the birch outside my window
waves her leaves in the wind
celebrating her emptiness,
free of all anxiety
*buji ~ free of anxiety (no mind in work, no work in mind; that is, unself-consciousness)
Te-Shan was an eighth century Chinese Chen (Zen) Buddhist teacher and scholar of the Diamond Cutter Sutra (aphorism), known as Case #4 of the Pi-yen-lu koans (riddles). Case #4 is “Te-Shan carrying his bundle.” As the story goes, the Master Te-Shan left his monastery in the north of China and headed south to challenge some teaching that he deemed incorrect. He was dedicated in both his scholarship and his tradition. On his journey, he carried with him his treasured bundle, the Commentaries on the Diamond Cutter Sutra.
Along the way he met a merchant selling rice cakes by the side of the road. She was an old woman and we all know how dangerous old women can be. The old woman asked him what scriptures he carried that were so precious to him. When he told her the Diamond Cutter Sutra, she asked, “Doesn’t the sutra say ‘past mind cannot be held, present mind cannot be held, future mind cannot be held? Which mind is it that the Master would wish to refresh?” Her pointed questioning left him speechless.
Shamed and defeated by this uneducated old woman with her street wisdom, Te-Shan returned to his monastery. It is said that he was unable to resume his teaching and spent the next days immersed in meditation. He soon achieved enlightenment and, as a result, burned all his writing and books saying:
“To plumb the greatest depth of knowledge would be no more than a piece of hair lost in the vastness of the great Void. However important your experience of worldly things, it is nothing – it is even less than a single drop of water cast into the Void.”
Not having attained enlightenment, I continue to write nothing.
© 2012, poem and story adaption, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved, licensing for online publications is nonnegotiable and requires permission, attribution, link to this site, my copyright, no modification, noncommercial only and does not imply permission to include the work in the site’s printed collections or anthologies.
Illustration ~ the Frontese piece of the Diamond Sutra “the oldest know printed book in the world” via Wikipedia and in the public domain
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m beautiful now
in ways I never was in my callow youth …
On fire now with the violet fire of soul speak,
treading a lighter path with a lighter spirit.
Sparks of pink tourmaline, green jade, amethyst, and
blue sapphire flash through the cloud of my being,
like shooting stars in a cobalt sky.
I shed the pyrite, lead, hematite, the heavy, the dross.
Lost in a whisper of indigo dreams,
like a gray sparrow feather -
I float through Eternity,
a fragile-strong willow-wisp of joy.
In case you haven’t noticed, I am beautiful now,
beautiful in the way of all young women in that
once-upon-a-time when they were old.
I have been searching
and I find her in my Self
Daughters of Copper Woman, Ann Cameron
another older poem, rewritten …
© 2012, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved, licensing for online publications is nonnegotiable and requires permission, attribution, link to this site, my copyright, no modification, noncommercial only and does not imply permission to include the work in the site’s printed collections or anthologies.
Photo credit ~ Portrait of an old woman sitting by a window by Chalmers Butterfield via Wikipedia under CC A 2.5 Generic license
a fading clapboard cabin conjures
farmhouses still alive in memory,
sitting near country roads, wild ~
uncharted, and one red home-place
with a view of the lake and its sassy
promise of trout in the summer
and friged days of ice fishing and
of ice skating by twos after dark,
our fingers blue as late afternoons
in the capacious depths of winter
© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved, licensing for online publications is nonnegotiable and requires permission, attribution, link to this site, my copyright, no modification, noncommercial only and does not imply permission to include the work in the site’s printed collections or anthologies. Photo courtesy of morgueFile
We left before any glimpse of a daffodil sunrise,
off to the nearby docks on novice hope and dare
The vessel reeked of years at sea, but we boarded,
kept company with philistines and fishing rods,
sights set on a sun-sparked lime-green ocean where
the contents of our untrained stomachs made chum
The boat splashed its way, cold christening us with
salt water spray; feckless, we spun our reels, chance
landing four fat salmon, legal limit, beginner’s luck
An old poem, rewritten. No one in our family hunts or fishes anymore and we do not endorse such practices for sport.
© 2011, poem, Jamie Dedes, all rights reserve
Photo credit ~ Michael Milserdoff, Public Domain Pictures.net
I am only just now familiarizing myself with Roger McGough’s work , having recently been introduced to it by a friend who sent Mofia Cats. The version she sent me is the one HERE (scroll down), which I couldn’t load into the post, but I think it’s the better one. I feel like somehow everyone else in the world knows about this poet but me. Maybe it’s because he lives across the pond. McGough’s got quite a broad range from humorous to serious and has about fifty published books.
“Yes, you can feel very alone as a poet and you sometimes think, is it worth it? Is it worth carrying on? But because there were other poets, you became part of a scene. Even though they were very different writers, it makes it easier because you’re together.” Roger McGough
The gentleman is from Liverpool. Of a certain age, he takes his inspiration from the Beats. It seems he belongs to several poetry societies and has a bit of alphabet after his name indicative of honors of the British Empire: CBE – Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and FRSL – Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. I’m always happy to see poets honored in ths way. Delving into his background is a whole new education. Until I read much more about him and much more of his poetry, I’ll leave you the Mofia Cats, which will surely put a smile on your Sunday face.
… and thus we begin another week …
“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
― Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works
I appreciate this story of a story of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. I appreciate it for many reasons, but most of all because storytelling is what we are about, whether our creativity expresses in music, theatre, or film, writing or poetry, or visual arts. We tell stories to – among other things – encourage positive change and healing, however modest. In this video we learn how Nelson Mandela used storytelling as leverage to make a big dream come true. It’s the ultimate use of storytelling. It’s a bit of history and inspiration you won’t soon forget.
