Poem for the day

Into The Dark

Before first light — while stars still hike the night,

a song mezzos across roofs,

topples into the courtyard

from a throat whose innocent feathered amazement praises

what’s to come,

not the sun

but the coming

once again as never before,

each note, fresh as a warble from a creek.

O, bird of dawn, I too pray at such an hour

while your orisons careen

among crows’ caws and minute cheeps

that signal your aria as done.

No.

It is not done.

When planets and stars are shrapnel,

still your spangled song leads the dawn parade,

flings its baton into the blackest sky

to remind God again that everything thanks Him.

That it never ends.

That everything was, first, the word.

And the word was Thanks.

- Bruce Moody

A Blessing Of Angels

May the angels in their beauty bless you.

May they turn toward you streams of blessing.

May the Angel of Awakening stir your heart

To come alive to the eternal within you,

To all the invitations that quietly surround you.

May the Angel of Healing turn your wounds

Into sources of refreshment.

May the Angel of the Imagination enable you

To stand on the true thresholds,

At ease with your ambivalence

And drawn in new directions

Through the glow of your contradictions.

May the Angel of Compassion open your eyes

To the unseen suffering around you.

May the Angel of Wildness disturb the places

Where your life is domesticated and safe,

Take you to the territories of true otherness

Where all that is awkward in you

Can fall into its own rhythm.

May the Angel of Eros introduce you

To the beauty of your senses

To celebrate your inheritance

As a temple of the holy spirit.

May the Angel of Justice disturb you

To take the side of the poor and the wronged.

May the Angel of Encouragement confirm you

In worth and self-respect,

That you may live with the dignity

That presides in your soul.

May the Angel of Death arrive only

When your life is complete

And you have brought every given gift

To the threshold where its infinity can shine.

May all the Angels be your sheltering

And joyful guardians.

  • John O’Donohue

Silver

”How many years of beauty do I have left?”

she asks me.

How many more do you want?

Here.

Here is 34.

Here is 50.

When you are 80 years old

and your beauty rises in ways

your cells cannot even imagine now

and your wild bones grow luminous and

ripe, having carried the weight

of a passionate life.

When your hair is aflame

with winter

and you have decades of

learning and leaving and loving

sewn into

the corners of your eyes

and your children come home

to find their own history

in your face.

When you know what it feels like to fail

ferociously

and have gained the

capacity

to rise and rise and rise again.

When you can make your tea

on a quiet and ridiculously lonely afternoon

and still have a song in your heart

Queen owl wings beating

beneath the cotton of your sweater.

Because your beauty began there

beneath the sweater and the skin,

remember?

This is when I will take you

into my arms and coo

YOU BRAVE AND GLORIOUS THING

you’ve come so far.

I see you.

Your beauty is breathtaking.

  • Jeannette Encinias

What’s Kept Alive

She crunches her walker

          into the sea of pebbles

          surrounding the stepping-stones,



          tells me, This bush

          with flowers is Japanese.

          That one is too, but different.



          I hover close behind, ready

          with an outstretched arm

          as if to give a blessing.



          Pick that large weed

          near the lantern—by the roots—

          and throw it into the pail.



          My father planned and planted

          this garden fifty years ago—

          hidden behind the fence

          of their Santa Rosa tract home—



          but he’s gone now.

          She hires a hand to rake leaves,

          prune branches once a month.



          Soon she’ll be gone.

          I’ll sell the house,

          return to Connecticut.



          A stranger will buy it,

          become caretaker of the garden,

          but won’t know that from their



          San Francisco apartment

          my father transported

          the Japanese maple, cradled

          in a small clay pot —



          the momiji now guarding

          the north corner—

          and that my mother chided him

          for bothering with a dying shrub.


	 - Aaron Caycedo-Kimura

What It Looks Like To Us and the Words We Use

All these great barns out here in the outskirts,

black creosote boards knee-deep in the bluegrass.

