Thursday, 30 July 2009

Living Simple

Quiet, sunny times here at The Peaceable.

Here we have Brian, a friend from Pittsburgh, visiting for a while, helping with hard work, and sparking with little Juli! He captures the Praying Mantises he runs across while he works, and carries them softly to the aphid-infested rosebush or into the vegetable patch. Hearing spoken Pittsburgh again is filling my dreams with old images of New Kensington, Apollo, and South Oakland. I´m not usually homesick or nostalgic, but my mother is having hip replacement surgery this week, and I feel particularly drawn to Home Things, I guess. (She´s doing OK, I am told.)

I´m working hard, clearing brush out back. Paddy is dealing with an intestinal bug. Una is as full of beans as any dog has ever been, even a three-legged dog under death sentence. Pilgrims come and go, people from Slovenia and Chicago and Kuala Lampur. Leonard Cohen is this week´s soundtrack.

And here is a poem that I love.


by David Budbill

You can see him in the village almost anytime.
He's always on the street.
At noon he ambles down to Jerry's
in case a trucker who's stopped by for lunch
might feel like buying him a sandwich.
Don't misunderstand, Ben's not starving;
he's there each noon because he's sociable,
not because he's hungry.
He is a friend to everyone except the haughty.

There are at least half a dozen families in the village
who make sure he always has enough to eat
and there are places
where he's welcome to come in and spend the night.

Ben is a cynic in the Greek and philosophic sense,
one who gives his life to simplicity
seeking only the necessities
so he can spend his days
in the presence of his dreams.

Ben is a vision of another way,
the vessel in this place for
ancient Christian mystic, Buddhist recluse, Taoist hermit.
Chuang Tzu, The Abbot Moses, Meister Eckhart,
Khamtul Rimpoche, Thomas Merton—
all these and all the others live in Ben, because

in America only a dog
can spend his days
on the street or by the river
in quiet contemplation
and be fed.


Rita said...

Lovely poem. I would only have to change the name from Ben to Blackjack and that would definitely be our dog(who is no longer with us, but I am sure he is ambling around in another dimension get free eats)!!!
Thank you for sharing. I read it to my husband and he loved it too.

claire bangasser said...

I couldn't agree more with the poem.

Even though I know a couple of homeless in viejo San Juan who would also fit the description. With the difference that drug addiction has a way of twisting reality somewhat and the philosophical aspect of it can take a turn for the worse.

Thank you.

Glad your mother is doing well.

Michael Barham said...

Gosh, that last line REALLY hits home. It's a beautiful poem, all of sudden, it punches you out of nowhere. We need to reclaim our time, so we can start to have visions again!

Anonymous said...

We need to reclaim our time, so we can start to have visions again!
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