April is National Poetry Month, which presents a beautiful opportunity to gather and share poems to nurture and support our focus on Faithfulness. Each day this month we’ll post a poem which speaks about faith, commitment, steadiness, devotion, trust, courage, openness, discipline, dedication or other aspects of a faithful life. May at least some of them speak to you. Enjoy!

April 30

The Journey

Mary Oliver (white American female, born 1935)

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

We hope you have enjoyed this month’s poetry journey.
~Jill and Jamie

April 29

God is no noun 

Glen Thomas Rideout,  (contemporary African American male, UU).

god is no noun.
and certainly not an adjective.
god is at least a verb,
and even that shrinks her.

god is not so much a woman
as she resides in the improbable
hope of brown mothers.
god is not so much a man
as he is at work in the memory
of my grandfather’s laugh.
god is not trans.
god swims in the tears
of the one who sees
her real self,
at long last,
in the bathroom mirror.

god is not black; neither is he white.
god is wading in the contradiction of songs from slave shacks.
and I have seen god in the alabaster smiles
of children at play.

we’re getting michelangelo all wrong.
god is not the bearded one surrounded by angels,
floating over the sistine.
he is not adam with his muscled back pressing the earth.
no.
god is the closing inch of space
between their reaching fingers.

don’t believe for a moment that god is catholic.
for god’s sake, he isn’t even human.
have you heard the wood thrush
when the sun glistens the huron?
can you see the flowers,
how they speak to bees without a word?

still, god is no spring blossom, no wood thrush.
god is neither the sun nor the bee.
god is what you see in the blossom.
god is when you hear the river
and suddenly discover how
much of it is part of you.

to be clear,
god is not you.
god is somewhere in the 14 billion years
which have come to mean that you are.
god is, after all, at least a verb.
she is neither pharaoh’s rod nor moses’ staff.
we must be the ones to cease our slavery.
she is not interested in blame, neither does she offer praise. truth, gratitude are ours to breathe.
she will not have your answers.
she is too large for answers.
she dances too wildly to be fastened to them,
and answers are nouns anyway.

god is at least a verb,
twirling in the radiant reds of spring blossoms,
singing in the rare silences between rapid opinions,
attending the tears of dark-skinned deaths, learning in tiny, alabaster smiles.

god is waiting in the space between fingers
that might connect.

he is waiting for us
to stop naming her.
she is waiting for us to
see all of him.

god is waiting

to be un-shrunk

April 28

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken

Rainer Maria Rilke (White German male, 1875-1926)

English version by Anita Barrows and Joanna MacyI believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.


April 27

Days

Billy Collins (White American male, born March 22, 1941)

Each one is a gift, no doubt,
mysteriously placed in your waking hand
or set upon your forehead
moments before you open your eyes.

Today begins cold and bright,
the ground heavy with snow
and the thick masonry of ice,
the sun glinting off the turrets of clouds.

Through the calm eye of the window
everything is in its place
but so precariously
this day might be resting somehow

on the one before it,
all the days of the past stacked high
like the impossible tower of dishes
entertainers used to build on stage.

No wonder you find yourself
perched on the top of a tall ladder
hoping to add one more.
Just another Wednesday

you whisper,
then holding your breath,
place this cup on yesterday’s saucer
without the slightest clink.

April 26

Our Journey on Earth    

Mark Nepo  (white American male, born 1951)

To learn how to ask for what we need,
only to practice accepting what we’re
given. This is our journey on earth.


April 25
 
Parting the Red Sea

 

Ellie Schoenfeld (contemporary white American female)

 

My fingers swim through red clay seas
that I am parting to plant tulips.
The earth is cold because I have waited till the last minute.
I am thinking this is an act of faith,
an affirmative to Einstein’s question:
is the universe a friendly place?
Yes- except for the squirrels who ate all of Yvonne’s bulbs, and she lives close to me.
She bought new ones and soaked them in something squirrels don’t like.
She told me this while there was still ample time to learn from her experience.
But I didn’t soak these.
They are my prayers.
Last minute… an on-the-edge reckless dare.
I will take their growth or demise as a sign.
A message either way from the spirits,
who are probably unimpressed with the spiritual weight with which I am sinking these bulbs into the earth.
Spirits, who could be dancing in these maple leaves
laughing at my solemn garden religion,
surfing through alters of mulch.
If someone asks me what I believe in,
I say “tulips.”

