A story about fish

I hear fireworks.

No really,

I hear fireworks.

I can hear some white noise, but I think there’s something else too –

a heartbeat beside my own,

or is it? There’s not a lot I’m certain of,

other than my longing for certainty. 

When I was younger I had a pond I’d clean out every so often

I’d transport my fish friends to temporary bucket homes

by sticking my bare hands out and feeling around in the cold unknown

It’d happen so fast, you never knew when

there’d be a split second defying space, time and the laws of fish (which at age seven, are really all one knows).

For a second I’d expand beyond the possible,

and my heart would stop with theirs.

There’s not a lot I’m certain of, 

but I knew that was love

and I know you are too. 

Kahlil Gibran on Love

‘When love beckons to you, follow him,
though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

Think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.’

– The Prophet

 

October

Love is:

hearing a song

having it stop

and still hearing the rest

 

It’s three women

watching and smiling

fat lorikeets

eating apples from a tree

 

It’s looking at those trees

through squinted eyes

turned silver white

and seeing them line heaven 

 

It’s being met

at a cliff edge 

by the reassurance of Wind

and a warm womb of green

 

It’s a reflex of thought

that seeks the pulse

of a treasured stranger

in the far nearby

 

It’s having a fire 

that burns a path

towards a place

that seems already familiar.

E.E Cummings on Poets

Michigan 1953

‘A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words.

This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel — but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling — not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time — and whenever we do it, we’re not poets.

If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world — unless you’re not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.

Does that sound dismal? It isn’t.

It’s the most wonderful life on earth.

Or so I feel.’

– A Poet’s Advice

One Summer

Two children sat at the edge of a jetty, on a lake.

It was that time of day where the earth cools down and stills.

They sat, swinging their legs contentedly as they gulped down ice cream.

Red and gold flooded the sky, meeting with a perfect mirror below.

“You’re sad you know?” The girl said, after a while. “I can feel it.”

“How do you mean?” He looked at her apprehensively, curiously.

“It’s in all those made-up stories you write.” He remained quiet. “I mean, you even turned love into a sad thing.”

 

 

(And this magical oil/metal leaf work is by Steven Daluz)

Rilke on Solitude

16 July 1903

‘But everything which will one day perhaps be possible for many, the solitary individual can prepare for and build now with his hands which are more unerring. For this reason… love your solitude and bear the pain it causes you with melody wrought with lament.

For the people who are close to you, you tell me, are far away, and that shows the space around you is wide indeed and already among the stars; take pleasure in your growth, in which no one can accompany you, and be kind-hearted toward those you leave behind, and be assured and gentle with them and do not plague them with your doubts or frighten them with your confidence or your joyfulness, which they cannot understand.

Look for some kind of simple and loyal way of being together with them which does not necessarily have to alter however much you may change; love in them a form of life different from your own…

Ask no advice of them and reckon with no understanding; but believe in a love which is stored up for you like an inheritance, and trust that in this love there is a strength and a benediction out of whose sphere you do not need to issue even if your journey is a long one.’

 

23 December 1903

‘To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours – that is what you must be able to attain. To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grownups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy and because you didn’t understand a thing about what they were doing.

And when you realise that their activities are shabby, that their vocations are petrified and no longer connected with life, why not then continue to look upon it all as a child would, as if you were looking at something unfamiliar, out of the depths of your own world, from the vastness of your own solitude, which is itself work and achievement and vocation?

Why should you want to give up a child’s wise not-understanding in exchange for defensiveness and scorn, since not understanding is, after all, a way of being alone, whereas defensiveness and scorn are a participation in precisely what, by these means, you want to separate yourself from.’

– Letters to a Young Poet

August

I was walking, when I felt something behind me,

or prickling within me,

it doesn’t really matter how it’s dressed up.

 

But a contradiction lies here.

We must address our shortcomings,

our tensions,

and broken hearts –

to be better,

somewhere

where worse doesn’t exist.

 

You’ll start so sure in your elevator pitch,

before realising the images are transparent.

 

Oddly though,  they’re no less important

– I think that’s worth trying, to never forget.

 

So having said that,

I’ll leave you with this.

 

The love in:

a candle’s soft glow,

a blanket of silence,

and hugging one’s knees,

 

Our tears for no one,

and then, a surrender.

to Yourself. and Them, and This,

to God,

or Love,

 

and then –

there’s nothing else.

A letter from John Steinbeck to his son

New York
November 10, 1958

‘Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Love,

Fa’

Light

‘I will try to live in this happiness without fear. It will be hard. I find that I am more afraid of this joy than I have ever been of misery.

Misery I have learnt how to manage; joy breaks my feet up, takes away my old words and forms.

What will be left of me when this light has peeled away all my skins ?

What words will this light leave me?

And yet even as I think and write those questions , they seem irrelevant.

I have no choice but to be alive in this landscape and this light.’

– Andrew Harvey