Tranquilized

Poem of the Day: Advertisement

BY WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA
I’m a tranquilizer.
I’m effective at home.
I work in the office.
I can take exams
on the witness stand.
I mend broken cups with care.
All you have to do is take me,
let me melt beneath your tongue,
just gulp me
with a glass of water.
I know how to handle misfortune,
how to take bad news.
I can minimize injustice,
lighten up God’s absence,
or pick the widow’s veil that suits your face.
What are you waiting for—
have faith in my chemical compassion.
You’re still a young man/woman.
It’s not too late to learn how to unwind.
Who said
you have to take it on the chin?
Let me have your abyss.
I’ll cushion it with sleep.
You’ll thank me for giving you
four paws to fall on.
Sell me your soul.
There are no other takers.
There is no other devil anymore.
Wislawa Szymborska, “Advertisement” from Poems New and Selected. Copyright © 1998 by Wislawa Szymborska.  Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Source: Poems New and Collected(Harcourt Inc., 1998)

WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA

Biography
More poems by this author

Retrieved and reposted by Poetry Foundation website.


The White Orchid

A poem by Lightning Heart

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The White Orchid

Remember when you offered it to me,

It was after Shiva touched my shoulders and

Sent seizures through blood, skin, and bone

You came with a lion’s mouth and nose, stringy haired,

Downed in frayed gossamer.

I would not accept it at first out of

Fear for what it meant

 

Dew lived on its petals, even in the desert

Its yellow mouth, frozen in a seductive smile

They say never to accept an orchid

If it is in bloom,

Something about shocking its system,

Stagnating its growth

 

Then again, I’ve never been a rule-follower

Now that it is here, I stare at it,

Obsessively,

Especially that face–

like butterfly wings suspended on a corkboard

 

only the pin does not kill it,

for there is no pin

Not this time.

The clay pot is too small

It has to break someday

when tubers burst through

. . .or better yet. . .

When they devour the pot with new life

 

–a poem by Lightning Heart


Edge of the roof. . .

Almost a year ago and the edge of the roof is back again, this time in a different form. When will you jump? Well, I’m waiting.

Total Prana

That night. . .in the desert. . .I jumped off the roof.

edge

“I don’t like it here, I want to go back.

According to the old Knowers

If you’re absent from the one you love

Even for one second that ruins the whole thing!

There must be someone. . .just to find

One sign of the other world in this town

Would be enough.

You know the great Chinese Simurgh bird

Got caught in this net. . .

And what can I do.  I’m only a wren.

My desire-body, don’t come

Strolling over this way.

Sit where you are, that’s a good place.

When you want dessert, you choose something rich.

In wine, you look for what is clear and firm.

What is the rest? The rest is mirages,

And blurry pictures, and milk mixed with water.

The rest is self-hatred, and mocking other people, and

bombing.

So just be…

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Top of the Mountain

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I hiked at Phoenix Mountain Preserve on Good Friday with quail, lizards, saguaro, and chipmunks. At the top of the mountain I sat on the ground and waited for nothing.

A man and his two children –teenager and a tween—soon arrived.

What did they say when the reached the top of the mountain?

“Nice job, buddy,” the man told his son. “Alright, we’ll chill for a minute.”

They posed for photos of themselves against the cityscape: selfies, group shots, never turning to view the side that held no streets. What did they capture inside their camera?

I heard the flies buzz, felt the sand against my palms.

“Okay, let’s go down, we’re done,” said the man after three minutes.

A middle-aged couple soon came to the top.

“Is this it?” said the woman, disappointed. She searched for a higher point, found it, and led her husband to the next crest. I watched them climb and once they reached that peak, they immediately turned for the descent.

What did they find at the top of the mountain? More rocks and sand perhaps. Something they climbed for, but could not name and could not touch; something always there, but unseen, untouched, unheard, un-experienced by sleepwalkers.

What do you find at the top of the mountain?


Teaching of Jane’s Bamboo

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In Paradise Valley I have a neighbor named Jane. Jane’s bamboo plants creep into my patio area, dropping dead leaves onto my rock garden.

Each week I clean the dead leaves from the rock garden; sometimes twice a week, sometimes more.

Within half an hour after each cleaning, a slight breeze blows and more dead leaves fall from Jane’s bamboo.

Jane’s bamboo carries a great teaching about the impermanence of all things.


Captive of linguistics

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“The core teaching of the Buddha always has been that all things are dependently arisen, hence fundamentally devoid of any independently lasting substance. All that’s happening in the phenomenal world is an interplay of form and energy that creates a transitory phenomenon in time and space. In our ignorance, we continue to interpret this interplay as real-in-itself. Moreover, as captives of linguistic formulations we even interpret our conceptual thinking to represent something real.”

–from Mu Seong’s The Heart of the Universe


Maya – Illusion


Powwow at the end

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The Powwow at the End of the World

BY SHERMAN ALEXIE
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam
and topples it. I am told by many of you that I must forgive
and so I shall after the floodwaters burst each successive dam
downriver from the Grand Coulee. I am told by many of you
that I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters find
their way to the mouth of the Columbia River as it enters the Pacific
and causes all of it to rise. I am told by many of you that I must forgive
and so I shall after the first drop of floodwater is swallowed by that salmon
waiting in the Pacific. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after that salmon swims upstream, through the mouth of the Columbia
and then past the flooded cities, broken dams and abandoned reactors
of Hanford. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after that salmon swims through the mouth of the Spokane River
as it meets the Columbia, then upstream, until it arrives
in the shallows of a secret bay on the reservation where I wait alone.
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after
that salmon leaps into the night air above the water, throws
a lightning bolt at the brush near my feet, and starts the fire
which will lead all of the lost Indians home. I am told
by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after we Indians have gathered around the fire with that salmon
who has three stories it must tell before sunrise: one story will teach us
how to pray; another story will make us laugh for hours;
the third story will give us reason to dance. I am told by many
of you that I must forgive and so I shall when I am dancing
with my tribe during the powwow at the end of the world.

Nothing softer than water

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Much water imagery lately, in journeying as well as meditation; in dreams as well as in synchronicities of everyday life. What does it all mean? In the wise words of an old man by the fire, “It doesn’t mean anything.” Reading the Teachings from the Huainanzi today, this was the message:

“Of all the things in the world, nothing is softer than water. Water is accommodating and yielding, but its depth cannot be plumbed and its boundaries cannot be measured. Rising to the sky, it becomes rain and mist. Falling to the earth, it becomes springs and underground lakes. Life cannot exist without water, and crops cannot be cultivated without it. Water benefits all and has no favorites. It nourishes the smallest insect and the largest mammal and does not expect gratitude. It enriches the world and does not begrudge those who use it.

“Water is soft yet strong. Strike it, and it cannot be injured. Pierce it, and it cannot be punctured. Grasp it, and it cannot be held. Its strength can wear down stone and metal. Its sustenance can nourish the whole world. It can float in the sky as clouds, squeeze through narrow valleys as streams, and spread across wide-open plains as lakes. It takes from the earth and gives back to the earth. Unbiased and nonjudgmental, it does not have notions of first and last and does not distinguish between us and them. Everything is equal in its eyes. Separating and merging, it blends with its surroundings and is at one with the sky and the earth. Not conforming to the left or the right, it can be straight or meandering. Not restrained by space and time, it can be present at the beginning and the end of all things.”

-teachings from the Huainanzi, The Natural Way, translated by Eva Wong

It means nothing. It means everything. Such is the Dao.

–Cheolshim Prajna


Premature Enlightenment