Marvelous Day here in Portland! Beautiful weather, wonderful events and marvelous news from my friend Ed.
Life is sweet, even in the heart of winter. I hope this finds you well!
On The Menu
Poetry at the Red & Black (Rowan’s first reading!)
Good News from Ed Bennett!
The Three Wishes
Poetry: Further On With Rumi
Art: Mark Henson – The Spiritual Side…
Poetry Reading: Rowan reads at The Red & Black
Poetry at the Red & Black
Rowan took part in a student/teacher reading at the Red and Black Cafe (Our local Wobbly Hang-Out) last night. Part of an arts project, some 35 students and teachers got up and did there thing in Bohemian S.E. Portland.
A very excited audience, and a great opportunity for the students to polish their licks so to speak.
Rowan Reading – “Ode To Tea’
Ode To Tea
You smell of fabulous moon kissed flowers
Your steam is like dragons breath over the morning downs
You look like a still sound of honey
Your kettle sings like a spectacular whistling bear
Your taste varies like thousands of sun dripped paints.
Youre as wise as a mad Alchemists third eye
You dance in me like royal crickets at a ball
You warm me like the wing of a new born phoenix
Not to mention you go well with Honey and cookies too
This is a great program for students; allowing them to find their poetic voices, and to work with older poets. I like the fact that they have a performance at the end of the session. This is all done through Literary Arts: Writers in the Schools. They teach in 16 high schools, in 80 various classrooms and serve 3000 students. Truly a great work. I talked to Jessica Lamb, who was one of the Writers-in-Residence at Cleveland High. A bright, enthusiastic Poetess who along with Karen Margolis worked with teachers and students to bring this whole affair to fruition. Good on them! Check out their website: Literary Arts.org It was a marvelous evening!
Good News from my friend Ed Bennett:
This morning, daughter Megan had a 6 lb 5 oz girl, as
of yet un-named, at NYU Medical Center. . .
Grandparents Ed & Janice are so excited it will be
hard to wait for our visit next week.
The Three Wishes
Once upon a time, and be sure ’twas a long time ago, there lived a poor woodman in a great forest, and every day of his life he went out to fell timber. So one day he started out, and the goodwife filled his wallet and slung his bottle on his back, that he might have meat and drink in the forest. He had marked out a huge old oak, which, thought he, would furnish many and many a good plank. And when he was come to it, he took his axe in his hand and swung it round his head as though he were minded to fell the tree at one stroke. But he hadn’t given one blow, when what should he hear but the pitifullest entreating, and there stood before him a fairy who prayed and beseeched him to spare the tree. He was dazed, as you may fancy, with wonderment and affright, and he couldn’t open his mouth to utter a word. But he found his tongue at last, and, ‘Well,’ said he, ‘I’ll e’en do as thou wishest.’
‘You’ve done better for yourself than you know,’ answered the fairy, ‘and to show I’m not ungrateful, I’ll grant you your next three wishes, be they what they may.’ And therewith the fairy was no more to be seen, and the woodman slung his wallet over his shoulder and his bottle at his side, and off he started home.
But the way was long, and the poor man was regularly dazed with the wonderful thing that had befallen him, and when he got home there was nothing in his noddle but the wish to sit down and rest. Maybe, too, ’twas a trick of the fairy’s. Who can tell? Anyhow, down he sat by the blazing fire, and as he sat he waxed hungry, though it was a long way off supper-time yet.
‘Hasn’t thou naught for supper, dame?’ said he to his wife.
‘Nay, not for a couple of hours yet,’ said she.
‘Ah!’ groaned the woodman, ‘I wish I’d a good link of black pudding here before me.’
No sooner had he said the word, when clatter, clatter, rustle, rustle, what should come down the chimney but a link of the finest black pudding the heart of man could wish for.
If the woodman stared, the goodwife stared three times as much. ‘What’s all this?’ says she.
Then all the morning’s work came back to the woodman, and he told his tale right out, from beginning to end, and as he told it the goodwife glowered and glowered, and when he had made an end of it she burst out, ‘Thou bee’st but a fool, Jan, thou bee’st but a fool; and I wish the pudding were at thy nose, I do indeed.’
And before you could say Jack Robinson, there the Goodman sat and his nose was the longer for a noble link of black pudding.
He gave a pull, but it stuck, and she gave a pull, but it stuck, and they both pulled till they had nigh pulled the nose off, but it stuck and stuck.
‘What’s to be done now?’ said he.
“Tisn’t so very unsightly,’ said she, looking hard at him.
