“Say You Are Lonely” by William Stafford

Say You Are Lonely ~ William Stafford

More still than a star, one thought shies

by: what if the sky loved you?

But nobody knew?  But that magnet in space

pulled hard?  But you acted like nothing at all

was reaching or calling for you?  More still

than a star going by, that thought stays.

A day at a time pieces of it glow.

Nobody notices: quiet days.

 

 

 

 

 

Merlyn

The mountains are alive with fire,

transcendent breath, vigorous and endless.

Though they have been given a name,

a part of them will always be nameless,

and I could say the same about myself.

I heed the call, after all, of mist-laden glades.

I walk among stones with broken blades.

I come to you, mountains of fire,

full of so many things that matter,

yet they will not matter to you.

I come to you as a whittler of days,

a world-worshipper who knows he cannot fool you.

I come to you as a man who has a boy still looking

out from behind the bars of his rib cage.

I come to you with an owl on my shoulder

who comes and goes as she pleases.

I come to you as a failed magician,

with iron, ash, light, dust, rain

on either side of my skin.

I come to you as a failure, but at least I am a great one.

I come to you with the meaning of my name,

do with it what you will.

I come to you as the recorder

of my small life, pockets filled

with scribbled notes

of little use.

 

Beginner’s Mind

Spirit of breath and practice, holy mystery of movement and stillness, grant me the discipline to just sit here, though the old fires still burn in me.

Grant me the wisdom to remain plainspoken at the doorstep of the mind’s entanglements.  Let me keep a balanced, empty mind.

Grant me patience, not only for my own sake, but for the sake of others.

Wherever I am, may I not lose the sight to truly see the colors, forms, shapes, all around me, then and there.

And whenever I walk, may I have the sense to notice the soles of my feet touching the ground, meeting the earth – even when they are housed in shoes.

 

 

 

Obituary

Will it only be a list of information, a collection of the external?

Born in so-and-so, to these parents of this descent, lived here and then here, and then here.  Worked as a nurse, a cook, an accountant, managed a dry cleaning business, taught fifth graders or at the university, produced movies.  (Your name here) loved dogs/cats, was notorious for having ice cream for dinner.

Or maybe include a little something more.  How you used colorful expressions – I need a  little alcohol in my radiator.  I’d rather see the devil come.  He’s dumb as a fencepost.  

How you instilled in others a sense of curiosity, wonder.  What your passion was, what made you feel most alive, what sustained you in difficult times?  What drove your courage, your work, your will?  What was the nature of your heart, your spirit?

In lieu of flowers, please make a charitable donation to the preservation of nature or the arts.

 

 

Sand

All the things you

thought were true

in your life turned out

to be built on it.

Even mountains

are sand yet unground

by water, wind, and time.

Use my bones, oh world.

Make a ladder

so that someone in need

may climb.

 

 

 

Refugees Welcome

There are the small crystals you left as blessings, tucked just beneath the earth.

There is the love you have for everyone you feel separated from.

And there are the invisible arrows that keep you on the path, your path, all your life, so that when other people try to yoke you with their doubts and question what you’re doing, you know enough not to listen.

The learning seems to come geologically slow, but you do eventually learn when to forget them and pay attention to the voice emanating from your center.  Through deep listening, through the acknowledgement of that voice, you come to know your center, and you come to hold it.  And the things you expect from yourself begin to change.

There are the great vertical stones you have glimpsed in dreams, and also the smaller, more rounded ones along the shore.

There are the bells on the necks of all the ponies, the raindrops, fall as they may.  There are the trees, connected – like all of us – in unseen ways by unseen roots.  There is the road, the path, your shoes, yellow rice, steam rising from a bowl of soup.

All the prayers you hold inside are on display in the world around you, before you.  You don’t need anyone’s advice to learn how to see.  You only need the courage and will it takes to look – that which you already possess, but do not always choose.  Its only requirement is that you choose it above all else.

There are places to rest along the miles of all your days, if you will only sit.  There are ferries to take you across all the rivers, if you will only board them.

There are ways to remember you are not your body, if you will only forget about your clothes and your appearance.

Allow yourself to sleep.  When you wake it will still be there: this yearning to bring all knowledge inward, this thirst to move on, out, through, up, into, from all the trials you’ve undergone.

Take your time, that’s what it’s there for.

Love returns to your heart as you walk to the ends of the earth.

Now, choose something to burn.  What will it be?

 

Humpty Trumpty

You know how it is:

one minute you’re riding high.

The next you’ve had a great fall,

and what’s done is done.

You’ve thrown your fit,

made your mess.

 

Then comes the pulling

together of yourself,

the attempt to reestablish

your place on the shelf.

The king’s men

won’t be of much use

since you betrayed them all.

And the horses…

you drove them away,

remember?