Words for the Soul and of the Heart

I'd like to tell you that I am sufficiently wise enough to have thought of, written or said all the words I'll ever need to hear myself . . . however, I can report that I am just astute enough to spot those who have. In this section called, "In Others' Words", I've collected words that have soothed my soul in times of pain or doubt; words that have renewed my faith, my resolve and my courage when I have been lost or afraid to risk; words that have reminded me, in times when I've forgtoten, that this universe is a wonderful, wonderful place - and that there are wonders we have yet to understand or discover. I know that given enough time and enough patience, we all have the potential to rise above whatever holds us back from spotting wonder . . . and from being it. JT ~ JT

As was his language so was his life.
~ Seneca

Words (names) are, by nature, sacred because they are linked directly to the created thing. They therefore must be used with accuracy and reverence. They are alive with meaning and put us in touch with the Creator's handiwork. They are used to stir experience, generate thought, evoke feelings, conjure images, formulate intentions, create causes, direct actions and describe effects. Words are also building blocks for our own forms of creation. And, through the magical activities of speaking and writing, they can promote psycho-social interaction and strengthen community. . .
excerpt from "When Educators Keep Their Words" ~ Anthony F. Gregorc, Ph.D.

where I live . . . (you, too?)

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection:
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is lead forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action--
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
~ Rabindranath Tagore

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants ... re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.
~ Walt Whitman

Stand Tall
Listen Well
Have Courage
Accept Fear
Act with Respect
Laugh Often
Live Love

when they ask you
why your mama so funny
she is a poet
she don't have no sense
~ Lucille Clifton, "Admonitions", from Good Times

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About Wonder

How do we spot wonder?
Open heart, open eyes, open mind, open all senses and most of all, unleash imagination and suspend suspicion and dread.

Where Shadow Chases Light
This is my delight,
thus to wait and watch at the wayside
where shadow chases light
and the rain comes in the wake of the summer.

Messengers, with tidings from unknown skies,
greet me and speed along the road.
My heart is glad within,
and the breath of the passing breeze is sweet.

From dawn till dusk I sit here before my door,
and I know that of a sudden
the happy moment will arrive when I shall see.

In the meanwhile I smile and I sing all alone.
In the meanwhile the air is filling with the perfume of promise.
~ Rabindranath Tagore

Intimations of Immortality . . . excerpt
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come . . .
~ from "Intimations of Immortality", William Wordsworth

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees takes off his shoes.
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Miracles seem to rest, not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from far off, but upon our perceptions being made finer so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear that which is about us always.
~ Willa Cather

Declaration of the Four Sacred Things

The earth is a living, conscious being. In company with cultures of many different times and places, we name these things as sacred: air, fire, water, and earth.

Whether we see them as the breath, energy, blood, and body of the Mother, or as the blessed gifts of a Creator, or as symbols of the interconnected systems that sustain life, we know that nothing can live without them.

To call these things sacred is to say that they have a value beyond their usefulness for human ends, that they themselves become the standards by which our acts, our economics, our laws, and our purposes must be judged. No one has the right to appropriate them or profit from them at the expense of others. Any government that fails to protect them forfeits its legitimacy.

All people, all living things, are part of the earth life, and so are sacred. No one of us stands higher or lower than any other. Only justice can assure balance: only ecological balance can sustain freedom. Only in freedom can that fifth sacred thing we call spirit flourish in its full diversity.

To honor the sacred is to create conditions in which nourishment, sustenance, habitat, knowledge, freedom, and beauty can thrive. To honor the sacred is to make love possible.

To this we dedicate our curiosity, our will, our courage, our silences, and our voices. To this we dedicate our lives.
~ from the preface of the novel, The Fifth Sacred Thing, by Starhawk

"The Goddess in all her manifestations was a symbol of the unity of all life in Nature. Her power was in water and stone, in tomb and cave, in animals and birds, snakes and fish, hill, trees, and flowers."
~ Marija Gimbutas, archaeologist, author

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Dreaming . . . into Being

Go confidently
in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
~ Goethe

Some men see things as they are and ask why.
Others dream things that never were and ask why not.
~ George Bernard Shaw, Irish Playwright and Critic

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile
the moment a single man contemplates it,
bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~ Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Dream as if you'll live forever . . .
live as if you'll die today.
~ James Dean

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From the Heart

. . . And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, "How could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags." And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. "What if Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."
~ Dr. Seuss

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.
I should have called it
Something you somehow haven't to deserve."
~ from the "Death of the Hired Man", by Robert Frost

We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love.
Mother Teresa

Developing a kind heart does not involve any of the sentimental religiosity normally associated with it. It is for everyone irrespective of race, religion, or political affiliation. It is for anybody who considers himself a member of the human family.
~ Dalai Lama of Tibet

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stickout handle?"

