Hafiz says I must clear the rocks
if I am to have any good of this field
so I begin—to be ready
for some future sun-flushed spring
rocks of resentment and guilt
at feeling resentment and some pebbles
words to fling about because—
I think you should understand—
a bowl full of pebbles to explain
why I feel and all of the above
(tell me if there is a place to stack them all
a monument to self-help and decluttering)
here is the rock I have been curled under, closed
and we might someday have it for a signpost
to carve the hard harvest or what should we give
to forget this bitter year?
the rock where the top is not so big yet one digs
and digs and two strong arms and intent
are not enough to heave it out
don’t say God must think it’s good for you
for what shape was the rock that left this gaping hole
and the last black rock, glittering with something I should be
Reading Hafiz, “So You Can Plant More Wheat,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
I want to proclaim it
to the man leaning and yapping
at the department store clerk
to the sheath-dressed woman
high heeled, on the phone
choosing bagged lettuce
I want to turn it inside out
spread it like dandelions
or honey or something
in a cooler hue, a green
slow rain, complete release
Reading Hafiz, “When the Meadows on the Body Turn Gray,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
in one glimmer of nothing, and how easy
—you see—to vanish, to sink in the same
darkness, illogic, as generations before.
no one knows you in your shadowing:
not devil nor demons nor angels nor men
(who wrote you off, and how long ago?)
—but will it be now, at mud’s deep
that you instinctively reach an arm out
to swim, that the air takes your lungs
with all the force of forgiveness?
Resonating with today’s Hafiz read, “To Make You Perfect,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky
Pick the object of your devotion—stomach,
brain—and call it your garden, say it is
for the sake of others; that the fluttering
leaves are your heart; that those twist-reach-
scramble vines growing heavy on themselves
(leaning, leaning) will someday feed thousands.
Life, I am your wholehearted servant. Or—
as much of a heart as I have left, is yours devoted
to shutting out tight these misgivings, which lean
toward a belief that my heart is, in fact,
a dropped glass screen. One minute safe
in your hand, the next face-down on pavement.
You know that sound: sudden, small, stifled apology
for becoming useless. How then the fragments
ingrain themselves, how eyes grow used
to a fractured view.
Inspired by Hafiz, “Pray to Your Hand,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky
to hang up my hang-ups
my why-am-i-heres, not-good-enoughs,
not-determined-enoughs and why
would the world need more dreamers
we talk and you keep asking, but
could you get a job with that? how
many ways to sell my heart, make it more
marketable? i’m hanging up your doubts
alongside mine and hope
i will be less inclined to explode
if i pin on this belief: here is also a way
of being content
Inspired by Hafiz, “A Coat Rack,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky
it is not that kind of exchange—
skill for skill, love for thanks
or even one small word of appreciation.
if we were all the little teapots
of the world—handle, spout,
we were made to be held,
Inspired by Hafiz, “Energy in Sounds,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky
I am famous in these distractible parts
for half-sentences and thoughts un-done.
Listen: It is only a skipping ahead
past the boredom of a thing
once seen. The bloom is off, color fading
by the time it reaches your lips
Inspired by Hafiz, “Every City Is a Dulcimer,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
“If I ever don’t complete a sentence…”
and had my soul chosen another body—
say, some minor medieval queen
who could hide volumes of overindulgence
beneath the armor of silky wool gown
or high headdress, who could stand
in stone tower, warm enough, overlooking sun-
swept river strewn pink with bloom
without sneezing at birch pollen—
it could therefore have fresh cherries
to tongue’s and heart’s content
A fluffy little fantasy inspired by recently discovered allergies plus Hafiz, “Maybe One Like a Water Buffalo,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
“Your soul could have chosen a different kind
stunned, chained—where is this cog in the great machine,
this puzzling piece in the grand design? is my part beauty,
remembering, simple love? how does beauty stand
against a landslide? how does memory shine
in a millennium’s weight of darkness? how does love open
one fist, finger by finger by finger, and then the next?
can the chain be fingers clasped, my one hand holding yours
or the children I give, having built them of love?
Inspired by Hafiz, “The Heart’s Coronation,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
“The pawn always sits stunned, chained,
there is nothing but divine movement
in this world.”
what could I teach but to give and give
and practice when you can’t preach:
put off this skin and its masks, coat, hats—
yes, even dress, shirt, pants and all the jewelry.
what is there to shine but heart?
when the birds only drink of yesterday’s rain
can we splash through the puddles, regardless?
Inspired by Hafiz, “Everything in Your Kingdom,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
“Borrow from your inheritance God has left for you,
This is the place to utilize gold,…”