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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

Conscious Closure (Vanessa Reid)

In this TEDx talk of unusual scope and beauty (Toronto, May 2015) Vanessa Reid, a pioneering social innovator, explores the wildness and creativity in life that are possible only in the embrace of the full cycle of existence — which includes dying. Our organizations, our parents, ourselves — all of us are on a journey that has an end, and the ability to “kiss the joy as it flies” has much to do with our capacity for conscious closure.



(by Carrie Fountain)

The wasps outside
the kitchen window
are making that
thick, unraveling sound
again, floating in
and out of the bald head
of their nest,
seeming not to move
while moving,
and it has just occurred
to me, standing,
washing the coffeepot,
watching them hang
loosely in the air-thin
wings; thick, elongated
abdomens; sad, down-
pointing antennae-
that this
is the heart’s constant
project: this simple
learning; learning
how to hold
and hope together;
to see on the unharmed
surface of one
the great scar
of the other;
to desire everything
and nothing
at once and to desire it
all the time;
and to contain that desire
fleshly, in a body;
to wash it and rest it
and feed it; to learn
its name and from whence
it came; and to speak
to it-oh, most of all
to speak to it-
every day, every day,
saying to one part,
“Well, maybe this is all
you get,” while saying
to the other, “Go on,
break it open, let it go.”

(Shared by the author as part of The Writer’s Almanac for October 20, 2015)

Introduction to Poetry

(by Billy Collins)

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.