April 24

To Not be Done

Rose Ausländer  (Ukrainian Jewish female, 1901-1988)

To not count your heart beats

To allow dolphins to dance

Discovering new countries

Evoking words out of worlds

To listen to what Bach

has to say

To admire Tolstoy

To be glad

To grieve

Living higher

Living lower

Over and over

To not be done

April 23

Anyone Who Is Still Trying

David Hernandez  (Latino American male, born 1971)

Any person, any human, any someone who breaks
up the fight, who spackles holes or FedExes
ice shelves to the Arctic to keep the polar bears
afloat, who talks the wind-rippled woman
down from the bridge. Any individual, any citizen
who skims muck from the coughing ocean,
who pickets across the street from antigay picketers
with a sign that reads, GOD HATES MAGGOTS,
or, GOD HATES RESTAURANTS WITH ZAGAT RATINGS
LESS THAN 27. Any civilian who kisses
a forehead heated by fever or despair, who reads
the X ray, pins the severed bone. Any biped
who volunteers at soup kitchens, who chokes
a Washington lobbyist with his own silk necktie –
I take that back, who gives him mouth-to-mouth
until his startled heart resumes its kabooms.
Sorry, I get cynical sometimes, there is so much
broken in the system, the districts, the crooked
thinking, I’m working on whittling away at this
pessimism, harvesting light where I can find it.
Any countryman or countrywoman who is still
trying, who still pushes against entropy,
who stanches or donates blood, who douses fires
real or metaphorical, who rakes the earth
where tires once zeroed the ground, plants something
green, say spinach or kale, say a modest forest
for restless breezes to play with. Any anyone
from anywhere who considers and repairs,
who builds a prosthetic beak for an eagle –
I saw the video, the majestic bird disfigured
by a bullet, the visionary with a 3-D printer,
with polymer and fidelity, with hours
and hours and hours, I keep thinking about it,
thinking we need more of that commitment,
those thoughtful gestures, the flight afterward.

April 22

A poem for Earth Day

Trust

Susan Kinsolving  (contemporary, white American woman)

Trust that there is a tiger, muscular

Tasmanian, and sly, which has never been

seen and never will be seen by any human

eye. Trust that thirty thousand sword-

fish will never near a ship, that far

from cameras or cars elephant herds live

long elephant lives. Believe that bees

by the billions find unidentified flowers

on unmapped marshes and mountains. Safe

in caves of contentment, bears sleep.

Through vast canyons, horses run while slowly

snakes stretch beyond their skins in the sun.

I must trust all this to be true, though

the few birds at my feeder watch the window

with small flutters of fear, so like my own.

April 21

On Living

Nazim Hikmet (Turkish male, 1902-1963)

Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)

Living is no laughing matter:
you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example–
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation.
Living is no laughing matter:
you must take it seriously,
so much so and to such a degree
that, for example, your hands tied behind your back,
your back to the wall,
or else in a laboratory
in your white coat and safety glasses,
you can die for people–
even for people whose faces you’ve never seen,
even though you know living
is the most real, the most beautiful thing.
I mean, you must take living so seriously
that even at seventy, for example, you’ll plant olive trees–
and not for your children, either,
but because although you fear death you don’t believe it,
because living, I mean, weighs heavier.

II Let’s say you’re seriously ill, need surgery–
which is to say we might not get
up from the white table.
Even though it’s impossible not to feel sad
about going a little too soon,
we’ll still laugh at the jokes being told,
we’ll look out the window to see it’s raining,
or still wait anxiously
for the latest newscast …
Let’s say we’re at the front–
for something worth fighting for, say.
There, in the first offensive, on that very day,
we might fall on our face, dead.
We’ll know this with a curious anger,
but we’ll still worry ourselves to death
about the outcome of the war, which could last years.
Let’s say we’re in prison
and close to fifty,
and we have eighteen more years, say,
before the iron doors will open.
We’ll still live with the outside,
with its people and animals, struggle and wind–
I mean with the outside beyond the walls.
I mean, however and wherever we are,
we must live as if we will never die.

III This earth will grow cold,
a star among stars
and one of the smallest,
a gilded mote on blue velvet–
I mean this, our great earth.
This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space …
You must grieve for this right now
–you have to feel this sorrow now–
for the world must be loved this much
if you’re going to say “I lived” …

April 20

What Is There Beyond Knowing

Mary Oliver  (White American female, born 1935)

What is there beyond knowing that keeps
calling to me? I can’t

 

turn in any direction
but it’s there. I don’t mean

 

the leaves’ grip and shine or even the thrush’s
silk song, but the far-off

 

fires, for example,
of the stars, heaven’s slowly turning

 

theater of light, or the wind
playful with its breath;

 

or time that’s always rushing forward,
or standing still

 

in the same—what shall I say—
moment.

 

What I know
I could put into a pack

 

as if it were bread and cheese, and carry it
on one shoulder,

 

important and honorable, but so small!
While everything else continues, unexplained

 

and unexplainable.  How wonderful it is
to follow a thought quietly

 

to its logical end.
I have done this a few times.

 

But mostly I just stand in the dark field,
in the middle of the world, breathing

 

in and out. Life so far doesn’t have any other name
but breath and light, wind and rain.

 

If there’s a temple, I haven’t found it yet.
I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of the grass
and the weeds.

