Last Updated: October 21st, 2018

 

(………aug26) The River of Ordinary Moments     

Because living is a river of ordinary moments,
each moment connected to the next,
there is nowhere we can go to escape
from our fate which is to merge
every swell of the stream
back into the ordinary,

and all I can hope for is that gentle, light
sense of well-being as my little canoe bobs
in the current of everyday,
sailing downstream, ever downstream.

I am stunned by the beauty of the ordinary,
so that sometimes the ordinary seems mis-named, and yet
it is ordinary because it is quiet with no fanfare:

a man picking his way through the oranges
at the farmer’s market,
a woman taking a leisurely bath,
a child playing in the grass in the backyard,
all the people in a street just walking.

No one is enthroned above every one else,
this river is absolutely democratic,
every thrill, every intoxication flows on downstream
as does, sooner or later, every sorrow, every loss,
though those are a little harder,
the hole seems to take longer for the waters to fill.

No one is famous to the ordinary,
you can’t impress it.
The ordinary is the real wife of every man,
the real husband of every woman.
It is where you return from all your expeditions,
and it is all anyone could ever truly want.

And so today, when I received fulfillment
of a certain small desire I’d had as a poet,
and I felt hands starting to tug at me inside,
trying to take me somewhere,
trying to hoist me on their shoulders
and parade me through the streets,

it was like the dividing was beginning
of everything from everything else.
I felt the walls of ‘I’ begin to solidify
and separate me from everything,
the way a butterfly feels
sitting on a branch in the sun,
waiting for his wings to dry and chitin to harden
after crawling from his chrysalis,
ready after that to preen and flit and die,

and I reply to those voices, ‘No, thank you’,
and I say to those tugging hands, ‘No, thank you’,
I do not want to be
taken from the flow of the ordinary
to any pinnacle or promontory from which
I will only have to climb, or fall, down again,

I do not want to be special in that way,
I want the tick of thoughts in my mind to run out
and the storehouse of thoughts to be emptied
and not replaced by any others,

I want to disappear, disappear
and become that current
that all distinct drops are lost in, and then
the ocean into which all rivers go to die

–Max Reif

 

 

 

O Loud and Silent Moon

The moon exploded
over our hill tonight

and quickly floated
up like a small balloon.

Does anyone know
how Silence
can shout so loud,

then a moment later,
press an elegant
finger to its lips

and show you all
you’ll ever want to know?

–Max Reif

 

 

 

(….july 20) The Tree of Experience, Heavy with Fruit
“The only reason for recalling the past
is to mature one’s point of view.”
– Francis Brabazon

1.
Experience.
I am heavy
with experiences,
fruits on a tree
whose trunk is thick now.

Memories.
Each fruit
a memory
to bite into,
some sweet,
some bitter.
But what am I doing,
biting into
this tree of life,
instead of living?
2.
It is because the fruits
feel heavy now,
and when the fruits are heavy,
a time has come for harvest.
I do not know
what sort of harvest.
The fruit feels heavy
and the air feels close,
and the life
I have gathered
around me now
is hard to live.
But of course, this life
is the stuff of future fruit,
sweet or bitter
as I make it.
3.
The mule,
The mule of my own nature,
whom I need
to hoe these rows of living
is on a sit-down strike
and must be dragged
to work each day.
And so,
before the work
begins anew,
I take time out
to seek the pattern
that made the sweet fruit sweet,
and remember how
the mule joined in.
4.
But I find no pattern, really.
Sometimes the joy
just seemed to flow
with scarce a cause,
the mule as eager as the rest
to celebrate the days.
Other times, the mule
would not cooperate,
or else there was no spot
to even stand upon, on Earth,
until the heat of desperation
brought, at long last,
Answers from the depths.
The sea of time and space
would part, and I
would walk through,
a new man.
5.
That’s all I can say.
I have no words of wisdom
beyond, “yes, it can happen.”
That does not mean
it will. The past
is safe, now,
I’ve my stories.
Some are good ones,
even have
a universal application.
But in the Present, the armies
of my weaknesses and strengths
are arrayed
as they have always been,
and I am not
the master of the weaknesses,
or they’d be strengths, as well.
Sometimes endurance
is the greatest strength.

–Max Reif

 

 

 

Meditation and the Power of the Mind

Three or four repetitions
of a mental picture
of the location

As I walk toward a building
from a parking lot,
and I’ll remember, later,
where I’ve parked my car.

It’s taking considerably
longer to remember
where I’ve parked
my soul.

–Max Reif

 

 

 

(………………14sept3) The Flow of Time

 

The days leapfrog
over one another
to get to the end of the week.

This is better
than when the days
were sunk in quicksand
and could scarcely move.

But how do you get
the days to
just stand still
and relax?

 

  –Max Reif

 

 

 

 

Poem of Listening

1.
I came to the place of listening,
Where I heard a terrible thunder
And rumblings of great chaos.
Frightened, I wanted to leave
But a soft voice said, ‘Please don’t.’
For a long time after that
My ear could discern only sobs
Till finally, Silence came.

2.
A mouth appeared in the darkness,
Crying, “I am the voice of the Heart! ”
From the mouth came forth
A drop of sparkling light
That was also a golden note.
The drop became a world
Which began to unfold a Story.

3.

As I watched and listened, it led me
Down through history’s chasm,
Back to the dawn of Creation.
I saw the first man, the first woman
Clothed in their naked love.
When they turned to show their faces,
I saw that each had my own face!
Reaching out their sinuous arms
They pulled me into themselves.
Then for eons, unreflecting,
I lived their pristine life.

4.

Suddenly, even First Forms
And Faces were stripped away.
I flowed as the rhythmic bolero
Of life from the very beginning,
The Music of the Soul,
A procession of colorful garments
Woven, re-woven from fibers
Of ones that had just been discarded,
Millions of melodies’ garments
Of tumult and peace alternating,
All possible permutations.

At last, I re-dressed in my own threads.
The Night of Tales was over.
I returned to myself as I had been —
But clean as a new Creation.

image: Jussie D.Brito (Creative Commons BY-SA)