Pickin Out Wallpaper by L J Booth
I was twenty-three
Wild and free
Hitchhiking Scotland
Black cliffs beside the sea
One night by the firelight
Three promises I made
Just between me and the Milky Way
One, was never worry about a wristwatch
Two, was never kneel before the banker’s sneer
Three doesn’t matter now, ’cause if I’d kept the second
I would not be sitting here
Picking out wallpaper
Picking out wallpaper
Honey, look in my eyes
Tell me, what do you see
Is the retina torn
Is the fluid cloudy
‘Cause the treble hook of pain
Is trolling in-between
The front of my eyes and the back of my brain
All night drivers at truck stop coffee counters
Still see phone poles sliding by
And after looking through those three hundred books today
We walked out beneath this printed floral sky
Picking out wallpaper
Picking out wallpaper
Back when my walls were the horizon
And my ceiling the night sky
I’d rise at the first light of morning
And hang my tent to dry
Picking out wallpaper
Picking out wallpaper

‘Living Water’
The Hill Burns by Nan Shepherd
So without sediment
Run the clear burns of my country,
Fiercely pure,
Transparent as light
Gathered into its own unity,
Lucent and without colour;
Or green,
Like clear deeps of air,
Light massed upon itself,
Like the green pinions,
Cleaving the trouble of approaching night,
Shining in their own lucency,
Of the great angels that guarded the Mountain;
Or amber so clear
It might have oozed from the crystal trunk
Of the tree Paradisal,
Symbol of life,
That grows in the presence of God eternally.
And these pure waters
Leap from the adamantine rocks,
The granites and schists
Of my dark and stubborn country.
From gaunt heights they tumble,
Harsh and desolate lands,
The plateau of Braeriach
Where even in July
The cataracts of wind
Crash in the corries with the boom of seas in anger;
And Corrie Etchachan
Down whose precipitous
Narrow defile
Thunder the fragments of rock
Broken by winter storms
From their aboriginal place;
And Muich Dhui’s summit,
Rock defiant against frost and the old grinding of ice,
Wet with the cold fury of blinding cloud,
Through which the snow-fields loom up,
like ghosts from a world of eternal annihilation,
And far below, where the dark waters of
Etchachan are wont to glint,
An unfathomable void.
Out of these mountains,
Out of the defiant torment of Plutonic rock,
Out of fire, terror, blackness and upheaval,
Leap the clear burns,
Living water,
Like some pure essence of being,
Invisible in itself,
Seen only by its movement.

Yesterday in Laggan
It was such a day
of sunshine wall to wall,
of heat haze and the year’s first frogs,
of blue hills stretching yonder.

It was such a day
of spring sun melting snow,
of fool’s gold blazing off warm rocks,
of joy to be alive.

It was such a day
of hinted rainbows and dissolving light,
of fragile silences
flooding towards infinity

that I wished to be nowhere else,
doing nothing else,
in company of no one else,
and I wanted it to be forever.
– Gordon Jarvie

One of the ancient maps of the world
Is heart-shaped, carefully drawn
And once washed with bright colors,
Though the colors have faded
As you might expect feelings to fade
From a fragile old heart, the brown map
Of a life. But feeling is indelible,
And longing infinite, a starburst compass
Pointing in all the directions
Two lovers might go, a fresh breeze
Swelling their sails, the future uncharted,
Still far from the edge
Where the sea pours into the stars.
– Ted Kooser

Suppose for a moment you live in a land,
Amazed at what happens during summer solstice.
Very strange things begin to occur,
Instantly, there is little darkness,
Night that we are so used to
Gone; what is left is the brilliant colors.

Daylight from dusk to dawn to dusk again,
Alight in all its energy and brightness.
Yes, we are north of the sixtieth parallel;
Land of the midnight sun.
I have been here before and seen things,
Gazed upon the horizon, waiting for darkness to reappear,
Holding on to summer in all its life, love and beauty;
To see it ebb once more as daylight fades to night.
– C. M. Davidson Pickett

TRIBE by Luka Bloom
I hope the rain holds off just for today
I hope it doesn’t rain on your parade
Kick up your white heels and wave your flags around
Kick up your white heels parading in our town

Oh, where is my tribe
Oh, where is my tribe

All around the side streets, needles look for veins
Where bullets found their mark in old rebellions
Others stand saluting, saying this is who I am
A piece of cloth, a field, an island

