Tuesday, July 22, 2014

be sweet to me world

The artist's job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.

- Gertrude Stein

Landscape And Soul

by Stephen Dunn

Though we should not speak about the soul,
that is, about things we don't know,
I'm sure mine sleeps the day long,
waiting to be jolted, even jilted awake,
preferably by joy, but sadness also comes
by surprise, and the soul sings its songs.

And because no one landscape compels me,
except the one that's always out of reach
(toward which, nightly, I go), I find myself
conjuring Breugel-like peasants cavorting
under a Magritte-like sky - a landscape
the soul, if fully awake, could love as its own.

But the soul is rumored to desire a room,
a chamber, really, in some far away outpost
of the heart. Landscape can be lonely and cold.
Be sweet to me, world.

- from the Cortland Review

I, too, am waiting for my soul to be jolted awake this summer. Trying not to succumb to despair. Wanting to get to work.

What has helped is that yesterday I finally wrote something. I'd been taking notes and jotting odd words down, stray images, in my notebook all summer towards an essay-poem, poem-essay. Disparate seeming things. Unconnected things. Finally, I felt awake enough to put them together, to make sense of it all in that way.

As always it's the work that keeps despair away.

A good long walk in the morning is a good restorative, too. Very often, I walk down this closed road, which leads to the small stand of trees.

All along the utility corridor path, these yellow weeds.

The field they mowed down a few weeks again is already coming back.

Here you can glimpse the buildings across the highway - the red strip is the Shopper's Drug Mart.

And then these beauties along the fence:

Lastly, walking home through the 'dry pond' in the middle of my neighbourhood.

And me asking all along, be sweet to me world, be sweet....and it is, you know, it is.

Monday, July 21, 2014

everything ahead of me

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” 

- Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Against Travel

by Charles Tomlinson

These days are best when one goes nowhere,
The house a reservoir of quiet change,
The creak of furniture, the window panes
Brushed by the half-rhymes of activities
That do not quite declare what thing it was
Gave rise to them outside. The colours, even,
Accord with the tenor of the day—yes, ‘grey’
You will hear reported of the weather,
But what a grey, in which the tinges hover,
About to catch, although they still hold back
The blaze that's in them should the sun appear,
And yet it does not. Then the window pane
With a tremor of glass acknowledges
The distant boom of a departing plane.

- read more by Tomlinson here

On the weekend we drove from Edmonton to Calgary to see some old friends, which was really lovely and uplifting. Nothing like the company of good people to bolster one's spirits.

It's a good time of year to make the drive because there are all sorts of crops, lush greens and vibrant yellow. The trouble with the highway is that there isn't really the possibility to safely pull over to the side and take photographs. There are a few rest stops, but they're never near anything picturesque. On the way we were able to stop once - and took a few photos of grey sky and canola field.

The following photos were taken on the way home, through the changing weather, and driving at 110 km. So, not the best or steadiest photos.

We started out with blue skies.

Soon the clouds started rolling in.

For a while we drove in misty rain.

What I really wanted to get was a proper shot of cows, or horses.......but there was nowhere to stop. If you look at this last set of photos closely, you can see the blur. Still, they give an idea of the landscape.

And the last leg of the trip was a torrential downpour.

I'm normally quite the stay-at-home person, but it was good to get out on the road, to do something a little different for a day. To feel, for a span, that everything is ahead of me.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I know a cure for sadness

A Hundred Objects Close By

by Mira

I know a cure for sadness:
Let your hands touch something that
makes your eyes

I bet there are a hundred objects close by
that can do that.

Look at
beauty's gift to us -
her power is so great she enlivens
the earth, the sky, our


by Mira

So fragile this petal the earth,

as fragile as


How Did the Rose?

by Hafiz

did the rose
ever open its heart 
and give to this world all of its beauty?

It felt the encouragement of light against its being,
otherwise we all remain too

“Whatever causes night in our souls may leave stars."

- Victor Hugo

"The rose announces on earth the kingdom
of gravity. A bird cancels it."

- from "Arise, Go Down" by Li Young-Lee {read the poem here}

Calm Things is going to be scaling back over the summer. I'm going to stop posting on Fridays for a while, so that I can work on my writing a bit more, save my dry eyes, and just generally re-group. I really need to re-group :)

Wishing you all a lovely weekend and that you may feel the encouragement of light deep in your being.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

a fierce sanity

"Rilke recommended that when life became turbulent and troublesome, it was wise to stay close to one simple thing in nature. A friend of mine who had great trouble with her mind told me once that she had brought a stone into her apartment, and when she felt her mind going, she would concentrate on the stone. She said, 'There is a fierce sanity in stone.'"

- John O'Donohue from To bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

"Look ahead.

You are not expected to complete the task.
Neither are you permitted to lay it down. "

- from the Talmud

I'm looking to my stone bowl, then, for a fierce sanity.

I'm looking ahead.

I'm staying close to one simple thing.