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William James

Wisdom is learning what to overlook.

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Next Day

Moving from Cheer to Joy, from Joy to All,
I take a box
And add it to my wild rice, my Cornish game hens.
The slacked or shorted, basketed, identical
Food-gathering flocks
Are selves I overlook. Wisdom, said William James,

Is learning what to overlook. And I am wise
If that is wisdom.
Yet somehow, as I buy All from these shelves
And the boy takes it to my station wagon,
What I've become
Troubles me even if I shut my eyes.

When I was young and miserable and pretty
And poor, I'd wish
What all girls wish: to have a husband,
A house and children. Now that I'm old, my wish
Is womanish:
That the boy putting groceries in my car

See me. It bewilders me he doesn't see me.
For so many years
I was good enough to eat: the world looked at me
And its mouth watered. How often they have undressed me,
The eyes of strangers!
And, holding their flesh within my flesh, their vile

Imaginings within my imagining,
I too have taken
The chance of life. Now the boy pats my dog
And we start home. Now I am good.
The last mistaken,
Ecstatic, accidental bliss, the blind

Happiness that, bursting, leaves upon the palm
Some soap and water--
It was so long ago, back in some Gay
Twenties, Nineties, I don't know . . . Today I miss
My lovely daughter
Away at school, my sons away at school,

My husband away at work--I wish for them.
The dog, the maid,
And I go through the sure unvarying days
At home in them. As I look at my life,
I am afraid
Only that it will change, as I am changing:

I am afraid, this morning, of my face.
It looks at me
From the rear-view mirror, with the eyes I hate,
The smile I hate. Its plain, lined look
Of gray discovery
Repeats to me: "You're old." That's all, I'm old.

And yet I'm afraid, as I was at the funeral
I went to yesterday.
My friend's cold made-up face, granite among its flowers,
Her undressed, operated-on, dressed body
Were my face and body.
As I think of her and I hear her telling me

How young I seem; I am exceptional;
I think of all I have.
But really no one is exceptional,
No one has anything, I'm anybody,
I stand beside my grave
Confused with my life, that is commonplace and solitary.

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Words Of Wisdom

Killing us one by one
In one way or another
American will find a way to eliminate the problem
One by one
The problem is
The troubles in the black youth of the ghettos
And one by one
We are being wiped off the face of this earth
At an extremly alarming rate
And even more alarming is the fact
That we are not fighting back
Brothers, sistas, niggas
When I say niggas it is not the nigga we are grown to fear
It is not the nigga we say as if it has no meaning
But to me
It means never ignorant getting goals acomplishes, nigga
Niggas what are we going to do
Walk blind into a line or fight
Fight and die if we must like niggas
This is for the masses the lower classes
The ones you left out, jobs were givin, better livin
But we were kept out
Made to feel inferior, but were the superior
Break the chains in out brains that made us fear yah
Pledge a legiance to a flag that neglects us
Honour a man that who refuses to respect us
Emmancipation, proclamation, please!
Nigga just said that to save the nation
These are lies that we all accepted
Say no to drugs but the governments keep it
Running through our community, killing the unity
The war on drugs is a war on you and me
And yet they say this is the home of the free
But if you ask me its all about hyprocracy
The constitution, yo, it dont apply to me
Lady liberty still the bitch lied to me
Steady strong nobodys gonna like what I pumpin
But its wrong to keeping someone from learning something
So get up, its time to start nation building
Im fed up, we gotta start teaching childern
That they can be all that they wanna to be
Theres much more to life than just poverty
This is defaintly ahhh words of wisdom
Amerika, amerika, amerikkka
I charge you with the crime of rape, murder, and assault
For suppressing and punishing my people
I charge you with robery for robbing me of my history
I charge you with false imprisonment for keeping me
Trapped in the projects
And the jury finds you guilty on all accounts
And you are to serve the consequences of your evil schemes
Prosecutor do you have any more evidience
Words of wisdom
They shine upon the strength of an nation
Conquer the enemy on with education
Protect thy self, reach with what you wanna do
Know thy self, teach what we been through
On with the knowledge of the place, then
No one will ever oppress this race again
No malcolm x in my history text
Why is that?
Cause he tried to educate and liberate all blacks
Why is martin luther king in my book each week?
He told blacks, if they get smacked, turn the other cheek
I dont get it, so many questions went through my mind
I get sweated, they act as if asking questions is a crime
But forget it, one day Im gonna prove them wrong
Now every brother had to smother on the welfare line
The american dream, though it seems it attainable
Theyre pulling your sleave, dont believe
Cause it will strangle yah
Pulling the life of your brain, I cant explain
Beg as you can obtain from which you came
Swear that your mother is living in equality
Forgeting your brother thats living her apology
Thought they had us beat when they took our kids
But the battle aint over till the black man sings
Words of wisdom
But the battle aint over till the black man sings
Words of wisdom
Nightmare thats what I am
Americas nightmare
I am what you made me
The hate and evil that you gave me
I shine of a reminder of what you have done to my people
For four hundred plus years
You should be scared
You should be running
You should be trying to silence me
Ha ha
But you can not escape fate
Well it is my turn to come
Just as you rose you shall fall
By my hands
Amerika, you reap what you sow
2pacalypse americas nightmare
Ice cube and da lench mob americas nightmare
Above the law americas nightmare
Paris americas nightmare
Public enemy americas nightmare
Krs-one americas nightmare
Mutulu shakur americas nightmare
Geronimo pratt americas nightmare
Assada shakur americas nightmare