 

April 19

 

Ithaka

 

C.P. Cavafy (Egyptian Greek male, 1863-1933. Translated by Edmund Keeley)

 

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

April 18

Kindness

Naomi Shihab Nye   (Palestinian-American woman, born 1951)

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

April 17 

Three Poems from William Stafford

(White American male, 1914-1993, US Poet Laureate 1970, Oregon’s Poet Laureate  1975-1990)

 

Reading the Big Weather

 

Mornings we see our breath.  Weeds

sturdy for winter are waiting down

by the tracks.  Birds, high and silent

pass almost invisible over the town.

 

Time, always almost ready

to happen, leans over our shoulders reading

the headlines for something not there.  “Republicans

Control Congress”- and the world spins on unheeding.

 

The moon drops back toward the sun, a sickle

gone faint in the dawn; there is a weather

of things that happen too faint for headlines,

but tremendous, like willows touching the river.

 

This earth we are riding keeps trying to tell us

something with its continuous scripture of leaves.

 

Looking at You

 

Over your shoulder I see it there,

That other faith once part

Of your life, gone when wisdom came

And the plan: ”Learn to survive.”

 

In your face now instead of that vanished

look, this look has come: “Wait, find

what is coming and accept it” – no longer

that lifelong lunge for worlds to be found.

 

But that other faith leaps at night. It glances

aside sometimes; it stares at the fire.

After all the stars in the sky go down

it says, “There is another star.”

 

I Have A Witness

 

Among the stars one light shone below

The line of mountains, a campfire maybe. Steady.

All night I kept in mind that sun, my chosen

place, and let the earth gyrate.  With dizzy

certainty I slept inside that reckoning.

 

Sometimes a center the soul can recognize

will speak from anywhere, inside a mountain, of from

a whirlwind…. The world can take, the soul

restores.  A million wrong voices proclaim.

One light lives forever.

 

April 16

Quarantine

Eavan Boland  (Irish female, born 1944)

In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking – they were both walking – north.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and a woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.

April 15

Let Evening Come

Jane Kenyon  (White American female, 1947-1995)

 

Let the light of late afternoon

shine through chinks in the barn, moving

up the bales as the sun moves down.

 

Let the cricket take up chafing

as a woman takes up her needles

and her yarn. Let evening come.

 

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned

in long grass. Let the stars appear

and the moon disclose her silver horn.

 

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.

Let the wind die down. Let the shed

go black inside. Let evening come.

 

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop

in the oats, to air in the lung

let evening come.

 

Let it come, as it will, and don’t

be afraid. God does not leave us

comfortless, so let evening come.

April 14
 
The Real Work
 
Wendell Berry (White American male, born 1934 )
 
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

April 13

Remember

Joy Harjo (Native American (Muscogee) female, born 1951)

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.

April 12
 
King County Metro
 
Geffrey Davis (African American male, born 1983)
 
In Seattle, in 1982, my mother beholds this man
boarding the bus, the one she’s already
 
turning into my father. His style (if you can
call it that): disarming disregard—a loud
 
Hawaiian-print shirt and knee-high tube socks
that reach up the deep tone of his legs,
 
toward the dizzying orange of running shorts.
Outside, the gray city blocks lurch
 
past wet windows, as he starts his shy sway
down the aisle. Months will pass
 
before he shatters his ankle during a Navy drill,
the service discharging him back into the everyday
 
teeth of the world. Two of four kids will arrive
before he meets the friend who teaches him
 
the art of roofing and, soon after, the crack pipe—
the attention it takes to manage either
 
without destroying the hands. The air brakes gasp
as he approaches my mother’s row,
 
each failed rehab and jail sentence still
decades off in the distance. So much waits
 
in the fabulous folds of tomorrow.
And my mother, who will take twenty years
 
to burn out her love for him, hesitates a moment
before making room beside her—the striking
 
brown face, poised above her head, smiling.
My mother will blame all that happens,
 
both good and bad, on this smile, which glows now,
ready to consume half of everything it gives.

April 11

As It Was

Dale Willey  (White American male, 1925 – 2001, UUFC member)

Do you remember the thunder of wave

on wave of hill rolled against

the mountain range,

the spouting geysers of cumulus spray?

And preparing to drink,

my horse pawing away water by the sandbar?

A great blue heron with a gravelly croak

heaved himself above the rive,

thin feet trailing an indelible

streak on his shadow.

The mystery is not so much

the sounding air

or the intricate ear’s machinery

As that from an incomprehensible other

through delicate bones and cords

comes what strikes, rings, makes resonant

the silence within me

and opens at my call

for all the world as it was.

