Tag Archives: growth

While Reading of Ginsberg’s Life

To wake
while reading William Blake
to taste of life in dreamlike doses
flexing the sinews of the mind
in the fight against some status quo
that lumbers, like a Clydesdale pair
to drag a dying culture’s broken-wheeled cart
along the muddy ruts
of road built to achieve a purpose
travel to the same crowded cities
filled with lives teeming with uncertainty
holding fast to corroded dreams
that emphasize our lack of clarity

the underlying pinions of capitalism
wasted on the ill-at-ease, the wayward pilgrims
seeking truth despite the cost
their families shamed and raked with muck
in vain attempts to build illusions
that all’s right with the world

there is a need for change, for growth.

26 APR 2004

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The Dogwood

She with fond memories of elders now gone,
& I with my own youth to call back to mind,
bought a ten gallon dogwood last year, late in spring
(& though maybe later than some would advise
for a tree that the hot summer’s swelter might fry,
we thought of it grown and the flowers in bloom
& risked all & planted it one afternoon).

We nursed it with water through many dry days
& watched it grow parched & its leaves curl
(until late November, when those leaves were lost
& the ground turned to stone in the grip of the frost).

Now, one short year later, our still watchful eyes
watch the new shoots come from its dormant limbs;
The leaves are unwinding & stretched to the sun,
its roots well established and firm in the ground.
The young tree we planted to grow, with our love,
has passed through the seasons still vibrant and whole;

And we two? Also thriving, and counting the ways
that the universe joining us here deserves praise.

29 MAR 2004

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One Can Learn Anywhere

Once upon a time, long time ago it was (a time of innocence / a time of confidences?), I was a parishioner at the Mennonite church in Bluffton, Ohio. In addition to being volunteered to teach youth groups about the Mennonite martyrs (which gave birth to the great memorization tool — thumbscrews, blunt force, burnt at the stake / severed tongue, rack-stretched, drowned in the lake — to remember the order of demise of the major participants), I also participated in a young adults study group where a number of interesting exercises were indulged in and then discussed. One of these exercises I provide for your edification and amazement below:

Take a piece of red construction paper and cut out a heart.
Take that paper heart and rip it into several pieces.
Using scotch tape, repair the heart.
Now, describe what that tells you about love.

Here is a paraphrase of my response:

First, the field from which the heart is cut illustrates that there is much more to love than we admit into our own perspective.

Second, the heart is a fragile thing that can be easily damaged and broken.

Third, the heart can be repaired. What repairs it is the adhesive bond of friendship and community, as well as sticking to it and believing that the “center will hold,” despite Yeats’ vision to the contrary.

Fourth, if you take the repaired, taped heart and handle it, look at it closely, you will notice one very important thing: because the ripped edges do not meet as closely as they did when the heart was a single piece of unmarred paper – it now includes a little bit of space between the parts. Your heart, thanks to the rending and breaking, and subsequently thanks to the added density of the tape which now holds it together, is bigger than it was before. In fact, it is perhaps even bigger than it would be if fitted into the original piece of red paper (the field of possible love, you’ll remember).

Finally, because of the tensile strength of the tape used to make the repairs, it is now much more difficult to break along the same lines. Yet, because only a single layer of tape is required to mend the broken heart, it is still as flexible as before; and its color and character, because of the transparent nature of the healing medium, are relatively unaffected and no less red and vibrant. In fact, it may be a bit shinier (and attractive).

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How clear the lens of retrospect
illuminates the distant past,
and brings in focus now, so fast,
foolish acts we’d rather neglect.

It is not always a kindness,
this sharpness of review;
one can easily misconstrue
an earlier bliss as blindness,

and waste so much precious time now
justifying a lack of sense
or imagining a defense,
forgetting not just when, but how

we came to learn from our mistakes.
What we are is what resulted;
and each time the fragile heart breaks,
future selves are not consulted.

No wonder then, this glass is so clear;
its academic and dry glare
sees history as cold and bare,
and stumbles forward, its eyes rear.

16 AUG 2003

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Tending a Garden

The soul is a garden that needs tending:
deadheads to be snipped away, trees to trim,
stray weeds to remove, fence that needs mending,
measuring, minding each tendril and limb.

Yet what will thrive, and what withers and dies,
regardless of hours of ministration,
catches even the masters by surprise,
in spite of their great determination

to manage and nurture and plan and plot
each sapling, each bulb, each seed, each new bloom,
watching the sky and earth with a keen eye.
For nature seeks beyond what it is taught –
it finds its own space wherever there is room.
The longing soul likewise finds truth thereby.

19 APR 2003

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