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Heart and wisdom.

When your heart swells
With what it has earned
Your wisdom would weep.
When your wisdom dawns
With what it has gained
Your heart would weep.

Heart is blind to truth.
Wisdom is blind to mirth.
17.03.2001, Pmd.

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Novice of Learning

When a kittenish learner is taken from its nurse,
It easily forgets her
And prowls after solid cuisine.

Acorns feed on ground
Then lift up in the beaming sun.
The kittenish man is no longer small,
He has risen and tasted the light
In its filtrated state.

There is wisdom again,
Learning makes him a tool
But knowledge exists forever
To forge his hero hood.

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Wisdom Itself

Wisdom has energy of people in the heads
Of men who say sageness and alacrity.
Learning a peace brings no disaster
But famine has escaped for itself.
You are brothers to energy of purity
Offered by some who live under the banner of kindness.
To rob off a lonely wanderer is ungodly
So that peace enters the souls of innocence.
Views of the eyes carry promise so great
That minute particles are awakened in the heads
Of wisdom and learning and knowledge.

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What is Death?

ANOTHER STEP:
-How do we view birth?
As the beginning
-What is school like?
A public prison for everyone
A field of creativity and learning
-What does graduation mean?
Freedom
-How about a job?
Money
Making a dream(s) come true
-How does marriage strike you?
Love
Commitment
Slavery
-What are your plans on children?
Twenty
Zero
Two
-What does getting old mean?
Saggy
Wrinkles
Grumpy
Experienced/ Seasoned citizens
-So, How do we view death?

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Dealing With Wisdom

Dealing on the wisdom beats learning,
A thought from God collides with education.
Knowledge is best from the book,
Under the cover is more wisdom
That I extract, fully using the sense I was bestowed
By the spirit and the saint,
This maid is a queen, of highly elaborate dress,
Of quiet talking manners, wonderful zeal.
The faces that hide are recorded for time,
And time does not flow irregularly,
For it steams the pudding of atoms
And we like the dark matter or treacle on top.
Electric wisdom is for the people of treacle and syrup.

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Youre Learning

(ira louvin/charlie louvin)
You are learning what its like to sit and cry
And wonder why your plans went wrong
You are learning how it feels when pain is real
To realize youre all alone
Yes youre learning
We had the chance to be happy
Nothing stood in our way
If only youd meant what you promised
We wouldnt crying today
You are learning that a lie can make you cry
For the truth your heart reveals
You are learning that a flirt can cause a hurt
Even though your love is real
Yes youre learning
We had the chance to be happy
Nothing stood in our way
If only youd meant what you promised
We wouldnt crying today
You are learning that a lie can make you cry
For the truth your heart reveals
You are learning that a flirt can cause a hurt
Even though your love is real
Yes youre learning
Yes youre learning

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Good Mother

The mighty meerkat family
Preserves both young and old,
Good mother love humility,
Good father strong and bold...
Good children learning what they can
Within their happy home,
Yes, such as these are blessed by Man,
Wherever we may roam...

Good mother love preserves the peace,
When squabbles come to call,
Good father disciplines don't cease,
Some wisdom to install...
We see the mighty meerkats stand
Like watchmen on the tower,
United in their steadfast band,
Protecting every hour...

