If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry was Emily Dickinson’s definition of a true poem. For us, it is the truest description of what poetry does, and the reason we weave so much of it into Improvised Life.

Even two-or-three-word clusters of words —”word forms”—  have the power to catalyze a shift into expansive feeling and thinking. We’ve collected some over the past months of reading that are powerful enough to stand alone: tiny poem-bombs that take the top of our head off…

After we read Everything Changes by Rilke, we started to look for and recognize sister-brightess (from the French claret-soeur).

Before you count to ten
everything changes:
the wind takes brightness
from tall cornstalks

and flings it away;
it flies and slides
along a precipice
toward a sister-brightness

that in turn is swept into this boisterous game,
to higher altitudes.

This vast landscape
may have been shaped
by these enchantments,
these gestures like caresses.

We see it in our mind’s eye, and find ourselves looking for it in the world. And we realize that THAT is what the great Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto is capturing in his seascapes.


Reading John Cage, we found this snippet from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake:

…the untireties of lives living being the one substance of streamsbecoming.


In a tai chi classic, we learned of mind-intentand realized we knew exactly what that is…


We can’t remember which Rumi poem we found heart vision in. No matter.

heart vision

We found another in this Rumi fragment:

Look, I am living. On what? Neither childhood nor future grows any smaller…superabundant being wells up in my heart. 


THAT is the quality we hadn’t quite recognized in ourselves, that we’ll carry with us into the day…

superabundant being

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