Friendship, by David Whyte

“The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”

- David Whyte
from Readers' Circle Essay, "Friendship"

I came across this poem the other day while listening to Poetry From the On Being Gathering (Opening Night). Check it out if you’ve got the time. The 30 minutes it takes is more than worth the time spent.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Poetry  :  On Being : David Whyte

Poems my wife sent me

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The other night, I asked my wife if she thought I was beginning to pigeonhole myself - if I was always writing about the hardships of relationships and beginning to lose sight of the good and beautiful.

She shrugged. "Maybe," she said, "But if that's where you're at, maybe it's okay."

"Maybe," I said, still uncertain.  

This morning, she sent me these three poems. And they boosted my spirits.

All we can control

in this silly

and wildly perfect


is the love

that we

choose to give out

without any regard

to ever

getting it back

in return.

-Tyler Knott Gregson- 

Perfect and yes and fully agree. I don't even want to say anything about it, for fear of ruining it.


Goodbye is a shaping word,

a lathe to the wood around us,

skilled hands to the marble

we once were.

I am carved, and I

am smoothed

by the losses, by the sound

of walking away.

I heard them say it, all of them,

and all the while,

I thought of home,

I thought of home,

I thought of


-Tyler Knott Gregson-

I don't know what all the goodbyes have carved in me, and I'm pretty sure some have left me splintered, not smooth, but they have brought me home. To my front porch after a long day's work, eager to hug the giggles inside. They've brought me up the stairs, to cuddle and tickle and read with my kids at night, and they've brought me to my wife. My sweet and patient wife who shapes and sands and loves my rough and splintered edges. 

Because of home, we can choose to love without any regard to ever getting back in return. Because of home.


Run. For your life, for your joy, for your calm and peace of mind. Run. because your legs are strong and our lungs are aching for the taste of air. Run. Because what's the point of life spent walking in the middle?

-Tyler Knott Gregson-

More then ever, I sense the race set before me, and it is time to run - for my life, for my joy, and for the calm and peace of mind that comes with running toward a good and perfect prize. 


Away from the guilt and shame and burdens I can no longer carry or do anything about.


For purpose and excitement and love, with home in my heart, and life in my mind.




Because my legs are strong and the road is long and there is much to do and little I can control.

It's time I get started.


Thank you, my good wife, for the poems you sent.

Thank you.


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Wendell Berry : On Poetry

How to be a Poet (to remind myself)

By, Wendell Berry

Make a place to sit down.

Sit down. Be quiet.

You must depend upon

affection, reading, knowledge, 

skill - more of each

than you have - inspiration,

work, growing older, patience,

for patience joins time

to eternity. Any readers 

who like your work,

doubt their judgement.


Breathe with unconditional breath

the unconditioned air.

Shun electric wire.

Communicate slowly. Live

a three-dimensioned life;

stay away from screens.

Stay away from anything

that obscures the place it is in.

There are no unsacred places;

there are only sacred places

and desecrated places. 


Accept what comes from silence.

Make the best you can of it.

Of the little words that come

out of the silence, like prayers

prayed back to the one who prays,

make a poem that does not disturb

the silence from which it came. 


From, Given Poems


WENDELL BERRY, writer, poet, teacher, farmer, and outspoken citizen of an endangered world, gives us a compelling vision of the good and true life. Passionate, eloquent, and painfully articulate, in more than fifty works – novels, short stories, poems and essays -- he celebrates a life lived in close communion with neighbors and the earth while addressing many of our most urgent cultural problems. A fierce and caring critic of American culture and a long-time trusted guide for those seeking a better, healthier, saner world, he has farmed a hillside in his native Henry County, Kentucky, together with his wife, for more than forty years. 
Over the years, Berry has received the highest honors including the National Medal of Arts and Humanities, a National Institute of Arts and Letters award for writing, and theAmerican Academy of Arts and Letters Jean Stein Award. Much has been said and written about his work (via).


A documentary on him, his work, and his farm life is coming out this fall. It's entitled "Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry." You can watch the trailer here

"As I see," Wendell Berry writes, "the farmer standing in his field, is not isolated as simply a component of a production machine. He stands where lots of lines cross – cultural lines. The traditional farmer, that is the farmer who was first independent, who first fed himself off his farm and then fed other people, who farmed with his family and who passed the land on down to people who knew it and had the best reasons to take care of it... that farmer stood at the convergence of traditional values... our values" (via). 


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Poetry  :  Wendell Berry Literature



The Beyoncelogues: Irreplaceable

Actress Nina Millin performs Beyonce the only way she knows how: in dramatic monologue form.

And they're fantastic and almost as good as the originals.

You can watch her perform Single Ladies and If I Were A Boy, and Best Thing I Ever Had, to name a few. She even has The Swiftalogues

Beyonce's newest music video "Formation" was Grammy nominated for best video of the year. 

I look forward to Nina's interpretation. 


For more on . . .

