Poems & Stories


I say to my breath once again

little breath

come from in front of me

go away behind me

row me quietly now

as far as you can

for I am an abyss

that I am trying to cross.

                      –  W. S. Merwin


Someone who does not run 
toward the allure of love 
walks a road where nothing 
lives. But this dove here 
senses the love hawk floating 
above, and waits, and will not 
be driven or scared to safety.

                          –    Rumi


Riding Out at Evening  


At dusk, everything blurs and softens..

from here out over the long valley,

the fields and hills roll up

the first slight sheets of evening,

as, over the next hour,

heavier, darker ones will follow.

Quieted roads, predictable deer

browsing in a neighbor’s field, another’s

herd of heifers, the kitchen lights

starting in many windows.  On horseback

I take it in, neither visitor

nor intruder, but kin passing , closer

and closer to night, its cold streams

rising in the sugarbush and  hollow.

Half-aloud, I say to the horse,

or myself, or whoever, let fire not come

to this house, nor that barn,

nor lightning strike that cattle.

Let dogs not gain the gravid doe, let the lights

of the rooms convey what they seem to.

And who is to say it is useless

or foolish to ride out in the falling light

alone, wishing, or praying,

for particular good to particular beings

on one small road in a huge world?

The horse bears me along, like grace,

making me better than what I am,

and what I think or say or see

is whole in these moments, is neither

small nor broken.  For up, out of

the inscrutable earth, have come my body

and the separate body of the mare:

flawed and aching and wronged.  Who then

is better made to say be well, be glad,

or who to long that we, as one,

might course over the entire valley.

over all valleys, as a bird in a great embrace

of flight, who presses against her breast,

in grief and tenderness,

the whole weeping body of the world.

                                             – Linda McCarriston



The Family Is All There Is


Think of those old, enduring connections

found in all flesh–the channeling

wires and threads, vacuoles, granules,

plasma and pods, purple veins, ascending

boles and coral sapwood (sugar-

and light-filled), those common ligaments,

filaments, fibers and canals.

Seminal to all kin also is the open

mouth–in heart urchin and octopus belly,

in catfish, moonfish, forest lily,

and rugosa rose, in thirsty magpie,

wailing cat cub, barker, yodeler,

yawning coati.

And there is a pervasive clasping

common to the clan–the hard nails

of lichen and ivy sucker

on the church wall, the bean tendril

and the taproot, the bolted coupling

of crane flies, the hold of the shearwater

on its morning squid, guanine

to cytosine, adenine to thymine,

fingers around fingers, the grip

of the voice on presence, the grasp

of the self on place.

Remember the same hair on pygmy

dormouse and yellow-necked caterpillar,

covering red baboon, thistle seed

and willow herb? Remember the similar

snorts of warthog, walrus, male moose

and sumo wrestler? Remember the familiar

whinny and shimmer found in river birches,

bay mares and bullfrog tadpoles,

in children playing at shoulder tag

on a summer lawn?

The family–weavers, reachers, winders

and connivers, pumpers, runners, air

and bubble riders, rock-sitters, wave-gliders,

wire-wobblers, soothers, flagellators–all

brothers, sisters, all there is.

Name something else.    


                                         – Pattiann Rogers



Davy Crockett’s Love Cure


Thar war a feller in Washington that put the thunder and litening into glass bottles, and when a feller had the roomatiz, or the Saint Vitals dance, he would put the axletressity into his corpse jist like pouring whiskey into a powder horn, and it cured him as clean as a barked tree. So I seed how ’twas done and intarmined whenever ennything aled me to try it, only I didn’t keer about the bottles, for I thort I could jist as well take the litening in the raw state as it cum from the clouds. I had been used to drink out of the Massissippy without a cup, and so I could take the litening without the bottles and whirligigs that belongs to an axletressityfying macheen.  


It fell out that sum two yeers arter I had ben to see this axletrissity, I got a leetle in love with a pesky smart gal in our cleering, and I knowed it war not rite, seeing I war a married man. So I combobbolated on the subject and at last I resisted that I would explunctificate my passions by axletrissity, so it must be done by bringing it rite on the hart and driving the love out of it. 


So I went out into the forrest one arternoon when thar war a pestiferous thunder gust, and I opened my mouth so that the axletressity might run down and hit my hart, to cure it of love. I stood so for an hour, and then I seed a thunderbolt a cummin, and I dodged my mouth rite under it, and plump it went into my throte.  


My eyes! It war as if seven buffaloes war kicking in my bowels. My hart spun round amongst my insides like a grind stone going by steem, but the litening went clean through me and tore the trowsers cleen off as it cum out. I had a sore gizzard for two weeks afterward, and my inwards war so hot that I use to eat raw vittals for a month afterward and it would be cooked befour it got farely down my throte.  


I have never felt love since.  

                                                                                    –    Davy Crockett



Red Hanrahan’s Song about Ireland


The old brown thorn-trees break in two high over Cummen Strand,

Under a bitter black wind that blows from the left hand;

Our courage breaks like an old tree in a black wind and dies,

But we have hidden in our hearts the flame out of the eyes

Of Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.


