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Perhaps one day they will find the way

to take all the empty space out of our atoms—

condense us to our essence. Then

the whole of the human race would fit

inside a sugar cube. It would serve us right,

expansive buggers that we are, we who stamp

our atoms all over the earth, we who now

leave our footprints in space.

Like our electrons, we exist too many

places at once. Or, perhaps one day,

we’ll learn to embrace all that space within us,

and instead of plundering, conquering, developing out,

we’ll go in, travel in, enter grace.

 

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beside the koi pond

trying to breathe underwater—

if only, if only

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One Vowelish Feast

 

 

ordering the vindaloo

for the joy of saying it—

oh that long o sound

with enough garlic and wine

to transform it into an ahhhh

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One Bummer

 

 

 

dang, how the songbird

mutters sometimes, and slurs,

forgets how even the most

discordant song can be beautiful

when it’s sung clear

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On Earth, just a teaspoon of neutron star

would weigh six billion tons. Six billion tons.

The equivalent weight of how much railway

it would take to get a third of the way to the sun.

It’s the collective weight of every animal

on earth. Times three.

 

Six billion tons sounds impossible

until I consider how it is to swallow grief—

just a teaspoon and one might as well have consumed

a neutron star. How dense it is,

how it carries inside it the memory of collapse.

How difficult it is to move then.

How impossible to believe that anything

could lift that weight.

 

There are many reasons to treat each other

with great tenderness. One is

the sheer miracle that we are here together

on a planet surrounded by dying stars.

One is that we cannot see what

anyone else has swallowed.

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I’m still learning.

            —Michelangelo, on his deathbed

Sometimes I feel as if

I missed something.

Something big. The sermon

that would forge a love affair

with the divine.

The history lesson

that would teach me

how to forgive myself.

The webinar that would train

me in doing the right thing

at the right time. If only

I had read the right book

or met the right coach

or drunk the right tea. If only.

I don’t believe it, not really,

though sometimes

I wish it were as easy

as auditing a class.

Perhaps that is why

I write poems.

I’m taking notes.

Because sometimes

the truth slips into them.

Because it’s surprisingly easy

to forget.

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Willing

 

 

To listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.

—Mark Nepo

 

 

Let me listen.

Let me not know what to say.

Let me receive the world

as it slurs and shrieks,

hums and whispers,

speaks and bleats.

Let me lean ever closer in.

There are walls I have built

in my ears. There is so much

I would rather not hear.

Let me listen.

Let me receive with wonder.

Let all be worthy of note.

Let me be witness, eavesdropper,

spy. Let me never pretend

to be deaf.

Let the world slip into me

and change me

as light changes a room.

Let me be silent, let me listen,

and in listening,

let me be new.

 

 

 

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A flower in the field

is always changed by rain.

It is never indifferent

to sun. Even the slightest

of breezes will bend it,

will rearrange. An ant

walks through its center—

now so much more is possible.

It never pretends

to be unaffected by the world.

I have so much to learn

from the flowers of the field,

how they never turn their backs—

they don’t even have backs.

How they withstand hail

and flood and snow and chill

and still, they bloom,

they spill seeds, they

bring all the beauty they can.

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Such Luck

 

 

Once again the flash flood

misses the house. And the cats

are not found by the mountain lion—

 

even now they curl on the chair.

The forests around the house

are not claimed by wildfire.

 

And though my right inner arm

bears a dozen red bites,

none of the mosquitos seem

 

to be carrying zica.

Yes, it’s a marvelous night,

just think how many things

 

are going right. Not one

broken bone. No earthquake.

No angry bear. It’s enough to

 

make you think you’re lucky

no matter what that letter said.

Just look at those stars

 

and that clear night sky

without even a chance of hurricane,

no tornado, no drought.

 

 

 

 

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That was the day

I asked everyone I met,

Have you had a teenager?
Do you have advice for me?

And the woman in line

in the store told me,

You survive. And the cashier

said almost the same.

Sometimes we search

for what we want to know

in the strangest places.

At the gas station,

I hesitated to ask

the gruff old man

scraping paint, but

I asked my question again.

He looked at me

and shook his head,

you love ’em.

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