Under the Map

When I was very young, I often fantasized that there was a world where the only way to communicate was through music.

During my high school years, I had a friend who had a theory that musicians were really just singing messages back and forth to each other.

And all through my life, just in case, I have collected maps. After reading this poem I wonder, maybe it’s through our maps that we discover all that lies under them.

A Course in Creative Writing

They want a wilderness with a map –

but how about errors that give a new start? –

or leaves that are edging into the light? –

or the many places a road can’t find? –

Maybe there’s a land where you have to sing

to explain anything: you blow a little whistle

just right and the next tree you meet is itself.

(And many a tree is not there yet.)

Things come toward you when you walk.

You go along singing a song that says

where you are going becomes its own

because you start. You blow a little whistle –

And a world begins under the map.

William Stafford

Say Yes Quickly

Below is one of my favorite poems by Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi. This one is a translation by the American poet, Coleman Barks.There is an interview with Coleman here, in which he speaks to the idea, near and dear to my heart, that ecstatic states are not necessarily limited to transcendent, meditative states that one patiently works years to experience, but a profound joy experienced in the course of mundane, commonplace occurences.

“Barks gave a precise definition of ecstasy in that Moyers interview: “each moment [is] solid and actual, yet numinous, shot through with divine light and guidance.” He also gave a telling anecdotal definition of ecstasy when I asked him more recently to define it: “I was with my granddaughter, going around the yard lifting up stones to see what was there — there’s always something good, something interesting — and a woman walking by on the street just turned her head and said, ‘You’re going to spoil her.’ This universe is just so incredible that we’re all spoiled, and it’s okay. Rumi said, ‘The eye is meant to see things; the soul is here for its own joy.’ “

I first heard this poem read by Robert Bly at a conference I attended back in the 1990’s. Perhaps you’ve heard it? If not, or if so, enjoy!

Say Yes Quickly

Forget your life. Say God is Great. Get up.
You think you know what time it is. It’s time to pray.
You’ve carved so many little figurines, too many.
Don’t knock on any random door like a beggar.
Reach your long hands out to another door, beyond where
you go on the street, the street
where everyone says, “How are you?”
and no one says How aren’t you?

Tomorrow you’ll see what you’ve broken and torn tonight,
thrashing in the dark. Inside you
there’s an artist you don’t know about.
He’s not interested in how things look different in moonlight.

If you are here unfaithfully with us,
you’re causing terrible damage.
If you’ve opened your loving to God’s love,
you’re helping people you don’t know
and have never seen.

Is what I say true? Say yes quickly,
if you know, if you’ve known it
from before the beginning of the universe.

The Layers

I heard a beautiful reading of this Stanley Kunitz’ poem by Michael Lerner over at Commonweal.org

The Layers – Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written,
I am not done with my changes.

Stanley Kunitz.jpg

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/242450

Who Are You Really Wanderer?

It has been awhile since I posted a WIlliam Stafford poem. Coincindentally, if there is such a thing, I just found out that William’s 100th birthday would have been on January 17, and friends here in Oregon have been hosting events in his honor. For more info go here: http://stafford100.org/.

Or, you might enjoy reading one of his poems. I’m sending this poem out to all of the bloggers at http://shoe1000.wordpress.com/.

Some absorbing work…

 

File:Olga Wisinger-Florian - Falling Leaves.JPG

I am part of the load
Not rightly balanced
I drop off in the grass,
like the old Cave-sleepers, to browse
wherever I fall.

For hundreds of thousands of years I have been dust-grains
floating and flying in the will of the air,
often forgetting ever being
in that state, but in sleep
I migrate back. I spring loose
from the four-branched, time -and-space cross,
this waiting room.

I walk into a huge pasture
I nurse the milk of millennia

Everyone does this in different ways.
Knowing that conscious decisions
and personal memory
are much too small a place to live,
every human being streams at night
into the loving nowhere, or during the day,
in some absorbing work.

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

http://www.rumi.org.uk/poems.html#RealityAndAppearance

Candle in the Wind

A wonderful day meeting new friends and sharing the “separation from the Beloved,” which invites this brief excursion into the heart of Rumi:

There is a candle in your heart…

There is a candle in your heart,
 ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul,
ready to be filled.
You feel it, don’t you?
You feel the separation
from the Beloved.
Invite Him to fill you up
embrace the fire.
Remind those who tell you otherwise that
Love comes to you of its own accord,
and the yearning for it
cannot be learned in any school.

– See more at: http://allspirit.co.uk/rumicandle.html#sthash.7KmoQ2ZN.dpuf

Thank you Elton and Bernie for a great tune:

“Loneliness was tough
The toughest role you ever played”