Monday, November 5, 2012

Poem for the soul

Bone, from Why I Wake Early (2004)
by Mary Oliver

 Understand, I am always trying to figure out
what the soul is,
and where hidden,
and what shape
and so, last week,
when I found on the beach
the ear bone
of a pilot whale that may have died
hundreds of years ago, I thought
maybe I was close
to discovering something
for the ear bone


is the portion that lasts longest
in any of us, man or whale; shaped
like a squat spoon
with a pink scoop where
once, in the lively swimmer's head,
it joined its two sisters
in the house of hearing,
it was only
two inches long
and  I thought: the soul
might be like this
so hard, so necessary


yet almost nothing.
Beside me
the gray sea
was opening and shutting its wave-doors,
unfolding over and over
its time-ridiculing roar;
I looked but I couldn't see anything
through its dark-knit glare;
yet don't we all know, the golden sand
is there at the bottom,
though our eyes have never seen it,
nor can our hands ever catch it


lest we would sift it down
into fractions, and facts
and what the soul is, also
I believe I will never quite know.
Though I play at the edges of knowing,
truly I know
our part is not knowing,
but looking, and touching, and loving,
which is the way I walked on,
through the pale-pink morning light.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Give me Birdsong

In the dark times will there also be singing?
Yes, there will be singing. About the dark times.
Bertolt Brecht

Give me bird song
to lighten the sadness,
the coming dark.

Give me rainfall
to sweeten November grass.

Give me long summer nights
and Danish choirs singing
into the light that lasts
until September.

Give me a woman in black
playing piano in the shadows
where we cannot see her.
Let the melody and music
float down to us below,
beside the crooked house
with tilting stairs,
white linens.

Give me what is broken, but true.
For I have grown to hate
 a song that hits all the right noes
but has no blackedged heart.

Let my brokenness
be bird song.

Jennifer Boire

Monday, September 17, 2012

Be Where You Are

Tami Kent

Whether sunlight streams through the window
or the rain drops down,
be where you are.
At times you will be weary
confounded by mixed signals or crossed signs.
Reaching and striving
will produce only dead ends.
So be where you are
back in your center
where there is always
air and light
time and peace
and possibility.
Leave the phone calls
and the work load
worries, conflicts, and expectations
lying where they may
and be where you are.
There with the crying child
or the laundry pile
and the nascent hopes and dreams.
Whether lonely and afraid
or simply noticing the spaces
in between thoughts and words and actions.
Just be where you are
with your breath in and out
and the beauty in front of eyes that see.
With potential in your hands reaching out
and your heart open again to this mystery.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

“The Muse Mother” (1982)

by Eavan Boland

My window pearls wet.
The bare rowan tree
berries rain.
I can see
from where I stand
a woman hunkering –
her busy hand
worrying a child’s face,
working a nappy liner
over his sticky, loud
round of a mouth.
Her hand’s a cloud
across his face,
making light and rain,
smiles and a frown,
a smile again.
She jockeys him to her hip,
pockets the nappy liner,
collars rain on her nape
and moves away,
but my mind stays fixed:
If I could only decline her –
Lost noun
Out of context,
Stray figure of speech –
From this rainy street
Again to her roots,
She might teach me
A new language:
To be a sibyl
Able to sing the past
In pure syllables,
Limning hymns sung
To belly wheat or a woman,
Able to speak at last
My mother’s tongue.

I had no idea there was another use for Muse Mother out there, let alone a poem!
My other blog, Musemother is here:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Love has to be felt

Love has to be felt; it cannot be 
definition in words. Drink 
until your thirst is quenched. 
Eat until your hunger is satisfied. 
Sleep until you are rested. 
Search until you have found peace 
and then, understand.
There is incense already burning 
in the house of your body — smell it. 
It is the perfume of God.
Smell it. And be satisfied, 
be content.

Excerpts from address by Prem Rawat 

Friday, February 3, 2012

More Menopause Poems

Soul Mate, after Twenty Years
Jennifer Boire

Sleepless in the night, you toss and I turn.
Such a gentle man, even in your sleep
you laugh and chuckle, while I grind my teeth.
Slow to anger, you are mute sometimes,
at other times eloquent as mint,
sharp as old cheddar.

Husband and wife, we have shared
first a captain’s bed, then
a double, then a queen’s, now a bed
fit for a king, And blessed it with our wandering
hands, enlivened it with our howling,
whispering, smooching.

Ever since that first kiss of recognition
I felt you calling me home,
that feeling of two halves clicking in,
then struggle as we lit out, each on our own paths,
and babies didn’t come as easily
as we had predicted, but we both got
a chance to finish our higher education
and find meaningful work
before the babies came.

Long nights of walking up and down
halls with a colicky baby cradled on your arm,
or me, sleepy, nursing or crawling after toddlers,
and somehow we are still here, still together,
ready for a new adventure, two teenagers
filling the house with their boisterous
love, and moody noise.

O let us linger longer into old age. Let us
Still hanker after each other, alive with desire.
Let us not hamper each other.
Let us each fill our selves separately
and come together to share
what we have found.
In ups and downs and disappointing
tired, cranky, or high uplifted times
let us live, rooted, in love.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2 Poems for Menopause

Conversation with a woman over forty

Happiness is the best face-lift. Joni Mitchell

Why change your face?
My mother had that gullet

Fill the cup within - your husband
& sons will taste the sweetness.

          crow’s feet in the mirror
          loose skin under the chin

I know, I know
a woman past forty needs reassurance
her beauty has not faded,

that the body can perform
its usual tricks.

          I’d rather go under the scalpel
          than look like that

Beyond your face, such depth
of wanting sears your skin –

they all would drink.

Jennifer Boire

A Poem written against Despair

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
Naomi Shihab Nye

She walked around the circular block of her neighbourhood
and saw that it was good.
She saw lawns newly cut, hedges neatly trimmed,
gardens clipped and tidy.

She saw chrysanthemums flourishing in pots,
purple and gold. She saw asters and brown-eyed
Susan’s in abundance.

She saw three children in the playground.
One toddler, hands full of cookies, came to pat Maggie.  
(Maggie saw that it was good).
She saw the fresh pavement on the driveway,
where a new family had just moved in.

She saw the sumacs flaming orange and red
along the soccer field, maples’ tips torched
with the same fire.

She saw houses, driveways and lawns,
each one more beautiful than the last.
She saw the sky was blue and the sun
was warm, and she told herself
that to be alive, right here and now,
was good.

She took a deep breath, and told herself,
just for today, all I can do
is quiet the war inside of me,
give up the struggle in my own heart.

If just for today, one person gives up despair
and practices opening her heart to hope,
then peace in the heart will be her gift.

 Jennifer Boire