All are blessed; all are blessed. Is this one? Is this two?

If you don’t know the wonderful Poetry Chaikhana Blog here is one of their posts;

Wu Men Hui-k’ai – Moon and clouds are the same

Moon and clouds are the same
by Wu Men Hui-k’ai – 
English version by Stephen Mitchell

Published by under Poetry

Moon and clouds are the same;
mountain and valley are different.
All are blessed; all are blessed.
Is this one? Is this two?

— from The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, by Stephen Mitchell


/ Image by mikelehen /

The world, all of life, is like one of those games of visual perspective. Do we see mountains and a valley, or do we see mountains-and-valley? It is all one continuity, but with our mind we separate them into distinct objects of perception. Where is the point of separation? We become so convinced by our own mental concepts of distinction that we hardly ever think to search for the borderline that separates things. Put on your hiking boots and go find the exact point at which mountain becomes valley, always asking yourself, “Is this one? Is this two?”

It is both one and two. In two there is identity and capacity, but in one there is unity and rest.

All are blessed; all are blessed.

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POETRY: 'Bernard and Cerinthe' by Linda France – winner of the National Poetry Competition 2013

Today our One Garden group read one of Linda France’s poems alongside a couple of poems by Seamus Heaney. It made a big impact on everyone.

Linda was winner of the National Poetry Competition 2013 for her poem ‘Bernard and Cerinthe’;

NPC 2013 1st Prize – Bernard and Cerinthe from Filmpoem on Vimeo.

Bernard and Cerinthe
by Linda France

If a flower is always a velvet curtain
onto some peepshow he never opens,

it’s a shock to find himself sheltering
from the storm in a greenhouse,

seduced by a leaf blushing blue
at the tips, begging to be stroked.

He’s caught in the unfamiliar ruffle
of knickerbockers or petticoat, a scent

of terror, vanilla musk. If he were
not himself, he’d let his trembling lips

articulate the malleability of wax;
the bruise of bracts, petals, purple

shrimps; seeds plump as buttocks,
tucked out of harm’s way, cocos-de-mer

washed up off Curieuse or Silhouette.
But being Bernard, he’s dumbstruck,

a buffoon in front of a saloon honey
high-kicking the can-can. Can’t-can’t.

He attempts to cool himself, thinking
about sea horses, Hippocampus erectus,

listening to the rain refusing to stop,
soft against the steamed-up glass.

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From the Poetry Society website we learn;

First published in 2013.

Winner of the National Poetry Competition 2013.

Filmpoem by Alastair Cook, commissioned in collaboration with Alastair Cook and Filmpoem.

From the judge: ‘This strange narrative of a man being seduced by a plant charmed the judges with its vivid imagery and linguistic wit. Its precisely honed couplets move from elegant description (‘the bruise of bracts, petals, purple // shrimps’) to a tragicomic climax, in which our hero finds himself ‘a buffoon in front of a saloon honey / high-kicking the can-can. Can’t-can’t’. Truly imaginative and richly musical, ‘Bernard and Cerinthe’ is as much a pleasure to read on the page as it is on the tongue, and as such was the unanimous choice of the judges for first place in this year’s National Poetry Competition.’ Jane Yeh

Linda France on what inspired the poem: ‘I remember very particularly the day I wrote this poem, actually. I went to visit a friend of mine who has the most beautiful garden. It was the end of August and there was a plant I’d never seen before: Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’, and I was just astonished by it. It’s a very intense blue and the leaves are a silvery green… they’re quite thick, almost waxy, fleshy. That’s one of the things I’m drawn to about plants, they express this tremendous “Otherness”, but they just stay there and let you respond to them, unlike a bird or animal that disappears….’

You can listen to a podcast of Linda talking about winning the National Poetry Competition – HERE http://poetrysociety.org.uk/competitions/national-poetry-competition/resources/

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Linda France, winner of the National Poetry Competition 2013, is based close to Hadrian’s Wall, near Hexham in Northumberland. Since 1992 she has published seven poetry collections with Bloodaxe, Smokestack and Arc, including The Gentleness of the Very Tall, The Toast of the Kit-Cat Club, book of days and You are Her. She has worked on numerous collaborations with visual artists and musicians, as well as public art projects. Linda also edited the ground-breaking anthology Sixty Women Poets (Bloodaxe 1993).

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Reviews here – https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=reviews+’Bernard+and+Cerinthe’+by+Linda+France+-+of+the+National+Poetry+Competition+2013

RYOKAN: poem 'The Lotus'

The Lotus

First blooming in the Western Paradise,
The lotus has delighted us for ages.
It’s white petals are covered with dew,
Its jade green leaves spread out over the pond,
And its pure fragrance perfumes the wind.
Cool and majestic, it rises from the murky water.
The sun sets behind the mountains
But I remain in the darkness, too captivated to leave.

— Ryōkan – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ry%C5%8Dkan

from the book – ‘Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf : Zen Poems of Ryokan’

POETRY: ‘The Lark’ by Mary Oliver

‘The Lark’ – by Mary Oliver

And I have seen,
at dawn,
the lark
spin out of the long grass

and into the pink air —
its wings,
which are neither wide
nor overstrong,

fluttering —
the pectorals
ploughing and flashing
for nothing but altitude —

and the song
bursting
all the while
from the red throat.

