Unspoken Word
February 16, 2020
Floodgate Poetry

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Sometimes, when I least expect it, something opens up inside me. A Red Sea parts and I am flooded once again. That's what happened to me today. I wouldn't call it a state of inspiration, but more a feeling wanting to be freed. During the course of an hour, the following emerged, requiring just a bit of cleaning up afterwards, not unlike a drunk about to enter paradise.


ONE

I am not proud to say this,
but I want someone
to look into the mirror of who I am
and finally see themselves,
but more than that,
as soon as they see their reflection,
I want them to dance in the diminishing space between us,
their movement a language I do not speak,
an embrace unheld, the love we make,
lighthouse keeper within me
just about to turn in for the night.

TWO

The moon I am howling at without a sound
is sometimes full and sometimes not,
many waves made larger by its pull
somewhere in a world I will never go.
Poets, saints, and lovers
far more wide awake than I,
have also stood beneath this orb,
their stunned silence having the same origins as mine.
It leaks out of course, this mutant palpatation of the heart,
in a thousand different ways:
tea made for a friend,
the touch of a cheek,
a glance held just a little bit longer than it needs to be.

THREE

I am reading the great hieroglyphic of my soul
and am actually deciphering it,
knowing there is nothing left to do but praise.

FOUR

The space between thoughts is where my life begins,
God's temple, cathedral, and mosque,
places with no need to be swept
they already being clean,
no incense needs to be lit there,
its scent already sweet,
no prayers need to be said,
the brief pause between now and whatever comes next
the perfect invocation.

FIVE

"What is freedom? the young monk asked his Master.
"What does it mean to be free and how do I get there?"
The Master, smiling, looked up from his cup of tea.
"Do you see this cup of tea, my friend?
Do you see how it has taken on the shape
of that which it has been poured into
and how it warms my hands here on this chilly morning?"

SIX

I read my poems to cows,
I love the way they moo
and turn their heads just slightly towards me
though I do not know what moves them.
Is it the words I speak
the sound of my voice,
or do they think I'm hiding a carrot behind my back?

SEVEN

It is not the poem, song, or work of art,
it is that which moves us to create,
to write, to sing, to paint,
the bold attempt at expression
by that small, shelled creature,
pecking from within,
wings folded into its side.

EIGHT

Here is the secret:
There is no secret,
but if that's the secret,
then there IS a secret,
and if there is a secret,
then the second line of this poem
is a complete and utter lie
even though I was doing my best
to speak the truth.

Mitch Ditkoff
My book of poetry
Want to facilitate Wisdom Circles?

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February 14, 2020
Disguised as Myself

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January 28, 2020
Who Can I Share My Joy With?

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MitchDitkoff.com
Full Moon at Sunrise
Photograph: unsplash-logoNathan Dumlao

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January 22, 2020
Every Bubble of Water is a Jewel

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Not excerpted from this book
Not referred to on this website

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January 18, 2020
Find Yourself, Lose Your Self

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January 08, 2020
Does Anyone Really Understand?

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December 20, 2019
Pavarotti and I

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Luciano Pavarotti just walked into my kitchen,
he is crying,
not for all those arias that made their way though him
when he was a much younger man,
but for the ones not yet written,
the joy of a thousand composers unborn.
He asks me if I have a clove of garlic,
which I am glad to say, I did,
and toss it to him,
amazed at how large a man he is.
He finds the knife, himself,
humming as he makes his way across the room,
and begins chopping, slowly at first
and then with great abandon,
almost as if the 10 million people he has performed for
were all in the room with us, which they were,
stunned, speechless, hearts bursting,
like unpicked pomegranates beneath a Tuscan sun.
Pavarotti, I am happy to say, keeps on chopping,
even when I think, for the third time,
the pieces are small enough for the sauce
he won't begin to make
until all my neighbors are asleep,
everyone of them.
We ate well that night, Luciano and I.
We laughed a lot and drank a lot of wine.
He told me a few stories about the time
he was way too drunk to sing
in a country he couldn't quite remember.
Way too drunk.
There's a very good chance I may never be hungry again.

