Originally aired: Sunday 10 June through Sunday 12 August 2007

This topic contains 464 replies, has 53,609 voices, and was last updated by  Sven2 1 year, 1 month ago.

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    Last Day on Earth

    If it’s the title of a movie you expect
    everything to become important—a kiss,
    a shrug, a glass of wine, a walk with the dog.
    But if the day is real, life is only
    as significant as yesterday—the kiss
    hurried, the shrug forgotten, and now,
    on the path by the river, you don’t notice
    the sky darkening beyond the pines because
    you’re imagining what you’ll say at dinner,
    swirling the wine in your glass.
    You don’t notice the birds growing silent
    or the cold towers of clouds moving in,
    because you’re explaining how lovely
    and cool it was in the woods. And the dog
    had stopped limping!—she seemed
    her old self again, sniffing the air and alert,
    the way dogs are to whatever we can’t see.
    And I was happy, you hear yourself saying,
    because it felt as if I’d been allowed
    to choose my last day on earth,
    and this was the one I chose.

    –Lawrence Raab 



    Surviving Love

    I work hard at managing, grateful
    and spare. I try to forgive all trespasses
    and give thanks for the desert. Rejoice
    in being alive here in my simple world.
    Each evening I walk for an hour, paying
    attention to real things. The plover
    sweeping at my face to get me away from
    its ground nest. An ant carrying the wing
    of a butterfly like a flag in the wind.
    A grasshopper eating a dead grasshopper.
    The antelope close up, just staring at me.
    Back in the house, I lie down in the heat
    for a nap, realizing forgiveness is hard
    for the wounded. Near the border,
    between this country and the next one.

    –Linda Gregg 



    Rain Falling in the Far West

    I am standing, old and self-absorbed as Lear,
    out on bogland, where I started;
    there are skylarks, pipits, black-monk crows
    and plover, secret in the heathers, calling; dried blood
    on the scraws, gnawed gristle,
    furred creatures cowering, the raptor hawk;
    where have I been, all these years, far from myself?
    Soft rains drift in mist-shapes
    shading everything to grey; I would hear the voices
    of those I have loved and lost, I standing now on the brink.
    Of Aquinas at the last they said
    that he was laying down the instruments
    of his writing; what I have done
    feels like turf-dust. What is there left, but spirit?


    Rain is falling in the far west, as it has ever fallen.
    Easy to miss the star against the city lights
    and shoppers; here, on bogland, is a side-aisle quiet, where nothing extraordinary happens, where you may accept
    emptiness and the cotton-quivering
    of a solitary self; here, too, the harrier is close, what is eternal
    hovers, it is the dread festival of God’s descent
    into the flesh, his presence
    in the ongoing history, heart in hiding, forever
    beginning. The night is still and clear under frost, great clouds
    passing, slow, relentless; an ocean-full
    of stars, a cradle moon, and in the windows of the houses
    candles lighting; sweet shiver-glass of ice
    on the bogpools, and one great light reflecting.


    Wild honey hides among the combed roots, in the dark
    it scents the air. Childheart,
    I was told the bleak mythologies of black-bog waters: the giant otter in the pools, black-souled goblin with his storm lamp,
    and Clovenhoof himself, ready to reach
    a leathery claw out of mud to take your ankle; there would be
    fear, and fascination, there would be danger, stumbling, a fall.
    In the far west rain is falling; there is epiphany
    in the movement of a fox, long-fellow, sleek, a languid
    lovely-loping, orange-brown body slipping through
    brown-orange growth; in the soft
    dew-gentled dawn, the spread-out jewellery of gossamer webs
    shivers silver in destructibility;
    the heathers, too, ripple in the breeze, like water.


    I put my ear down close to the bog-earth
    roots, to hear
    the heartbeat of the magma; there are no hard edges in the peatland,
    no table-corners,
    cupboard-doors, car-boot-sharpness; I am in love
    with earth, the various, the lovely, though
    it is not home: for it is written—
    God so loved the world … I stand
    on the wallow-surface of belief, winds from the sea
    taking my breath away;
    the paths across the bog lead always on
    further into bog, then
    stop. Nowhere. Where God is.


    Here is no locked tabernacle; God exults, in frochan,
    bilberry root. Here is no church, stone-built,
    no steeple proud in its piercing of the skies; sometimes a dragonfly, its rainbow gossamer wings, passes by
    low over the cottons; I can kneel
    on sphagnum moss, its soft green sponge, to ask forgiveness
    because resurrection is ongoing; curlew calls, alleluia; and still
    all of the bogland is in motion, bleached bones
    of elk and wolf and hare, rising inexorably towards the surface.
    Bell rings for angelus, the stooping figures rise and stand a while
    in the transept of eternity. Rain
    is falling in the far west, as it has ever fallen; in the windows
    candles lighting;
    what is there left, now, but spirit?

