Photography · Poetry · Words Written

Everything is Waiting For You – David Whyte

Photo by TJ Parker

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

Poetry · Words Written

Selections From Sand and Foam by Kahlil Gibran

I AM for ever walking upon these shores,
Betwixt the sand and the foam.
The high tide will erase my foot-prints,
And the wind will blow away the foam.
But the sea and the shore will remain
For ever.

                                *

    Once I filled my hand with mist.
    Then I opened it and lo, the mist was a
worm.
    And I closed and opened my hand again,
and behold there was a bird.
    And again I closed and opened my hand,
and in its hollow stood a man with a sad face,
turned upward.
    And again I closed my hand, and when I
opened it there was naught but mist.
    But I heard a song of exceeding sweetness.

                                *

    When God threw me, a pebble, into this
wondrous lake I disturbed its surface with
countless circles.
    But when I reached the depths I became
very still.

                                *

    We measure time according to the move-
ment of countless suns; and they measure time
by little machines in their little pockets.
    Now tell me, how could we ever meet at the
same place and the same time?

                                *

    My house says to me, “Do not leave me,
for here dwells your past.”
    And the road says to me, “Come and follow
me, for I am your future.”
    And I say to both my house and the road,
“I have no past, nor have I a future. If I stay
here, there is a going in my staying; and if I go
there is a staying in my going. Only love and
death change all things.”

                                *

    How can I lose faith in the justice of life,
when the dreams of those who sleep upon
feathers are not more beautiful than the
dreams of those who sleep upon the earth?

                                *

    Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We
see truth through it, but it divides us from
truth.

                                *

    If your heart is a volcano how shall you
expect flowers to bloom in your hands?

                                *

    How often have I attributed to myself
crimes I have never committed, so that the
other person may feel comfortable in my
presence.

                                *

    When you see a man led to prison, say in
your heart, “Mayhap he is escaping from a
narrower prison.”
    And when you see a man drunken, say in
your heart, “Mayhap he sought escape from
something still more unbeautiful.”

                                *

    Your saying to me, “I do not understand
you,” is praise beyond my worth, and an
insult you do not deserve.

                                *

    How mean am I when life gives me gold
and I give you silver, and yet I deem myself
generous.

                                *

    If the other person laughs at you, you can
pity him; but if you laugh at him you may
never forgive yourself.
    If the other person injures you, you may
forget the injury; but if you injure him you
will always remember.
    In truth the other person is your most
sensitive self given another body.

                                *

    The highest virtue here may be the least in
another world.

                                *

    If indeed you must be candid, be candid
beautifully; otherwise keep silent, for there is
a man in our neighbourhood who is dying.

                                *

    In truth we talk only to ourselves, but some-
times we talk loud enough that others may
hear us.

                                *

    Perhaps the sea’s definition of a shell is the
pearl.
    Perhaps time’s definition of coal is the
diamond.

                                *

    I am the flame and I am the dry brush, and
one part of me consumes the other part.
                                *

    We are all seeking the summit of the holy
mountain; but shall not our road be shorter
if we consider the past a chart and not a guide?

                                *

    When you reach the end of what you should
know, you will be at the beginning of what
you should sense.

                                *

    A traveler am I and a navigator, and every
day I discover a new region within my soul.

                                *

    There lies a green field between the scholar
and the poet; should the scholar cross it, he
becomes a wise man; should the poet cross it,
he becomes a prophet.

                                *

    Once a man sat at my board and ate my
bread and drank my wine and went away
laughing at me.
    Then he came again for bread and wine,
and I spurned him;
    And the angels laughed at me.

                                *

    They deem me mad because I will not sell
my days for gold;
    And I deem them mad because they think
my days have a price.

                                *

    Once I spoke of the sea to a brook, and
the brook thought me but an imaginative
exaggerator;
    And once I spoke of a brook to the sea,
and the sea thought me but a depreciative
defamer.

                                *

    How narrow is the vision that exalts the
busyness of the ant above the singing of the
grasshopper.

