Hold It All

Month: September, 2014

“What Would You Think about…?”

It happens regularly
I’m at a café
Could be one of five I patronize
And my friend and I are going at it
I’ll notice that glow
That wetness in the eyes
That voice shifting from 3rd to 6th gear
Just like that!

Something’s happening
The friend is “on”
On fire
In the groove
Taking off
Letting it rip
Soul naked for me to see and feel Read the rest of this entry »

Time To Get down to Business

“I always knew you were majnoon.”
“I never denied it.”

“But this time you’ve gone too far.”
“It makes perfect sense to me!”

“You want to learn…”
“Judge ye not!”

“You want to learn Korean, is that right?”
Verdad. Korean it is.”

“Why would you want to do something so, so impractical?”
“Sez who?”

“Says anyone! Give me a decent answer.”
“You obviously don’t know me.”

“I think I’m afraid to know you, this is so ridiculous!”
“I don’t think so at all.”

“At least Spanish would be practical, or Italian would be beautiful, or Mandarin would be astute…”
“You. Are. Just. Ignorant.”

“Ignorant of your über -eccentricity, that’s for sure.”
“No, no, no, I don’t mean that in a mean way…”

“Well, then, how do you mean it?”
“I can tell you’ve never read Ko Un.”

“The great Korean writer, who else?”

“So that’s what this is all about, eh?”
“He’s exactly what this is about!”

“You want to spend a few thousand hours of your life–you’re getting plenty of wrinkles, haven’t you noticed–learning an Eastern language so you can read some Ko Un guy, is that right?”

Meshugah, like I said.”
“See, I read the English translation of Ten Thousand Lives.”

“It’s only one volume.”

“This is Ko Un’s chef-d’œuvre, it’s close to thirty volumes long!!!”

“You want to learn Korean so you can read all twenty-something books of his?”

“Uh, listen, I gotta go, I’m due back on Planet Earth…”
“It’s his vow, his vow, from when he was in prison, to write a poem about every person he’s ever met, all the greats and nobodies of Korean history, and beyond!”

“I don’t get it…”
“It’s so simple! It’s so brilliant! It’s so daring! It’s so inspiring! I want to read Ko Un in his own language!”

“You’re out of your mind!”
“If you say so … but some day … brace yourself, Harvey Silverman … I’m gonna write a poem … about you!”

–from on-going novel-in-progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris


Ko Un and ALl His Books

Three Anthologies


As you continue your journey into the world of poetry, I can enthusiastically recommend the following anthologies compiled by Eliot Weinberger:

The New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry
American Poetry since 1950: Innovators and Outsiders 
World Beat: International Poetry Now

Read the rest of this entry »

Russia Ruminations

The Avatamsaka Sutra has this teaching:
The one contains the all

Today Anna Khodorovich and Zhenya Safina enthusiastically shared
Their Russian culture in our Intercultural Studies class

They gave us a fascinating overview of a world about which (I guessed)
People knew very little beyond stereotypes of snow and vodka

Thich Nhat Hanh reminds me:
I and Russia inter-are Read the rest of this entry »

How To Give Compliments

It’s easy
Pay attention

Notice little particulars about a person
Exactly not the kind of thing that would be announced with fanfare on Facebook

It could be her subtle flair for fashion, having a periwinkle scarf around her neck just so
It could be how he walks (like the Buddha, not wobbling) Read the rest of this entry »


In one of the Metta Writing classes this summer
We wrote off a topic suggested by Sharon Salzberg’s book Lovingkindness:
Our very own loveliness


My loveliness is verbal:
“You can do it”
“Why not?”
“You, too?”

My loveliness is relentless
I’m a nonviolent steamroller
I’m foam rubber dynamite
But really I’m the truth about yourself you really wish were true

My loveliness is ancient
Centuries of Russian ancestors
Around me all the time
Whispering the heart of the Torah in two sentences Read the rest of this entry »

Poetry Is Endless

I keep in one file  poems I love
It’s my own anthology
I read & reread poems at least a half hour every day
I have many more to add…
(Like Li Ch’ing-Chao, Du Fu, Wang Wei, Li Bo, Yeats, Blake, Waldman…..)


Who Knows


Anryu Suharu

Oak Tree

Sherko Bekas


Giaconda Belli 

Free Country: July 19, 1979

Ernest Cardenal

  1. Apparition in Hamburg
  2. Before a Photo
  3. Blessed the Man (Psalm 1)
  4. Cell Phone
  5. Epigram #8
  6. Epigram #11
  7. Epigraph #30: Epitaph for the Tomb of Adolfo Baez Bone
  8. Epigraph #43
  9. Epistle to Monsignor Casaldaliga
  10. Nicaraguan Canto
  11. Oracle over Managua
  12. Prayer for Marilyn Monroe
  13. Recalling All of a Sudden
  14. Recordings of the Sacred Pipe
  15. Room 5600
  16. The U.S. Congress Approves Aid to the Contras
  17. The White Goddess
  18. The Wretched of the Earth (Psalm 44)
  19. Trip to Germany (1973)
  20. Trip to New York
  21. Unrighteous Mammon (Luke 16.9)
  22. Visit to Weimar (GDR)
  23. Zero Hour

Ricardo Castorrivas  Read the rest of this entry »

I Do Think That They Will Sing To Me

A friend loaned me a scanner
I’ve thousands of photos in basement from decades ago

Do I dare disturb the universe?


Radiant and Wretched (Pay Attention)

“There’s plenty of time in this day”
Who would claim that
And risk setting off a cacophonous chorus of groans?
“There’s never enough time
To get done all the things I have to do—
never, never, never, never!”
People say it with woe
That. It’s. Always. Gonna. Be. This. Way.
Multitasking is a dead end too
Maybe I can check off those to-do’s
But what was the quality of the act?
Quality = value

There’s plenty of time
In just this moment
I write line after line
I’m not going to judge these lines
All there is to do
Is to be present
With this pen and notebook
It’s not going to benefit suffering humanity
It’s not going to earn me a cent
It’s not highly esteemed as far as Cristina’s oft-repeated New Year’s rezzes Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday 28 September Share the Wealth with Nebu Kolenchery

Love Laws and the Hierarchy of Despair: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

“He didn’t know that in some places, like the country that Rahel came from, various kinds of despair competed for primacy. And that personal despair could never be desperate enough. That something happened when personal turmoil dropped by at the wayside shrine of the vast, violent, circling, driving, ridiculous, insane, unfeasible, public turmoil of a nation. That Big God howled like a hot wind, and demanded obeisance. Then Small God (cozy and contained, private and limited) came away cauterized, laughing numbly at his own temerity. Inured by the confirmation of his own inconsequence, he became resilient and truly indifferent…Because Worse Things had happened…So Small God laughed a hollow laugh, and skipped away cheerful. Like a rich boy in shorts. He whistled, kicked stones. The source of his brittle elation was the relative smallness of his misfortune. He climbed into people’s eyes and became an exasperating expression.”
~The God of Small Things, Page 19

Come join Nebu as he reflects on Roy’s novel, especially her real, raw, brutal, honest portrayal of life as it is. He would love to hear how the themes in this book set in rural Kerala relate to all life in the States. Nebu is a senior at Saint Louis University studying Public Health. His family hails from the state of Kerala, in India. The God of Small Things is one of his favorite books.

Join us
Sunday 28 September
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00
Nebu begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Cristina and Patrick Cousins
3856 Utah Place
Saint Louis 63116

Nebu in Kerala

Nebu with his uncle in Kerala, December, 2014