The wind has bundled up the clouds high over Knock- narea,

And thrown the thunder on the stones for all that Maeve can say.

Angers that are like noisy clouds have set our hearts abeat;

But we have all bent low and low and kissed the quiet feet

Of Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.


The yellow pool has overflowed high up on Clooth-na-Bare,

For the wet winds are blowing out of the clinging air;

Like heavy flooded waters our bodies and our blood;

But purer than a tall candle before the Holy Rood

Is Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.

                                                                              –  William Butler Yeats





An Embroidery


Rose Red’s hair is brown as fur

and shines in firelight as she prepares

supper of honey and apples, curds and whey,

for the bear, and leaves it ready

on the hearth-stone.


Rose White’s grey eyes

look into the dark forest.


Rose Red’s cheeks are burning,

sign of her ardent, joyful

compassionate heart.

Rose White is pale,

turning away when she hears

the bear’s paw on the latch.


When he enters, there is

frost on his fur,

he draws near to the fire

giving off sparks.


Rose Red catches the scent of the forest,

of mushrooms, of rosin.


Together Rose Red and Rose White

sing to the bear;

it is a cradle song, a loom song,

a song about marriage, about

a pilgrimage to the mountains

long ago.

Raised on an elbow,

the bear stretched on the hearth

nods and hums; soon he sighs

and puts down his head.


He sleeps; the Roses

bank the fire.

Sunk in the clouds of their feather bed

they prepare to dream.


Rose Red in a cave that smells of honey

dreams she is combing the fur of her cubs

with a golden comb.

Rose White is lying awake.


Rose White shall marry the bear’s brother.

Shall he too

when the time is ripe,

step from the bear’s hide?

Is that other, her bridegroom,

here in the room?

                                     –   Denise Levertov




The Meaning of the Shovel


This was the dictator’s land

before the revolution.

Now the dictator is exiled to necropolis,

his army brooding in camps on the border,

and the congregation of the landless

stipples the earth with a thousand shacks,

every weatherbeaten carpenter

planting a fistful of nails.


Here I dig latrines. I dig because last week

I saw a funeral in the streets of Managua,

the coffin swaddled in a red and black flag,

hoisted by a procession so silent

that even their feet seemed

to leave no sound on the gravel.

He was eighteen, with the border patrol,

when a sharpshooter from the dictator’s army

took aim at the back of his head.


I dig because yesterday

I saw four walls of photographs:

the faces of volunteers

in high school uniforms

who taught campesinos to read,

bringing an alphabet

sandwiched in notebooks

to places where the mist never rises

from the trees. All dead,

by malaria or the greedy river

or the dictator’s army

swarming the illiterate villages

like a sky full of corn-plundering birds.


I dig because today, in this barrio

without plumbing, I saw a woman

wearing a yellow dress

climb into a barrel of water

to wash herself and the dress

at the same time,

her cupped hands spilling.


I dig because today I stopped digging

to drink an orange soda. In a country

with no glass, the boy kept the treasured bottle

and poured the liquid into a plastic bag

full of ice, then poked a hole with a straw.


I dig because today my shovel

struck a clay bowl centuries old,

the art of ancient fingers

moist with this same earth,

perfect but for one crack in the lip.


I dig because I have hauled garbage

and pumped gas and cut paper

and sold encyclopedias door to door.

I dig, digging until the passport

in my back pocket saturates with dirt,

because here I work for nothing

and for everything.

                                  –    MARTÍN ESPADA






Do you remember an Inn,


Do you remember an Inn?

And the tedding and the spreading

Of the straw for a bedding,

And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,

And the wine that tasted of tar?

And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers

(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?


Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,

Do you remember an Inn?

And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers

Who hadn’t got a penny,

And who weren’t paying any,

And the hammer at the doors and the din?

And the hip! hop! hap!

Of the clap

Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl

Of the girl gone chancing,



Backing and advancing,

Snapping of the clapper to the spin

Out and in–

And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!


Do you remember an Inn,


Do you remember an Inn?

Never more;


Never more.

Only the high peaks hoar;

And Aragon a torrent at the door.

No sound

In the walls of the halls where falls

The tread

Of the feet of the dead to the ground,

No sound:

But the boom

Of the far waterfall like doom.


                                  –    Hilaire Belloc




The Fifteen Acres




I cling and swing

On a branch, or sing

Through the cool, clear hush of Morning, O!

Or fling my wing

On the air, and bring

To sleepier birds a warning, O!

That the night’s in flight,

And the sun’s in sight,

And the dew is the grass adorning, O!

And the green leaves swing

As I sing, sing, sing,

Up by the river,

Down the dell,

To the little wee nest,

Where the big tree fell,

So early in the morning, O!




I flit and twit

In the sun for a bit

When his light so bright is shining, O!

Or sit and fit

My plumes, or knit

Straw plaits for the nest’s nice lining, O!