"REAL isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, then you become REAL."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are REAL you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," Rabbit asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once." said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are REAL, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop off, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all because once you are REAL you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
~ from the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

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Full of Faith

Excerpt from the Color Purple
(Shug explaining her understanding of god to Celie )

"Here's the thing", says Shug. "The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with god. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don't know what you're looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. Sorrow, lord. Feeling like shit."

"It?" I ast.

"Yeah, It. God ain't a he or a she, but an It."

"But what do it look like?", I ast.

"Don't look like nothing", she says. "It ain't a picture show. It ain't something you can look at apart from everything", says Shug. "Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you feel that, and be happy to feel that, you've found it."

Shug a beautiful something, let me tell you. She frown a little, look out across the yard, lean back on her chair, look like a big rose.

She say, "My first step away from the old white man was trees. Then air. Then birds. Then other people. But one day I was sitting quiet and feeling like a motherless child, which I was, it come to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all. I knew that if I cut a tree, my arm would bleed. And I laughed and I cried and I run all around the house. I knew just what it was. In fact, when it happens, you can't miss it. It sort of like you know what", she says, grinning and rubbing high up on my thigh.

"Shug!" I say.

"Oh", she say. "God love all them feelings. That's some of the best stuff god did. And when you know god loves 'em you enjoys 'em a lot more. You can just relax, go with everything that going and praise god by liking what you like."

"God don't think it dirty?" I ast.

"Naw", she say. "God made it. Listen, god love everything you love - and a mess of stuff you don't. But more than anything else, god love admiration."

"You saying God vain?" I ast.

"Naw", she say. "Not vain, just wanting to share a good thing. I think it pisses god off if you walk by the color purple in a field and don't notice it."

"What do it do when it pissed off?" I ast.

"Oh, it make something else. People think pleasing god is all god care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back."

"Yeah?" I say.

"Yeah", she say. "It always making little surprises and springing them on us when we least expect."

"You mean it want to be loved, just like the bible say?"

"Yes, Celie", she say. "Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance, make faces and give flowers bouquets trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to git attention we do, except walk?"
~ from The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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Courage and Passionate Conviction

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall - think of it, always."
~ Mahatma Gandhi

Never, for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experience or convictions. ~ Dag Hammarskjold

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does.
~ Margaret Mead

Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted;
the indifference of those who should have known better;
the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most;
that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
~ Haile Selassie

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.
Inaugural Address, ~ John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers - and this is the basis of all human morality.
~ John F. Kennedy

In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours.
~ Ayn Rand

I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
What I can do, I should do, and by the grace of God, I will do.
~ Everett Hale

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Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
~ T. S. Eliot

And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
~ Anais Nin

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it's best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight; and never stop fighting
~ e. e. cummings

I am always telling people prayer of course is good, but through prayer we can't change the reality. Very different. So change reality through heart, through action!
~ Dalai Lama of Tibet

Courageous is the soul who adventures into time and space to learn of their divinity. For while they cannot lose, they can think they have, and the loss will seem intolerable. And while they cannot fail, they can think they have, and the pain will seem unbearable. And while they cannot ever be less than they truly are - powerful, eternal and loved - they can think they are, and all hope will seem lost.

And therein lies their test. A test of perceptions; of what to focus on, of what to believe in, in spite of appearances.
~ Mike Dooley, Notes from the Universe

Come to the edge.
We can't. We're afraid.
Come to the edge.
We can't. We will fall!
Come to the edge.
And they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.
~ Guillaume Apollinaire, 1880-1918, French Poet, Philosopher

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Liberty and Freedom

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.
~ Edmund Burke

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Abstract liberty, like other abstractions, is not to be found.
The only liberty I mean, is liberty connected with order; that not only exists along with order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them.
~ Edmund Burke

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
~ Justice Louis D. Brandeis, dissenting, Olmstead v. United States, 277 US 479 (1928)

Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in the calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those who would manipulate and control it.
~ Aldous Huxley, from Brave New World

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war . . . and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
~ James Madison, April 20, 1795

"Those who profess to favor freedom, yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."
~ Frederick Douglass, Letter to an associate, 1849

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Let America Be America Again (excerpt)
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

[break . . .]
O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath --
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain --
All, all the stretch of these great green states --
And make America again!
~ From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes.

