Monday, November 21, 2005

Soul and the Old Woman

What is the soul? Consciousness. The more awareness, the
deeper the soul, and when

such essence overflows, you feel a sacredness around. It's
so simple to tell one who

puts on a robe and pretends to be a dervish from the real
thing. We know the taste

of pure water. Words can sound like a poem but not have
any juice, no flavor to

relish. How long do you look at pictures on a bathhouse
wall? Soul is what drives

you away from those pictures to talk with the old woman
who sits outside by the door

in the sun. She's half blind, but she has what the soul loves
to flow into. She's kind; she weeps

She makes quick personal decisions, and laughs so easily.

(My aunt sent me this the other day)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The principal thing is to stand up before God with the intellect in the heart, and to go on standing before him unceasingly, day and night, until the end of life.
-Theophan the Recluse

Oh God have mercy on me, a poor prayer.
Whatever the principal thing is
keeps crawling off the kitchen table,
scratching and slipping like a lobster.

Whereas I should stand I prefer to bow
under the conspicuous poundage of my
I bow as if on stage, receiving slung bouquets.
I haste about, hanging bunting
for a cortege that for some reason
chooses another route, as it always does.
I stretch out my hands
to touch the untouchable, to catch
the flung candy, to scratch my itch
for heaven.

Or I stand, but not before
God. Before a tribunal in my mind,
before carvings and shell middens.
Not before God but before the word "God,"
correctly spelled; not in the stream of
God's breath
but before the word "Bible," chiseled
in black marble and stuck in the ground.

Where or where, does my intellect
roam? Not lodged in the heart's warm
catching Love's beat, but out for now
at a philosophical Seven-Eleven,
chocolate for the cheeks, ice for the big

Or the hypertrophic gray me,
swag-bellied, rides the poor donkey
of my heart, its heels braking lines in the
It spins a cocoon for the heart or smacks
the poor thing over the fence
like a wet tennis ball. It believes
its own dreams, plays the hero in its
own tale, crawls out like a worm at night.

Or if, by grace, I do stand
before Him, still, for a moment, with my
in my heart, I soon tell myself that it is I
who stand. And I
then tire like one who has waited
for a tardy bus. I walk away whistling,
mildly annoyed. Or I suppose that standing
is not standing, not just standing
but standing tall or proud,
or standing out or alone or for or with
or on or beside or up,
or under standing, standing in
for someone else
or standing at attention as if
to receive some order other
than to love
and be loved
and not to be let go of
by what is forever

-Randall J. VanderMey

Friday, August 26, 2005

From the Manifesto of the Selfish

Because altruists are the least sexy
people on earth, unable
to say "I want" without embarrassment,

we need to take from them everything
they give,
then ask for more,

this is how to excite them, and because
it's exciting
to see them the least bit excited

once again we'll be doing something
for ourselves,
who have no problem taking pleasure,

always desirous and so pleased to be
pleased, we who above all
can be trusted to keep the balance.

-Stephen Dunn

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Friend will become bread and springwater for you,
a lamp and a helper, your favorite dessert
and a glass of wine.
Union with that one
is grace. Gather the pieces,
so I can show you what is.

That's what talking is for,
to help us to be One. Manyness
is having sixty different emotions.
Unity is peace, and silence.

I know I ought to be silent,
but the excitement of this keeps opening
my mouth as a sneeze or a yawn does.

-Jelalludin Rumi

When you feel gloomed over,
it's your failure to praise. Irreverence
and no discipline rob your soul of light.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Ed was in love with a cocktail waitress,
but Ed's family, and his friends,
didn't approve. So he broke it off.

He married a respectable woman
who played the piano. She played well enough
to have been a professional.

Ed's wife left him...
Years later, at a family gathering
Ed got drunk and made a fool of himself.

He said, "I should have married Doreen."
"Well," they said, "why didn't you?"

-Louis Simpson

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-Wendell Berry

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

For Franz music was the art that comes closest to Dionysian beauty in the sense of intoxication. No one can get really drunk on a novel or a painting, but who can help getting drunk on Beethoven's Ninth, Bartok's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, or the Beatles' White Album?
... He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends. He loved to dance and regretted that Sabina did not share his passion.
-Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being