Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thich Nhat Hanh: "Walking Meditation"

Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.

Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.

"Walking Meditation" by Thich Nhat Hanh, from Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh. © Parallax Press, 1999.  

Art credit: "Monks Passing Vietnam’s Pongua Falls," photograph by Lilly Calandrello, taken March 26, 2012 (originally color).

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Philippe Jaccottet: "Distances"

Swifts turn in the heights of the air;
higher still turn the invisible stars.
When day withdraws to the ends of the earth
their fires shine on a dark expanse of sand.

We live in a world of motion and distance.
The heart flies from tree to bird,
from bird to distant star,
from star to love; and love grows
in the quiet house, turning and working,
servant of thought, a lamp held in one hand.


"Distances" by Philippe Jaccottet, from The Selected Poems of Philippe Jaccottet, edited and translated from the original French by Derek Mahon © Wake Forest University Press, 1988.  

The French text can be read online on p. 96 of this book.

Art credit: Photograph of "a traditional lantern," by Helen Redding (originally black and white).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ishihara Yoshiro: "Wheat"

Let a stalk of wheat
be your witness
to every difficult day.

Since it was a flame
before it was a plant,
since it was courage
before it was grain,
since it was determination
before it was growth,
and, above all, since it was prayer
before it was fruition,
it has nothing to point to
but the sky.
Remember the incredibly gentle wheat stalk
which holds its countless arrows fixed
to shoot from the bowstring—
you, standing in the same position
where the wind holds it.

"Wheat" by Ishihara Yoshiro, from Like Underground Water: The Poetry of Mid-Twentieth Century Japan. Translated from the original Japanses by Naoshi Koriyama and Edward Lueders. © Copper Canyon Press, 1995.  

Art credit: Untitled photograph of a stalk of wheat, by Todd Korol/Reuters (originally color).


Monday, July 28, 2014

Maya Stein: "Alliance"

“You have to make an alliance with your anguish,” he said,
“not wage war against it.” And I thought of all the fists
I had shaken at misfortune: games lost
because the shot clock ran out,
a good meal scorched in a forgotten oven,
money dropped on a dress worn only once,
the bully in 6th grade, the math test in 9th,
the wrong outfit at Halloween.
But of course, this isn’t what he meant.

If I were brave enough, I’d tell you how my heart
has raged for love, stretched thin as a high wire.
If I were brave enough, I’d tell you
how my body has been fighting to stay upright
on every precipitous downhill the city
throws at it. If I were brave enough,
I’d climb into your lap and weep with longing.
All I can say is that any attempt at beauty and hope
is land-mined with failure.
And so the perilous track-making begins.
Wending our way through,
there are possible clutches at sunlight, at windows, at yes.
We are each of us inches from death.
We are each of us inches from life.
We are each of us inches from one another.

"Alliance" by Maya Stein. Published on the poet's earliest blog on December 8, 2009. © Maya Stein.

Art credit: "Reaching out to make a difference," photograph attributed to this page (originally color).


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Carolyn Miller: "A Warm Summer in San Francisco"

Although I watched and waited for it every day,

somehow I missed it, the moment when everything reached 

the peak of ripeness. It wasn’t at the solstice; that was only
the time of the longest light. It was sometime after that, when

the plants had absorbed all that sun, had taken it into themselves

for food and swelled to the height of fullness. It was in July,
in a dizzy blaze of heat and fog, when on some nights
it was too hot to sleep, and the restaurants set half their tables

on the sidewalks; outside the city, down the coast,
the Milky Way floated overhead, and shooting stars

fell from the sky over the ocean. One day the garden

was almost overwhelmed with fruition:
My sweet peas struggled out of the raised bed onto the mulch
of laurel leaves and bark and pods, their brilliantly colored

sunbonnets of rose and stippled pink, magenta and deep purple
pouring out a perfume that was almost oriental. Black-eyed Susans