And she with glee

Shows unto me

Underneath her wings reclining, O!


And I sing that Peg

Has an egg, egg, egg,

Up by the oat-field,

Round by the mill,

Past the meadow,

Down the hill,

So early in the morning, O! 




I stoop and swoop

On the air, or loop

Through the trees, and then go soaring, O!

To group with a troop

On the gusty poop

While the wind behind is roaring, O!

I skim and swim

By a cloud’s red rim

And up the the azure flooring, O!

And my wide wings drip

As I slip, slip, slip,

Down through the raindrops,

Back where Peg

Broods in the nest

On the little white egg,

So early in the morning, O!


                              –  James Stephens




The Man Watching 


I can tell by the way the trees beat, after

so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes

that a storm is coming,

and I hear the far-off fields say things

I can’t bear without a friend,

I can’t love without a sister.


The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on 

across the woods and across time,

and the world looks as if it had no age:

the landscape, like a line in the psalm book, 

is seriousness and weight and eternity.


What we choose to fight is so tiny! 

What fights with us is so great. 

If only we would let ourselves be dominated

as things do by some immense storm, 

we would become strong too, and not need names.


When we win it’s with small things, 

and the triumph itself makes us small. 

What is extraordinary and eternal

does not want to be bent by us. 


I mean the Angel who appeared

to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:

when the wrestlers’ sinews 

grew long like metal strings, 

he felt them under his fingers 

like chords of deep music.


Whoever was beaten by this Angel 

(who often simply declined the fight) 

went away proud and strengthened

and great from that harsh hand, 

that kneaded him as if to change his shape. 


Winning does not tempt that man. 

This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, 

by constantly greater beings.


                                           – Rainer Maria Rilke




The Race


When I got to the airport I rushed up to the desk,

bought a ticket, ten minutes later

they told me the flight was cancelled, the doctors

had said my father would not live through the night

and the flight was cancelled. A young man

with a dark brown moustache told me

another airline had a nonstop

leaving in seven minutes. See that 

elevator over there, well go

down to the first floor, make a right, you’ll

see a yellow bus, get off at the

second Pan Am terminal, I 

ran, I who have no sense of direction

raced exactly where he’d told me, a fish

slipping upstream deftly against

the flow of the river. I jumped off that bus with those

bags I had thrown everything into

in five minutes, and ran, the bags

wagged me from side to side as if 

to prove I was under the claims of the material,

I ran up to a man with a flower on his breast,

I who always go to the end of the line, I said

Help me. He looked at my ticket, he said

Make a left and then a right, go up the moving stairs and then

run. I lumbered up the moving stairs,

at the top I saw the corridor, 

and then I took a deep breath, I said

goodbye to my body, goodbye to comfort,

I used my legs and heart as if I would

gladly use them up for this,

to touch him again in this life. I ran, and the 

bags banged against me, wheeled and coursed

in skewed orbits, I have seen pictures of

women running, their belongings tied

in scarves grasped in their fists, I blessed my 

long legs he gave me, my strong

heart I abandoned to its own purpose,

I ran to Gate 17 and they were

just lifting the thick white

lozenge of the door to fit it into

the socket of the plane. Like the one who is not 

too rich, I turned sideways and 

slipped through the needle’s eye, and then

I walked down the aisle toward my father. The jet

was full, and people’s hair was shining, they were 

smiling, the interior of the plane was filled with a

mist of gold endorphin light, 

I wept as people weep when they enter heaven,

in massive relief. We lifted up

gently from one tip of the continent

and did not stop until we set down lightly on the

other edge, I walked into his room

and watched his chest rise slowly

and sink again, all night

I watched him breathe.

                                                –    Sharon Olds




“Casida de la rosa”


La rosa 

no buscaba la aurora: 

Casi eterna en su ramo 

buscaba otra cosa. 


La rosa 

no buscaba ni ciencia ni sombra: 

Confín de carne y sueño 

buscaba otra cosa. 


La rosa 

no buscaba la rosa: 

Inmóvil por el cielo 

¡buscaba otra cosa!


                                    –   Federico García Lorca

~ ~ ~ ~


Casida of the Rose


The rose

was not searching for the sunrise:

almost eternal on its branch,

it was searching for something else.


The rose

was not searching for darkness or science:

borderline of flesh and dream,

it was searching for something else.


The rose

was not searching for the rose.

Motionless in the sky

it was searching for something else.


                     –    Federico Garcia Lorca




“Hank Spink”


HANK SPINK, he said — or Bob did, his brother —

‘At he hit a man once for somepin or other,

An’ after he di it — I got this from Bob —

He simply went right out an’ give up his job;

Not Hank or Bob,

But the feller ‘at got hit

Give up his job.




He said ‘at the wind, or the force of his blow,

Er somepin like that, somehow — I don’t know

Just now what it was — I got it from Bob,

But he got a good swat; not Hank or Bob,

By a long shot,

But the feller ‘at got hit

Got a good swat.




