Category Archives: The Poetry Pantry

A Transcendental Whirl

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Each vignette begins with a phrase culled from “Threnody” by the 19th-century Transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
 


 
~~ 1 ~~
 
nest of bending reeds
near the shore a secret place—
great blue herons hide
 
~~ 2 ~~
 
grass and scented weeds
cradling the children’s laughter
autumn afternoons
 
~~ 3 ~~
 
blade of autumn grain
stranger to distressing drought
welcoming the scythe
 
~~ 4 ~~
 
the wintry garden
holding carrots prisoner
till spring thaws should come
 
~~ 5 ~~
 
every pulsing sound
every thing that does not shine
pointing out the way
 
~~ 6 ~~
 
The stream runs on, but
one diamond is left behind—
rearguard for the light.
 
~~ 7 ~~
 
in books of solace
seeking her long-lost childhood
rhyme by tinkling rhyme
 
~~ 8 ~~
 
see my empty house
the shutters’ crazy angles
all the doors ajar
 
~~ 9 ~~
 
star by star his world
resolving into shadow
as each star blinks out
 
~~ 10 ~~
 
to make this wisdom
demands a seer acquainted
with the ways of stones
 
~~ 11 ~~
 
They cannot bind him,
though their bands be made of steel,
forged by elven hands.
 
~~ 12 ~~
 
spirit strikes the hour
martyr chained by faith and doubt
crackles in the flames

 
© 2014 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Poetry Pantry #223
 
More The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 183

Whirling with Alberto

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Each vignette begins with a phrase culled from “The Night Would Grow Like a Telescope Pulled Out” by Arizona Poet Laureate Alberto Álvaro Ríos
 


 
~~ 1 ~~
 
hear only the sounds
coming from torture chambers—
souls in deep distress
 
~~ 2 ~~
 
brown lips and thin tongues
still strong enough to lust for
things they dare not say
 
~~ 3 ~~
 
the words and the smoke—
this mysterious lotion
soothing troubled souls
 
~~ 4 ~~
 
a licorice stick
soaked in liquor of longing
to tempt the lonely
 
~~ 5 ~~
 
Phrases become birds—
chickens, wrens, owls and eagles—
when she writes poems.
 
~~ 6 ~~
 
great-grandmother’s house—
trains from Philadelphia
hurtling through her dreams
 
~~ 7 ~~
 
around the elbows
the sagging flesh reminding
her of eighty years
 
~~ 8 ~~
 
this night of summer
swaying in the front porch swing
moonbeams tease her hair
 
~~ 9 ~~
 
into plates of food
a hypnotizing potion
poured by trembling hands
 
~~ 10 ~~
 
going somewhere else
stripping off his uniform—
disgraced general
 
~~ 11 ~~
 
Here from somewhere else
I’ve come not by brains or brawn,
but by the Spirit.
 
~~ 12 ~~
 
wooden heads laughing—
tonight’s carnival gimmick
luring traffic in
 
~~ 13 ~~
 
Of all the engines,
the heart’s glad-sad-bad machine
is the mightiest.

 
© 2014 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Poetry Pantry #222
 
More The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 182
 
More Haiku My Heart at Recuerda Mi Corazon

Whirling with Rumi

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Each vignette begins with a phrase culled from The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks.
 


 
~~ 1 ~~
 
The orchard in spring—
apple blossoms fly away
when the old men call.
 
~~ 2 ~~
 
Come to the orchard—
it is time to name the fruit
clinging to the trees.
 
~~ 3 ~~
 
From the other world
comes one whose speech grows orchards
hung with tempting fruit.
 
~~ 4 ~~
 
where the two worlds touch—
faint signs of degradation
smudging leaf and light
 
~~ 5 ~~
 
a grain of barley
doing double duty as
an earthy poem
 
~~ 6 ~~
 
the speechless full moon
filling ten thousand goblets
with unuttered words
 
~~ 7 ~~
 
the one who brings light
this frosty autumn morning
broken in his chains
 
~~ 8 ~~
 
puddle that freezes
making no sense to the drunk
sloshing his vodka
 
~~ 9 ~~
 
For what needs no food
there are no sheets of music
to help guide the dance.
 
~~ 10 ~~
 
little hanging lamps
connected to the plum trees
with frayed bungee cords
 
~~ 11 ~~
 
ancient manuscripts
with vital information
cast into the flames
 
~~ 12 ~~
 
a sugarcane flute
wrapped in strips of red and gold
for the nuptial feast

 
© 2014 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Poetry Pantry #221
 
More The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 181

Whirling with ‘The Roosevelts’

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Each vignette begins with a phrase culled from Episode 5 of “The Roosevelts,” a PBS production by Ken Burns.
 


