upward on its heavenly oils

horizon - r.kennedy

in my suitcase i crammed one of my books of Mary Oliver’s poetry: New and Selected Poems, Volume One. i decided to read one poem a day, starting with the first page and reading my way through in order. i never read Mary that way. i rarely read any poetry that way. i flip and jump from middle to end. it felt important to limit myself to just ONE a day too – which is really hard to do if you’re me. but i wanted to learn how to really sit with the poem…not run off to fall in love with another one. and it has been good. i have savoured lines more deeply and read the same poem more repeatedly.

just now, sitting in the garden at dusk, i read my today poem…while the southern-hemisphere-sun sets around me and prepares to rise back home in the north. and it was all too perfect not to share.

The Sun

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 the world –

 

or have you too

gone crazy

for power,

for things?

 

– Mary Oliver

confession to the poet – pt 1.

when you speak, little bird,
i can’t look away. truth
grabs me by the ears and
won’t let go.

– for td

Let no one keep you from your journey

a week later.
after time travel, jet lag, and a flu bug.
feeling like i left home, to come home.
a snow+sick day.
some pictures and a poem.

one

two

three

four

five

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(pic courtesy of Christina)

(pic courtesy of Christina)

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Breaking Surface

Let no one keep you from your journey,
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won’t let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells you in the night
it cannot be done.

Let nothing dissuade you
from seeing what you see
or feeling the winds that make you
want to dance alone
or go where no one
has yet to go.

You are the only explorer,
Your heart, the unreadable compass.
Your soul, the shore of a promise
too great to be ignored.

Mark Nepo

chalkboard

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it’s a cold-and-rainy-damp-and-dreary-poem-and-coffee sort of day.
you know?

……

When we wake in the morning, we turn to the other and whisper, “Another day.”
Mostly, what we mean is, “Hello.” Mostly, what we mean is “How lucky.” But
sometimes, what we mean is, “There was nothing, before this.” It’s the good kind of
pretending, to believe you’ve got a do-over, an empty plate, a chalkboard wiped
spotless. Sometimes, it is better to fool yourself that whatever happened will never
happen again. The disappointment, the mistake, the tantrum, the sorrow.
Sometimes, you have to absolve yourself of what you remember or what you did or
what you didn’t do, let the past float behind you like the trail of a ship passing. This
is for your own good. This is the brief suspension of belief you must allow yourself,
the slip in the system, a benevolent black hole that will take you, blinking and
history-less, into the next big universe and its unfathomable stars. “Another day,”
we murmur just after the alarm rings, before the day mutates into loads of laundry
and other metaphors, before the disassembly begins in earnest. “Another day.” It is a
password between us. A secret handshake. It doesn’t matter that the words will last
only as long as it takes for them to pass through our mouths. It is enough. It is a
forest nymph, a seahorse, a sand dollar, a fairytale, a sprinkling of pixie dust sealing
our bodies into the sweetest innocence, our hearts forgetting they’d ever broken at
all.

– Maya Stein

from http://www.mayastein.com/one-paragraph-at-a-time/

what drags you back

april sunset

The Teacher And The Peach

“If you weren’t bursting,” her teacher informed her,
you wouldn’t need patience.” – Philip Roth

The sky holds thunder as a swimmer
gone under holds air, holds the fist
of panic inside the chest like the first
flush of rapture reined-in, the way grammar
exploits the onrush of language,
the way skin grasps flesh about to burst,
the way lust is engine, all piston and breast
as a dam yokes the river’s surge –
What drives you here? What drags you back
to displace again? What, if you catch it,
pulls you face-forward? What lull, what lack?
Wait, he says, don’t say it. Save it.
I won’t touch it. Don’t need to know.
Be full fruit. Fall ripe. And never let go.

– Joshua Trotter

To this day.

because it’s raining.
because rainy mornings make me want to read poems.
because his poems are some of my favorite poems.
because this poem is worthy of being heard
again
and
again.

before you learn the tender gravity

Painting by Victoria Ward

Painting by Victoria Ward


Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing
inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

– Naomi Shihab Nye

keep a light touch

i don’t know how it all works.
there are things in this world, moments in this life, that leave me amazed, in awe of the mystery.
i can’t explain the happenstance.
the coincidence.
the crossing of paths.
i have no words for why that persons words/presence/touch/song
resonates
more
than another’s.
why they find me/i find them at the exact time
when i really needed them.
i don’t know why.

i just know it happens.

again and again it happens.
in big ways and small ways.

today it happened in this way.
a poem.
by a woman who i’ve only barely met
but whose words have found me in perfect timing
ever since the first day i laid eyes on them.

it’s like she knows me or something.
it’s like she saw me this week, in that storage room, packing and unpacking boxes,
hitting the floor,
remembering joy,
receiving the gift,
feeling the pinch.

it’s like she’s been there before
and she knows what it’s like
so she wrote me a poem
so i wouldn’t feel all alone,
so i would again be in awe
of the
mystery.

it worked.
….

things

When the moving man comes with your boxes, the ones a storage unit
housed for the seasons between then and now, keep a light touch
on the stories they carry. Some will gift you back the pieces of yourself
you hadn’t thought to miss and spread a grin to your solar plexus, a knowing
that certain things – thank God – will never change. Then there will be
those that pinch an unfamiliar nerve, splitting the length of you to pieces,
and you will wonder how the trek you made not that long ago
could have rendered an estrangement of these sweet intimacies keeping you
cocooned to comfort. Be kind to that history of yours. It brought you here,
tromping up a new set of front steps, breathing this lucid, tender air.

Maya Stein

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meeting the world.

When silence becomes words. When words become a sentence. When a sentence becomes a letter stamped and sealed in an envelope. When that letter becomes an invitation, and an invitation becomes departure, and departure becomes arrival. When arrival becomes the first hello and the first hello becomes the second. When the second hello becomes a kitchen stripped of all theatrics and artifice. When a stripped kitchen becomes flesh and flesh becomes bone and bone becomes the beginning of everything that’s real. And when everything that’s real becomes love and love becomes more love and more love becomes a hum skimming above and below each breath. And when breath becomes peace and peace becomes hope and hope becomes awake and awake becomes meeting the world as if you had never been so alive.

– Maya Stein

a crack in the window meant for breaking.

Painting by Ben Tour

Painting by Ben Tour

may we be forgiven

How we stumble into epiphany, some nondescript lunch with a friend
sending us reeling, or a cloud in the shape of a school bus or that favorite
stuffed toy from childhood, or the accident that happened
to someone else, or the unexpected heartbreak from a TV commercial, or the knit
of an elderly couple’s hands, or an empty shopping cart weaving
through a broken parking lot. May we be forgiven our reckless abandon, our
quick escape, our sudden detour or shrinking exit. We are rarely graceful with our grieving,
and even less so when it’s finally time to leave the old story slicing us with failure.
I promise: each untidy moment has its purpose, a crack in the window meant for breaking.
The rest of your life is calling your name, shattering toward waking.

maya stein

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Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015

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