A Beautiful, Needful Thing

To Frederick Douglass”…

“When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful
and terrible thing, needful to man as air,
usable as earth;
when it belongs at last to all,
when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,
reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more
than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians;
this man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro
beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world
where none is lonely,
none hunted, alien,
this man, superb in love and logic,
this man shall be remembered.
Oh, not with statues’ rhetoric,
not with legends and poems and wreaths of bronze alone,
but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives
fleshing his dream of
the beautiful, needful thing.”

…..poem by ROBERT HAYDEN.

A few of those phrases haunt me, their echo so clear and
clarion in the midst of our scaring headlines. I want to
remember what we hold dear and what we know to be
true, the value of our freedom, our liberty, our beautiful
needful things.

I wonder what we will be valuing when it’s July and
we celebrate our own declaration of independence along-
side that of our country. What will be the values of the
lives grown out of our lives?

While I have the time, I may look at that.

Always with love…..

Waiting Is Done

It’s after two a.m. in the morning, and I opened the book to the
page waiting to be read. How could it be this easy?

The book opened to the poem, WAITING TO GO ON.
Well, I didn’t read the title at first, because along the way,
eight lines were there at my right hand:

“Beneath that window, resting
on paper
in the shadows of my desk,
in the laptop’s subdued
pulsing glow,
half-finished poems
wait at the frontier between
being written and being done.

Beside them
a gleaming violin
sits cradled in its stand,
the music book
to an ancient,
rhythmic, hard to get,

All this continual practice,
this sharpening
and attentive presence,
this daily fetching and gathering
this constant maturing
and getting ready;
all this slowly
being heated through,
brought to a simmer,
being educated, knowledgeable,
learning through experience,
all this work to have
one complete day
lived just as it should be,
and all this constant testing
by the world
to see if we are done,
ready, cooked through,
ripe enough to fall,
to be lifted, bitten right into
and consumed ourselves

and then, for everyone
all the
hours of daily
practice just learning to hit
the note,
the conversational note,
the musical note
just right,
wanting it to live
with all the other notes.

It must be we are waiting
for the perfect moment.
It must be
under all the struggle
we want to go on.

It must be, deep
we are creatures
getting ready
for when we are needed.

It must be that waiting
for the listening ear
or the appreciative word,
for the right
woman or the right man
or the right moment
just to ourselves,

we are getting ready
just to be ready

and nothing else.

Like this moment
just before the guests arrive
alone in the kitchen
sensing a deep
down symmetry
in every blessed thing.

the way
that everything
to us
is preparing to meet us too.

Just on the other
side of the door
is about to
and our life
is just
about to change

and finally
after all these
years rehearsing,
the curtain,

we might
just be
to go on.”
from his book of poems, River Flow.

Wow, we made it through. It was worth it.
And this is only two thirds of the poem. The beginning
third we’ll save for another day.

always with love,

Questions and Answers

Dawn is poised on the horizon, not yet here.
The poet says:

“I am sunlight slicing the dark.
Who made this night?
A forge deep in the earth-mud.”

I read on:

“What is the body?

What is love?

What is hidden in our chests?

What else?

Let the beloved be a hat pulled down firmly on my head.
Or drawstrings pulled and tied around my chest.

Someone asks, How does love have hands and feet?
Love is the sprouting bed for hands and feet.

Your father and mother were playing love games.
They came together, and you appeared!

Don’t ask what love can make or do!
Look at the colors of the world.
The riverwater moving in all rivers at once.
The truth that lives in the beloved’s face.”

…………………………..RUMI, (translation, Coleman Barks.)

I share this today because tomorrow Mercury goes retrograde
and it would be wise to keep these simple thoughts alive in
mind as everything seems to have its own path, not
at all like everyday!

I can let go of mail not arriving on time, of arrangements
going awry, of unexpected sunlight penetrating the clouds.
It’s only for 3 weeks, and then towards the end of August
it’s upon us again, another 3 weeks.
Why should I be surprised?
We do this every year, like any other holiday, only more
often. So, this year, I welcome the confusion, the altered
circumstances, the opportunity to be creative instead of

Just trying it on for size.

always with love, Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

Found Treasure

Notes to myself keep dropping on to my computer desk, so why
am I surprised when just as I’m about to close the screen a note
I’d stuck against the lamp decided to float down?

It’s OK. No weirdness here, just something that is worth passing
on to you, maybe. It’s a note to get me through the many ways
I can criticize myself, lose focus, forget it’s today already.
See if it fits you: ……………………………………………………………….


* I can’t draw on what I want from THERE.

* slow, tired, whatever, DROP THAT THOUGHT
and go on to the next thing. (underlined)

My eyes are learning to accommodate a new capacity,
INNER PERCEPTION …. isn’t this wonderful, it’s getting
better and better…I’M NOT FAILING!

I’m not about words… that’s all THE PAST!

Well, that’s it, word for word, caps and all.
Not perfect, but, oh my, it did hit me how much I need reminding.
I had added a few highlights to make sure I’d miss nothing,
get it all.

I had an email yesterday after my sharing the essay on Leonard
Cohen, and found it curious that I’ve never heard his music.
I’ll have to look that up and one day will share Cohen’s poem.
Leaving Mt. Baldy.

Back to poetry another day.
Always with love,


A Kiss Of Peace

My energy is returning, and mid-very-early morning, I was drawn
to look for a poem. Again. Like coming home.

The poem I found was ‘Leaving Mt. Baldy’ by Leonard Cohen.

Backing up, I had chosen Roger Housden’s book, ‘ten poems to
change your life again and; again’ because I knew the work would be
already half done to understand and truly enjoy the poet’s work.
In Housden’s books a poem is followed by a fantastic essay on
the experience of that particular poem as shared by the poet.

If you like, I will one day share that poem with you, but not today.
Some of the lines of Housden’s commentary is so rich to read:

“…. A poet is deeply conflicted and it is in his work that he
reconciles those deep conflicts. It doesn’t set the world in order,
it doesn’t really change anything. It just is a kind of harbor, it’s
the place of reconciliation, the kiss of peace.”

“…. Cohen is not merely another guy stuck in a traffic jam west-
bound for L.A. He is able to rejoin the messiness of ordinary life
and appreciate its beauty precisely because he has done the
work of seeing the way his mind constructs reality, with all its
notions of good and bad, right and wrong. He’s reenacting the
old Zen ox-herding story, in which the herder, on starting his
journey, sees mountains; then, as he moves along the way, he
sees that there are no mountains or anything else outside of
his own perception; finally, as he returns home, he sees the
mountains again after all.”

“…. We can prepare the ground, but spiritual insight is not an
achievement so much as a grace that we cannot take credit for.
This is one of realizations Cohen is taking with him down the
mountain. In another poem, ‘Pardon Me’, he says,
Pardon me if I receive the Holy Spirit
without telling you about it.’
When we no longer distance ourselves from anything or anyone,
when we give equal value to this messy world and the world of
spirit, we may catch the scent of what Rumi refers to when he
Out beyond ideas
Of wrongdoing and rightdoing
There is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

These weeks of recovery from cataract eye surgery have been
like coming down those mountains. Certainly, my sight is full
and clear and astounding. The same cleansing within has also
happened. As I return to art work, I feel the simplicity and value
of this messy world and know I want to say to you,

‘May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.”
…………………………JOHN O’DONOHUE

A long one today, and lots of quotes to
wander through. Enjoy the weekend.

Always with love, Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette