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skyfern

There was a time
when things had gone so wrong
I knew they’d been ordained.
It was then I learned
that I learned this lesson
how to receive

and my long dreams
found a hole
inside my heart that could not
could not close
inside myself where
I thought myself unfairly wounded
but not so much that anymore
as what the universe was meant to bring me
came through that hole
inside myself
and so I practice-prayed
my child’s violin maybe each night
afterward (this night
this is the one)
by throwing out arms far to my sides
and like a giant, just
looked up through the ceiling
as the ceiling looked back down
to ask for whatever I wanted
that was meant to come.

I never slept so well as when
in my innermost, shamed parts
myself to myself I said
those words
that seemed to hold so much
meaning but are now so blank
so unrecollectable except
their forms were some form
of something
some lost music maybe
that strange felt sense
like smell or before smell was smell
only soft familiar ground and a scent of lilacs
wasn’t it? and violets, yes
and the sound of the creek
just after the rain stopped
trees still drip-dripping
and the clouds starting to break
wide open into
(I remember now)
a kind of blue peace
the still
wide open
unknown
empty vault
of mind
that is
the only

Sky

~Dan~

markers.jpg

The roped off sea is supposed to be safer,
that’s the way it seems at least,
though anything, I imagine
that actually wants to get in
will find it easy enough, and anything
that actually wants to get out
certainly can find its way.
The warm sun massages
the muscles of my back,
the warm sun colors
the water and the clouds.
Not far beyond the rope
the interrogative eyes of barracuda
swim slowly past — they’re friendly here it’s said
and just beyond that I’ve heard
that an underground river empties,
sweeping upward among the corals,
but here within the buoys
all is well today — as usual
the children swim and frolic
without concern
while we parents drink our sweet
refreshing pina coladas.
A dog may drift by in search of handouts
only to be run off by the help.
A poor woman, overladen
and trudging the beach
may try to sell us jewelry
before, she too, is angrily
sent away.
Oh, tell me, why go to the reef today
when these markers promise
a better tan and
say nothing
will ever happen if you stay
carefully within them?

~Dan~

SpringStream.jpg

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the river of the windfall light.

~Dylan Thomas, from Fern Hill~

AppleTree.jpg

Tulipsss.jpg

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.


Bells.jpg

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.


Coral.jpg

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

~Mark Strand~


TulipsFireplace.jpg


StandingAmaryllis.jpg

Just a picture for you.
If this flower can bloom
after months sitting still
in its vase of stones
and waiting water,
then so can you.
So can I.

The soul is full of surprises.
Don’t you know
without thinking
we open out from unknowing
into fragrant possibility?
A river with a blossom
that floats suddenly
across an empty sky.

This sky.

~Dan~

For Carmen

En los árboles del huerto
hay un ruiseñor;
canta de noche y de día,
canta a la luna y al sol.
Ronco de cantar:
al huerto vendrá la niña
y una rosa cortará.
Entre las negras encinas,
hay una fuente de piedra,
y un cantarillo de barro
que nunca se llena.
Por el encinar,
con la blanca luna,
ella volverá.

Out in the garden
a nightingale sings
night and day in the treetops,
in moonlight, in sunlight.
He sings himself out:
the girl will come to the garden
and pick a rose.
Among the dark oaks
there’s a stone spring
and a little earthen jug
that never fills up.
Through the oak grove,
by white moonlight,
she will return.

~Antonio Machado~

Canyon

My mother said don’t go near anyplace other children have drowned;
my father said death wasn’t the worst thing: it was waking up crippled
from falling to the rocks below, a broken back or head injury but alive,
knowing forever from your permanent bed you’d done it to yourself.

But don’t you think you have to find out on your own? Don’t you think
it’s essential to crawl down the sharp walls where one misstep hurtles you
into unthinkable pain? Don’t you think – and this isn’t a prank — that unless
you flirt with the river of sorrow happiness will never find its way?

So I wandered down through a broken, bony forest to the edge of the canyon,
and I looked straight down into the dark waters, became addicted to the view
at the edge. It would be so easy, I thought, to drift over the falls of air and through
the hidden portal to those dirty little shallows where they’d finally find my body.

I sat quietly looking into its face, the smell of damp stone rising
entwined with the soft gurgle of the winding flow and the wet transience
of impersonal traces. Yes, here is my suffering now: I could not escape
the dungeons of my self-belittlement and the same sad repetitive ends.

