Darkness slowly lifts
the yawning street
shakes off the remnants of long sleep

garbage still heaped at the corners
the shops still closed
and little trees search for their reflections
in the shining window panes.

Now the houses begin to show some movement
a window opens here
a balcony there as a lovely shadow
emerges with the morning light
A little while, then quickly
the earth goes crazy
a bus appears,
then another,
then another,
and people rush forth in every street and alley.

~ Sami Mahdi

It Felt Love & If the Canary Does Not Sing

It Felt Love

How did the rose
ever open its heart
and give to this world
all its beauty?

It felt the encouragement of light
against its being
otherwise, we all remain
too frightened.

~ Hafiz

If the Canary Does Not Sing

If the canary does not sing to you, my friend,
blame no one but yourself.
If the canary does not sing to you,
then you yourself sing to it.
Sing to it.

~ Mahmoud Darwish

Eagle Plain

The American eagle is not aware he is
the American eagle. He is never tempted
to look modest.

When orators advertise the American eagle’s
virtues, the American eagle is not listening.
This is his virtue.

He is somewhere else, he is mountains away
but even if he were near he would never
make an audience.

The American eagle never says he will serve
if drafted, will dutifully serve etc. He is
not at our service.

If we have honored him we have honored one
who unequivocally honors himself by
overlooking us.

He does not know the meaning of magnificent.
Perhaps we do not altogether either
who cannot touch him.

~ Robert Francis


They were never handsome and often came
with a hormone imbalance manifested by corpulence,
a yodel of a voice or ears big as kidneys.

But each was brave. More than once a sidekick
has thrown himself in front of our hero in order
to receive the bullet or blow meant for that
perfect face and body.

Thankfully, heroes never die in movies and leave
the sidekick alone. He would not stand for it.
Gabby or Pat, Pancho or Andy remind us of a part
of ourselves,

the dependent part that can never grow up,
the part that is painfully eager to please,
always wants a hug and never gets enough.

Who could sit in a darkened theatre, listen
to the organ music and watch the best
of ourselves lowered into the ground while
the rest stood up there, tears pouring off
that enormous nose.

~ Ronald Koertge *

* pronounced KUR-chee


Patience is
wider than one
once envisioned,
with ribbons
of rivers
and distant
ranges and
tasks undertaken
and finished
with modest
relish by
natives in their
native dress.
Who would
have guessed
it possible
that waiting
is sustainable—
a place with
its own harvests.
Or that in
time’s fullness
the diamonds
of patience
couldn’t be
from the genuine
in brilliance
or hardness.

~ Kay Ryan

I Have No Address

I am a sparrow with a white heart and a thousand tongues.
I fly around the globe
Singing for peace, love and humanity
In every place,
I have no address.

My address is lines ornamented by dreams, beating hearts united by smiling hope
For people who wish good for other people all the time.
I sing, smile and cry.
My tears wash away pain
In every place.

Our paths are boats of longing, turning round and round with us —
One day to the east, another to the west, to tranquil moorings.
And when the waves go against us and cast us away,
Then the echo of my sounds at midnight will be a dock at the shore of tranquility,
In every place.

The day we join hands with others’ hands, our universe is
A rose garden blooming in the holy night.
It contains us, with hope, love and alleluias.

And I am the sparrow on the branch.
I sleep, dream and fly happily
In every place.
I have no address.

~ Hamza El Din

The Edges of Time

It is at the edges
that time thins.
Time which had been
dense and viscous
as amber suspending
intentions like bees
unseizes them. A
humming begins,
apparently coming
from stacks of
put–off things or
just in back. A
racket of claims now,
as time flattens. A
glittering fan of things
competing to happen,
brilliant and urgent
as fish when seas

~ Kay Ryan

A Room in the Past

It’s a kitchen. Its curtains fill
with a morning light so bright
you can’t see beyond its windows
into the afternoon. A kitchen
falling through time with its things
in their places, the dishes jingling
up in the cupboard, the bucket
of drinking water rippled as if
a truck had just gone past, but that truck
was thirty years. No one’s at home
in this room. Its counter is wiped,
and the dishrag hangs from its nail,
a dry leaf. In housedresses of mist,
blue aprons of rain, my grandmother
moved through this life like a ghost,
and when she had finished her years,
she put them all back in their places
and wiped out the sink, turning her back
on the rest of us, forever.

~ Ted Kooser

A Little Girl’s Poem

Life is for me and is shining!
Inside me I
feel stars and sun and bells singing.

There are children in the world
all around me and beyond me—
here, and beyond the big waters;
here, and in countries peculiar to themselves.

I want the children to live and to laugh.
I want them to sit with their mothers and fathers
and have happy cocoa together.

I do not want
fire screaming up the sky.
I do not want
families killed in their doorways.

Life is for us, for the children.
Life is for mothers and fathers,
life is for the tall girls and boys
in high school on Henderson Street,
is for the people in Afrikan tents,
the people in English cathedrals,
the people in Indian courtyards;
the people in cottages all over the world.

Life is for us, and is shining.
We have a right to sing.

~ Gwendolyn Brooks

Your Blinded Hand

Suppose that
                         everything that greens and grows
should blacken in one moment, flower and branch.
I think that I would find your blinded hand.
Suppose that your cry and mine were lost among numberless cries
               in a city of fire when the earth is afire,
I must still believe that somehow I would find your blinded hand.
               Through flames everywhere
                    consuming earth and air
I must believe that somehow, if only one moment were offered,
     I would
                         find your hand.
I know as, of course, you know
                         the immeasurable wilderness that would exist
               in the moment of fire.
But I would hear your cry and you’d hear mine and each of us
     would find
               the other’s hand.
                         We know
               that it might not be so.
                         But for this quiet moment, if only for this
And against all reason,
               let us believe, and believe in our hearts,
               that somehow it would be so.
               I’d hear your cry, you mine –

                         And each of us would find a blinded hand.

~ Tennessee Williams

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