stared from the flower borders, the orange cherry tomatoes

were sweet as candy, the corn fattened in its swaths of silk,

hummingbirds spiraled by in pairs, the bees gave up

and decided to live in the lavender. At the market,

surrounded by black plums and rosy plums and sugar prunes

and white-fleshed peaches and nectarines, perfumey melons
and mangos, purple figs in green plastic baskets,

clusters of tiny Champagne grapes and piles of red-black cherries

and apricots freckled and streaked with rose, I felt tears

come into my eyes, absurdly, because I knew
that summer had peaked and was already passing

away. I felt very close then to understanding 

the mystery; it seemed to me that I almost knew

what it meant to be alive, as if my life had swelled

to some high moment of response, as if I could

reach out and touch the season, as if I were inside

its body, surrounded by sweet pulp and juice,

shimmering veins and ripened skin.

"A Warm Summer in San Francisco" by Carolyn Miller, from Light, Moving. © Sixteen Rivers Press, 2009.  

Art credit: Untitled image from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco, photographer unknown (originally color).


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Nancy Ann Schaefer: "Ahimsa"

What is this you and I?
this division, separateness
struggling for supremacy
—hostile & mistrustful
fight-faced, fists raised,
one against the other,
discordant & destructive?

When really there
is only one—
the we of us, of all of us
our mystic core
immortal, enfolding
into cosmic divine

Let’s unlearn this way of war.

"Ahimsa" by Nancy Ann Schaefer, from In Search of Lode. © 918studio, 2014.

Art credit: "Ahimsa," desktop wallpaper by unknown artist, available for download from lululemon (originally black and white).


Friday, July 25, 2014

Mary Gray: "When I Am Wise"

                                    When I am wise in the speech of grass,
                                    I forget the sound of words
                                    and walk into the bottomland
                                    and lie with my head on the ground
                                    and listen to what grass tells me
                                    about small places for wind to sing,
                                    about the labor of insects,
                                    about shadows dank with spice,
                                    and the friendliness of weeds.

                                    When I am wise in the dance of grass,
                                    I forget the name and run
                                    into the rippling bottomland
                                    and lean against the silence which flows
                                    out of the crumpled mountains
                                    and rises through slick blades, pods,
                                    wheat stems, and curly shoots,
                                    and is carried by wind for miles
                                    from my outstretched hands.

"When I Am Wise" by Mary Gray, from Wild Song: Poems of the Natural World, edited by John Daniel. © University of Georgia Press, 1998.

Art credit: Untitled image by unknown photographer (originally color).


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mary O'Connor: "Good Days"

each glorious third week after Adriamycin

Low light before sunrise, distant birdsong, smell of damp earth.
Under the quilt in the laze of limbs morning-slack,
a long slow waking, and comfort in the bed.


The head in order observes thoughts budding, branching,
lights flares, solves puzzles, constructs a theme. Happiness
just to have the words coming, the words in order.


Color grows with light: sky, moving clouds, tulips, new leaves,
and this blackberry, its perfect globules closefitting spheres
of dark juicy purples.


On my walk a stand of reeds caught by the slanting light,
back home tears let down simply as rain on the coarse yellow cloth
where my bread and apples wait.


Neighbors, mail, and visitors, the heft of a squirmy baby
healthy as a trout. His organized joynts, his azure veins.
Later, sweet light shrieks of kids on a trampoline.


Inner movements: to be stirred, to know a capacity for ecstasy, to harbor
an obsession that lights me up like a lamp, or a passion for a cause,
a book, music, the life of the spirit.


What I don’t know not besting me
what I don’t know for sure not worrying me
what I’ll never know in the hands of God.


That something lost with cancer treatment?
It was really something. Here. It’s back.

"Good Days" by Mary O'Connor, RSM. Published here by poet submission. © Mary O'Connor.

Art credit: Untitled image by unknown photographer (originally color). Caption: "Karen slowly injects the Adriamycin into the IV. It takes several minutes to inject."

