Saturday, June 11, 2016

Hexagram 59: A life dissolves (for S.)

She is my friend; she was my friend. She soon will cease to be. Her life is ebbing fast, and tense -- what tense am I to use?

Dissolving; she dissolves, and every breath could be her last. She's blurring at the edges; the threshold sings her name. Her ancestors await.

My friend, my friend, dissolving. Parting ways with what we know exists. My words to you: a kiss you will not read, you who loved to read. The volume of your life is soon to close. A breath, your last, will sift the final page to rest.

You waver at the edge ... We breathe with you, we carry you, until you are no more. 

Dissolver of sugar, dissolve me, 
if this is the time.
Do it gently, with a touch of a hand, or a look.
~ Rumi

Art: Louis Janmot 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

After all, a heron (Hexagram 3, COMING TO BIRTH)

Under your hands
the soil moves
and is moved.
Creatures of the soft,
dense dark
stir and are stirred
and they wonder -- 
can they wonder? -- 
if light exists.
It does. One layer,
just one layer
above their earth-blinded
eyes. One layer, one small
labour from the floor
of one tiny soul. One
push, one intention
from beneath the soil,
beneath the tail, beneath
the seed. Break up
from the core. Break up,
break open, break 
through the shell and be
blinded anew by the resolute
wash of light that now is
inescapably everywhere.
We, too, must push. 
Must break through
the old grit.
Break open, break apart
the husk, the mind
and its concrete spoils.
Break away. Break up
with the night that we
have let go on too long. 
Furl the blinds.
Aspire through
the suffocation of our own
blindings. Break down
the membrane of fear 
and be blinded again
by the light until we
can see. Here is Spring, 
again. Here is
a poem. 

© 2016

From Hellmut Wilhelm's translation of the I Ching:

Times of growth are beset with difficulties. They resemble a first birth. But these difficulties arise from the very profusion of all that is struggling to attain form. Everything is in motion: therefore if one perseveres there is a prospect of great success in spite of the existing danger. When it is [our] fate to undertake such new beginnings, everything is still unformed, dark. ... In order to find one's place in the infinity of being, one must be able both to separate and to unite. 

From Hilary Barrett's lovely translation: 

'Clouds, thunder: Sprouting. 
A noble one weaves warp and weft.'

At the beginning, clouds and thunder swirl together in a creative ferment. The creative impulse rises like thunder and flows out into the world's confusion. 

The word for warp threads also means a canonical text and a channel where energy flows. These are the first principles: you can weave all the colours of experience into the structure they provide, translating creative chaos into a creative order. 

Chaos coheres into a heron
who streams past my window
as I compose ... 


(Photo of seedburst found at Spoken' in Portland. Photographer unknown; my thanks to you.)

(Photo of heron by warhead_71)
(Source: Thank you!) 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

One Love (Principle / Hexagram 1 -- THE CREATIVE)


The first hexagram, the first principle, of the I Ching is THE CREATIVE. The Something from Nothing ... the bursting of Life from the Void ... Pure Light, Pure Being ... the God Principle, the Creator ... First Cause ... Generative Power ... The Source of Life ... Pure Yang ... Father Sky ... The Sun. 

I would also call this Principle ... LOVE. 

 W.H. Auden, one of our world's great poets, wrote,

"We must love one another or die." 

He was speaking, I think, of the death we do ourselves in with if we choose not to love. I write these thoughts the day after another widely-publicized terrorist attack in Brussels. How many other attacks were there yesterday, the day before, and the day before that? Today?

What is the opposite of attack? My mind says Embrace. 

The opposite of terrorism? Compassionism.  

Let's commit compassionist embraces. 

We will die, someday. Auden's urgent thought drives the human heart to love ... and yesterday, as happens in the wake of every terrorist attack, people reached out and embraced one another. I read of a woman who helped 11 other people cram into her little car to escape the carnage. She loved her passengers away from danger. 

We love one another to life.  

