickman

More than putting another man on the moon, 
more than a New Year’s resolution of yogurt and yoga, 
we need the opportunity to dance 
with really exquisite strangers. A slow dance 
between the couch and dinning room table, at the end 
of the party, while the person we love has gone 
to bring the car around 
because it’s begun to rain and would break their heart 
if any part of us got wet. A slow dance 
to bring the evening home, to knock it out of the park. Two people 
rocking back and forth like a buoy. Nothing extravagant. 
A little music. An empty bottle of whiskey. 
It’s a little like cheating. Your head resting 
on his shoulder, your breath moving up his neck. 
Your hands along her spine. Her hips 
unfolding like a cotton napkin 
and you begin to think about how all the stars in the sky 
are dead. The my body 
is talking to your body slow dance. The Unchained Melody
Stairway to Heaven, power-chord slow dance. All my life 
I’ve made mistakes. Small 
and cruel. I made my plans. 
I never arrived. I ate my food. I drank my wine. 
The slow dance doesn’t care. It’s all kindness like children 
before they turn four. Like being held in the arms 
of my brother. The slow dance of siblings. 
Two men in the middle of the room. When I dance with him, 
one of my great loves, he is absolutely human, 
and when he turns to dip me 
or I step on his foot because we are both leading, 
I know that one of us will die first and the other will suffer. 
The slow dance of what’s to come 
and the slow dance of insomnia 
pouring across the floor like bath water. 
When the woman I’m sleeping with 
stands naked in the bathroom, 
brushing her teeth, the slow dance of ritual is being spit 
into the sink. There is no one to save us 
because there is no need to be saved. 
I’ve hurt you. I’ve loved you. I’ve mowed 
the front yard. When the stranger wearing a shear white dress 
covered in a million beads 
comes toward me like an over-sexed chandelier suddenly come to life, 
I take her hand in mine. I spin her out 
and bring her in. This is the almond grove 
in the dark slow dance. 
It is what we should be doing right now. Scraping 
for joy. The haiku and honey. The orange and orangutan slow dance.


I love this guy's poetry.  I own his book and each and every poem is amazing.  And guess what?  His twin brother, Michael, is a poet also!  I have his book, "The End of the West" and it's also a fabulous book of poems. Imagine being able to share poetry-love with your brother?  It must be amazing...

Monday, January 15, 2018

How to Kill a Living Thing

How to Kill a Living Thing

Neglect it
Criticize it to its face
Say how it kills the light
Traps all the rubbish
Bores you with its green

Harden your heart
Cut it down close
To the root as possible

Forget it
For a week or a month
Return with an axe
Split it with one blow
Insert a stone

To keep the wound wide open.

—Eibhlín Nic Eochaidh

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Quietness By Rumi

Full winter moon...

By Rumi

Inside this new love, die.

Your way begins on the other side.

Become the sky.

Take an axe to the prison wall.


Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.

Do it now.

You are covered with thick cloud.

Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. 

Quietness is the surest sign
that you have died.

Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.
The speechless full moon
comes out now. 


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Conch by Olav H. Hauge

Conch shell on a beach...

By Olav H. Hauge, translated by Robert Bly

You build a house for your soul,
and wander proudly
in starlight
with the house on your back,
like a snail.
When danger is near,
you crawl inside
and are safe
behind your hard

And when you are no more,
the house will
live on,
a testament
to your soul's beauty.
And the sea of your loneliness
will sing deep

From:  "The Dream We Carry" by Olav H. Hauge

I'm growing my wings, slowly.

I found this poem just in time.  It gave me what I needed to stay alive today.  And that's enough...


Monday, January 1, 2018

Basho and Kyoto

Prayer flags, 2015


Hearing the cuckoo,
even in Kyoto
I long for Kyoto.


These ten words flay me down to my very bones every single time I've ever read them.  I sit...a shell, broken open, bleeding, sad, weeping, aching, burning, longing...for...?????  If you've ever thought that you needed an abundance of words to say something, then come back and consider these ten words.  

They mortally wound, then heal, equally.  How is that possible?  


Marion, shattered---yet

If you've never seen photos of Kyoto, then search online.  It's a wonder...a feast for the eyes and spirit---