Ain't I a Woman?
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
~ excerpt from speech delivered by Sojourner Truth at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio, 1851
for complete text, see http://nedv.net/kids/sojourner_truth.html

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Freedom of Speech

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
~ John Milton

Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.
~ Benjamin Franklin

In the frank expression of conflicting opinions lies the greatest promise of wisdom in governmental action.
~ Louis D. Brandeis (1856 - 1941)

There is no conflict between liberty and safety. We will have both or neither.
~ Ramsey Clark

Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.
~ Louis D. Brandeis

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We suffocate among people who think they are absolutely right, whether in their machines or their ideas. And for all those who can live only in an atmosphere of human dialogue, the silence is the end of the world.
~ Albert Camus

In Germany they came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
~ Martin Niemoeller, German Protestant Clergyman

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We often think of peace as the absence of war; that if the powerful countries would reduce their arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds - our prejudices, fears, and ignorance. Even if we transported all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the reasons for bombs would still be here, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we would make new bombs.

Seek to become more aware of what causes anger and separation, and what overcomes them. Root out the violence in your life, and learn to live compassionately and mindfully. Seek peace. When you have peace within, real peace with others will be possible.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.
~ Black Elk

The Peace Prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen..
~ Saint Francis of Assisi

The Dalai Lama of Tibet on Peace & Non-Violence: On December 11, 1989, the day after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, the Dalai Lama delivered this lecture at Oslois University Aula.

Peace is not just the absence of violence but the manifestation of human compassion.
~ Dalai Lama of Tibet

"What happens to your heart?" I asked her. "For me," she says, "it was seeing the darkness of the situation. The malnutrition, the unemployment, the suffering. And then seeing the light. Driving around Baghdad in some rickety old taxi, you come across a wedding and see people celebrating, clapping hands, playing drums. They keep going...
From YES! A Journal of Positive Futures's "what it means to be an american now" section, an article by David Morse entitled "what happens to your heart?"


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on the evils of mankind
noah, do you think it could happen again?
what is a rainbow covenant
after so many millennia
and so many broken promises from below
perhaps this is the start of the end in fire
my mother claims that she can see
the super power burning from miles away
what ark can withstand
the holocaust we can create?
how will we cull the good from the evil?
what right do we have
to decide, good or evil?
noah, if we sit back and pretend it's not real
can we make it all just go away?
a prayer
please, please, please
let me be peace
let me put an end
to war, hate, and suffering
let me open up my womb
and mother all creation
and suckle every living thing
on peace
and love, love, love
let me make of my body
the mountains, rivers, seas
and nourish this planet
with my tears
and my blood
that flow with the cycle of the seasons
and let every creature find shelter
in the valleys of my soul
let nothing that lives
be cold or hungry
on my warm and vibrant earth
and let no blood be shed in my name
let me be called
~ Cindi Labbe

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What does reason demand of a man? A very easy thing - to live in accord with his nature.
~ Seneca

If we would guide by the light of reason, we must let our minds be bold.
~ Louis D. Brandeis The Oyez Project, Louis D. Brandeis, available at: http://www.oyez.org/oyez/resource/legal_entity/67/ (Last visited March 29, 2004)

Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Behind every argument is someone's ignorance.
~ Louis D. Brandeis

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Good Will

To Know Good Will
If I should die one day by violence
Please take this as my written will
And in the name of simple common sense
Treat my destroyer only as one ill
As one who needed more than I could give
As one who never really learned to live
In peace and joy and love of life
But was diseased and plagued by hate and strife
My vanished life might have some meaning still
When my destroyer learns to know good will
~ Lee Hays

I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.
~ Booker T. Washington

It is easy enough to be pleasant, when life flows by like a song.
But the man worth while is the one who can smile, when everything goes dead wrong.
For the test of the heart is troubled, And it always comes with the years.
And the smile that is worth the praises of earth is the smile that shines through tears.
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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. . . Children are not our subordinates. They are co-conspirators breathing the same pneuma as us and contributing to a world far beyond present comprehension. Ultimately, in our webs of relationships, it is the children who will write, rewrite, and edit our scripts of life.
~ Anthony F. Gregorc

In the end, we conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.
~ Baba Dioum, Senegalese poet

On Children
~ from "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
"Speak to us of Children".
And he said:

Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but are not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
~ from "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran

Of course natural diasters, such earthly things, these things are beyond our control, but other kinds of problems are essentially our own creation. So here, certainly if we humanity have a different more open, more compassionate, more far-sighted, and more holistic approach or way of thinking, I think certainly we can reduce these manmade kind of problems.

