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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.

how to get there

it has to do with calculus,
with breaking free
of the need to see
that one last step, the one that is
infinitely small,
as needing to be measured and divided
in its turn

it is zeno’s paradox,
we have puzzled it
for 2500 years,
circling the point,
at times infinitely close,

reaching for reunion with the whole,
yet always
steps beyond counting away,
as far as we began,

kept at bay
by this mind-made trick
that makes us stop to carve
one last small digital divide


and the welcome
on the other side

— December 17, 2005


dome interior, samarkand, uzbekistan


(by W.S. Merwin)

First forget what time it is
for an hour
do it regularly every day

then forget what day of the week it is
do this regularly for a week
then forget what country you are in
and practice doing it in company
for a week
then do them together
for a week
with as few breaks as possible

follow these by forgetting how to add
or to subtract
it makes no difference
you can change them around
after a week
both will help you later
to forget how to count

forget how to count
starting with your own age
starting with how to count backward
starting with even numbers
starting with Roman numerals
starting with fractions of Roman numerals
starting with the old calendar
going on to the old alphabet
going on to the alphabet
until everything is continuous again

go on to forgetting elements
starting with water
proceeding to earth
rising in fire

forget fire

The Little Space Within the Heart

(from the Upanishads)

The little space within the heart
is as great as the vast universe.
The heavens and the earth are there,
and the sun and the moon and the stars.
Fire and lightening and winds are there,
and all that now is and all that is not.

i thank You God for most this amazing

(by e e cummings)

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

I Died for Beauty

(by Emily Dickinson)

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth — the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a-night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.


(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

The Circle Around the Zero

(Rumi, version by Coleman Barks)

A lover doesn’t figure the odds.
He figures he came clean from God as a gift without a reason,
and so he gives without cause or calculation or limit.

A conventionally religious person behaves a certain way to achieve salvation.
A lover gambles everything — the self, the circle around the zero.
He or she cuts and throws it all away.
This is beyond any religion.

Lovers do not require from God any proof or any text.
Nor do they knock on the door to make sure this is the right street.
They run and they run.

Earth Dweller

(by William Stafford)

It was all the clods at once become
precious; it was the barn, and the shed,
and the windmill, my hands, the crack
Arlie made in the axehandle: oh, let me stay here
humbly, forgotten, to rejoice in it all;
let the sun casually rise and set.
If I have not found the right place,
teach me, for somewhere inside, the clods are
vaulted mansions, lines through the barn sing
for the saints forever, the shed and the windmill
read so glorious the sun shudders like a gong.

Now I know why people worship, carry around
magic emblems, wake up talking dreams
they teach to their children: the world speaks.
The world speaks everything to us.
It is our only friend.