Thursday, August 18, 2011



Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.

(trans. by Coleman Barks and John Moyne)

feliz cumple, querido.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

at blackwater pond

At Blackwater Pond

At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is the beautiful thing that just happened?

--Mary Oliver

photo by the ever-lovely marta: "
Because there's always a moment of a Mary Oliver poem out there." love and miss you too much.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

walking across the atlantic

Walking Across the Atlantic

I wait for the holiday crowd to clear the beach
before stepping onto the first wave.

Soon I am walking across the Atlantic
thinking about Spain,
checking for whales, waterspouts.
I feel the water holding up my shifting weight.
Tonight I will sleep on its rocking surface.

But for now I try to imagine what
this must look like to the fish below,
the bottoms of my feet appearing, disappearing.

--Billy Collins

No, I'm not in Spain. I've been in Argentina since the end of January. Today I,
la mochilera, will be finally heading home. I booked a flight for 11:11 (in all seriousness.) Besos!


Monday, June 6, 2011



Suppose I say summer,
write the word “hummingbird,”
put it in an envelope,
take it down the hill
to the box. When you open
my letter you will recall
those days and how much,
just how much, I love you.

--Raymond Carver


Happy birthday, Reagan. Love and miss you too much.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011



Suddenly this defeat.
This rain.
The blues gone gray
And the browns gone gray
And yellow
A terrible amber.
In the cold streets
Your warm body.
In whatever room
Your warm body.
Among all the people
Your absence
The people who are always
Not you.

I have been easy with trees
Too long.
Too familiar with mountains.
Joy has been a habit.
This rain.

--Jack Gilbert

another winter on another continent, but i know that rains pass and old habits are easy to find again.

Monday, May 30, 2011

breaks free

Breaks Free

I just want to be
where the earth breaks free
of concrete and metal and glass,
of asphalt and plastic and gas,
where sun is king
and water is queen,
where cactus grows tall
and the air is clean.
I just want to be
where the earth breaks free
of fences and alleys and walls,
of factories and traffic and malls,
where owls sleep
in the heart of day
waiting for sunset
to hunt their prey,
where mountains rise
in seas of sand
and coyotes roam
across the land.

-- Frank Asch

buenos aires, you are glorious, but there are some times when i would like to be in a non-city-place where i wouldn't live surrounded by strip clubs, which are even popular on sunday nights (judging by the volume last night.)

Photo: View of Cachi from within El Parque Nacional Los Cardones in Salta province, Argentina.

Monday, May 23, 2011

ghazal 2214

Ghazal 2214

Blessed time! when we are sitting,
I and thou,
With two forms and only one soul,
I and thou.
Fragrance, song of birds, they quicken ev'rything
When we come into the garden,
I and thou.
All the stars of heaven hurry
to see us,
And we show them our own moon,
I and thou-
I and thou without words, without
I and thou-
In delight we are united,
I and thou.
Sugar chew the heaven's parrots
in that place
Where we're sitting, laughing sweetly,
I and thou.
Strange that I and thou together
in this nook
Are apart a thousand miles, see-
I and thou.
One form in this dust, the other
in that land.
Sweet eternal Paradise there...
I and thou.


(Red bird of paradise photo.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011



Understand, I'll slip quietly
away from the noisy crowd
when I see the pale
stars rising, blooming, over the oaks.

I'll pursue solitary pathways
through the pale twilit meadows,
with only this one dream:
You come too.

--Rainer Maria Rilke

(Photo from Laguna Nimez in El Calafate, Argentinian Patagonia.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

casida of the rose

Casida of the Rose

The rose
was not searching for the sunrise :
almost eternal on the branch,
it was searching for something else.

The rose
was not searching for darkness or science :
borderline of flesh and dream,
it was searching for something else.

The rose
was not searching for the rose.
Motionless in the sky
it was searching for something else.

--Federico García Lorca
(translated by Robert Bly)

this rose went all the way to
el fin del mundo and is beginning to name those something elses.

(Image: Salvador Dalí's "Meditative Rose.")

Tuesday, May 17, 2011



The dust motes float
and swerve in the sunbeam,
as lively as worlds,
and I remember my brother
when we were boys:
"We may be living on an atom
in somebody's wallpaper."