Curator's note: In her submission the poet wrote, "On the good days during the chemo cycle, life wasn’t just good, it shone! Everything stood out in [high definition]. I remember the first time I got glasses when I was 13 and had been short-sighted for years, the way things just came into focus. Amazing. It was like that."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rolf Jacobsen: "The Fireflies"

                                    It was the evening with fireflies
                                    while we were waiting for the bus to Velletri
                                    that we saw two old people kissing
                                    under the plane tree. It was then
                                    you said, half to the air
                                    half to me:
                                    Whoever loves for years
                                    hasn't lived in vain.
                                    And it was then I caught sight of the first
                                    fireflies in the darkness, sparkling
                                    with flashes of light around your head.
                                    It was then.

"The Fireflies" by Rolf Jacobsen, from North in the World: Selected Poems of Rolf Jacobsen. Translated from the original Norwegian and edited by Roger Greenwald. © University of Chicago Press, 2002.

The Norwegian text can be found on page 298 of the digital text.

Art credit: "Fireflies by the Ropeswing, Lake of the Ozarks, MO," time-lapse photograph by Vincent Brady (originally color).


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Joyce Sutphen: "The Last Things I'll Remember"

The partly open hay barn door, white frame around the darkness,
the broken board, small enough for a child
to slip through.

Walking in the cornfields in late July, green tassels overhead,
the slap of flat leaves as we pass, silent
and invisible from any road.

Hollyhocks leaning against the stucco house, peonies heavy
as fruit, drooping their deep heads
on the dog house roof.

Lilac bushes between the lawn and the woods,
a tractor shifting from one gear into
the next, the throttle opened,

the smell of cut hay, rain coming across the river,
the drone of the hammer mill,
milk machines at dawn.

"The Last Things I'll Remember" by Joyce Sutphen, from First Words. © Red Dragonfly Press, 2010.

Art credit: Untitled image by Greg Hill carrying the caption "A road leads deep into a Kansas cornfield in late July" (originally color).

Monday, July 21, 2014

Carol Coffee Reposa: "Vegetable Love in Texas"

Farmers say
There are two things
Money can't buy:
Love and homegrown tomatoes.

I pick them carefully.
They glow in my hands, shimmer
Beneath their patina of warm dust
Like talismen.

Perhaps they are.
Summer here is a crucible
That melts us down
Each day,

The sky a sheet of metal
Baking cars, houses, streets.

Out in the country
Water-starved maize

Shrivels into artifacts.
A desiccated cache
Of shredded life.
Farmers study archeology

In limp straw hats.
But still I have
This feeble harvest,
Serendipity in red:

Red like a favorite dress,
Warm like a dance,
Lush like a kiss long desired,
Firm like a vow, the hope of rain.

"Vegetable Love in Texas" by Carol Coffee Reposa, from Texas Poetry Calendar: 2008. © Dos Gatos Press, 2008.

Art credit: "Tomatoes in Basket," photograph by Diane Pratt (originally color).


Curator's Note: I'm Off

Happy Monday, all!

Today I'm off for Glacier National Park to see what's left of the glaciers before they're all gone. I'll be happily unplugged in the wild until August. But don't worry. Your daily poems are ready to go, and my trusty friend RW is back to manage all the YOBH platforms until my return. I know you'll be gentle with her.

Thanks, RW! And thanks to all you readers who make this project such a pleasure.

Deep peace,

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jeanne Lohmann: "Invocation"

Let us try what it is to be true to gravity,
to grace, to the given, faithful to our own voices,

to lines making the map of our furrowed tongue.
Turned toward the root of a single word, refusing

solemnity and slogans, let us honor what hides
and does not come easy to speech. The pebbles

we hold in our mouth help us to practice song,
and we sing to the sea. May the things of this world

be preserved to us, their beautiful secret
vocabularies. We are dreaming it over and new,

the language of our tribe, music we hear
we can only acknowledge. May the naming powers

be granted. Our words are feathers that fly
on our breath. Let them go in a holy direction.

"Invocation" by Jeanne Lohmann, as published online by Gratefulness. Earlier published in print in Shaking the Tree. © Fithian Press, 2010.

Art credit: "Flurry of Flying Feathers," photograph by Sean Tomlinson, uploaded February 12, 2012 (originally black and white).