Mother Planet is hsowing us the red warning light. Be careful of what she is saying. To take care of the planet is to take care of our own house.
~ Dalai Lama of Tibet

Only in the last moment of human history has the delusion arisen that people can flourish apart from the living world.
~ E.O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.
~ Woodrow Wilson

Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example.
~ Louis D. Brandeis

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Life without regret

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
~ Mark Twain

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.
~ Seneca

Edges are important because they define a limitation in order to deliver us from it.
When we come to an edge we come to a frontier that tells us
that we are about to become more than we have been before.
As long as one operates in the middle of things,
one can never really know the nature of the medium in which one moves.
William Irwin Thompson


Missing is a pain
in everyplace
making a toothache
out of a day.
But to miss something
that never was:
the longest guilt
the regret that comes down
like a fine ash
year after year
is the shadow of what
we did not dare.
All the days that go out
like neglected cigarettes,
the days that dribble away.
How often does love strike?
We turn into ghosts
loitering outside doorways
we imagined entering.
In the lovers' room
the floor creaks,
dust shifts from the ceiling,
the golden bed has been hauled away
by the dealer
in unused dreams.

~ from Circles on the Water, The Selected Poems of Marge Piercy

~excerpt from A Dialogue Of Self And Soul

I am content to live it all again
And yet again, if it be life to pitch
Into the frog-spawn of a blind man's ditch,
A blind man battering blind men;
Or into that most fecund ditch of all,
The folly that man does
Or must suffer, if he woos
A proud woman not kindred of his soul.

I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest..
~from The Winding Stair and Other Poems , by William Butler Yeats

Man's life does not fill
A hundred years
But always it is full of
A thousand year's cares
Short the midday
    Bitter long the nights!
Why then, do you not grasp the
Lamp, seeking out for yourself
The short-lived joys, why not today?
Why will you wait,
     Year after year?
~ Chinese philosopher

I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

We have got but one life here. It pays, no matter what comes after it, to try and do things, to accomplish things in this life and not merely to have a soft and pleasant time.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

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In Spite of Fear

Let's live as if fear did not rule our lives and perhaps, it won't.
Fear of . . . is the devil of our existence - fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of intimacy, fear of those who are different from us, fear of those who act out the secret, unapproved of parts of ourselves we keep hidden, fear of death and fear of never really having lived. Especially now, during a time when our country has allowed fear to make fundamental changes to the way we live together.

We've allowed fear to blind us to the true villains:
~ disease, poverty, abuse, cruelty and avarice;
~ and those who would legislate away our civil rights and freedoms in the name of safety and security and who condemn and threaten the others who recognize these villains for who they really are: the fearful and the exploiters who believe they can sustain their anti-constitutional "security measures" in the name of patriotism and suppress those who speak out in alarm by intimidation.

Act fearlessly upon what you believe is right. Act neither with arrogance nor aggressiveness nor require the absence of fear. Fearlessness requires only conviction, faith and courage.

~ from "like a pack of cigarettes, i come with a warning"

i often feel fear and dread, but haven't the ability to sustain either
impatient, i leap, afraid, into dark corners, depending
on a tag team of guardian angels to catch me, or pick me up
(sometimes they don't, even angels need time off)
~ JT

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
~ Ambrose Redmoon

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves "who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?"

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; its in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
~ Marianne Williamson

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The name of that country is lonesome

We go to meet our favorite programs
the way we might have met a lover,
the mixture of the familiar routine
and the unexpected revelation.

We can buy love at the shelter
if we get there before they have
executed it for being unwanted,
its fur cooling in the garbage.

It becomes more and more unusual
to be invited to dinner;
fast food is the family feast.
Who can be bothered with friends?

They have needs, you have to remember
their birthdays, they want to talk
when you're just too tired.
Leave the answering machine on.

No one comes to the door any longer.
We would be scared.
That's why we have an alarm.
That's why we keep the gun loaded.

Drive in food, drive in teller,
drive by shooting, stay in the car.
Talk only to the television set.
It tells you just what to buy

so you won't feel lonely
any longer, so you won't feel
inadequate, bored, so you can
almost imagine yourself alive.

~ from Early Grrrl, by Marge Piercy

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A Time to Talk
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I donít stand still and look around
On all the hills I havenít hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
~ Robert Frost, Mountain Interval, 1920

Let us then, be up and doing, with a heart for any fate; still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labor and to wait.
~ Longfellow

Begin at once to live, and count each day as a separate life.
~ Seneca

We have got but one life here. It pays, no matter what comes after it, to try and do things, to accomplish things in this life and not merely to have a soft and pleasant time.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it , then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.
~ Dalai Lama of Tibet

Finish each day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with the roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frostwork, but the solidest thing we know.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The essence of friendship is entireness, a total magnaminity and trust.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you.
~ Elbert Hubard

To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts expressed. . . that can make life a garden.
~ Goethe

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.
~ Goethe

. . . You are treading the safe and the well-worn way
That the prudent choose each time;
And you think me reckless and rash to-day
Because I prefer to climb.

