Sunday, April 30, 2006

Spring Miracles
By Don Iannone
Morning sunlight falls
upon fresh spring flowers
from their journey upward
from roots that nourish
without constraining
the beauty flowing through them.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Nothing Needed
By Don Iannone

...without seeking
...without looking
...without thinking
...without holding on
...without reaching
...without trying
...without asking
...without trying.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Game
By Don Iannone

If we are not careful turns into a game times
...with unexpected consequences.
If we are not careful
...the games we play
...turn into our lives.
If we are not careful
...gamesmanship replaces sincerity
...and the score
...becomes more important
...than kindness and compassion.
Let's not play life.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

My Friend Who Became a Trucker
By Don Iannone

Roger was a high school friend of mine.
He grew up to become a trucker.
I should have known that was his destiny,
but what does any 17-year old know
about the future?

Nobody handled the wheel
better than Roger.
His large farmboy hands seemed
a natural fit on any steering wheel.
Our wistful Saturday night spins around town
in his metallic blue '64 Impala
were more beautiful than any poem.

I passed many truckers
on the road today,
driving back from Detroit.
It made me think of Old Rog,
and that miserable day in 1968
when the in-crowd at the high school
voted Roger the "least cool guy"
in the junior class.
I despise myself now
for having laughed with the rest,
when they hung the sign "Least Cool Guy"
on Roger's locker.
Young people can be cruel,
especially when they're struggling
with who they really are.

Roger always wanted to be somebody.
He told me once
that his life would've been better,
if he had had different parents--
parents who would let him be
who he really was.
Old Rog was very smart.
Even without studying,
he easily got A's and B's.
That is until he was targeted
as the school's biggest non-person.
He nearly flunked his senior year.
I think he did it deliberately
because he didn't want
to face the decision
about his next step in life.

Maybe it was his severe acne,
or his short bent-over frame and long arms,
that caused the other kids
to call him "Ape Boy."
I noticed that Roger
never looked at himself in a window
when we walked down the street.
At times I found myself struggling
to look at him when we talked.
I didn't want him to think

I was staring at him.

Over time,
I lost track of Roger.
It wasn't until some years later
that another high school friend
told me that Roger lost control
of his rig on a snowy evening,
and plowed head-on into a car
with a mother and two little kids.
They were all killed instantly.

Roger took to drinking.
He couldn't handle the memories
from that gruesome winter night.
Roger died about a year later
when his rig veered off the highway
and over an enbankment.
Under the seat,
they found an open whiskey bottle
and a well-worn copy
of our '69 high school yearbook.
I know why he drank,
and I know why Roger's gone.
What I don't know is why
kids do these things to each other.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Unorthodox Young Men
By Don Iannone

Before America knew them.
They appeared,
out of thin air.
Longish combed down hair,
conveying a new attitude--
one ready to project itself on a universe
tired of working too hard
and finding not enough meaning.
First in church festivals and school gigs.
Later, the world was their stage.
Known then
as the Beat Brothers,
for it was still the Beat Generation,
though about to end,
and give birth to something new,
something unnamed,
but felt as a new heart beat.
A new beat,
carried like a soaring kite on the wind,
in songs like My Bonnie,
and Love Me Do,
and of all things
Please Please Me before the Queen Mother herself.
Sunday night television was the rage.
Families gathered around the tube,
gawking like anxious macaques,
at four unorthodox,
riveting young men from Liverpool,
who sang A Hard Day's Night
for Ed Sullivan
and millions of mesmerized faces
schmooched against their TV screens.
Young girls screamed,
and their mothers knew deep down
their daughters would not for long be virgins.
Nor would the world be the same,
as it turned inward
for meaning and love,
snatched away by the constant drone of factories
and stuffy suburban sameness
that gave us Leave It to Beaver,
but stole away what matters most--
our sense of who we are.
All because four unorthodox young men
decided to let their hair down,
and because we were ready
for the 50s to end,
and rebel against factory-made mediocrity.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Orthodox Young Men
By Don Iannone
studious-looking Hebrew men.
Flying from Cleveland to Toronto
on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
All dressed in black,
save for bright white dress shirts
with crisp collars.
Large black hats,
with odd up-turned brims.
Good for catching rain,
if you care to.
Dangling dark hair locks,
folded neatly behind their ears.
Barbering must be a snap
in Orthodox communities.
Only one style cut to remember.
but smileful.
in the nebulousness
beseiging most males their age.
They're lucky to have each other.
They seem connected--
to themselves
and each other.
Just like everyone else
on the plane.
Making their way
through life,
and at the right moment,
letting life makes its way
through them.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Dance to the Music of Time
By Don Iannone

They dance
as though
time were real.
They dance
they had time.
and around
they go
in vicious circles,
like those spun
by the make-believe gods
they dance to honor.