He said he’d be blamed, but the didn’t know

How he came to strike such an all-fired blow,

‘Cept he hung with his right an’ threw the whole heft

Of his weight an’ his science, an’ hit with his left;

That lost ‘im his job; not Hank or Bob,

But the feller ‘at got hit,

Lost him his job.




         –    Benjamin Franklin King




anyone lived in a pretty how town

(with up so floating many bells down)

spring summer autumn winter

he sang his didn’t he danced his did.


Women and men(both little and small)

cared for anyone not at all

they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same

sun moon stars rain


children guessed(but only a few

and down they forgot as up they grew

autumn winter spring summer)

that noone loved him more by more


when by now and tree by leaf

she laughed his joy she cried his grief

bird by snow and stir by still

anyone’s any was all to her


someones married their everyones

laughed their cryings and did their dance

(sleep wake hope and then)they

said their nevers they slept their dream


stars rain sun moon

(and only the snow can begin to explain

how children are apt to forget to remember

with up so floating many bells down)


one day anyone died i guess

(and noone stooped to kiss his face)

busy folk buried them side by side

little by little and was by was


all by all and deep by deep

and more by more they dream their sleep

noone and anyone earth by april

wish by spirit and if by yes.


Women and men(both dong and ding)

summer autumn winter spring

reaped their sowing and went their came

sun moon stars rain


                                        –   e. e. cummings




Picketing  Supermarkets


Because all this food is grown in the store,

do not take the leaflet.

Cabbages, broccoli, and tomatoes

are raised at night in the aisles.

Milk is brewed in the rear storage areas,

beef produced in vats in the basement.

Do not take the leaflet.

Peanut butter and soft drinks

are made fresh each morning by store employees.

Our oranges and grapes

are so fine and round

that when held up to the light they cast no shadow.

Do not take the leaflet.

And should you take one,

do not believe it.

This chain of stores has no connection

with anyone growing food someplace else.

Do not believe it.

The sound here is Muzak, for your enjoyment,

it is not the sound of children crying.

There is a lady offering samples

to mark Canada Cheese Month.

There is no dark-skinned man with black hair

beside her

wanting to show you the inside of a coffin.

You would not have to look if there was.

And there are no Nicaraguan heroes

in any way connected with the bananas.

Pay no attention to these people.

The manager is a citizen.

All this food was grown in the store.


                                                  –     Tom Wayman





The wind, one brilliant day, called

to my soul with an odor of jasmine.


‘In return for the odor of my jasmine,

I’d like all the odor of your roses.’


‘I have no roses; all the flowers

in my garden are dead.’


‘Well then, I’ll take the withered petals

and the yellow leaves and the waters of the fountain.’


the wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:

‘What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?


                                      –    Antonio Machado




Why Mira Can’t Go Back to her Old House


The colors of the Dark One have penetrated Mira’s body; all the other colors washed out.

Making love with the Dark One and eating little, those are my pearls and my carnelians.

Meditation beads and the forehead streak, those are my scarves and my rings.

That’s enough feminine wiles for me. My teacher taught me this.

Approve me or disapprove me: I praise the Mountain Energy night and day.

I take the path that ecstatic human beings have taken for centuries.

I don’t steal money, I don’t hit anyone. What will you charge me with?

I have felt the swaying of the elephant’s shoulders;

and now you want me to climb on a jackass?

Try to be serious.

                                                                                     –  Mirabai




I Live My Life


I live my life in widening circles

that reach out across the world.

I may not ever complete the last one,

but I give myself to it.


I circle around God, that primordial tower.

I have been circling for thousands of years,

and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,

a storm, or a great song?

                                      –  Rainer Maria Rilke




Don’t Bother the Earth Spirit

Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story. It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing. If she sees you watching she will invite you in for coffee, give you warm bread, and you will be obligated to stay and listen. But this is no ordinary story. You will have to endure earthquakes, lightning, the deaths of all those you love, the most blinding beauty. It’s a story so compelling you may never want to leave; this is how she traps you. See that stone finger over there? That is the only one who ever escaped.


                                                               –     Joy Harjo





A Flower No More Than Itself


She was there on the mountain

still as the fig tree and the failed wheat.

Only the lizards and a few goats moved.

Everything stunned by heat and silence.

I would get to the top of the terraced starkness

with my ankles cut by thistles and all of me

drained by the effort in the fierce light.

I would put the pomegranate and the anise

and a few daisies on the great rock

where the fountain was long ago.

Too tired to praise. And found each time

tenderness and abundance in the bareness.

Went back down knowing I would sleep clean.

That She would be awake all year with sun

and dirt and rain. Pride Her life.

All nature Her wealth. Sound of owls Her pillow.

                                                –   Linda Gregg



A Blessing

For the graduates of the University of Arizona.


This morning we gather in gratitude for all aspects of sacredness:

the air, the warmth of fire, bodies of water, plants, the land,

and all animals and humankind.

We gather to honor our students who have achieved the extraordinary

accomplishment of earning doctoral or master’s degrees.

