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“Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale”
By Dan Albergotti

Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.

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Sligo Creek Snowdrops

“Sligo Creek Snowdrops” by Randal Mason. [Image: white flowers with drooping heads and upright green leaves emerge from a bed of dead leaves. A creek and some bare trees can be seen behind them.]

“Snowdrops” by Louise Glück

Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring–

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.

“Lost”
by David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

[via The Writer’s Almanac]

David Whyte Poem

“Coleman’s Bed”

Make a nesting now, a place to which
the birds can come, think of Kevin’s
prayerful palm holding the blackbird’s egg
and be the one, looking out from this place
who warms interior forms into light.
Feel the way the cliff at your back
gives shelter to your outward view
and then bring in from those horizons
all discordant elements that seek a home.

Be taught now, among the trees and rocks,
how the discarded is woven into shelter,
learn the way things hidden and unspoken
slowly proclaim their voice in the world.
Find that far inward symmetry
to all outward appearances, apprentice
yourself to yourself, begin to welcome back
all you sent away, be a new annunciation,
make yourself a door through which
to be hospitable, even to the stranger in you.

See with every turning day,
how each season makes a child
of you again, wants you to become
a seeker after rainfall and birdsong,
watch now, how it weathers you
to a testing in the tried and true,
admonishes you with each falling leaf,
to be courageous, to be something
that has come through, to be the last thing
you want to see before you leave the world.

Above all, be alone with it all,
a hiving off, a corner of silence
amidst the noise, refuse to talk,
even to yourself, and stay in this place
until the current of the story
is strong enough to float you out.

Ghost then, to where others
in this place have come before,
under the hazel, by the ruined chapel,
below the cave where Coleman slept,
become the source that makes
the river flow, and then the sea
beyond. Live in this place
as you were meant to and then,
surprised by your abilities,
become the ancestor of it all,
the quiet, robust and blessed Saint
that your future happiness
will always remember.

David Whyte from “River Flow: New & Selected Poems 1984-2007”

“Want”
by Carrie Fountain

The wasps outside
the kitchen window
are making that
thick, unraveling sound
again, floating in
and out of the bald head
of their nest,
seeming not to move
while moving,
and it has just occurred
to me, standing,
washing the coffeepot,
watching them hang
loosely in the air—thin
wings; thick, elongated
abdomens; sad, down—
pointing antennae—
that this
is the heart’s constant
project: this simple
learning; learning
how to hold
hopelessness
and hope together;
to see on the unharmed
surface of one
the great scar
of the other; to recognize
both and to make
something of both;
to desire everything
and nothing
at once and to desire it
all the time;
and to contain that desire
fleshly, in a body;
to wash it and rest it
and feed it; to learn
its name and from whence
it came; and to speak
to it—oh, most of all
to speak to it—
every day, every day,
saying to one part,
“Well, maybe this is all
you get,” while saying
to the other, “Go on,
break it open, let it go.”

[via The Writer’s Almanac]

“Spring Giddiness”
By Rumi

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let’s buy it.

Daylight, full of small dancing particles
and the one great turning, our souls
are dancing with you, without feet, they dance.
Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?

All day and night, music,
a quiet, bright
reedsong. If it
fades, we fade.

“Own Your Own Pain”
by Patricia Roth Schwartz

Own your own pain.
Why not? It’s yours.

You’ve hawked it, pushed it, pimped it –
now,

Your body, breathing, life, guts, luster,
sweetness, softness,
pays the price.

So own your own pain. Why not?

You’ve eaten it for breakfast,
Sung it to sleep at night,
Rinsed it out in the basin,
Watched it rise with the bread.

So- take it, turn it,
Let it slither,
Into blood-beat, breast-bone, cell-song,
skin.

Give it a name.
What you possess
Cannot possess you.

“The Journey”
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

Technology is no panacea. I believe that deeply. But even as a late adopter — one might even say a lazy adopter — I was moved by b.e. fitzgerald’s poem on the accessibility of beauty, shared connection, and open information that so many of us enjoy today.

“I swear to every heaven ever imagined,
if I hear one more dead-eyed hipster
tell me that art is dead, I will personally summon Shakespeare
from the grave so he can tell them every reason
why he wishes he were born in a time where
he could have a damn Gmail account.
The day after I taught my mother
how to send pictures over Iphone she texted
me a blurry image of our cocker spaniel ten times in a row.
Don’t you dare try to tell me that that is not beautiful.
But whatever, go ahead and choose to stay in
your backwards-hoping-all-inclusive club
while the rest of us fall in love over Skype.
Send angry letters to state representatives,
as we record the years first sunrise so
we can remember what beginning feels like when
we are inches away from the trigger.
Lock yourself away in your Antoinette castle
while we eat cake and tweet to the whole universe that we did.
Hashtag you’re a pretentious ass hole.
Van Gogh would have taken 20 selflies a day.
Sylvia Plath would have texted her lovers
nothing but heart eyed emojis when she ran out of words.
Andy Warhol would have had the worlds weirdest Vine account,
and we all would have checked it every morning while we
Snap Chat our coffee orders to the people
we wish were pressed against our lips instead of lattes.
This life is spilling over with 85 year olds
rewatching JFK’s assassination and
7 year olds teaching themselves guitar over Youtube videos.
Never again do I have to be afraid of forgetting
what my fathers voice sounds like.
No longer must we sneak into our families phonebook
to look up an eating disorder hotline for our best friend.
No more must I wonder what people in Australia sound like
or how grasshoppers procreate.
I will gleefully continue to take pictures of tulips
in public parks on my cellphone
and you will continue to scoff and that is okay.
But I hope, I pray, that one day you will realize how blessed
you are to be alive in a moment where you can google search
how to say I love you in 164 different languages.”

b.e.fitzgerald (Art is a Facebook status about your winter break.)

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.