Seeing Life Through A Poetic Lens
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(Lose the Net by Rasmus Faber Courtesy of Epidemic Music)
It continually amazes me the way good questions lead so naturally to good answers and how beautiful questions lead to even better answers! Each time we open ourselves to the things we don’t know, we’ve opened the doors to discovery and wonder and greater understanding.
I’m Scott Lennox and you’re listening to The Beautiful Question, a consideration of things that matter every day.
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This week, we’ll take a break from the drama and busyness of the world as we drop into a more poetic view. Slow down with me as I offer you a few brief glances at the world around us through that lens. I’ll be intrigued to hear what you notice along the way. Stay with me.
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Like dance or acting or painting, poetry has been referred to as “something incredibly private we do for the world.” At its best, we strip away practically everything of our social self and create from a place that is naked and vulnerable and altogether real.
In my early teens, I began writing poetry that was unquestionably naïve, yet already showing signs of being lively. Even then, I had something heartful to say, and as I began saying it, poetry quickly became my second language, its forms and colors, its subtlety and richness weaving themselves into my everyday thought and speech.
Now, at seventy-six, I speak and write in my authentic voice.
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Along with writing poetry, I’m also a painter and am currently preparing a series of large pieces in oil, paintings of single feathers for a one-man exhibition later this year. Birds have fascinated me and captured my imagination since I was a boy, and they now hold even deeper meaning for me. I’m calling the exhibition Levitations.
As painter and poet, my goal is to create beautifully poetic paintings and to write visual poetry. I’ll leave you to decide how successful I am.
At the end of this month here in Fort Worth, I’ll be honoring Susan Ayers’ newly released collection of poetry, Walk Like the Bird Flies. She and the poet Jason Myers and I will read our work at the Texas A&M Law School Conference Center.
As I prepare for that, allow me to offer several short poems about birds and the moon, about being human, and perhaps even an angel or two. Most of them are reflections about glances or moments in time that continue to stay with me.
I hope that you will find them sensually rich and saturated, and if only for a few moments, may they touch your heart and transport you back into yourself just long enough to set yourself free again.
(Graphite on paper by Scott Lennox)
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(September Skies by Silver Maple Courtesy of Epidemic Music)
I’ll begin with several poems about the magical presence of crows.
Through my half-open door,
I watched a crow
dining on biscuit crumbs
and flecks of morning sun,
a stealthy corvid queen
cloaked in iridescence.
and jewels of light.
I shifted, scarcely moved,
and strong and soundless,
she leaned into the sky
and whisked away.
I watched as she flew
beyond the branches
and out of sight.
the crows hide
in the thick chaos
With beaks agape,
they gulp the summer air
and breathe out their
Seeing what I cannot
they burst into flight
in a riot of caws
and flapped wings.
As they near the distant trees,
a single black feather
pirouettes and lands at my feet,
mocking my ground-bound steps.
They call to me,
They caw and laugh
and share a joke
only they can tell.
Ink black sentinels,
they line a nearby adobe wall
and seem to know me,
calling with voices dry as
Then, like that smoke,
vanish on the westerly wind.
In silhouette against a steel-gray
two crows leap and hop and dance,
the rasp of their voices low,
their pumpkin-colored eyes sharp
as they look for food.
swirl new-fallen snow around them,
but what is that to crows?
They are undisturbed
by such things
Along with crows, the grace and beauty of herons and egrets have long held my attention. Their patience and keen focus compel me as much as the sight of them on the wing.
What longing lies so deep in the sky’s great heart,
what urge so irresistible and compelling,
that it draws the river upward to itself?
What yielding does the river know
that she so willingly surrenders herself
as rising morning mist and afternoon cloud?
What undeniable urge dares the heron
to follow until the trail is lost,
then settle again in the tall wet grass?
When this rain has ended,
the love song will begin again.
If you truly listen, you’ll hear it whispering.
Most days egret turns away,
disdainful of my intrusion
as she meditates in the shallows.
Often, she will glide
low above the water,
to settle graceful and undisturbed
near the farther bank.
But not this evening.
Unmoved, she looked right at me,
bowed her head,
and closed her yellow eyes
and whispered softly,
“Here…I offer you a moment
that will last your lifetime.”
Then, opening one wing
feather by feather,
she held it out, just so,
and was set ablaze by the setting sun.
Night on the river,
and this heron flying home.
But where is home
to such winged freedom?
It is everywhere and nowhere.
And where is home to me
as I step beyond the fenced world?
Here beside the river,
it is nowhere and everywhere.
Now join me as we watch one of the true winged aerialists, the daredevil swift, some of which spend as much as eighty percent of their lives in flight. Imagine.
As thunder loomed and rolled,
as lightning ripped the sky apart
and trees bent hard before the wind,
the birds flushed from my garden
to hush and hide in their most secret places.
