The illusion is that you are simply
reading this poem.
the reality is that this is
more than a
this is a beggar’s knife.
this is a tulip.
this is a soldier marching
this is you on your
this is Li Po laughing
this is not a god-damned
this is a horse asleep.
a butterfly in
this is the devil’s
you are not reading this
on a page.
the page is reading
it’s like a cobra.
it’s a hungry eagle circling the room.
this is not a poem. poems are dull,
they make you sleep.
these words force you
to a new
you have been blessed, you have been pushed into a
blinding area of
the elephant dreams
the curve of space
you can die now.
you can die now as
people were meant to
hearing the music,
being the music,
Another gem found in the river.
The PARABOLA SUMMER 2011 Issue has sprouted!
FOCUS | From the Editor
THIS SUMMER 2011 issue of PARABOLA explores the universal rhythms of giving and receiving.
We know that life is a gift. How do we receive it? The exceptional man who opens our Giving & Receiving issue, Gregory Boyle, chose the path of a Jesuit priest—or did the path choose him?—and now tends the souls of gang members on the hardest streets of Los Angeles. The issue begins with a powerful excerpt from the priest’s memoir, TATTOOS OF THE HEART, followed by an in-depth conversation with “Father G.”
Other contributors to this issue respond to the gift of life in varying ways. Mary Oliver writes poems that celebrate nature and speak to our inner-most self; we are proud to offer four new poems from her here. Joseph Bruchac, one of PARABOLA’S founding contributors, returns with a rewarding meditation on American Indian Giving that reflects his deep experience and knowledge. Another contributing editor, Margo McLoughlin, translates Jataka tales from the original Pali, enriching our treasury of wisdom stories about the Buddha, as in this issue’s “The Antelope Birth,” a charming story of unexpected mutual support and friendship.
And then there is Wavy Gravy, the legendary trickster whose entire life seems both gift and myth. Interviewed here by our West Coast editor Richard Whittaker, he reveals that, like many of us, he finds giving easy enough, but receiving is for him a “work in progress.”
Why is receiving so difficult? Joshua Boettiger, a rabbi, approaches that question in an essay that ties in God, Moses, and Bob Dylan; it is our vulnerability, he explains, that makes us wary of receiving.
Even so, to be alive means to constantly receive—impressions, food, energies—and to unceasingly give as well. We are each a facet of Indra’s net, connected to everyone around us, and every breath, every gesture, every thought resonates in some way, for good or for ill, serving either, as Gregory Boyle puts it, the so-called “Real World” or “The Kingdom of God.” For just as there is exchange on this earthly level, there is giving and receiving between levels, both Higher and lower, as evidenced by numerous contributors here. As William Segal writes in this issue’s ARCS:
Man’s body mediates
Energies on every level.
This is perhaps the most noble aim of poetry, to attach ourselves to the world around us, to turn desire into love, to embrace, finally, what always evades us, what is beyond, but what is always there – the unspoken, the spirit, the soul.
The weight of the world is love. Under the burden of solitude, under the burden of dissatisfaction
the weight, the weight we carry is love.
Who can deny? In dreams it touches the body, in thought constructs a miracle, in imagination anguishes till born in human -
looks out of the heart burning with purity - for the burden of life is love, but we carry the weight wearily, and so must rest in the arms of love at last, must rest in the arms of love.
No rest without love, no sleep without dreams of love - be mad or chill obsessed with angels or machines, the final wish is love - cannot be bitter, cannot deny, cannot withhold if denied:
the weight is too heavy
- must give for no return as thought is given in solitude in all the excellence of its excess.
The warm bodies shine together in the darkness, the hand moves to the center of the flesh, the skin trembles in happiness and the soul comes joyful to the eye -
yes, yes, that’s what I wanted, I always wanted, I always wanted, to return to the body where I was born.
Today, in the river.