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love and fear

love and fear are the two directions,
i stand at each infinite end

my straddling feet make the circle complete
a line is a circle
once you know
it can

— spring 2005


groundhog day

do you remember the day i said
i was trying to figure out how to be
a buddhist who is being shot at ¿

i think i’ve found the way

what you do is
you die
if necessary
and as many times as necessary

you do it over and over,
and each time
your face forms
the same compassionate smile

the same sadness
the same forgiveness
over and over
like a character in bill murray’s movie
groundhog day,
doomed and blessed
to live the same
beautiful, endless

one miraculous day
that may never come
(and yet always comes)

it is learned
and this one part of the cycle
no longer needs to return —

and the crazy thing is
that all this time,
through every death-forgiving smile,
each blow and new denial
this is not some sad sacrificing martyrdom,
some hopeless, hopeful
offering of yourself as willing victim

no, you are doing this for you
because you know
that nothing brings more joy, more life, more hope, more peace
when being shot at like this

than finding the alchemy of forgiveness

over and over

until you, too
have finally learned enough
of what this day had to teach you

and are ready

for some
larger pain
to reach you

— april 10, 2006


found art, jackson park, peterborough, ontario, canada · ben wolfe

In a Dark Time

(by Theodore Roethke)

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood —
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks — is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is —
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

What to Remember When Waking

(by David Whyte)

In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?


(by David Whyte)

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.

Until now.

The Door is Round and Open

(Rumi, version by Coleman Barks)

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

prometheus, 2009

(for earth day)

maybe god
left us with an irresponsible babysitter,

all those aeons of loving care
since we were only hydrogen

and then some rube of a teenage sub-god
gave us a glimpse of fire, as a joke
and we were gone

out of the cradle
over the rail,

taking in the fall
from this 21st story balcony

stretching it in time
calling it a lifetime

making believe
we were born to achieve
terminal velocity

— March 26,  2007 / April 2009


 Oversoul, by Alex Grey (detail)

For a New Beginning

(by John O’Donohue)

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.


(by Octavio Paz, a short detail from the poem ‘Sunstone’)

door of being, dawn and wake me,
allow me to see the face of this day,
allow me to see the face of this night,
all communicates, all is transformed,
arch of blood, bridge of the pulse,
take me to the other side of this night,
where I am you, we are us,
the kingdom where pronouns are intertwined

tell me where new days begin

tell me where new days begin ¿
in facing up, in facing in,

in shedding sanctity and sin
like outworn layers of skin

— April 30, 2005


tell me where new days begin
Marc Chagall, America Windows, Art Institute of Chicago, detail (photo: Ben Wolfe)