                                *

    In truth we talk only to ourselves, but some-
times we talk loud enough that others may
hear us.

                                *

    If the Milky Way were not within me, how
should I have seen it or known it?

                                *

    When I stood a clear mirror before you, you
gazed into me, and saw your image.
    Then you said, “I love you.”
    But in truth you loved yourself in me.

                                *

    In the autumn I gathered all my sorrows and
buried them in my garden.
    And when April returned and spring came
to wed the earth, there grew in my garden
beautiful flowers unlike all other flowers.
    And my neighbours came to behold them,
and they all said to me, “When autumn comes
again, at seeding time, will you not give us of
the seeds of these flowers that we may have
them in our gardens?”

                                *

    Art is a step from nature toward the
Infinite.

                                *

A work of art is a mist carved into an image.

                                *

    Even the hands that make crowns of thorns
are better than idle hands.

                                *

    You may have heard of the Blessed
Mountain
    It is the highest mountain in our world.
    Should you reach the summit you would
have only one desire, and that is to descend and
be with those who dwell in the deepest valley.
    That is why it is called the Blessed
Mountain.

From Sand and Foam by Kahlil Gibran (Alfred A. Knopf, 1926). These poems are in the public domain. 

Words Written

Small Kindnesses

Poetry · Words Written

Kindness – Naomi Shihab Nye

Photography · Words Written

A Wish for 2021

“Be kind to yourself in the year ahead.

Photo by TJ Parker

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It’s too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them.

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.” ~ Neil Gaiman

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT · Photography · Poetry · Scotland · Words Written

I Am

Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower

Photo by TJ Parker

BY RAINER MARIA RILKE 


Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29


Translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows. From A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings From the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke (Harper Collins and Harper One, 2009). Posted by kind permission of Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT · Photography · Words Written
Imagine a country whose citizens—maybe even its leaders—are brave, calm, and open towards each other; a country whose people realize that all human beings belong together as one family and must act accordingly; a country guided by Common Sense.
BR. DAVID STEINDL-RAST
Photo by TJ Parker
Poetry · Words Written

Words are Birds by Francisco X. Alarcon

Words are Birds

Photo by TJ Parker

BY FRANCISCO X. ALARCÓN

words
are birds
that arrive
with books
and spring

they
love
clouds
the wind
and trees

some words
are messengers
that come
from far away
from distant lands

for them
there are
no borders
only stars
moon and sun

some words
are familiar
like canaries
others are exotic
like the quetzal bird

some can stand
the cold
others migrate
with the sun
to the south

some words
die
caged—
they’re difficult
to translate

and others
build nests
have chicks
warm them
feed them

teach them
how to fly
and one day
they go away
in flocks

the letters
on this page
are the prints
they leave
by the sea

Francisco X. Alarcon, “Words are Birds” from Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems. Copyright © 1997 by Francisco X. Alarcon. 

Poetry · Words Written

Poem: A New National Anthem

Photo by TJ Parker

BY ADA LIMÓN

The truth is, I’ve never cared for the National
Anthem. If you think about it, it’s not a good
song. Too high for most of us with “the rockets
red glare” and then there are the bombs.
(Always, always, there is war and bombs.)
Once, I sang it at homecoming and threw
even the tenacious high school band off key.
But the song didn’t mean anything, just a call
to the field, something to get through before
the pummeling of youth. And what of the stanzas
we never sing, the third that mentions “no refuge
could save the hireling and the slave”? Perhaps,
the truth is, every song of this country
has an unsung third stanza, something brutal
snaking underneath us as we blindly sing
the high notes with a beer sloshing in the stands
hoping our team wins. Don’t get me wrong, I do
like the flag, how it undulates in the wind
like water, elemental, and best when it’s humbled,
brought to its knees, clung to by someone who
has lost everything, when it’s not a weapon,
when it flickers, when it folds up so perfectly
you can keep it until it’s needed, until you can
love it again, until the song in your mouth feels
like sustenance, a song where the notes are sung
by even the ageless woods, the short-grass plains,
the Red River Gorge, the fistful of land left
unpoisoned, that song that’s our birthright,
that’s sung in silence when it’s too hard to go on,
that sounds like someone’s rough fingers weaving
into another’s, that sounds like a match being lit
in an endless cave, the song that says my bones
are your bones, and your bones are my bones,
and isn’t that enough?

