"A friend asked yesterday if this blog is addressed to anyone in particular? I said yes– it’s a love letter to someone I haven’t met yet."
One day an old Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson. He said:
“There are two wolves fighting inside all of us -
the wolf of Fear and Hate, and the wolf of Love and Peace.”
The grandson listened, then looked up at his grandfather and asked, “Which one will win?”
The grandfather replied:
“The one we feed.”
by Wendy Cope
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange-
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave-
They got quarters and I got a half.
And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.
The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.
Her cigarette in a long amber holder, long fingernails perfectly kept and painted, she lifts her espresso cup and takes a little sip as she watches the world go by. She’s sitting at that outdoor café in her usual spot. I see her there a few days a week when I walk by in the early morning. She’s always well dressed too and obviously cares a great deal about her appearance. The only exception is the eye makeup which she glomps on as if she were a gypsy fortune teller in a small circus. Everything else about her is tasteful or faux elegant (the cigarette holder), but the outre eye makeup is sort of jarring. And it’s the thing that alerted me to who she was when I saw her sitting there the first time. Across the street from the café is a large supermarket and a hundred times I’d said hello to her because she works as a cashier there. On duty she wears a long white coat that looks like something a doctor or lab technician wears. At the checkout counter she’s civil but not overly pleasant. If you get a small smile from her when you say hello it’s a victory. But the thick eye makeup gives her away even there. It tells you she has another life, another image of herself beyond checking how much celery costs today. And that real her, the woman she wants to be, lives across the street at the cafe every day before she comes here to work. I like knowing her just a little in both roles.
She tried on different men and living with them as if they were new shoes. After walking around in them a while, checking them for comfort and what they did for her, she invariably shook her head no for one reason or another, took them off, and then asked to try on another pair she had seen in the window. Always pleasant about it, always hopeful that the next ones would be the right ones, she invariably walked out having bought nothing and leaving behind her a mess
Eamon Reilly was handsome and sloppy. He seemed to know everyone, even waitresses in restaurants. When he walked in the door, they beamed and began seriously flirting the minute he sat down at their table. I saw this happen several times at different places-- restaurants or bars none of us had ever been to before. I asked if he knew these women but he always said no.
Eamon wore his heart on his sleeve and it worked. People cared about him even when he was being impossible, which was pretty often. He drove an old badly neglected Mercedes that was filthy inside and out. Whenever you rode in it, he had to move stuff off the passenger’s seat and throw it in the back. Sometimes you couldn’t believe what was there—a metal dowsing rod, a box of diapers (he was single), a jai alai xistela, or once a very intimately autographed, badly wrinkled photo of a famous movie actress. He wrote everything in block letters so precise that you might have guessed it came from a typewriter. He kept a detailed daily diary but no one ever saw what was in it, although he carried the book around with him everywhere. His love life was a constant disaster and we wondered why no woman ever stayed with him for very long.
from a new story in Neil Gaiman's anthology STORIES
One day, a Tibetan Lama was speaking to a group of monks and, to make a point, pulled out a large jar, set it on the table in front of him, produced a few fist-sized rocks, and placed them, one by one, into the jar. When no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”
Everyone said, “Yes.” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel, dumped some in and shook the jar, the gravel worked between the rocks. Again, he asked: “Is this jar full?” The monks were catching on. “Probably not,” one answered. “Good!” he replied and reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He dumped the sand into the jar until it filled all the crevices. Once more he asked: “Is this jar full?”
“No!” the monks shouted. “Good!” He said and grabbed a pitcher of water and poured until the jar was filled to the brim. Then asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One young monk responded, “The point is, no matter how full your day you can always fit some more things in.”
“No,” the speaker replied. “The point is that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”
Making a Fist
For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern
past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.
“How do you know if you are going to die?”
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
“When you can no longer make a fist.”
Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.
Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
- Naomi Shihab Nye
by Jason Koo
Oh you out there not in love,
I know how it is, when you wake up in the morning and look down
at your body like an émigré looking back
Disgustedly at his homeland; when you peer through the blinds
and the world is nothing but a grey side;
When you feel each day is a dart flung at a target you keep missing
because who, or where, or what is the target?
The soul cannot live like this, the soul needs a cable, a clasp, its talons
are hungry for a peak, there’s too much space
And it’s thinning out like smoke: you step out of the furrow of the future
onto an asphalt present. Worse, there’s
A whiff of sin about you, because not to be in love with a person
should never stop you from being
In love with the world: and the problem is you’ve fallen out of love
with the world. You’ve come to hear
An underlying Goddamit! in everything, and never notice the trees
tossing their heads in the wind like conductors.
No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over the grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.
Love Poem With Toast
by Miller Williams
Some of what we do, we do
to make things happen,
the alarm to wake us up, the coffee to perc,
the car to start.
The rest of what we do, we do
trying to keep something from doing something,
the skin from aging, the hoe from rusting,
the truth from getting out.
With yes and no like the poles of a battery
powering our passage through the days,
we move, as we call it, forward,
wanting to be wanted,
wanting not to lose the rain forest,
wanting the water to boil,
wanting not to have cancer,
wanting to be home by dark,
wanting not to run out of gas,
as each of us wants the other
watching at the end,
as both want not to leave the other alone,
as wanting to love beyond this meat and bone,
we gaze across breakfast and pretend.
Just in from a friend in New York:
Actual conversation at Starbucks at 6th Ave & 14th Street yesterday.
To me -
Barista - "What are ya' having?"
Me - "Tall skim latte"
Barista - "What's your name?"
Me - "Jeff"
Barista - "Tall non fat latte for Jeff"
Barista - "What are ya' having?"
Customer - "Medium mocha frappucino"
Barista - "What's your name?"
Customer - "Umberto"
Barista - "Grande mocha frappucino for Burrito"
Umberto was not amused. I don’t think it was an intentional dis by the gum-smacking “whatever girl” barista, by the way.
Starlings in Winter
by Mary Oliver
Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can't imagine
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.