Photo by Vlah Dumitru on Unsplash

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December 19, 2019
Inspiring Quotes About Music

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"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything." - Plato

"If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music." - Albert Einstein

"Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness." - Maya Angelou

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley

"Where words fail, music speaks." - Hans Christian Andersen

"Music is the shorthand of emotion." - Leo Tolstoy

"Without music, life would be a blank to me." - Jane Austen

"I don't sing because I'm happy. I'm happy because I sing." - William James

"Some days there won't be a song in your heart. Sing anyway." - Emory Austin

"When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest of times, and to the latest." - Henry David Thoreau

"The only love affair I have ever had was with music." - Maurice Ravel

"Music is the universal language of mankind." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." - Bob Marley

"Music can name the unnamable and communicate the unknowable." - Leonard Bernstein

"Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without." - Confucius

"Music is a higher revelation than all Wisdom and Philosophy." - Ludwig von Beethoven

"Virtually every writer I know would rather be a musician." - Kurt Vonnegut

"Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife." - Kahlil Gibran

"Music in the soul can be heard by the universe." - Lao Tzu

"Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens." - Maria Augusta von Trapp

"Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music." - George Eliot

"Music can change the world because it can change people." - Bono

"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the music the words make." - Truman Capote

"If I cannot fly, let me sing." - Stephen Sondheim

Photo: OC Gonzalez, Unsplash

One cool way to get music out into the world

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December 16, 2019
The Fling

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MitchDitkoff.com

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December 11, 2019
ONE OF THE ILLUSIONS OF LIFE

One of the illusions of life
is that something needs to be done:
a field to mow,
a room to clean,
a destination to reach.
Actually, it's quite the opposite.
something needs to be undone,
untangled, unraveled, unmade,
like the spider web I weave each morning
pearled with dew,
to catch what I already have.

Not excerpted from Full Moon at Sunrise

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December 07, 2019
Buddha in Winter

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TimelessToday
My storytelling blog
The True Fruit of the Spiritual Path

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December 01, 2019
Rilke's Late Night Violin Music

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Rainer Maria Rilke, the genius German poet
who translated God in ways
no scripture has ever come close to,
once wondered why every time he walked
beneath a high window
(out of which violin music could be heard)
he thought it promised him a future lover.

When I die, I want to meet this man,
standing, as I imagine he will be, just beyond
the gathering of my long gone relatives waiting to greet me.
I don't think he will be saying much of anything,
just looking in my general direction, his dark eyes singing,
his body completely at ease, having just released
a thousand poems he never needed to write,
the lips of his high-windowed lovers still unkissed,
summoned as they were by violins to embrace him
far beyond the body's few pleasures.

Rilke will not be looking up,
remembering as he was, from a few years ago,
a beautiful young couple crossing the street before him,
laughing, talking, holding hands,
but not his glance, always reserved, it seemed, for someone else,
but if you dared to ask "for whom?"
he would only fumble for his pen,
reach inside the quiet pocket of his favorite coat,
and find the old notebook he always kept there
for precisely moments
like this one.

Painting: Leslie Dietrich

More of my poetry here

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November 26, 2019
Cruisin' With Rumi

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On a bone cold February afternoon, 23 miles from home, in a Japanese car leased three months ago, I listen to Rumi, 800 years gone from praising everything that breathed.

Lights are flashing everywhere, especially behind me, not white like those that lit up Rumi's eyes. No. More like red, the kind that signal stop and oops and maybe I should slow down and pull over.

Rumi, on the 5-CD changer, is completely unconcerned, his monologue of love making perfect sense, as I, poised, tribal, and whole, notice a large man of the law approaching and reach for my license -- not the poetic kind, but the other kind, the one with the photo no one shows their mother, even as the uniformed man standing tall by my door beckons me to roll down my window and announces, like a small town accountant wishing he was home for lunch with his wife, my speed, which, he informs me, was 20 over the limit, Rumi still holding forth beneath an ancient Persian moon.

He has kind eyes, my sudden companion for the moment in his well-pressed uniform, kind eyes and a smile that speaks of long winters keeping roads safe for travelers like me who, somehow, must have missed the sign about a mile back, veiled, as it was, by that old willow tree and the last few rays of light finding their way past the steepest hill in town, the one where all the kids go sledding, kids, as far as I can tell, who have never heard of Rumi, the officer of the law, or me.

TimelessToday
MitchDitkoff.com
Rumi and Kabir bowling (in the HuffPost)

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November 03, 2019
A GREAT SADNESS IS UPON ME

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ONE
A great sadness is upon me,
like a mist in a forest no one can see.
It does not lift, this mist,
even when butterflies find their way through it
and wolves.
Not yet a wise man, still I already know
what people will say
when I confess to them this feeling of mine.
"Get a hobby",
"Count your blessings",
"Look at the bright side of life."
Spare me, please,
I am not looking for answers, my friends,
nor am I looking for questions.
I am just sitting here,
an unopened love letter on a Thursday afternoon,
a great sadness upon me.