And then he descends,
and is sorry.
His little head hangs
and he pants for breath

for a few moments
among the hoops of the grass,
which are crisp and dry,
where most of his living is done —

and then something summons him again
and up he goes,
his shoulders working,
his whole body almost collapsing and floating

to the edges of the world.
We are reconciled, I think,
to too much.
Better to be a bird, like this one —

an ornament of the eternal.
As he came down once, to the nest of the grass,
“Squander the day, but save the soul,”
I heard him say.

— from What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems, by Mary Oliver

SOURCE: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/blog/2016/01/27/mary-oliver-the-lark-2/#comment-791422

MAYA ANGELOU: ‘Phenomenal Woman’

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, born April 4, 1928 as Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, was raised in segregated rural Arkansas. She was a poet, historian, author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. She lectured throughout the US and abroad and was Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina since 1981. She published ten best selling books and numerous magazine articles earning her Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominations. At the request of President Clinton, she wrote and delivered a poem at his 1993 presidential inauguration.

‘Phenomenal Woman’- SOURCE – http://allpoetry.com/Phenomenal-Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

EVANESCENCE, Li Po, Joan Tollifson, inner weather – & the only definition of reincarnation that makes sense?

EVANESCENCE – I had never come across this word before, except in Baha’i writings. How beautiful it is and how pregnant with poetic possibilities – ‘soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence; quickly fading or disappearing: the evanescent Arctic summer’

‘Evanescence’ begs to be connected to inter-spiritual and mystical challenges such as self-effacement and detachment.

In relation to such matters I often return to;

“The birds have vanished from the sky,
and now the last clouds slip away.
We sit alone, the mountain & I,
until only the mountain remains.”

8thC Chinese poet known as Li Po

Also resonating in my mind is a piece contemporary teacher of nonduality, Joan Tollifson, wrote on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JoanTollifson 31 December 2015 at 19:11.

Joan’s post starts with a fine description about the effects of weather in the area where she lives; “This morning is clear and bright, not a cloud in the sky. I watched the morning light spread slowly and quietly over the landscape. Some days this whole valley where I live fills with freezing mist and the mountains around me are completely invisible—even the nearby trees disappear into the whiteness of the fog. And then gradually, the mist dissolves and the landscape reappears. Snow storms and rain storms blow through, clouds pass across the sky, changing shape as they go. And sometimes, like this morning, the whole sky is clear.”

Joan then shifts to describing what she calls ‘inner weather’
“The inner weather is much the same—endlessly changing weather systems, sometimes cloudy and sometimes crystal clear. All of it one whole undivided, inseparable happening without any solid borders or seams: cloudy and clear, inside and outside.”

This enables Joan to gently invite us to challenge ourselves spiritually within the context of teachings on nonduality;

“In every instant, the universe is born anew. When we’re awake, we notice this. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is a wonderful time to appreciate the newness of every moment—to notice what happens when we leave the known (the past) behind and are simply Here / Now, awake and present—not needing any handles (any conceptual formulations or explanations), not needing to know who or what we are or what this is, not needing any purpose or meaning, but simply being present, being this moment, just as it is.”

The challenges come in the form of questions – enough for weeks or months of meditation;

“Of course, I’m not talking about losing our functional memory or permanently erasing all knowledge of history—that all has its usefulness—but can we be awake to when this is useful and when it is simply a burden? Can we question our stories and beliefs? Can we hold them lightly? Can we notice how the “same old me” with “my same old problems” reincarnates through thinking and story-telling, how “the same old world” is seemingly recreated again and again? Can we wonder if this needs to continue? Can we simply be present with the raw energies in the body, whatever they are, and with the pure sensory aliveness of what is, right now? Can we notice how different this living reality is from all the ideas and concepts about it?”

In this last section Joan gives us what for me is the only definition of reincarnation that makes sense – Can we notice how the “same old me” with “my same old problems” reincarnates through thinking and story-telling, how “the same old world” is seemingly recreated again and again?. The first being”inner weather’ Two brilliant ideas.

Brilliant writing, brilliant teaching. Joan’s wonderful website is here – http://www.joantollifson.com/

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SOME ADDITIONAL NOTES FOR POETS & OTHER WRITERS!

Here are a couple of definitions of evanescence;

‘…evanescence is a noun that means the event of fading and gradually vanishing from sight.

After you lose a loved one, often you’re gripped with a fear of evanescence, or the rapid fading from sight or memory of that person. Evanescence comes from the Latin evanescere meaning “disappear, vanish.””

Something that possesses qualities of evanescence, has a quality of disappearing or vanishing. The evanescence of a shooting star makes it hard to catch — it’s there one moment and gone the next. Evanescence is a word typically used to describe an event that fades from sight or memory, or sometimes the fleeting quality of worldly success. –
http://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/evanescence

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Soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence; quickly fading or disappearing:
the evanescent Arctic summer’

Words that rhyme with evanescent

acquiescent, adolescent, albescent, Besant, coalescent, confessant, convalescent, crescent, depressant, effervescent, erubescent, excrescent, flavescent, fluorescent, immunosuppressant, incandescent, incessant, iridescent, juvenescent, lactescent, liquescent, luminescent, nigrescent, obsolescent, opalescent, pearlescent, phosphorescent, pubescent, putrescent, quiescent, suppressant, turgescent, virescent, viridescent

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/evanescent

Mist on river Burnlaw

RP Is this not also resurrection – of self from slough of despond to Self?