Ada Limón, “A New National Anthem” from The Carrying.  Copyright © 2018 by Ada Limón.

Photography · Poetry · Words Written

A Litany for Survival

BY AUDRE LORDE

Photo by TJ Parker

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
futures
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours;

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive.

Poetry · Weston · Words Written

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

BY E. E. CUMMINGS

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

“[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” Copyright 1952, © 1980, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust, from Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage.

Photography · Words Written

Dew Drops Right Outside

Photo by TJ Parker
For many years, at great cost, I traveled through many countries, saw the high mountains, the oceans. The only things I did not see were the sparkling dewdrops in the grass just outside my door.
RABINDRANATH TAGORE
Photography · Words Written

Prince Speaks

Photos by TJ Parker

Compassion is an action word with no boundaries. ~PRINCE

Photography · Words Written

Words of Amit Ray

Photo by TJ Parker
The true miracle lies in our eagerness to allow, appreciate, and honor the uniqueness and freedom of each sentient being to sing the song of their heart.
AMIT RAY
Photography · Poetry · Words Written

Praise Song For The Day

Photo by TJ Parker
Praise Song for the Day
BY ELIZABETH ALEXANDER

A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration


Each day we go about our business,

walking past each other, catching each other’s

eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.



All about us is noise. All about us is

noise and bramble, thorn and din, each

one of our ancestors on our tongues.



Someone is stitching up a hem, darning

a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,

repairing the things in need of repair.



Someone is trying to make music somewhere,

with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,

with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.



A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky.

A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.



We encounter each other in words, words

spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,

words to consider, reconsider.



We cross dirt roads and highways that mark

the will of some one and then others, who said

I need to see what’s on the other side.



I know there’s something better down the road.

We need to find a place where we are safe.

We walk into that which we cannot yet see.



Say it plain: that many have died for this day.

Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,

who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,



picked the cotton and the lettuce, built

brick by brick the glittering edifices

they would then keep clean and work inside of.



Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.

Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,

the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.



Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,

others by first do no harm or take no more

than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?



Love beyond marital, filial, national,

love that casts a widening pool of light,

love with no need to pre-empt grievance.



In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,

any thing can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,



praise song for walking forward in that light.



Copyright © 2009 by Elizabeth Alexander. All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota. A chapbook edition of Praise Song for the Day will be published on February 6, 2009.

Source: Praise Song for the Day (Graywolf Press, 2009)
Poetry · Words Written

Two Poems by Keith Leonard

OPENING
LECTURE
AT
THE
CONSTELLATION
INSTITUTE


When you draw shapes in the night sky,
it will help if you remember
that your pencil passes through matter
we can’t see, or name, but know exists.
It will help if you imagine the bright spots
as your parents, your past lovers,
or enemies. Perhaps you will draw
a bull out of your string of breakups,
then use three stars to draw a spear.
By your senior year, you should be able
to outline at least one flower
while studying the history
of dictators.  No dippers.
We have enough of those.
The sky is full of reservoirs.
We’ve noticed the sad have a strange desire
to draw things patriotic - the flag
with its flat bars draping the hemisphere,
or a bald eagle with its wide wings
grazing both horizons.  It will help
if you resist the craving to claim
the whole sky.  It’s rude, frankly,
and you will be unpopular.
Most importantly, you’ll miss
what happens when the many
separate shapes intertwine.



ELEGY

In the water left from the waitress’s rag,
I made James’s face:

pinched salt for the scar
below the eyebrow,

a fleck of pepper for a freckle,

bent straw for the bridge of the nose.

The trouble with my over-easy eggs
was their thin skins broke

with the touch of a butter knife.