 
~~ 1 ~~
 
in the evening light
their faces suffused with joy
from the vin rosé
 
~~ 2 ~~
 
along the main street
one with no identity
stumbling block by block
 
~~ 3 ~~
 
ramshackle houses—
brittle sticks and broken glass
swaying in the wind
 
~~ 4 ~~
 
spread out on the floor
cold ashes from the fireplace—
wise ones heed the signs
 
~~ 5 ~~
 
Along the back roads
she hopes to pick a posy
for the one she loves.
 
~~ 6 ~~
 
no longer willing
to set aside discernment—
the terrified monk
 
~~ 7 ~~
 
in its suffering
the nation offering youth
to the flames of war
 
~~ 8 ~~
 
a soft leather glove
filled with a hand without fear—
scarecrow in the corn
 
~~ 9 ~~
 
chalk on a boxcar
denoting lot of tractors
bound for South Sudan
 
~~ 10 ~~
 
preachers and teachers
selfless servants of the race
still they go astray
 
~~ 11 ~~
 
To finish the job
they polarize the nation
into warring camps.
 
~~ 12 ~~
 
Immortal Dante,
how you love to guide us still
through the inferno.

 
© 2014 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Poetry Pantry #220
 
More The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 180

Whirling with Amy

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Each vignette begins with a phrase culled from “The Kingfisher,” by Amy Clampitt.
 


 
~~ 1 ~~
 
poetry is gone—
the miner and the farmer
clench their teeth with toil
 
~~ 2 ~~
 
a downtown churchyard
where old women holding court
leer at three old men
 
~~ 3 ~~
 
A dazzled pub crawl—
what shall we give the barkeeps
for their jollity?
 
~~ 4 ~~
 
pastoral nightfall
under the crossed oak branches
a tryst by moonlight
 
~~ 5 ~~
 
ruined nunnery
celibates used to live here
now skittering mice
 
~~ 6 ~~
 
on Fifty-fifth Street
threading the intersection
with thundering heart
 
~~ 7 ~~
 
a Sunday morning
somewhere across the ocean
where no church bells toll
 
~~ 8 ~~
 
some grizzled spruce bog
where creatures keep to themselves
and no one sees them
 
~~ 9 ~~
 
seeing how his hands
go searching through the haystack
for missing needles
 
~~ 10 ~~
 
stunning tapestry
woven with thread of gold and
the blood of martyrs
 
~~ 11 ~~
 
Through the long evening
one expression recurring—
“You don’t understand.”
 
~~ 12 ~~
 
among its headstones
one in the cemetery
bringing you to mind

 
© 2014 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Poetry Pantry #219
 
More The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 179

One More Whirl with Basho

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Each haiku or senryu begins with a phrase culled from Basho: The Complete Haiku.
 


 
~~ 1 ~~
 
the lingering moon
tests my patience this evening—
my room is too small
 
~~ 2 ~~
 
in a rice paddy
your words coming to fullness
with the harvest moon
 
~~ 3 ~~
 
fading temple bell
the seeker’s anxiety
slips into silence
 
~~ 4 ~~
 
the smell of young grass
untainted by blood and gore
this April morning
 
~~ 5 ~~
 
four gates and four sects
one of them the hospital
at the ocean’s edge
 
~~ 6 ~~
 
to the wooden clogs
in the center of the court
setting up a shrine
 
~~ 7 ~~
 
still served with flowers
rosettes of orange Jell-O
blooming in my bowl
 
~~ 8 ~~
 
how pleasurable
holding three words on my tongue
until they mingle
 
~~ 9 ~~
 
the lay-monk’s thinness—
we know he won’t be with us
after the first frost
 
~~ 10 ~~
 
snow-covered mountains
sharing a meal together
fifty miles away
 
~~ 11 ~~
 
first wintry shower—
fluff from shattered milkweed pods
drifting from the north
 
~~ 12 ~~
 
an early winter
beggars pester passersby
for a few spare coins

 
© 2014 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Poetry Pantry #218
 
More The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 178

Another Whirl with Basho

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Each haiku or senryu begins with a phrase culled from Basho: The Complete Haiku.
 


