Mysteries, yes by Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous

to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the

mouths of the lambs.

How rivers and stones are forever

in allegiance with gravity

while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds will

never be broken.

How people come, from delight or the

scars of damage,

to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those

who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say

“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,

and bow their heads.

By Mary Oliver

Acrylic on paper by SCBC

insanity by Charles Bukowski


sometimes there’s a crazy one in the street.
he lifts his feet carefully as he walks.
he ponders the mystery
of his own anus.
while the American dollar collapses
against the German mark
he’s thinking of Bette Davis and her old movies.

it’s good to bring thought to bear on things
arcane and forbidden.
if only we were crazy enough
to be willing to ignore our
mechanical and static perceptions
we’d know that a half-filled coffee cup
holds more secrets
than, say,
the Grand Canyon.

sometimes there’s a crazy one walking
in the street.
he slips past
walks with a black crow on his shoulder
is not worried about alarm clocks or
approval.

however, almost everybody else is sane, knows the
answers to all the unanswerable questions.
we can park our automobiles
carve a turkey with style
and can laugh at every feeble joke.

the crazy ones only laugh when there is
no reason to
laugh.

in our world
the sane are too numerous,
too submissive.

we are instructed to live lives of boredom.
no matter what we are doing –
screwing or eating or playing or
talking or climbing mountains or
taking baths or flying to India
we are numbed,
sadly sane.

when you see a crazy one walking
in the street
honor him but
leave him alone.
stand out of the way.
there’s no luck like that luck
nothing else so perfect in the world
let him walk untouched
remember that Christ also was insane.

By Charles Bukowski

Art by Miriam Carry

Prayer in Gratitude for the Right Song Arriving at the Right Time, for Example Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings or Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising,” or Chet Baker’s “She Was Too Good to Me”

Because you know and I know that a song can save your life. We know that we don’t say it much, but it’s true. When you are dark and despairing a song comes and makes you weep as you think yes yes yes. When you are joyous a song comes to top off the moment and make you think the top of your head will fly off from sheer fizzing happy. A song makes you sob with sadness for such pain and loss as throbs inside the bars of the song. A song roars that we will not be defeated by murder but we will stand together and rise again, brothers and sisters! A song makes your heart stagger that you found someone to love with such an ache and pang. A song comes—how amazing and sweet and glorious that is! And this is not even to get into how amazing and miraculous music itself is, the greatest of all arts. But this evening, haunted by a song that slid out of the radio and lit up your heart, we pray in thanks that there are such fraught wild holy moments as this one. And so: amen.

By Brian Doyle

Collage by small circle big circle

be alone by Charles Bukowski

when you think about how often
it all goes wrong
again and again
you begin to look at the walls
and yearn to stay inside
because the streets are the
same old movie
and the heroes all end up like
old movie heroes:
fat ass, fat face and the brain
of a lizard.

it’s no wonder that
a wise man will
climb a 10,000 foot mountain
and sit there waiting
living off of berry bush leaves
rather than bet it all on two dimpled knees
that surely won’t last a lifetime
and 2 times out of 3
won’t remain even for one long night.

mountains are hard to climb.
thus the walls are your friends.
learn your walls.

what they have given us out there
in the streets
is something that even children
get tired of.

stay within your walls.
they are the truest love.

build where few others build.
it’s the last way left.

– Charles Bukowski

Photo by Small Circle Big Circle

The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski

Photo by Small Circle Big Circle

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

— by Charles Bukowski

The pearl

Said one oyster to a neighbouring oyster, “I have a very great pain within me. It is heavy and round and I am in distress.” 

And the other oyster replied with haughty complacence, “Praise be to the heavens and to the sea, I have no pain within me. I am well and whole both within and without.” 

At that moment a crab was passing by and heard the two oysters, and he said to the one who was well and whole both within and without, “Yes, you are well and whole; but the pain that your neighbour bears is a pearl of exceeding beauty.”

– Khalil Gibran

Dignity by Too-qua-stae

And what, in fact, is dignity? In those
Who have it pure, it is the soul’s repose, 
The base of character—no mere reserve 
That springs from pride, or want of mental nerve.
The dignity that wealth, or station, breeds, 
Or in the breast on base emotion feeds, 
Is easy weighed, and easy to be sized—A bastard virtue, much to be despised.

True dignity is like a summer tree.
Beneath whose shade both beast, and bird, and bee,
When by the heated skies oppressed, may come,
And feel, in its magnificence, at home;
Or rather like a mountain which forgets
Itself in its own greatness, and so lets
Vast armies fuss and fight upon its sides,
While high in clouds its peaceful summit hides,
And from the voiceless crest of glistening snow,
Pours trickling fatness on the fields below;
Repellant force, that daunts obtrusive wrong,
And woos the timid steps of right along;
And hence a garb which magistrates prepare,
When called to judge, and really seem to wear.
In framing character on whate’er plan,
‘Tis always needed to complete the man,
The job quite done, and Dignity without,
Is like an apple pie, the fruit left out.

Isola Tiberina, Roma
Photo by Small Circle Big Circle

I worried by Mary Oliver

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

– Mary Oliver

Collage by Carolina Perrone