One Love

One love, one beam of steady light
can hitch and hold a heart
to the world. One love
can nourish a starving soul
enough to keep it on its feet,
to keep it taking one step
at a time. One step. One step.
One love can be the voice
entering the ear that flows
straight to the core of the brain,
the core of the soul, the well
of the heart that thirsts for rain
that has not fallen for what seems
a lifetime. One drop. One drop.
One hand, extended. One gaze
of mercy. One tear given permission
to course down a cheek. One ear held
next to a heart. One gentle
dare to loosen the mask.
One touch. One touch. One memory
of a singular touch, a touch that
awakens a soul, that insists
on love. One touch that startles
a being to breathe, that strikes
a chord, a memory, of music,
which is a river of joy. One love
that aches to touch and be touched,
however the touch arrives and melts
the ice of late winter, whatever the season
outside. Spring is always bursting into bloom
somewhere. Spring is invincible, inevitable.
The seasons always turn. One turn. One turn.
Spring will come. Flowers will detonate
colour into the slate of winter's end.
Perfume will mend exhausted air
and souls gone grey. One scent. One scent.
We wait for the flowers, the music, the love,
the step. We are the step into Spring;
we are the shifters of seasons;
we are the sun. The sun is within.
Come, dear season, dear soul.
Circle the earth of your being.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Mother, Son, Sister, Love (Hexagram/Principle 64, NOT YET)

Fog lights on for the drive home
from the hospital this winter's eve.

Spooky night -- temp is four degrees.
He might have been a pilot for how he sees.

Instead, he veers around
all eerie things arising 

from the murk. Sentinel son,
he's come from seeing

his mother, who's working hard
and harder at her job

of staying alive for one
more night. She's a Nana

two times over now, two more boys,
young enough not to know

yet the scent of death, its pall.
On they drive, the man and death.

His sister met him in the hall; 
she going in, he going out,

revolving loves to help sustain
the one who gave them life. 

He asked his younger sib,
"Double double for your trouble?"

A joke as old as they, a family line
passed down from Dad, no longer

here, but here, amid
the bustle and despair.

"Same as Mom," she said, and sighed,
then nearly laughed, and then she cried

a rapid tear, just one, before she
hiked her shoulders up and told him 

No ... I just want Mom to live.
He couldn't speak to that. No menu

for that fist within their guts
that every child will crave

when pinned beneath the antiseptic
light of dour relief by drugs

that quell the chains of pain.
No menu nor a drug

to set a plug into that drain.
He let his sister go.

She didn't see his eyes
skitter for a chair as soon

as she had gone around a bend.
His knees went soft. He couldn't

leave. He couldn't drive.
He wanted them to live:

Sister, mother, wife at home,
both his kids, and he himself

who backed into the wall,
sluggish with the grief

of thinking How, and When.
No coffee to appease

his need to be a god, to save
the lives he couldn't save.

He could only cup his palms
around the bones that shook

his legs to gel, to murmur Thank you,
thank you ... for in this moment, all is well. 

Photo credit: Jack Move Magazine

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The poems just keep on comin' ... (Hexagram / Principle 3, BURSTING AT THE BEGINNING)

Am I bursting with awe?
Is this what it means
to hull the seed
from the inside,
with the heart?

(Photographer: Anton Troetscher. Thank you, dear artist.
Photo found at 

Monday, September 28, 2015

The little things ... aren't so little (Hexagram/Principle 62)

The happiness of life . . . is made up of minute fractions — the little, soon-forgotten charities of a kiss, a smile, a kind look, a gentle word, a heartfelt compliment.
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
The "little things" ... saving, sometimes swifting graces. 
It's said that "God is in the details" ... and so is love.
"There are no little things. 'Little things' are the hinges of the universe." (Fanny Fern)
Little things. I recall a story of a young man who was close to ending his life. He'd had enough, and was standing on a bridge. A (supposed) stranger approached him -- a younger boy who sensed his distress. The boy simply asked him, "Are you OK?"
"Are you OK?" turned that man's life away from the abyss. He chose to live. The boy who'd asked the question walked on after pausing to ask the question; the man did not verbally respond, but stared into the boy's eyes, beseeching, searching, agog with the rush of feeling that swelled in him and streamed through him. The heat of care, the bulb lit in his heart. One small, ordinary question from a boy passing by. 
"Are you OK?"
"We do not do great things; we do only small things with great love." (Mother Theresa)
That boy did one small thing with great love. He may never know that he saved a life. 
Ask the question. You might save a life. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The end is nigh -- Yay! (Principle/Hexagram 63, COMPLETION)

The end of doomsaying
The end of misery
The end of another winter
the end of you:

the you of rusted
years spent to the

The end of flaming
pity for the self.

The end of believing
that you are a dead
tree in a naked

True, no birds
nest in your barren
branches. No crickets
sing at your feet.


Listen close. Lay your ear
against the frozen
trunk. Can you hear
the sap

When winter composes
its completion,
your ear will
sing. Your hands
will pulse
in time 
with sap's arousal,

and you will ring.


Art: "Sap Rising" by Elsbeth Poulk-McLeod

It is the secret of the world that all things subsist, 
and do not die,
but only retire a little from sight,
and afterward return again.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
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