Ode to the Present

This present moment, smooth as a wooden slab, this immaculate hour, this day pure as a new cup… we caress the present; we cut it according to our magnitude, we guide the unfolding of its blossoms.  It is living, alive — it contains nothing from the unrepairable past, from the lost past, it is our infant, growing at this very moment, adorned with sand, eating from our hands. Grab it. Don’t let it slip away. Don’t lose it in dreams or words. Clutch it. Tie it, and order it to obey you. Make it a road, a bell, a machine, a kiss, a book, a caress.  Take a saw to its delicious wooden perfume. And make a chair; braid its back; test it. Or then, build a staircase!

Yes, a staircase. Climb into the present, step by step, press your feet onto the resinous wood of this moment, going up, going up, not very high, just so you repair the leaky roof. Don’t go all the way to heaven. Reach for apples, not the clouds. Let them fluff through the sky, skimming passage, into the past. You are your present, your own apple. Pick it from your tree. Raise it in your hand. It’s gleaming, rich with stars. Claim it. Take a luxurious bite out of the present, and whistle along the road of your destiny.

~ Pablo Neruda

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Eating Poetry

My poems resemble the bread of Egypt—one night
Passes over it, and you can’t eat it any more.

So gobble them down now, while they’re still fresh,
Before the dust of the world settles on them.

Where a poem belongs is here, in the warmth of the chest;
Out in the world it dies of cold.

You’ve seen a fish—put him on dry land,
He quivers for a few minutes, and then is still.

And even if you eat my poems while they’re still fresh,
You still have to bring forward many images yourself.

Actually, friend, what you’re eating is your own imagination.
These poems are not just some old sayings and saws.

~ Rumi

The Boat


The Guest is inside you, and also inside me;
you know the sprout is hidden inside the seed.
We are all struggling; none of us has gone far.
Let your arrogance go, and look around inside.

The blue sky opens out farther and farther,
the daily sense of failure goes away,
the damage I have done to myself fades,
a million suns come forward with light,
when I sit firmly in that world.

I hear bells ringing that no one has shaken;
inside”love” there is more joy than we know of;
rain pours down, although the sky is clear of clouds;
there are whole rivers of light.
The universe is shot through in all parts by a single sort of love.

How hard it is to feel that joy in all our four bodies!
Those who hope to be reasonable about it fail.
The arrogance of reason has separated us from that love.
With the word “reason” you already feel miles away.

How lucky Kabir is, that surrounded by all this joy
he sings inside his own little boat.
His poems amount to one soul meeting another.
These songs are about forgetting dying and loss.
They rise above both coming in and going out.

Kabir