Monday, August 29, 2011

Migrations: Poetry & Prose for Life's Transitions

Migrations: Poetry & Prose for Life's Transitions is nearly ready for print. I am honored to say I am published in this book. The book is edited by Duluth's Poet Laureate Shelia Packa. The cover and book design is by Kathy McTavish.

The book will be out in September and there will be a reading on Sunday, October 2nd at Teatro Zuccone at 3pm.

For more information, visit the following website:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Excerpt From: Facing the Lion, Being the Lion

By: Mark Nepo

The cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien has discovered that every indigenous culture on earth shares a common description of the cycle of experience. Though stated and honored in many ways, that central wisdom essentially says: what is not integrated is repeated. Just what does this mean? It doesn’t mean that any of us are exempt from pain or chancing into the territory of injustice. It doesn’t mean that we will not see things break down or fall apart. What it does mean is that whether pain and suffering will have a proper place in our lives or whether we will be trapped in the canyon of pain and suffering depends on our efforts to integrate our experience into a wholeness that then releases its wisdom.

It is a law of the journey: what is not integrated is repeated. What we won’t face or express moves into our hands as a compulsion to speak itself through our actions: my pain at being rejected by one friend being played out unconsciously on another; a sad and empty teacher painting a sad and empty world for his students; or a doctor pushed and abused in medical school pushing and abusing his patients years later. You can fill in the unconscious equation any way you like. Inevitably, what we won’t face or express moves through our hands into the world. (pp 18,19)

The Jewish thinker Leon Wieseltier puts it starkly:

There are circumstances that must shatter you; and if you are not shattered, then you have not understood your circumstances. In such circumstances it is a failure for your heart not to break. And it is pointless to put up a fight for a fight will blind you to the opportunity that has been presented by your misfortune. Do you wish to persevere pridefully in the old life? Of course you do: the old life was a good life. But it is no longer available to you. It has been carried away, irreversibly. So there is only one thing to be done. Transformation must be met with transformation. Where there was the old life, let there be the new life. Do not persevere [against the shattering]. Dignify the shock. Sink, so as to rise. (p.153)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

(Poem #841) Emptiness

By: Rumi

Consider the difference
in our actions and God's actions.

We often ask, "Why did you do that?"
or "Why did I act like that?"

We do act, and yet everything we do
is God's creative action.

We look back and analyze the events
of our lives, but there is another way
of seeing, a backward-and-forward-at-once
vision, that is not rationally understandable.

Only God can understand it.
Satan made the excuse, "You caused me to fall,
whereas Adam said to God, "We did this
to ourselves." After this repentance,
God asked Adam, "Since all is within
my foreknowledge, why didn't you
defend yourself with that reason?"

Adam answered, "I was afraid,
and I wanted to be reverent."

Whoever acts with respect will get respect.
Whoever brings sweetness will be served almond cake.
Good women are drawn to be with good men.

Honour your friend.
Or treat him rudely,
and see what happens!

Love, tell an incident now
that will clarify this mystery
of how we act feely, and are yet
compelled. One hand shakes with palsy.
Another shakes because because you slapped it away.

Both tremblings come from God,
but you feel guilty for the one,
and what about the other?

These are intellectual questions.
The spirit approaches the matter
differently. Omar once had a friend, a scientist,
Bu'l-Hakam, who was flawless at solving
empirical problems, but he could not follow Omar
into the area of illumination and wonder.

Now I return to the text, "And He is with you,
wherever you are," but when have I ever left it!

Ignorance is God's prison
Knowing is God's palace.

We sleep in God's unconsciousness.
We wake in God's open hand.

We weep God's rain.
We laugh God's lightning.

Fighting and peacefulness
both take place within God.

Who are we then
in this complicated world-tangle,
that is really just the single, straight
line down at the beginning of GOD?

We are


When you are with everyone but me,
you're with no one.
When you are with no one but me,
you're with everyone.

Instead of being so bound up with everyone,
be everyone.
When you become that many, you're nothing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Cultivate a White Rose

By José Martí

I cultivate a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his hand honestly.

And for the cruel person who tears out
the heart with which I live,
I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns:
I cultivate a white rose.