Showing posts from September, 2010


For my mother, Leona Mare Carroll Ireland I found a poem by Seamus Heaney that would not let me go. Mother never forgot to mention that they had a cook in her family home on Elmwood Place. I think that her name was Lizzy, Irish no doubt. FROM "CLEARANCES," IN MEMORIAM M. K. H. (1911 - 1984) When all the others were away at Mass I was all hers as we peeled potatoes. They broke the silence, let fall one by one Like solder weeping off the soldering iron: Cold comforts set between us, things to share Gleaming in a bucket of clean water. And again let fall. Little splashes From each other's work would bring us to our senses. So while the parish priest at her bedside Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying And some were responding and some crying I remembered her head bent towards my head, Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives - Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

The Lesson Of The Falling Leaves

by Lucille Clifton With gratitude for the fall sesshin, October 10 th -17 th , Saint Dorothy's Rest, Camp Meeker. And thank you, Lucille Clifton, for the capping verse: The Lesson Of The Falling Leaves the leaves believe such letting go is love such love is faith such faith is grace such grace is god i agree with the leaves

The Second Voyage

by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin Odysseus rested on his oar and saw The ruffled foreheads of the waves Crocodiling and mincing past: he rammed The oar between their jaws and looked down In the simmering sea where scribbles of weed defined Uncertain depth, and the slim fishes progressed In fatal formation, and thought                                             If there was a single Streak of decency in these waves now, they'd be ridged Pocked and dented with the battering they've had, And we could name them as Adam named the beasts, Saluting a new one with dismay, or a notorious one With admiration; they'd notice us passing And rejoice at our shipwreck, but these Have less character than sheep and need more patience. I know what I'll do he said; I'll park my ship in the crook of a long pier (And I'll take you with me he said to the oar) I'll face the rising ground and walk away From tidal waters, up riverbeds Where hero

Men at Work

by Julie Bruck The Lost Valentinos. For Nik, Safe Travels and "break a leg!" I said, “Do you speak-a my language?” He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich. —“Down Under.” We middle-aged sense them immediately: four brittle pop stars sprawled across the rigid fibreglass chairs at the airport gate. It’s not just that they’re Australian, that gorgeous thunk of English, the stacked electric-guitar cases draped with black leather jackets, or their deep tans on this Sunday night in midwinter Toronto that holds everyone’s attention, drawn as we are, pale filings to their pull. Even their rail-thin lassitude attracts us, as it must Doug, the portly Air Canada gate manager in his personalized jacket, who arrives to greet the band, cranking hands and cracking jokes. Doug, who must live in Mississauga with the wife and a couple of kids, and who insists the boys come back to play Toronto next year, when we clutchers of boarding passes w

I Want to Write Something So Simply

by Mary Oliver, from Evidence I want to write something so simply about love or about pain that even as you are reading you feel it and as you read you keep feeling it and though it be my story it will be common, though it be singular it will be known to you so that by the end you will think— no, you will realize— that it was all the while yourself arranging the words, that it was all the time words that you yourself out of your own heart had been saying. for Brendan who shared tonight at a 12 step meeting. You inspired me to write more personally about my experience with Issan and the founding years at Maitri Hospice. If you want to read more of Mary Oliver’s poems, here are some that I like.


by Mary Oliver The spirit likes to dress up like this: ten fingers, ten toes, shoulders, and all the rest at night in the black branches, in the morning in the blue branches of the world. It could float, of course, but would rather plumb rough matter. Airy and shapeless thing, it needs the metaphor of the body, lime and appetite, the oceanic fluids; it needs the body's world, instinct and imagination and the dark hug of time, sweetness and tangibility, to be understood, to be more than pure light that burns where no one is — so it enters us — in the morning shines from brute comfort like a stitch of lightning; and at night lights up the deep and wondrous drownings of the body like a star. by Mary Oliver, from Dream Work Atlantic Monthly Press If you want to read more of Mary Oliver’s poems, here are some that I like.


by Mary Oliver All night the dark buds of dreams open richly. In the center of every petal is a letter, and you imagine if you could only remember and string them all together they would spell the answer. It is a long night, and not an easy one— you have so many branches, and there are diversions— birds that come and go, the black fox that lies down to sleep beneath you, the moon staring with her bone-white eye. Finally you have spent all the energy you can and you drag from the ground the muddy skirt of your roots and leap awake with two or three syllables like water in your mouth and a sense of loss—a memory not yet of a word, certainly not yet the answer— only how it feels when deep in the tree all the locks click open, and the fire surges through the wood, and the blossoms blossom. If you want to read more of Mary Oliver’s poems, here are some that I like.

White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field

Detail from Audubon Plate 121 Snowy Owl by Mary Oliver Coming down out of the freezing sky with its depths of light, like an angel, or a Buddha with wings, it was beautiful, and accurate, striking the snow and whatever was there with a force that left the imprint of the tips of its wings — five feet apart — and the grabbing thrust of its feet, and the indentation of what had been running through the white valleys of the snow — and then it rose, gracefully, and flew back to the frozen marshes to lurk there, like a little lighthouse, in the blue shadows — so I thought: maybe death isn't darkness, after all, but so much light wrapping itself around us — as soft as feathers — that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking, and shut our eyes, not without amazement, and let ourselves be carried, as through the translucence of mica, to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow, that is nothing but light —