The Dance to the Music of Time
Painting by Nicolas Poussin
Conceptual Trickery
By Don Iannone

laid more bare
than the naked sun
with no clouds,
found us capsized
in an ocean of lies.

without distinction
or separation,
found us struggling
with truths and lies.

Of the two,
I'll take reality
at a moment's notice.

Painting: Sunrise, by Claude Monet

Sunday, April 23, 2006

My First Girlie Magazine
By Don Iannone

I don't know what I was looking for
that warm summer morning
when I found my first girlie magazine.
It caught my eye,
as I shuffled down the alley,
looking for something to do.
I couldn't believe my eyes,
but there it was.
Haphazardly thrown in a box
for the trash collector to pick up.

I was nine.
Old enough to know
this was an important discovery,
and the start of something new
in my curious young life.
Instinct takes over,
even when you're nine.
I don't remember how the thing
actually got in my hand,
but it did.
It came to life
as I clutched it.

I wanted to look at it--
really study it up close,
but it was broad daylight,
and somebody might see me
with it in my hand.
I did what any curious boy would do:
I stuffed the magazine in my shirt
and raced off to the garage,
where Dad kept the old Ford,
and where I hoped
I could explore my new find
in excruciatingly intimate detail.

My heart pounded,
and that wasn't all.
There it was.
In my hand, again.
Waiting to be opened and savored,
like an ice cream cone
on a hot July afternoon.
I found myself pretending to be older.
After all,
what could a nine-year old do
with a scantily dressed woman like this?
I could only imagine,
and imagine I did,
and for much longer than I could imagine.

Was that Mom calling me?
God help me,
if she finds me looking at this thing.
I desparately looked about the garage
for just the right place to stash my treasure.
I had never looked at the garage
in quite this way before.
I heard my name again.
This time louder.
I had to go.
Where should I hide my secret?
Behind the bench.
Under the pile of old boards.
It was done.

I was sweating profusely.
Suddenly I was hot--all over.
I slipped out the side door.
There she was.
"Where have you been?
Didn't you hear me calling you?"
Did she know?
How could she?
Mothers sense these things.
I nodded slyly,
and ran off into the house,
before the interrogation could begin.
I was relieved at not getting caught,
but pleasantly obsessed with the image
of my secret love's wavey blonde hair
and long inviting legs.
How could anyone even think
about throwing her away?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Remembering Wheeling Park
By Don Iannone

Odd how some things seem
to stick in your mind,
even after 45 years.
Like the old entrance
to Wheeling Park
--a deeply engrained
symbol of summer,
when I was a young boy
growing up in the Ohio Valley.

The drive from Martins Ferry
wasn't all that long,
at least in grown-up time,
but it was an eternity
when you were eight years old.
We knew we were there
when we saw the park's front door.

Summer was real
when you passed under the arch.
It was time to play
from sun up to sun down.
There was the half-hour ride

on a paddle boat,
while you ate popcorn
and fed the ageless white swan,
who always gave you
a run for your money.

Then there was Mom's picnic lunch,
with all the trimmings.
You had to get to the park early
to land a shaded table with a view.
Best of all,
all the cousins were there,
so you always had someone to play with.

Funny how some things seem
to stick in your mind,
especially things that made
a lifelong impression on you.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Haunting Family Secrets
By Don Iannone

Aunt Empsy's house was haunted.
Everyone thought so,
but nobody just came out and said so.
I was deathly afraid of the place.
The place smelled old,
like something long dead.
Always cold and drafty.

Dark all the time.

