readings

What We Need

Author: 
David Budbill

The Emperor,

his bullies

and henchmen,

terrorize the world

every day

which is why

every day

we need

a little poem

of kindness,

a small song

of peace,

a brief moment

of joy.

Power and Capitalism

Author: 
Stokely Carmichael

If a white man wants to lynch me, that's his problem. If he's got the power to lynch me, that's my problem. Racism is not a question of attitude; it's a question of power. Racism gets its power from capitalism. Thus, if you're anti-racist, whether you know it or not, you must be anti-capitalist. The power for racism, the power for sexism, comes from capitalism, not an attitude.

The Common Good

Author: 
Kathleen McTigue

We breathe the common wind of the earth
no matter where we live, who we love,
what language we speak.

We drink the common water of the earth
no matter what our color, how long we live,
the coverings we drape on our forms.

We travel the common paths of the earth
no matter our beliefs, how far we move from home,
the gold that we carry, or its lack.

May we live from these truths: our hearts
open to the holiness all around us,
and our hands turned always toward the common good.

God Says Yes To Me

Author: 
Kaylin Haught

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic

and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

Honey

Author: 
Connie Wanek

Luxury itself, thick as a Persian carpet,
honey fills the jar
with the concentrated sweetness
of countless thefts,
the blossoms bereft, the hive destitute.

Though my debts are heavy
honey would pay them all.
Honey heals, honey mends.
A spoon takes more than it can hold
without reproach. A knife plunges deep,
but does no injury.

Honey moves with intense deliberation.
Between one drop and the next
forty lean years pass in a distant desert.
What one generation labored for
another receives,
and yet another gives thanks.

Earth Day

Author: 
Jane Yolen
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
Each blade of grass,
Each honey tree,
Each bit of mud,
And stick and stone
Is blood and muscle,
Skin and bone.
 
And just as I
Need every bit
Of me to make
My body fit,
So Earth needs
Grass and stone and tree
And things that grow here
Naturally.
 
That’s why we
Celebrate this day.
That’s why across
The world we say:
As long as life,
As dear, as free,
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.

Sonnets to Orpheus II, 1

Author: 
Rainer Maria Rilke

Breath, you invisible poem!
Pure, continuous exchange
with all that is, flow and counter-flow
where rhythmically I come to be.

Each time a single wave occurs
in a sea I discover I am.
You, innermost of oceans,
you, infinitude of space.

How many far places were once
within me. Some winds
are like my own child.

When I breathe them now, do they know me again?
Air, you silken surround,
completion and seed of my words.

The Soul of the House is the Fire

Author: 
Guttormur J. Guttormsson (Translated by Sigurdur Wopnford)

The soul of the house is the fire
and the flame on the wick of the lamp.
With any abuse of this treasure
the home becomes dark and damp.
The windows are blackened and grimy
and shadows descend on the room.
Outside, the moon is shining;
inside, there is darkness and gloom.

If away from the flame and the fire
the soul of the house goes astray,
Not be stopped nor extinguished,
it soon will be burning away.
The fire and the home then merge,
becoming a single soul.
Blindly to burn to ashes
and dying, completes its role.

The soul of the house is the fire
and the flame of the lamp in its place.
It sinks to the earth with a shudder
and finally fades into space.
Is the soul then immortal in nature,
revealed to be honest and true?
There is always a fire that is burning
that dies and is kindled anew.

A Peach

Author: 
Ann DeFrange

If you didn’t believe in God, my friend Kathryn said, it would take only a peach to change your mind.

Then she crouched under a low limb, stretched her arm up along the trunk, and gave a gentle tug so that a round, fuzzy, theological argument fell into her hand.

We were… pretending to work really hard picking our own peaches, an illusiondestroyed by the peach juice running down our chins and elbows.

The fact is, a peach is indeed a potential proof of divinity. A peach looks beautiful; whoever colored peaches also designed sunsets. It smells enticing, it sanctifies your mouth like heaven. It feels good [with its] peach fuzz….

The only sense it doesn’t satisfy is sound, but maybe I wasn’t listening hard enough.

Tis a Fearful Thing

Author: 
Yehuda HaLevi

Tis a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.

A fearful thing
to love, to hope, to dream, to be –

to be,
And oh, to lose.

A thing for fools, this,

And a holy thing,

a holy thing
to love.

For your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your word was gift to me.

To remember this brings painful joy.

‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing, to love
what death has touched.

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