We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth
And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms
When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil
When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze
When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse
When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets
Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world
When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe
We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines
When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear
When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it. “
Listen to Maya Angelou reads this poem in front of the UN in 1994: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjEfq7wLm7M>
For an even better version of this poem that also encourages us to be for others a rainbow in a cloud, go to <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfdJnNMydIk>
Maya Angelou was inspired to write this poem after seeing the photo of Earth taken by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990 – and reading Carl Sagan’s reflection on that view of our “pale blue dot.
In contemplating this view of Earth, Carl Sagan wrote:
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
Copyright © 1994 by Carl Sagan
Aloha – in light and love, Renée
Banner photo – This image of Earth is one of 60 frames taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft on February 14, 1990 from a distance of more than 6 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane.
promise me this day,
promise me now,
while the sun is overhead
exactly at the zenith,
Even as they strike you down
with a mountain of hatred and violence;
even as they step on you and crush you like a worm,
even as they dismember and disembowel you,
remember, brother, remember:
man is not your enemy.
The only thing worthy of you is compassion —
invincible, limitless, unconditional.
Hatred will never let you face the beast in man.
One day, when you face this beast alone,
with your courage intact, your eyes kind, untroubled
(even as no one sees them),
out of your smile will bloom a flower.
And those who love you
will behold you
across ten thousands worlds of birth and dying.
I will go on with bent head,
knowing that love has become eternal.
On the long, rough road,
the sun and the moon
will continue to shine.
Banner photo: “Pumpkin” – friend Lacey’s bird
Call Me by My True Name
–by Thich Nhat Hanh (Jul 13, 2015)
Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.
Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.
I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.
I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.
I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.
My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.
EVERYTHING IS WAITING FOR YOU
Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
— David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You
©2003 Many Rivers Press
See David Whyte’s TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/david_whyte_a_lyrical_bridge_between_past_present_and_future
You are not alone.
Banner photo: https://unsplash.com/search/photos/tea-cup
Other photos: RR
You, who seek grace from a distracted God,
you, who parse the rhetoric of empire, who know
in your guts what it is but don’t know what to call it,
you, good son of a race of shadows—
your great fortune is to have a job,
never ate government cheese,
federal peanut butter—
you, jerked to light from secret dreams under your sheets,
forgotten by 5:15
you, who sleep where you fall, sleep
beside women not yours who keep you warm, sleep
in spare rooms of your brothers, sleep in the old
bed in the back of your mother’s house, sleep
where you are closest to a bus line—
you, who can’t believe your ma rose at 4:45
to fry one huevo and a slice of bologna
laid on corn tortilla—border benedict—
here’s your chance to drag home
eighty dollars a week, for her electric. Food.
What’s left you spend on used paperbacks,
a matinee, amigos, bus fare—
pay the ticket back to work.
You kneel in Ma’s broken tub now, no shower—
no heat—plastic tarp over crumbled wall—gonna fix that
for reals—one day—soon—no shampoo? Shit! Scrub
your scalp with dish soap. Shiver. 5:35. Hop-to:
got a mile to hustle to the express stop.
You, who have no car, rush past house windows bright
behind driveway Cadillacs—
neighbors you never speak to stir
their money in golden pots for all you know,
heat turned high, showers running—
and up boyhood’s hill you biked down
all those gone years ago, head alight with high school hopes—
the poetry of Becky’s eyes, Colette’s laughter,
Li’l Mousie’s big black avalanche of hair, letters
in your back pocket from someone else’s sweetheart—
walk on blood
stains brown now where the duplex bully crashed
his stolen dirt bike into a trailer hitch last month and left
teeth your homeboys counted in the street.