Aunt Empsy's cat howled night and day.
You never saw the thing,
only heard it.
People said the cat was possessed
by Uncle Sy's spirit after he died.
He fell down the wooden basement steps.
Aunt Empsy said he was stone drunk
and lost his balance.
Cracked his head wide open.
Blood everywhere.
I didn't see it,
but I imagined the whole thing
every time we visited.
Some folks said Aunt Empsy shoved him.
Made him fall,
because he did something bad
to a young girl from the holler.

I hated going over there.
Everybody just sat around
talking about the past
--talking about dead people,
old things, and secrets.
Plenty of secrets in the family.
Stuff nobody supposedly knew about,
but you knew. You knew.

She's dead now.
Aunt Empsy lived to be 96.
The funeral was all black
and morbid.
People were afraid to look in the casket.
I did.
Wish I hadn't,
because I can still see her sinister face.
The minister giving last rites

at her funeral service
didn't look well.
Later we found out he had a stroke.

After all these years,
the house still sits there--empty
but filled with something foreboding.
Nobody wants it.
Why doesn't somebody just tear it down?
Some boys went up there last summer--

messing around,
gettin' into stuff they shouldn't.
A copperhead bit the Macklin kid.
He got real sick.
Almost died.
The other boys said
there was a nest of snakes in the old well.
Maybe a hundred or so.
It's a sign.
People should stay away.
That's just what I'm planning on doing.
My kids want to go up to the old place.
They've heard the stories.
I told them to leave well enough alone.
Some things you should never mess with in life.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Too Proud
By Don Iannone

Mom said they were clean
and their parents loved them.
They were just poor, she said.
I felt angry,
but I didn't know why.

Finally, the torn screen door opened.
A frail young woman--
maybe in her mid-20s,
appeared like a ghost before us.
She pushed her hair back a bit,
managed a faint smile,
and said hello.
Mom held out the basket.
"Folks at the church thought
maybe you could use a little help."
The woman's face stiffened.
"We can't accept no help.
My husband won't hear of it."
Mom urged her to take the basket,
filled with food
and a few clothes for the kids.
"Sorry lady, I can't accept it."

Mom's face sunk.
"Are you sure?"
The lady shook her head no.
"I can't."
The screen door closed,
and the lady disappeared.
Four little kids flanked the woman.
I saw their bewildered faces.
I wanted to cry.

We walked in stone silence
down the tattered dirt road.
I felt like we did something wrong,
but I had no idea what.
Mom put down the basket on our kitchen table,
where it sat until evening,
and then it disappeared.
That night,
as Mom tucked me in,
she looked at me sadly and said:
"You can't fault folks for being proud."
Closer Look
By Don Iannone
From afar,
they were just flowers.
I moved closer.
Glass-like beads hung from their faces.
They glistened in the morning sun.
I saw their smiles.
They're more.
They're my friends.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Rainbows on Dusty Country Roads
By Don Iannone
When we were young
we walked ordinary country roads
in search of hopes and dreams.
The road itself didn't matter, really.
Back then
the road didn't even need color,
for we were rainbows ourselves,
following something larger,
something more significant,
than the country roads we walked.

We tolerated the boney dust,
stirred by a lone 57 Ford pickup truck.
Even the hot noonday sun
beating down on our heads
didn't take our minds away
from the river of dreams
that swept us inside,
and away from the world,
where boys walked country roads,
leading nowhere,
and yet anywhere
their dreams could take them.

We would do it over again,
that is walk dusty country roads,
if we could be young again,
and if we could be desparately possessed
by dreams that stirred our souls,
and made us feel alive.
After all
what else is there?
Hyacinth Growing by the Old Gray Fence
By Don Iannone
Why ever do the hyacinth
grow next to the dying gray fence
on the east end of the farm?
Nobody ever goes back there.
Who's going to ever see them?
Beauty like that shouldn't be wasted
where there is no eye to see.
They're stubborn--
downright hard-headed,
hiding there next to the old fence.
I came back a couple weeks later,
and they were gone.
Just like the beautiful sunset from last night.
Just like my grandmother
who lived on the farm
when the fence was brand new.
Why ever do those hyacinth
grow next to the dying gray fence
on the east end of the farm?
Late Summer Visions
By Don Iannone
Late summer zinnias wait
more patiently than mountains
for last drops of sunlight,
keeping them in color.
The door to the old barn,
just beyond the desparate flowers,
has decided it will never close.
At its age,
there is nothing left to hide.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Flowers Always Budding
By Don Iannone
Should we ever doubt who we are,
simply because we lose sight
of ourselves in the mirror?
Look again--
this time closer.
See the flower in full bloom?
See the bud about to flower?
Both are you.
Budding Truth
By Don Iannone

Frosted flakes of pink
smugly smiling.