Oh, where is my tribe
Oh, where is my tribe

Joyce lies in Zurich, Beckett lies in France
What anthem has the tune to their dance
Who is my tribe, is it only green
Or is it in the rainbow of my dreams

Oh, where is my tribe
Oh, where is my tribe

My tribe is the swallow, flying to be home
My tribe is the heron, who never feels alone
My tribe is in Pine Ridge, my tribe’s in Alice Springs
My tribe is in the heartbeat of all things

Home’s a place inside, I take it with me
I meet my tribe wherever I may be
It’s good to lay your head down outside
It’s good to dance around the tribe

Oh, where is my tribe…

To find, once again, all that I love: blue sky, sunshine, untrammeled thought, dignity, serenity, nature, poetry, friendship [solitude].
– Victor Hugo

I am not an advocate of suffering to become the best version of yourself. The best version of yourself is healthy and happy. The best version of yourself loves to be active, play in the sunshine, and create beautiful, wholesome meals.
– Mark Hyman, MD

My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.
While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.
– W.B. Yeats

There are buoyant attitudes that overcome things, and depressive attitudes overcome by things. To act with a buoyant attitude is the doorway into the realm of buddhas; to act with a depressive attitude is the roadway to hell. With the power of the vow dedicated to liberation, you should keep a buoyant attitude day and night.
– Suzuki Shosan, Training the Samurai Mind by Thomas Cleary

Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it.
– Henry David Thoreau

Amy Miller

Sleep now. The city
you were building in your head,
its shouting and conveyances,
its strikers and unhelpful signs,
its cops with their stern citations,
rest. Rest the piteous call
from your sister and the words
you boiled in the pot
all day.
deer fatten in a sudden
thaw. A lake floats hundreds
of Russians in bathing suits.
And your dreams—no one can take
those wild paintings
and unbelievable music,
or your lashes dropping
their feathers, or the factory
of your own lungs,
quietly working into the night.