Good mother guidance at its height
Can melt each meerkat's frown...
So one looks left and one looks right
And one looks up and down...
Togetherness can bless their lives,
So they see eye-to-eye.
The mighty meerkat still survives,
Though centuries fly by...


Denis Martindale, copyright, February 2011.

The poem is based on the magnificent painting
by Stephen Gayford called 'Good Mother'.

More Stephen Gayford poems here:
denis-martindale-dot-blogspot-dot-com

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Child Of The Future

What can I give you child of the future,
Child of the Universe grand?
Only my wisdom, calmness and peace,
Through years of making a stand.
To you who hold the world for us all.
Your beauty to shine through the land.
With such warmth and devotion and love for this life,
I offer to you just my hand.
Oh child of the future how soundly you sleep.
I wonder what your life will bring.
May it only bring goodness and beauty and light.
Nothing but wonderful things.
I watch as you sleep and know there is hope,
That the future is all in your hands.
You're the child of the future, the child of our dreams.
The one to bring life to our lands.
What can I give you, you wonderful child,
As you rest at peace in your bed.
I can pass on my knowledge, my wisdom
And learning, and place it all inside your head.
Oh child of the future let love overthrow,
Evil with all that it means.
You're the next generation, I want you to know,
You're the product of all of our dreams.
So rest in your small bed and know as you sleep,
I'm standing beside you so strong.
As you take your path, be it ever so steep,
I'm walking with you all along.

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When Wisdom Is Lost

When wisdom is lost what do we use to find it?
If the head is cut why should the cap become prominent?
Where the wall is broken, who clamours for keys?
When the man is burnt who still looks for beard?
'Tis only a fool that looks for the mark of cut in water
He only can look for the tracks of flight of birds
Or better still want to know what the corpses eat in the grave.
When wisdom is lost, the elders dance naked in the markets
Passing calabashes of palm wine in merriment.
Sleeping while riding their bicycles.
Where wisdom is lost the cobra looks like a rope;
Yes an ill wind that blows no one good
Oh why should the footless die fighting for shoes?
Or the toothless die for bones?
I am confused. Yes logically paralyzed.
On the wheel chair of wisdom, I see
Where the elders defecate in the open
On paths where their offsprings tread,
And in market squares where it must be
That in four days they must be back
When the offenses of odor its peak just reached
That means logic stand on its head
Wisdom lost its path
Then in the town of the blinds,
Where a one eyed man is found,
Who shall be the king?
Let the young flies be warned,
The animal that is slow lives longest in the forest.
But it needs little wisdom to know,
That is the fly that is ill advised
That enters the grave with the corpse.
When you prove me wrong,
My apologies I will tender;
And my ignorance I must admit.
Before warned, I was told, is before armed.

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At what cost?

It speaks of some danger when aligned with red color
it has to do with laying down of life for dignity and honor
it speaks of high volume for a person
as he has sacrificed for some well known reasons

When wars are fought on battle ground
the bodies are scattered all over and found
the vultures are ready to pound the flash and remain
Nation mourns the death with grief and pain

How much sacrifice and bloodshed is still needed?
are we not peace loving people and committed?
to whom are we going to feed the lies?
are the steps taken necessary or wise?

Is it not enough to remain for centuries under slavery?
is it sign of weariness when we call it bravery?
Was the freedom totally uncalled for?
we never knew there will be so much pain in store

Are wet worthy creatures to ask?
for freedom without any aim or task?
Don't we think it as sheer madness?
when we go to war with prejudice and sickness

We have all the rights and search for light
we may also grow with strength and have mite
it is reasonable to have deterrence
no one may ever dare or make the reference

Our children are dying each day
there is no peaceful solution or honorable way
How much more bloodshed or price we have to pay?
Why not resolutely unite and stay away?

We shall defend and bleed to last drop
No amount of assaults can make us to stop
people run for safety and bodies rush
We are not used to witness daily clashes


The almighty did not create slavery
We have brought it with exceptional bravery
How many were crushed under the feet of cavalry?
the misrule of the forces blinded by the rivalry

How much we have yet to undergo with misery?
Why can't they take decision and form advisory?
What will be ultimate price for its realization?
Is it not the shame or blot on civilization?

