Monday, June 20, 2011

What a Great Day to Be Dominated By GOD

The Man Watching
By Rainer Maria Rilke

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can’t bear without a friend,
I can’t love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape like a line in the psalm book,
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights with us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it’s with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestlers’ sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Living here is like occupying

a five digit glove with a rickety

staircase spanning the palm.

Of course it takes courage

and some days courage hides in

the pinkey and the only way

to access it is to maneuver

the rickety staircase.

On those days, which are almost

every day, it is a waste to struggle

towards courage. I have to

bask in the contentment of the index.

And that takes some expertise on basking.

First off, I have to cease envy of the

middle. The middle is completely staid

but certain. Even using the word staid gets

me off track, correction, puts me in the ring.

The ring leads astray. The ring doesn’t

really give an accurate picture of security. Single

or married, living here takes guts and guts can

only be had by sticking out the thumb.

The thumb once bought me a ride out of

the Swiss Alps. Without the thumb I would

still be there, wandering around like Julie

Andrews without the glamor of the Von Trapps.

As it was, I stuck it out and it managed to show

up in a poem. Like this one.

Some rare days the glove curls

into a fist and I can’t make sense

of anything. But I can still write.

I can hand off words like

fingernails on a blackboard.