Chi Po & the Sorcerer

This book, for “children and philosophers” has been a staple in our house for years. It’s the tale of a young painter in China and his relationship to the local sorcerer.  In one chapter, the sorcerer, teaching the painter to focus, asks him to imagine everything he wants, and the boy thinks of toys and bicycles and a dozen other material things. Then the sorcerer says he needs to banish all those thoughts if he wants to paint.

During the days leading up to Christmas, the streets and stores and online sources are full of anything we might imagine we or someone else could want, and there are plenty of terrible holiday poems to go with it. So here is a little thought from William Stafford to balance things out:


straw, feathers, dust–
little things

but if they all go one way
that’s the way the wind goes

William Stafford (courtesy of Sean the Sharpener)

And of course, you can buy Chi Po & the Sorcerer or William Stafford’s poems online!

Hard to beat

I was reading through a volume of contemporary poetry this morning and came across an old favorite. It’s been awhile since I published a Dream Song, so here goes:

Dream Song #1

Huffy Henry hid the day,
unappeasable Henry sulked.
I see his point,—a trying to put things over.
It was the thought that they thought
they could do it made Henry wicked & away.
But he should have come out and talked.

All the world like a woolen lover
once did seem on Henry’s side.
Then came a departure.
Thereafter nothing fell out as it might or ought.
I don’t see how Henry, pried
open for all the world to see, survived.

What he has now to say is a long
wonder the world can bear & be.
Once in a sycamore I was glad
all at the top, and I sang.
Hard on the land wears the strong sea
and empty grows every bed.

John Berryman,

Love poem for Monday

This one, by Li Young-Lee is one of my favorites:

from Living with Her

She opens her eyes
and I see.
She counts the birds and I hear
the names of the months and days.
A girl, one of her names
is Change. And my childhood
lasted all of an evening.
Called light, she breathes, my living share
of every moment emerging.
Called life, she is a pomegranate
pecked clean by birds to entirely
become a part of their flying.
Do you love me? she asks.
I love you,
she answers, and the world keeps beginning.

Li-Young Lee

from Behind My Eyes, Norton, 2008