Monday, January 30, 2012


Robert Frost famously wrote that "happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length."  The same might also be said for poetry.  In my view, some of the shortest poems have the deepest meanings.

Set forth below are a few of the small poems that are included in the poetry anthologies I've been reading this winter.  If you have a favorite small poem and would like to include it in your comments, please feel free to do so.

                                            THE RED WHEELBARROW
                                                 William Carlos Williams

                                                      so much depends

                                                      a red wheel 

                                                      glazed with rain

                                                      beside the white

                                                 THE SECRET SITS
                                                        Robert Frost
                                   We dance round in a ring and suppose,
                                   But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

                                                        Dorothy Parker

                                     Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
                                     A medley of extemporanea;
                                     And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
                                     And I am Marie of Roumania.

                                      TODAY, LIKE EVERY OTHER DAY

                                  Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
                                  and frightened.  Don't open the door to the study
                                  and begin reading.  Take down a musical instrument.

                                  Let the beauty we love be what we do.
                                  There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

                                                LOVING THE RITUALS
                                               Palladus (4th Century A.D.)

                                      Loving the rituals that keep men close,
                                      Nature created means for friends apart;

                                      pen, paper, ink, the alphabet,
                                      signs for the distant and disconsolate heart.

                                                           Denise Levertov

                                                   Sometimes the mountain
                                                   is hidden from me in veils
                                                   of cloud, sometimes
                                                   I am hidden from the mountain
                                                   in veils of inattention, apathy, fatigue,
                                                   when I forget or refuse to go
                                                   down to the shore or a few yards
                                                   up the road, on a clear day,
                                                   to reconfirm
                                                   that witnessing presence.

                                                           AUTO MIRROR
                                                           Adam Zagajewski
                                    (translation by Czelaw Milosz and Robert Hass)

                                               In the rear-view mirror suddenly
                                               I saw the bulk of the Beauvais Cathedral; 
                                               great things dwell in small ones
                                               for a moment.

                                                        A LONG LIFETIME
                                                           Kenneth Rexroth

                                                        A long lifetime
                                                        Peoples and places
                                                        And the crisis of mankind—
                                                        What survives is the crystal—
                                                        Infinitely small—
                                                        Infinitely large—

                                                        MY FIFTIETH YEAR
                                                         William Butler Yeats

                                               My fiftieth year had come and gone,
                                               I sat, a solitary man,
                                               In a crowded London shop,
                                               An open book and empty cup
                                               On a marble table-top.

                                               While on the shop and the street I gazed
                                               My body of a sudden blazed;
                                               And twenty minutes more or less
                                               It seemed, so great my happiness,
                                               That I was blessed and could bless.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Chuang Tzu

Thomas Merton

As we can see from their apparel, both of these men were spiritual contemplatives. The first, Chuang Tzu, lived in China more than two thousand years ago and is considered to be the greatest Taoist writer whose existence can be verified (the existence of Lao Tzu, the presumed author of the Tao Te Ching, has not been verified).  The second, Thomas Merton, was a 20th century Trappist monk who wrote extensively on matters of spirituality, comparative religion, and social justice.

In the later years of his life, Merton became increasingly ecumenical in his spiritual philosophy.  During this period, he studied Chuang Tzu extensively, and he eventually published a book of poems—The Way of Chuang Tzu—which he regarded as interpretive readings of the classic works the Taoist master. Anticipating criticism from those Christians who are more exclusive than inclusive in their world view, Merton introduced the book by declaring:
If St. Augustine could read Plotinus, if St. Thomas could read Aristotle and Averroes (both of them certainly a long way further from Christianity than Chuang Tzu ever was!), and if Teilhard de Chardin could make copious use of Marx and Engels in his synthesis, I think I may be pardoned for consorting with a Chinese recluse who shares the climate and peace of my own kind of solitude, and who is my own kind of person.
Elsewhere in the introduction, Merton shows us why he related so much to Chuang Tzu:
[T]he whole teaching, the 'way' contained in these anecdotes, poems, and meditations, is characteristic of a certain mentality found everywhere in the world, a certain taste for simplicity, for humility, self-effacement, silence, and in general a refusal to take seriously the aggressivity, the ambition, the push, and the self-importance which one must display in order to get along in society.  This other is a 'way' that prefers not to get anywhere in the world, or even in the field of some supposed spiritual attainment.

