One More Time

One More Time September 2, 2013


My new book of poems, Reduced to Joy, has just been published. The book contains seventy-three poems, retrieved and shaped over the last thirteen years, about the nature of working with what we’re given till it wears us through to joy. For the next few months, I’d like to share poems from the new book with you.

We are such willful creatures. Carried by our stubbornness, we can begin to think that we are the originators of all our experience. Often, the purpose of experience is to humble us into remembering that we are, at best, interdependent creatures, learning to inhabit the myriad forces of life that carry us. From this place of awe, a different kind of resilience shows itself, as an undying passion for life. This poem praises such humble passion.


When willful, we think

that truth moves from

our head to our heart

to our hands.

But bent by life,

it becomes clear that

love moves the other way:

from our hands to our

heart to our head.

Ask the burn survivor

with no hands who dreams

of chopping peppers and

onions on a spring day.

Or the eighty-year-old jazz

man who loses his hands

in a fog. He can feel them

but no longer entice them

to their magic.

Or the thousand-year-old

Buddha with no arms

whose empty eyes will

not stop bowing to the

unseeable center.

Truth flows from us,

or so we think, only

to be thrown back

as a surf of love.

Ask the aging painter

with a brush taped to his

crippled hand—wanting,

needing to praise it all

one more time.

A Question to Walk With: Describe someone in your life that you admire who has this kind of deep passion that comes from their connection to life. If they are alive, go to them, and ask them about both their connection to life and their passion.

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