On the 100 years’ anniversary of the end of the First World War

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MCMXIV, by Phillip Larkin

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day;

And the countryside not caring:
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat’s restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word – the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.

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Rumi ~ Be with those who help your being

Be with those who help your being.
Don’t sit with indifferent people, whose breath
comes cold out of their mouths.
Not these visible forms, your work is deeper.
A chunk of dirt thrown in the air breaks to pieces.
If you don’t try to fly,
and so break yourself apart,
you will be broken open by death,
when it’s too late for all you could become.
Leaves get yellow. The tree puts out fresh roots
and makes them green.
Why are you so content with a love that turns you yellow?
~ Rumi
 translation Coleman Barks
photo Rose Cook

For the sake of breathing

Spring Poem For the Sake of Breathing

by James Masao Mitsui

 

The sky wants the water to turn grey,
but if I notice how waves

play with the clumps of yellow flags,
or the way turtles share logs,

or even try to understand a friend’s decision
to walk onto a glacier

and end her life—I will be ready
for any poems that have been waiting.

The horizon opens as I walk,
escorted by swans and Canada geese.

I need to stop backpedaling into the present.
In my old life people would straighten

the truth, but the river
flows in curves.

The names of my father and my mother
rest next to each other in Greenwood Cemetery.

The distance between me and the mountains
measures an uneven thought: I feel like an orphan.

An early moon is just a piece of change
in the softening sky.

Light is such an actress. Time to seek
Hopper’s wish to simply paint sunlight

on the wooden wall of a house. I am growing
older. Maru in Japanese means

the ship
will make it back home.

 

photo Rose Cook

Mary Oliver: Why I Wake Early

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Why I Wake Early
by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

 

 

photo Rose Cook

Peace is possible

 

image

My right hand has written all the poems that I have composed.
My left hand has not written a single poem.
But my right hand does not think, “Left Hand, you are good for nothing.”
My right hand does not have a superiority complex.
That is why it is very happy.
My left hand does not have any complex at all.
In my two hands there is the kind of wisdom
called the wisdom of nondiscrimination.
One day I was hammering a nail and my right hand was not very accurate
and instead of pounding on the nail it pounded on my finger.
It put the hammer down and took care of the left hand
in a very tender way, as if it were taking care of itself.
It did not say, “Left Hand, you have to remember that
I have taken good care of you and you have to pay me back in the future.”
There was no such thinking. And my left hand did not say,
“Right Hand, you have done me a lot of harm—
give me that hammer, I want justice.”
My two hands know that they are members of one body;
they are in each other.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
from his address to Congress entitled
Leading with Courage and Compassion,
Sept. 10th 2003

I think I just want to be sad today

On sad by Hafiz

I think I just want to be sad today, the way many
are in this world. True, God rides in my pocket,
as He does in yours.

Yes, I could lift Him out and look upon various
realms of light and know great happiness. Maybe
I will do that tomorrow.

The ocean has moods. Have you not seen how its
colour can change, and the waves’ force and heights
can differ?

 

photo Rose Cook

The Way It Is

The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow.
It goes among things that change. 
But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
By William Stafford, from The Way It Is, 1998
photo Rose Cook