Posts Tagged ‘praise’

Stubborn Praise


Praise the futility of song.

Ruth Schwartz, Versions of Ghalib: Ghazal 1,



And so today I praise

the mango that molders,

how sweet it is the moment just before

it is gone. I praise the shovel

for its valiant attempt

to make a clearing

even as snow continues

to fall. Praise the fire,

though it always goes out

when left untended.

Praise how easily I forget the lessons

I learned yesterday,

how this allows me to learn them again.

Praise the body that rises

and runs, though it knows

it will tire and ache. Praise

the innocent clock

which only does what it

was made to do. And praise

this longing to praise—

how it has never built

a single house nor fed a mouth

nor loaded a train,

but oh, the joy,

the aliveness in praising.





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Easy today to praise the snow

a sparkling settled on all the world,

and easy to praise the oranges

that arrived bringing sunshine

from far away.

Easy to praise the sky as it clears

and easy to praise the wind

as it blows the storm away.


Less easy to praise the moment

between night and dawn

when I would rather be sleeping

than praising.


Less easy to praise the song

that insists on replaying

inside my head.


Less easy still to praise

the sorrow, though

its roots are in great love.


But bless the poem

for offering the chance

to discover praise.

And bless the praise,

for showing up despite

sorrow, despite fear.


Praise the longing

to praise, may it ever

insist on itself, like

grasses that poke

through the snow in the field,

like the sunshine

inside the clementine,

like a poem past midnight

that refuses to let me sleep.

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Try to praise the mutilated world

            —Adam Zagajewski



The cratered earth

and the blood stained shirts

and the men with guns

and the hate sharp words

and the sour rooms

that never see sun

and the rashes, the cancers

the blackened lungs


and still, there are paths

in Ohio woods

where upended trees

show elaborate roots

and the water seeps

in the ancient gorge,

and dead leaves fuel

whole dominions of soil


and though beauty

can be hard to reconcile,

worse to ignore it,

worse to look away,

worse in this mutilated world

to pretend we don’t have

ten thousand times ten thousand

reasons to praise.


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Praise the summer, with its

endless drought. How you’d rather

revile it, change it, pray

for the world to be another way.

Praise the sky, relentlessly clear,

and the dry field that crunches

beneath your feet.

You dream of green, dream

of laughing in the rain, dream

of puddles and the thin river

rising. But praise the scarcity,

how it teaches you what

you would rather not know—

how fragile the balance,

how every drop matters,

how lucky it is

to grow.


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One Sincerity




with no voice left to sing

still mouthing the words—

alleluia, alleluia

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is it lighter?
I can’t tell—that’s the way
light is sometimes


remind me again,
what are we circling? and what
is it circling us?


not bell, not mirror
not sigh, not kiss, not morning,
not moon, not kiss, but


is it possible
that I might praise


oh yes, I remember,
be a fool—that is what
the wise man said

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Thank you for this day made
of wind and rain and sun and the scent
of old-fashioned lilacs. Thank you

for the pond and the slippery tadpole
and the wild iris that opened beside the pond
last week, so pale, so nearly purple,

their stems already flagged and bent.
Thank you for the yellow morels hiding in the field grass,
the ones we can only see when we are already

on our knees. And thank you for the humming
that rises out of the morning as if mornings
are simply reasons to hum. What a gift,

this being alive, this chance to encounter the world.
What a gift, this being a witness to spring—
spring in everything. Spring in the way

that we greet each other. Spring in the way the golden eagle
takes to the thermals and spirals up to where
we can barely see the great span of its wings.

Spring in the words we have known
since our births. Like glory. Like celebrate.
like flowering. What is it in us that longs to unfurl,

to expand, to open up and leap out—
something feral, unnamable, something
so fierce it can push through the crust of the soil,

something so vulnerable it can freeze and overnight
disappear. Thank you for this return to exactly
where we are, this greening, this bright roar

of the river rising, this swooping
of swallows, this leafing of lettuce,
this now, this yes, this here.

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All Night I Dreamt

all night I dreamt
I was holding up the sky
so every child
could know sunshine—
is it any wonder this morning
my arms will not come down?

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Though there are great oceans
to revere and spiraling galaxies
to venerate, there is also the humble
beet, served here sliced thin on a long white plate,
tousled with dark green arugula
and drizzled with sweet, thick balsamic.
This carpaccio could make a woman find
religion, especially when served
with a wedge of flatbread and pesto
with mascarpone. Dear God, I know
nothing about the ordering of the stars,
cannot fathom the intricate
paths in the brain, the palm, the spine,
but the beet with its rings, its red,
its stain, I can find you here, not
a god restricted to heaven, but one who understands
earth and dirt and bitterness turned sweet.

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—for Jude Janett

You sing, and even
nine hundred miles away
all of my body
turns to ears—
and the ears of my
eyes and the ears
of my gut and
the ears of my ears
all sprout legs and
start dancing in awkward,
ecstatic and awe-drenched hallelujahs,
and I may be broken
and I am a mess but I
am dancing under
your pulpit, keep singing,
I am listening
to your shining
pounding rests.

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