Your path is the right one, and so is mine.
We are not like peas in a pod,
Compelled to lie in a certain line,
Or else be scattered abroad.

'Twere a dull old world, methinks, my friend,
If we all went just one way;
Yet our paths will meet no doubt at the end,
Though they lead apart to-day.
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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To Forgive

Forgiveness does not mean just to forget about what happened. You should use memory and experience to develop positive energy.
~ Dalai Lama of Tibet

On Progress

America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered.
~ Louis D. Brandeis

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
~ Think Different ~ Advertisement, Apple Computers

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Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

To laugh often and love much;
to win the respect of intelligent persons
and the affection of children;

to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;

to leave the world a bit better;
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

to have played and laughed with enthusiasm
and sung with exultation;

to know that even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived . . .

this is to have succeeded.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession... Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

When Earth's Last Picture Is Painted
When Earth's last picture is painted and the tubes are twisted and dried,
When the oldest colours have faded, and the youngest critic has died,
We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it - lie down for an aeon or two,
Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall put us to work anew.
And those that were good shall be happy; they shall sit in a golden chair;
They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comets' hair.
They shall find real saints to draw from - Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;
They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!

And only The Master shall praise us, and only The Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame,
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They are!
~ L'Envoi To "The Seven Seas" Rudyard Kipling

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from Alice in Wonderland
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where - " said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
" . . . so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
~ Lewis Carroll

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Young man, the secret of my success is that at an early age I discovered that I was not God.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

We cannot do great deeds unless we are willing to do the small things that make up the sum of greatness.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

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Time to Act

Actions speak louder than words.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

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Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
~ Maya Angelou

Mother to Son
Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
~ Langston Hughes

The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
~ Lao Tzu

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent . . .
~ Calvin Coolidge

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
~ Albert Einstein

The Truth
You pushed us down that dark cold trail,
where the old and young ones cried,
And said this land was forever ours,
but that was only lies.

You slew us at the Sand Creek,
Washita and Wounded Knee,
Then gave us talking leaf promises,
that never came to be.
You tried to silence our Shamans,
but our Visions were worth the chance,
You chased us till we could not walk,
but you could not stop the dance.

You cannot kill the Power, the Earth,
no truer words were ever spoken,
For, we know if we are the Center,
the Circle of Life will not be broken.

So, when you come in search of us,
these sacred hills is where we are found,
Among the voices in the wind,
on this, our Holy Ground.

For you can slaughter our shadow-bodies,
bind our wings so we can't fly,
But you can't capture our Spirit,
and you can't make us die.

~ © 2002 Debra Coppinger Hill, Chelsea, OK

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Carry On!
And so in the strife of the battle of life
It's easy to fight when you're winning;
It's easy to slave, and starve and be brave,
When the dawn of success is beginning.
But the man who can meet despair and defeat
With a cheer, there's the man of God's choosing;
The man who can fight to Heaven's own height
Is the man who can fight when he's losing.

   Carry on! Carry on!
  Thing never were looming so black.
But show that you haven't a cowardly streak,
And though you're unlucky you never are weak.
   Carry on! Carry on!
  Brace up for another attack.
It's looking like hell, but - you never tell.
   Carry on, old man! Carry on!

There are some who drift out in the desert of doubt
And some who in brutishness wallow;
There are others, I know, who in piety go
Because of a Heaven to follow.
But to labor with zest, and to give of your best,
For the sweetness and joy of the giving;
To help folks along with a hand and a song;
Why, there's the real sunshine of living.

   Carry on! Carry on!
  Fight the good fight and true;
Believe in your mission, greet life with a cheer;
There's big work to do, and that's why you are here.
   Carry on! Carry on!
  Let the world be the better for you;
And at last when you die, let this be your cry!
   Carry on, my soul! Carry on!
~ Robert W. Service

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Don't Quit
When things go wrong as they sometimes will;
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill;
When the funds are low, and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but have to sigh;
When care is pressing you down a bit -
Rest if you must, but do not quit.