One of Merton's interpretive poems—titled The Man of the Tao—is set forth below. I've chosen this poem because it seems to incorporate two spiritual themes that are woven deeply into both eastern and western spiritual traditions.  The first theme, which is embodied in the title of this post, is that the conditioned, egotistical self is a false self that must ultimately be put aside if we are to become—and fully experience—our authentic selves.  The second theme, which to some extent is premised on the first, is that we must be wary of spiritual hubris.  According to Merton's interpretation of Chuang Tzu, the truly spiritual person "does not take pride in himself [or herself] on walking alone."  Nor does he or she judge those who "follow the crowd."


                                               The man in whom Tao
                                               Acts without impediment
                                               Harms no other being
                                               By his actions
                                               Yet he does not know himself
                                               To be "kind," to be "gentle."

                                               The man in whom Tao
                                               Acts without impediment
                                               Does not bother with his own interests
                                               And does not despise
                                               Others who do.
                                               He does not struggle to make money
                                               And does not make a virtue of poverty.
                                               He goes his way
                                               Without relying on others
                                               And does not pride himself
                                               On walking alone.
                                               While he does not follow the crowd
                                               He won't complain of those who do.
                                               Rank and reward
                                               Make no appeal to him;
                                               Disgrace and shame 
                                               Do not deter him.
                                               He is not always looking
                                               For right and wrong
                                               Always deciding "Yes" or "no."
                                               The ancients said, therefore:

                                               "The man of Tao
                                               Remains unknown
                                               Perfect Virtue
                                               Produces nothing
                                               Is 'True-Self.'
                                               And the greatest man
                                               Is Nobody."

Merton worked tirelessly to bridge the spiritual traditions that often separate peoples and cultures.  He died as a committed Christian monk, but he is remembered as someone whose ideals transcended his own personal identity.  Speaking at Merton's funeral, the Dalai Lama said, "I always consider myself as one of his Buddhist brothers."  In a similar vein, the great Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has said that Merton was "an artist, a Zen."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Black-Crowned Night Heron

I love nature partly because  she is not man, but a retreat from him.  None of his institutions control or pervade her.  There a different kind of right prevails.  In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness.  If this world was all man I could not stretch myself—I should lose all hope.  He is constraint; she is freedom to me.  He makes me wish for another world; she makes me content with this.
Thoreau's Journal (January 3, 1853)

Great White Egret
There can be no very black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of Nature and has his senses still.
Thoreau, Walden

Great Blue Heron
We must go out and re-ally ourselves to Nature every day.  We must take root, send out some little fibre at least, even every winter day.  I am sensible that I am imbibing health when I open my mouth to the wind.
Thoreau, Journal (December 29, 1856) 

White Ibis
How important is a constant intercourse with nature and the contemplation of natural phenomenon to the preservation of moral & and intellectual health.
Thoreau's Journal (May 6, 1851)

Black-Crowned Night Heron (Immature)
We need the tonic of wildness—to wade sometimes in marshes where bittern and meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and mink crawls with its belly close to the ground.

Thoreau, Walden

Brown Pelican
For my part, I feel, that with regard to Nature, I live a sort of border life, on the confines of the world, into which I make occasional and transient forays only, and my patriotism and allegiance to the state into whose territories I seem to retreat are those of a moss-trooper.  Unto a life which I call natural I would gladly follow even a will o' the wisp through the bogs and sloughs unimaginable.
Thoreau, "Walking" in Excursions 

Snowy Egret

I have a room all to myself; it is Nature.