    –John F. Deane



    The Fish Answers

    My school saw the Red Sea parted—you speak
    to me only in North Sea everyday English
    or Cape Cod American—why not ancient Greek?
    I speak the languages of all those who fish
    for me, and I speak Frog, Turtle, and Crocodile.
    The waters are calm, come swim with me a while.
    Look, the little fish will inherit the earth
    and seas. Fish as you would have others fish for you!
    Swallow the hook of happiness and mirth,
    baited with poetry, the miraculous rescue.
    I read drowned books. The Lord is many.
    I heard this gossip in Long Island Sound:
    Three days before he died, one Ezra Pound
    told a friend, “Go with God, if you can stand the company.”

    –Stanley Moss



    House Special After the Storm Has Passed

    Day after day, I’ve talked to no one,
    but am not lonely,
    as if I’ve gone mute with a begging bowl
    into the streets and everyone was television.
    A small helping of chow mein,
    a sip of sweet and sour soup.
    What more do I need?
    the Buddha said over and over,
    each segment of a tangerine,
    every glance or taste.
    Everything I own, owns me,
    the view of Spring as it merges into summer,
    the silence of it,
    the rock, the heron, the bamboo hut
    with no one about to call out in my seeing.

    –Dick Allen



    Looking For A Monk And Not Finding Him

    I took a small path leading
    up a hill valley, finding there
    a temple, its gate covered
    with moss, and in front of
    the door but tracks of birds;
    in the room of the old monk
    no one was living, and I
    staring through the window
    saw but a hair duster hanging
    on the wall, itself covered
    with dust; emptily I sighed
    thinking to go, but then
    turning back several times,
    seeing how the mist on
    the hills was flying, and then
    a light rain fell as if it
    were flowers falling from
    the sky, making a music of
    its own; away in the distance
    came the cry of a monkey, and
    for me the cares of the world
    slipped away, and I was filled
    with the beauty around me.

    –Li Po



    from The Prophet

    Forget not that I shall come back to you.
    A little while, and my longing shall gather dust and foam for another body.
    A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me.
    Farewell to you and the youth I have spent with you.
    It was but yesterday we met in a dream.
    You have sung to me in my aloneness, and I of your longings have built a tower in the sky.
    But now our sleep has fled and our dream is over, and it is no longer dawn.
    The noontide is upon us and our half-waking has turned to fuller day, and we must part.
    If in the twilight of memory we should meet once more, we shall speak again together and you shall sing to me a deeper song.
    And if our hands should meet in another dream we shall build another tower in the sky.

    –Kahlil Gibran



    The Right Thing

    Let others probe the mystery if they can.
    Time-harried prisoners of Shall and Will –
    The right thing happens to the happy man.

    The bird flies out, the bird flies back again;
    The hill becomes the valley, and is still;
    Let others delve that mystery if they can.

    God bless the roots! – Body and soul are one!
    The small become the great, the great the small;
    The right thing happens to the happy man.

    Child of the dark, he can outleap the sun,
    His being single, and that being all:
    The right thing happens to the happy man.

    Or he sits still, a solid figure when
    The self-destructive shake the common wall;
    Takes to himself what mystery he can,

    And, praising change as the slow night comes on,
    Wills what he could, surrendering his will
    Till mystery is no more: No more he can.
    The right thing happens to the happy man.

    –Theodore Roethke



    In the Midnight Hour

    This, too, is an old story, yet
    It is not death. Still,

    The waters of darkness are in us.
    In fact, they are rising,

    And rising toward our eyes.
    And will wash against those windows

    Until they have stilled, until,
    Utterly calm, they have cleansed.

    And then our lives will take substance,
    And rise themselves.

    And not like water, and not like darkness, but
    Like smoke, like prayer.

    –Charles Wright



    Prologue to a Text

    We humans once lived in the moment,
    The moment being all there was. Stuffing our mouths
    With berries, we collapsed on the ground to make
    An early forerunner of love. Then wind
    Brought the stink of a predator’s haunch, panic
    Ensuing. How divine it must have seemed
    When, at last, we had time to ponder clouds
    As they built their chateaus. Grunts into words,
    Words into the updraft of questions—
    A miracle to carry the world
    On the tongue: “world.” Even the heart at last
    Consigning itself to syllables: Ah, thee….
    The numbers tidying things up, the numbers
    Knitting things to equations, the theorems
    Proposing, revising, secreting, each
    Tool-in-theory awaiting our genius,
    Our heartache, until damp and wood-colored,
    This morning dawned, the smell of burning leaves
    Drifting across my sepia mood,
    Every doorway in the house yawning empty.
    You, elsewhere, lift a screen in the air (Got it!)
    Then send an image toward the chill
    Draughts of space. It flickers through a satellite, free-
    Falls back to the planet
    —Let’s pause for a moment, behold earth
    Cloud-swaddled, gamboling around our star….
    Somewhere in New Jersey, a tower corrals
    Your cache of photons, beams them on
    To the privacy of my circuits, which are roused
    By your elation: Check out this sunset,
    Love! A finger to the warm flesh of glass,
    And my screen goes bronze with a Roman dusk.

    –Clare Rossini

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