Success is failure turned inside out;
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;
And you can never tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -
It's when things go wrong that you must not quit.
~ Author Unknown

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If thou speakest not I will fill my heart with thy silence and endure it.
I will keep still and wait like the night with starry vigil
and its head bent low with patience.
The morning will surely come, the darkness will vanish,
and thy voice pour down in golden streams breaking through the sky.
Then thy words will take wing in songs from every one of my birds' nests,
and thy melodies will break forth in flowers in all my forest groves.
~ Rabindranath Tagore

Of Service

The spirit of brotherhood recognizes of necessity both the need of self-help and also the need of helping others in the only way which ever ultimately does great good, that is, of helping them to help themselves.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community . . . and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
~ George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright

I do not know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve
~ Albert Schweitzer

Naturally, the more people show a feeling of closeness and trust toward me, the more I feel that I have a moral responsibility to serve them all.
~ Dalai Lama of Tibet

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While the fates permit, live happily; life speeds on with hurried step, and with winged days the wheel of the headlong year is turned.
~ Seneca

The trick is what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.
~ Carlos Castaneda from "Tales Of Power"

Generally speaking, this beautiful gift of smile, I think, is an expression of warmth. If we get angry, the smile will not come.

Compassion is something important. Not as a religion but as an important mental factor for happiness irrespective of whether a believer or nonbeliever.
~ Dalai Lama of Tibet


Ah, God, the way your little finger moved
As you thrust a bare arm backward
And made play with your hair
And a comb a silly gilt comb
Ah, God - that I should suffer
Because of the way a little finger moved.
~ Stephen Crane

your lips, which I can tell you've forgotten about for the moment

your lips, which I can tell you've forgotten about for the moment,
seemingly roughened, barely defined, angel-pointed, composed somehow fractally
of children's drawings of sky-borne birds, tiny V upon tiny V,
your lips undermine my own strategies, master any hesitation I might accommodate.
caught off-guard, my boundaries lapse and fail themselves with extravagant shamelessness.
i had a way of knowing certain things.

do you understand?

I had a way of reckoning this; not at a glance, disingenuous as some
leather-jacketed and leering after-school-special gigolo, but
quickly -- yes, well-learned -- and working, i assure you. there was
a whole body of work on the subject, in my head: treatises,
lyric rites of summoning,
blue-prints in more dimensions than I'd yet inhabited,
word-flow like curve of wrist, a private dogma.

but here you've managed to turn that upside down without even paying attention.
~ vasudeva

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Jenny Kissed Me
Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in:
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I'm growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.
~ Leigh Hunt

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A Song For You
I love you in a place where there's no space or time
I love you for my life, 'cause you're a friend of mine
And when my life is over, remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singin' my song for you
~ Leon Russell (excerpt)

Closest Thing
All of my trouble
All of my fear
Fades like distant thunder
When you appear

Torn by the weather
Worn like a stone
Days when I step lightly
Are days I'm headed home

Soft as a whisper
Slow as a vine
Closest Thing to heaven
Is when we are entwined
~ Patty Larkin

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Sonnet CXVI
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love,
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
Oh, no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests.. and is never shaken.
It is the star to every wandering bark
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love is not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come.
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out.. even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
~ William Shakespeare

Sonnets from the Portuguese, XIV
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
'I love her for her smile--her look--her way
Of speaking gently,--for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,--and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love, thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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How Do I Love Thee?
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Love feels no burden,
thinks nothing of trouble,
attempts what is above its strength,
pleads no excuse of impossibility . . .
It is therefore able to undertake all things,
and it completes many things,
and warrants them to take effect,
where he who does not love would faint and lie down.
Love is watchful and sleeping, slumbereth not.
Though weary, it is not tired;
though pressed, it is not straightened;
though alarmed, it is not confounded . . .
~ Thomas A. Kempis

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With Attitude

What Do Women Want?
I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what's underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their cafe, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I'm the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I'll pull that garment
from its hanger like I'm choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I'll wear it like bones, like skin,
it'll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.
~ From Tell Me by Kim Addonizio. Copyright © 2000 by Kim Addonizio

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Homage to My Hips
these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!
~ Lucille Clifton (Audio clip) from Good Woman

Phenomenal Woman
Pretty woman wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman.
~ "Phenomenal Woman" from Still I Rise, Maya Angelou

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JT Witchy Woman
Raven hair and ruby lips
sparks fly from her finger tips
Echoed voices in the night
she's a restless spirit on an endless flight
wooo hooo witchy woman, see how
high she flies
woo hoo witchy woman she got
the moon in her eye
She held me spellbound in the night . . .
~ From Witchy Woman by Don Henley (The Eagles)

Basket of Figs
Bring me your pain, love. Spread
it out like fine rugs, silk sashes,
warm eggs, cinnamon
and cloves in burlap sacks. Show me

the detail, the intricate embroidery
on the collar, tiny shell buttons,
the hem stitched the way you were taught,
pricking just a thread, almost invisible.