Almost flowers
but not for long.
Wandering mist
forever following winter.
Always becoming
like budding truth.

Monday, April 17, 2006

We are but tiny flowers
in an endless field of dreams.
Posing for just the right chance
to shine in the sun.
Don't be too quick to label your pain. If you do, you may risk exposing yourself to conceptual pain, which arises from mental suffering.
Don't localize your seeing and feeling just with your eyes, your head, and your heart. Feel and see with your whole body.
Give yourself totally to whatever you do today.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Mending Wall
by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'
Celebrate the flowers in your life. They speak louder than words, and open your heart to the tender beauty of love.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Friday, April 14, 2006

So true...

Affirmation of life is the spiritual act by which man ceases to live unreflectively and beginsto devote himself to his life with reverence in order to raise it to its true value. To affirm life is to deepen, to make more inward, and to exalt the will to live.

--Albert Schweitzer
Summer Holiday
by Robinson Jeffers

When the sun shouts and people abound
One thinks there were the ages of stone and the age of
And the iron age; iron the unstable metal;
Steel made of iron, unstable as his mother; the tow-
ered-up cities
Will be stains of rust on mounds of plaster.
Roots will not pierce the heaps for a time, kind rains
will cure them,
Then nothing will remain of the iron age
And all these people but a thigh-bone or so, a poem
Stuck in the world's thought, splinters of glass
In the rubbish dumps, a concrete dam far off in the
by Marie Ponsot

In a skiff on a sunrisen lake we are watchers.

Swimming aimlessly is luxury just as walking
loudly up a shallow stream is.

As we lean over the deep well, we whisper.

Friends at hearths are drawn to the one warm air;
strangers meet on beaches drawn to the one wet sea.

What would it be to be water, one body of water
(what water is is another mystery) (We are
water divided.) It would be a self without walls,
with surface tension, specific gravity a local
exchange between bedrock and cloud of falling and rising,
rising to fall, falling to rise.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"The Buddha meditated for six years, Bodhidharma for nine. The practise of meditation is not a method for the attainment of realisation - it is enlightenment itself."

--Dogen, Zen Master
"The peace, happiness, and meaning that we seek is already available and accessible within each one of us. Discovering them through awakening, and experiencing them, is the work of our spiritual path. It is the path of spiritual self-discovery."

--Bhante Y. Wimala

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Trying to Pray
By James Wright

This time, I have left my body behind me, crying
In its dark thorns.
There are good things in this world.
It is dusk.
It is the good darkness
Of women's hands that touch loaves.
The spirit of a tree begins to move.
I touch leaves.
I close my eyes and think of water.
Oh yes...

The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.

--William James

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

This is a beauty...

The little space within the heart is as great as the vast universe. The heavens and the earth are there, and the sun and the moon and the stars. Fire and lightening and winds are there, and all that now is and all that is not.

--The Upanishads
So true...

To meet everything and everyone through stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer to the universe.

--Eckhart Tolle

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Absolute
By Sri Chinmoy

No mind, no form, I only exist;
Now ceased all will and thought;
The final end of Nature's dance,
I am it whom I have sought.

A realm of Bliss bare, ultimate;
Beyond both knower and known;
A rest immense I enjoy at last;
I face the One alone.

I have crossed the secret ways of life,
I have become the Goal.
The Truth immutable is revealed;
I am the way, the God Soul.

My spirit aware of all the heights,
I am mute in the core of the Sun.
I barter nothing with time and deeds;
My cosmic play is done.
What can I say?
Looking Up from the Tulips

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Do not go gentle into that good night
By Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Nest Full of Stars
by James Berry

Only chance made me come and find
my hen, stepping from her hidden
nest, in our kitchen garden.

In her clever secret place, her tenth
egg, still warm, had just been dropped.

Not sure of what to do, I picked up
every egg, counting them, then put them
down again. All were mine.

