“Mindful” by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or I hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It is what I was born for—
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world—
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant—
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations,
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these—
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Poetry by Michael Simon

Never Land

Why love light
if not for fear of dark,
the way the alcoholic desires comfort
for fear of discomfort?

If dark was no obstacle –
no foe, no nightmare -,
would our love of light
not fade like dream?

Where then would we be,
without a name for our state –
not in the dark, not in the light -,
and so without a state to prefer, or disdain?

Why love love
if not for hate’s discomfort?
We can’t bear ourselves truly
so we splinter, rejoice, and dismay.

“Dein allererstes Wort war: Licht” by Rainer Maria Rilke

Your first word of all was light,
and time began. Then for long you were silent.

Your second word was man, and fear began,
which grips us still.

Are you about to speak again?
I don’t want your third word.

Sometimes I pray: Please don’t talk.
Let all your doing be by gesture only.
Go on writing in faces and in stone
what your silence means.

You be our refuge from the wrath
that drove us out of Paradise.

Be our sheperd, but never call us–
we can’t bear to know what’s ahead.

Poetry by Michael Simons

Your Evening News

One piece of The World
comes into focus
and you want to freeze it,
to replay it again and again –
say, a winning touchdown pass
for your team or a good deed done
by a child for a homeless man.

Or else one piece of The World
comes into focus
and you demand an answer
to the threat it poses,
as your nightly entertainment
has disturbed you,
and the American Dream

gives you ammunition to fight back
against disturbance. Say the news piece
is about a law you’re in favor of
or against, and the vote
is not to your liking, or say
someone is shot and killed
in a theatre or school –

one of those places you often
go to, and you can almost
picture yourself dying. And so this focus
is enlarged, is magnified,
and feels like a full moon
whose light keeps you awake
and reminds you of everything

that oppresses you
and points out your flaws
even in the dark. And yet you want
to know so badly you take
good news or bad, because what’s worse
than disturbance is the unknown,
that opinionless, dreamless dark

that cannot offer you
the hope and despair
you’ve been fed since childhood
and cannot live your life without –
these pieces of The World
mistaken for The World
that you swear are miraculous or broken.