Saturday, July 19, 2014

David Baker: "Heaven"

                                 All afternoon the sprinkler ticks and sprays,
                                 ticks and sprays in lazy rounds, trailing
                                 a feather of mist. When I turn it off,
                                 the cicadas keep up their own dry rain,
                                 passing on high from limb to limb.
                                 I don’t know what has shocked me more,
                                 that you are gone, that I am still here,
                                 that there is music after the end.

"Heaven" by David Baker. Published online by The Atlantic, June 19, 2013. © David Baker.

Art credit: Untitled image by unknown photographer (originally color).


Friday, July 18, 2014

Jane Hirshfield: "Respite"

Day after quiet day passes.
I speak to no one besides the dog.
To her,
I murmur much I would not otherwise say.

We make plans
then break them on a moment's whim.
She agrees;
though sometimes bringing
to my attention a small blue ball.

Passing the fig tree
I see it is
suddenly huge with green fruit,
which may ripen or not.

Near the gate,
I stop to watch
the sugar ants climb the top bar
and cross at the latch,
as they have now in summer for years.

In this way I study my life.
It is,
I think today,
like a dusty glass vase.

A little water,
a few flowers would be good,
I think;
but do nothing. Love is far away.
Incomprehensible sunlight falls on my hand.

"Respite" by Jane Hirshfield, from The Lives of the Heart: Poems. © Harper Perennial, 1997.

Art credit: "The Blue Ball," photograph by Andrew Kearton, taken June 19, 2013 (originally color).

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cindy Gregg: "Thoughtful Voyeur: Woman and Cantaloupe"

Watch her select it
over sassier summer
fruits, carved offerings
of purple, yellow,
red in a supermarket
stunned with
fluorescent light.

Seeing her slice it open,
ponder how the melon
secrets its exquisite
pastel beneath a rough,
webby exterior, silent
protest to the showy
outer life of
its every former
banana, strawberry, grape.

Later on, recall
the knife’s decisiveness,
the sudden exposure of
such a pleasing hue,
its juicy glisten
brightening, gladdening
her stark white kitchen
with a brief and modest blush.

"Thoughtful Voyeur: Woman and Cantaloupe" by Cindy Gregg, from Suddenly Autumn. © Word Play Press, 2010. 

Art credit: "Cantaloupe Skin," by Paul Hartley.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Alice Walker: "I Will Keep Broken Things"

Curator's note: Today we have the pleasure of the poet reading her poem. Please turn your volume up as the recording level was somewhat low. If you can't see the viewer above, watch the video here.

I will keep broken
the big clay pot
with raised iguanas
chasing their
tails; two
of their wise
heads sheared off;
I will keep broken things: the old slave market basket brought to
my door by Mississippi a jagged
hole gouged
in its sturdy dark
oak side.

I will keep broken things:
The memory of
those long delicious night swims with you;

I will keep broken things:

In my house
there remains an honored shelf
on which I will keep broken things.

Their beauty is
they need not ever be "fixed."

I will keep your wild
free laughter though it is now missing its
reassuring and
graceful hinge.
I will keep broken things:

Thank you
So much!

I will keep broken things.
I will keep you:
pilgrim of sorrow.
I will keep myself.

"I Will Keep Broken Things" by Alice Walker, from The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm's Way. © The New Press, 2013.

Video credit: A reading in celebration of the April, 2009, opening of Walker's archives at Emory University, uploaded by Emory University on September 16, 2011.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Naomi Shihab Nye: "Daily"

These shriveled seeds we plant,
corn kernel, dried bean,
poke into loosened soil,
cover over with measured fingertips
These T-shirts we fold into
perfect white squares
These tortillas we slice and fry to crisp strips
This rich egg scrambled in a gray clay bowl
This bed whose covers I straighten
smoothing edges till blue quilt fits brown blanket
and nothing hangs out

This envelope I address
so the name balances like a cloud
in the center of sky
This page I type and retype
This table I dust till the scarred wood shines
This bundle of clothes I wash and hang and wash again
like flags we share, a country so close
no one needs to name it
The days are nouns: touch them
The hands are churches that worship the world

"Daily" by Naomi Shihab Nye, from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems. © Eighth Mountain Press, 1994.  

