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

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

In a time of hurt and grief

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Whoever finds love                        by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi


                                                                                                        (1207 – 1273)

                                                                  English version by Coleman Barks

Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief
disappears into emptiness
with a thousand new disguises

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

The Moment by Dorothy Walters

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The Moment       by Dorothy Walters

And not once,
but many times over,
again and again,
how we disappeared
into that deep well
of darkness, shuddering beneath that load of silence,
clinging to our narrow ledge.

Yet the darkness, sometimes,
unfolded as light.
Our atoms dissolved in it,
each separate molecule opening
into a radiant disk of feeling.

How still we became,
witness and thing seen,
spectacle and observer,
each point admitting an untrammeled flood.

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