Theopoetics

Daodejing 27

Daodejing 27

Skillful travelers leave no trace,
neither of wheel nor footstep.

Skillful speakers make no remarks,
spreading neither fault nor blame.

Skillful mathematicians need no calculators.
Skillful carpenters need neither bolt nor bar,

yet what they shut no one opens.

Skillful binders use no strings or knots,
yet untying their work is impossible.

Those free of their themselves ignore nothing.
Those…

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My Gramma, Spunky



I won’t know you at last, 
spunky girl.  I only I sat 
in that chair so long 

after your fact.

My spunky gramma. 
Cancer killed her at last. 
But here she is, 
with fifty years to go,
1890 or so. 
Thinking in German. 

Because that’s how 
the family thought,
 until 1914 or so, when 
German became …

 inconvenient.

I see her shoes. Toes 
beaten bare of shoe black. 
From kicking against 

so many patriarchal 
pricks? From having been 
passed through so many siblings?


I only know that house. 
Our house. Where I loved
to sit, porch swing in summer.
I  only know that house, 
our house, yours and mine,  
seventy years and more 

on.

To your right
where I slept often,
frost gathered on the quilts
on winter mornings
when the coal fire
had burned down.

To your right, same room—
since we farmers don’t 
ever waste space—
where you slept

all your life, 
my mother
born there. 

To your right
all the nights of 
whatever pleasure
you ever had. 

To your left
the room I feared. The room
where your casket sat
after your long suffering.

The room where the light 
took your weary face, so old,
so, so dead, to 

wherever we
all of us—
after your fact,
after mine, after 
all our bustle—

go.

My Gramma, Spunky

I won’t know you at last, 

spunky girl.  I only I sat 

in that chair so long 

after your fact.

My spunky gramma. 

Cancer killed her at last. 

But here she is, 

with fifty years to go,

1890 or so. 

Thinking in German. 

Because that’s how 

the family thought,

 until 1914 or so, when 

German became …

 inconvenient.

I see her shoes. Toes 

beaten bare of shoe black. 

From kicking against 

so many patriarchal 

pricks? From having been 

passed through so many siblings?

I only know that house. 

Our house. Where I loved

to sit, porch swing in summer.

I  only know that house, 

our house, yours and mine,  

seventy years and more 

on.

To your right

where I slept often,

frost gathered on the quilts

on winter mornings

when the coal fire

had burned down.

To your right, same room—

since we farmers don’t 

ever waste space—

where you slept

all your life, 

my mother

born there. 

To your right

all the nights of 

whatever pleasure

you ever had. 

To your left

the room I feared. The room

where your casket sat

after your long suffering.

The room where the light 

took your weary face, so old,

so, so dead, to 

wherever we

all of us—

after your fact,

after mine, after 

all our bustle—

go.

Daodejing 1

A way that
can be walked
is the opposite
of the way
of the creative
universe.

A name that
can be named
is not
the lasting name.

Without name, the way
is origin of all that is;
named, a way creates
all we see.

Reaching, we find edges.

Without reaching,
we find essence.

All has the same source;
only the names
and the naming differ.

Mystery has two ways—
naming and not naming.

Mystery itself is
the gate to knowing.

Dancing the Real Authentic

Here’s what I hear:
You want to be 
Authentic and all.

(Here’s to too much 
Time spent at the 
Baggage claim in

Too many airports.)
Here is what I learned:
You can take the dark

With you—
It’s portable.
But light,

That slips away,
Planted as it is
In an…

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In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways. ~Edith Wharton

 

Daodejing 23

By nature we speak few words—
after all, high winds don’t last
all morning; a downpour
does not fall all day.

Why? Because even the earth,
even the sky, can’t stay violent long.

When we study the way
of the creative universe,
those pursuing it agree with us,
and those practicing it agree with us,
and even those failing to live up to
their aspirations agree with us.

When we study the way,
those attempting to practice it
agree with us, and those attempting
to pursue it agree with us, and
even those who don’t even try

agree with us.

But when we stop
our own attempts,
everyone loses faith.