Our forefathers dealt it with wisdom
They knew what will be the price for freedom
Who were all responsible for our miserable plight?
No one can deny us rights even with mite

We may have to live and witness
some orgy of violence to face
it is still a critical phase
we are made to worry and subjected to chase

It may not end in nightmare
we have to live here and find the place somewhere
it is to live and let others live
tolerance and faith sincerely to believe

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Patrick White

A Thousand Years From Now

A thousand years from now
who will remember me
once I've disappeared from this windowpane,
a vapour of breath with awareness,
a nebular stain on the clarity
that will wash its hands of me
like a scar of water that has clung too long?

I'm not trying to embalm
the elegiac content of these obvious sunsets in words,
and it's hard to shake honey out of these mordant bells
that lie like duplicitous lifeboats to the gullible compasses and maps
that keep crashing like doves that don't have the wingspan
to come back with news of land
to this museum of DNA, two of every kind,
I keep scuttling like an ark on the top of every wave.

And what is a grave if not an abandoned embassy
that didn't have time to shred its dreaded secret?
And sometimes, when the emptiness and the silence
are beyond bearing,
I hold myself up like a passport at the panicked gates
that have made me an exile and a wounded threshold in my own home
and clamour like a continent
to be repatriated anywhere
that isn't a country whose borders are stretched out like refugee lines.

But it's a foolish wish.
And if there's a dragon to slay,
I realize it's only more shadows and swordplay,
and I think of the return of the rain lifted from the sea
and how the sea never feels anything is missing,
and everything is passage without arrival or departure
and how the arrow never leaves the hand of a good archer.

It's human nature to understand,
a sacred mode of disobedience
to look into the eyes of our worst fears
even if it's just to flare like a star without rescue
and scream out in light a moment against its own extinction.
But who or what or nothing is ever there to listen
as we go out like flies and stars in a toilet bowl?

And a love of laws is not the law of love
and there have been so many dragons
left out of the chrysales of their questions like answers
that the heart is not sustained by the impersonal blessing
of ubiquitous entropy in a long, lab coat
as the spirit longs for transformations
a star and a night beyond itself
that might astonish a human
with something enduringly human
like a next breath that can't be smudged by death
or something drastic in the dust that remembers us
when we were stars
that thawed through the windowpane
as if we were looking through the lenses of our own eyes
to discover everything we live is how we die
and we're always a plight and a plea away from knowing why.

Imagine, one night, looking up at the sky
and there were no death to raise the moon
like a calendar above your neck,
and everything you saw around you,
crows, kites, keys,
last year's pine cones on this year's trees,
were not denuded of their mystic specificity
in this mortal profusion of origins
that ends where it begins. Imagine,
one morning, not getting up from the dream
to pan the mindstream for the nugget of a skull
that might be gold, and the luster of the radiance
never grows old like the taste of the moon in your mouth.

Wouldn't this onceness then be eternal,
and what I'm saying now, indelible
as the space that prompts the stars to shine?
Learning wisdom is learning the universe
as if it were your own face, on the inside,
and you were its only eyes,
disappearing from view so that all that remains is you.

Birth, a breathing in; death, a breathing out,
before the first and after the last, this pulse and suspiration,
muses around the wellspring, witches around the cauldron,
planets fluttering like moths
at the windows of the constellations. Like the moon
I pass my hand over like an eclipse as if it were my own skull,
I have been creatively maintained from the start by my own expiration.
Are there no orchards in the hearts of old women?
Are there no graves in the eyes of a child?

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Patrick White

When The Unsayable Supplants Yesterday's Wisdom

When the unsayable supplants yesterday's wisdom
it makes it look obvious and trivial in retrospect
and you marvel at the spiritual gestures of goodwill
that swept you off your feet for light-years
as the arcana of a discipline you gave up trying to master,
because you could only see into the matter
as far as the light you were given to go by.
And you didn't know then that when
you blew the candle out you held
pathetically up to the abyss that you did more,
by blowing it out, to illuminate the universe,
than you did when you fed it your heart
to keep it burning like a night light among the stars,
or a lighthouse paling in the full glare of the sun.

Off the path is the way of the path.
How can anyone be lost? Or found, for that matter?
Midways of gurus with their touring freak shows.
Sacred matchbooks of budding sulphur
throwing humans into the Bonfire of the Vanities,
chasing the bank-rolled Renaissance out of Florence.
Terminal literalism, infectious symbolitis
sweeping down the coast like hemorrhagic fever
from the merchant fleets of Genoa. The wild grape vines
of intuitive insight converted into the razor wire
of paranoid orthodoxies. The heretics bear witness
to the madness in the judgement of their abusers,
and scald the clouds with their blood for it.