The trouble with my coffee
was it took the cream and changed.

The trouble with me is I can arrange
three words however I please:

this isn’t it

It isn’t this

Isn’t it this

Isn’t this it

by Keith Leonard, Ramshackle Ode
Photography · Words Written

Mississippi River – photo by TJ Parker
Through me course wide rivers and in me rise tall mountains. And beyond the thickets of my agitation and confusion there stretch the wide plains of my peace and surrender. All landscapes are within me. And there is room for everything.
ETTY HILLESUM
Words Written

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Photography · Words Written

Quote of the Day

Do not doubt your own basic goodness. In spite of all confusion and fear, you are born with a heart that knows what is just, loving, and beautiful.
JACK KORNFIELD
Poetry · Words Written

Small Craft Talk Warning

All poetry is about hope.
A scarecrow walks into a bar.
An abandoned space station falls to earth.
When probing the monster’s brain,
you’re probably probing your own.
A beautiful woman becomes a ghost.
I hope I never miscalculate the dosage
that led to the infarction
of my lab rabbit again.
All poetry is a form of hope.
Not certain, just actual
like love and other traffic circles.
I cried on that airplane too,
midwest patchwork below
like a board game on which
mighty forces kick apart the avatars.
I always wanted to be the racecar
but usually ended up a thumbtack.
When I was young, sitting in a tree
counted as preparation and later
maybe a little whoopie in the morgue.
So go ahead, thaw the alien, break
the pentagram but watch out for
the institutional hood ornaments.
It’s not a museum, it’s a hive.
The blood may be fake
but the bleeding’s not.

~Dean Young – 1955

Poetry · Words Written

Gratitude by Barbara Crooker

Gratitude

This week, the news of the world is bleak, another war
grinding on, and all these friends down with cancer,
or worse, a little something long term that they won’t die of
for twenty or thirty miserable years—
And here I live in a house of weathered brick, where a man
with silver hair still thinks I’m beautiful. How many times
have I forgotten to give thanks? The late day sun shines
through the pink wisteria with its green and white leaves
as if it were stained glass, there’s an old cherry tree
that one lucky Sunday bloomed with a rainbow:
cardinals, orioles, goldfinches, blue jays, indigo buntings,
and my garden has tiny lettuces just coming up,
so perfect they could make you cry: Green Towers,
Red Sails, Oak Leaf. For this is May, and the whole world
sings, gleams, as if it were basted in butter, and the air’s
sweet enough to send a diabetic into shock—
And at least today, all the parts of my body are working,
the sky’s clear as a china bowl, leaves murmur their leafy chatter,
finches percolate along. I’m doodling around this page,
know sorrow’s somewhere beyond the horizon, but still, I’m riffing
on the warm air, the wingbeats of my lungs that can take this all in,
flush the heart’s red peony, then send it back without effort or thought.
And the trees breathe in what we exhale, clap their green hands
in gratitude, bend to the sky.

First published in Poetry East, then in Line Dance (Word Press, 2008).

Poetry · Words Written

The Creative Drive

Photo by TJ Parker

The Northeast has lost millions of poems,
reducing the canopy. Just a few days ago,
high winds knocked a poem onto a power line

A recent study found that poems increased
the sale price of a home by close to $9,000.
The years, however, have not been kind to poems.

a few blocks from my house.
I had not expected to lose so many at once.
“We’ve created a system that is not healthy

for poems,” said someone. Over the next thirty years,
there won’t be any poems where there are overhead wires.
Some poems may stay as a nuisance,

as a gorgeous marker of time.

~ by Catherine Barnett

Essays · LiFe · Poetry · Video · Weston · Words Written

It’s a New Dawn, It’s a New Day

I’m a huge fan of Nina Simone. My favorite song? Feelin’ Good. I like it in all its iterations I guess. Most people probably have forgotten all about Nina’s version and skipped right to Michael Buble. That’s OK. I don’t think she would mind. Nor would she care about the Muse version. I like that one a lot. Who sings it isn’t nearly as important to me as the lyrics.

