Tag Archives: poem

on god’s sweet leash

Tichvine Mother of God Russian late 17th century Egg Temperua on wood panel with gold leaf Detail 2

i breathe god in and breathe god out
eat god and shit god
drink god, piss god,
taste god, smell god, sweat god, hear god
see only god

god weaves through me and whispers me
god boils my blood and cools my voice

my walk is god’s, my hands are his,
my eyes are hers, my lips belong to it,
my mind treads the mysterious paths
of gods, goddesses, allah, angels
and of those gods who lie,
crossless, prayerless,
enshrined in science and in emptiness

i breathe god in and breathe god out
and like a little poodle
i walk along on god’s sweet leash

this poem is dedicated to my friends n. and a.  it came to me as i was waking up this morning. and then i went to my first quaker meeting.

where is the “you”

there’s so much “me” in this head
so much “i know” and “you don’t” –
this gestalt, this entity they call “i”
is full up, like a closet whose owner refuses
to take those old rags to the sally ann.

where is the “you”?
where is “would you like?” not “but you should”
where is the soft “you”, the other, the “thou”,
the curious, loving, patient, warm gaze
that longs to rest on the richness
of more-than-i …

right here. no need to wait.
i’ll just open my heart.

prayer to be simple

when i was in germany, i picked up a slim little book of poetry, die gebete der demut (prayers of humility) by french poet francis jammes.  he lived from 1868 to 1938.  the poetry foundation says about him that he was

… best known for his poetry of the natural world, in which he praised the simplicity of country life. his literary standing has always been difficult to categorize; blandine m. rickert wrote in the encyclopedia of world literature: “jammes, who has been referred to as a symbolist, neosymbolist, or naturiste, never belonged to any systematic school of poetry. he always was only himself, in the process creating jammisme, which embraces but one guiding principle, ‘the truth that is the praise of god.’ it is innocence, simplicity, and humility; it extols the beauty of the native soil and the virtues of family life; it is adoration of god and love of all he created.” jammes’s poetry counters french literary tradition, so often associated with highly rarefied, intellectual poetics.

for today’s national poetry writing month exercise, i thought i’d do a translation.  yes, i know, it’s a translation from the german translation into english so i’m sure i don’t do francis jammes justice – but it’s enjoyable nevertheless.  i get a lot out of translation – it really brings me deep into the poem.  so here we are:

prayer to be simple

the butterflies, they wave about,
surrendering to every breeze
like petals strewn by gentle children on a path.
my god, it’s early morning and already
my prayer wants to lift itself to you
with all the blooming butterflies,
the crying roosters in the barn,
and with the crushing beat of the old stonecutter.
under the sycamores with their green palm fronds
you can hear – and cannot see – the crickets:
they sing of your might without end.
the blackbird, restless in black watery leaves
sings a few phrases. she dare not twitter any longer.
she does not know what stirs her fear. gives up
and darts up, quick, in one full swoop
straight through across the ground, away to where
no-one abides.

my god, so gently start again our lives, another morning
like yesterday, like many times before.
just like these butterflies, these stonecutters,
the crickets who live by the sun,
and like the blackbirds who are hiding in the cool dark
with the leaves;
let me keep living, god, my life,
as simple and as modest as i can.