April 10

won’t you celebrate with me

Lucille Clifton, 1936 – 2010   (African American female)

 

won’t you celebrate with me

what I have shaped into

a kind of life? i had no model.

born in babylon

both non-white and woman

what did I see to be except myself?

i made it up

here on this bridge between

starshine and clay,

my one hand holding tight

my other hand; come celebrate

with me that everyday

something has tried to kill me

and has failed.

April 9

 

The Healing Time

 

Pesha Gerter (White American female, 1933-2015)

 

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones
those coded messages that send me down
the wrong street again and again
where I find them
the old wounds and misconceptions
and I lift them one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy
holy.

April 8

Let America be America Again

Langston Hughes       (Black American gay male, 1902-1967)

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean–
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home–
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay–
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again!

April 7

Innocence

Linda Hogan       (Native (Chickasaw) American female, b. 1947

There is nothing more innocent

than the still-unformed creature I find beneath soil,

neither of us knowing what it will become

in the abundance of the planet.

It makes a living only by remaining still

in its niche.

One day it may struggle out of its tender

pearl of blind skin

with a wing or with vision

leaving behind the transparent.

 

I cover it again, keep laboring,

hands in earth, myself a singular body.

Watching things grow,

wondering how

a cut blade of grass knows

how to turn sharp again at the end.

 

This same growing must be myself,

not aware yet of what I will become

in my own fullness

inside this simple flesh.

 

April 6

The Dive 

Mark Nepo (White American male, born 1951)

 

Brave your way on.
You are a blessing waiting
to be discovered by yourself.
The wisdom waits in your heart
like a buried treasure which
only loving your self can
bring to the surface. And
yes, loving your self is like
diving to the bottom of the
ocean with nothing but who
you are to find your way.

April 5
 
Blessing in the Chaos
 
Jan Richardson
 
To all that is chaotic in you, let there come silence.
 
 
Let there be a calming of the clamoring, a stilling of the voices that have laid their claim on you, that have made their home in you,
 
that go with you even to the holy places but will not let you rest, will not let you hear your life with wholeness of feel the grace that fashioned you.
 
 
Let what distracts you cease.
 
Let what divides you cease.
 
Let there come an end to what diminishes and demeans, and let depart all that keeps you in its cage.
 
 
Let there be an opening into the quiet that lies beneath the chaos, where you find the peace you did not think possible and see what shimmers within the storm.
April 4
Remembering the death, by asassination, of Martin Luther King, Jr, April 4, 1968
Leap Before You Look
WH Auden   (English-American, white gay male, 1907-1973)
 
The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep,
However gradual it looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.
Tough-minded men get mushy in their sleep
And break the by-laws any fool can keep;
It is not the convention but the fear
That has a tendancy to disappear.
The worried efforts of the busy heap,
The dirt, the imprecision, and the beer
Produce a  few smart wisecracks every year:
Laugh if you can, but you will  have to leap.
The clothes that are considered right to wear
Will not be either sensible or cheap,
So long as we consent to live like sheep
And never mention those who disappear.
Much can be said for social savior-fairs,
But to rejoice when no one else is there
Is even harder than it is to weep;
No one is watching, but you have to leap.
A solitude then thousand fathoms deep
Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear:
Although I love you, you will have to leap;
Our dream of safety has to disappear.

April 3

the patience of ordinary things

Pat Schneider

it is a kind of love, is it not?
how the cup holds the tea,
how the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
how the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
or toes. how soles of feet know
where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
of ordinary things, how clothes
wait respectfully in closets
and soap dries quietly in the dish,
and towels drink the wet
from the skin of the back.
and the lovely repetition of stairs.
and what is more generous than a window?

April 2

Duty

Robert Browning (white male)

The sweetest lives are those to duty wed,
Whose deeds, both great and small,
Are close knit strands of an unbroken thread,
Whose love ennobles all.
The world may sound no trumpet, ring no bells;
The book of life, the shining record tells.

Thy love shall chant its own beatitudes,
After its own life-working. A child’s kiss
Set on thy singing lips shall make thee glad;
A poor man served by thee shall make thee rich;
A sick man helped by thee shall make thee strong;
Thou shalt be served thyself by every sense
Of service thou renderest.

April 1
 
Only the Beginning
 
by Rachel Barenblat (female American Jewish rabbi)
 
 
Coming through the sea
 
 
was only the beginning.
 
The giddiness of walking
 
through walls of living water…
 
 
But the story doesn’t end there.
 
 
Now it’s desert, without a map.
 
What if the next forty years
 
are bone-dry and desolate?
 
 
Maybe it wasn’t so bad,
 
that life
, numb and familiar. Cucumbers

 
and fish fresh from the Nile.
 
Certainty: a fixed path.
 
 
Now hope unfolds its mighty wings
 
and every step risks failure.
 
When I falter, remind me
 
I didn’t cross the sea alone.
 
 
Remind me there’s a mountain
 
I’m heading toward, a promise
 
of becoming together
 
that spans lifetimes.