Words of Reflection

Poems of Presence – May 2022

Each week I settle into my favorite chair to gather poems that might resonate with our class theme. I always find my body-mind-heart uplifted, soothed, somehow renewed. And then, together in class, we share in the poem’s invitation. 

The Space Between

Silence (Langston Hughes)

I catch the pattern Of your silence Before you speak I do not need To hear a word. In your silence Every tone I seek Is heard.


The Awakened Heart

One More Chapter in Letting Go (Rosemary Wahtola Trimmer)

Today it slipped into my daughter,

the seed that all is not right in the world.


In a matter of hours, already

the tap roots had grown beyond


my ability to pull them out.

I wonder if I have been wrong…(entire poem here)


Awe and Appreciation 

Theme inspired by awe-inspiring article Be Here Wow! (Wes “Scoop” Nisker) Audio version read by Wendy Beckerman (15 mins)


What Issa Heard (David Budbill)

Two hundred years ago Issa heard the morning birds singing sutras to this suffering world… (entire poem here)


Everything That Was Broken (Mary Oliver)

Everything that was broken has

forgotten its brokenness. I live

now in a sky-house, through every window the sun… (entire poem here)


“There are two ways to live your life; One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein

“One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, or of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” ~ Albert Einstein


“Tension is who you think you should be; Relaxation is who you are.” ~ Chinese Proverb


“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (from The Little Prince)


Poems of Presence – April 2022

While these poems support each week’s class theme, reading and listening to them also draws us together in the present moment. 

The Pulsation of Life

To Know The Dark (Wendell Berry)

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.


Everyday Sacred

Hold Out Your Hand (Julia Fehrenbacher)
Let’s forget the world for a while
fall back and back
into the hush and holy
of now

are you listening? This breath
invites you
to write the first word
of your new story

your new story begins with this:
You matter (entire poem here)


Curiosity and Listening

When Beginning the Poem (Andrea Potos)

may there be a listening
rather than a making

curiosity over expectation,

lightness and ease,
no straining
toward some glut of air.

May you step aside
like a watcher at the meadow’s edge
as the doe
finds her way to the center... (entire poem here)


Right Here (Dane Anthony)

Stop moving. Stand in
one place – this place.
Breathe slowly; in, then out. Repeat.

Repeat again. Let your
shoulders sink and relax. Unclench
your jaw; slowly close your eyes.

Listen for your heartbeat; really
listen. Feel it pulse in
your fingertips… (entire poem here)


Poems of Presence – March 2022

While these poems support each week’s class theme, reading and listening to them also draws us together in the present moment. 

Awareness Connects Us

On a Clear Day (Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer)

The way the field holds
   the shadow of the cottonwood,
      this is how life holds me.
Holds me, no matter my shape.
   Holds me with no effort.
      Holds my darkness and knows it
as weightless, as transient,
   as something that will shift,
      disappear, return, and shift again. (entire poem here)


Allowing Space

Storage (Mary Oliver)
When I moved from one house to another

there were many things I had no room for.

What does one do? I rented a storage

space. And filled it. Years passed.

Occasionally I went there and looked in,

but nothing happened, not a single

twinge of the heart. (entire poem here)


Loving Awareness Holds it All

For When People Ask (Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer)

I want a word that means
   okay and not okay,
     a word that means
devastated and stunned with joy.
   I want the word that says
     I feel it all all at once.
The heart is not like a songbird
   singing only one note at a time… (entire poem here)


Beginner’s Mind

I Have this Way of Being (Jamaal May)

I have this, and this isn’t a mouth
           full of the names of odd flowers

I’ve grown in secret.
           I know none of these by name

but have this garden now,
           and pastel somethings bloom

near the others and others… (entire poem here)



Birdwings (Rumi)

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence
is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.

Poems of Presence – Feb 2022

Awareness has no speed limit. Always now. These writings poetically support each week’s class theme. 

Try Slow

Ocean Love (Carolyn Chilton Casas)

Let me not forget to notice
all the seasons of the ocean
with an awe-filled soul—
equally winter’s pounding surf
and summer’s gentle swells. (entire poem here)


Cultivating Heart Qualities

Small Kindnesses (Danusha Laméris)

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying. (
entire poem here)


Self Love

The Gift to Sing (James Weldon Johnson)

Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh, I have a magic way
To turn the gloom to cheerful day—
      I softly sing.