We gather to honor their parents, grandparents, children,

family members, and friends who have traveled with them

on their path to success. They have traveled far distances to be here

this morning: we honor their devotion.

May we remember that holiness exists in the ordinary elements of our lives.

We are grateful for a homeland that has always thrived

on a glorious array of people and their diverse cultures, histories,

and beliefs. We acknowledge the generosity of the Tohono O’odham

in granting this land on which we learn, teach, celebrate

accomplishments, and sometimes mourn losses.

May we always cherish our ancestors as we prepare for the days ahead.

May we remember that we exist because of their prayers and their faith.

We are blessed with distinct and melodious tongues.

Our languages are treasures of stories, songs, ceremonies, and memories.

May each of us remember to share our stories with one another,

because it is only through stories that we live full lives.

May the words we speak go forth as bright beads

of comfort, joy, humor, and inspiration.

We have faith that the graduates will inspire others

to explore and follow their interests.

Today we reflect a rainbow of creation:

Some of us came from the east, where bright crystals of creativity reside.

They are the white streaks of early morning light when all is born again.

We understand that, in Tucson, the Rincon Mountains are our inspiration

for beginning each day. The Rincons are everlasting and always present.

Those who came from the south embody the strength of the blue

mountains that encircle us. The Santa Ritas instill in us

the vigorous spirit of youthful learning.

Others came from the west; they are imbued with the quiet, yellow glow of dusk.

They help us achieve our goals. Here in the middle of the valley, the ts’aa’,

the basket of life, the Tucson Mountains teach us to value our families.

The ones from the north bring the deep, restorative powers of night’s darkness;

their presence renews us. The Santa Catalina Mountains teach us that,

though the past may be fraught with sorrow, it was strengthened

by the prayers of our forebearers.

We witnessed the recent fires the mountains suffered,

and in their recovery we see ourselves on our own journeys.

We understand that we are surrounded by mountains, dziił,

and thus that we are made of strength, dziił, nihí níhídziił.

We are strong ourselves. We are surrounded by mountains

that help us negotiate our daily lives.

May we always recognize the multitude of gifts that surround us.

May our homes, schools, and communities be filled with the wisdom

and optimism that reflect a generous spirit.

We are grateful for all blessings, seen and unseen.

May we fulfill the lives envisioned for us at our birth. May we realize

that our actions affect all people and the earth. May we live in the way

of beauty and help others in need. May we always remember that

we were created as people who believe in one another. We are grateful,

Holy Ones, for the graduates, as they will strengthen our future.

All is beautiful again.

Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.

Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.

Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.

Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.

                                        –     Luci Tapahonso




“Mia Carlotta”


GIUSEPPE, da barber, ees greata for “mash,”   

He gotta da bigga, da blacka mustache,   

Good clo’es an’ good styla an’ playnta good cash.   


W’enevra Giuseppe ees walk on da street,   

Da peopla dey talka, “how nobby! how neat!           

How softa da handa, how smalla da feet.”   


He raisa hees hat an’ he shaka hees curls,   

An’ smila weeth teetha so shiny like pearls;   

O! many da heart of da seelly young girls   

               He gotta.    

       Yes, playnta he gotta—   

               But notta   



Giuseppe, da barber, he maka da eye,   

An’ lika da steam engine puffa an’ sigh,    

For catcha Carlotta w’en she ees go by.   


Carlotta she walka weeth nose in da air,   

An’ look through Giuseppe weeth far-away stare,   

As eef she no see dere ees som’body dere.   


Giuseppe, da barber, he gotta da cash,    

He gotta da clo’es an’ da bigga mustache,   

He gotta da seely young girls for da “mash,”   

               But notta—   

       You bat my life, notta—   


               I gotta!

                      –   Thomas A. Daly




Plato told


plato told


him:he couldn’t

believe it(jesus


told him;he

wouldn’t believe




certainly told

him,and general





and even

(believe it




told him:i told

him;we told him

(he didn’t believe it,no


sir)it took

a nipponized bit of

the old sixth



el;in the top of his head:to tell



                          –   E. E. Cummings




The Waking


I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   

I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.   

I learn by going where I have to go.


We think by feeling. What is there to know?   

I hear my being dance from ear to ear.   

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.


Of those so close beside me, which are you?   

God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,   

And learn by going where I have to go.


Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?   

The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;   

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.


Great Nature has another thing to do   

To you and me; so take the lively air,   

And, lovely, learn by going where to go.


This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.   

What falls away is always. And is near.   

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   

I learn by going where I have to go.

                               –   Theodore Roethke




“The Unwritten”


Inside this pencil

crouch words that have never been written

never been spoken

never been taught


they’re hiding


they’re awake in there

dark in the dark

hearing us

but they won’t come out

not for love not for time not for fire


even when the dark has worn away they’ll still be there

hiding in the air

multitudes in days to come may walk through them

breathe them

be none the wiser


what script can it be

that they won’t unroll

in what language

would I recognize it

would I be able to follow it

to make out the real names 

of everything


maybe there aren’t 


it could be that there’s only one word

and it’s all we need

it’s here in this pencil


every pencil in the world

is like this


                         – W. S. Merwin




“Lizzie Pitofsky Poem”


I can’t get enoughsky

Of Lizzie Pitofsky

I love her so much that it hurts.

