The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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Sunday Prayer

Chilly fall morning, the deck rimed with frost. Warm and serene at the kitchen table in the early hours of the day. Buddy’s outside, bright yellow ball closely guarded at his side, erect and alert, nose twitching – sniffing, sniffing something interesting in the air.

The sky ribboned in pale blue, rose and the faintest tinge of yellow. The dun colored field meets the horizon. Bare branches – brown and bleak implore the sky. A hawk soars silently and circles – red tail proudly splayed. All’s secure and still below.

Espresso’s bubbling on the gas range, the familiar scent of morning coffee wafting in the air. The toaster oven dings. A small feast awaits – bread, crisp and lightly browned, topped with a pat of butter and apricot jam.

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Sunday Prayer

The Angel (A god who renounced his faith)

You asked me what I would like to be in your eyes,

I said: God.

For a time I granted you favours and punished you.

Were you fleeing my grief, when you failed to tell me

That you had a cuckold Lord bestowing gifts upon you all the while?

How you could not accept my seal stamped on your brow

When you were so set on veneration?

And did you think creating you was such a little thing?

Son of a bitch,

Why let me plow when you meant to burn the fields?

Youssef Rakha


Sunday Poem


For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid

There is a country to cross you will
find in the corner of your eye, in
the quick slip of your foot–air far
down, a snap that might have caught.
And maybe for you, for me, a high, passing
voice that finds its way by being
afraid. That country is there, for us,
carried as it is crossed. What you fear
will not go away: it will take you into
yourself and bless you and keep you.
That’s the world, and we all live there.

William Stafford

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Amiri Baraka – Another Great Artist Gone

Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka, the militant man of letters and tireless agitator whose blues-based, fist-shaking poems, plays and criticism made him a provocative and groundbreaking force in American culture, has died. He was 79.

Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note

Lately, I’ve become accustomed to the way
The ground opens up and envelopes me
Each time I go out to walk the dog.
Or the broad edged silly music the wind
Makes when I run for a bus…

Things have come to that.

And now, each night I count the stars.
And each night I get the same number.
And when they will not come to be counted,
I count the holes they leave.

Nobody sings anymore.

And then last night I tiptoed up
To my daughter’s room and heard her
Talking to someone, and when I opened
The door, there was no one there…
Only she on her knees, peeking into

Her own clasped hands

– Amiri Baraka –

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The Gorgeous Nothings

In the New Republic, Hillary Kelley reviews The Gorgeous Nothings, a facsimile collection of the poems Emily Dickinson composed.

…to merely call The Gorgeous Nothings, and the envelope poems within it, beautiful, would do a disservice to Marta Werner and Jen Bervin’s remarkable artistic and scholarly achievement.
Bervin and Werner avoid the pitfalls of earlier editors and refuse to interpret Dickinson’s work. Instead, they let the manuscripts speak for themselves and in the process make visceral the spatial interplay between Dickinson’s words and her materials.
The result is a collection of scrap paper that says more about the Belle of Amherst than most biographies could. The madcap pencil strokes, torn edges, and higgledy-piggledy line breaks are the work of a quick-thinking, passionate woman. But the carefully crossed through and reworked prose are the mark of a poet bent on perfection. The harmony between the content and use of space, most of all, reveals Dickinson’s self-awareness and inherent knack for poetic construction. One small triangle of paper reads, with the words forming an upside down pyramid, “In this short life/ that only lasts an hour/ merely/ How much — how/ little — is/ within our/ power.” That self-important word, “power,” is smirkingly wedged between a smudge and a tear. On another little rectangle, Dickinson merely wrote, “A Mir/ acle for/ all.” And on an envelope whose face bears a carefully calligraphed “Miss Emily Dickinson” and whose rear is covered with a more elaborate poem, Dickinson has gently pencilled, “To light, and/ then return —”.



“How to Be Alone”

The first incarnation of “How to Be Alone” was a collaborative video by two Haligonian artists: musician and former poet laureate Tanya Davis, and filmmaker/illustrator Andrea Dorfman. After the video was first released in 2010, it went viral. (At the time of this printing, it had over six million views.) In 2011 Davis released her first book of poetry, At First, Lonely, with PEI’s Acorn Press, but it is this one poem in its first incarnation that continues to garner attention for these two artists. This month, a gorgeous, illustrated version of the poem, How to Be Alone, was released by HarperCollins.

As Davis explains, because of the poem’s first “life” on the Internet, it has created a sort of community, which, in its own beautiful way, conquers the very fear of aloneness the poem encourages the reader to rise above. It has also provided Davis and Dorfman a direct line with an appreciative audience. “Getting feedback has been invaluable; a way to connect,” says Davis. “People have taught me things in a way I can’t measure. Part of that, ironically, is to not feel alone.”



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Poets Dream of Peace in Afghanistan

In a recent piece focuses on twenty Pashtun poets that get together every week  to share their dreams of peace:

Jalalabad is regarded as the heartland of Afghan poetry in a region better known for its warriors than its wordsmiths, on a plateau south of the Himalayan mountains of the Hindu Kush.
Meeting every Friday — a day of rest in Afghanistan — the poet’s circle consists of men in long traditional white, grey, black or brown Afghan shirts who sit on plastic chairs in a courtyard covered by vine leaves tumbling over a bamboo roof.
They take it in turns to speak from behind a makeshift wooden lectern, their words offering strength and hope in dealing with life in a country ravaged by war for over three decades.
Their language, Pashto, is the dominant tongue in the south and east of the country.
Poet’s circle member Baryali Baryal said humour is the best antidote to the relentless stress of living with war.
“We have been in war for three decades, so everybody is sad, suffering from different problems,” he said.
“So since it’s war, I write funny poems. People are unhappy, so I think if they sit five minutes with us and we make them laugh, they will feel happy.”
With a large, earth-coloured Afghan shawl on his shoulders, Baryali took his place at the pulpit and began describing life on the streets of Jalalabad, to the laughter and applause of his audience. Continue reading

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Friday’s Poem


The snail moves like a
Hovercraft, held up by a
Rubber cushion of itself,
Sharing its secret

With the hedgehog. The hedgehog
Shares its secret with no one.
We say, Hedgehog, come out
Of yourself and we will love you.

We mean no harm. We want
Only to listen to what
You have to say. We want
Your answers to our questions.

The hedgehog gives nothing
Away, keeping itself to itself.
We wonder what a hedgehog
Has to hide, why it so distrusts.

We forget the god
under this crown of thorns.
We forget that never again
will a god trust in the world.

from ‘Poems 1968-1998’

Paul Muldoon

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Sunday Prayer

A Necessary Autumn Inside Each

You and I have spoken all these words, but as for the way
we have to go, words

are no preparation.  There is no getting ready, other than
grace.  My faults

have stayed hidden.  One might call that a preparation!
I have one small drop

of knowing in my soul.  Let it dissolve in your ocean.
There are so many threats to it.

Inside each of us, there’s continual autumn.  Our leaves
fall and are blown out

over the water.  A crow sits in the blackened limbs and talks
about what’s gone.  Then

your generosity returns: spring, moisture, intelligence, the
scent of hyacinth and rose

and cypress.  Joseph is back!  And if you don’t feel in
yourself the freshness of

Joseph, be Jacob!  Weep and then smile.  Don’t pretend to know
something you haven’t experienced.

There’s a necessary dying, and then Jesus is breathing again.
Very little grows on jagged

rock.  Be ground.  Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up
where you are.  You’ve been

stony for too many years.  Try something different.  Surrender.

— RUMI —