But high in the darkening brood,
dashing, diving, wheeling
for what seemed the pure joy of it,
a lone swift mocked the coming storm.
Entranced by such freedom
that in plummet and pirouette
refused to turn away,
I stood transfixed a while,
then stepped to shelter
as the sidelong torrent began.
Not an hour had passed
Before the sun shone through again
and my garden and the trees beyond
were aglow with golden light.
And high above, and all alone,
that acrobatic swift returned,
a master of herself, the sky,
and the ecstasy of flight.
And for a few moments, lean with me into the light of the moon and be transfixed.
Birds hushed a while
as the eastern horizon began to glow.
A dog, or was it that trickster, coyote,
barked once and then was silent.
Even the crickets became still
as moon began to show herself,
flowing liquid gold up into the darkened sky.
As she rose above the distant trees,
the chorus swelled again,
mockingbird and that loud wren,
coyotes and wee things hiding in the grass.
And moon, full faced,
leaned even closer,
Henry and the Moon
Hidden in the brush of a distant draw,
coyotes announce themselves
with the raucous rant
that is their nightly ritual.
Seven years old, Henry pays no mind.
Stone still, he sits at the end of the dock,
enrobed in the reflection
that dances on the night-black
of his great grandfather’s pond.
The harvest moon is rising.
How many evenings has he sat just so?
This night, as the golden orb crests the trees
along the eastern pasture’s edge,
a new thought stirs in him.
Gazing spellbound at the water,
he asks at no more than a whisper
how many years must pass
before he can dive in
and swim all the way to the moon.
Life can be so extremely fragile at times, and yet somehow things endure. Come walk across a Texas ranch with me and see what we find.
Walking along the southern ridge,
where the pastures fall away
and the creek is all but dry,
the hard-packed earth offers
mysteries of its own.
As I approached, a quail rushed away,
keeping low and traveling not too far
from where she’d been hiding
and watching from beneath a scrub cedar.
The thrum of her wings
startled me and caused my heart to race.
It always does.
Looking down at where she had been,
and no more than a step away,
two mottled eggs lay undisturbed
on a tuft of prairie grass.
It was not what you would call a nest,
but just a few curled wisps,
tender blades barely strong enough
to hold them as they lay in open sight
for what might feed on them.
Not wanting to intrude, I backed away
and didn’t wait to see if the quail returned,
but pondered as I ambled down the draw.
The chances are as good as not
that new life would emerge,
and in its own season,
the fragile cycle will be repeated.
And now, last of all, a piece about winged beings of an altogether different kind. Perhaps you know them.
My heart keeps telling me
that if I listen deeply enough,
attend closely enough,
I’ll hear the whispering
of the angels who hover over us,
some of them weeping.
O, not in despair or travail or anguish,
but out of the deepest longing
that we will, at last,
open our hearts and minds and awaken
to the peace and compassion
that are the very reasons for which
we were called into this existence.
And though I cannot yet hear them,
for there is so much to distract me,
I know they are here, right here,
closer than my breath,
and I will not stop listening.
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This week’s Beautiful Questions are not designed to make you a poet, but to engage more deeply with the world and the people around you.
Question One: As you pause and allow yourself to really take in what is around you, what do you notice that you overlooked before?
Question Two: As you sit with that new and unfiltered way of seeing and perceiving, what arises in you?
Question Three: Were you to put into words what you experience when you pause long enough to take in the world around you, what form would your words take and how would they sound as you spoke them?
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As always, I’ll be interested to hear your responses to this week’s offering and to these Beautiful Questions. Write and tell me about it.
As I say each time,
My Light with Your Light!
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I’m happy we can engage this way as we consider things that matter and what to do about them. If nothing else, I hope you feel inspired to look more deeply at ways of caring for yourself.
You can be further inspired by visiting my friends at Kosmos Journal. That’s K O S M O S Journal. Their mission is to inform, inspire, and engage global transformation in harmony with all life. You can easily find them online at Kosmos Journal dot O R G.
And at thebeautifulquestion.com, you can read the illustrated transcript of each podcast as you listen. We’ve also included an archive of all previous podcasts, including guided relaxation audios that can help you practice letting go on a daily basis.
If you find these podcasts useful, I encourage you to share them and tell others about them. That’s a great way of helping me get a voice of calm and collaboration and balance and encouragement out into the world. It’s a great way of spreading peace.
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I’m Scott Lennox, and this has been The Beautiful Question.
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The Beautiful Question is a One Light production, written, produced, and engineered by Scott Lennox at HeartRock Studios in Fort Worth, Texas, as a way of paying forward to life, being fully present, becoming better engaged with things that truly matter in a complex world, and committing to a healthier future for all of us.