I want her so terrible

I’d give her my gerbil

Plus twenty-two weeks of desserts.


I know that it’s lovesky

‘Cause Lizzie Pitofsky

Is turning me into a saint

I smell like a rose

I’ve stopped picking my nose,

And I practically never say ‘Ain’t’.


I don’t push and shovesky

‘Cause Lizzie Pitofsky

Likes boys who are gentle and kind.

I’m not throwing rocks

And I’m changing my socks

(And to tell you the truth I don’t mind)


Feed me vinegar juice,

And do other mean, bad, awful stuffsky.

But promise me this:

I won’t die without kiss-

ing my glorious Lizzie Pitofsky.


                                 –     Judith Viorst




Have you heard the music that no fingers enter into?


Far inside the house

Entangled music  –

What is the sense of leaving your house?


Suppose you scrub your ethical skin

Until it shines,

But inside, there is no music,

Then what?


Mohammed’s son pores over words,

And points out this

And that,

But if his chest is not soaked dark with love,

Then what?


The yogi comes along in his famous orange.

But if inside he is colorless, 

Then what?


                                                 –   Kabir







Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,

Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,

With a cargo of ivory,

And apes and peacocks,

Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.


Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,

Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,

With a cargo of diamonds,

Emeralds, amythysts,

Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.


Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,

Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,

With a cargo of Tyne coal,

Road-rails, pig-lead,

Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

                                                          –    John Masefield




I think over again

My small adventures

When from a shore wind

I drifted out in my kayak

And thought I was in danger.

My fears

Those small ones that seemed so big.

For all the vital things

I had to get and to reach.

And yet there is only one great thing –

The only thing.


To live to see

In huts and on journeys

The great day that dawns

And the light that fills the world.


                                  –   Inuit song, from the Kitlinuharmiut

                                                                            (Copper Eskimo)




[The Inuit are the descendants of what anthropologists call the Thule culture, who emerged from western Alaska around 1000 AD and spread eastwards across the Arctic, displacing the related Dorsets, the last major Paleo-Eskimo culture (in Inuktitut, the Tuniit). Inuit legends speak of the Tuniit as “giants”, although they were sometimes called “dwarfs”, people who were taller and stronger than the Inuit. Researchers believe that the Dorset culture lacked dogs, larger weapons and other technologies that gave the expanding Inuit society an advantage. By 1300, the Inuit had settled in west Greenland, and they moved into east Greenland over the following century.

Inuit (plural; the singular Inuk means “man” or “person”) is a general term for a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada, Greenland, Russia and the United States.The Inuit language is grouped under Eskimo-Aleut languages.]





Knowing nothing shuts the iron gates;  the new love opens them.


The sound of the gates opening wakes the beautiful woman asleep.


Kabir says:            


                          Fantastic!      Don’t let a chance like this go by !

                                                                                          –  Kabir






You should try to hear the name the Holy One  has for things.

There is something in the phrase:  “The Holy One taught him names.”

We name everything according to the number of legs it has;

The holy one names it according to what is inside.

Moses waved his stick; he thought it was a “rod.”

But inside its name was “dragonish snake.”

We thought the name of Umar meant: “agitator against priests”;

But in eternity his name is “the one who believes.”

No one knows our name until our last breath goes out.


                                                                   –  Rumi







Someone dancing inside us

learned only a few steps:

the “Do-Your-Work” in 4/4 time,

the “What-Do-You-Expect” waltz.

He hasn’t noticed yet the woman

standing away from the lamp,

the one with black eyes

who knows the rhumba,

and strange steps in jumpy rhythms

from the mountains in Bulgaria.

If they dance together,

something unexpected will happen.

If they don’t, the next world

will be a lot like this one. 


                              – Bill Holm




Wild Geese


You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies

and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting  –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

                                                       –  Mary Oliver




Wide Receiver


In the huddle you said “Go long—get open”

and at the snap I took off along the right sideline

and then cut across left in a long arc

and I’m sure I was open at several points—

glancing back I saw you pump-fake more than once

but you must not have been satisfied with what you saw downfield

and then I got bumped off course and my hands touched the turf

but I regained my balance and dashed back to the right

I think or maybe first left and then right

and I definitely got open but the throw never came—


maybe you thought I couldn’t hang on to a ball flung so far

or maybe you actually can’t throw so far

but in any case I feel quite open now,

the defenders don’t seem too interested in me

I sense only open air all around me

though the air is getting darker and it would appear


 now we’re well into the fourth quarter

and I strongly doubt we can afford to settle for

dinky little first downs if the score is what I think it is


so come on, star boy, fling a Hail Mary

with a dream-coached combination of muscle and faith

and I will gauge the arc and I will not be stupidly frantic

and I will time my jump and—I’m just going to say

in the cool gloaming of this weirdly long game

it is not impossible that I will make the catch.


