The Empty Hills

The grandeur of deep afternoons,
The pomp of haze on marble hills,
Where every white-walled villa swoons
Through violence that heat fulfills,

Pass tirelessly and more alone
Than kings that time has laid aside.
Safe on their massive sea of stone
The empty tufted gardens ride.

Here is no music, where the air
Drives slowly through the airy leaves.
Meaning is aimless motion where
The sinking hummingbird conceives.

No book nor picture has inlaid
This life with darkened gold, but here
Men passionless and dumb invade
A quiet that entrances fear.

— Yvor Winters, born this day in 1900

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Cui (pronounced ‘tsway’)=Gathering together

I used to see the world as separate things
And tried to understand how they relate,
One to the other, how their acts create
The waves that flow forth in concentric rings.

More recently I’m inclined to suspect
The nodes at which relationships congeal
May constitute the objects we call “real”,
In truth it’s the connections they reflect.

The clarity that this perspective brings
Has demonstrated power to abate
This constant, primal loneliness I feel,
Erode the barriers that I erect,
Diffuse the pride of my internal kings,
So free the heart to swell and spread its wings.

— JJM #45 from the I Ching Sonnet Project


Wu Wang = Innocence

Forget not to remember (note to self)
That I don’t know. Prepare to be surprised.
Remember to forget all I’ve surmised,
Put preconceptions back upon the shelf.

There was an age when I was free and wild.
But head has long ago eclipsed the heart,
My artlessness seduced by social art.
O Pan! Revive the music of the child!

The filters through which I perceive the sky
Delimit my experience, and I
No longer even know that I’m bereft.
But now I vow for what years I have left
To look upon the earth in wonder’s thrall.
Losing the parts that I might know the All.

— JJM = #25 in the I Ching Sonnet Project

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My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!

by John Greenleaf Whittier

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This universe abundant offers me
More gifts than many lifetimes might receive.
Why then do I continually grieve,
When all I lack is receptivity?
The earth, I know, is cure for my disease;
As conation grows dim, my senses shine;
Amid the evergreens, I cease to pine;
In Nature’s pace, I find a healing ease.

This hour congeals, a pregnant time of choice.
Might I open to wonder that is life,
Or linger, calmed in good Sylvania’s realm?
Midst silence, I attend a whispered voice,
A woodland sylph who counsels me that strife
Alone results when I assume the helm.

#2 in the I Ching Sonnet project


Chicory & Daisies


Lift your flowers
on bitter stems
Lift them up
out of the scorched ground!
Bear no foliage
but give yourself
wholly to that!
Strain under them
you bitter stems
that no beast eats—
and scorn greyness!
Into the heat with them:
luxuriant! sky-blue!
The earth cracks and
is shriveled up;
the wind moans piteously;
the sky goes out
if you should fail.


I saw a child with daisies
for weaving into the hair
tear the stems
with her teeth!

William Carlos Willams was born on this day in 1883

What is the use of reading the common news of the day, the tragic deaths and abuses of daily living, when for over half a lifetime we have known that they must have occurred just as they have occurred given the conditions that cause them? There is no light in it. It is trivial fill-gap. We know the plane will crash, the train be derailed. And we know why. No one cares, no one can care. We get the news and discount it, we are quite right in doing so. It is trivial. But the hunted news I get from some obscure patients’ eyes is not trivial. It is profound.

The Creative Moment

A lifetime’s efforts brought you to this Now,
And still you cannot b’lieve the time is nigh.
From deep within, a voice is poised to cry
With teeming force, creative as a vow.
But just when you think the moment has come
To make your move, boldly assert your will—
The task is complete; all is calm and still,
The earth is silent, heaven’s voice is dumb.

You have been poised to make that final thrust
When, Peace! You know there’s nothing left to do.
Events unfold with all appropriate speed,
As you are gifted with implicit trust.
The destiny that erstwhile called to you
Stands manifest, and naught can intercede.

— JJM (#1 in the I Ching Sonnet Project)

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Art by Adele Aldridge