You, who have Echo and the Bunnymen hair
go. Go. Hike fast, man—
And you long to sleep beside a woman you cannot
You reach the bench by 6:00. Still dark, but
far mountains flame
in orange light coming on—around you,
coughing angels smoke, Guadalupes whisper—
maids in sweaters, men in work boots and Levi’s
watching for the 50 to come, watching the clock,
working for kids, for families, for parents, and
already the blubbery radio pharisee vomits rerun clots
of fetid blood upon their heads,
these calloused children,
these illegals, these fucking greasers, these wetbacks,
these narcos, these gang-related Hispanics, these beaners,
these pepper-bellies, these spics, these taco-benders, these Aztecs,
these welfare cheaters, these social-security chiselers,
these savages, these gitanos, these illiterate diseased job stealing unassimilating
anchor baby makers, these papists, these terrorists,
someone laughs, so do you, all together now. Bus comes,
gasps, doors unfold like aluminum scorpion jaws—oh Christ
everybody there just dug panicked between couch pillows
for enough coins to pay the fare—
one more late day and you’re all fired
and some of you wept while digging.
Praying the invisible man’s psalm;
ay, por favor, por favor, por favor—
doors chew closed. You’re in.
You drop downhill toward black water and veer
south to the sleeping city—bays and harbors full of oil
don’t invite any one of you to swim.
Bus transfers in grim fists
worried and twisted—busmen catching more buses, riders catching red
trolleys to get to jobs nobody wanted but everyone
needed, catching hell from asshole foremen who have never
read a single poem and never will—gardeners
nails soiled black, they’re sleeping now, harrowing small hedgerows
of last dreams, mouths open, men and women borrowing more seconds
of home, of Spanish, of brown nipples, of grandparents, of mangos
and bailes de primavera, of days before heavy work boots or maid shoes,
days of never ending nothing, O Elohim,
old days they swayed like alamos in breezes, days before headless
men were left in the topaz dawn in the pueblo’s plaza, before the desert women
were left dismantled for buzzards in the praderas, before the exodus. And you,
who cannot sleep, bless these great unseen,
stare at the world made of Alka-Seltzer,
fizzing away in the light. Still.
You pull the cord.
Same old downtown street. Same day every day, unchanged.
You blink on Avenue C—fog
disembarks at the docks,
follows sailors drunk and whoring before breakfast
down Broadway. Strange days. Echoes flee the county jail cold beside you:
voices: hymns of rage: inmate and trustee, some of them your cousins,
sing matins, night’s vigils over: offer hosannas of longing: Patri et Filio:
in tedium you walk silent, counting your manifold sins,
to the plaza, stand
in the crush of your family—these children heading for trade school,
the wheelchair man, the woman and her shopping cart,
the nodding hooker with blue tears on her cheek, paisanos
y borrachos, Ticos, Boricuas, Xicanos, Apaches,
Tainos, Habaneras, cariocas, Mayas,
tattooed cholo Samurai’d and inscrutable leaning back,
hushed as he watches
you. And you want to, you
really want to, you are bursting with it, you
are burning with it, you
who have no words
want to cup their cheeks in your hands,
you want to hold their faces between your palms,
you want to say it—say it, you have nothing
to lose—say it: say
I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you.
I love you.
by Luis Alberto Urrea
Urrea says this poem is a sentence — a prayer.
Poem from: Image Journal, Issue 82:
Luis Alberto Urrea, born in 1955 of a Mexican father and an American mother, is an insightful poet, novelist, and essayist. Look for his other work.
Te amo, Renee
Photos by me – in New York.
Banner photo: Nate at the top of Devil’s Tower – an arduous climb – and typical of a Nate adventure.
Nathan O’Kones (February 16, 1982 – June 7, 2018) – our friend, computer expert, a young man who valued integrity, loved nature and the ocean – and being “outside” the box.
A Break in the Web
We grieve because we are a part
of one another
Connected by the golden thread
that binds us all
The absence of another is felt deeply
within our souls
We are displaced
when someone has departed
We don’t feel right,
we don’t feel centered
We lose our place and feel invalid
Whenever life’s flow is interrupted
The threads of our existence unravel
It is the others in our life
who weave us back together
Making us whole and strong once again
by Shelby Kane
The life of a soul on earth lasts beyond his departure.
always feel that life touching
that voice speaking to
you, that spirit looking out of
talking to you in the
familiar things he touched,
loved as familiar friends.