Thoreau's Journal (January 3, 1853)

Black-Crowned Night Heron

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening.  It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow I have clutched.
Thoreau, Walden

Friday, January 20, 2012


A Pair of Lovers, by Van Gogh

Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.
Eric Fromm

This posting has its genesis in a fine poem—To Have Without Holding—by poet and novelist Marge Piercy.  Since reading the poem a few days ago, I have continued to be haunted by the first line: "Learning to love differently is hard."

From my perspective, this poem touches upon something profound, specifically, the way that life experiences shape our evolving approaches to love.  One of the charming conceits of youth is the romantic ideal that each of us will eventually meet someone and "fall" effortlessly into a state of perennial bliss—a sort of nirvana in which the relationship is protected from the vicissitudes of life.  Romantic ideals, however, always have a way of colliding with reality, and when that occurs, we usually have only two choices.  We can either become disappointed and cynical, or we can begin to reevaluate and reshape our romantic ideals.  We can, as Piercy suggests in the first line of her poem, learn to "love differently."  We can even learn to "love with the doors banging on their hinges, the cupboard unlocked, the wind roaring and whimpering in the rooms . . ."  And if we do, if we are willing to give up the clutch-hold on our youthful romantic ideals, we may come to find the very thing we have been looking for all along, a deep love that is rich and enduring, one that is more than adequate to withstand the conflicts, disappointments, and frustrations that await every journey. 

Enough of what I think.  What do you think?  Perhaps you will find something in Piercy's poem that resonates with your own life.

by Marge Piercy

                                      Learning to love differently is hard, 
                                      love with the hands wide open, love
                                      with the doors banging on their hinges,
                                      the cupboard unlocked, the wind
                                      roaring and whimpering in the rooms
                                      rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
                                      that thwack like rubber bands
                                      in an open palm.

                                      It hurts to love wide open
                                      stretching the muscles that feel
                                      as if they are made of wet plaster,
                                      then of blunt knives, then
                                      of sharp knives.

                                      It hurts to thwart the reflexes
                                      of grab, of clutch; to love and let
                                      go again and again.  It pesters to remember
                                      the lover who is not in the bed,
                                      to hold back what is owed to the work
                                      that gutters like a candle in a cave
                                      without air, to love consciously,
                                      conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

                                      I can't do it, you say it's killing
                                      me, but you thrive, you glow
                                      on the street like a neon raspberry,
                                      you float and sail, a helium balloon
                                      bright bachelor's button blue and bobbing
                                      on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
                                      as we make and unmake in passionate
                                      diastole and systole the rhythm
                                      of our unbound bonding, to have
                                      and not to hold, to love
                                      with minimized malice, hunger
                                      and anger moment by moment balanced.

Lest there be any doubt, I do not stand pure in this arena.  Quixotically, I have broken many lances in the windmills of youthful romantic ideals.  With every passing year, however, I have tried to reshape those ideals to account for the unpredictability of human life—my life and the lives of others—and while much work remains to be done, I feel, perhaps for the first time in many decades, that I am learning "to love and let go again and again."  I am learning to love differently.

Monday, January 16, 2012


It is difficult to get the news from poems,
yet men die miserably every day for the lack of what is found there.

William Carlos Williams

One of the great joys of blogging is the opportunity to interact with other people who love poetry, many of whom are poets themselves.  It's a social pleasure that I rarely encounter in my day-to-day life offline.  Perhaps it's an unjustifiable cultural bias of mine, but most of my fellow Americans seem to head for the exits at the mere mention of poetry.

Thanks to an extraordinary teacher I had in high school, poetry has been a constant companion of mine for more than five decades.  When I have felt friendless and alone, poetry has offered its friendship and reminded me that I am not the first to undertake this uncertain voyage; nor shall I be the last.  When I have felt bewildered and lost, poetry has provided a bright lodestar against which I could take my bearings and find my way.  And when I have found myself stymied over the inability to understand the true essence of love—this pervasive ideal that seems impossible to define with any precision—poetry has always revealed something so beautiful, so simple and unexpected, that I could say at last, "yes, this is what love feels like." 

