Monthly Archives: October 2014

otherworldly things

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THE HUMMINGBIRDS
BY MARY OLIVER

In this book
there are many hummingbirds~
the blue-throated, the bumblebee, the calliope,
the cinnamon, the lucifer, and of coarse
the ruby-throated.
Imagine!
Well, that’s all you can do.
For they’re swift as the wind

and they fly, not across the pages but,
like many shy and otherworldly things,
between them.
I know you’ll keep looking now that I’ve told you.
I’m hungry to see them too, but I can’t
hold them back even for a moment, they’re
busy, as all things are, with their own lives.
So all I can do is let you know
they’re here somewhere.
All I can do is tell you
by putting my own hunger on the page.

the first kiss

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NO MATTER WHAT

No matter what the world claims,
its wisdom always growing, so it’s said,
some things don’t alter with time:
the first kiss is a good example,
and the flighty sweetness of rhyme.

No matter what the world preaches
spring unfolds in its appointed time,
the violets open and the roses,
snow in its hour builds its shining curves,
there’s the laughter of children at play,
and the wholesome sweetness of rhyme.

No matter what the world does,
some things don’t alter with time.
The first kiss, the first death.
The sorrowful sweetness of rhyme.

~ by Mary Oliver

what i can do

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WHAT I CAN DO

The television has two instruments that control it.
I get confused.
The washer asks me, do you want regular or delicate?
Honestly, I just want clean.
Everything is like that.
I won’t even mention cell phones.

I can turn on the light of the lamp beside my chair
where a book is waiting, but that’s about it.

Oh yes, and I can strike a match and make a fire.

~ Mary Oliver

been there before

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I DON’T WANT TO BE DEMURE OR RESPECTABLE

I don’t want to be demure or respectable.
I was that way, asleep, for years.
That way, you forget too many important things.
How the little stones, even if you can’t hear them, are singing.
How the river can’t wait to get to the ocean and the sky, it’s been there before.
What traveling is that!
It is a joy to imagine such distances.
I could skip sleep for the next hundred years.
There is a fire in the lashes of my eyes.
It doesn’t matter where I am, it could be a small room.
The glimmer of gold Böhme saw on the kitchen pot
was missed by everyone else in the house.

Maybe the fire in my lashes is a reflection of that.
Why do I have so many thoughts, they are driving me crazy.
Why am I always going anywhere, instead of somewhere?
Listen to me or not, it hardly matters.
I’m not trying to be wise, that would be foolish.
I’m just chattering.

From Blue Horses by Mary Oliver

i have seen

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Night and the River

I have seen the great feet
leaping
into the river

and I have seen moonlight
milky
along the long muzzle

and I have seen the body
of something
scaled and wonderful

slumped in the sudden fire of its mouth,
and I could not tell
which fit me

more comfortably, the power,
or the powerlessness;
neither would have me

entirely; I was divided,
consumed,
by sympathy,

pity, admiration.
After a while
it was done,

the fish had vanished, the bear
lumped away
to the green shore

and into the trees. And then there was only
this story.
It followed me home

and entered my house—
a difficult guest
with a single tune

which it hums all day and through the night—
slowly or briskly,
it doesn’t matter,

it sounds like a river leaping and falling;
it sounds like a body
falling apart.

~ Mary Oliver

pleasure

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The Sun
Mary Oliver

Have you ever seen
anything
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone–
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance–
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love–
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
empty-handed–
or have you too
turned from this world–

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?