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Switch to Forum Live View Poems For The Dying
3 years ago  ::  May 30, 2011 - 11:22PM #1
fig2aro
Posts: 19
My dear friend Richard Nowogrodzki wrote the  following beautiful and wise poems. Richard is dying of cancer. We first  met many, many years ago. Richard would drive me to the Meditation  Center in Valois, through the Blueberry Patch, past Tburg, down winding  single lanes, when the world was young, when we were young. We have been  good friends ever since, and the news of his terminal illness was a  terrible shock. He has been sending his new poems out to friends, here  and there, and I asked him if I could include them as A Mystic’s Journal  Entry. I find them quite extraordinary:

Baskets

I wonder how many different cultures independently invented baskets,
how many times human ingenuity first began to shape space
by intertwining the merest wisps of substance:
sweetgrass stems, reeds, twigs of willow or birch, or thin splints of beechwood.
Each basket surrounds emptiness with form,
and seems to ride through air or float on a Nile,
holding much more than its freight.
My lifetime is a basket, too,
woven of lived and living strands:
sweet and green or dry as reeds, supple as willow or bitter as birch, sometimes smooth as thin-split wood.
Nowadays, it seems, my basket is getting lighter and emptier
the more I can give away, forget, forgo, forgive.
One day, I imagine, when the basket’s light enough,
it will be ready to relinquish to its elements,
wind and water.





Losing My Hair To Chemotherapy

As I walk, I leave a trail of strands.
Sitting, I slowly shower my surroundings.
I am a one man cloud.
I suppose I could shave it all at once,
like setting the clocks on a Saturday night:
instant Hairloss Savings Time.
But so far I prefer the slow, steady shedding,
each moment losing another small bit
of my shell.




The Softness Competition

Looking at the year’s first dandelions.
I imagine summer.
Which lands on the grass most softly:
thistledown.
A butterfly.
Or my thought?





Still Aware


My sense faculties are fading, it seems.
Various medicines are eroding my taste buds, perhaps
my sense of smell.
Age continues to weaken my hearing and my eyesight,
and my body feels chills when others around me
do not.

Yet as I eat a meal, I powerfully sense its goodness and
its nourishment.
Gazing at my front yard, I drink in the warm, soft
sweetness of the fruit trees in bloom,
and I can almost taste the almost impossible beauty of
the lilacs.


As strength subsides, and as the senses waver,
I find I’m still aware of life’s sweet savor.





Where I’m headed. Maybe

Maybe I’ll come upon a wide beach
where every rock has been worn smooth, round, and
flat,
and, looking back at my memories, maybe I’ll see only
the kindnesses,
And maybe I’ll gently open my hands
and let them go.





Hot weather haiku

In the heat of summer
the soft green moss:
reminder of spring rain.





Punctuation

The cat twisting on her back
at my feet
begs for some pats of my hands
to turn her squirming commas into semi-colons.
The backyard plum tree
blossoming in glowing pink
transforms the lawn’s
green statement
into an exclamation.
And as I review the years gone by,
blue editing pencil in hand,
how many of my urgent plans and struggles,
once bristling with dashes and underlining,
I now enclose
in thin parentheses.




Last Snow

Ah, I think I see a few of the tricks now.
It's easy not to cling to the last snow of the season,
coming as it does at the end of so long a winter.
And the last daffodil, the last swallowtail butterfly, the
last ripe pear -
they're noted only in retrospect, so it's not very
difficult to let them go.
In the fall, the maple leaf devotes itself so completely
to its changes that,
blazing into a timeless moment,
it simply releases from its branch
and softly descends.



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2 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2012 - 1:09AM #2
Paladinsf
Posts: 3,660

A Broken Saucer



I broke a saucer the other day; trivial household accident nothing exceptional or interesting about it. Just a few pieces of china in the kitchen sink. No big deal. 


Or maybe it was. 


This particular saucer was the last piece of the china my wife and I bought before we were married. Getting it was a BIG deal at the time. We couldn’t agree on a pattern. We looked at hundreds and rejected them all. Until we stumbled on this one. We both remember it well. It was a few days before the wedding. We were beginning to think we might never agree on this china thing. And then turning a corner in Carson Pirie Scot we saw it. Neither of us said a word. We just looked at each other. And bought it. 


Now more than 50 years later I hold the broken bits of the last piece of the original set. Over the decades it dwindled from accident, loss, anger, kids, pets, storms, who knows what else. I stand here now and the words of an old song we like come to mind:


 “Now that we’re old and ready to go


I get thinking what happened a long time ago


We had a lot of sorrow and trouble and pain


But Oh Lord, I’d do it again.”


 She is helpless now; broken legs useless, fingers twisted in a grotesque manner, left arm weak, the ravages of a stroke and diabetes and the malignant cells slowly but inexorably consuming her. The broken china in the sink a metaphor for it all. It won’t be long the doctors say. But they said that 5 yrs ago. They, like so many others, underestimated her. Both if us really. The china is gone. But we are not. 


 


We both will, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” 


 


www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrLR0GogtRo&feat...


 

The World is divided into armed camps ready to commit genocide just because we can't agree on whose fairy tales to believe.
The belief in supernatural religion will kill us all if we don't outgrow it.

When I first read "End of Faith" I thought Sam went too far. The more I read and listen to these "believers" the more I wonder if maybe he wasn't right after all.
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2 years ago  ::  Mar 10, 2012 - 11:21AM #3
Paladinsf
Posts: 3,660

Our 52nd wedding anniversary is coming up next week. I will try to get her to one of her favorite places - Cumberland Falls. We went there on a lark more than 10 yrs ago and she loved the place. We came back numerous times and finally moved here in part because she liked the area so much; a much smaller town in a much smaller state moving at much slower pace.



