“We often think of peace as the absence of war, that if powerful countries would reduce their weapon arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds- our own prejudices, fears and ignorance. Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of bombs are still there, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs. To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women. To prepare for war, to give millions of men and women the opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts, is to plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration, and fear that will be passed on for generations to come. ” Thích Nhất Hạnh , Living Buddha, Living Christ
Thầy is 92 years old now. He returned to Vietnam in November 2018 to live his remaining days after turning down medication for a stroke. Thầy is not the only voice of sanity in an insane world, but he is a strong, gentle and consistently devoted voice. He has many lessons to teach and is an exemplar of the ideals he espouses. Thầy is considered the father of Engaged Buddhism, applying the insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice. Thầy’s poetry is always salve for the weary spirit.
The cosmos is filled with precious gems.
I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.
Each moment you are alive is a gem,
shining through and containing earth and sky,
water and clouds.
It needs you to breathe gently
for the miracles to be displayed.
Suddenly you hear the birds singing,
the pines chanting,
see the flowers blooming,
the blue sky,
the white clouds,
the smile and the marvelous look
of your beloved.
You, the richest person on Earth,
who have been going around begging for a living,
stop being the destitute child.
Come back and claim your heritage.
We should enjoy our happiness
and offer it to everyone.
Cherish this very moment.
Let go of the stream of distress
and embrace life fully in your arms.
Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded. I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, Second Light, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Meta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read byNorthern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”
“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA
“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton
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Grow high. The devil can’t find you. Grow deep. Buddha can’t find you. Build a house and live there. Gourd creepers will climb over it, their flowers dazzling at midnight. Ko Un, What?: 108 Zen Poems, forward by Thich Nhat Hanh
I’ve been trying to lighten things up a bit with the last few prompts and this collection is in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, The Contours of Joy, March 20. I would say today, that these poems make me smile, even when they report sadness or anger or questioning. It’s a wonderful thing – a healing and hope-filled thing – to read these poems. They’re not consistently full of joys, but always full of life, of cognizance. The latter is the hallmark of good poets and old souls.. Living in a world gone mad is serious business. With all the spheres of joy here today, there’s also an awareness of suffering, past, present and to come. Well done by poets: Gary W. Bowers, Paul Brookes, Irma Do, Jen E. Goldie, Sheila Jacob, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Taman Tracy Moncur and Anjum Wasim Dar. Thank you! and special thanks to Irma and Anjum for their illustrations.
Readers will note links to sites are included that you might visit these stellar poets.
Enjoy this collection. It just might inspire some more of your own poetry; and, do join us tomorrow for the another Wednesday Writing Prompt. All are invited to come out to play, beginning, emerging or pro poet.
moon and eye
“Well, I must go–pardon–I cannot stay: My moonbeam comes to carry me away…”
The dying Cyrano in Edmond Rostand’s CYRANO DE BERGERAC, translated by Brian Hooker)
in an act
Al tell thee best dream av ad
in any midneet while folk were fast on
a sees a reet cross tree,
a ghoast in plated gold
ringed by shiny moon fascinator,
jewels like worth summat glow worms
rahnd base, five more ont cross beam.
Throngs o’ God’s angels tacked on it. This were no scam artists cross but every heaven spirit and earth folk had peepers on it: a see universe agog
And me, aware of wrong doing,
that native wood-beetle, eyed it too
felt a shiver of glory
from that cross barkskin beaten gold
wi jewels suited a cross a Jesus
and tha knows through all that gold barkskin
rattled folks bloodless yammering
how bleeding as stained crosses rightside.
Harrard an horrored
a that sullied wi leaked blood.
a lay there yonks
in agog sorrow fort Saviourcross
till me lug oyles heard glimmering cross pipe up:
“Ages since, I fetch back I were hacked
dahn at holt-edge, lugged off, hauled
shoulder heaved, squared top on a hill
adsed to a cross to carry wrong doers.
Then I see Christ, his balls ready fort hoisting. For us there’s no flitting, no shirking on God’s mind to: I might a fell on these folks. Then
God himsen, med himsen naked, to naked balls,
laid on us afore throngs of eyes
when saving on folks flitted in his bonce.
A shuddered at his touch, afeard splintering,
A had hold, I were raised as a cross,
hold heaven king high, afeard cracking. They tapped dark iron in us: scars tha still can see,
A cannot bear ’em stroked. They jeered at both on us. A felt his blood seep from his side
as he sighed himsen upards.
Av seen pain on this hill
saw Christ as on vicious rack
then roilin’ storm clouds, death to sunblaze,
covered o’er that blaze on God: a glowering gloom creation’s sorta: Christ on cross tree.
A see folk come forard, a felt splintered
as if added, but gev ne sen.
I were in their dannies, gore-wet, nail gashed.
They laid him art, a dead-weight atter ordeal,
final knackeredness. Then afore
murderers peepers, those folk med
a stone oyle and set Christ inside it.
Then late int day flitted knackered : left
Christ by himsen.
Long atter soldier’s lottery natter and cold rigor on Christ’s limbs,
us kept our places, drahned wi blood.