They look so beautifully abandoned, even in use.

You say they look like arks after the sea’s

dried up, I say they look like pirate ships,

and I think of that walk in the valley where

J said, You don’t believe in God? And I said,

No. I believe in this connection we all have

to nature, to each other, to the universe.

And she said, Yeah, God. And how we stood there,

low beasts among the white oaks, Spanish moss,

and spider webs, obsidian shards stuck in our pockets,

woodpecker flurry, and I refused to call it so.

So instead, we looked up at the unruly sky,

its clouds in simple animal shapes we could name

though we knew they were really just clouds -

disorderly, and marvelous, and ours.

  • Ada Limon

Grace

Thanks and blessing be
to the Sun and the Earth
for this bread and this wine,----
this fruit, this meat, this salt,
this food;
thanks be and blessing to them
who prepare it, who serve it;
thanks and blessing to them
who share it
(and also the absent and the dead.)
Thanks and blessing to them who bring it
(may they not want),
to them who plant and tend it,
harvest and gather it
(may they not want);
thanks and blessing to them who work
and blessing to them who cannot;
may they not want — for their hunger
sours the wine
and robs the salt of its taste.
Thanks be for the sustenance and strength
for our dance and the work of justice, of peace.

      - Rafael Jesús González

Gracias

Gracias y benditos sean
el Sol y la Tierra
por este pan y este vino,
esta fruta, esta carne, esta sal,
este alimento;
gracias y bendiciones
a quienes lo preparan, lo sirven;
gracias y bendiciones
a quienes lo comparten
(y también a los ausentes y a los difuntos.)
Gracias y bendiciones a quienes lo traen
(que no les falte),
a quienes lo siembran y cultivan,
lo cosechan y lo recogen
(que no les falte);
gracias y bendiciones a los que trabajan
y bendiciones a los que no puedan;
que no les falte — su hambre
hace agrio el vino
y le roba el gusto a la sal.
Gracias por el sustento y la fuerza
para nuestro bailar y nuestra labor
por la justicia y la paz.

- Rafael Jesús González

Perhaps The World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat
to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it
has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at
the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to
be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around
our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down
selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the
table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in
the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents
for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering
and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying,
eating of the last sweet bite.

- Joy Harjo

The Season of the Dark

This is the season of the dark.

It is not only the natural ebbing

of the year’s light that causes distress.

This dark has shadowed many lives

with difficult and deep times:

  •   broken bones;
    
  •   the death of a friend’s beloved;
    
  •   another’s home lost to fire.
    

A new normal descends, with needs for:

  •   walking carefully;
    
  •   hunkering down;
    
  •   exhaling pain and grief.
    

And what is happening in our small lives

mimics what is happening in the world

and to the earth.

But in my dreams:

  •   my hands turn towards healing;
    
  •   a whale approaches the sacred cliff;
    
  •   I bring flowers to a ritual.
    

The oracle advises yielding, and so I:

  •   move slowly;
    
  •   privilege the small;
    
  •   let the Ghost River carry me.
    

I have spent a lifetime

trying to change the mind that

equates dark with bad.

In this season of suffering,

that challenge more than abides.

Don’t tell me that

this will all pass:

  •   the darkness;
    
  •   the pain;
    
  •   the acute grief.
    

I know in my head that this is so,

at least for humans.

I do not know if it is true

for the world.

What I do know is that

I must follow the oracle and

attend to the dreams,

which tell me:

  •   to heal all that I can;
    
  •   to pray my way through;
    
  •   to offer flowers with respect and gratitude.
    

May we move through the dark

with a modicum of grace.

May we see what is precious

in the darkness and what

gestates here.

May the light return

in its season, for all.

- Maya Spector

Red Brocade

The Arabs used to say

When a stranger appears at your door,

feed him for three days

before asking who he is,

where he’s come from,

where he’s headed.

