Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

The playful joy of effortless creation displayed by Donna Warwick inspired this haiku turned tanka

November 29, 2019

Author, visual artist, and TM teacher Donna Warwick posts digital paintings on her Instagram as @artsfusionist. She created this painting that expresses the effortless mysterious process of creation. The Absolute becoming Relative. BEing BEcoming. To me it looks like the moment of conception, and also the sprouting of a seed idea. Either way, it’s creation. It inspired me to write this haiku, then extend it to a tanka. Read Donna’s description below.

Effortless Creation

Inspired by a painting by Donna Warwick

I AM THAT I AM
I AM ONE — Become Many
BEING Becoming

I AM therefore I Create
An Idea of My Self

®Ken Chawkin
Nov. 29, 2019

Donna added this description for Thanksgiving Day: Thought and Action:
It is the frictionless flow between thought and action that produces effortless achievement in life. One feels the profound connection between the source of thought and the fulfillment of the action. The sweetest thing is that the result of this is the bliss of experiencing something greater than our small selves. For the true source of all success is not the ego. Nor is it the wide assortment of details about one’s personality/individuality. That is why the experience of unity with unbounded pure consciousness is so fulfilling. Consciousness is that which is shared by all. For me, that experience is one of the natural results of my practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. On this Thanksgiving I feel waves of gratitude to my TM teacher.

Mary Oliver is the Messenger for Thanksgiving

November 28, 2019

Mary Oliver’s poem, Messenger, was written in her own unique voice, but it must have been influenced by her favorite American poet, Walt Whitman. It’s a perfect poem to share for Thanksgiving, since her poetry is a thanksgiving for being alive in the world, appreciating every living thing in it, and singing their praises. “My work is loving the world…mostly standing still and learning to be astonished…which is mostly rejoicing…which is gratitude…a mouth with which to give shouts of joy.”

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
 
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
 
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
 
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

You can read more about Mary Oliver and her astonishing poetry in this memorial acknowledgment of her poetic legacy to us.

Here is an added footnote: “Attention is the beginning of devotion.”

I remember Maharishi telling us whatever we put our attention on will grow stronger in our life. The cornerstone to Mary Oliver’s appreciation of and love for the natural world around her was the power of her attention. She was awake to everything and was always astonished. Her sustained empathic attention to the land and its inhabitants inspired devotional poetry. In this interview, On Being’s Krista Tippett asks Mary Oliver about the role of attention in her work.

Ms. Tippett: I’d like to talk about attention, which is another real theme that runs through your work, both the word and the practice. I know people associate you with that word. But I was interested to read that you began to learn that attention without feeling is only a report. That there is more to attention than for it to matter in the way you want it to matter. Say something about that learning.

Ms. Oliver: You need empathy with it rather than just reporting. Reporting is for field guides. And they’re great. They’re helpful. But that’s what they are. They’re not thought provokers. They don’t go anywhere. And I say somewhere that attention is the beginning of devotion, which I do believe. But that’s it. A lot of these things are said but can’t be explained.

You can listen to and read a transcript of the whole interview.

A photograph by Julia Preminger of the Catskill Mountains covered in snow inspired this haiku

November 27, 2019

I saw this photograph of an early winter forest scene that Julia Preminger had posted on her Instagram. It inspired me to write this haiku.

Snowy forest winter wonderland in the Catskill Mountains, NY. Photo by Julia Preminger

another winter haiku
based on a photograph by Julia Preminger

white wisps of winter
nature powders her features
we watch in wonder

®Ken Chawkin
Nov. 27, 2019

Here’s an earlier one: this snow buddha photo inspired a winter haiku.

In her poem, Mockingbirds, Mary Oliver teaches us how to listen, and be transformed by wonder

October 22, 2019

Our attention is the greatest gift we can give to someone, or something. It can transform our world. Mary Oliver’s poem, Mockingbirds, teaches us how to listen, and experience the wonders around us.

Mockingbirds

by Mary Oliver

This morning
two mockingbirds
in the green field
were spinning and tossing

the white ribbons
of their songs
into the air.
I had nothing

better to do
than listen.
I mean this
seriously.

In Greece,
a long time ago,
an old couple
opened their door

to two strangers
who were,
it soon appeared,
not men at all,

but gods.
It is my favorite story–
how the old couple
had almost nothing to give

but their willingness
to be attentive–
but for this alone
the gods loved them

and blessed them–
when they rose
out of their mortal bodies,
like a million particles of water

from a fountain,
the light
swept into all the corners
of the cottage,

and the old couple,
shaken with understanding,
bowed down–
but still they asked for nothing

but the difficult life
which they had already.
And the gods smiled, as they vanished,
clapping their great wings.

