Category Archives: Poetry

Grainy Taste – Rumi

On the wings of a Falcon.

Image by elvis_payne via Flickr

Without a net, I catch a falcon and release it to the sky, hunting God. This wine I drink today was never held in a clay jar. I love this world, even as I hear the great wind of leaving it rising, for there is a grainy taste I prefer to every idea of heaven: human friendship.
from Rumi The Glance, Translated by Coleman Barks

If this world was as good as it gets — no heaven or blessed afterlife — what would you change?

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Fear

There is no fear, until we make it up.

Image via Wikipedia

I sing in my soul of a better way,
A way free from anger and fear.

“Let go…Let Go…”
A voice in my head cries.
“No,” I answer, “I’m afraid.”
Lightning crashes.  The rains begin.

“Let go…Let go….”
A great river overflows its banks,
What will be destroyed in the flood?
The receding waters bring life and renewal.

I sing in my soul of the welcome storm,
And the water that washes all away.

“Let go….Let go…”
“No,” I answer, “I’m afraid.”
I cling to the safety of what I know.
Below me, the great chasm opens.

“Let go…Let go…”
A young bird clings to a branch.
He, too, is afraid of falling.
Falling, he learns to fly.

I sing in my soul of the freedom of flight,
And dreams carried on the wind.

“Let go…Let go…”
“Yes,” I answer. “Yes.”

I sing in my soul of the lighting and the flood,
Of the fear and of the fall,
Of endings and beginnings.

“Let go…Let go…”
Nothing here remains.

— Erin {Kestrel} (2002)

What’s Not Here – Rumi

Litière de tremble

Image via Wikipedia

I start out on this road, call it
love or emptiness. I only know what’s

not here: resentment seeds, back-
scratching greed, worrying about out-

come, fear of people. When a bird gets
free, it doesn’t go back for remnants

left on the bottom of the cage! Close
by, I’m rain. Far off, a cloud of fire.

I seem restless, but I am deeply at ease.
Branches tremble; the roots are still.

I am a universe in a handful of dirt,
whole when totally demolished. Talk

about choices does not apply to me.
While intelligence considers options,

I am somewhere lost in the wind.

– Excerpt from Rumi THE GLANCE Songs of Soul Meeting translated by Coleman Barks

Some restrictions may apply

This poem was contributed to Prairie Pagan by Jim Tait.

What’s done is done. I cannot mend
nor change the past. I comprehend-
though from my biochemistry
my mind can have no liberty
so on these thoughts I can’t depend.

And further, I can not defend
my actions from all consequend.
Despite these limits, can it be
I have free will?

There’s laws of physics I can’t bend.
But disbelief I will suspend
for, though I see the irony,
responsible morality
leads me to choose I will pretend
I have free will.

– Jim Tait (2011)

We Two, How Long We Were Fool’d – Walt Whitman

Grass at Sunset ~ oscote365 77

Image by dj @ oxherder arts via Flickr

We two, how long we were fool’d,
Now transmuted, we swiftly escape as Nature escapes,
We are Nature, long have we been absent, but now we return,
We become plants, trunks, foliage, roots, bark,
We are bedded in the ground, we are rocks,
We are oaks, we grow in the openings side by side,
We browse, we are two among the wild herds spontaneous as any,
We are two fishes swimming in the sea together,
We are what locust blossoms are, we drop scent around lanes mornings and evenings,
We are also the coarse smut of beasts, vegetables, minerals,
We are two predatory hawks, we soar above and look down,
We are two resplendent suns, we it is who balance ourselves orbic and stellar, we are as two comets,
We prowl fang’d and four-footed in the woods, we spring on prey,
We are two clouds forenoons and afternoons driving overhead,
We are seas mingling, we are two of those cheerful waves rolling over each other and interwetting each other,
We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive, pervious, impervious,
We are snow, rain, cold, darkness, we are each product and influence of the globe,
We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again, we two,
We have voided all but freedom and all but our own joy.

Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)

Pan Narrans

Vitruvian Man, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Image via Wikipedia

Jim Tait contributed this poem to Prairie Pagan.

Pan Narrans

‘Tis clever, using what we have at hand
to get ourselves what we and ours desire.
‘Tis wisdom, taking time to understand
our lusts and dreams and what these both require.

Our spirits tell us we are life inspired-
set up above the crawling beasts, we claim.
No heights for us to climb or to aspire.
“Wise human” is already in our name.

Our factions show us to be apes untamed.
Our stories tell us of our human race.
We run together, scattered, to our aim,
and live our stories out in time and space.

We clever apes may say that we are wise,
then use this tale to help achieve our lies.

— Jim Tait (2011)

A blessing in disguise – John Ashbery

Yes, they are alive and can have those colors,
But I, in my soul, am alive too.
I feel I must sing and dance, to tell
Of this in a way, that knowing you may be drawn to me.

And I sing amid despair and isolation
Of the chance to know you, to sing of me
Which are you. You see,
You hold me up to the light in a way

I should never have expected, or suspected, perhaps
Because you always tell me I am you,
And right. The great spruces loom.
I am yours to die with, to desire.

I cannot ever think of me, I desire you
For a room in which the chairs ever
Have their backs turned to the light
Inflicted on the stone and paths, the real trees

That seem to shine at me through a lattice toward you.
If the wild light of this January day is true
I pledge me to be truthful unto you
Whom I cannot ever stop remembering.

Remembering to forgive. Remember to pass beyond you into the day
On the wings of the secret you will never know.
Taking me from myself, in the path
Which the pastel girth of the day has assigned to me.

I prefer “you” in the plural, I want “you”
You must come to me, all golden and pale
Like the dew and the air.
And then I start getting this feeling of exaltation.

John Ashbery

Silence sounds not

Heart

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Silence sounds not
Silence speaks not
Yet silence speaks a thousand words.

Souls speak silence
Hearts speak silence
But silent sounds are oft not heard.

Your heart knows the answers.
Listen to the silence.
Silence sings the song unheard.

– Kestrel (1995)

How do you grow a prairie town? – Robert Kroetsch

attack of the ground squirels

Image by chrisad1973 via Flickr

How do you grow a prairie town?

The gopher was the model.
Stand up straight:
telephone poles
grain elevators
church steeples.
Vanish suddenly: the
gopher was the model.

Robert Kroetsch, Seed Catalogue (1977)

What do you dream about?

Green leaf-blue butterfly

Image via Wikipedia

I am the Blue Butterfly.
Dream about me.

Let me into your mind.
Don’t be afraid.

We are all only human.
Who are you?

What do you dream about?
What would you change if you could turn back time?

My eyes are my wings
Drowning in wings
as blue as the sea
as brown as the earth
as green as the land

I am the Blue Butterfly,
dream about me.

– Kestrel (1995)