Tuesday, December 25, 2018

the Great Mother


The Tao is called the Great Mother: empty yet inexhaustible, it gives birth to infinite worlds. It is always present within you. You can use it any way you want.

—Lao Tzu


Sunday, December 23, 2018

A Poem for Giambattista Vico, excerpt


The wind blows where it likes: that is what
Everyone is like who is born from the wind.
Oh now it's getting serious. We want to be those
Born from the wind that blows along the plains
And over the sea where no one has a home.
And that Upsetting Rabbi, didn't he say:
"Take nothing with you, no blanket, no bread.
When evening comes, sleep wherever you are.
And if the owners say no, shake out the dust
From your sandals; leave the dust on their doorstep."
Don't hope for what will never come. Give up hope,
Dear friends, the joists of life are laid on the winds.

—Robert Bly


Saturday, December 22, 2018

nothing's a gift


Nothing's a gift, it's all on loan.
I'm drowning in debts up to my ears.
I'll have to pay for myself
with my self,
give up my life for my life.

Here's how it's arranged:
The heart can be repossessed,
the liver, too,
and each single finger and toe.

Too late to tear up the terms,
my debts will be repaid,
and I'll be fleeced,
or, more precisely, flayed.

I move about the planet
in a crush of other debtors.
some are saddled with the burden
of paying off their wings.
Others must, willy-nilly,
account for every leaf.

Every tissue in us lies
on the debit side.
Not a tentacle or tendril
is for keeps.

The inventory, infinitely detailed,
implies we'll be left
not just empty-handed
but handless too.

I can't remember
where, when, and why
I let someone open
this account in my name.

We call the protest against this
the soul.
And it's the only item
not included on the list.

–Wislawa Szymborska


for you


You have no idea how hard I've looked
for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right.

What's the point of bringing gold
to the gold mine, or water to the ocean.
Everything I came up with was like
taking spices to the Orient.

It's no good giving my heart and my soul
because you already have these.

So I've brought you a mirror.
Look at yourself and remember me.

—Jalal al-Din Rumi


Friday, December 21, 2018

Shapechangers in Winter


This is the Solstice, the still point
of the sun, its cusp and midnight,
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go of and becomes the future,
the place of caught breath

—Margaret Atwood 
Eating Fire


Thursday, December 20, 2018

winter trees


All the complicated details

of the attiring and

the disattiring are completed!

A liquid moon

moves gently among

the long branches.

Thus having prepared their buds

against a sure winter

the wise trees

stand sleeping in the cold.

–William Carlos Williams


beautiful icelandic words



afdrif, the fate of somebody
afturganga, a ghost, “one who walks again”
álfadans, dance of the elves
átt, the direction of the wind
augabragð, the twinkling of an eye
álfatrú, belief in fairies
bíldóttur, having black spots around the eyes of animals
blámóða, blue mist
blika, a cover of clouds, often foreboding storm or rain
blær, soft, calm wind
draugagangur, the walking of ghosts, a haunting
draumaland, land of dreams
dúnalogn, calm as death
dýjamosi, bright green moss growing in quagmires
fenna, to fill with snow
fjallavættur, a mountain spirit
fjúka, carried away by the wind
flygja, a ghost who accompanies a certain person
föl, a thick film of snow covering the ground
galdraöld, the age of magic
grængolandi, deep and dark green
gullbúinn, adorned with gold
hlakka, the cry of a bird of prey
hrafnagervi, the outward form of ravens
huldurdalur, hidden valley
kaf, to plunge into deep water
kollgáta, the true answer to the riddle
kossleit, looking for kisses
leirskáld, a bad poet
lumma, a pancake, or, the palm of a small hand
mói, ground covered with heather
morgungyðja, the goddess of the morning
mosavaxinn, overgrown with moss
náttúrufegurð, the beauty of nature
norðankaldi, a light breeze from the north
rammgöldróttur, full of witchcraft and wizardry 
rósóttur, with a design of roses
selslíki, the shape of a seal
sjódraugur, the ghost of a drowned man
smáminnka, getting smaller and smaller
sólskin, sunshine
stirndur, set full of stars
sumarsól, the sun in the summer
sæbrattur, rising steeply out of the sea
sælurdalur, the valley of bliss
undirsæng, a soft feather mattress
veturnætur, a few days before the first day of winter


the snow man


One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

–Wallace Stevens