Wherever it was
I was supposed to be
this morning–
whatever it was I said

I would be doing–
I was standing
at the edge of the field–
I was hurrying

through my own soul,
opening its dark doors–
I was leaning out;
I was listening.

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Mary Oliver left us at the beginning of this year. To learn more about this amazed poet and her amazing poetry, see: RIP: Mary Oliver. Thank you for sharing your poetic gifts with us. They are a national treasure!

Tony Walsh @LongfellaPoet’s poem, Take This Pen, inspires Brits to contribute to @PoetryDayUK

September 7, 2019

National Poetry Day, the UK-wide celebration of poetry, celebrates its 25th anniversary on 3 Oct: the theme is truth. Enjoy, discover & share!

I came across this tweet by Tony Walsh @LongfellaPoet about this event: Delighted to share this. Please watch/tag/share. It’s my poem Take This Pen, beautifully illustrated by the wonderful @chrisriddell50. It’s an inspiration piece to launch #tellyourtruthpoem for @PoetryDayUK.

Enjoy this powerful poem and video that is sure to inspire young and old alike to creatively express their own truth in a poem. Read more on this international superstar poet, teacher, and performer Tony Walsh Poet.

Very relevant is this poem, WHO ARE YOU? in the 2013 film, Words and Pictures, inviting students to create and become who they are.

Here’s one of my earliest poems about this magical creative process: Sometimes Poetry Happens: a poem about the mystery of creativity.

My son wrote this wise and amazing poem when he was 11 years old: INSPIRATION, a poem by Nathanael Chawkin.

This post—The perils of praise or blame for young writers. New ways to help students find their own voice—is a treasure trove of knowledge and teaching strategies by poets, writers, and innovative educators.

A powerful message in a Shadow and Light poem

August 31, 2019

Here is another beautiful blog post by westcoastwoman. I had liked and posted an earlier one, Afterglow. She said this photo became the muse for the poem. It was a happy accident. In our discussion she “tried to photograph this totem at daybreak and twilight and finally in frustration a full on ‘throw away’ sun-in-the-lens shot. This is the one that stuck for me. Shadow and Light ….. loved it.” Yes, it is stunning, and the short, succinct poem it inspired delivers a powerful message!

Shadow and Light

August 30, 2019

©westcoastwoman “hollyhock”

Don’t look…..
into the Light
Don’t shoot…..
into the Light

Rules…

Light exposes shadow,
Shadow, Light.

Rules…

Meant to be broken
Light without Shadow
Half Life
Half Love
Half Question

Unlived, Unloved, Unspoken.

©westcoastwoman 2019

Poem for Sali—An Undying Love—heals the heart

June 28, 2019

Interestingly, on Monday morning, at the end of my meditation, I had this loving feeling in my heart, thinking of Sali. So I wrote this poem for her. It contains two haiku and a last line, which brought a quiet healing, knowing the bond of love is eternal; death cannot touch it. I remembered the jyotish reading Sali received from Pandit Shastriji with the nadi leaves, where he told us of some of our past lives together. She had later conveyed a message to me, that we would share again “The Peace that Passeth Understanding” I had written about after she had passed. See “Final entries leading up to and after Sali’s passing.”

An Undying Love

Still love you Sali
An undying kind of Love
That lasts Forever

Souls from the same Source
Incarnating together
Lifetime to lifetime

This thought brings peace to my heart

© Ken Chawkin
Monday, June 24, 2019
Fairfield, Iowa, USA

See these two earlier blog posts, written around a year apart on full moon nights, about the joy we shared together: Capturing an authentic moment in writing, and Haiku of the Heart – for Sali.

This year, Sheila Moschen had asked me to read three of my love poems to conclude her Valentine’s Day Show, Let Your Heart Sing, on KHOE.

Sali can be seen meditating in this 1973 Finnish TV interview with TM founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

July 2, 2019 Update: I am reminded of this appropriate quote from the Zen poet Ryokan I had included in a post about his poetry. The last half of it is how I feel about the eternal nature of love I share(d) with Sali.

“In all ten directions of the universe, there is only one truth. When we see clearly, the great teachings are the same. What can ever be lost? What can be attained? If we attain something, it was there from the beginning of time. If we lose something, it is hiding somewhere near us.”