Then the woodman saw that if he wished, he must need wish in a hurry; and wish he did, that the black pudding might come off his nose. Well! there it lay in a dish on the table, and if the goodman and goodwife didn’t ride in a golden coach, or dress in silk and satin, why, they had at least as fine a black pudding for their supper as the heart of man could desire.
Poetry: Further On With Rumi
Love has taken away my practices
and filled me with poetry.
I tried to keep quietly repeating,
No strength but yours,
but I couldn’t.
I had to clap and sing.
I used to be respectable and chaste and stable,
but who can stand in this strong wind
and remember those things?
A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
That’s how I hold your voice.
I am scrap wood thrown in your fire,
and quickly reduced to smoke.
I saw you and became empty.
This emptiness, more beautiful than existence,
it obliterates existence, and yet when it comes,
existence thrives and creates more existence!
The sky is blue. The world is a blind man
squatting on the road.
But whoever sees your emptiness
sees beyond blue and beyond the blind man.
A great soul hides like Muhammad, or Jesus,
moving through a crowd in a city
where no one knows him.
To praise is to praise
how one surrenders
to the emptiness.
To praise the sun is to praise your own eyes.
Praise, the ocean. What we say, a little ship.
So the sea-journey goes on, and who knows where!
Just to be held by the ocean is the best luck
we could have. It’s a total waking up!
Why should we grieve that we’ve been sleeping?
It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been unconscious.
We’re groggy, but let the guilt go.
Feel the motions of tenderness
around you, the buoyancy.
A naked man jumps in the river, hornets swarming
above him. The water is the zikr, remembering,
There is no reality but God. There is only God.
The hornets are his sexual remembering, this woman,
that woman. Or if a woman, this man, that.
The head comes up. They sting.
Breathe water. Become river head to foot.
Hornets leave you alone then. Even if you’re far
from the river, they pay no attention.
No one looks for stars when the sun’s out.
A person blended into God does not disappear. He, or she,
is just completely soaked in God’s qualities.
Do you need a quote from the Qur’an?
All shall be brought into our Presence.
Join those travelers. The lamps we burn go out,
some quickly. Some last till daybreak.
Some are dim, some intense, all fed with fuel.
If a light goes out in one house, that doesn’t affect
the next house. This is the story of the animal soul,
not the divine soul. The sun shines on every house.
When it goes down, all houses get dark.
Light is the image of your teacher. Your enemies
love the dark. A spider weaves a web over a light,
out of himself, or herself, makes a veil.
Don’t try to control a wild horse by grabbing its leg.
Take hold the neck. Use a bridle. Be sensible.
Then ride! There is a need for self-denial.
Don’t be contemptuous of old obediences. They help.
One night a man was crying,
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
“So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?”
The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.
He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.
“Why did you stop praising?”
“Because I’ve never heard anything back.”
you express is the return message.”
The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.
Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.
There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.
Give your life
to be one of them.
Borrow the beloved’s eyes.
Look through them and you’ll see the beloved’s face
everywhere. No tiredness, no jaded boredom.
“I shall be your eye and your hand and your loving.”
Let that happen, and things
you have hated will become helpers.
A certain preacher always prays long and with enthusiasm
for thieves and muggers that attack people
on the street. “Let your mercy, O Lord,
cover their insolence.”
He doesn’t pray for the good,
but only for the blatantly cruel.
Why is this? his congregation asks.
“Because they have done me such generous favors.
Every time I turn back toward the things they want,
I run into them, they beat me, and leave me nearly dead
in the road, and I understand, again, that what they want
is not what I want. They keep me on the spiritual path.
That’s why I honor them and pray for them.”
Those that make you return, for whatever reason,
to God’s solitude, be grateful to them.
Worry about the others, who give you
delicious comforts that keep you from prayer.
Friends are enemies sometimes,
and enemies friends.
There is an animal called an ushghur, a porcupine.
If you hit it with a stick, it extends its quills
and gets bigger. The soul is a porcupine,
made strong by stick-beating.
So a prophet’s soul is especially afflicted,
because it has to become so powerful.
A hide is soaked in tanning liquor and becomes leather.
If the tanner did not rub in the acid,
the hide would get foul-smelling and rotten.
The soul is a newly skinned hide, bloody and gross.
Work on it with manual discipline,
and the bitter tanning acid of grief,
and you’ll become lovely, and very strong.
If you can’t do this work yourself, don’t worry.
You don’t even have to make a decision,
one way or another. The Friend, who knows
a lot more than you do, will bring difficulties,
and grief, and sickness,
as medicine, as happiness,
as the essence of the moment when you’re beaten,
when you hear Checkmate, and can finally say,
with Hallaj’s voice,
I trust you to kill me.