                                                         –    Mark Halliday




“Instead of a Preface”


 In the dreadful years of the Yezhov terror, I spent seventeen months standing in line in front of prisons of Leningrad. One day someone “recognized” me. Then, a woman standing behind me with blue lips, who, surely, has never heard my name in her life, came out of the trance that was common to all of us and whispered in my ear (everyone there spoke only in whispers):


Can you describe this?


And I said:


I can.


At that moment, something akin to a smile flashed by across what was once her face.


                                                                                       –   Anna Akhmatova


                                                                                            April 1, 1957







The Creation

And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I’m lonely—
I’ll make me a world.

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said: That’s good!

Then God reached out and took the light in his hands,
And God rolled the light around in his hands
Until he made the sun;
And he set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said: That’s good!

Then God himself stepped down—
And the sun was on his right hand,
And the moon was on his left;
The stars were clustered about his head,
And the earth was under his feet.
And God walked, and where he trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.

Then he stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And he spat out the seven seas—
He batted his eyes, and the lightnings flashed—
He clapped his hands, and the thunders rolled—
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.

Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around his shoulder.

Then God raised his arm and he waved his hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And he said: Bring forth! Bring forth!
And quicker than God could drop his hand,
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said: That’s good!

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that he had made.
He looked at his sun,
And he looked at his moon,
And he looked at his little stars;
He looked on his world
With all its living things,
And God said: I’m lonely still.

Then God sat down—
On the side of a hill where he could think;
By a deep, wide river he sat down;
With his head in his hands,
God thought and thought,
Till he thought: I’ll make me a man!

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of his hand;
This great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till he shaped it in is his own image;

Then into it he blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
Amen.      Amen.

                     –     James Weldon Johnson, 1871 – 1938




Richard Cory


Whenever Richard Cory went down town,

We people on the pavement looked at him:

He was a gentleman from sole to crown,

Clean favored, and imperially slim.


And he was always quietly arrayed,

And he was always human when he talked;

But still he fluttered pulses when he said,

“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.


And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—

And admirably schooled in every grace:

In fine, we thought that he was everything

To make us wish that we were in his place.


So on we worked, and waited for the light,

And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,

Went home and put a bullet through his head.


                                                                   – Edwin Arlington Robinson




Why the Geese Shrieked


In our home there was always talk about spirits of the dead that possess the bodies of the living, souls reincarnated as animals, houses inhabited by hobgoblins, cellars haunted by demons) My father spoke of these things, first of all because he was interested in them, and second because in a big city children so easily go astray. They go everywhere, see everything, read profane books. It is necessary to remind them from time to time that there are still mysterious forces at work in the world.

One day he told us a story that is found in one of the holy books. If I am not mistaken, the author of that book is Rabbi Eliyahu Graidiker, or one of the other Graidiker sages., The story was about a girl possessed by four demons. It was said that they could actually be seen crawling around in her intestines, blowing up her belly, wandering from one part of her body to another, slithering into her legs. The Rabbi of Graidik had exorcised the evil spirits with the blowing of the ram’s horn, with incantations, and the incense of magic herbs.

When someone questioned these things, my father became very excited. He argued: “Was then the great Rabbi of Graidik, God forbid, a liar? Are all the rabbis, saints, and sages deceivers, while only atheists speak the truth? Woe is us! How can one be so blind?”

Suddenly the door opened, and a woman entered. She was carrying a basket in which there were two geese. The woman looked frightened. Her matron’s wig was tilted to one side. She smiled nervously.

Father never looked at strange women, because it is forbidden by Jewish law, but Mother and we children saw immediately that something had greatly upset our unexpected visitor.

“What is it?” Father asked, at the same time turning his back so as not to look upon her.

“Rabbi, I have a very unusual problem.”

“What is it? A woman’s problem?”

Had the woman said yes, I would have been sent out of the room immediately. But she answered: “No, it’s about these geese.”

“What is the matter with them?”

“Dear Rabbi, the geese were slaughtered properly. Then I cut off their heads. I took out the intestines, the livers, all the other organs, but the geese keep shrieking in such a sorrowful voice …. ”

Upon hearing these words, my father turned pale.

A dreadful fear befell me, too. But my mother came from a family of rationalists and was by nature a skeptic.

“Slaughtered geese don’t shriek,” she said.

“You will hear for yourself,” replied the woman.

She took one of the geese and placed it on the table. Then she took out the second goose. The geese were headless, disemboweled‑in short, ordinary dead geese. A smile appeared on my mother’s lips.

“And these geese shriek?”

“You will soon hear.”

The woman took one goose and hurled it against the other. At once a shriek was heard. It is not easy to describe that sound. It was like the cackling of a goose, but in such a high, eerie pitch, with such groaning and quaking, that my limbs grew cold. I could actually reel the hairs of my earlocks pricking me. I wanted to run from the room. But where would I run? My throat constricted with fear. Then 1, too, screamed and clung to my mother’s skirt, like a child of three.

