Poems for peace into the new year, blessings

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Thanks

W.S. Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

 

image by Iris Perrens

Demeter – Carol Ann Duffy

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Demeter – Carol Ann Duffy.

 

 

Where I lived – winter and hard earth.

I sat in my cold stone room

choosing tough words, granite, flint,

 

to break the ice. My broken heart –

I tried that, but it skimmed,

flat, over the frozen lake.

 

She came from a long, long way,

but I saw her at last, walking,

my daughter, my girl, across the fields,

 

In bare feet, bringing all spring’s flowers

to her mother’s house. I swear

the air softened and warmed as she moved,

 

the blue sky smiling, none too soon,

with the small shy mouth of a new moon.

 

 

photo Rose Cook

 

A gift of peace and appreciation, in noticing what is there – Colouring In by John Foggin

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Colouring in       by John Foggin

This is what I have learned
in the streets of my town which is made of stone.

There are thirty seven steps. At the foot,
in a cold iron pot, are flowers,
soft and velvet as the inside of my cat’s ear.

They tell me: these are blue.
They say: the sky is blue, the last house of the street
is blue and so is Mary the mother of God of the miracles.

My cat’s soft velvet ear is blue. The sky is soft,
also the last house, and the Mother of God.

The church is built of brick, which is rough-edged
straight-lined, sharp-angled. And this is yellow.
Yellow is the shape of bricks.

Birds clap from the tower where the bell is hung.
They sound like wet cloths on a line in a gust.
Laundry looks like birds. A line of washing
chatters and fratches. Sparrow laundry.

Pale grey is a roughness on my fingertips.
Green whispers and smells of rain.

On days like this warm day
the sky is a cat’s ear
and is listening me.

 

 

 

photograph Rose Cook

On Angels by Czeslaw Milosz

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On Angels   by Czeslaw Milosz

All was taken away from you: white dresses,
wings, even existence.
Yet I believe in you,
messengers.

There, where the world is turned inside out,
a heavy fabric embroidered with stars and beasts,
you stroll, inspecting the trustworthy seams.

Short is your stay here:
now and then at a matinal hour, if the sky is clear,
in a melody repeated by a bird,
or in the smell of apples at close of day
when the light makes the orchards magic.

They say somebody has invented you
but to me this does not sound convincing
for the humans invented themselves as well.

The voice — no doubt it is a valid proof,
as it can belong only to radiant creatures,
weightless and winged (after all, why not?),
girdled with the lightening.

I have heard that voice many a time when asleep
and, what is strange, I understood more or less
an order or an appeal in an unearthly tongue:

day draw near
another one
do what you can.

 

 

 

photo Rose Cook

 

Mary Oliver…To live in this world you must be able to do three things

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In Blackwater Woods    by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

 

 

 

 

photo Rose Cook

Every day I am astonished by how little I know

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Come

by Andrew Colliver 

Every day I am astonished by
how little I know, and discouraged,
obedient as I am to the demand to
know more — always more.

But then there is the slow seep
of light from the day,
and I look to the west where
the hills are darkening,

setting their shoulders to the night,
and the sky peppered with pillows
of mist, their bellies burnt
by the furnace of the sun.

And it is then that I notice
the invitation didn’t say, Come
armed with knowledge and a loud voice
.
It only said, Come.

 

 

photo Rose Cook

The Shortness of Life

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an extract from Seneca’s spectacular 2,000-year-old treatise On the Shortness of Life:

 

Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.

 

No one will bring back the years; no one will restore you to yourself. Life will follow the path it began to take, and will neither reverse nor check its course. It will cause no commotion to remind you of its swiftness, but glide on quietly. It will not lengthen itself for a king’s command or a people’s favor. As it started out on its first day, so it will run on, nowhere pausing or turning aside. What will be the outcome? You have been preoccupied while life hastens on. Meanwhile death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that.

 

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough if you know how to use it.

 

 

photo Rose Cook