The spiritual highways cluttered with exiles,
refugee saints, and scapegoats, where is there
a wilderness left where the tourists don't go
to gawk at the hermits like wildlife? Back
to the birch groves and the cawing of the crows
like auctioneers that don't have a thing to sell.
No one's footprints to follow in. The way things
turn out, at best, a wolf path through the snow
gone by spring, or where you bent the waist high grass
by walking through it like the path of least resistance,
unmapped as the wind. What is it all, when
even the seven-tiered tower of the Scotch thistle
is a mental event, if not open, unknown and empty
in the sense of being indefinable, not missing,
as if anything were there in the first place
it was crucial not to lose? Spare your tears.
Life hasn't got anything to repent or reform.

The mystery manifest as it is and that's the whole of it.
What more of it is there to reveal, than the rocks
have already said? Real, not real, the flowers bloom nonetheless
and you're free to make or feel or think or not
about them as you wish. Mourn the ruination
of the flowers in a passion play as old as the stars
or trust your own mind to mentor you in the ways
of not reifying it into a thing among things,
the source and matrix of your most cherished illusions,
the mirage of the dark mother who eats her own like time.
There is no pattern, path, paradigm, psychodynamic
or unified field theory that the mind won't
accommodate itself to like a child's drawing of the universe.

You can elaborate the roots of a tree like a fractal into
a morphology of knowledge forms
that sing in its boughs like sparrows
in the black walnuts of the morning
and then consult it like the grammar of a dream
for the blue print or starmap of the house you're building
like a screening myth with a built-in library.
The magician gulled in the doorway of his own magic,
having lost the key to the spell he cast
when this desert of stars was merely
the vagrant threshold of a tent in the moon's back yard.

The folly of sages, the wisdom of fools,
what's the point of enlightening your own freedom
if you're too afraid to accept it as the mystical mundanity
that's under your nose this very moment?
You can hunt your own shadows down like heretics
fleeing the hounds of heaven, you can denounce
an eclipse for being a sunspot on your illumination
and polish the mirror for the rest of your life
and still not wash your face off with a paint rag
like a clown in a green room waxing tragic
to counteract the laughter at the expense of his own wounds.

Look into the eyes of the roadkill for yourself
as if no one else in the world can do your seeing for you
and you won't see anything very shocking to be afraid of.
No spiritual snake-eyes. No hidden meaning
you have to get at the guts of like a turkey-vulture.
And if you feel compassion, and it's natural you should,
it's because there's something communal about the random
you sense has been going on a lot longer
than the last few thought moments when you showed up
to be misunderstood by your own imagination.
You want some good spiritual advice to get you in the habit
of taking it yourself, whether things are sublimely rough
and death is dying into you, or life is trivializing
the palatial playhouse it was born into? When occasion arises,
and when does it not, learn to call your own bluff
and sit down on the ground, and have a good laugh.

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Patrick White

I look Into People's Faces

I look into people's faces
and I see the same wound
under many different scars.

I look into their hearts
like a stranger at night
through a passing window
and I see how suffering through
the agonies of life
has ripened some
with sweetness and compassion
and others are already
rotten before they fall.

I look into people's eyes
and some are vast starlit skies
and some are the iota subscripts
of scholarly fireflies
that footnote the constellations
at the bottom of the page
with details off the beaten path
of their MLA mainstream cosmic thesis.

And some are like moons
with parenthetical crescents
with nothing in between
both sides of their smile
that isn't a cynical aside
about the lost innocence
of a phase they've already gone through.

And some stare back like eclipses
that have pulled the blinds down
over their eyes
like sunglasses disguised
by a witness protection program
but you just know
they're oilslicks
on the Sea of Shadows
as they were in the womb
and in the Gulf of Mexico
the black blood
of an incorporated miscarriage
that hemorrhaged like the pot of gold
at the end of the oleaginous rainbow.

I look into people's souls
and I see how afraid
they must be of life
to hide out in the open
like an ocean
that hasn't kept faith
with its own depths
and tries to pretend it's
as airy and light as the sky.

