Poems

I, Lalla

· Poems · ,

by Lal Ded

Some run away from home, some escape the hermitage.
No orchard bears fruit for the barren mind.
Day and night, count the rosary of your breath,
and stay put wherever you are.

Hermit or householder: same difference.
If you’ve dissolved your desires in the river of time,
you will see that the Lord is everywhere and is perfect.
As you know, so shall you be.

Some, who have closed their eyes, are wide awake.
Some, who look out at the world, are fast asleep.
Some who bathe in sacred pools remain dirty.
Some are at home in the world but keep their hands clean.

 


From I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded, translated by Ranjit Hoskote, Copyright © 2011 by Ranjit Hoskote, used by permission of Penguin Books.

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photo by Mike Bitzenhofer

The Fork

· Poems · ,

by Chase Takusei Twichell

A wooden Buddha gazes down
upon my desk from a small shelf
painted the same color as the walls:
Chinese Dragon. Beside him,
a picture Lucy drew when she was six
shows a bird with human face
and the words Have fun being a parrot
written below it in parrot colors.

Earnestly I vow to become one,
sleek-feathered, able to fly pathless
above human traffic in a kingdom
of light and air, no suffering.

I can’t go on feigning surprise
at the kalpas it’s taken so far,
since they’re all my kalpas.

I follow the path, but it forks.
To the right, faint blazes ruckle the bark.
The trail follows the brook all the way to Nirvana,
where I have never been. To the left,
the path soon splits again: right to Nirvana,
left to the trail that forks.

 


From Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been, Copyright © 2010 by Chase Twichell, MRO. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

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photo by Daniel Hoherd (Flickr)

Always an Immigrant

· Open Access, Poems · ,

by Margaret Gibson

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Photo by Matthew

This Page Ripped Out and Rolled into a Ball

· Poems · ,

by Brendan Constantine


A rose by any other name     could be Miguel     or Tiffany     Could be

David or Vashti     Why not Aya      which means beautiful flower    but

also verse and miracle     and a bird     that flies away quickly    You see

where this is going       That is     you could look at a rose      and call it

You See Where This Is Going     or I Knew This Would Happen     or even

Why Wasn’t I Told      I’m told of a man      who does portraits for money

on the beach      He paints them with one arm     the other he left behind

in a war      and so he tucks a rose into his cuff      always yellow     and people

stare at it      pinned to his shoulder      while he works      Call the rose

Panos       because I think that’s his name      or call it      A Chair By The Sea

Point from the window     to the garden     and say    Look a bed

of Painter’s Hands     And this is a good place     to remember the rose

already has many names     because     language is old and can’t agree

with itself      In Albania you say Trëndafil      In Somalia say Kacay

In American poetry      it’s the flower you must never name     And now

you see where this is going      out the window      across water

to a rose shaped island      that can’t exist      but you’re counting on

to be there     unmapped       unmentioned till now     The green place

you imagine hiding      when the world finds out     you’re not

who you’ve said


Copyright © 2018 by Brendan Constantine. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 25, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

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According to the Gospel of Yes

· Poems · ,

by Dana Levin


It’s a thrill to say No.

The way it smothers

everything that beckons—

Any baby in a crib

will meet No’s palm

on its mouth.

And nothing sweet

can ever happen

to No—

who holds your tongue captive

behind your teeth, whose breath

whets the edge

of the guillotine—

N, head of Team Nothing,

and anti-ovum O.

And so the pit can never

engender

the cherry—

in No, who has drilled a hole

inside your body—

No.

Say it out loud.

Why do you love the hole

No makes.


Copyright ©2017 by Dana Levin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day by the Academy of American Poets.

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photo by Ponjalishussness, MRO

Thanks

· Poems · ,

Poem by Yusef Komunyakaa


 

Thanks for the tree
between me & a sniper’s bullet.
I don’t know what made the grass
sway seconds before the Viet Cong
raised his soundless rifle.
Some voice always followed,
telling me which foot
to put down first.

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Dusting

· Articles & Essays, Poems · ,

Poem by Marilyn Nelson


Thank you for these tiny
particles of ocean salt,
pearl-necklace viruses,
winged protozoans:
for the infinite,
intricate shapes
of submicroscopic
living things.

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Photo by Chizen Brown, MRO

You Can Change the Story, My Spirit Said to Me as I Sat Near the Sea

· Poems · ,

by Joy Harjo

I am in a village up north, in the lands named “Alaska” now. These places had their own names long before English, Russian, or any other politically imposed trade language.
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The Seven Branches

· Poems · ,

The Avatamsaka Sutra

To all the buddhas, the lions of the human race,
In all directions of the universe,
through past and present and future: To every single one of you,
I bow in homage; Devotion fills my body, speech and mind.

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The Gate

· Poems · ,

by Marie Howe

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