Photo by Mariana Oliveira on Pexels.com

Tonight’s Moon reminds me that I too
am waning. My number increases each year
but in fact, it lessens each month.
The candle’s wax wanes on the windowsill –
a small sun between myself and Moon.

Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

Finding My Way

No GPS, just a map and compass.
I triangulate. I adjust for the declination.
If only I knew another accurate method
for finding my way safely. I must
be mindful of landmarks and adjust accordingly.

I’m not a fan of poems that require footnotes or long explanations, but I do like learning something new from a poem. That’s why many poems here have some notes included. For this poem, I feel it is useful to define two terms.
declination – The deviation of the compass from true north is an angle called “declination” or “magnetic declination.”
triangulation – Triangulation is a method of observing the direction or bearing within a map and compass in the field by using three landmarks in the terrain to act as the corners of a triangle.

I have always thought that knowing how to find your way in the world with a map, compass, and landmarks somehow translates to being better at navigating life without tools or aids.

Writing the Day Podcasts – 2022 in Review

My podcasts of the poems on WRITING THE DAY are now in their third season (though season one was just a short time in 2021). The number of plays, followers, and streaming was all up in 2022, but that is not so impressive to me because I know that I only started the podcast in 2021 and the numbers were very low at the start.

Spotify tells me that the three most popular podcasted poems this year were This Garden of Earthly Delights, In the Last Minute of the World, and Napping in the Multiverse. I wish I could figure out why a poem rises to the top. The ones that do are usually not personal favorites.

The most streams were from September 4-10. Spotify is the place most listeners go to though episodes are available on other platforms.

2023 is season 3 of podcasts but “season 10” of poems here since I began as a daily practice in 2014.

No Mind

In the clear light of this morning,
calendarless, if not timeless, this lone flicker
appreciates water that is not frozen,
pecks the full feeder and pays this
first day of the year no mind.

Flicker – Photo by Chris F on Pexels.com

Zen and Daoist meditators attempt to reach a state of “no mind.” It is called Mushin in Japanese and Wuxin in Chinese. I learned about it in Zen study where it was described as “mind without mind” – a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. It is translated by D.T. Suzuki as “being free from mind-attachment.”

A friend posted this new song today and it does seem to work with this poem.

Tilting at Windmills

A year full of tilting at windmills.
Enemies imagined, a knight-errant schooled in chivalry
that no longer exists and a need
to withstand suffering, accept reality principles
discard idealistic, romantic, heroic, ideas about dying.

Poor Don Quixote – born into the lowest nobility in La Mancha, he has read so many chivalric romances that he either loses or pretends to have lost his mind. He becomes a caballero andante and wants to revive chivalry. He rides under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha.

He does attack a windmill and “tilting at windmills” became an English idiom that means “attacking imaginary enemies.” In Miguel de Cervantes’ novel, these confrontations are not always against windmills but are ones where he has misinterpreted or misapplied his romantic notions. These largely inopportune, unfounded, and vain efforts against adversaries real or imagined eventually lead him to what Freud called the reality principle – that one must battle to withstand suffering but accept the reality of death.

I suppose this sounds like quite a pessimistic poem for a New Year’s Eve, but do you see the optimism in it too?