The birds are flying through the roots.
The fish are swimming in the treetops.

I see judas-goats chained
to the stakes of their ego-Is
like sacrificial tiger bait
devoted to their cunning.

I see the anti-muses
that shadow Mt. Helicon
like black holes
in the death valleys
of human imagination.
And I wonder how they ever got here.

What bend in space
led them to this twisted place
like a forsaken road
they keep taking
like a wormhole through time
into the womb
of a stillborn universe
where the moonlight
burns their embryos
on pyres of lime
beside the dry creekbeds
of nameless rivers going nowhere?

Along their flowerless banks
I see the rib-cages of dead snakes
that went witching for water
with tongues and tines
of Kundalini lightning
that ran up their spines
like time through a waterclock
and the hulls of empty lifeboats
that died in the desert
at the bottom of the mirage
they drowned in
hoping to find themselves
among those who survived
by learning to swim through sand
like fish in an hourglass aquarium.

I'd rather walk on stars
reflected in the shattered mirrors
of my last self-image
than repay
the generosity of my solitude
with mass ingratitude.

I listen to people's voices
and they all seem like the same echo
with many different mouths.

I've tried to respect
the mystic specificity
of the thousands of fierce individuals
I've met over the years
but the more I've learned
about myself and others
the more I see the same mind
in many different skulls.
The same genius of inspired water
that poured an ocean
of sentient awareness
into everyone of our cells.

Union differentiates.
Separation binds.
I look into people's faces
however young or old they are
and I see infinite spaces
moonlighting as time
on the nightshift of the stars.

I see horror and compassion.
I see butterflies sipping
the nectar of diamonds
like honey in the promised land
and maggots born in excrement
thriving on offal
like the janitors of the dead
because everything grows best
in the soil it was born into
like karma in the fortune-cookies
of wombs and eggs and cocoons.

I look into people's eyes
like sad stars
through the generous end
of the telescope
that brings the far near
like impact craters
and I see how some people
cling to the memory of themselves
like underground seas
in frozen lockets
of water on the moon.

I look into people's secret shrines
they build like birds
in the eye of the storm
looking for salvation.
And I can hear
the echo of their prayers
bouncing back off hydrogen clouds
like a nineteen twenties radio show
thousands of lightyears away
as if they just said them yesterday
and the universe as usual
threw the words back in their face
like the cosmic background hiss
of snowflakes on a furnace
going out like stars.

I've seen the innocence of fireflies
making halos
and the blood-rose weaving thorns
around the massive blackholes of death
as if they were merely
a pinprick in a voodoo doll
that got into white magic by mistake.

I've looked into
the nuclear blaze of madness
like an A bomb with shades on
and seen the flash and shadow
of embryo silhouettes
spit out like cave paintings
on the firewalls of the fusion wombs
that give birth to the heavier elements
it takes to survive.

But the water's not mad
just because the moon's a lunatic.
The mirror might seem
just as angry as you are
but it doesn't feel a thing.

Learning wisdom is learning space.

It doesn't eat flowers
and the weeds don't sting.
It takes everything it embraces to heart
and nothing's left out
from the very beginning.
Like the whole of the moon and the sky
in every eye of water
that's ever looked into me
and seen that everyone
is the heart of a mystery
whose lucidity
is their only true identity.

It's our seeing
that makes the flowers open
and the stars shine.
It's our hearing that gives
the wind something
meaningful to say
and the grass something
to whisper about.
Whatever you touch
walks in your skin from thereon.
Whatever you taste
be it roses and nettles
or sulphur and wine
or the sour-sweet radiance
of the stars on your tongue
you're the flavour of the day
in everything.

It's your nose
that gives the burning leaves
in the urns of autumn
the spectral fragrance
of chrysanthemums
that are barely holding on.

And it's your mind.
Your heart.
Your blood.
Your body.
Your imagination.
Your intuition.
Your wisdom.
Your ignorance.
Your darkness.
Your light.
Your spirit
enlightened or deluded
whatever you think or feel
is abundantly missing
or dream you're waking up to
that makes the world real
in every mystically specific detail
of who you are.

Who else?
I look into myself
as far as the stars
at the edge of my seeing
fourteen point five billion lightyears away
and I can see how much time and space
how many species of life
generation after generation
have been born to give birth and die.

All the roses swept
from the stairs
of our hopeless tomorrows
because they were a tribute to love
meant for someone else.

