Enter stillness to practice listening

IMGtreesBerkshires2On a stretch of highway near Great Barrington, MA, I was called to stop at a dirt road framed by trees (pictured above). On one side a cemetery hid in the shade and on the other a green, grassy lawn stretched into the sunlight. The road felt majestic like the trees were tall knights guarding a secret passage. And the road’s existence itself felt hidden, especially to me as someone who wasn’t from the area but rather enjoying an extended stay one hot July.

Very few people traveled the road. It was quiet. Surrounded by these tall, beautiful trees I felt an invitation to be still, to listen.

When I look at images from my time on this small stretch of road, I’m reminded of one of my favorite poems by David Wagoner, Lost, from Collected Poems 1956-1976, Indiana University Press.

It begins,

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.

Reading the poem alone brings a sense of stillness and calm but above that it captures the knowingness of the trees and what exists in the space of the present moment. 

Read the entire poem on the Writer’s Almanac site.

Pensive

Poem selected for publication

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I’m happy to share that my poem, “Anoche,” was selected as the top poem for a National Poetry Month contest held by the Jersey City Independent (JCI) and Jersey City Writers. The poem is one of three that will be featured and published by the JCI during the month of April.

I’ll also have the opportunity to read the poem on April 13, 2016 at a literary reading being held at Barrow Mansion at 7 p.m. The event is being hosted by JCW, JCI, and Art House.

The event will also feature Claudia Cortese whose first full-length book, “Wasp Queen,” will be published by Black Lawrence Press in 2016.

Other poets selected to have their poems read that evening include: Abigail Pillitteri, Rachel Poy, Kevin Singer, Simon Pereira Shorey, Holly Smith, John Trigonis, Beth Bentley, Carol Lester, Joe Del Priore, Aileen Bassis, and Kay Dominguez.

This April marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, which was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996.

 

 

On love, days later

Love days later

Love days later

What happens when you peel back the layers of long-lasting love? What do you find when you step outside of the experience of love and examine it from a distance? What does it look like from the sky?

When I read Pablo Neruda’s “100 Love Sonnets: Cien sonetos de amor,” I get the feeling that he traveled to the depths of his soul and to the ends of space as he explored his feelings on love writing to his muse, his wife, Matilde Urrutia.

He tells her at the beginning as translated by Stephen Tapscott, “My beloved wife, I suffered while I was writing these misnamed “sonnets;” they hurt me and caused me grief, but the happiness I feel in offering them to you is vast as a savanna.”

Neruda manages to capture the expansiveness of love, its infinite nature, as he embraces universal elements to give it shape when it truly has no shape.

Here is an excerpt from one of my favorites, “XLVIII.”

Two happy lovers make one bread,

a single moon drop in the grass.

Walking, they cast two shadows that flow together;

Waking, they leave one sun empty in their bed.

 In Spanish:

Dos amantes dichosos hacen un solo pan,

una sola gota de luna de hierba,

dejan andando dos sombras que se reúnen,

dejan un solo sol vacío en una cama.