I'm digressing a bit here, for the main point of this post is to share some wonderful observations I have come across recently about the unique importance of poetry in our lives.  The first quote comes from  V.V. Raman, who is a theoretical physicist, rather than a poet himself.  All of the other quotes are from former poets laureate of the United States, and are found in The Poets Laureate Anthology (2010).

V.V. Raman
(From Interview with Krista Tippett in Einstein's God)
[P]oetry is what gives meaning to existence.  Not fact and figures and charts, but poetry. Poetry is essentially a really sophisticated way of experiencing the world.  And it is much more than mere words and stories.  Poetry is to the human condition what the telescope and the microscope are to the scientist.

W.S. Merwin
Prose is about something, but poetry is about what can't be said.  Why do people turn to poetry when all of a sudden the Twin Towers get hit, or when their marriage breaks up, or when the person they love most in the world drops dead in the same room?  Because they can't say it.  They can't say it at all, and they want something that addresses what can't be said.

Kay Ryan

It's poetry's uselessness that excites me . . . Prose is practical language. Conversation is practical language.  Let them handle the usefulness jobs. But of course, poetry has its balms.  It makes us feel less lonely by one.  It makes us have more room inside ourselves.

Billy Collins

Time is not just money—sorry, Ben Franklin—time is a way of telling us if we are moving at the right pace through the life that has been given us. One of the most basic pleasures of poetry is the way it slows us down. The intentionality of its language gives us pause.  Its formal arrangement checks our haste.

Stanley Kunitz
If we want to know what it felt like to be alive at any given moment in the long odyssey of the race, it is to poetry we must turn.  The moment is dear to us, precisely because it is so fugitive, and it is somewhat of a paradox that poets should spend a lifetime hunting for the magic that will make the moment stay.  Art is the chalice into which we pour the wine of transcendence.  What is imagination but a reflection of our yearning to belong to eternity as well as to time.

Robert Fitzgerald 
Our lifetimes have seen the opening of abysses before which the mind quails.  But it seems to me there are few things everyone can humbly try to hold onto: love and mercy (and humor) in everyday living; the quest for exact truth in language and affairs of the intellect; self-recollection or prayer; and the peace, the composed energy of art.
Photos:  Photo of V.V. Raman downloaded from Wikipedia.  All other photos were downloaded from the website of the Poet Laureates of the United States.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


We wake, if ever at all, to mystery.
Annie Dillard

Driven by a desire to be completely liberated from the cultural provincialism of the American south, where I was born and spent my early years, I have dedicated much of my life to the pursuit of knowledge.  Seldom, if ever, have I questioned the metaphorical truth of Shakespeare's observation in Henry VI that "ignorance is the curse of God, knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven . . . "

Now, however, as I approach the end of my seventh decade, I'm less inclined to see ignorance and knowledge as some kind of binary choice.  Ignorance and knowledge can only be intelligently discussed in relative terms, and they usually walk hand in hand throughout our lives.  Regardless of one's level of education, what one knows is always dwarfed by what one does not know.  Our most profound questions always seem hydra-headed; slay one and two more will arise in its place.  Perhaps Plato's observation still holds true: "The learning and knowledge that we have, is, at the most, but little compared with that of which we are ignorant."

And consider this:  In his recent book—The 4% Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality—science historian and writer Richard Panek states that only four percent of the universe consists of matter that makes up you, me, the earth, the stars, the planets, and the galaxies, everything within the ambit of our current knowledge.  The remaining ninety-six percent, referred to by cosmologists as dark matter and dark energy, is unknown.  What's even more stunning, many of the world's most prominent scientists believe that it will continue to remain unknown.

In short—with all of our scientific advancements, with all of our technological discoveries, with all of our penetrations into the worlds of quantum physics—we know only a small fraction of the universe in which we spin our lives.  What we know is wrapped in the larger mystery of what we do not know and may never know.