All the spontaneous joys
that cast their long random shadows
like occasional fireflies of insight
across the lunar mindscape
of this afterlife of sorrows
where every church is the gravestone
of an unsuspecting god.

I look into my own seeing
like light upon light
in the vast expanse
of an unknowable night
and I'm cosmically astonished
by how many worlds within worlds
eyes within eyes
minds within minds
lives within lives it takes
to make a single habitable human being
meaning everyone of us sacred fools
fit as a genius
for the crazy wisdom
of a creative life
in a self-inspired universe.

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La Fontaine

Neighbour Peter's Mare

A CERTAIN pious rector (John his name),
But little preached, except when vintage came;
And then no preparation he required
On this he triumphed and was much admired.
Another point he handled very well,
Though oft'ner he'd thereon have liked to dwell,
And this the children of the present day,
So fully know, there's naught for me to say:
John to the senses things so clearly brought,
That much by wives and husbands he was sought,
Who held his knowledge of superior price,
And paid attention to his sage advice.
Around, whatever conscience he might find,
To soft delights and easy ways inclined,
In person he would rigidly attend,
And seek to act the confessor and friend;
Not e'en his curate would he trust with these;
But zealously he tried to give them ease,
And ev'ry where would due attention show,
Observing that divines should always know
Their flocks most thoroughly and visit round;
To give instruction and the truth expound.

AMONG the folks, to whom he visits paid,
Was neighbour Peter, one who used the spade;
A villager that God, in lieu of lands,
Had furnished only with a pair of hands,
To dig and delve, and by the mattock gain
Enough his wife and children to maintain.
Still youthful charms you in his spouse might trace;
The weather injured solely had her face,
But not the features which were perfect yet:
Some wish perhaps more blooming belles to get;
The rustick truly me would ne'er have pleased;
But such are oft by country parsons seized,
Who low amours and dishes coarse admire,
That palates more refined would not desire.

THE pastor John would often on her leer,
just as a cur, when store of bones are near,
That would good pickings for his teeth afford,
Attentively behold the precious hoard,
And seem uneasy; move his feet and tail;
Now prick his ears; then fear he can't prevail,
The eyes still fixed upon the bite in sight,
Which twenty times to these affords delight,
Ere to his longing jaws the boon arrives,
However anxiously the suitor strives.

SELF-TORMENTS solely parson John obtained;
By seeing her that o'er his senses reigned.
The village-wife was innocent of this,
And never dreamed of any thing amiss;
The pastor's mystick looks, nor flatt'ring ways;
Nor presents, aught in Magdalene could raise;
But nosegays made of thyme, and marj'ram too,
Were dropt on ground, or never kept in view;
A hundred little cares appeared as naught
'Twas Welch to her, and ne'er conveyed a thought.
A pleasant stratagem he now contrived,
From which, he hoped, success might be derived.

MOST clearly Peter was a heavy lout,
Yet truly I could never have a doubt,
That rashly he would ne'er himself commit,
Though folly 'twere from him to look for wit,
Or aught expect by questioning to find
'Yond this to reason, he was not designed.

THE rector to him said, thou'rt poor, my friend,
And hast not half enough for food to spend,
With other things that necessary prove,
If we below with comfort wish to move.
Some day I'll show thee how thou may'st procure
The means that will thy happiness insure,
And make thee feel contented as a king.
To me what present for it wilt thou bring?

ZOOKS! Peter answered, parson, I desire,
You'll me direct to do as you require;
My labour pray command; 'tis all I've got;
Our pig howe'er to you we can allot,
We want it not; and truly it has eat
More bran than thrice this vessel would complete;
The cow you'll take besides, from which my wife
A calf expects, to raise the means of life.
No, no, the pastor with a smile replied,
A recompense for this thou'lt not provide;
My neighbour to oblige is all I heed;
And now I'll tell thee how thou must proceed;
Thy spouse, by magick, I'll transform each day,
And turn her to a mare for cart or dray,
And then again restore her ev'ry night,
To human form to give thy heart delight.
From this to thee great profit will arise;
Thy ass, so slow is found, that when supplies,
It carries to the market, 'tis so late,
The hour is almost past ere at the gate,
And then thy cabbages, and herbs, and roots,
Provisions, provender, and wares and fruits,
Remain unsold, and home to spoil are brought,
Since rarely far from thence such things are sought.
But when thy wife's a mare, she'll faster go:
Strong, active, ev'ry way her worth she'll show,
And home will come without expense in meat:
No soup nor bread, but solely herbs she'll eat:

SAID Peter, parson, clearly you are wise;
From learning, what advantages arise!
Is this pray sold?--If I'd much money got,
To make the purchase I'd the cash allot.