Unclasp it like jewels, the gold
still hot from your body. Empty
your basket of figs. Spill your wine.

That hard nugget of pain, I would suck it,
cradling it on my tongue like the slick
seed of pomegranate. I would lift it

tenderly, as a great animal might
carry a small one in the private
cave of the mouth.
~ From Mules of Love by Ellen Bass, Copyright © 2002 by Ellen Bass. All rights reserved.

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Oh drink me up
That I may be
Within your cup
Like a mystery,
Like wine that is still
In ecstasy.

Glimmering still
In ecstasy,
Commingled wines
Of you and me
In one fulfil
The mystery.
~ Excerpt from Mystery from "Amores", by D. H. Lawrence

Here in this swarthy, secret tent,
  Where black boughs flap the ground,
You shall draw the thorn from my discontent,
  Surgeon me sound.

This rare, rich night! For in here
  Under the yew-tree tent
The darkness is loveliest where I could sear
  You like frankincense into scent.

Here not even the stars can spy us,
  Not even the white moths write
With their little pale signs on the wall, to try us
  And set us affright.

Kiss but then the dust from off my lips,
  But draw the turgid pain
From my breast to your bosom, eclipse
  My soul again.

Waste me not, I beg you, waste
  Not the inner night:
Taste, oh taste and let me taste
  The core of delight.
~ Excerpt from Liaison from "Amores", by D. H. Lawrence

So, dear love, when another night
Pours on us, lift your fingers white
And strip me naked, touch me light,
    Light, light all over.
For I ache most earnestly for your touch,
Yet I cannot move, however much
    I would be your lover.

Night after night with a blemish of day
Unblown and unblossomed has withered away;
    Will you pluck me apart?
Will you open the amorous, aching bud
Of my body, and loose the burning flood
    That would leap to you from my heart?
~ Excerpt from Excursion from "Amores", by D. H. Lawrence

Rosetta Stone to Emily

how you went, falling madly into the taut night air
with your witch's grace and your hateless heart,
the angel's chorus of your voice parting the atmosphere,
gorgeous knives in the retiring cold

later, with the evolutionary crackle-and-spark on your eyes, and
me holding my weak ticket to the ball like any pantomiming idiot,
your lips held mine for moments only,
several thousand milliseconds at a turn -- plenty of time for
orbitals to figure out the exacting nature of their relationship.
do you recall my weak point?

pictures, in the head, permanent:
your hair, in parts black,
your hand, holding it back behind
your undaunted shoulder,
your neck, longing eloquent at the highest end of any spectrum,
setting acraze particles matrixed between eye and eye and flesh.

wanted to hold my hand against the earth-warm temple of your belly,
wanted always to see you lust, pretty and fierce as steel, with
the mouth of an animal hungry or dreaming:
as if I had found a loophole in the laws of Skin,
or had uncovered the Rosetta Stone to Emily.

in an imagined world:
egypt's rings for your fingers, persia's pouches for your rings, and all our sundays in the bath,
climbing up through states like rising fevers, half-holy in ourselves,
scraping gently against the unguarded ceiling.
~ vasudeva

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The nuisance
I am an inconvenient woman.
[break . . .]

I want you to want me
as directly and simply and variously
as a cup of hot coffee.
To want to, to have to, to miss what can't have room to happen.
I carry my love for you
around me like my teeth
and I am starving.
~ from Circles on the Water, The Selected Poems of Marge Piercy

There is a girl inside
There is a girl inside.
She is randy as a wolf.
She will not walk away and leave these bones
to an old woman.

She is a green tree in a forest of kindling.
She is a green girl in a used poet.

She has waited patient as a nun
for the second coming,
when she can break through gray hairs
into blossom

and her lovers will harvest
honey and thyme
and the woods will be wild
with the damn wonder of it.
~ Lucille Clifton

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you shouldn't have shown me that:

you shouldn't have shown me that:
I'll tear the skin right off your bones
with my teeth
and make you like it,
little imp princess,
I'll stab you right where you'll recover the least,
you and your little sister.
~ vasudeva

you shouldn't have shown me that in reprise

you shouldn't have shown me that,
little sister
original sin: we were finding stones in the playground
your body itself maddeningly compact,
my face inches from your stomach i know you

we are a sack of snakes loosed
twisting madly, our eyes closed in the depth
i believe you'd got to the bottom of me
had the full measure

i love you predatorial
with your punk-ass ghetto mouth
drips the things that craze me
and your sweet little whore's way
how many of the laws have we seen violated?
how many times you left your makeup
on my shirts?
how i wish the scent of you would stop
fading from my mouth, my neck, my clothes
alcohol, pure and powder

we're two bullets in the same gun
gleaming meanly in our dark
and just waiting to be
caressed into supernova.

