Monday, July 25, 2011



The sky is sharp today, Mother
The trees wave wildly in the wind
but there are no clouds in the sky
to push around.
I thought I saw you walking briskly across a supermarket parking lot,
scarf wrapped tightly around your face
as you leaned into a headwind.

A rogue plastic bag swoops up and surprises you with its clattering.
The rumpled hat you wear holds down your gray hair, but barely.
Ravens float on updrafts, Mother
landing with squawks on the dumpster’s edge.

Peering around to see if anyone is watching
the birds drop down into the darkness to feed.

The x-rays showed an inflammation of the dura mater

how does it heal,
how does anyone heal
hard Mother?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Let Them Drink Coke

Like so many indigenous peoples around the world who have historically been exploited, forced off their land and exterminated, this story is especially compelling for the century we live in. The raping of land and people continues to this day, and it is poignantly apparent to the Bushmen tribes of Botswana, forced to leave their land because De Beers got wind of valuable diamond deposits deep in the earth where the Bushman lived. Attacked by government forces, who are in bed with the diamond industry, these indigenous people are left to die by the hands of their own leaders; forced into dehydration because they are forbidden water, the most precious resource on earth, and located right beneath their feet.

So where is all the water going? To an oasis; a tourist lodge, the Kalahari Plains Camp owned by Wilderness Safaris of South Africa. A lodge soaked in water, Coke and beer, with flush toilets, a swimming pool and cool fresh water for thirsty tourists. Are the lives of these indigenous people worth less than "tourist turds, flushed away with water?" A spokesperson for the Bushman stated in 2010: "There is nothing more painful than to see a swimming pool near us in the desert where people can swim while we ourselves don't have any water to drink."

In another case, local water in India was used by Coca Cola's fifty bottling plants until groundwater and wells ran dry. People then had to walk for miles to get water, yet driving past their settlements everyday were truckloads of Coke they were encouraged to buy. Let them drink Coke, was the foreigner businessman's message.

In a similar vein, the deliberate seizure of water took place in Bolivia when water was privatized for profit (even well water). People rioted. Bechtel lost control of the "market" and is seeking compensation for lost profit from the government...which translates to lost profit from God himself, since much of the water loss falls from the heavens in the form of rain.

Will this ever, in our lifetime, stop? That grand-baby dying in her mother's arms is our grand-daughter; those children suffering dehydration are our children, with no less value and no less right to this fundamental element than those living a modern way of life in the developed worlds.

I am reminded of the Cree Indian Prophecy that says: 
"Only after the last tree has been cut down,
only after the last river has been poisoned, 
only after the last fish has been caught, 
only THEN will you find that money cannot be eaten."

Source: Jay Griffith, the author of Wild: An Elemental Journey and Let Them Drink Coke at Orion  magazine.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Who Knows What's Good or Bad?

The situation we always live in is like that of the wise Chinese farmer whose best horse ran off one day. His neighbor came over to console him. “Oh, too bad your horse ran off,” he said. To which the wise farmer replied, “Who knows what’s good or bad?”

The next day the horse returned to the farmer with a herd of horses following him. The foolish neighbor then congratulated the farmer on his good fortune. “Oh, you are so lucky. So many horses now.” To which the wise farmer replied, “Who knows?”

Then, when the farmer’s son broke his leg trying to ride one of the new horses, the foolish neighbor came to console him again. “Oh, that’s too bad your son broke his leg. To which the wise farmer replied, “Who knows?”

When the army passed through the village, conscripting men for war, they passed over the farmer’s son because of his broken leg. When the foolish man came to congratulate the farmer that his son would be spared, again the wise farmer said,  “Who knows?”

Life happens in spite of our plans.
A few things we can control, but most we cannot. 

Staying fully present to whatever life throws at us allows the greatest opportunity.
Imagine saying YES to ALL of it. Even the bad, hard stuff. If we could train our minds to immediately ask, "what will I learn from this?" rather than allowing our minds and hearts to spiral downward, then we are saying "yes" to life, just as it is.

 "Since my house burned down, I now have a better view of the rising moon." 

Really, what other choice do we ultimately have???

Monday, July 4, 2011

Have You Ever Tried?

Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches
by Mary Oliver

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives---
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early summer, feel like?

Do you think this world is only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over
the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left----
fields everywhere invite you into them.

Discover more about Mary Oliver's poems at Poetry Foundation.