Art credit: Detail from photograph of crispy tortilla chips, likely by

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mary Oliver: "The Loon"

Not quite four a.m., when the rapture of being alive
strikes me from sleep, and I rise
from the comfortable bed and go
to another room, where my books are lined up
in their neat and colorful rows. How

magical they are! I choose one
and open it. Soon
I have wandered in over the waves of the words
to the temple of thought.

                                           And then I hear
outside, over the actual waves, the small,
perfect voice of the loon. He is also awake,
and with his heavy head uplifted he calls out
to the fading moon, to the pink flush
swelling in the east that, soon,
will become the long, reasonable day.

                                                                 Inside the house
it is still dark, except for the pool of lamplight
in which I am sitting.

                                    I do not close the book.

Neither, for a long while, do I read on.

"The Loon" by Mary Oliver, from What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems. © Da Capo Press, 2003.  

Art credit: "Common Loon at Dawn in Algonquin Park," photograph by Steve Hall (originally color).

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mark Strand: Untitled ["A jouney continues"]

A journey continues until it stops
A journey that stops is no longer a journey
A journey loses things on its way
A journey passes through things, things pass through it
When a journey is over, it loses itself to a place
When a journey remembers, it begins a journal
Which is a new journey about an old journey
A journey over time is different from a journey into time
An actual journey is into the future
A reflective journey is into the past

A journey always begins in a place called Here
Pack your bags and imagine your journey
Unpack your bags and imagine your journey is done

If you're afraid of a journey, don't buy shoes

Untitled ["A journey continues"] by Mark Strand, from Chicken, Shadow, Moon & More. © Turtle Point Press, 2000.

Art credit: "Old Shoes," photograph by Vladimiras Nikonovas (originally color).

Saturday, July 12, 2014

David Budbill: "The Ubiquitous Day Lily of July"

There is an orange day lily that blooms in July and is
everywhere around these parts right now. Common.
Ordinary. It grows in everybody's dooryard—abandoned
or lived in—along the side of the road, in front of stone walls,
at gas stations and garages, at the entrance to driveways,
anywhere it takes a mind to sprout. You always see them
in clusters, bunches, never by themselves. They propagate
by rhizomes, which is why they are so resilient, and why
you see them in bunches.

There is an orange day lily that blooms in July and is
ubiquitous right now. The roadside mowers mow a lot
of them, but they don't get them all.

These are not the rare and delicate lemon yellow day lilies
or the other kinds people have around their places. This one
is coarse and ordinary, almost harsh in its weathered beauty,
like an older woman with a tough, worldly-wise and wrinkled
face. There is nothing nubile, smooth or perky about this flower.
It's not fresh. It's been around awhile and everybody knows it.

As I said, it's coarse and ordinary and it's beautiful because
it's ordinary. A plant gone wild and therefore become
rugged, indestructible, indomitable, in short: tough, resilient,
like anyone or thing has to be in order to survive.

"The Ubiquitous Day Lily of July" by David Budbill. Published online by The Writer's Almanac, September 4, 2013. © David Budbill.

Art credit: "Tiger Lily Bloom," alkyds on mounted canvas, by Linda Richter. Caption: "The intense orange and yellow of the tiger lily comes to life. Sometimes just one and sometimes a row of them line the back roads of New Hampshire. Lush and green foliage sets off the brilliant orange of the blossoms."

Friday, July 11, 2014

Thomas R. Smith: "Baby Wrens' Voices"

                        I am a student of wrens.
                        When the mother bird returns
                        to her brood, beak squirming
                        with winged breakfast, a shrill
                        clamor rises like jingling
                        from tiny, high-pitched bells.
                        Who'd have guessed such a small
                        house contained so many voices?
                        The sound they make is the pure sound
                        of life's hunger. Who hangs our house
                        in the world's branches, and listens
                        when we sing from our hunger?
                        Because I love best those songs
                        that shake the house of the singer,
                        I am a student of wrens.