All swept me away and back.
I blinked, I saw: a whole hand
of ripe bananas, nesting.

I blinked, I saw: a basketful
of ripe oranges, nesting.

I blinked, I saw: a trayful
of ripe naseberries, nesting.

I blinked, I saw: an open bagful
of ripe mangoes, nesting.

I blinked, I saw:
a mighty nest full of stars.

Friday, April 07, 2006

At sunrise I arose…
by Michel Deguy

At sunrise I arose
To the sound the machine animals make
passing by in the streets over heads
Was it briefly interminable or
interminably brief or both
It was the face ever undone by the mouth
that sentences me to the blinking
of the apparition that slips away in itself,
to erasure, on the edge of the world
It was five o'clock it is six o'clock my love says
One more hour went by an hour has passed
Where the e is not the voice inserts it
and wherever mute phonemes may be they muzzle
My error is ancient my love
To the stalactites of the ages was added
one more micron between your shore and mine
The error of one who hides in a corpse
pulling on the death mask but
Often I understand what people say to me

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Moon Gathering
by Eleanor Wilner

And they will gather by the well,
its dark water a mirror to catch whatever
stars slide by in the slow precession of
the skies, the tilting dome of time,
over all, a light mist like a scrim,
and here and there some clouds
that will open at the last and let
the moon shine through; it will be
at the wheel's turning, when
three zeros stand like paw-prints
in the snow; it will be a crescent
moon, and it will shine up from
the dark water like a silver hook
without a fish--until, as we lean closer,
swimming up from the well, something
dark but glowing, animate, like live coals--
it is our own eyes staring up at us,
as the moon sets its hook;
and they, whose dim shapes are no more
than what we will become, take up
their long-handled dippers
of brass, and one by one, they catch
the moon in the cup-shaped bowls,
and they raise its floating light
to their lips, and with it, they drink back
our eyes, burning with desire to see
into the gullet of night: each one
dips and drinks, and dips, and drinks,
until there is only dark water,
until there is only the dark.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


A Buddhist is not a slave to anybody

"A Buddhist is not a slave to a book or to any person. Nor does he sacrifice his freedom of thought by becoming a follower of the Buddha. He can exercise his own free will and develop his knowledge even to the extent of attaining Buddha hood himself, for all are potential Buddhas."

- Ven. Narada Maha Thera "What is Buddhism"

Won't Be Too Long

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Have you noticed how easily we defeat ourselves in life? How we cheat ourselves out of joy? How we let other people's annoying ideas fill our heads? How we become the death of ourselves?

Don't Miss It

Signs of spring
Tulips whisper
sweet nothings,
and more,
Don't miss it,
It's here,
and then
it's gone.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Could anything be more lovely?
Source: PBS Discovery

As I walked through life--
half asleep,
like in a dream,
I discovered
there is a dreamer,
who lives not far
from where I awaken
each morning
to the light of the sun.

Photo Credit: National Park Service
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, MI

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Little Spring Humor: God's Email

One day God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the evil that was going on. He decided to send an angel down to Earth to check it out.

So he called one of his best angels and sent the angel to Earth for a while.

When she returned she told God, yes it is bad on Earth, 95% is bad and 5% is good.

Well, he thought for a moment and thought maybe he'd better send down a second angel to get another point of view.

So God called another angel and sent him to Earth for a time too.

When the angel returned he went to God and told him "Yes, the Earth is in decline. 95% is bad and 5% is good."

God said this was not good.

So he decided to send e-mail to the 5% that were good. He wanted to encourage them, give them a little something to help them keep going.
Do you know what that e-mail said?
Oh, you didn't get one either, huh? Bummer.
Trying to Measure the Impact of Prayer

Does praying for a sick person’s recovery do any good?

In the largest scientific test of its kind, heart surgery patients showed no benefit when strangers prayed for their recovery.

And, surprisingly, patients who knew they were being prayed for had a slightly higher rate of complications. The researchers could only guess why.

Several scientists questioned the concept of the study.

Science “is not designed to study the supernatural,” said Harold G. Koenig, director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at the Duke University Medical Center.

What is your thought on this research?

Read more here.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Spring is like a perhaps hand
By E. E. Cummings

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.
My name is spring. What's yours?
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