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new rules (labour day)

sun-flower (black-eyed susan in millennium park, peterborough · ben wolfe

the world is as it is
because we so often followed the rules,
did as we were trained

used ‘best practices’
rather than our love
or higher brains

what if —
at first for just a half an hour a day,
until our long-domesticated hopes
recall the taste of it

we tell each other,
tell our disbelieving selves

that in this one small pregnant slice of time
our highest aspirations
are the rules

our longings are the compass, and the map,
the light that knows
and shows the next small step

they are the seed
that knows it is a tree

and we are free
to do
as we see fit

— September 4, 2017

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


How To Be a Poet

(by Wendell Berry)
(to remind myself)


Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.


Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.


Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.