And if the way grows darker still,
Shadowed by Sorrow’s somber wing,
With glad defiance in my throat,
I pierce the darkness with a note,
       And sing, and sing.

I brood not over the broken past,
Nor dread whatever time may bring;
No nights are dark, no days are long,
While in my heart there swells a song,
       And I can sing.


Appreciating the Ordinary

Pigeons (Danusha Laméris)

Because they crowd the corner
of every city street,
because they are the color
of sullied steel,
because they scavenge,
eating every last crust,
we do not favor them… (entire poem here)


Poems of Presence – Jan 2022

How stunningly beautiful to begin a new year slowly, listening, just being. These writings poetically support each week’s class theme. 


The Cure for it All (Julia Fehrenbacher)

Go gently today, don’t hurry
or think about the next thing. Walk
with the quiet trees, can you believe
how brave they are—how kind? Model your life
after theirs. Blow kisses
at yourself in the mirror
especially when
you think you’ve messed up. (entire poem here)


Questions to Consider when Waking (Bernadette Miller)

What would you do if you really knew
that life was wanting to sing through you?

What would you say if your words could convey
prayers that the world was waiting to pray?

What would you be if your being could free
some piece of the world’s un-whispered beauty? (entire poem here)



The Marriage of Gold and Silver (Flur-Raven)

Do not refuse me because I’m dark and shadowed

Love me through all your doubts

Remember: there is light in every darkness

Remind me: without dark, there is no light


Poems of Presence – Dec 2021

As we bring awareness to the chakras (energy centers), these poems beautifully resonate each week’s theme. 

Roots, Creativity, Personal Power, Self-Expression, and Deep Listening

Limitless (Danna Faulds)

Sun says, “Be your own
illumination.” Wren says,
“Sing your heart out,
all day long.” (entire poem here)


Inner Wisdom

Slowly, Slowly Wisdom Gathers (Mark Van Doren)

Slowly, slowly wisdom gathers:

Golden dust in the afternoon,

Somewhere between the sun and me,

Sometimes so near that I can see,

Yet never settling, late or soon. (entire poem here)



Savasana: Corpse Pose (Marianne Muirphy Zarzana)

On the bonsai-green carpet, you stretch
your frame out flat upon a blue yoga mat

and parallel, I lie down upon a purple one,
both of us becoming still, our bodies sinking

further into the floor with each slow, steady
breath. It’s night, and together we’re letting go.  (entire poem here)


When Living on a Tiny Island (Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer)

It was a dream, but I tell you
everything was on fire in the house—
I knew the whole island would burn,
and I had to choose what to take… (entire poem here)


What Connects us All

Sacred Ground (Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer)

And if, as I now know, the closet
is sacred and the bare room
is sacred and the sidewalk
and classroom and the ER
are sacred, then I trip
into the teaching
that everywhere is sacred—
not only the church, but
the alley. Not only the mosque,
but the bench. (entire poem here)


Poems of Presence – Nov 2021

It’s a labor of love to curate weekly poems that highlight our class theme. 


Wild Geese (Mary Oliver)

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves. (entire poem here)


On Self-Esteem and Personal Empowerment

There Are Miracles (Rupi Kaur)

there are miracles in me

waiting to happen

i am never giving up on myself


On Giving and Receiving Love

Gonna Rise Up Singing (Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer)

If what we do now echoes into eternity,
then let there be more mornings such as this one
in which my mother wakes me by singing
a thin thread of melody
that praises the beauty of the day. (entire poem here)


A Good Day (David Steindl-Rast)

…And so I wish for you that you would open your heart to all these blessings
and let them flow through you,
that everyone whom you will meet on this day will be blessed by you;
just by your eyes,
by your smile,
by your touch — just by your presence… (entire poem and video here)


Poems of Presence – Oct 2021

Each week I share a poem or quote to highlight our mindfulness theme. Most weeks there’s a perfect fit, and sometimes the search brings an unexpected delight. So grateful for life-affirming poems and the writers that birth them!

