Posts Tagged ‘impermanence’

And if I can’t live forever,

then let me make the most

of this sliver of eternity,

these slender days I’ve been given

in the ongoing story.

Let me be recklessly curious

about what I will never know—

driven to dance with the secrets

of galaxy and spruce cone.

Just this morning, I wondered

what wake will I leave behind?

Let me be relentlessly kind.

Let me find peace

with the imperfect self.

Let me find love

for the imperfect world.

In my smallest moment,

let me lean into enormity.

If I can’t live forever,

let me at least believe in forever

and love the world


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One Impermanence

inside each perfect blossom

hides the ache

for more just

one more

perfect blossom

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Can’t bring home the Sangre de Cristos with me.

As if I need another mountain in my back yard—

but these peaks are different, somewhat softer,

somewhat closer, somehow new.

A photo isn’t the same.

Can’t bring back the strange jazz of Friday night

with its ancient clarinetist, its renegade bass.

Can’t bring the back porch where we drank tequila.

Can’t bring the bright howl of coyotes

heralding dawn. I would like to pack

the conversation Julie and I had

this morning, the one in which she shared

her unmet dreams. And the laughter

in class today when hope was plucked

like a chicken and made into soup,

and the way the clouds were strangely blown

across the morning sky. The dark red gourd

Wendy carried with her. Scent of pinion.

Sound of Rachel’s drum. We can’t bring anything with us, really.

A toothbrush, a change of clothes, some boots.

But nothing that matters. Nothing

that we most want to hold. Like the love

I feel for these people who gather

in small rooms to talk about poems. Like

the friendship that blooms when we dare

to know just how much we can never bring back.


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It wasn’t until I had passed through security

and found my way into Concourse B

that I found myself sinking into a chair

across from a giant Vienna Beef poster

and began to weep. And once they began,

the tears wouldn’t stop. Nor did I try

to stop them. I had wondered in the ICU

where they were. Had wondered

again at my parents’ home. It was strange

to be so level—not cold, really, and not numb,

but oddly steeled. It was a relief, really,

to sob into my hands. To let grief take over.

To be a maidservant to fragility.

What a gift to be sideswiped with the truth

of our vulnerability. What a blessing

to be baptized in my own helplessness.

Over the loudspeaker, they announced

that a plane was delayed. As if any of us

really know when we’ll depart, when we’ll arrive.

When the tears dried, I stood. Walked

to my gate recalibrated. Called my parents

again because I could. Because I could.

In the window, I smiled at my watery reflection,

how it almost wasn’t there at all.



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A metal table in the sun. Beyond it, winter.

Two women sit, brought here by rambling.


One woman weeps, tears of mortality.

The other woman rhymes with her.


Everything rhymes eventually, though

neither of them know it yet. The grass.


The snow. The dirt. The way the two women lean

into shadows. It’s not that time makes demands,


it’s just that the women still see themselves

as separate. They grasp at the present,


thinking this makes them a part of it.

Meanwhile, the birds. Meanwhile,


the trees. Meanwhile, the cells, changing.

Meanwhile the sun slides down the sky.


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Years after the ten-word lesson in impermanence,

the truth of the words still comes to me—not always,

of course. For instance, not today as I skied with my daughter,

the sky relentlessly blue. Not as I folded the sourdough loaf,

the dough soft and stretchy in my floured hands. Not as I walked

up the driveway with my son, backwards, doubled over

in laughter. No, it never occurs to me when I am

at home in my gladness. Only later it comes, when thoughts do

what thoughts do—insist on forever, long for assurance, hope for more.

But always, buoyed by joy, enabled by bliss, the truth comes

to me, not like a pin in a balloon. Not like a shriek in the night.

Not like a thorn. More like a friend who is always there to hold

my hand and squeeze it as if to say, yes, that’s right,

it’s hard to let go. Still, there’s so much more to love. See

that chickadee at the feeder? See the shape of the river?

Note the color of eggplant’s skin? Come. See how the sky

stirs with purple and pink? See, it’s still lovely now

that the purple is gone?

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morning after he died,
I stare at red willows
wonder why they’re so beautiful


already vanishing
this snow as it falls—
best start kissing now


this old idea—
I slipped it on like a silk dress
lined with glue

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in my red briefcase
no notebook, no calendar,
no laptop, no pen

only stones, rocks, dust
the things I know will last

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This feeling
this tattered net
this piece of cake
this morning
this poem
this broken yolk
this dandelion
this warning
this girl
and her friend
and the song
they are singing
this scent of green
this in between
this longing
this knowing.

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The truth is, we don’t really want to be free from desire or to admit that clinging to the pleasures of the senses—the taste of delicious food; the sound of music, gossip, or a joke; the touch of a sexual embrace—ends unavoidably in disappointment and suffering. We don’t have to deny that pleasant feelings are pleasurable. But we must remember that like every other feeling, pleasure is impermanent.
—Bhante Gunaratana, “Desire and Craving,” Tricycle Magazine

so soon I find it—
the bottom
of the potato chip bag


make us more bonobo
than chimpanzee, preferring
to fuck than fight


all night, the same
refrain after every bit of news:
April Fools


sound of flamenco
guitar, I will pay you a hundred poems
to play one more hour


missing this:
your lips, your lips, too long gone
between each kiss

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