Then they sets to
bury us in delved grahned, but disciples, friends fahned us…
put on us barkskin o’ gold an silver.
so nar tha knows, how sorra warped
me flesh, how malice worked with spintering iron. Now it’s time for earth foak and whole marvel on creation to cow eye this sign.
God-son were racked on us, so now ma glimmerin’ haunts heavens, can heal
all who afeard for us. Am honoured
by Christ above all forest trees as God favoured Mary above all women folk.’
Then by mesen, thrilled, me spirit high, let mesen rave that I can seek what a av seen,
saviour-cross: a peace with mesen that yearns a help on earth. Few mates still livin’ nar : most are int manor on heaven, av fetched upards. Now, daily, I listen art
fort cross-tree in my earthly nappin’,
to lead us from this flitting life
into great manor of heaven
where God has set a right feast.
May God-Son and Ghost be mates,
who were nailed to death for folk ages since :
a saviour as gin us life,
that we may put wood int oyle in heaven.
A Yorkshire dialect version of the Anglo Saxon poem The Dream Of The Rood, which appears in Paul’s collection The Headpoke And Firewedding, Alien Buddha Press, 2017
FYI: Paul Brookes, a stalwart participant in The Poet by Day Wednesday Writing Prompt, is running an ongoing series on poets, Wombwell Rainbow Interviews. Connect with Paul if you’d like to be considered for an interview. Visit him, enjoy the interviews, get introduced to some poets who may be new to you, and learn a few things.
Don’t you dare turn those unicorn eyes toward me
And keep your sparkly sparkles to yourself
That field was truly not meant for running or singing or dancing or jumping for joy.
Just stop with the rainbows and the technicolor sunsets
No need for close ups of baby chubby thighs
Or even your thighs sunning on white sand beaches.
Enough of the Sunday mornings watching your lover breathe
And definitely no more spontaneous water fights with the kids
Even those first moments that bring tears of joy are not the moments for me
No, not for me, wondering, how you can enjoy when
…..Children are kept in cages, sold to the highest bidder
…..Women are forced into dangerous back alleys, not owning their bodies
…..Veterans sleep on cardboard boxes, crazy instead of courageous
…..People still being judged by the back of their hand or the hand they’re holding
Unicorns and rainbows, white sand beaches and Sunday mornings
…..If you’re privileged to know Joy, don’t give her my number.
(Photo credit: Mine taken from the St James Social Justice Network póster created by Jeannette L.)
I started several poems about experiences, people, even things that bring me joy but I couldn’t finish them. The poems weren’t bringing me joy! And then I realized that I was actually not in a joyful mood thinking of the state of our current world. I failed to write about joy. I could not embrace the light. I could not forgo the mundane. The frailty of my human condition is on full display this week. Enjoy!
March miracles are afoot, new
beginnings are catching our breath
from every corner, as nature spreads
her wings sprouting new life, there
is a renewed lightness of spirit.
Yet in this month of miracles we
hear of tragedy and the dichotomy
of this duality, reminds us of, our
responsibility. Our mother, earth,
is taking a beating from her children.
Her children are killing each other.
In this month of miracles may we find
a renewed lightness of spirit and hope
that love will universally prevail,
taking joy in the love we create in
this season of rebirth
and new awakenings.
I’m sitting in a blue armchair
in a Ward called Acute Assessment.
A folded blanket covers my legs
and potassium chloride
is dripping into my veins.
I’m waiting in my own rootless place
between fear and the absence
of fear; between pain and the absence
of pain. I close my eyes
and see a narrow gravel path
crawling to the edge of the world.
This will pass, he whispers,
locking his fingers into mine.
This won’t last forever.
He’s going home to fetch my nighties,
toothpaste, toothbrush, towels, soap.
He’ll break the journey
into signposted miles, turn car wheels
towards the warm dark of dusk
and a capella of birdsong.
I think of morning’s hospital window-
an oblong of light
that showed a young tree
catching pin-drops of rain
on early pink blossom.
The rain grew heavier, hurried
through the tree’s torn umbrella
of branches and leaves
and grass shone like polished glass.
I cling to the memory of spring rain
anointing the dry earth.
I breathe the good air around my chair
and drip-stand and purse of healing salt.
I taste the moment and let it melt
on my tongue: this moment
now. The present. The gift.
At a time when the world is in shock and grief, mourning in black and burying in white, this week’s prompt turns the heart and mind towards the profound joy prevalent in nature.Sympathy comfort and support leads to a state of serenity, and acceptance of the harsh realities. Just as the endless sky meets the ocean line, grief slowly drowns deep, and wave after wave touches the shore to confirm eternal love and hope of more coming joy.
As the striking poem moves on the reader finds it replete with vivid imagery from the contours of the berries to the universal curves of celestial creation and can surely visualize the countless constellations beyond the moon and the solar system. The imaginative mind will leave the mundane, perhaps may not rest, but taking joy along will fly high to seek the ultimate bliss. Sharing some lines
O Joy’ I find thee rising from the merging colors of the horizon
In holy silence, encircled by the Kunlun Mountains of mystical Shangri-la
where beauty holds the breath, and poetry fills the spirit with ecstasy.