St. Francis And The Sow

My favorite Galway Kinnell poem…


The bud

stands for all things,

even those things that don’t flower,

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on its brow

of the flower

and retell it in words and in touch

it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;

as St. Francis

put his hand on the creased forehead

of the sow, and told her in words and in touch

blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow

began remembering all down her thick length,

from the earthen snout all the way

through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of

the tail,

from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine

down through the great broken heart

to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering

from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking

and blowing beneath them:

the long, perfect loveliness of sow.


A Letter Of Recommendation

Another one of my favorite poems. This is by Yehudi Amachai…

On summer nights I sleep naked
in Jerusalem. My bed
stands on the brink of a deep valley
without rolling down into it.

In the daytime I walk around with the Ten
Commandments on my lips
like an old tune someone hums to himself.

Oh touch me, touch me, good woman!
That’s not a scar you feel under my shirt, that’s
a letter of recommendation, folded up tight,
from my father:
“All the same, he’s a good boy, and full of love.”

I remember my father waking me for early prayers.
He would do it by gently stroking my forehead, not
by tearing away the blanket.

Since then I love him even more.
And as his reward, may he be wakened
gently and with love
on the Day of the Resurrection.

More Issa Poems

A huge frog and I,
staring at each other,
neither of us moves.

In another world
Was I perhaps your cousin

The little sparrows
They open their mouths at the plum tree—
This too is worship.

Napped half the day;
no one
punished me!

Bright autumn moon;
pond snails crying
in the saucepan.

In this world
we walk on the roof of hell,
gazing at flowers.

The world of dew
is only the world of dew
and yet…and yet…


The older I get
the more I believe
kindness is the only thing
worth writing about

Here are some quotes to live by:

is more important than wisdom
and the recognition
of this
is the beginning of wisdom.
– Theodore Isaac Rubin

Be kind
Everyone you meet
is fighting a hard battle
– John Watson

No matter what
the question is
compassion is the house
where the answer lives
– Me

Those who bring sunshine
into the lives of others
cannot keep it
from themselves.
– James M. Barrie

When a person does a good deed
when he or she
didn’t have to
God looks down and smiles
and says,
“For this moment alone
it was worth
creating the world.”
– The Talmud

When a blind man
carries a lame man
both go forward.
– Swedish proverb

One kind word
can warm
three winter months
– Japanese proverb

If at the end
all that can be said of you
is that you were kind –
that is enough
– Peter Gray

A Poem by Han Shan

A Chinese poet, around the eight century…

East of me, the old lady

Got rich three or four years ago.

Used to be poorer than me,

Now she laughs that I don’t have money.

She laughs that I’ve fallen  behind.

I laugh that she’s gotten ahead.

Both of us laughing, no stopping us.

East, and West.

Dog’s Death

I love poems about animals. This is my favorite, by John Updike…

Dog’s Death

She must have been kicked unseen or brushed by a car.

Too young to know much, she was beginning to learn
To use the newspapers spread on the kitchen floor
And to win, wetting there, the words, “Good dog!
Good dog!”

We thought her shy malaise was a shot reaction.
The autopsy disclosed a rupture in her liver.
As we teased her with play, blood was filling her skin
And her heart was learning to lie down forever.

Monday morning, as the children were noisily fed
And sent to school, she crawled beneath the youngest’s bed.
We found her twisted and limp but still alive.
In the car to the vet’s, on my lap, she tried

To bite my hand and died. I stroked her warm fur
And my wife called in a voice imperious with tears.
Though surrounded by love that would have upheld her,
Nevertheless she sank and, stiffening, disappeared.

Back home, we found that in the night her frame,

Drawing near to dissolution, had endured the shame
Of diarrhoea and had dragged across the floor
To a newspaper carelessly left there.

Good dog.

Poems by Issa

The Dali Lama advises: practice compassion by being kind to insects.
In that spirit, here are some haiku by the poet Issa:

don’t swat that fly!
see how it prays
with its hands, with its feet

Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house

Even with insects–
some can sing,
some can’t.

I’m going out,
flies, so relax,
make love.

For you fleas too
the nights must be long,
they must be lonely.

Look out!
I’m going to turn now—
Move over, Cricket!

Last time, I think,
I’ll brush the flies
from my father’s face.