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“The Hug”
by Tess Gallagher

A woman is reading a poem on the street
and another woman stops to listen. We stop too.
with our arms around each other.

Suddenly a hug comes over me and I’m
giving it to you, like a variable star shooting light
off to make itself comfortable, then
subsiding. I finish but keep on holding
you. A man walks up to us and we know he hasn’t
come out of nowhere, but if he could, he
would have. He looks homeless because of how
he needs. “Can I have one of those?” he asks you,
and I feel you nod. I’m surprised,
surprised you don’t tell him how
it is – that I’m yours, only
yours, etc., exclusive as a nose to
its face. Love – that’s what we’re talking about, love
that nabs you with “for me
only” and holds on.

So I walk over to him and put my
arms around him and try to
hug him like I mean it. He’s got an overcoat on
so thick I can’t feel
him past it. I’m starting the hug
and thinking, “How big a hug is this supposed to be?
How long shall I hold this hug?” Already
we could be eternal, his arms falling over my
shoulders, my hands not
meeting behind his back, he is so big!

I put my head into his chest and snuggle
in. I lean into him. I lean my blood and my wishes
into him. He stands for it. This is his
and he’s starting to give it back so well I know he’s
getting it. This hug. So truly, so tenderly
we stop having arms and I don’t know if
my lover has walked away or what, or
whether the woman is still reading the poem…

Clearly, a little permission is a dangerous thing.
But when you hug someone you want it
to be a masterpiece of connection, the way the button
on his coat will leave the imprint of
a planet in my cheek
when I walk away. When I try to find some place
to go back to.

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“Somewhere someone is thinking of you. Someone is calling you an angel. This person is using celestial colors to paint your image. Someone is making you into a vision so beautiful that it can only live in the mind. Someone is thinking of the way your breath escapes your lips when you are touched. How your eyes close and your jaw tightens with concentration as you give pleasure a home. These thoughts are saving a life somewhere right now. In some airless apartment on a dark, urine stained, whore lined street, someone is calling out to you silently, and you are answering without even being there. So crystalline. So pure. Such life saving power when you smile. You will never know how you have cauterized my wounds.”

–Henry Rollins

By RON LIEBER

Extraordinary experiences bring great joy throughout life. No surprise there. But what the pair found again and again was that the older people got, the more happiness ordinary experiences delivered. In fact, the happiness-making potential of everyday pursuits eventually grows equal to that of ones that are rarer.

Read the full New York Times article here.

I just had a spiritual experience while spring cleaning to the Black Eyed Peas.

I should emphasize that I don’t celebrate Easter. But yesterday on a whim I bought chocolate nonpareils, a candy that my grandmother favored, and put some on my house altar to honor her and a holiday that my ancestors observed.

Then while spring cleaning today in front of the altar, “Pump It” came on one of my Pandora stations. Spontaneously, I started dancing and had this sudden flash of insight that our ancestors *want* us to enjoy life, to dance and listen to music and take in beautiful spring days.

It felt profound and yet obvious at the same time. And I received it like something between a blessing and an obligation.

Thanks for the spiritual high five, grandmother. ❤

Interdependence Day Celebration
by Alla Renee Bozarth

I sit in quiet regard
in the garden swing,
eyes over hours drifting
among creature kin,
see them here —

An afternoon ant’s effort
to take home a feast
for the clan — fur-clad
yellow-striped honeybee,
immensely ten times her size,
leaving his outgrown body
a spirit gift to earth diners now —

Iridescent green hummingbirds
fighting over twenty-five wild
yellow irises — plenty, plenty
for the tiny two of them!

Bright green dragonfly napping
on a bowl of yellow rose petals;
yellow sunlight dancing
in clear water, sunbeams bathing
in gold pools of water,
down petrified wood and rose
quartz ledges, down the fountain’s
rocky pyramid mountain; and
brightest yet canary yellow
goldfinch friends climbing
under cascades of the sun-and-water
partners to partake in their pleasure,
drink in the light and take flight
like new birds just born.

There isn’t time to tell you more —
I am assigned to be their angel this evening
and put out fresh sunflower seeds for supper.
They have fed me all day with their music
and colors — it is the least I can do for them.

And for the Three Treasures —
The Wild, the Way, and Friends —
I thank you.

Sunday interrupted. My two goals–mowing the lawn and going to the farmers market–have been hindered by a soft, steady downpour. But there is hot coffee. And there are warm biscuits. Outside my window, the leaves grow lush in this first summer rain.

And suddenly I’m reminded that my real agenda is to have no agenda at all, to revel in the gift of unstructured time, to be “idle and blessed” in the words of Mary Oliver. What is ‘enough’ on any given day or in anyone’s lifetime? For just this moment, this is enough.

What a lovely tradition of generosity.

“Right after the war, many gentlemen had lost everything they had, and couldn’t even afford coffee. Now, being that black hot liquid pleasure not considered a treat, but rather a basic human right in the life of any Neapolitan, those gentlemen who could still afford to have one, took a habit of paying for two: one they drank, the other was credited, to be had by the first less fortunate peer who would casually walk in the bar.”

Snopes.com confirms the Italian tradition of “caffee soppesso” (“suspended coffees” or “pending coffees”), drinks that can be later claimed by less fortunate patrons. It now seems that the goodwill tradition has spread to more that 150 cafés across Bulgaria.

“The donor and the recipient would remain anonymous to each other, to protect generosity, pride, and the pleasure of coffee beyond hardships.”

As a longtime fan of coffee, I fully support this tradition and would love to see it come to the United States.

Coffee and apple pie at the local café. Sunlight and gentle breezes as I walk home. A tie-dyed dad plays with his curly-haired daughter. Another man kneels to perform Salah. Neighbors and strangers wave to me for no other reason than it’s a beautiful day. It’s a rare and stirring moment when I’m this deeply in love with the world.

 

Interesting graffiti

Lilleby Smelteverk in Trondheim, Norway.

Desires

Like beautiful bodies of the dead, who had not grown old
and they shut them with tears, in a magnificent mausoleum,
with roses at the head and jasmine at the feet —
that is how desires look that have passed
without fulfillment; without one of them having achieved
a night of sensual delight, or a moonlit morn.

–Constantine P. Cavafy