Showing posts from September, 2006


by William Shakespeare

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoy'd no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had
Past reason hated, as a swallow'd bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.


by Philip Whalen
I praise those ancient Chinamen Who left me a few words, Usually a pointless joke or a silly question A line of poetry drunkenly scrawled on the margin of a quick Splashed picture ­– bug, leaf, Caricature of Teacher on paper held together now by little more than ink & their own strength brushed momentarily over it
Their world & several others since Gone to hell in a handbasket, they knew it – Cheered as it whizzed by – & conked out among the busted spring rain cherryblossom winejars Happy to have saved us all.

Safe Sex

by Donald Hall

If he and she do not know each other, and feel confident

they will not meet again; if he avoids affectionate words;

if she has grown insensible skin under skin; if they desire

only the tribute of another's cry; if they employ each other

as revenge on old lovers or families of entitlement and steel—

then there will be no betrayals, no letters returned unread,

no frenzy, no hurled words of permanent humiliation,

no trembling days, no vomit at midnight, no repeated

apparition of a body floating face-down at the pond's edge


by Allen Ginsberg
Everybody loves the first glimpse of naked love Everybody’s story is the most thrilling in the world Everybody tells their best friend their tale of the raw behind First time they discovered an open heart with their pants down

I Hate Incense

by Ikkyu
A master's handiwork cannot be measured But still priests wag their tongues explaining the "Way" and babbling about "Zen." This old monk has never cared for false piety And my nose wrinkles at the dark smell of incense before the Buddha.

“Moment of Perfection"

by Timothy Liu

The earth has moved forward, in a sense, or does it merely turn
against itself? The trees have moved forward, putting forth
leaves, shade. But I have not moved forward though I was surely
moved. At the St.RegisHotel, the butlers change fresh roses
that need no changing, butlers who are paid to notice the most
infinitesimal, the almost unseen, the earth turning towards
its own demise, too far off to be seen, myself all along hoping
for a longer winter to burrow in for just a few more months
instead of turning forty here in this world that you have left me
but the weather asks us to emerge, face the present conditions
we'd never have imagined, not to the dream of love returned
but of love withheld and its unsettling tensions as the earth
turns, no matter where we turn, the tension in the simultaneous
seasons moving across the face of the earth, in all the leaves
that will lose their shimmer, given time, while I wait inside
the unseen decay of a hotel room filled with a …

"August in Waterton, Alberta"

by Bill Holm
for Bonnie Johnson

Above me, wind does its best
to blow leaves off the aspen tree a month too soon. No use wind. All you succeed In doing is making music, the noise of failure growing beautiful.

Drape All the Mirrors

a poem for my aunt
by Ken Ireland

I sit by the phone and wait for word that she has died, ready to cry. But the news is still the same: she is resting comfortably. If she has lucid moment, yes, I will tell her that her nephew from California loves her.
When we last spoke I was 10. If that is how she remembers me, I will not complain or correct. She only complains that the fall had blurred her eyes. She could no longer call the pitch strike or ball. Keep you eye on the ball, you are the best aunt in the world. My last words.
It was just a spill that an ordinary person could have walked off, but it shattered her back and pelvis. Unable to speak, she pointed to the legal paper she had prepared. The priest was called. He forgave, prayed and left. An intern hauled out the tubes while my father stood expecting her last breath.
15 days later, nurses and doctors admire the body’s desire to survive while she lies waiting patiently for her hereafter now.
There is no looking back, no food, no …


by John Donne
STAND still, and I will read to thee
A lecture, Love, in Love's philosophy.
These three hours that we have spent,
Walking here, two shadows went
Along with us, which we ourselves produced.
But, now the sun is just above our head,
We do those shadows tread,
And to brave clearness all things are reduced.
So whilst our infant loves did grow,
Disguises did, and shadows, flow
From us and our cares ; but now 'tis not so.

That love hath not attain'd the highest degree,
Which is still diligent lest others see.

Except our loves at this noon stay,
We shall new shadows make the other way.
As the first were made to blind
Others, these which come behind
Will work upon ourselves, and blind our eyes.
If our loves faint, and westerwardly decline,
To me thou, falsely, thine
And I to thee mine actions shall disguise.
The morning shadows wear away,
But these grow longer all the day ;
But O ! love's day is short, if love decay.

Love is a growing, or full constant light,
And his short minute, after no…

Love Poem

by Donald Hall

When you fall in love
you jockey the horse
into the flaming barn.

You hire a cabin
on the shiny Titanic.
You tease the black bear.

Reading the Monitor
you scan the obituaries
looking for your name.

Song of Myself

by Walt Whitman
(Excerpt from the 1855 edition)

Trippers and askers surround me, People I meet….the effect upon me of my early life….of the ward and city I live in….of the nation, The latest news….discoveries, inventions, societies….authors old and new, My dinner, dress, associates, looks, business, compliments, dues, The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love, The sickness of one of my folks­-or of myself….or ill-doing….or loss or lack of money….or depressions or exaltations, These come to me days and nights and go from me again, But they are not the Me myself. Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am, Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary, Looks down, is erect, bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest, Looks with its sidecurved head, curious what will come next, Both in and out of the game, and watching and wondering want wondering at it. …………………………………………………………………………. I believe in you my soul….the other I must not abase itself to you, And you must n…

The Forgotten Dialect Of The Heart

by Jack Gilbert
How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind's labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton.…

by Emily Dickinson


I dwell in Possibility—
A fairer House than Prose—
More numerous of Windows—
Superior—for Doors—

Of Chambers as the Cedars—
Impregnable of Eye—
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky—

Of Visitors—the fairest—
For Occupation—This—
The spreading wide of narrow Hands
To gather Paradise—


by Mary Oliver
As I was searching for poems for a memorial service, I looked through some poems by Mary Oliver, a woman I usually take to be a Buddhist poet though I have no evidence other than the way her words land in my heart, and found this gem which I want to share.

Sweet Jesus, talking
his melancholy madness,
stood up in the boat
and the sea lay down,

silky and sorry.
So everybody was saved
that night.
But you know how it is

when something
different crosses
the threshold—the uncles
mutter together,

the women walk away,
the young brother begins
to sharpen his knife.
Nobody knows what the soul is.

It comes and goes
like the wind over the water—
sometimes, for days,
you don’t think of it.

Maybe after the sermon,
after the multitude was fed,
one or two of them felt
the soul slip forth

like a tremor of pure sunlight,
before exhaustion,
that wants to swallow everything,
gripped their bones and left them

miserable and sleepy,
as they are now, forgetting
how the wind tore at the sails