On Sympathetic Joy (Mudita, the third face of love) I searched high and low for a poem reflecting the spontaneous joy in another’s joy, to no avail. Finally, when I searched “mudita,” auto-correct changed it to “nudist.” Ahah! Sympathetic joy right there! 

Proverb (various origins)

Shared pain is half the pain;

Shared joy is twice the joy.


On Equanimity

New Mantra (Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer)

To this day with its deepening whirlpools of grief,
I say okay. Okay to the way I am swirled
and pulled down. Okay to the thick muscled sorrow.
Okay to the throat with its clenching, its tightness.
Okay to the ambush of tears. (entire poem here)


The Paradoxical Commandments (Kent M. Keith)

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway. (entire passage here)

NOTE: I included the following lines in class, and then learned the author did not write nor endorse them. However, I appreciate how they point us back toward intention:

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God; It was never between you and them anyway. 


On Grounding, Foundation, Feeling Held and Supported

There is a Light in Me (Anna Swir)

Whether in daytime or in nighttime

I always carry inside

a light.

In the middle of noise and turmoil

I carry silence.


I carry light and silence.



Poems of Presence – Sept 2021

I’m grateful to share these poems and quotes to reflect and enhance each week’s theme. As we explore the Five Hindrances of mindfulness, we bring loving awareness to the habits of the mind/body/heart and patiently practice the antidotes. 

Hindrance 4: Restlessness and worry? Try contentment.

Deciding to Sometimes Practice Being Snapdragon (Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer)

All morning, I make myself useful–

mow the lawn and vacuum

the carpet and scrub the potatoes

and slice the melon and straighten

the shelves and look out the window… (entire poem here)


Hokusai Says (Roger S. Keyes)

Hokusai says look carefully.

He says pay attention, notice.

He says keep looking, stay curious.

He says there is no end to seeing.


He says look forward to getting old.

He says keep changing,

you just get more who you really are. (entire poem here)


Admit Something (Hafiz)

Everyone you see, you say to them, 

Love me. 

Of course you do not do this out loud:


Someone would call the cops.


Still though, think about this,

This great pull in us

To connect.


Why not become the one

Who lives with a full moon in each eye

That is always saying,

With that sweet moon language,

What every other eye in this world

Is dying to Hear.


Wage Peace (Judyth Hill)

Wage Peace with your breath.

Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.

Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and fresh mown fields.

Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.

Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact. (entire poem here)


Poems of Presence – Aug 2021

We completed our exploration of how the 8 limbs of Yoga relate to the teachings of Mindfulness, pointing us again and again toward our true nature: Aware, loving, curious, relaxed and open. These poems and quotes reflect and enhance each week’s theme.


Nature (Gus Almquist, age 95)

I went for a hike in the surrounding hills today

The tall trees greeted me showing off their gigantic limbs


Bushes were showing me their delicate but tough structures

Some with blossoms seducing birds and bees and me

Grasses capturing energy from the sun

On a far off hill, cattle transferring energy from the grasses

eventually transferring energy to humans

I am standing on planet Earth surrounded by our universe

I have become a tiniest speck with infinite longings


I have (Maria Mitea)

the eyes

wide open

searching for

searching for




The Unbroken (Rashani Réa)

There is a brokenness

out of which comes the unbroken,

a shatteredness

out of which blooms the unshatterable

(entire poem)


give me laugh lines (Rupi Kaur)

give me laugh lines and wrinkles
i want proof of the jokes we shared
engrave the lines into my face like
the roots of a tree that grow deeper
with each passing year
i want sunspots as souvenirs
for the beaches we laid on
i want to look like I was
never afraid to let the world
take me by the hand
and show me what it’s made of
i want to leave this place knowing
i did something with my body
other than trying to
make it look perfect


Next Time (William Stafford)

Next time what I’d do is look at 

the earth before saying anything. I’d stop

just before going into a house

and be an emperor for a minute

and listen better to the wind

or to the air being still.


When anyone talked to me, whether

blame or praise or just passing time,

I’d watch the face, how the mouth

has to work, and see any strain, any

sign of what lifted the voice.


And for all, I’d know more–the earth

bracing itself and soaring, the air

finding every leaf and feather over

forest and water, and for every person

the body glowing inside the clothes 

like a light.

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