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Archive for April, 2009

When abba Macarius was in Egypt, he found a man who had brought a beast to his cell and was stealing his possessions. He went up to the thief as though he were a traveler who did not live there and helped him to load the beast and led him on his way in peace, saying to himself, “We brought nothing into this world; but the Lord gave; as he willed, so it is done; blessed be the Lord in all things.”

Someone brought money to an old man and said, “Take this and spend it for you are old and ill,” for he was a leper. The old man replied, “Are you going to take me away from the One who has cared for me for sixty years? I have been ill all that time and I have not needed anything because God has cared for me.” And he would not accept it.

Once abba Aresenius fell ill in Scetis and in this state he needed just one coin. He could not find one so he accepted one as a gift from someone else, and he said, “I thank you, God, that for your name’s sake you have made me worthy to come to this pass, that I should have to beg.” Daily Readings with the Desert Fathers

I do not interpret these stories to mean that god wants us to be poor but that true riches come from within and not from material or physical strength. This is what it means to have true poverty. In the eyes of the desert fathers, it’s a blessing to be poor because that’s god’s way of confirming we are capable of it. These monks are depending on a source of love and guidance within them to provide for their needs and not their own abilities or circumstances.

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That Everything’s Inevitable

That everything’s inevitable.
That fate is whatever has already happened.
The brain, which is as elemental, as sane, as the rest of the processing universe is.
In this world, I am the surest thing.
Scrunched-up arms, folded legs, lovely destitute eyes.
Please insert your spare coins.
I am filling them up.
Please insert your spare vision, your vigor, your vim.
But yet, I am a vatic one.
As vatic as the Vatican.
In the temper and the tantrum, in the well-kept arboretum
I am waiting, like an animal,
For poetry.
…………………………..
by Katy Lederer

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Floater

—to Dan

Maddening shadow across your line of vision—
what might be there, then isn’t, making it

hard to be on the lookout, concentrate, even
hear—well, enough of the story I’ve

given you, at least—you’ve had your fill, never
asked for this, though you were the one

to put a hand out, catch hold, not about to let me
vanish the way of the two you lost already

to grief’s lure. I’m here; close your eyes,
listen to our daughter practicing, going over and over

the Bach, getting the mordents right, to make the lovely
Invention definite. What does mordent mean,

her piano teacher asked—I was waiting in the kitchen
and overheard—I don’t know, something about dying?

No; morire means to die, mordere means to take
a bite out of something—good mistake
, she said.

Not to die, to take a bite—what you asked
of me—and then pleasure

in the taking. Close your eyes now,
listen. No one is leaving.
………………………………….
by Debra Nystrom

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History of Hurricanes

Because we cannot know—

we plant crops, make love in the light of our not-knowing

A Minuteman prods cows from the Green with his musket,
his waxed paper windows snapping in the wind,
stiletto stalks in the herb garden upright—Now

blown sideways—Now weighted down in genuflection,

not toward,

And a frail man holding an Imari teacup paces at daybreak
in his courtyard in Kyoto

a cherry tree petaling the stones pink and slippery
in the weeks he lay feverish

waiting for word from the doctor, checking for signs—Now

in the season of earthenware sturdiness and dependency
it must begin, the season of his recovery

No whirling dervish on the radar, no radar, no brackets
no voices warning—no Voice—fugue of trees, lightning

Because we cannot know, we imagine

What will happen to me without you?

I know some things I remember—

the Delaware River two stories high inside the brick houses
cars floating past Trenton like a regiment on display
brown water climbing our basement stairs two at a time

Like months of remission—
the eye shifts

the waxed paper windows
burst behind the flapping shutters—

and how could he save his child after that calm,
a man who’d never seen a roof sheared off?

Across town the ninth graders in their cutoffs:
Science sucks, they grouse. Stupid history of hurricanes.