Poetry  :  Music  :  -N- Stuff

Indispensable Verse

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,

Sometime when you're feeling important;
Sometime when your ego 's in bloom;
Sometime when you take it for granted,
You're the best qualified in the room:

Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,

Sometime when you feel that your going,
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions,
And see how they humble your soul.  

Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that's remaining,
Is a measure of how much you'll be missed.

Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,

You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop, and you'll find that in no time,
It looks quite the same as before.  

Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,


The moral of this quaint example,
Is to do just the best that you can,

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Be proud of yourself but remember,
There's no indispensable man.


That you are here—that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.



The Indispensable Man (by Saxon White Kessinger)

 O Me! O Life! (by Walt Whitman)

My Papa's Waltz, by Theodore Roethke

My Papa’s Waltz


The whiskey on your breath   

Could make a small boy dizzy;   

But I hung on like death:   

Such waltzing was not easy. 


We romped until the pans   

Slid from the kitchen shelf;   

My mother’s countenance   

Could not unfrown itself. 


The hand that held my wrist   

Was battered on one knuckle;   

At every step you missed 

My right ear scraped a buckle. 


You beat time on my head   

With a palm caked hard by dirt,   

Then waltzed me off to bed   

Still clinging to your shirt.

I love this poem because not only does it show the love and blind devotion of a child for his father, but it is also a great discussion piece on the power of perspective (especially when compared to Hayden's Those Winter Days) . The father, although drunk and perhaps reckless, loves his son. Yet, the frustrated mother has every reason to be. You can almost hear her sigh and murmur in the kitchen while cleaning up the pots and pans.

The father is flawed, but not fully.

The son is ignorant, but not completely.

And the wife is justified, but not entirely.

What a great poem.


Zohab Khan is an educator, spoken word poet, motivational speaker, didgeridoo player, musician and hip-hop artist. Since 2006, Zohab has been building a formidable career in spoken word poetry, culminating in taking out the title of the Australian Poetry Slam Champion in 2014. In 2014 he was also a finalist in the International Poetry Slam in Madrid.

"It's time hatred is outdated

And our differences celebrated"

Sarah Kay: Project Voice

Sarah Kay is the founder and co-director of Project Voice which uses "spoken poetry to entertain, educate, and inspire" and is "dedicated to promoting empowerment, improving literacy, and encouraging empathy and creative collaboration in classrooms and communities around the world."

She's published a book of poems entitled "No Matter the Wreckage" and has several other projects worth hanging out with.  Projects like, Veterans Day 2011: Faces of Service“B” with Sophia JanowitzSquare One - a "one-woman show about Charlotte Kramer, who is trying to check things off her list," and many more.

This poem, "An Origin Story" is about the many strange coincidences surrounding that her and her friend Phil share. You watch watch them try and explain it here.

When the fire takes all you have, my home will be your home. When you are old and can no longer remember my face, I will meet you for the first time again and again. When they make fun of your accent, I will take you swimming because we all sound the same under water. When Ellis Island tries to erase your past, I will call you by your real name. When they call your number for the draft, I will enlist to fight beside you and I will march with you from Selma to Montgomery and back as many times as it takes. We will stand together against the hoses and the dogs because it didn’t start with us. It started with Lennon and McCartney. It started with Thelma and Louise, Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin, Bert and Ernie, Abbott and Costello, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Mario and Luigi, Watson and Sherlock, Pikachu and Charizard. And they can tell you what a miracle this is. They can tell you how rare this is. But they could tell you how rare friendship always is. The chances are slim. The cards are always stacked against you, the odds are always low. But I have seen the best of you and the worst of you and I choose both. I want to share every single one of your sunshines and save some for later. I will tuck them into my pockets so I can give them back to you when the rains fall hard. Friend. I want to be the mirror that reminds you to love yourself. I want to be the air in your lungs that reminds you to breathe easy. When the walls come down, when the thunder rumbles, when nobody else is home, hold my hand and I promise, I won’t let go.

For more poems, videos, and information on Sarah Kay, click here.

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer, by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer, 
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, 
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, 
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, 
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, 
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself, 
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, 
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Yet, how much MORE mystical the perfect silence of the stars when we're also able to measure them, their distance, their mass, and their purpose - what they mean for all that we cannot see. 

There has to be a balance. Too much of either and not enough of both lends itself to error on both sides.

So, yes, Mr. Whitman. But also, incomplete.


A Marriage, by Michael Blumenthal


Sometimes, marriage isn't easy. Sometimes, it's work. Most often, it's a choice.


For Margie Smigel and Jon Dopkeen

You are holding up a ceiling
with both arms. It is very heavy,
but you must hold it up, or else
it will fall down on you. Your arms
are tired, terribly tired,
and, as the day goes on, it feels
as if either your arms or the ceiling
will soon collapse.

But then,
something wonderful happens:
a man or a woman,
walks into the room
and holds their arms up
to the ceiling beside you.

So you finally get
to take down your arms.
You feel the relief of respite,
the blood flowing back
to your fingers and arms.
And when your partner's arms tire,
you hold up your own
to relieve him again.

And it can go on like this
for many years
without the house falling.



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