I was Passionate… Lai Ded

dieuongrass
I was passionate,

filled with longing,

I searched

far and wide.

But the day

that the Truthful One

found me,

I was at home.

~Lai Ded, translated by Jane Hirschfield

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How I go into the Woods, Mary Oliver

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Ordinarily I go to the woods alone,
with not a single friend,
for they are all smilers and talkers
and therefore unsuitable.
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree.
I have my ways of praying,
as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone
I can become invisible.
I can sit on the top of a dune
as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned.
I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me,
I must love you very much.

~Mary Oliver, How I Go Into the Woods

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Detail of the Woods, Richard Siken

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I looked at all the trees and didn’t know what to do.

A box made out of leaves.
What else was in the woods? A heart, closing. Nevertheless.

Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else.
I kept my mind on the moon. Cold moon, long nights moon.

From the landscape: a sense of scale.
From the dead: a sense of scale.

I turned my back on the story. A sense of superiority.
Everything casts a shadow.

Your body told me in a dream it’s never been afraid of anything.

blood_moon_sm

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The Night House, Billy Collins

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Every day the body works in the fields of the world
mending a stone wall
or swinging a sickle through the tall grass –
the grass of civics, the grass of money –
and every night the body curls around itself
and listens for the soft bells of sleep.

But the heart is restless and rises
from the body in the middle of the night,
and leaves the trapezoidal bedroom
with its thick, pictureless walls
to sit by herself at the kitchen table
and heat some milk in a pan.

And the mind gets up too, puts on a robe
and goes downstairs, lights a cigarette,
and opens a book on engineering.
Even the conscience awakens
and roams from room to room in the dark,
darting away from every mirror like a strange fish.

And the soul is up on the roof
in her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
singing a song about the wildness of the sea
until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
the way a flock of birds settles back into a tree,

resuming their daily colloquy,
talking to each other or themselves
even through the heat of the long afternoons.
Which is why the body — that house of voices –
sometimes puts down its metal tongs, its needle, or its pen
to stare into the distance,

to listen to all its names being called
before bending again to its labor.

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Bashō After Cinderella, Deborah Kolodji

Cinderella Tile Panel, Edward Burne-Jones at William Morris Tile

BASHŌ AFTER CINDERELLA

(i)

a glass slipper
in the middle of the road
spring rain

(ii)

thistles in bloom
village gossip
after the ball

(iii)

pumpkin vine
a mouse remembers
how to neigh

(iv)

fairy dust snow
perfectly-sized boots
for her bare feet

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Relational Epistemology, Heather Phillipson

Cherry Genoa cake

‘It’s whatever you want it to be,’ said my father
after he bisected My Little Pony and used her in a sculpture.
At bedtime he read me Kafka’s short fiction.

‘All men are not idiots,’ my mother advised,
‘but beware of Structuralists;
life will never be a matter of signifiers and signs.’

She gave up her copy of Some Day My Prince Won’t Come
with a dedication: ‘Darling, Don’t be limited
by propositional modes of representation! xx’

Preparation of Rich Cherry Genoa was methodological.
My father paraphrased Merleau-Ponty: ‘the toucher touching touched.’
His hands around the mixing bowl, she sifted sugar.

It helped them contextualise the relationship between Self
and Other. Phenomenology at the dinner table was not unusual.
My brother queried so-called ‘pepper’, so-called ‘ketchup’,

ingested as if objective fact. The colour ‘red’ is not universal.
Mainly, my sister slept at any hour.
‘See!’ said my mother,

‘The claim that all experience might be mediated by language
is one all women know to be preposterous.
And besides, Wittgenstein is dead.’

Over dessert, however, she absolved him
on account of her cake and his raisins. ‘It’s like Ludwig said,
raisins may be the best part of a cake

but a bag of raisins is not better than a cake.
My cake isn’t, as it were, thinned-out raisins,
as you will know from experience.’

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Happy Ideas, Mary Szybist

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busier_beavers

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I had the happy idea to fasten a bicycle wheel
to a kitchen stool and watch it turn.
—duchamp

I had the happy idea to suspend some blue globes in the air

and watch them pop.

I had the happy idea to put my little copper horse on the shelf so we could stare at each other
all evening.

I had the happy idea to create a void in myself.

Then to call it natural.

Then to call it supernatural.

I had the happy idea to wrap a blue scarf around my head and spin.

I had the happy idea that somewhere a child was being born who was nothing like Helen or
Jesus except in the sense of changing everything.

I had the happy idea that someday I would find both pleasure and punishment, that I would
know them and feel them,

and that, until I did, it would be almost as good to pretend.

I had the happy idea to call myself happy.

I had the happy idea that the dog digging a hole in the yard in the twilight had his nose deep in
mold-life.

I had the happy idea that what I do not understand is more real than what I do,

and then the happier idea to buckle myself

into two blue velvet shoes.

I had the happy idea to polish the reflecting glass and say

hello to my own blue soul. Hello, blue soul. Hello.

It was my happiest idea.

~Mary Szybist

Poem via my friend, Ario Farin, finder of new favorite poems
Photos by my friend, Daryl Yodis

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