He lives on in your life and in the lives of all others that knew him.
– by Angelo Patri
Nate’s mom Barbara was here on Maui the last 12 days or so to finalize Nate’s responsibilities and material goods. I feel blessed to get to know her – and Nate’s friends we had never met.
Nate does live on.
Our son Johnny, who counted Nate as one of his best friends, planted an ulu tree, a tree that nourishes many (our “Nate” tree) in our yard; we think Nate would like that.
May we hold each other in the light. As Ram Dass (& artist Sherri Reeve) say, “We are all just walking each other home.”
Our loss reminds us of the importance of each day and each person in our lives.
Recognizing the importance of peace in our hearts, our families, our schools, our community, and the world, the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poetry Contest recently celebrated its 19th year here on Maui – The awards ceremony, held on April 20, 2018 at the Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center, presented the winners from approximately 500 Maui County student entries. I attended this Maui style celebration: proud parents and friends brought leis and balloons to recognize the students, who dressed in their best clothes and had the biggest smiles.
The non-violent approach to living in the world continues to be celebrated in one way through the words and insights of the students – in the footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Here in Hawaii, Melinda Gohn has been the guiding light of the Peace Poem project.
Melinda has help from loyal volunteers.
More than 70 students, including four from Molokai, were recognized for their poems: thoughts and words of peace.
As part of the ceremony, Melinda had us close our eyes – and imagine the past.
Suddenly, we heard a voice resonate through the hall and opened our eyes to see the august Bryant Neal presenting Dr. Martin Luther King, J’s “I Have a Dream” speech! Fantastic!!
The Maui County grand prize for her award-winning poem “I Am Running” went to Olena Rondeau, a 4th grader at Roots School of Maui. She was present with a canvas painting donated by Maui artist Davo. Of the poem, Melinda Gohn said in The Maui News article about the event, “Rondeau’s poem uses immediacy with unusually perceptive images and metaphors to create an experiential poem uniquely reflecting Hawaii and the innocence of a planet at peace” ( May 6, 2018 p. B8).
I Am Running
I am running through a gardenia scented twilight
Beneath a raspberry, dark blue and purple sky I am running . . . .
Above me, a canopy of stars
Millions of tiny pinpoints of light
Shining in the night. . . .
Suddenly a meteor streaks across the sky
Red-yellow flames light up the night.
The falling star reminds me
that the world is full of magic”
by Olena Rondeau.
At the ceremony, Gwyn Gorg, President of the African Americans On Maui Association, congratulated Rondeau and all the contest winners and spoke of the importance of a peaceful Maui community.
Hawaii Governor Ige provided certificates for top winners, Mayor Alan Arakawa gave all winners a certificate, and the International Peace Poem Project gave a prize poster commemorating Dr King.
All the islands have such award ceremonies. The Molokai awards are set for May 30 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m at the Molokai Library; the Oahu awards are June 9, 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the Mission Memorial Auditorium.
Congratulations to all involved for recognizing the importance of peace in our hearts, our families, our schools, our community, and the world.
Aloha (in light & peace), Renée
From the poetry of Raymond Carver – Late Fragment.
Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth. What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved, all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness. How you ride and ride thinking the bus will never stop, the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever. Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road. You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone who journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him alive. Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow. You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth. Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread, only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say It is I you have been looking for, and then goes with you everywhere like a shadow or a friend.
Have ambition and ego ruined my life? Where have my easy days gone? If only I had a monk friend to wander off into the mountains to visit. If only I were so idle I had time to visit him. If only we could while away the day drinking tea, playing flutes, and talking. If only, as the moon rose, my friend could point the way home through the dark mountains with the night sky’s lantern to light the way. If only I were happy with only that. by David Budbill in The Sun https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/494/poetry-by-david-budbill-1