As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse

by Billy Collins for Ken and Trevor, oh you Canadians! I pick an orange from a wicker basket and place it on the table to represent the sun. Then down at the other end a blue and white marble becomes the earth and nearby I lay the little moon of an aspirin. I get a glass from a cabinet, open a bottle of wine, then I sit in a ladder-back chair, a benevolent god presiding over a miniature creation myth, and I begin to sing a homemade canticle of thanks for this perfect little arrangement, for not making the earth too hot or cold not making it spin too fast or slow so that the grove of orange trees and the owl become possible, not to mention the rolling wave, the play of clouds, geese in flight, and the Z of lightning on a dark lake. Then I fill my glass again and give thanks for the trout, the oak, and the yellow feather, singing the room full of shadows, as sun and earth and moon circle one another in their impeccable orbits

All the True Vows

by David Whyte All the true vows are secret vows the ones we speak out loud are the ones we break. There is only one life you can call your own and a thousand others you can call by any name you want. Hold to the truth you make every day with your own body, don't turn your face away. Hold to your own truth at the center of the image you were born with. Those who do not understand their destiny will never understand the friends they have made nor the work they have chosen nor the one life that waits beyond all the others. By the lake in the wood in the shadows you can whisper that truth to the quiet reflection you see in the water. Whatever you hear from the water, remember, it wants you to carry the sound of its truth on your lips. Remember, in this place no one can hear you and out of the silence you can make a promise It will kill you to break, that way you'll find what is real and what is not. I know what I am saying. Time

The Beauty Of Hopelessness

Zen comments on the 12 Steps The koan, "Hsiang-yen: Up a Tree," case 5 of the Mumonkan. Today I find myself totally swept up in the hanging man's dilemma as I begin to re-work Step 1 of the 12 Steps. The Big Book puts the first step in simple, straightforward language: "I admit that I am powerless over … [alcohol, drugs, food, sex]—that my life has become unmanageable." It's just the first step on a journey, and in my case, there is a story connected with my personal surrender. Here is case 5 as my teacher, John Tarrant Roshi, presented it during a retreat . "Hsiang-yen: Up Tree" The priest Hsiang-yen said, "It is as though you were up in a tree, hanging from a branch with your teeth. Your hands and feet can't touch any branch. Someone appears beneath the tree and asks, `What is the meaning of Bodhidharma's coming from the West?' If you do not answer, you evade your responsibility. If you do answer, you lose your life.

In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself

by Wislawa Szymborska The buzzard never says it is to blame. The panther wouldn't know what scruples mean. When the piranha strikes, it feels no shame. If snakes had hands, they'd claim their hands were clean. A jackal doesn't understand remorse. Lions and lice don't waver in their course. Why should they, when they know they're right? Though hearts of killer whales may weigh a ton, in every other way they're light. On this third planet of the sun among the signs of bestiality a clear conscience is Number One. Translated by Stanislaw Baraczak and Clare Cavanagh To read more of her poems that I admire!

Reckless Poem

by Mary Oliver Today again I am hardly myself. It happens over and over. It is heaven-sent. It flows through me like the blue wave. Green leaves – you may believe this or not – have once or twice emerged from the tips of my fingers somewhere deep in the woods, in the reckless seizure of spring. Though, of course, I also know that other song, the sweet passion of one-ness. Just yesterday I watched an ant crossing a path, through the       tumbled pine needles she toiled. And I thought: she will never live another life but this one. And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength       is she not wonderful and wise? And I continued this up the miraculous pyramid of everything       until I came to myself. And still, even in these northern woods, on these hills of sand, I have flown from the other window of myself to become white heron, blue whale,       red fox, hedgehog. Oh, sometimes already my body has felt like the body of a flower! Sometim

Sit Quietly

by Nanao Sakaki If you have time to chatter, Read books. If you have time to read, Walk into the mountain, desert, and ocean. If you have time to walk, Sing songs and dance. If you have time to dance, Sit quietly, you Happy Lucky Idiot. for Seraphina Tarrant on her graduation from UCLA!--although to the unperceptive eye there does not appear to be much "silent solitude" around you, some of us think we know better. I thought of you when I read this poem. You do all recommended activities in abundance and then some. I am including a picture of a place where we both walked into the ocean, Manly Beach NSW.

We Have A Beautiful Mother

by Alice Walker We have a beautiful Mother Her hills Are buffaloes Her buffaloes Hills. We have a beautiful Mother Her oceans Are wombs Her wombs Oceans. We have a beautiful Mother Her teeth The white stones At the edge Of the water The summer Grasses Her plentiful Hair. We have a beautiful Mother Her green lap Immense Her brown embrace Eternal Her blue body Everything we know.