In Alt-Oz, the Tin Man gives Dorothy the stink eye.
The Scarecrow has no desire to hop down
from his perch and follow her on the road
to the Emerald city and an uncertain destiny.
Things are okay in the forest.
Witches and flying monkeys
will only bother you if you stir things up.
Dorothy, without companions,
is forced into selling real estate
in the poorer neighborhoods on
the north end of Oz.
She dyes the ruby slippers black
to attract less attention
and settles down with one
of the taller munchkins.
She never goes home.
Except at night in her dreams,
when she rides the hurricane
back to Kansas, looks around,
and is stuck in that moment,
the moment of indecision
–go or stay–
for the rest of her life.
She wakes each morning,
puts out the cat, makes coffee
and watches the flying monkeys heading south,
on their way to disembowel
a few unlucky munchkins.
Troublemakers, no doubt.
This is a letter from E.B. White on the subject of hope. He wrote it in response to someone’s letter predicting a grim future for humanity:
North Brooklin, Maine
30 March 1973
Dear Mr. Nadeau,
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
E. B. White
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” — Anne Frank
“In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit. ” –Anne Frank
James Stockdale, the longest held American prisoner of war in Vietnam, said the love of poetry was an important quality for enduring the unendurable. “You thirst to remember, the clutter of all the trivia evaporates and with care you make deep excursions into past recollections. Verses were hoarded and gone over each day. The person who had memorized a lot of poetry was the bearer of great gifts.”
“How we spend our days is how we spend our lives… A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. “
—Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
fiery moon sets
deer in the garden.
a goldfinch in the fountain
shakes off water like a labrador
Posted in poetry
“One cannot be too scrupulous, too sincere, too submissive before nature… But one ought to be more or less master of one’s model.”
For the raindrop, joy is in entering the river
–Ghalib, eighteenth-century Urdu poet
When the sky
opens beneath you
and you do not fall,
you hesitate to tell others.
What can you say?
The faint scent of gardenia
in the still air before nightfall.
Ivy grows up through the boards
of the garden bridge.
A rabbit runs across the bridge
and stops in front of me.
We stare at each other,
waiting to see who will move first.
The next morning I am not there
and the rabbit doesn’t stop.
The world is no better than its places. It’s places are no better than their people while their people continue in them.
chant to us
and give us
to howl too
“I wish the people of the world loved each other as much as they love me.”
Goodbye you crazy good writer. Goodbye you purveyor of geek love, you hunter of living gargoyles, you lover of boxing as it should be and connoisseur of life in all its tawdry finery. We will miss you writing sentences that spin the head around.
P. S. Please finish Cut Man,
wherever you are.
“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.
a fence line of blue toes
night cutting words
*This poem was first published in DoveTails Literary Journal
”I wish I could show you, when you are lonely
or in darkness, the astonishing light
of your own being.”
–Hafez (Persian poet, 1325–1389)
The butterfly counts not months but moments, yet has time enough.
In 1992, shortly before his death, William Stafford was commissioned by the State of Washington to provide seven poems to be installed on plaques alongside the Methow river, one of the most beautiful rivers in all of the Pacific Northwest. Ask Me was installed along the river in the town of Winthrop. I can go only so long in my life without reading it. It is one of my anchor and lifeline poems and it belongs along that river the same way Tibetan Buddhist paintings belong on the stone canyon walls of Nepal.
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.