Set forth below are some interesting observations on the the subject of learning and knowledge on the one hand, versus mystery and wonder on the other.  I have punctuated these quotes with abstract photos in which I have attempted to capture at least a hint of some of the mystery of which I speak.  With the exception of the header photo, all of these images were created by panning my camera at slow shutter speeds across man-made lights against dark backgrounds.  Limited light against a background of infinite darkness seems to be an appropriate metaphor for our place in this mysterious universe.

The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery.  There is always more mystery.
Anais Nin

Until we accept the fact that life itself is founded in mystery, we shall learn nothing.
Henry Miller

A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.
Charles Dickens

A day spent without the sight or sound of beauty, the contemplation of mystery, or the search of truth or perfection, is a poverty-stricken day; and a succession of such days if fatal to human life.
Lewis Mumford

Mystery is a resource, like coal or gold, and its preservation if a fine thing.
Tom Cahill

I do not at all understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.
Anne Lamott 

Any genuine philosophy leads to action and from action back again to wonder, to the enduring fact of mystery.
Henry Miller

The approach of a man's life out of the past is history, and the approach of time out of the future is mystery.  Their meeting is the present, and it is consciousness, the only time life is alive.  The endless wonder of this meeting is what causes the mind, in its inward liberty of a frozen morning, to turn back and question and remember.  The world is full of places. Why is it that I am here?
Wendell Berry

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious.  It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.  He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead.
Albert Einstein 

God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.
Dag Hammarskjold 

The final mystery is oneself.
Oscar Wilde

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Amor Fati—"Love Your Fate," which is in fact your life.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me.  At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called 'the love of your fate.' Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, 'This is what I need.'  It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge.  If you bring love to that moment—not discouragement—you will find the strength is there.  Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege!  This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have chance to flow.
Then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now.  You'll see that this is really true.  Nothing can happen to you that is not positive.  Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not.  The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes. 
Joseph Campbell

In every life, some things can and should be changed, while other things cannot or should not be changed.  It's also true that, with every passing year, the second category grows larger, while the first grows smaller.  Increasingly, therefore, we must choose the way we respond to things that cannot or should not be changed—things that may be classified as our "fate."  Typically, we resist our fate, all to no good end, but Nietzsche and Campbell remind us that we always have a better alternative.  We can not only accept our fate, but actually come to love it—to embrace it without judgment, to regard it as foundational to the unfolding of our unique lives.  We can become "yes-sayers," as Nietzsche said, people who say yes to everything in life that cannot be changed for the better.  It's a great approach, I think, to what scientist and writer Jon Kabat-Zinn has called "full catastrophe living."

Ellen Bass

                                         To love life, to love it even
                                         when you have no stomach for it
                                         and everything you've held dear
                                         crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
                                         your throat filled with the silt of it.
                                         When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
                                         thickening the air, heavy as water
                                         more fit for gills than lungs:
                                         when grief weights you like your own flesh
                                         only more of it, an obesity of grief, 
                                         you think, How can a body withstand this?
                                         Then you hold life like a face, 
                                         between your palms, a plain face,
                                         no charming smile, no violet eyes,
                                         and you say, yes, I will take you
                                         I will love you, again.


Sunday, January 1, 2012


Let me begin my first post of the new year by declaring that this is happiness for me: a wet dog, bathed in the golden light of a late December sun, breaking through the surf and calling upon me to forget myself and return to the world of divine play.  This is where life takes place, she says, here in this moment, this tide, this light, this chance to fall in love with everything once again.  There is still an adventurous child in me—a small core that has not yet fallen prey to cynicism—and my wet dog understands this completely.