We both move slower now, I push her wheelchair everywhere she goes. Even to the Falls. She likes to take a path along the river. It has a rise. Going down is easy. but coming back -? I was barely able to get her up and over the last time. Can I do it again? And if I can't then what? Maybe I shouldn’t try. But the river is high now and redbuds and the dogwoods are blooming. I will push her down that path – and back over that rise. 

I will! 

But her other journey is down a different path.

Death is a journey inward our daughter says. The world we live in becomes smaller as we take that journey. I will not push her down that path. But I will walk with her and hold her hand, until she lets go.

The World is divided into armed camps ready to commit genocide just because we can't agree on whose fairy tales to believe.
The belief in supernatural religion will kill us all if we don't outgrow it.

When I first read "End of Faith" I thought Sam went too far. The more I read and listen to these "believers" the more I wonder if maybe he wasn't right after all.
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2 years ago  ::  Apr 03, 2012 - 7:24PM #4
christine3
Posts: 6,663
Paladinsf, I read your 52nd Wedding Anniversary and The Broken Saucer.  You have an immensely golden heart.  Love, Christine
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2 years ago  ::  Apr 06, 2012 - 1:39AM #5
Paladinsf
Posts: 3,660

Apr 3, 2012 -- 7:24PM, christine3 wrote:

Paladinsf, I read your 52nd Wedding Anniversary and The Broken Saucer.  You have an immensely golden heart.  Love, Christine


Thank you!

The World is divided into armed camps ready to commit genocide just because we can't agree on whose fairy tales to believe.
The belief in supernatural religion will kill us all if we don't outgrow it.

When I first read "End of Faith" I thought Sam went too far. The more I read and listen to these "believers" the more I wonder if maybe he wasn't right after all.
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2 years ago  ::  Apr 06, 2012 - 8:11AM #6
christine3
Posts: 6,663

Apr 6, 2012 -- 1:39AM, Paladinsf wrote:

Apr 3, 2012 -- 7:24PM, christine3 wrote:

Paladinsf, I read your 52nd Wedding Anniversary and The Broken Saucer. You have an immensely golden heart. Love, Christine



Thank you!




You are very welcome.  :)

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2 years ago  ::  May 07, 2012 - 2:22AM #7
Swim4fun
Posts: 24

May 30, 2011 -- 11:22PM, fig2aro wrote:


Baskets

I wonder how many different cultures independently invented baskets,
how many times human ingenuity first began to shape space
by intertwining the merest wisps of substance:
sweetgrass stems, reeds, twigs of willow or birch, or thin splints of beechwood.
Each basket surrounds emptiness with form,
and seems to ride through air or float on a Nile,
holding much more than its freight.
My lifetime is a basket, too,
woven of lived and living strands:
sweet and green or dry as reeds, supple as willow or bitter as birch, sometimes smooth as thin-split wood.
Nowadays, it seems, my basket is getting lighter and emptier
the more I can give away, forget, forgo, forgive.
One day, I imagine, when the basket’s light enough,
it will be ready to relinquish to its elements,
wind and water.





The poem "Basket" move me a lot. That line: "Each basket surrounds emptiness with form" digs world and peolpe much deep and is a sort of philosophy that would guide me towards fearness and brightness.


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2 years ago  ::  May 07, 2012 - 1:41PM #8
fig2aro
Posts: 19

Hello Swim3Fun!  What a beautiful post ...  You sound like a special person.

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2 years ago  ::  Oct 04, 2012 - 7:22AM #9
Paladinsf
Posts: 3,660

Mar 10, 2012 -- 11:21AM, Paladinsf wrote:

Our 52nd wedding anniversary is coming up next week. I will try to get her to one of her favorite places - Cumberland Falls. We went there on a lark more than 10 yrs ago and she loved the place. We came back numerous times and finally moved here in part because she liked the area so much; a much smaller town in a much smaller state moving at much slower pace.



We both move slower now, I push her wheelchair everywhere she goes. Even to the Falls. She likes to take a path along the river. It has a rise. Going down is easy. but coming back -? I was barely able to get her up and over the last time. Can I do it again? And if I can't then what? Maybe I shouldn’t try. But the river is high now and redbuds and the dogwoods are blooming. I will push her down that path – and back over that rise. 

I will! 

But her other journey is down a different path.

Death is a journey inward our daughter says. The world we live in becomes smaller as we take that journey. I will not push her down that path. But I will walk with her and hold her hand, until she lets go.


They tell me the end is near and certainly the signs are there. Oddly she seems more alert mentally as she declines physically. She can no longer feed herself, unable to raise either arm now.


She insisted on going to painting class but was unable to move the brush much. You could tell she was disappointed by the abstract streaks of color that she had produced. We we got back she looked for several minutes at one her earlier paintings that I hung in the LR. It was obvious what she was thinking.


I will keep her paintings but maybe not this last one.


We are such - fragile - creatures.


The World is divided into armed camps ready to commit genocide just because we can't agree on whose fairy tales to believe.
The belief in supernatural religion will kill us all if we don't outgrow it.

When I first read "End of Faith" I thought Sam went too far. The more I read and listen to these "believers" the more I wonder if maybe he wasn't right after all.
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2 years ago  ::  Oct 05, 2012 - 10:54AM #10
Adelphe
Posts: 28,705

Oct 4, 2012 -- 7:22AM, Paladinsf wrote:


I will keep her paintings but maybe not this last one.




The regret I had (and pain I felt) when I thought of all the things from my father I so casually tossed before we unexpectedly lost him--just simple little things with his writing on them; birthday cards, notes, etc.  But it was his writing from his hand...


Please keep it...


(((((((Pal)))))))


Cry


Kiss

Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, for to go against conscience would be neither right nor safe.  Here I stand.  I can do no other.  God help me.  Amen.
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