i found god in myself
and i loved her
i loved her fiercely.
– Ntozake Shange

Dialogue between mr. moses and mr. buddha (and friends)
(with a cameo by martin buber!).
buddha facing moses: “sit”
moses facing buddha: “run”
buddha: “unless you sit the running will lead you nowhere”
moses: “we run so we could sit”
pause for smiling…
moses: “unless you run your siting is for naught”
buddha: “we sit so we could run”
moses: freeing slaves always comes first.
buddha seemed confused.
pause for confusion…
moses and buddha tweaking each other’s ears and declaring in unison:
“what comes first?: sitting or running, running or sitting? false dichotomy! the practice of freedom is one and the same”
silent pause:
noisy pause:
buddha: “the practice is to make our sitting our running”
moses: “the practice is to make our running our sitting. there are people suffering out there, you know”
moses and buddha embrace each other, they raise a cup of malbec and declare in unison: “running and sitting are one and the same.”
agreeable pause…
moses: “when in egypt, know that you need to run”
buddha: “when under the fig-boddhi tree, know that you need to sit”
pause for smelling the desert mogras…
moses’ or buddha’s little girl passing by:
“we are never in or out of egypt. we are never under or away from the fig-boddhi tree”
pause for a grapefruit with cognac… (always drinking, moses and buddha)
buddha: “dogen?”
dogen facing moses: “if you can’t find freedom in egypt, where else will you find it?”
moses: “in the desert”
dogen: “egypt is your desert”
moses: “only a pharaoh would say that”
pause to pause…
vox populi: “moses! in the desert you’ll become the pharaoh”
moses: “the desert is a very narrow bridge. the most precious principle is never to fear at all”
unexpected pause as the bratz-lover rebbe passes by.
he bumps into a mindful buber.
buber bumps into jorge miranda.
jorge miranda bumps into george seawave,
george seawave bumps into howlin’ wolf.
howlin’ wolf: let’s pause for shit.
jorge miranda facing howlin’ wolf : “got” is yiddish for “god”. or an acronym for “get out of the temple”!
howlin’ wolf facing jorge miranda: “i don’t play anything but the blues, but now i could never make no money on nothin’ but the blues. that’s why i wasn’t interested in nothin’ else”
moses seems confused.
pause for confusion…
moses: “isaiah?”
isaiah facing dogen: “blessed are the peacemakers”
isaiah: “amos?”
amos facing buddha: “blessed are the justice makers”
amos: “salomon?”
salomon facing jesus: “blessed are the love makers”
george seawave: “jesus?”
jesus: “blessed is who blesses others”
jesus: “dogen?”
dogen: “blessed is this: here’s a myrtle’”
dogen: “hadas?”
hadas: “cool”. baby is here and now.
hadas: buddha?
buddha facing hadas, jesus, george seawave and moses: “no bless. no curse. bless is curse and curse is bless”
moses: not true: freedom is freedom, bondage is bondage.
buddha: “blessed spinoza?”
spinoza: “deus sive nature. ergo it is not one nor it is two.”
spinoza facing moses: “ergo, sub species aeternitatis, nirvanus est samsarus, samsarus est nirvanus”
moses: not true: freedom is freedom, bondage is bondage.
moses: “maimonides?”
maimonides: “what?!”
pause to listen to buber:
buber: “will and grace” that is all.
vox deus: “i heard you all and no one called my name. there is a time for everything. yours was the time for nonsense. blessed be the non-sense makers.”
pause to makes no sense:
moses, buddha, dogen, isaiah, amos, spinoza, hadas, maimonides, the bratz-lover, the little girl, howlin’ wolf, george seawave and buber (not jorge miranda though) tweaking each others’ noses and declaring in unison “god is god and so is its opposite. god is one, god is zero. substance is one, substance is empty. we sit, we run, we all fall down, hallelujah..!”
moses saw all this. he smiled. he turned back to the desert to die. and his mind was at peace.
part II
namaskar mister buddha.
beautiful autumn moon tonight.
sorry to disturb your hard-earned peace.
here’s a fig for you!
i wanted to ask you a question?
it takes many forms
but it is one and the sane question.
mister buddha.
when will you open your eyes?
do you see me?
can you see me if your eyes are closed?
maybe you don’t need the eyes to see?
or are your eyes closed that all beings might see?
is that what you’re saying?
and also mr. buddha:
are you within every being and you look at me through every face?
is that what it is?
are you mister buddha the wind outside my window?
can i hear you teach in every fragrant spring breeze?
and spring rain?
or rough storm?
can the breezes hear me?
does the rough storm?
(i know the rain does.)
i do not wish to disturb your hard earned peace
but can you mister buddha give me a hug
with your hands so neatly folded on your lap?
i think it’s important to give a hug.
have you mister buddha ever worn jeans and a shirt?
and long hair?
or is it that orange color is your fashion thing?
(i like your sandals.)
tell me sir, just curious:
have you ever loved a woman?
i’m told you were married once but you left her.
and your son too!
you abandoned your son.
that’s really really important mr buddha, you know?
my good tathagata:
do you like pizza? (not sure if you’re vegan, but what about chimichurri?)
can you really be enlightened without a bottle of malbec? (just kidding)
(not really)
have you ever changed a diaper?
that’s really really important mr buddha, you know?
and are you happy when your likeness is being carved?
especially in all that awful shiny and expensive gold?
i mean, wouldn’t you be happier in peasant’s wood
and give all that gold away to feed the poor?
it makes more sense, doesn’t it?
is it you there when i step on a rainy fourteenth street paddle?
my sandals wet.
me maybe slightly upset?
is it ok to be slightly upset when i step in a fourteenth street paddle?
may these confession be my saving grace!
(just trying to be funny)
do you ever, mr. buddha, get up from under that amazing tree?
(i’m told you do sometimes because you care for others too)
(but i don’t blame you. the tree is very cool)
do you play football with your buddies?
what kind of music do you listen to?
are you a good dancer? (i’m a terrible one ?
do you mr buddha write poems with your beloved?
or to her?
do you guys make love under the tree?
or the stars?
(are you really a monk, mr buddha)
but sir, if you don’t make love to your beloved:
what in nirvana are you talking about?
(just joking)
but no, seriously.
some worship you mr. buddha.
is that what you wanted?
are you ok with that?
will you be offended if i won’t bow to your golden statues?
my ancestor folks told me never to bow to a statue.
will you comfort me when i’m sick?
will you feed me when i’m hungry?
will you shelter me when i’m homeless?
will you, mr. buddha, cloth me when i’m poor-naked
and sit next to me when i’m lonely?
not that it really matters, really,
but who’s your trainer with all those big muscles?
will you have a beer with me in the pub? (that’s not a joke)
and if you won’t:
then what in nirvana are you talking about? (that’s not a joke)
is it the case mister buddha that everyone is a buddha?
or that everything is?
like that paddle i just stepped in?
am i not sitting now next to you at the bar?
is buddha everything and everyone
and always and everywhere?
are you all beings?
or are all beings in you? (you know.. the theology thing…)
i remember being told things like that about the god of my own ancestors.
will you mister buddha say thou back to me?
how so?
how so? mr buddha.
how do you love mister buddha?
i said i just had a question,
ha! but you see, i don’t know much about you mister buddha,
but sure as love i’d love to.
i found the buddha mr buddha
but can’t remember where.
is it ok with you?
rhetorical question, i know.
i know the answer.
– hune margulies

