Wabi Sabi

Submitted by Jamie Dedes

if only i knew
what the artist knows

about the great perfection
in imperfection

i would sip grace slowly
at the ragged edges of the creek

kiss the pitted
face of the moon

befriend the sea
though it can be a danger

embrace the thunder of a waterfall
as if its strains were a symphony

prostrate myself atop the rank dregs on the forest floor,
worshiping them as compost for fertile seeds
and the breeding ground for a million small lives

if i knew what the artist knows,
then i wouldn’t be afraid to die,
to leave everyone

i would be sure that some part of me
would remain present
and that one day you would join me
as the wind howling on its journey
or the bright moment of a flowering desert

if i knew what the artist knows,
i would surely respond soul and body
to the echo of the Ineffable in rough earthy things

i would not fear decay or work left undone
i would travel like the river through its rugged, irregular channels
comfortable with this life; imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

Photo credit: Photo on a Mountaintop – (the incredible) Shen Zhou


The Deepest Thread – A Thanksgiving Poem

Submitted by the Vita Brevis Team

Steaming pots and plates are passed
Down the table, as if down the generations:
From a grandmother to her son,
From a father to his daughter.

Through their veins courses similar blood,
In their eyes shines a similar glean,
Of the deepest thread ever sewn:
The thread of family.

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Photo credit: A Christmas Dole – Joseph Clarke

Next to a Footpath at Fuente De

Submitted by Matthew Rhodes

Lives like raindrops falling into mud,
making rivulets of blood.

Unwasted, yet ungently blown; dashed and mixed and tossed and dropped,
then burned and baked to clay;
stretched tight in frozen screams.

Time, as in a century, will pass
and stir the mud; raise ears of corn
unnumbered like the raindrop lives
that cannot be remade.

Photo credit: An Italianate Landscape with Travelers on a Path, Jan Both

Strange Tongue

Submitted by Benny G.

When there is a land stretched before me
With mountains, steppes, rivers, and valleys
Of beauty such that I cannot speak
Beyond my tongue, beyond belief

How can I help but wonder and think
What else is there of all I see
That language simply cannot glean
That we can simply not conceive?

And if a man, from across the sea,
Moored his ship and stood beside me,
What words of his, what letters too,
Would he emit to misconstrue?

Photo credit: Seaport with the Embarkation of St Ursula – Claude Lorrain

Graveyard Ramble

Submitted by Ana Daksina

I contemplate my dripping hat
Preparing tale to tell
Of dampened exploration
In rainy autumn dell
‘Round twisted, sagging gravestones, which
Chipped and worn as time could make
Still said their stories well

How many generations
These tablets strolled among?
How many left behind a tear
And windy wisp of dolorous song
For all the women lying here
Who left this world too young
Whilst birthing infant pioneers
Of flailing fist and lusty lung?

Did they to one another
As these poemed stones imply?
‘Tis an important question
And I will say thee why:
If indeed they did know love
And kept each dear one always by
Then every task seemed lightest play
And they grudged not the time gone by

To such men ’twere but nature’s way
That what is born must die

Photo credit: William Trost Richards – Leverington Cemetery

All at Once

Submitted by Himalia

A breathing mountain
Developed after years of geologic merging,
There is life in the Himalayas.

But this is not a lesson on plate tectonics.
Here is a place to learn freedom.
Every piece of matter is moving all at once.

Even the book on time and space,
Resting on your floor,
Is vibrating.

Photo credit: Vermeer – The Astronomer

Black Altar

Submitted by Anonymous

It shines like the beetle’s shell among the brush,
Entwined and wreathed with vines and leaves

Black Altar. Black sea.
Black land before me.

In moonlight scattered through the trees
In woodlands stirring thick with fiends.

I hear there’s one at every bend,
In every wood, on every land.
With siren-calls that promise peace
That lull from men an ancient frenzy.

Photo credit: Dante in the Dark Wood of Error, Gustav Dore