Until one day I slipped, came so close to the flowers of the funeral home
that my body lost all feeling in anticipation of the cut, the nothingness,
and I scrambled upward as if startled by the unseen snake on a ledge,
as if eye-level I’d barked at it, my own destruction; saw it whole and coming.

Scared me enough, I guess, to live. I stopped looking down there, letting that
slippery thing dominate. Let it slither through on its own. I’d seen it now
and jumped aside, saw how new the mountains were ahead, felt the way the sun
crosses entire valleys in a day and how any river, even sorrow, is only a part.

~Dan~

Stones3.jpg

In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.

You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you,

but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.

~Rumi~

0055760-R2-010-3A.jpg

The darkness in the room was like enormous riches;
there the child was sitting, wonderfully alone.
And when the mother entered, as if in a dream,
a glass quaked in the silent china closet.
She felt it, how the room was betraying her,
and kissed her child, saying, “Are you here?”
then both looked toward the piano in fear,
for often at evening they would have a song
in which the child found himself strangely caught.

He sat stone still. His great gaze hung
upon her hand, which, totally bowed down by the ring,
walked over the white keys
as if plowing through deep drifts of snow.

~Rainer Maria Rilke~

passageway2.jpg

Friends make us fuller.
When friends leave, their light stays behind.
It is like the blue sea
that supports the white breakers
that come and go.

Horizon.jpg

No matter how far I go.
I long to return and be with friends.
It is never the same fire I left,
but beneath it are the ashes
of all our meetings that have gone before.

~Robert Sund~

I shall say that I want it all.
If you ask me how much I want,
I shall tell you that I want it all.
You and I and everyone are flowing this morning
Into the marvelous stream of oneness.
Small pieces of imagination we are,
We have come a long way to find ourselves,
And for ourselves in the dark,
The illusion of emancipation.

This morning my brother is back from his long adventure.
He kneels before the altar and his eyes are filled with tears.
His soul is looking for a shore to put an anchor,
My own image of long ago.
Let him kneel there and weep,
Let him cry his heart out.
Let him have his refuge for a thousand years.
Enough to dry all his tears.

Because one of these nights I shall come.
I have to come and set fire to this small cottage of his on a hill.
His last shelter.
My fire will destroy,
Destroy everything.
Taking away from him the only life raft he has, after a shipwreck.
In the utmost anguish of his soul,
The shell will break.
The light of the burning hut will witness, gloriously, his deliverance.
I will wait for him beside the burning cottage,
Tears will run down my cheeks.
I shall be there to contemplate his new existence,
And hold his hands in mine,
And ask him how much he would want.
He will smile at me and say that he wants it all.
Just as I did.

~Thich Nhat Hanh~

Like a boatman
Crossing the Yura Strait,
His rudder gone,
I know not the goal
Of this path of love.

~Sone Yoshitada~

In the night, after the others have gone,
with no light but the fire burning,
you let the lost space inside you build,
kindling that takes the flame. You listen quietly,
like a child, to the cold beyond the mountains.

I’ve lived in your far cabin for years now,
looked down on the aspens and sage,
the winding ice of the river. I’ve seen
the white-tailed deer leap the fence
that separates them from your dreams.

I’ve watched you travel the night.
From the shadows next to you
I’ve watched you rise above your bed,
a mirage of lilacs, frozen branches
like veins filled with snow
the fragile white glass glowing to
a polished point, pure light.

When the empty room comes back
I step forward to touch your things
and tend the fire for your return.
My loneliness hurts for a moment
before I find my little dance
to dance outside the world.

And then, tired of turning and turning
I drop exhausted to a chair.
Once more I am, and laugh,
and I pretend next time
you are to be my guest,
not I yours.

My friend, once more I drink your silence,
drink deep of the dark wine
you’ve left for me on the table.
I shall sleep well tonight
and miss your hand upon the door.

~Dan~

NorthButte.jpg

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

treeandlake.jpg

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

treewithbirds.jpg

X
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

~Wallace Stevens~

birdsintree.jpg

I
Do not
Want to step so quickly
Over a beautiful line on God’s palm
As I move through the earth’s
Marketplace
Today.

I do not want to touch any object in this world
Without my eyes testifying to the truth
That everything is
My Beloved.

Something has happened
To my understanding of existence
That now makes my heart always full of wonder
And kindness.

I do not
Want to step so quickly
Over this sacred place on God’s body
That is right beneath your
Own foot

As I
Dance with
Precious life
Today.

~ Hafiz ~

From The Gift, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

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