Aaron Poochigian
How late’s the age we live in? What I mean
is now, a Thursday in the Holocene,
wildfires are singeing Anaheim, and sea
levels are rising, and I can’t escape
the sense of living in a libertine
empire, the sense payback will wipe us clean
out of creation. Hey, you hearing me—
yeah you—my countryman, my fellow ape?
Listen: on Sunday, when a brute wind gusted
through the trailer in my pal’s backyard,
a dirty window tumbled from its frame,
and I said ‘shit,’ went out and found it busted.
I slit a finger picking up a shard.
The stars and stripes is smashed like that. A shame—
all those shivers lying in the mud,
their edges threatening there will be blood.
Our world is breaking down as squirrels play
in tall grass underneath a cottonwood.
As lizards easy in their creaturehood
sun on a stucco wall, I have to say
the world is breaking down, down, down for good.
If I could wrestle hope out of the way,
if I got past “You know, I really should
try doing something,” if I understood
time isn’t working toward a better day,
I would be beast-content and bask for good.
Absent an eschatology,
bright birds are singing, We are one
with ourselves, the children of the sun,
while fluttering from tree to tree.
Too much is broken, and there will be more
headlines for hopelessness to wallow in:
angrier hurricanes, American
disintegration into civil war.
Sure, we might want to flit away and sing
in private heavens sealed against the news,
but such escape is cheap—as cheap as booze.
What’s hard is to affirm the following:
Despite the bad times now and worse to come,
despite disaster and a crass regime
of lies and thugs, despite the national scam,
I will be conscious. I will not play dumb.
Eyes tracking everything I can redeem,
I will be right here; I will give a damn.
—from Poets Respond
October 29, 2017

It’s a gift, this cloudless November morning
warm enough to walk without a jacket
along your favorite path. The rhythmic shushing
of your feet through fallen leaves should be
enough to quiet the mind, so it surprises you
when you catch yourself telling off your boss
for a decade of accumulated injustices,
all the things you’ve never said circling inside you.

The rising wind pulls you out of it,
and you look up to see a cloud of leaves
wheeling in sunlight, flickering against the blue
and lifting above the treetops, as if the whole day
were sighing, Let it go, let it go,
for this moment at least, let it all go.
– Jeffrey Harrison

INVINCIBLE (A Poem from ‘Wounded Bud’)
I don’t want to be invincible.
I want to be astonished by loss.
I want to be stunned
and defeated by wonder,
shocked into a new creation
where only dancing is allowed.
I want to fall down again and again.
How close can my head come to your toes
before it shatters into spirals of gold?
Lift me up, I’ll do
what a fountain does to sunbeams.
Step on me, I’ll be the sky.
– Fred LaMotte

Catherine Pierce
This morning this planet is covered by winds and blue.
This morning this planet glows with dustless perfect light,
enough that I can see one million sharp leaves
from where I stand. I walk on this planet, its hard-packed

dirt and prickling grass, and I don’t fall off. I come down
soft if I choose, hard if I choose. I never float away.
Sometimes I want to be weightless on this planet, and so

I wade into a brown river or dive through a wave
and for a while feel nothing under my feet. Sometimes
I want to hear what it was like before the air, and so I duck
under the water and listen to the muted hums. I’m ashamed

to say that most days I forget this planet. That most days
I think about dentist appointments and plagiarists
and the various ways I can try to protect my body from itself.