--Wendell Berry


Sunday, May 15, 2011



The boy at the far end of the train car
kept looking behind him
as if he were afraid or expecting someone

and then she appeared in the glass door
of the forward car and he rose
and opened the door and let her in

and she entered the car carrying
a large black case
in the unmistakable shape of a cello.

She looked like an angel with a high forehead
and somber eyes and her hair
was tied up behind her neck with a black bow.

And because of all that,
he seemed a little awkward
in his happiness to see her,

whereas she was simply there,
perfectly existing as a creature
with a soft face who played the cello.

And the reason I am writing this
on the back of a manila envelope
now that they have left the train together

is to tell you that when she turned
to lift the large, delicate cello
onto the overhead rack,

I saw him looking up at her
and what she was doing
the way the eyes of saints are painted

when they are looking up at God
when he is doing something remarkable,
something that identifies him as God.

--Billy Collins

More photos of the stunning Wendy Sutter and Ex-Vatican Stradivarius here. I will ever be in awe of both of them.
This is another of those days where I miss being on the same continent as my cello (and those I love dearly, but that goes without saying.)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

last night, as i was sleeping

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt – marvelous error! –
That I had a beehive
Here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
Were making white combs
And sweet honey
From my old failures.

--Antonio Machado
(translated by Robert Bly)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

ravens hiding in a shoe

Ravens Hiding in a Shoe

There is something men and women living in houses
Don't understand. The old alchemists standing
Near their stoves hinted at it a thousand times.

Ravens at night hide in an old woman's shoe.
A four-year-old speaks some ancient language.
We have lived our own death a thousand times.

Each sentence we speak to friends means the opposite
As well. Each time we say, "I trust in God," it means
God has already abandoned us a thousand times.

Mothers again and again have knelt in church
In wartime asking God to protect their sons,
And their prayers were refused a thousand times.

The baby loon follows the mother's sleek
Body for months. By the end of summer, she
Has dipped her head into Rainy Lake a thousand times.

Robert, you've wasted so much of your life
Sitting indoors to write poems. Would you
Do that again? I would, a thousand times.

--Robert Bly

I'm not sure what I feel about this one, but here it is.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

i don't want to live a small life

Eleven Versions of the Same Poem:

I don't want to live a small life

I don't want to live a small life. Open your eyes,
open your hands. I have just come
from the berry fields, the sun

kissing me with its golden mouth all the way
(open your hands) and the wind-winged clouds
following along thinking perhaps I might

feed them, but no I carry these heart-shapes
only to you. Look how many how small
but so sweet and maybe the last gift

I will ever bring to anyone in this
world of hope and risk, so do.
Look at me. Open your life, open your hands.

--Mary Oliver

Thursday, May 5, 2011

the well rising

The Well Rising

The well rising without sound,
the spring on a hillside,
the plowshare brimming through deep ground
everywhere in the field –

The sharp swallows in their swerve
flaring and hesitating
hunting for the final curve
coming closer and closer –

The swallow heart from wing beat to wing beat
counseling decision, decision:
thunderous examples. I place my feet
with care in such a world.

--William Stafford

Beautiful cliff swallow photos.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

godiva county, montana

Godiva County, Montana

She's a big country. Her undulations
roll and flower in the sun. Those flanks
quiver when the wind caresses the grass.
Who turns away when so generous a body
offers to play hide-and-seek all summer?
One shoulder leans bare all the way up
the mountain; limbs range and plunge
wildly into the river. We risk our eyes
every day; they celebrate' they dance
and flirt over this offered treasure.
“Be alive, “ the land says. “Listen—
this is your time, your world, your pleasure.”

--William Stafford

[Photo: Rainbow over Perito Moreno. El Parque Nacional Los Glaciares: Lago Roca, Argentinian Patagonia.]

Saturday, April 30, 2011

indian caves in the dry country

Indian Caves in the Dry Country

These are some canyons
we might use again

--William Stafford

[Photo of El Anfiteatro up in Salta province, Argentina.]

Wednesday, April 27, 2011



It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That's why we wake
and look out -- no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

--William Stafford

[Photo from la Quebrada de las Conchas in the Andes of Argentina.]

