Thought to offer a mini-show from a new collection arriving from Cherry Grove in July 2012. This is a collaboration with my friend Lawrence Leone. We've been ping-ponging back and forth by e-mail for about 10 years, using a form I invented, the 84. The rule of exchange: every poem must total exactly 84 characters (not counting spaces). Why 84? Because the Buddha is said to have left us 84,000 different teachings, and our 84-count represents a playful gesture toward that number. Why so many different teachings? Because we're all so differently the same. From A BOUNTY OF 84s: To live within a golden bell that has no tongue to sound devoting long days to the polishing of silence * after a time the lama forbids note taking: Simply listen, he says, and students write: simply listen * Such great practice, to love a tree to take on its patience and calm, the trust that the sun will return * "Ah, dear Lama, I want so to love all the precious details!" "Is okay, just try squeezing not so hard?” * What's needed? Comes an answer: Get yourself a radish. Oh get yourself a Japanese radish. Be simple. * We're wadded up defended in our own knot, when what we really desire is to river, what we need is to flow * The great sage Soraya after years of retreat still hadn't "got it" till he was told to lie on the earth, + feel its firmness, hear the now & then barking of the monastery dogs, gaze at the stars those billions * There are days the mind clenches, a fist battering itself; other days it opens, a helping hand * What lies closed may open as a door implies a room, unguarded houses a town in boundless silence sound * more amazing than blue sky or these trees of maniac green is how seldom we pause to gaze in awe upon them * amazing that they gaze on us watching stress flow from our pores wishing us deep roots and sweet water * think of the child's amazement to learn, as he cries "I want I want," that the work of life is not to want * And so the play of life is to give but what? Your heart to your sexual dream? Your body to the bloody war? + no, pilgrim the work and play of life is to be exactly where you are with all the shadows and light awake * It would feel good to start a new project make a little transition say to speak no words for a month or so * I tell my students "Disappear, you're in the way, make space for Everything" baffled, they gaze at me * many times a day the transition from self-disdain to self-grandiosity, with tiny (ah) un-self gaps * Of the air are spoken many useless words and yet poetry all of it, comes from where we catch what we can. * Do not stretch to reach the fruits of the practice; wait for those branches to sag from their fullness * fruits of the practice: calm; reading minds; a desire that others be less troubled; pervasive calm; + immunity to most poisons, and as to life in general: terror & hilarity that the children are in charge * Rabbi, does a teacher stop opening doors when he leaves the building? No, but they are harder to find. * Elvis has left the building & likewise Jesus & so will we, leaving on the porch light for the new owners
Poetry Matters with Barry Spacks
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Inspired by kind words from former student Homer Christensen on the last poem I posted here, I've picked out another earlier effort that might serve to mark a return from long illness to my life's main work. BEGINNING AGAIN "What is it for, this labor of poetry?" -- Kenneth Rexroth The young tree just outside my window, a volunteer locust sapling, flails back and forth in the rain-driven storm, dipping and nodding this way and that in a sort of a mad-girl dance, and I, I'm freeing its chaos-rhythms in thought, pretending for comfort that consciously it tolls the mindless bells of the wind. Tomorrow I'll see it, motionless, calm, like a poised adolescent on point on five toes. Granted, our fancies won't keep us unbroken, but as we imagine compassion arises, dignity offered even to stones; for we are the choosers reporting this realm, its grand displays, its flowers, its glory, declaring the world so to be in the end – having our say, and beginning again.