"Baby Wrens' Voices" by Thomas R. Smith, from Kinnickinnic. © Parallel Press, 2008.

Art credit: Untitled image by unknown photographer (originally color).

Author photo credit: Jens Gunelson (originally black and white).


Thursday, July 10, 2014

William Carlos Williams: "Thursday"

                                  I have had my dream—like others—
                                  and it has come to nothing, so that
                                  I remain now carelessly
                                  with feet planted on the ground
                                  and look up at the sky—
                                  feeling my clothes about me,
                                  the weight of my body in my shoes,
                                  the rim of my hat, air passing in and out
                                  at my nose—and decide to dream no more.

"Thursday" by William Carlos Williams, from "Broken Windows," in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse: Volume XIII, edited by Harriet Monroe. © Modern Poetry Association, 1918-1919.  

Art credit: "St. Francis in the Desert," oil and tempera painting on poplar panel, by Giovanni Bellini (around 1480; originally color). Curator's note: The painting shows a barefoot Saint Francis, dressed in his monk's robes, looking up into the sky.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer: "Treasure Hunt in the Woods"


But after three steps into the evergreen shade,
he drops to his knees and begins to furrow.
It’s here, mama, he says. Let’s dig.
I pick up a knobby spruce twig and poke absently at dirt,
          hoping we can start walking again.
                    No, mama, like this. With your hands.
I pretend I don’t hear.
He takes my hands in his own, forces them down.
Fine sand runs through my fingers,
old spruce needles swim in it like unstrung commas.
I settle in, sifting and digging up dirt. Making piles.
No mama, deeper than that, he says,
                    scratching with his nails into the hardpan.
I dig deeper, past my desire to keep my hands clean.
Past whatever I had set out to do. Treasure is cold
                    and filled with crooked things that slip through fingers.

"Treasure Hunt in the Woods" by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. Published on the poet's blog, November 26, 2007. © Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer.

Art credit: Untitled image by unknown photographer (originally color).


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Marianne Murphy Zarzana: "The News in Southwest Minnesota"

A Buddhist monk, exiled from Thailand, broadsided the car  
of a local woman, age 20. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
He survives with serious injuries. — Marshall Independent, Summer 2000

Days after I’ve read the front page, my mind returns to the scene
of the accident. A familiar crossroads framed by early summer cornfields.

Late afternoon, the sun hovering high, so close to summer solstice.
Didn’t the monk see the oversize red stop sign, hear and feel
the vibration of tires passing over rumble strips etched into the road?

But no trace of skid marks. No time for either driver to brake before impact.
Some accidents are like that. Blind siding us no matter how familiar the route,
how aware, awake we are, or how faithfully we’ve sat in daily meditation.

And haven’t I have been all of these?
The victim, following the rules of the road, still unsafe, vulnerable.
The intersection, unconsciously aiding and abetting fatal collisions.
And the monk, missing signs, warnings, speeding on to that place
where I do harm accidentally.

"The News in Southwest Minnesota" by Marianne Murphy Zarzana, from Farming Words: A Harvest of Literature at a Prairie College. Edited by Bill Holm and David Pichaske. © Southwest Minnesota State University, 2007. Presented here by poet submission.

Art credit: "Closeup of Rusty Old Stop Sign," photograph by © Ron Chapple (originally color).

Monday, July 7, 2014

Olav Hauge: "This Is the Dream"

This is the dream we carry through the world
that something fantastic will happen
that it has to happen
that time will open by itself
that doors shall open by themselves
that the heart will find itself open
that mountain springs will jump up
that the dream will open by itself
that we one early morning
will slip into a harbor
that we have never known.

"This Is the Dream" by Olav Hauge, from The Dream We Carry: Selected and Last Poems from Olav Hauge. Translated from the original Norwegian by Robert Bly and Robert Hedin. © HarperCollins Publishers, 1995.  

Art credit: "Southwest Harbor at Dawn," by Onne van der Wal.