A CENTURY OF EPIGRAMS

You ask me how Contempt who claims to sleep
With every woman that has ever been
Can still maintain that women are skin deep ?
They never let him any deeper in

-James Vincent Cunningham ( 1911-1985)
Epigram 62

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A FEW WORDS ON THE SOUL

We have a soul at times.
No one’s got it non-stop,
for keeps.
Day after day,
year after year
may pass without it.
Sometimes
it will settle for awhile
only in childhood’s fears and raptures.
Sometimes only in astonishment
that we are old.

It rarely lends a hand
in uphill tasks,
like moving furniture,
or lifting luggage,
or going miles in shoes that pinch.
It usually steps out
whenever meat needs chopping
or forms have to be filled.

For every thousand conversations
it participates in one,
if even that,
since it prefers silence.
Just when our body goes from ache to pain,
it slips off-duty.

It’s picky:
it doesn’t like seeing us in crowds,
our hustling for a dubious advantage
and creaky machinations make it sick.
Joy and sorrow
aren’t two different feelings for it.
It attends us
only when the two are joined.
We can count on it
when we are sure of nothing
and curious about everything.

Among the material objects
it favours clocks with pendulums
and mirrors, which keep on working
even when no one is looking.
It won’t say where it comes from
or when it’s taking off again,
though it’s clearly expecting such questions.
We need it
but apparently
it needs us
for some reason too.

– Wislawa Szymborska
translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

POSSESSION

Beauty and ugliness have one origin
Name beauty and ugliness is
Recognizing virtue recognizes evil .

Is and is not produce one another
The difficult is born in the easy
Long is defined by the short ,the high by the low.
Instrument and voice achieve one harmony
Before and after have places

That is why a sage can act with out effort
and teach with out words
Nurture things with out possessing them
and accomplish things with out expecting merit

Only one who makes no attempt to possess it
can not lose it.

LAOTZU -4TH CENTURY B.C.

THE POETRY OF ZEN TRANSLATED AND EDITED BY
SAM HAMILL AND J.P SEATON.

An Egypt That Does Not Exist

I want to say words that flame
as I say them but I keep quiet
and don’t try to make both
worlds fit in one mouthful

I keep secret to my self
an Egypt that does not exist
Is that good or bad ?
I don’t know

For years I gave away sexual love
with my eyes.
Now, I don’t .

I am not in any one place
I do not have a name for what I give away

Whatever Shamans give,
that you can have from me……

RUMI
Translated by Coleman Barks