Author Archives: virtualartistaltar

sweeter arrangement

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Drea Art
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Little Dog’s Rhapsody in the Night
by Mary Oliver

He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I’m awake, or awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

“Tell me you love me,” he says.

“Tell me again.”

Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.

blackberries hang

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Drea Art
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August
by Mary Oliver

When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the branches
nobody owns, I spend

all day among the high
branches, reaching
my ripped arms, thinking

of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body

accepts what it is. In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among

the black bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.

willingness to be attentive

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Drea Art
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MOCKINGBIRDS
By Mary Oliver

This morning
two mockingbirds
in the green field
were spinning and tossing
the white ribbons of their songs into the air.
I had nothing
better to do than listen. I mean this seriously.

In Greece,
a long time ago, an old couple opened their door
to two strangers who were,
it soon appeared, not men at all,
but gods.
It is my favorite story– how the old couple
had almost nothing to give
but their willingness to be attentive–
but for this alone the gods loved them
and blessed them–
when they rose
out of their mortal bodies,
like a million particles of water
from a fountain,
the light
swept into all the corners of the cottage,
and the old couple,
shaken with understanding, bowed down–
but still they asked for nothing
but the difficult life
which they had already.
And the gods smiled, as they vanished, clapping their great wings.

Wherever it was
I was supposed to be this morning– whatever it was I said
I would be doing–
I was standing
at the edge of the field– I was hurrying
through my own soul, opening its dark doors– I was leaning out;
I was listening.

days of rapture

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Drea Art
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Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine
by Mary Oliver

Who doesn’t love
roses, and who
doesn’t love the lilies
of the black ponds

floating like flocks
of tiny swans,
and of course, the flaming
trumpet vine

where the hummingbird comes
like a small green angel, to soak
his dark tongue
in happiness –

and who doesn’t want
to live with the brisk
motor of his heart
singing

like a Schubert
and his eyes
working and working like those days of rapture,
by Van Gogh in Arles?

Look! for most of the world
is waiting
or remembering –
most of the world is time

when we’re not here,
not born yet, or died –
a slow fire
under the earth with all
our dumb wild blind cousins
who also
can’t even remember anymore
their own happiness –

Look! and then we will be
like the pale cool
stones, that last almost
forever.

instinct and imagination

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Drea Art
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Poem
By Mary Oliver

The spirit
likes to dress up like this:
ten fingers,
ten toes,

shoulders, and all the rest
at night
in the black branches,
in the morning

in the blue branches
of the world.
It could float, of course,
but would rather

plumb rough matter.
Airy and shapeless thing,
it needs
the metaphor of the body,

lime and appetite,
the oceanic fluids;
it needs the body’s world,
instinct

and imagination
and the dark hug of time,
sweetness
and tangibility,

to be understood,
to be more than pure light
that burns
where no one is—

so it enters us—
in the morning
shines from brute comfort
like a stitch of lightning;

and at night
lights up the deep and wondrous
drownings of the body
like a star.

more than enough

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Drea Art

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I Wake Close to Morning
by Mary Oliver

Why do people keep asking to see
God’s identity papers
when the darkness opening into morning
is more than enough?
Certainly any god might turn away in disgust.
Think of Sheba approaching
the kingdom of Solomon.
Do you think she had to ask,
“Is this the place?”

begins with the sown seed

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Drea Art
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What I Have Learned So Far
By Mary Oliver

Meditation is old and honorable,
so why should I not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of – indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

assuaged me

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Drea Art
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Mornings at Blackwater
by Mary Oliver

For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.
And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.

And live
your life.

to notice

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Drea Art
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The Moths
By Mary Oliver

There’s a kind of white moth, I don’t know
what kind, that glimmers
by mid-May
in the forest, just
as the pink moccasin flowers
are rising.

If you notice anything,
It leads you to notice
more
and more.

And anyway
I was so full of energy.
I was always running around, looking
at this and that.

If I stopped
the pain
was unbearable.

If I stopped and thought, maybe
the world
can’t be saved,
the pain
was unbearable.

kinder eventually

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Drea Art
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Franz Marc’s Blue Horses
by Mary Oliver

I step into the painting of the four blue horses.
I am not even surprised that I can do this.

One of the horses walks toward me.
His blue nose noses me lightly. I put my arm
over his blue mane, not holding on, just
commingling.
He allows me my pleasure.
Franz Marc died a young man, shrapnel in his brain.
I would rather die than explain to the blue horses
what war is.
They would either faint in horror, or simply
find it impossible to believe.
I do not know how to thank you, Franz Marc.
Maybe our world will grow kinder eventually.
Maybe the desire to make something beautiful
is the piece of God that is inside each of us.
Now all four horses have come closer,
are bending their faces toward me
as if they have secrets to tell.
I don’t expect them to speak, and they don’t.
If being so beautiful isn’t enough, what
could they possibly say?