 
~~ 1 ~~
 
upstream and downstream
the dismal washerwomen
beating clothes on stones
 
~~ 2 ~~
 
the tide’s salty crests
signal an end to summer
and my discontent
 
~~ 3 ~~
 
whose old singing voice
moves into the empty spot
where the oak once stood
 
~~ 4 ~~
 
those who like to drink
rose-petal tea at twilight
sipping at their prayers
 
~~ 5 ~~
 
gotten by praying
to the goddess of bullets
an untimely death
 
~~ 6 ~~
 
from an unknown tree
at the edge of the forest
the cry of water
 
~~ 7 ~~
 
even coming twice
the horses seeking sugar
do not get enough
 
~~ 8 ~~
 
a bamboo thicket
where no other plant can thrive
rictus of the moon
 
~~ 9 ~~
 
without rain or snow
the empty meandering
of mountain streambeds
 
~~ 10 ~~
 
year-end housecleaning
even the locks on my doors
deserve to be brushed
 
~~ 11 ~~
 
the cicada’s voice
curls into a tiny ball
just before sunrise
 
~~ 12 ~~
 
from all directions
my foes thrust their spears at me
shafts of pampas grass

 
© 2014 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Poetry Pantry #217
 
More The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 177

Whirling with Basho

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Each haiku or senryu begins with a phrase gleaned from Basho: The Complete Haiku.
 


 
~~ 1 ~~
 
gazing at buckwheat
seven crows collaborate
on a thieving plan
 
~~ 2 ~~
 
a singing skylark—
I listen without breathing
to the joyful sound
 
~~ 3 ~~
 
the melon flower
after the children throw stones
who will care for it
 
~~ 4 ~~
 
a year of troubles
lived without compromising
her integrity
 
~~ 5 ~~
 
Are you the butterfly
that will serve to guide my steps
on the long journey?
 
~~ 6 ~~
 
the source of sadness
in their small community—
receding river
 
~~ 7 ~~
 
a white azalea
blooming in a state of grace—
my neighbor’s garden
 
~~ 8 ~~
 
the muddy melon
they chat about its sweetness
in the market stall
 
~~ 9 ~~
 
to admire the wind
she must have had no contact
with it since childhood
 
~~ 10 ~~
 
by winter showers
decades of matrimony
washing down the street
 
~~ 11 ~~
 
a vendor of greens—
concerns about the collards
make for sleepless nights
 
~~ 12 ~~
 
souvenir paintings
no time to buy one before
the next train departs

 
© 2014 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Poetry Pantry #216
 
More The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 176

An Ernest Whirl

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Each little breath-of-a-poem begins with a phrase purloined from A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.
 


 
~~ 1 ~~
 
stretch of river bank
near the precipitous cliff—
her quavering heart
 
~~ 2 ~~
 
a bleak, windy stretch
with nothing to sustain her
but some cheap red wine
 
~~ 3 ~~
 
this cold afternoon
even the pigeons stutter
as they try to coo
 
~~ 4 ~~
 
Even the false spring
baffles the chestnut seller
on the rue Ampère.
 
~~ 5 ~~
 
pitiful old man
pushing a rickety cart
filled with rotting grapes
 
~~ 6 ~~
 
crowded market street—
her longing for fresh scallions
draws her to one stall
 
~~ 7 ~~
 
all of the sadness
leaking into her old bones
with the autumn rain
 
~~ 8 ~~
 
in the clear sharp wind
crows practising a language
to mock passersby
 
~~ 9 ~~
 
a cold windswept street—
running down a flight of stairs
to meet her lover
 
~~ 10 ~~
 
saddest part of town—
the absence of a taxi
to whisk her away
 
~~ 11 ~~
 
the public bathhouse—
through a rift in the west wall
old men ogling her

 
© 2014 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Poetry Pantry #215
 
More The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 175

It’s in the Bag

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~~ 1 ~~
 
an old demimonde
brown paper bag in her hand
munching stale bonbons
 
~~ 2 ~~
 
bag of oranges
spilling on the kitchen floor—
mouse runs for cover
 
~~ 3 ~~
 
rainy afternoon—
groping for her knitting bag
in the grey half-light
 
~~ 4 ~~
 
in the asylum
inmates picking through a bag
of cast-off clothing
 
~~ 5 ~~
 
in a marketplace
somewhere east of Africa
wisdom by the bag
 
~~ 6 ~~
 
for her transgression
a silken bag of demons
slicing up her heart
 
~~ 7 ~~
 
abomination—
a paper bag of dog shit
tossed on my front porch
 
~~ 8 ~~
 
for wannabe men
seventeen rites of passage
hidden in a bag
 
~~ 9 ~~
 
the old believer’s
unwavering allegiance
to God’s bag of tricks
 
~~ 10 ~~
 
everlasting shame—
nothing grand about the bag
that holds his jewels
 
~~ 11 ~~
 
candle in a bag
sending out a feeble light
on this holy eve
 
~~ 12 ~~
 
how she fears to be
reborn as a cricket’s leg
or an empty bag
 
~~ 13 ~~
 
(myself)

 
© 2014 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More Poetry Pantry #214
 
More Sunday Scribblings 2: “Bag”
 
More The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 174

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