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

E.E. Cummings – [as freedom is a breakfastfood]

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E.E. Cummings   [as freedom is a breakfastfood]

 

as freedom is a breakfastfood
or truth can live with right and wrong
or molehills are from mountains made
—long enough and just so long
will being pay the rent of seem
and genius please the talentgang
and water most encourage flame

as hatracks into peachtrees grow
or hopes dance best on bald men’s hair
and every finger is a toe
and any courage is a fear
—long enough and just so long
will the impure think all things pure
and hornets wail by children stung

or as the seeing are the blind
and robins never welcome spring
nor flatfolk prove their world is round
nor dingsters die at break of dong
and common’s rare and millstones float
—long enough and just so long
tomorrow will not be too late

worms are the words but joy’s the voice
down shall go which and up come who
breasts will be breasts thighs will be thighs
deeds cannot dream what dreams can do
—time is a tree(this life one leaf)
but love is the sky and i am for you
just so long and long enough

 

photograph Rose Cook

 

This is the best season of your life

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Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn

By Wu Men Hui-k’ai
(1183 – 1260)

 

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

 

photo by Rose Cook

Waiting…by Leza Lowitz

 

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Waiting
by Leza Lowitz

You keep waiting for something to happen,
the thing that lifts you out of yourself,

catapults you into doing all the things you’ve put off
the great things you’re meant to do in your life,

but somehow never quite get to.
You keep waiting for the planets to shift

the new moon to bring news,
the universe to align, something to give.

Meanwhile, the pile of papers, the laundry, the dishes the job –
it all stacks up while you keep hoping

for some miracle to blast down upon you,
scattering the piles to the winds.

Sometimes you lie in bed, terrified of your life.
Sometimes you laugh at the privilege of waking.

But all the while, life goes on in its messy way.
And then you turn forty. Or fifty. Or sixty…

and some part of you realizes you are not alone
and you find signs of this in the animal kingdom

when a snake sheds its skin its eyes glaze over,
it slinks under a rock, not wanting to be touched,

and when caterpillar turns to butterfly
if the pupa is brushed, it will die –

and when the bird taps its beak hungrily against the egg
it’s because the thing is too small, too small,

and it needs to break out.
And midlife walks you into that wisdom

that this is what transformation looks like –
the mess of it, the tapping at the walls of your life,

the yearning and writhing and pushing,
until one day, one day

you emerge from the wreck
embracing both the immense dawn

and the dusk of the body,
glistening, beautiful

just as you are.

 

 

Photo Rose Cook

Snowy Night by Mary Oliver

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Snowy Night                          by Mary Oliver

 

 

Last night, an owl
in the blue dark
tossed
an indeterminate number
of carefully shaped sounds into
the world, in which,
a quarter of a mile away, I happened
to be standing.
I couldn’t tell
which one it was –
the barred or the great-horned
ship of the air –
it was that distant. But, anyway,
aren’t there moments
that are better than knowing something,
and sweeter? Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness. I suppose
if this were someone else’s story
they would have insisted on knowing
whatever is knowable – would have hurried
over the fields
to name it – the owl, I mean.
But it’s mine, this poem of the night,
and I just stood there, listening and holding out
my hands to the soft glitter
falling through the air. I love this world,
but not for its answers.
And I wish good luck to the owl,
whatever its name –
and I wish great welcome to the snow,
whatever its severe and comfortless
and beautiful meaning.

 

 

photograph Rose Cook