This west coast Afterglow stays with you awhile

June 16, 2019

This is a beautiful blog post by westcoastwoman—the photo, quote, and six-sentence description. She intimately makes the universal personal. Click here to see the many responses to it, including mine. Having spent some time on the west coast of Canada I appreciate how she captured the magic in words. The experience cannot be pinned down. It’s transcendent—”in-between-time” and “neither here nor there.” The deep silence of nature’s transitions between night and day, twilight and predawn, are like a metaphor for our own inner experiences—the gaps between waking, dreaming and sleeping, and the silent unbounded backdrop to them, our own transcendental Self.

Afterglow

June 12, 2019

DSC_2188
photo credit westcoastwoman ©

“Everyday a new picture is painted and framed, held up for half an hour, in such lights as the Great Artist chooses, and then withdrawn, and the curtain falls. And then the sun goes down, and long the afterglow gives light.”

Henry David Thoreau

Afterglow

Every night they come, the watchers of the sun-set, drawn down by the need to see the light extinguish behind the islands and the sea.

I want to share with them as they slowly rise and disperse that the setting of the sun is only a prelude to the experience they had been called to witness, but I stay silent.

It is this time between the setting sun and rising moon, this short extension of the day, this in-between-time when my heart and mind settle for just a moment.

I watch as the sky paints itself with each night’s original palette, wanting only to share with those who can look out from the same place and feel the colours as they appear, understand the need for silence.

In these moments when I am neither here nor there, anything is possible, magic is afoot and I am caught in the afterglow of another original creation as it slowly fades from sight.

The darkness takes the light, the starlings swoop once more in perfect unison over the water, I share with all who stand watching… being neither here nor there, a silent good night.

©westcoastwoman 2019

Written in response to GirlieontheEdge’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt. Prompt word: Extension.

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This reminds me of a poem I wrote down while waking from a dream in a foreign land. It was during the predawn, when “the moon bows / before the rising sun.” See: Indonesian Mystery Poem honoring Nyi Roro Kidul.

On August 30, 2019 she posted Shadow and Light, a powerful poem inspired by a stunning photograph. I posted it as A powerful message in a Shadow and Light poem.

Bad habits are hard to break. This short poem by Portia Nelson illustrates that fact with a way out.

May 21, 2019

Here is an interesting poem by Portia Nelson: Autobiography in Five Short Chapters, from her 1993 book, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter 1  

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.  

Chapter 2  

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.  

Chapter 3  

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.  

Chapter 4  

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.  

Chapter 5  

I walk down another street.  

* * * * *

This little metaphorical story has helped those dealing with bad habits, addictions, tunnel vision, ultimately the mistake of the intellect. It shows a way out of our ignorance and misery by acknowledging our mistakes and not repeating them. Becoming more conscious we can change for the better, taking responsibility for our destiny. Of course, only reading this poem won’t get the job done. We also need to change our consciousness. Change begins within, and learning to meditate can also help. It’s the 12th step of any Twelve-Step Program. The David Lynch Foundation offers scholarships to those in need to learn the Transcendental Meditation technique and improve their lives from within.

After looking through a telescope Louise Glück identified with the silent enormity of the stars

April 28, 2019

I recently discovered poets writing about telescopes, like Ted Kooser and Kenneth Rexroth, what they saw through them, and how they were transformed by the experience. Here is a poem called Telescope (Averno: Poems) by Pulitzer Prize winner (1993) Louise Glück. It was among the poems she read during a Lannan Literary Event (May 11, 2016).

The Great Cluster in the constellation Hercules

Telescope

There is a moment after you move your eye away
when you forget where you are
because you’ve been living, it seems,
somewhere else, in the silence of the night sky.

You’ve been stopped being here in the world.
You’re in a different place,
a place where human life has no meaning.

You’re not a creature in a body.
You exist as the stars exist,
participating in their stillness, their immensity.

Then you’re in the world again.
At night, on a cold hill,
taking the telescope apart.

You realize afterward
not that the image is false
but the relation is false.

You see again how far away
each thing is from every other thing.

Louise Glück

Louise Glück reads Telescope at a Lannan Literary Event

Kenneth Rexroth also describes a loss of body awareness and identifies with the enormity of the star-filled summer night sky while looking through a telescope. Here’s an excerpt from The Heart of Herakles.

My body is asleep. Only
My eyes and brain are awake.
The stars stand around me
Like gold eyes, I can no longer
Tell where I begin and leave off.



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