That way, he’ll have strength enough

to answer.

Or, by then you’ll be such good friends

you don’t care.

Let’s go back to that.

Rice? Pine nuts?

Here, take the red brocade pillow.

My child will serve water

to your horse.

No, I was not busy when you came!

I was not preparing to be busy.

That’s the armor everyone put on

to pretend they had a purpose

in the world.

I refuse to be claimed.

Your plate is waiting.

We will snip fresh mint

into your tea.

  • Naomi Shihab Nye

Alive At The End Of The World

The End of the World was a nightclub.
Drag queens with machetes and rhinestoned

machine guns guarded the red and impassable
door on Friday nights. Just a look at the crowd,

all dressed up and swaying outside, made people
want to yell the truth about themselves to anyone

who’d listen, but no one heard. The End of the World
was loud. The End of the World leaked music

like radiation, and we loved the neon echo, even
though it taunted us or maybe because it taunted us:

kids leaning out of windows hours after bedtime,
cabdrivers debating fares at the curb just for an excuse

to linger, pastors who’d pause at the corner and vow
that if they ever got inside, they’d burn it all down.

  - Saeed Jones

“Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.”
- Wendell Berry

Butter

My mother loves butter more than I do,
more than anyone. She pulls chunks off
the stick and eats it plain, explaining
cream spun around into butter! Growing up
we ate turkey cutlets sauteed in lemon
and butter, butter and cheese on green noodles,
butter melting in small pools in the hearts
of Yorkshire puddings, butter better
than gravy staining white rice yellow,
butter glazing corn in slipping squares,
butter the lava in white volcanoes
of hominy grits, butter softening
in a white bowl to be creamed with white
sugar, butter disappearing into
whipped potatoes, with pineapple,
butter melted and curdy to pour
over pancakes, butter licked off the plate
with warm Alaga syrup. When I picture
the good old days I am grinning greasy
with my brother, having watched the tiger
chase his tail and turn to butter. We are
Mumbo and Jumbo’s children despite
historical revision, despite
our parent’s efforts, glowing from the inside
out, one hundred megawatts of butter.

- Elizabeth Alexander

Love Calls Us to the Things of the World

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.

Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
The soul shrinks

From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessed day,
And cries,

“Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”

Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world’s hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,

“Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult balance.”

- Richard Wilbur

Crazy Jane On God

That lover of a night
Came when he would,
Went in the dawning light
Whether I would or no;
Men come, men go;
All things remain in God.

Banners choke the sky;
Men-at-arms tread;
Armoured horses neigh
In the narrow pass:
All things remain in God.

Before their eyes a house
That from childhood stood
Uninhabited, ruinous,
Suddenly lit up
From door to top:
All things remain in God.

I had wild Jack for a lover;
Though like a road
That men pass over
My body makes no moan
But sings on:
All things remain in God.

- William Butler Yeats

Crazy Jane Talks With The Bishop

I met the Bishop on the road

And much said he and I.

`Those breasts are flat and fallen now

Those veins must soon be dry;

Live in a heavenly mansion,

Not in some foul sty.’

`Fair and foul are near of kin,

And fair needs foul,’ I cried.

'My friends are gone, but that’s a truth

Nor grave nor bed denied,

Learned in bodily lowliness

And in the heart’s pride.

`A woman can be proud and stiff

When on love intent;

But Love has pitched his mansion in

The place of excrement;

For nothing can be sole or whole

That has not been rent.’

  • William Butler Yeats

Tea

Inside this weathered pot,
between the crack and stain,
there are mountains,
fields of green,
and the brown remains of yesterday.

The hands of women
are in this pot,
hands that cut and harvest tea,
hands carrying children across their chests,
and hands brushing
the brows of the dying.

Inside this weathered pot
there is the memory of tea,
bitter, strong, and soothing,
a thousand years in single sip,
the whole of humanity held
in the simple cup.

- Marti Watterman