TWO
I have made the only decision worth making today --
stop trying so hard,
the glorious gifts of God cannot be gotten that way.
They can only be received,
like rain to the thirsty,
like a long embrace unrequested,
like the way a baby looks at a stranger
and the stranger no longer feels strange.
Discipline is not the path to the heart
and never will be,
being a disciple is.
Of what, you ask,
of that which exists everywhere, all the time, forever,
needing nothing but itself to shine,
radiant, self-effulgent, already free, alive.
It has no name, this mirror of light,
even if you give it one, like a lover,
in a fit of adoration,
needing an object of devotion.

THREE
Here's what I know:
Nothing.
Here's what I've accomplished so far:
Less than that.
There is a sky overhead
and ground beneath my feet.
Everything else
is simply way too much to think about.

FOUR
One of the illusions of life
is that something needs to be done:
a field to mow,
a room to clean,
a destination to reach.
Actually, it's quite the opposite.
something needs to be undone,
untangled, unraveled, unmade,
like the spider web I weave each morning
pearled with dew,
to catch what I already have.

FIVE
On my death bed,
where I will not make love,
it is very likely,
after my long, slow ascent
into whatever comes next,
that I will find myself
apologizing to all the people
I was never quite able to love enough,
wishing I had been a much bigger field
for them to dance in,
dance and sing and laugh or do nothing at all
if that's what they wanted.
Like you, for example.

SIX
I have come to the end of the line.
This one!
The one above,
the one with only two words:
This
as in what is now before me,
free of assumption, story, and belief,
and one --
that which is irreducible,
what was there in the very beginning,
though I realize, of course,
it is certainly possible that something existed long before it,
something pristine, holy, and divine,
but please don't call it zero,
really, don't, I beg you,
your cleverness only reminds me of mine.
Before that, too.

SEVEN
I am a guest in my own house,
I am not the owner
even if you think I am.
I am just passing through,
like a breeze through a half-opened window
like a thought in your mind,
like a piece of thread through the eye of a needle,
tailor nowhere in sight.

EIGHT
Beethoven, the first time he realized he was deaf,
still listened,
what he heard was far beyond sound,
more like the place where sound originates.
You can call it music if you like,
but the real symphony is playing
inside the impulse to listen
even when there is nothing to hear
and no one on stage
to applaud for.

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October 26, 2019
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE HEART

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There Is a Lemon Tree

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There is a lemon tree in my garden
and a peach tree needing
just a bit of fertilizer to return itself
back to its pristine state of ultimate juiciness,
which, they tell me, will take a year.
In between them both is a white clothesline.
No clothes, just clothespins:
blue, orange, yellow, and green.
Off in the distance, the sound of church bells
interrupts nothing, red bougainvilleas
blooming in all four corners of the garden.
Yes, it has come to this: watching flowers grow.
Now I know why those 80-year old Chinese poets,
wrinkles like hieroglyphics of an unspoken poem,
spent so much time tending their plum trees.

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October 03, 2019
Radiant Being of Light

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TimelessToday

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September 07, 2019
Laugh Lines

The only lines
I want to wait on
are the ones
around your eyes.

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August 16, 2019
No Portal, No Gate

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There is a place between day and night, between now and later, between body and soul. There is no entry to this place, no portal, no gate. You cannot get there by going, only by already being there. It is, this place, a secret chamber of the heart, but only for those who can keep a secret. You have no proof it exists and never will. The more you look for it, the less you will see. The more you listen for it, the less you will hear. This mystery cannot be attained, only received. A bestowal it is, a gift, like the first few drops of dew in this morning's spider web.

Photo: unsplash-logomichael podger
MitchDitkoff.com

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August 14, 2019
The Swing

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TimelessToday

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February 2020, January 2020, December 2019, November 2019, October 2019, September 2019, August 2019, July 2019, June 2019, May 2019, April 2019, March 2019, February 2019, January 2019, December 2018, November 2018, October 2018, September 2018, August 2018, July 2018, June 2018, May 2018, April 2018, March 2018, February 2018, January 2018, December 2017, November 2017, October 2017, September 2017, August 2017, July 2017, June 2017, May 2017, April 2017, March 2017, February 2017, January 2017, December 2016, October 2016, September 2016, August 2016, April 2016,
“I have nothing to say, I am saying it, and that is poetry.”
— John Cage

Welcome to my new blog — brief ruminations on what it is that moves me (and maybe YOU, too). If any of my poems inspire you, please forward them to friends. Good muse travels fast. Or could, with your help.

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