Have you prayed? by Li-Young Lee

 

Have You Prayed?       by LI-YOUNG LEE

 

When the wind
turns and asks, in my father’s voice,

Have you prayed?

I know three things. One:
I’m never finished answering to the dead.

Two: A man is four winds and three fires.
And the four winds are his father’s voice,
his mother’s voice . . .

Or maybe he’s seven winds and ten fires.
And the fires are seeing, hearing, touching,
dreaming, thinking . . .
Or is he the breath of God?

When the wind turns traveler
and asks, in my father’s voice, Have you prayed?
I remember three things.
One: A father’s love

is milk and sugar,
two-thirds worry, two-thirds grief, and what’s left over

is trimmed and leavened to make the bread
the dead and the living share.

And patience? That’s to endure
the terrible leavening and kneading.

And wisdom? That’s my father’s face in sleep.

When the wind
asks, Have you prayed?
I know it’s only me

reminding myself
a flower is one station between
earth’s wish and earth’s rapture, and blood

was fire, salt, and breath long before
it quickened any wand or branch, any limb
that woke speaking. It’s just me

in the gowns of the wind,
or my father through me, asking,
Have you found your refuge yet?
asking, Are you happy?

Strange. A troubled father. A happy son.
The wind with a voice. And me talking to no one.

 

 

photograph Rose Cook

 

 

for International Peace Day on 21st September 2016

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While My Guitar Gently Weeps     by The Beatles

look at you all

See the love there that’s sleeping

While my guitar gently weeps

I look at the floor

And I see it needs sweeping

Still my guitar gently weeps

I don’t know why nobody told you

How to unfold your love

I don’t know how someone controlled you

They bought and so-old you

I look at the world

And I notice it’s turning

While my guitar gently weeps

(With) every mistake

We must surely be learning

Still my guitar gently weeps

Yeah

I don’t know how you were diverted

You were perverted too

I don’t know how you were inverted

No-one alerted you

I look at you all

See the love there that’s sleeping

While my guitar gently weeps

Look at you all

Still my guitar gently wee-ee-eeps

Songwriters: George Harrison / John Lennon / Paul Mccartney

While My Guitar Gently Weeps lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Peermusic Publishing, The Bicycle Music Company

Take a look at this video on YouTube of George Harrison singing this song:

https://youtu.be/ezd7fRvJgtc

This divine breath

 

This divine breath           by Johann Herder

A breath of our mouth
Becomes the portrait of the world,
The type of our thoughts
And our feelings
In the other’s soul.

On a bit of moving air
Depends everything human
That men on earth
Have ever thought, willed, done,
And ever will do;

For we would all still be roaming
In the forests if this divine breath
Had not blown around us,
And did not hover
On our lips like a magic tone.

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photo Rose Cook

Allen Ginsberg: A poem about Tai Chi

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In my kitchen in New York            by Allen Ginsberg

 

Bend knees, shift weight
Picasso’s blue deathhead self portrait
tacked on refrigerator door

This is the only space in the apartment
big enough to do t’ai chi

Straighten right foot & rise–I wonder
if I should have set aside that garbage
pail

Raise up my hands & bring them back to
shoulders–The towels and pyjama
laundry’s hanging on a rope in the hall

Push down & grasp the sparrow’s tail
Those paper boxes of grocery bags are
blocking the closed door

Turn north–I should hang up all
those pots on the stovetop
Am I holding the world right? That
Hopi picture on the wall shows
rain & lightning bolt

Turn right again–thru the door, God
my office space is a mess of
pictures & unanswered letters

Left on my hips–Thank God Arthur Rimbaud’s
watching me from over the sink

Single whip–piano’s in the room, well
Steven & Maria finally’ll move to their
own apartment next week! His pants’re
still here & Julius in his bed

This gesture’s the opposite of St. Francis
in Ecstasy by Bellini–hands
down for me

I better concentrate on what I’m doing
weight in belly, move by hips
No, that was the single whip–that apron’s
hanging on the North wall a year
I haven’t used it once
Except to wipe my hands–the Crane
spreads its wings have I paid
the electric bill?

Playing the guitar do I have enough $
to leave the rent paid while I’m
in China?

Brush knee–that was good
halavah, pounded sesame seed,
in the icebox a week

Withdraw & push–I should
get a loft or giant living room
The land speculators bought up all
the sqaure feet in Manhattan,
beginning with the Indians

Cross hands–I should write
a letter to the Times saying
it’s unethical

Come to rest hands down knees
straight–I wonder how
my liver’s doing. O.K. I guess
tonite, I quit smoking last
week. I wonder if they’ll blow
up an H Bomb? Probably not.

-Manhattan Midnite, September 5, 1984

 

 

photo Rose Cook

A poem for the summer solstice

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The Summer Day                                by Mary Oliver

 

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?




photograph Rose Cook

Apple blossom ways

 

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Last night, as I was sleeping                   by Antonio Machado

English version by Robert Bly
Original Language Spanish

 

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night, as I slept,
I dreamt — marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

 

 

photograph Rose Cook

Gary Snyder – How Poetry Comes to Me

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How Poetry Comes to Me                            by Gary Snyder

It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light

 

 

photograph Rose Cook