1. O Karma, Dharma, pudding & pie, gimme a break before I die: grant me wisdom, will, & wit, purity, probity, pluck, & grit. Trustworthy, helpful, friendly, kind, gimme great abs and a steel-trap mind. And forgive, Ye Gods, some humble advice - these little blessings would suffice to beget an earthly paradise: make the bad people good and the good people nice, and before our world goes over the brink, teach the believers how to think. 2. O Venus, Cupid, Aphrodite, teach us Thy horsepower lingam, Thy firecracker yoni. Show us Thy hundreds of sacred & tingling positions, each orifice panting for every groping tumescence. O lead us into the back rooms of silky temptation and deliver us over to midnights of trembling desire. But before all the nectar & honey leak out of this planet, give us our passion in marble, commitment in granite. 3. O Shiva, relentless Spirit of Outrage: in this vale of tearful True Believers, teach us to repeat again and again: No, your Reverences, we will not serve your Gross National Voodoo, your Church Militant – we will not flatter the double faces of those who pray in the Temple of Incendiary Salvation. Gentle Preserver, preserve the pure irreverence of our stubborn minds. Target the priests, Implacable Destroyer – and hire a lawyer. 4. O Mammon, Thou who art daily dissed by everyone, yet boast more true disciples than all other gods together, Thou whose eerie sheen gleameth from Corporate Headquarters and Vatican Treasury alike, Thou whose glittering eye impales us in the X-ray vision of plastic surgeons, the golden leer of televangelists, the star-spangled gloat of politicos – O Mammon, come down to us in the form of Treasuries, Annuities, & High-Grade Bonds, yield unto us those Benedict Arnold Funds, those Quicksand Convertible Securities, even the wet Judas Kiss of Futures Contracts – for unto the least of these Thy supplicants art Thou welcome in all Thy many forms. But when Thou comest to say we’re finally in the gentry – use the service entry. 5. O flaky Goddess of Fortune, we beseech Thee: in the random thrust of Thy fluky favor, vector the luminous lasers of Thy shifty eyes down upon these, Thy needy & oh-so-deserving petitioners. Bend down to us the sexy curve of Thine indifferent ear, and hear our passionate invocation: let Thy lovely, lying lips murmur to us the news of all our true-false guesses A-OK, our firm & final offers come up rainbows, our hangnails & hang-ups & hangovers suddenly zapped, and then, O Goddess, give us your slippery word that the faithless Lady Luck will hang around in our faithful love, friendships less fickle than youth, and a steady view of our world in its barefoot truth.
Copyright © 1998 by Philip Appleman. Used by permission of the author. All rights reserved.
If you have seen the snow somewhere slowly fall on a bicycle, then you understand all beauty will be lost and that even loss can be beautiful. And if you have looked at a winter garden and seen not a winter garden but a meditation on shape, then you understand why this season is not known for its words, the cold too much about the slowing of matter, not enough about the making of it. So you are blessed to forget this way: jump rope in the ice melt, a mitten that has lost its hand, a sun that shines as if it doesn't mean it. And if in another season you see a beautiful woman use her bare hands to smooth wrinkles from her expensive dress for the sake of dignity, but in so doing reveal the outlines of her thighs, then you will remember surprise assumes a space that has first been forgotten, especially here, where we rarely speak of it, where we walk out onto the roofs of frozen lakes simply because we're stunned we really can.
From Polar, Alice James Books, 2005. Used with permission.
The river is famous to the fish. The loud voice is famous to silence, which knew it would inherit the earth before anybody said so. The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds watching him from the birdhouse. The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek. The idea you carry close to your bosom is famous to your bosom. The boot is famous to the earth, more famous than the dress shoe, which is famous only to floors. The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it and not at all famous to the one who is pictured. I want to be famous to shuffling men who smile while crossing streets, sticky children in grocery lines, famous as the one who smiled back. I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous, or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular, but because it never forgot what it could do.
From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye. Copyright © 1995. Reprinted with permission of Far Corner Books, Portland, OR.