Category Archives: poetry

A Poem by Thich Nhat Hanh…

Please Call Me by My True Names

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow–even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving to be a bud on a Spring branch,

to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive.

I am a mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am a frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond.

And I am the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.

And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,

who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands.

And I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.

My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,

so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and my pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,

so I can wake up and the door of my heart could be left open,
the door of compassion.
Five quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh

A poem about something…

Open-Closed; Inside-Outside

I yelled at someone recently.


It is true, as odd as it may seem.

I used my outside voice.


Told him to shut the fuck up.


Which closed the door to my heart.

To compassion.

This hurt him, no doubt.

But also me.
And others as well.

Viewing life with a closed heart,

is like looking through a tiny pigeon hole.

Pointed only at me.

Life becomes incredibly narrow.



But when viewed with an open heart.

A compassionate heart.

Everything expands.

Full bloom in multicolor.

Unexplainable largeness.

I need to apologize.

I need to forgive.

Him and me.

I need to fling my doors wide open.

And use my inside voice.

A poem and a picture…



when I think everything is going along as planned,

it’s not.


when I feel I’m becoming more self-aware,

I’m not.

It’s self-righteousness.


I forget to feel.

To really feel.

To look around.

To look at what’s right in front of me.


when things are going smoothly

there is roughness ahead.


things are a test.

A test of morals.

A test of character.

A test of faith.

Sometimes; sometimes,


I’m really asleep.

But it is love.



These things awaken me;

make me alive.


it comes unexpectedly 

and in unlikely ways.

And yet sometimes,

it scares me,

makes me uncomfortable.

But this is good.

It gives me hope.

A poem about eating popcorn…

Eating Popcorn in the East Village

Drinking beer in a small East Village bar

I met an attorney

From Australia

An Australian esquire


That was her name

She seemed sad and arrogant at the same time

They are one-in-the-same, I suppose


I left

After too much beer

I needed to pee


I had to purchase something

to use the store’s scummy little bathroom

A small bag of popcorn

That’s what I bought

It cost 69 cents

It was night now

And I ate it while walking down Third Avenue

So this is how it came to be

That I ate popcorn in the East Village

While walking down the street

And thinking of Emma

Five Quotes from Walt Whitman

May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”

“Be curious, not judgmental.”

“Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.”

“Peace is always beautiful.”

“In the faces of men and women, I see God.”

Okay, a few more…

“These are the days that must happen to you.”

“I exist as I am, that is enough.”

“To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.”

More in the Five Quotes series.

Urban Simplicity.

Five Quotes from Rumi

Photo found here.

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” 

“What you seek is seeking you.” 

“Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.” 

“Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” 

“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames” 

Ok…as is often the case, I can’t help myself, here’s two more quotes.

“You are the Truth from foot to brow. Now, what else would you like to know?” 

“My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.” 

To learn a bit more about Rumi, click here.

To read more in the Five Quotes Series, click here.

Urban Simplicity.

Five Quotes from Mary Oliver

Photo credit: Josh Reynolds
I have to admit that I was not familiar with the poems of Mary Oliver before this morning. I am currently reading the book, Falling-Upward: Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, by Richard Rohr, when I came across this quote that he had sited: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? The quote is actually the last line in her poem, The Summer Day. Anyhow, it moved me when I first read it as it does still, so I thought I’d share it with a few of her quotes.

“I have a notion that if you are going to be spiritually curious, you better not get cluttered up with too many material things.”

“Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.”

“So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray.”

“To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”


The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

To read more in the five quote series, click here.

Five Quotes from Thomas Merton

Monk, activist, writer, poet, and artist, Fr. Merton was a true renaissance man. He was friends with Thich Nhat Hanh, and the Dalai Lama, and a contemporary of Martin Luther King, Jr. Before his untimely death he penned a huge number of books pertaining to spirituality, poems, artwork, and an incredible and moving autobiography. His work continues to touch countless souls…including the one typing these words. To read more about Thomas Merton click here or here.

“Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.”

“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.”

“Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to Him, being attentive to Him, requires a lot of courage and know-how.”

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.”

“A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.” 

OK…I said five quotes, but here’s five more. 

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

“I cannot make the universe obey me. I cannot make other people conform to my own whims and fancies. I cannot make even my own body obey me.”

“We stumble and fall constantly even when we are most enlightened. But when we are in true spiritual darkness, we do not even know that we have fallen.” 

“The man of faith who has never experienced doubt is not a man of faith.” 

“Perhaps I am stronger than I think.”

Urban Simplicity.