CONTINUED John:--now I will thee instruct,
The proper manner, matters to conduct,
For thee to have a clever mare by day,
And still at night a charming wife survey;
Face, legs, and ev'ry thing shall reappear;
Come, see it done, and I'll perform it here;
Thou'lt then the method fully comprehend;
But hold thy tongue, or all will quickly end:
A single word the magick would dispel,
And, during life, no more with us 'twould dwell.
Keep close thy mouth and merely ope' thy eyes:
A glimpse alone to learn it will suffice;
This o'er, thyself shall practise it the same,
And all will follow as when first it came.

THE husband promised he would hold his tongue;
And John disliked deferring matters long.
Come, Magdalene, said he, you will undress;
To quit those Sunday-clothes, you'll acquiesce,
And put yourself in Nature's pure array
Well, well, proceed; with stays and sleeves away;
That's better still; now petticoats lay by;
How nicely with my orders you comply.

WHEN Magdalene was to the linen come,
Some marks of shame around her senses swum;
A wife to live and die was her desire,
Much rather than be seen in Eve's attire;
She vowed that, spite of what the priest disclosed;
She never would consent to be exposed.

SAID Peter, pretty work, upon my truth:--
Not let us see how you are made forsooth!
What silly scruples!--Are they in your creed?
You were not always led such scenes to heed:
Pray how d'ye manage when for fleas you seek?
'Tis strange, good sir, that she should be so weak;
What can you fear?--'tis folly time to waste;
He will not eat you: come, I say, make haste:
Have done with haggling; had you acted right,
Ere now the parson all had finished quite.

ON saying this, her garment off he took;
Put on his spectacles to overlook;
And parson John, without delay, began;
Said he (as o'er her person now he ran),
This part umbilical will make the mare
A noble breast, and strength at once declare:
Then further on the pastor placed his hand,
While, with the other, (as a magick wand,)
He set about transforming mounts of snow;
That in our climes a genial warmth bestow,
And semi-globes are called, while those that rise
In t'other hemisphere, of larger size,
Are seldom mentioned, through respect no doubt,
But these howe'er the parson, quite devout,
Would not neglect, and whatsoe'er he felt,
He always named, and on its beauties dwelt;
The ceremony this, it seems, required,
And fully ev'ry movement John admired.

PROCEEDINGS so minute gave Peter pain,
And as he could not see the rector gain
The slightest change, he prayed the pow'rs divine,
To give assistance to the priest's design;
But this was vain, since all the magick spell,
In metamorphosing the lady well,
Depended on the fixing of the tail;
Without this ornament the whole would fail.

To set it on the parson hastened now,
When Neighbour Peter 'gan to knit his brow,
And bawled so loud, you might have heard him far:
No tail, said he, I'll have: there'll be a scar;
You put it on too low; but vain his cries,
The husband's diligence would not suffice,
For, spite of ev'ry effort, much was done,
And John completely his career had run,
If Peter had not pulled the rector's gown,
Who hastily replied, thou ninny, clown;
Did I not tell thee silence to observe,
And not a footstep from thy station swerve?
The whole is spoiled, insufferable elf!
And for it thou hast got to thank thyself.

THE husband, while the holy pastor spoke,
Appeared to grumble and his stars invoke.
The wife was in a rage, and 'gan to scold:
Said she to Peter, wretch that I behold!
Thou'lt be through life a prey to pain and grief,
Come not to me and bray and hope relief,
The worthy pastor would have us procured
The means that might much comfort have ensured.
Can he deserve such treatment to receive?
Good Mister John this goose I now would leave,
And ev'ry morning, while he gathers fruits,
Or plants, herbs, cabbages, and various roots,
Without averting him, pray, here repair,
You'll soon transform me to a charming mare.

No mare, replied the husband, I desire;
An ass for me is all that I require.

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William James

The essence of genius is to know what to overlook.

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David Starr Jordan

Wisdom is know what to do next virtue is doing it.

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David Starr Jordan

Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.

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William James

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.

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