“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist, former President of South Africa, first Black South African to be elected in a democratic election, a nationalist, a democratic socialist, a former President of the African Congress, husband, father, friend, inspiration, prophet
His work done, he is resting in peace … no doubt.
Photograph in the U.S. public domain
and in turmoil
drumming the shore
persistent in her
giving and taking
free of any filters and
as wild and dangerous
as an a old woman
who says what she thinks
© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved, licensing for online publications is nonnegotiable and requires permission, attribution, link to this site, my copyright, no modification, noncommercial only and does not imply permission to include the work in the site’s printed collections or anthologies.
Photo courtesy of morgueFile
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I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat–and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet–
“All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”
I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities
(For, though I knew His love Who followed,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest having Him, I must have naught beside);
But if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of His approach would clash it to.
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;
Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to dawn, Be sudden; to eve, Be soon;
With thy young skyey blossoms heap me over
From this tremendous Lover!
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot ‘thwart a heaven
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet–
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat–
“Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.”
I sought no more that after which I strayed
In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children’s eyes
Seems something, something that replies;
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But, just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
“Come then, ye other children, Nature’s–share
With me,” said I, “your delicate fellowship;
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine with you caresses,
With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses’
With her in her wind-walled palace,
Underneath her azured daïs,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.”
So it was done;
I in their delicate fellowship was one–
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.
I knew all the swift importings
On the wilful face of skies;
I knew how the clouds arise
Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings;
All that’s born or dies
Rose and drooped with–made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine–
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the even,
When she lit her glimmering tapers
Round the day’s dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
I laid my own to beat,
And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s gray cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
These things and I; in sound I speak–
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
The breasts of her tenderness;
Never did any milk of hers once bless
My thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
With unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
And past those noisèd Feet
A voice comes yet more fleet–
“Lo naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.”
Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,
And smitten me to my knee;
I am defenseless utterly.
I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years–
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;
And now my heart is a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mist confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
But not ere him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
With blooming robes, purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields
Thee harvest, must Thy harvest fields
Be dunged with rotten death?
Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
“And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
Strange, piteous, futile thing,
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught,” He said,
“And human love needs human meriting,
How hast thou merited–
Of all man’s clotted clay rhe dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms.
But just that thou might’st seek it in my arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for the at home;
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!”
Halts by me that footfall;
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstreched caressingly?
“Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”
. . . and thus we begin another week . . .
This is simultaneously blogged on “Into the Bardo” and on the Rev. Terri Stewart’s blog.
Today begins the first day of our Terri Stewart’s Advent event. There are many bloggers participating in this event. Each day of the Christian celebration of Advent will be sponsored by a different blogger who will post appropriately on his or her site. Their posts will also go up on Terri’s site and the kick-off is HERE on Into the Bardo today.
If you follow Into the Bardo regularly, you know that we share work here that is not necessarily religious but is reflective of diverse cultures and spiritual paths and representative of universal human values, however differently they might be expressed. This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples.
We acknowledge that there are enormous theological differences and historical resentments that carve wedges among and within the traditions, but we believe that ultimately self-preservation, common sense, and human solidarity will empower connections and collaboration and overcome division and disorder. We work for the tipping point when compromise – an admittedly imperfect peace – will overcome war and respect for life will topple resentment. That may not happen in our time, but it has to start somewhere and sometime and this is our modest contribution toward an end for which diverse people the world over are working.
For those who are not Christian, Advent is the period of time leading up to the Nativity of Christ (Christmas). It is celebrated somewhat differently by different Christian sects and by Roman and Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox churches. I think the details of the celebrations are less important than the scriptural quote for the day …
1 Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 2 You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.
Indeed, where do the conflicts and disputes originate: in the cravings that make us restless within ourselves, in coveting things or situations we don’t have (and may not really need), and in not using right means for just ends? These are appropriate considerastions as we approach the annual celebration of the “Prince of Peace,” a celebration which is in the end a call for compassion and understanding.
May our compassion have legs.
PEACE ON EARTH
The tipping point:
GOOD WILL FROM AND TOWARD WOMEN
AND MEN EVERYWHERE!
Follow the entire Advent season
with Terri Stewart HERE.
… If you are so inclined, we would be grateful to have this post reblogged. Thank you! …
- Jamie Dedes
© 2013, essay, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ Pramzan via Wikipedia under CC A-SA 3.0 Unported 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic, 1.0 Generic license
JAMIE DEDES ~ I’m a former free-lance feature writer and columnist. I also worked in social services in the field of employment and training, which is what my writing specialty was as well. My first poem was published when I was seventeen and poetry remains a gift in disability and medical retirement. It’s a compact thing that I can still manage.
I am the founder and host of Into the Bardo, a sprited international collaborative blogazine of word-play, music, art and photography where our core team members function independently and yet with a remarkable synergy. They do everything. They are the stars. I have simply created a space in which to share.
For the past five years I’ve blogged at The Poet by Day, the journey in poem, formerly titled Musing by Moonlight (hence the url). Poetry is my spiritual practice. Each Saturday as a guest of the extraordinary Niamh Clune, I post Soul Speak with Jamie Dedes on Plum Tree Books’ Facebook Page. Soul Speak, my first poetry collection, is to be published by Plum Tree Books sometime toward the end of 2014. More on that to come.
If you like, you can join me on Facebook at: Jamie Dedes, my poetry/humanities page, and/or Compassionate Lifestyle (animal rights and welfare, food ~ vegan, gluten-free, soy-free ~ health, environment), and/or Into the Bardo (spiritual/religious).