I started really loving this song when I was 45. I liked it just fine before that, but when I was 45 I came down with a little bout of Leukemia. Music has always been huge in my life, songs associated with people, places, events.  Feelin’ Good got associated with my healing, my being alive.  It was a new dawn, a new day, and I was, after months of treatment, feelin’ good.

Photo by TJ Parker

Here I am, years later, still in love with this song.  Still associating it with the thrill of being alive.  Because, well, I am still thrilled to be alive.

K and I were sitting here talking the other day about how weird it was that it was going to be 2019.  How it seemed impossible in some way, that it was nearly 2019.  I don’t know why it seemed like such a big deal because, after all, it’d been 2018 for nearly a year, but somehow it did.  Somehow time has taken a leap.  The idea that 2019 was nearly here, and I’m still here, and though I’m older than I used to be, I’m not as old as I’m going to get.  If you’d asked me in 1983 when I graduated from high school what I’d be doing in 2019 I wouldn’t have been able to even imagine it, being so far in the future and all.   And now here we are, so far in the future and all.  Weird.  Not bad.  Just weird.

Friends of ours recently asked us to attend a party.  They asked everyone who was invited to bring a bottle of booze, an appetizer, and quote or song or piece of writing to be read aloud and shared. I think it was meant as a sort of send off to the year passing and a greeting of hope and inspiration heading into the new year.  Cool idea.  Sadly, we couldn’t go, but I was thinking about what I would’ve shared if we had. 

There are a lot of quotes I could’ve shared.  I’m a quote person.  Just see the inspirations page of this blog for proof of that.  The fact that I get nervous and shy at times might spur the use of a quote.  I probably would share a quote like this…  “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”  ~  W.B. Yeats 

I could’ve shared a poem.  I’m a lover of all things poetic and have been reading and writing poetry since I was a wee sprout, sometime near 1983 I’d say.  I was 17 then, and graduating from high school, so my poems were very broody.   I might’ve shared a poem at the party if I happened upon or could think of one I thought might be inspirational.  Maybe the E.E. Cummings “I thank you God” poem…

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

 
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)


how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

 
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
 

 e e cummings 

(in ‘complete poems 1904 – 1962’)

Or maybe something by Pablo Neruda, Charles Bukowski, or The Type, by Sarah Kay.

If I had my wits about me I might’ve thought of something profound or witty or inspirational to say all on my own.  Possible, if I’d had my wits about me.  Sometimes they are vacationing and leave me searching for the right words, the right feeling, the right way to say what I want to.  

Weston is currently crying over K’s shoulder as she eats her morning oatmeal.  It’s the first day of the new year.  He likes oatmeal.  Sometimes all that matters is the hope that you’ll get the last bits of oatmeal left in the bowl.  That someone will remember you like them, and that getting them will make your day.  That those bits are what will bring you joy right at this moment.  And maybe the story of Weston and the oatmeal bowl is the only profound thing worth sharing.   It’s the simple things in life that are worth everything.  Finding moments of joy.  Moments of happiness.  Moments of peace.  We don’t need a lot to make us happy and joyful.  Bits of oatmeal left in the bottom of the bowl will do.  So I’ll say this… go out there and find your bits, whatever they are for you.  See them for what they are, for what they mean to you.  Relish them.

K has finished eating and Weston is now licking the bowl.  His crying has stopped and he’s blissfully enjoying this tiny moment of joy.  I’d say, like Nina, he’s feelin’ good.  A pretty great way to start 2019.

Words Written

Do You Have Insomnia? No? Then You Should Get It!

I just read the best short story!  On top of great storytelling, it was free!  Click the image above and you will be whisked away to Mary Widdicks’ website where you can sign up to get it and read it as well.  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!  It’s a great read.  She is an up an coming writer who you will be on the scene and talked about for years to come.  

Words Written

Courage Doesn’t Always Roar…

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Photo by TJ Parker

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at
the end of the day whispering, ‘I will try again tomorrow.”  – 
Mary Anne Radmacher