Sunday, April 24, 2011

original sin

Original Sin

Well, anyhow, it preserves us from the pride
of thinking we invented sin ourselves
by our originality, that famous modern power.
In fact, we have it from the beginning
of the world by the errors of being born,
being young, being old, causing pain
to ourselves, to others, to the world, to God
by ignorance, by knowledge, by intention,
by accident. Something is bad the matter
here, informing us of itself, handing down its old instruction. We know it
when we see it, don't we? Innocence would never recognize it. We need it
too, for without it we would not know
forgiveness, goodness, gratitude,
that fund of grace by which alone we live.

--Wendell Berry

Happy Easter! I realize that Christianity may not be your thing, but I think we could all use a day of grace and life.

[Photo from Good Friday at La Catedral de La Plata, the largest cathedral in Argentina]

Monday, March 21, 2011

when faces called flowers float out of the ground

when faces called flowers float out of the ground...

when faces called flowers float out of the ground
and breathing is wishing and wishing is having-
but keeping is downward and doubting and never
-it's april(yes,april;my darling)it's spring!
yes the pretty birds frolic as spry as can fly
yes the little fish gambol as glad as can be
(yes the mountains are dancing together)

when every leaf opens without any sound
and wishing is having and having is giving-
but keeping is doting and nothing and nonsense
-alive;we're alive,dear:it's(kiss me now)spring!
now the pretty birds hover so she and so he
now the little fish quiver so you and so i
(now the mountains are dancing, the mountains)

when more than was lost has been found has been found
and having is giving and giving is living-
but keeping is darkness and winter and cringing
-it's spring(all our night becomes day)o,it's spring!
all the pretty birds dive to the heart of the sky
all the little fish climb through the mind of the sea
(all the mountains are dancing;are dancing)

--e.e. cummings

Tuesday, February 1, 2011



Something came up
out of the dark
It wasn't anything I had ever seen before.
It wasn't an animal
or a flower,
unless it was both.

Something came up out of the water,
a head the size of a cat
but muddy and without ears.
I don't know what God is.
I don't know what death is.

But I believe they have between them
some fervent and necessary arrangement.

melancholy leaves me breathless.

Later I was in a field full of sunflowers.
I was feeling the heat of midsummer.
I was thinking of the sweet, electric
drowse of creation,

when it began to break.

In the west, clouds gathered.
In an hour the sky was filled with them.

In an hour the sky was filled
with the sweetness of rain and the blast of lightning.
Followed by the deep bells of thunder.

Water from the heavens! Electricity from the source!
Both of them mad to create something!

The lightning brighter than any flower.
The thunder without a drowsy bone in its body.

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

Two or three times in my life I discovered love.
Each time it seemed to solve everything.
Each time it solved a great many things
but not everything.
Yet left me as grateful as if it had indeed, and
thoroughly, solved everything.

God, rest in my heart
and fortify me,
take away my hunger for answers,
let the hours play upon my body
like the hands of my beloved.
Let the cathead appear again--
the smallest of your mysteries,
some wild cousin of my own blood probably--
some cousin of my own wild blood probably,
in the black dinner-bowl of the pond.

Death waits for me, I know it, around
one corner or another
This doesn't amuse me.
Neither does it frighten me.

After the rain, I went back into the field of sunflowers.
It was cool, and I was anything but drowsy.
I walked slowly, and listened

to the crazy roots, in the drenched earth, laughing and growing.

--Mary Oliver

Thursday, January 20, 2011

in a country once forested

In a country once forested

The young woodland remembers
the old, a dreamer dreaming

of an old holy book,
an old set of instructions,

and the soil under the grass
is dreaming of a young forest,

and under the pavement the soil
is dreaming of grass.

--Wendell Berry

Monday, January 10, 2011



What is one to make of a life given
to putting things into words,
saying them, writing them down?
Is there a world beyond words?
There is. But don't start, don't
go on about the tree unqualified,
standing in light that shines
to time's end beyond its summoning
name. Don't praise the speechless
starlight, the unspeakble dawn.
Just stop.

Well, we can stop
for a while, if we try hard enough,
if we are lucky. We can sit still,
keep silent, let the phoebe, the sycamore,
the river, the stone call themselves
by whatever they call themselves, their own
sounds, their own silence, and thus
may know for a moment the nearness
of the world, its vastness,
its vast variousness, far and near,
which only silence knows. And then
we must call all things by name
out of the silence again to be with us,
or die of namelessness.

--Wendell Berry

Saturday, January 1, 2011

the journey

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

--Mary Oliver