i'll do that for you. . .
~ vasudeva

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Love Betrayed

You did not need to creep into my heart
The way you did. You could have smiled
And knowing what you did, have kept apart
From all my inner soul. But you beguiled
~ from Give Us Each Day: The Diary of Alice Dunbar-Nelson

forget me nots

the garden i made
for you went unused
caught between worlds
afraid, you plant neither

the life you think
you should live
nor the one you feel
you don't deseve

you flee to the life
drawn for you
by others expectations,
illusions and need

you pretend you didn't leave
seeds of love and joy behind
spread by gusts of passion
and gentle wisps of joy

you try to forget
the touch of my hands
the safety of my arms
the warmth of my love

maybe I'll plant forget-me-nots
© 1996-2006 Joyworks.

La Donna è Mobile
La donna è mobile
qual piuma al vento
muta d'accento
e di pensiero

Sempre un'amabile
leggiadro viso
in pianto e in riso
è menzognero

La donna è mobil
qual piuma al vento
muta d'accento
e di pensier
e di pensier
e di pensier

È sempre misero
chi a lei s'affida
chi le confida
mal cauto il core

Pur mai non sentesi
felice appieno
chi su quel seno
non liba amore

La donna è mobil
qual piuma al vento
muta d'accento
e di pensier
e di pensier
e di pensier

La Donna è Mobile (English translation)
Woman is flighty
Like a feather in the wind,
She changes her voice—
and her mind.

Always sweet,
Pretty face,
In tears or in laughter,—
she is always lying.

Woman is flighty
Like a feather in the wind,
She changes her voice—
and her mind
and her mind
and her mind.

Always miserable
Is he who trusts her,
He who confides in her—
his unwary heart!

Yet one never feels
Fully happy
Who on that bosom—
does not drink love!

Woman is flighty
Like a feather in the wind,
She changes her voice—
and her mind
and her mind
and her mind.

from Verdi's "Rigoletto"

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For Strong Women

For strong women
A strong woman is a woman who is straining.
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tip toe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing Boris Godunov.
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn't mind crying, it opens
the ducts of her eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.

A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren't you feminine, why aren't
you soft, why aren't you quiet, why
aren't you dead?

A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not to be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way though a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you're so strong.

A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.

A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
sucking her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.

What comforts her is other's loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

~ from Circles on the Water, The Selected Poems of Marge Piercy

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The Influence Coming into Play
The seven of pentacles

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after
     the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.

~ from Circles on the Water, The Selected Poems of Marge Piercy

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Men as Other

wishes for sons
i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
I wish them no 7-11.

i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.

later i wish them hot flashes
and clots like you
wouldn't believe. let the
flashes come when they
meet someone special.
let the clots come
when they want to.

let them think they have accepted
arrogance in the universe,
then bring them to gynecologists
not unlike themselves.
~ Copyright 1991 by Lucille Clifton, from Quilting: Poems 1987-1990

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For Frank, sweet love, so new to joy, now gone
For Shirley, spreading joy, full of life, now at rest
For Kathy, my sister, who took a piece of my heart, forever missing
For Butsy, grumpy and sweet, you saw me truly and gave me trust, always alive in my heart


I've been tending your garden and
planted you more flowers,
bleeding heart the only plant name
I remember - my heart's been the same.
~from Tending ~ JT

Lines Ater M. B.'s Funeral
There's a hole in the world.
I'm afraid I may fall through.
Someone has died
Has gone
Is where?
Will be
This neither the first
Nor the only time space has opened.
We are riddled with death
Like a sieve.
The dark holes are as multitudinous
As the stars in the galaxies,
As open to the cold blasts of wind.
If we fell through
What would we find?
Show me
Let me look through this new empty space
To where
The wind comes from
And the light begins.
~ from The Ordering of Love, by Madeleine L'Engle

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Smile Lines

A person is always startled when he hears himself seriously called an old man for the first time.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Inside every older person is a younger person - wondering what the hell happened.
~ Cora Harvey Armstrong

The hardest years in life are those between ten and seventy.
~ Helen Hayes

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being, hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.
~ Erma Bombeck

Old age ain't no place for sissies.
~ Bette Davis

After all, I am my word . . .

So, Willy, let you and me be wipers
Of scores out with all men - especially pipers!
And, whether they pipe us free, from rats or from mice,
If we've promised them ought, let us keep our promise.
~ closing of the "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" by Robert Browning

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Connecticut Foundation for Environmentally Safe Schools

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