No one can remember one;

velocity, storm surge—
abstractions
the earth churns as Isabel rips through Buzzard’s Bay

A hurricane, as one meaning has it:
a large crowded assembly of fashionable people at a private house

The river cannot remember its flooding—

I worry you will forget to check
the watermarks in time

An echo of feet on stone is all the neighbors
knew of their neighbor,
a lover of cherry trees

and of his wife who prayed for him at the shrine,
her hair swept up in his favorite onyx comb
………………………………………………..
by Teresa Cader

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Where are the dolls who loved me so
when I was young? . . .

Through their real eyes

blank crotches,
and play wrist-watches,
whose hands moved only when they wanted —

Their stoicism I never mastered
their smiling phrase for every occasion —
They went their rigid little ways

To meditate in a closet or a trunk
To let unforeseen emotions
glance off their glazed complexions
……………………….
Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

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We Address

…a lead pencil held between thumb and forefinger
of each hand forms a bridge upon which
two struggling figures, “blood all around”…

I was born in a city between colored wrappers

I was born in a city the color of steam, between two pillars, between pillars and curtains, it was up to me to pull the splinters out of the child’s feet

I want to wake up and see you sea green and leaf green, the problem of ripeness. On Monday I wrote it out, grayed out. In that case spirit was terminology

In that case meant all we could do. Very slowly, brighter, difficult and darker. Very bright and slowly. Quietly lions or tigers on a black ground, here the sea is ice, wine is ice

I am in your state now. They compared white with red. So they hung the numbers and colors from upthrusting branches. The problem was light

Our friend arrived unexpectedly dressed in black and taller than we remembered. In the same sky ribbons and scales of bright balance

The problem and its history. Today a rose-colored sky. Greens vary from yellow to brown. Brighter than ink, the supposition tells the omission of an entire color

Which didn’t have a musical equivalent. In those days the earth was blue, something to play. A person yearned to be stone

Clearly a lion or sphinx-like shape. The repetition of gesture is reiterated in the movement of ambient light on the windows, curtains, and on the facing wall, the problem

and its green ribbons. The hands almost always meet. Turquoise adrenaline illusions adjacent to memory, to mind. We address

memory, the senses, or pages on a double sheet, classical frontal framing. I want you to wake up now
……………………………..
by Norma Cole

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Terezin
—a transfer camp in the Czech Republic

We rode the bus out, past fields of sunflowers
that sloped for miles, hill after hill of them blooming.

The bus was filled with old people.
On their laps women held loaves of freshly baked bread.
Men slept in their seats wearing work clothes.

You stared out the window beside me. Your eyes
were so hard that you might have been watching the glass.

Fields and fields of sunflowers.

Arriving we slowed on the cobblestone walkway.
Graves looked like boxes, or houses from high up.

On a bench teenage lovers slouched in toward each other.
Their backs formed a shape like a seashell.
You didn’t want to go inside.

But the rooms sang. Song like breath, blown
through spaces in skin.

The beds were wide boards stacked up high on the walls.
The glass on the door to the toilet was broken.
I imagined nothing.

You wore your black sweater and those dark sunglasses.
You didn’t look at me.

The rooms were empty, and the courtyard was empty,
and the sunlight on cobblestone could have been water,
and I think even when we are here we are not here.

The courtyard was flooded with absence.
The tunnel was crowded with light.
Like a throat. Like a—

In a book I read how at its mouth they played music,
some last piece by Wagner or Mozart or Strauss.

I don’t know why. I don’t know
who walked through the tunnel or who played or what finally
they could have wanted. I don’t know where the soul goes.

Your hair looked like wheat. It was gleaming.

Nearby on the hillside a gallows leaned slightly.
What has time asked of it? Nights. Windstorms.

Your hair looked like fire, or honey.
You didn’t look at me.

Grass twisted up wild, lit gold all around us.
We could have been lost somewhere, in those funny hills.

And the ride back—I don’t remember.
Why was I alone? It was night, then. It was still morning.

But the fields were filled with dead sunflowers.
Blooms darkened to brown, the stalks bowed.
And the tips dried to husks that for miles kept reaching.
Those dreamless sloped fields of traveling husks
………………………………………..
by Taije Silverman

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