What is this thing we call "happiness," this elusive mental state that we wish for ourselves and one another on the first day of every year?  Most of us can say what happiness is not—and it's seldom what we imagined in our youth—but we still have great difficulty getting a fix on what it is.  We are in good company, of course, for the great poets and philosophers have always reminded us that happiness can never be easily defined.  It is unpredictable, elusive, fleeting in nature—and therein may lie its charm, for if one could find happiness and possess it at will, it would probably lose its essential quality of being happiness.  Perhaps Thoreau said it best:
Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.
While reading some new poetry anthologies during the past few days, I have come across three poems in which happiness has been discovered in unexpected places—which, as many of us have learned, is where it is usually found.  In So Much Happiness, Naomi Shihab Nye reminds us that "happiness floats," that it "doesn't need anything," and that virtually everything "could wake up filled with possibilities." In Orkney / This Life, Andrew Greig tells us that happiness can only be found in the present reality of this life.  "This is where I want to live," declares Greig, "close to where the heart gives out, ruined, perfected . . ."  Finally, in a poem titled Happiness, Raymond Carver recalls the unexpected pleasure of simply watching two paper delivery boys on their morning rounds, an experience that left him with a profound sense that happiness is a fleeting moment of such beauty that "death and ambition, even love," are irrelevant.

Read and enjoy!  There is no better gateway to the new year—or maybe even happiness—than poetry.

                                                    Naomi Shihab Nye

                      It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
                      With sadness there is something to rub against,
                      a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
                      When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to
                           pick up,
                      something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs
                           of change.

                      But happiness floats.
                      It doesn't need you to hold it down.
                      It doesn't need anything.
                      Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
                      and disappears when it wants to.
                      You are happy either way.
                      Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
                      and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
                      cannot make you unhappy.
                      Everything has a life of its own,
                      it too could wake up filled with possibilities
                      of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
                      and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
                      the soiled linens and scratched records . . .

                      Since there is no place large enough
                      to contain so much happiness,
                      you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
                      into everything you touch.  You are not responsible.
                      You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
                      for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
                      and in that way be known.

                                              ORKNEY / THIS LIFE
                                                      Andrew Greig

                             It is big sky and its changes,
                             the sea all round and the waters within.
                             It is the way sea and sky
                             work off each other constantly,
                             like people meeting in Alfred Street,
                             each face coming away with a hint
                             of the other's face pressed in it.
                             It is the way a week-long gale
                             ends and folk emerge to hear
                             a single bird cry way high up.

                             It is the way you lean to me
                             and the way I lean to you, as if
                             we are each other's prevailing;
                             how we connect along our shores,
                             the way we are tidal islands
                             joined for hours then inaccessible,
                             I'll go for that, and smile when I
                             pick sand off myself in the shower.
                             The way I am an island loch to you
                             when a clatter of white whoops and rises . . .

                             It is the way Scotland looks to the South,
                             the way we enter friends' houses
                             to leave what we came with, or flick
                             the kettle's switch and wait.
                             This is where I want to live,
                             close to where the heart gives out,
                             ruined, perfected, an empty arch against the sky
                             where birds fly through instead of prayers
                             while in Hoy Sound the ferry's engines thrum
                             this life this life this life.

                                                   Raymond Carver

                             So early it's still almost dark out.
                             I'm near the window with coffee, 
                             and the usual early morning stuff
                             that passes for thought.
                             When I see the boy and his friend
                             walking up the road
                             to deliver the newspaper.
                             They wear caps and sweaters,
                             and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
                             They are so happy
                              they aren't saying anything, these boys. 
                              I think if they could, they would take
                              each other's arm.
                              It's early in the morning, 
                              and they are doing this thing together.
                              They come on, slowly.
                              The sky is taking on light,
                              though the moon still hangs pale over the water.
                              Such beauty that for a minute
                              death and ambition, even love, 
                              doesn't enter into this.
                              Happiness.  It comes on
                              unexpectedly.  And goes beyond, really,
                              any early morning talk about it.

"Everything," says Naomi Shihab Nye, can "wake up filled with possibilities of coffee cake and ripe peaches, and love even the floor which needs to be swept . . . "  That would include both me and my wet dog, the Zen master, especially on this New Year's Day.  What a wonderful year it's going to be!

Happy New Year to Everyone!