prompt 164 listening
listening, week one
first, much thanks and appreciation to Irene for the rich tapestry series of prompts now completed. a challenge to follow her! story is not my realm, however for the next four weeks we’ll engage ourselves within a theme.
listening. that’s our theme. some call that meditation, and while accurate we’ll use the more common word. think not the less, no matter how ordinary it seems. it is one whole half of our existence, listening. it is directed both outwardly and inward to include our personal sense of reality. further, who you are, that one who listens may just be someone else or beneath even your thoughts, your emotions. as some say, if you are hearing thoughts, feeling emotions, then who is doing the listening? maybe we can tap at that door, see who answers.
don’t we already know how to listen? fair question. loudness is harder to ignore, like an approaching train! however existence includes many subtle layers as well. and to some measure we are trained from childhood to only hear what we “should” hear. read some good poems. notice how some poets seem to hear and see what’s near invisible? that’s listening!
listening is about trust. trust that what’s given is enough. trust that you are able to receive. trust that you don’t need to change, to do anything with what you hear. and yes, listening happens with more than your ears. eyes listen, fingers listen, arms and legs, your whole body does. trust and allow what comes to you from listening.
some poems for you to read:
- Lily Magnolia Enclosure, by Wang Wei
The autumn hill gathers the remaining light
A flying bird chases its companion before it
The green color is momentarily bright
Sunset mist has no fixed place
notice this poem is only doing simple direct observation (listening). it’s not even trying to be poetic. neither are there any evaluations or judgments. it does not attempt to “make meaning”, yet the expression of natural truth is self evident.
- Duckweed Lake, by Wang Wei
Beside this spring lake deep and wide, I find
myself waiting for your light boat to return;
duckweed slowly drifted together behind you,
and now hanging willows sweep it open again.
while the writer is here joined into the environment this poem continues the direct sense of observation without added comment upon what is witnessed.
- The Light by the Barn, (excerpts) by William Stafford
The light by the barn that shines all night
pales at dawn when a little breeze comes.
The little breeze follows the slow windmill
and the chickens at work till the sun goes down –
Then the light by the barn again.
we see the poem begin and end with the same image here, with no poetic point pushed onto us. it simply states what is, with no worry to explain or justify itself. don’t be averse to allowing simple honest expression.
Mountains do not lack the qualities of mountains. Therefore, they always abide in ease and always walk. ~Dogen
Here’s the prompt. Write one (or a few) simple poems about your natural environment. We suggest you keep poems to 2 – 6 lines (each). Simple direct observation is important here. Refrain from trying to make your poem mean something more than what it observes.
paraphrased from Natalie Goldberg, The True Secret of Writing
What we want ultimately is for us to get out of our way. Let go of our little wills and ideas and allow something larger to come through.
Post your poems any time during this following week. And yes, if you have a different poem to share, that’s welcome too.