Last weekend I saw Jupiter through a giant telescope,
its storm stripes, four of its sixty-seven moons, and was filled
with fierce longing, bitter that instead of Ganymede or Europa,
I had only one moon floating in my sky, the moon

called Moon, its face familiar and stale. But this morning
I stepped outside and the wind nearly knocked me down.
This morning I stepped outside and the blue nearly

crushed me. This morning this planet is so loud with itself—
its winds, its insects, its grackles and mourning doves—
that I can hardly hear my own lamentations. This planet.
All its grooved bark, all its sand of quartz and bones

and volcanic glass, all its creeping thistle lacing the yards
with spiny purple. I’m trying to come down soft today.
I’m trying to see this place even as I’m walking through it.

A Poem for the New Year from Anam Thubten:
Welcoming the New Year
The times are getting darker,
The world descends,
Castles crack,
Bridges fall apart,
Flowers decay,
Music loses its magic,
The Divine is crying.
Such times have always been part of our history,
A giant messed up family.
In the entire galaxy,
The only species who think they know.
What a curse!

The big mountains,
The hundred year old trees,
The ever flowing rivers,
Those great witnesses say,
“This is not the first time.”

In such times,
It is hard to be a dreamer.
Optimism is gone,
Our hearts are frozen,
Our confidence is shaken,
Signs of “dead end” everywhere.
All the roads lead nowhere,
The future is bleak.

Only one thought can lift up our spirit,
The grand scheme of all things,
That cosmic energy in the sky,
When it makes a slight move,
The world will renew.
Light will return,
A big spring will bless our people,
May it happen quickly!

Let’s welcome this New Year,
While holding a sacred torch,
Of hope,
The hope for change

We all have helpers in seen and unseen realms.
Give them something to do.
Otherwise, they will grow inattentive with boredom.
The can clean junk from your mind,
Find the opening note for the chorus of a song,
Or give a grandchild a safe path through the dark.
They will not give you winning numbers at the casino,
Wash your dishes, or take out an enemy.
Thank them.
Feed them once in a while.
– Joy Harjo

Cook a large fish—choose one with many bones, a skeleton
you will need skill to expose, maybe the flying
silver carp that’s invaded the Great Lakes, tumbling
the others into oblivion. If you don’t live
near a lake, you’ll have to travel.
Walking is best and shows you mean it,
but you could take a train and let yourself
be soothed by the rocking
on the rails. It’s permitted
to receive solace for whatever you did
or didn’t do, pitiful, beautiful
human. When my mother was in the hospital,
my daughter and I had to clear out the home
she wouldn’t return to. Then she recovered
and asked, incredulous,
How could you have thrown out all my shoes?
So you’ll need a boat. You could rent or buy,
but, for the sake of repairing the world,
build your own. Thin strips
of Western red cedar are perfect,
but don’t cut a tree. There’ll be
a demolished barn or downed trunk
if you venture further.
And someone will have a mill.
And someone will loan you tools.
The perfume of sawdust and the curls
that fall from your plane
will sweeten the hours. Each night
we dream thirty-six billion dreams. In one night
we could dream back everything lost.
So grill the pale flesh.
Unharness yourself from your weary stories.
Then carry the oily, succulent fish to the one you hurt.
There is much to fear as a creature
caught in time, but this
is safe. You need no defense. This
is just another way to know
you are alive.
– Ellen Bass

Arthur and his Sister
by Lisa Zimmerman

The girl who always wanted a brother
steers him now in the red canoe.
It edges from shore
and slips onto the sky
which the lake holds up
in its silver mirror.

The boy does not know
if he is a king but he feels royal
in the eyes of this sister.
And although she does not look like
a priestess in her baseball cap
she rows steadily, her long hair
a fountain of light down her back,
the boat skimming the wet scarf of sky.

This is not legend yet. There has been no battle,
no betrayal, no regret.
But it’s as if the girl is taking
the young king home to be mended,
the boat gently rocking,
oars dipping into the clouds, into the sun.

The flock is carving open space up into the most complex geometrical volumes, and you have to ask yourself, How do they do that? The answer is, No one’s giving anyone else instructions. … It’s an aggregate of birds, and to behold them is to take in something…in which there’s no leader,no hero,no driver. That to me is the way around the dilemma of scale [we humans face]: a much greater level of coordination and reference toward others. You must rid yourself of the idea that only one person knows, and understand that genius might be manifested in one man or woman in a particular moment, but that the quality of genius that characterizes humanity is actually possessed by the community.
– Barry Lopez