Father forgot that one must avert one’s eyes from a woman. He ran to the table. He was no less frightened than 1. His red beard trembled. In his blue eyes could be seen a mixture of fear and vindication. For my father this was a sign that not only to the Rabbi of Graidik, but to him, too, omens were sent from heaven. But perhaps this was a sign from the Evil One, from Satan himself?

“”What do you say now?” asked the woman.

My mother was no longer smiling. In her eyes there was something like sadness, and also anger.

“I cannot understand what is going on here,” she said, with a certain resentment.

“Do you want to hear it again?”

Again the woman threw one goose against the other. I And. again the dead geese gave forth an uncanny shriek—the shriek of dumb creatures slain by the slaughterer’s knife, who yet retain a living force, who still have a reckoning to make with the living, an injustice to avenge., A chill crept over me. I felt as though someone had struck me with all his

My father’s voice became hoarse. It was broken as though by sobs. “Well, can anyone still doubt that there is a Creator?” he asked.

“Rabbi, what shall I do and where shall I go?” The woman began to croon in a mournful singsong. “What has befallen me? Woe is me! What shall I do with them? Perhaps I should run to one of the Wonder Rabbis? Perhaps they were not slaughtered properly? I am afraid to take them home. I wanted to prepare them for the Sabbath meal, and now, such a calamity! Holy Rabbi, what shall I do? Must I throw them out? Someone said that they must be wrapped in shrouds and buried in a grave. I am a poor woman. Two geese! They cost me a fortune!”

Father did not know what to answer. He glanced at his bookcase. If there was an answer anywhere, it must be there. Suddenly he looked angrily at my mother.

“And what do you say now, eh?”

Mother’s face was growing sullen, smaller, sharper. In her eyes could be seen indignation and also something like shame.

“I want to hear it again.”

Her words were half pleading, half commanding.

The woman hurled the geese against each other for the third time, and for the third time the shrieks were heard. It occurred to me that such must have been the voice of the sacrificial heifer.

“Woe, woe, and still they blaspheme …. It is written that the wicked do not repent even at the very gates of hell.” Father had again begun to speak. “They behold the truth with their own eyes, and they continue to deny their Maker. They are dragged into the bottomless pit and they maintain that all is nature, or accident ……

He looked at Mother as if to say: You take after them.

For a long time there was silence. Then the woman asked, “Well, did I just imagine it?”

Suddenly my mother laughed. There was something in her laughter that made us all tremble. I knew, by some sixth sense, that Mother was preparing to end the mighty drama that had been enacted before our eyes.

“Did you remove the windpipes?” my mother asked.

“The windpipes? No …. ”

“Take them out,” said my mother, “and the geese will stop shrieking.”

My father became angry. “What are you babbling? What has this got to do with windpipes?”

Mother took hold of one of the geese, pushed her slender finger inside the body, and with all her might pulled out the thin tube that led from the neck to the lungs. Then she took the other goose and removed its windpipe also. I stood trembling, aghast at my mother’s courage.  Her hands had become bloodied. On her face could be seen the wrath of the rationalist whom someone has tried to frighten in broad daylight.

Father’s face turned white, calm, a little disappointed. He knew what had happened here: logic, cold logic, was again tearing down faith, mocking it, holding it up to ridicule and scorn.

“Now, if you please, take one goose and hurl it against the other!” commanded my mother.

Everything hung in the balance. If the geese shrieked, Mother would have lost all: her rationalist’s daring, her skepticism which she had inherited from her intellectual father. And I? Although I was afraid, I prayed inwardly that the geese would shriek, shriek so loud that people in the street would hear and come running.

But alas, the geese were silent, silent as only two dead geese without windpipes can be.

“Bring me a towel!” Mother turned to me.

I ran to get the towel. There were tears in my eyes.

Mother wiped her hands on the towel like a surgeon after a difficult operation.

“That’s all it was!” she announced victoriously.

“Rabbi, what do you say?” asked the woman.

Father began to cough, to mumble. He fanned himself with his skullcap.

“I have never before heard of such a thing,” he said at last.

“Nor have I,” echoed the woman.

“Nor have I,” said my mother. “But there is always an explanation. Dead geese don’t shriek.”

“Can I go home now and cook them?” asked the woman.

“Go home and cook them for the Sabbath.” Mother pronounced the decision. “Don’t be afraid. They won’t make a sound in your pot.”

“What do you say, Rabbi?”

“Hmm … they are kosher,” murmured Father.

“They can be eaten.” He was not really convinced, but he could not now pronounce the geese unclean.

Mother went back to the kitchen. I remained with my father. Suddenly he began to speak to me as though I were an adult. “Your mother takes after your grandfather, the Rabbi of Bilgoray. He is a great scholar, but a cold‑blooded rationalist. People warned me before our betrothal…. ”

And then Father threw up his hands, as if to say: It Is too late now to call off the wedding.


                                                                                                                                                                                                            –   Isaac Bashevis Singer