Monday, December 26, 2011

at red lights we press our lips together

Buddy's asleep on the porch, a shaft of sunlight is falling on the skeletal remains of my garden, and a most intriguing line has been left under Search Keywords in my stats: "at red lights we press our lips together."  And now, I'm looking out the window, trying to remember how long it's been since I kissed someone at a red light. The answer?   Far too long.

While I look at possibilities for remedying that, here's a poem I've been wanting to share with you. It seems like the right time.

"Looking at Things a Long Time"

Out there in the woods and along the road
are all sorts of books: anthologies
of trees, biographies of brooks, poems
by bees, novels in glaciers. Just look
around carefully, thinking about whatever your
gaze rests on. Notice that turn in the road
to which quite a few pages could be given.

Consider your own story, how you arrived
where you are. Think: what might be called
a dire imposition on your life actually
brought you down this path to where we
meet in a sparkling friendship. Explain that.

You've traveled roads you would never have chosen
and they've taken you nearer to what you deeply are
even though there were many strange
stopping places along the way. Don't look back.

There are turns we take away from the familiar
that would surprise a lot of people, until we
find ourselves finally again on the old street
gladly lending a hand or telling a story. We see
our own names written in other lives and find out
each day how to care more. We discover that people
listen better when we are often silent
and pondering, looking at things a long time.

~ John Cuno

Photograph by Vivian Maier


  1. The next to last stanza is particularly intriguing. "Don't look back." Very nice poem Teresa.

    Oh yes, what is this thing called kissed?

  2. RJ, It's some sort of ancient ritual, near as I can tell. :)

    That's my favorite stanza, too.

  3. It's often very illuminating just to look at the way something appears - any old thing. Very fascinating and illuminating to see how much there is that we ignore every day.

  4. Re: "just to look at the way something appears"---Commenting on Durer's Apollo (in the British Museum), Kenneth Clark writes: "Not for the last time a German artist has constructed a work of irreproachable classicism; yet a construction it remains, concealing only temporarily (though with wonderful mastery) Durers real conviction that the body was a curious and rather alarming organism."

  5. Such a deeply contemplative poem. One I'll have to come back and read again. I feel too scattery to give a worth while comment.

    Anyways, been so long since I kissed at a red light I can't remember when it was. So fresh love. ;)

  6. JENNY, Perhaps that fits under my notion of looking at life , or "any old thing," with fresh eyes, to give ourselves the gift of a new day with a fresh perspective.

    FEARGUTH, Is there a "12 Reasons" that might fit here? :)

    A "rather alarming organism," indeed.

    It's good to see you here.

    RITA, It is a wonderful poem, isn't it? "Anthologies of trees...poems by bees..." I just love those ideas.

    "Scattery" have anything to do with your Christmas knife incident? :) I trust it's healing well.... and Karma's being a good kitty.

  7. Do you know how this message led the seeker here?

  8. All of your commenters have so far outdone themselves in brilliance. I offer to you my humble thanks for your friendship, and your gifts of poems I have missed heretofore. You are a treasure. Thank you... :-)

  9. Wonderful ideas in this poem. It begs to be thought about for a long time!

  10. GLD, It does have a rather heat seeking missile effect, doesn't it?

    DJAN, I trust your trust is being restored and life is feeling good. I am so glad we're friends.

    BLOG Nancy, Every time I reread it I find a new favorite line. In this moment it's, "We see our own names written in other lives and find out each day how to care more."

    I have been reading it over and over and still see new ideas I'd like to think about further.

  11. This is a very lovely poem, Teresa, especially at the end of the year, a time for reflecting upon where we have traveled. I don't know the poet, John Cune, but I will check him out. The best . . .

  12. GEORGE, Yes, it's a good poem for reflecting back on the year. It's the only poem I've ever seen by this person. I believe it was originally published in The Christian Science Monitor, back in the 1990's. That's where I found it. I've done some research online and only found a textbook I believe he was involved in writing. If you find anything, please let me know!

  13. LOL! Yes, I think the Christmas knife incident and subsequent lack of sleep has left me feeling a bit scattery. ;)

  14. That poem is terrific. I saved it in my favorite poems folder. I haven't kissed anyone at a red light in years, many, many years.

  15. "You've traveled roads you would never have chosen
    and they've taken you nearer to what you deeply are
    even though there were many strange
    stopping places along the way. Don't look back."

    I've come to know this more and more as I age, Teresa. I have had experiences I never would have imagined, both good and bad, and they have made me a better person, I think. This is a wonderful, rather contemplative poem. I have a friend that is turning six decades and I think I will copy it and give it to her. Thank you for sharing it here.

  16. Good and bad we're here where we are because of that and Ah to savor the moment, sometimes I feel I savor too much and other times too little, thought provoking poem, I've been in a contemplative mood lately; I think the end of the year brings that on for me.

  17. RITA, Not a good combo! I trust this day is moving peacefully.

    MARY, I completely agree. Even those things that were difficult led me to Here, and it's a very good place to be, even without the red light pauses... :) I trust you and your boys had a great Christmas.

    LINDA S, Yes, it does tend towards contemplation. A little is good, too much not so good. A balance always....the ebb and flow of Life.

    CLETIS, The art of nuzzling is alive and well in Kentucky! Alright! Goldens are good teachers. My own is just a peach of a pal. Glad you liked the poem.

  18. Hmmm, hadn't thought about it. But then, I'm usually too busy looking out the window in case someone runs the red light and clobbers me. Better safe than sorry?

  19. Li, I guess, speaking strictly for myself, I want to live in a world where there's still time for a quick smooch while stopped at a red light, where safe or sorry are not the two choices we constantly have to make.

    I hope you had a good Christmas.

  20. Thanks for sharing this amazing poem. It really fit into my own personal way of looking at things.

    And here's wishing you a wonderful New Year, and hoping that you find someone to kiss at a stop light! I predict that you will!

  21. Hi Wild Bill, A wonderful New Year to you, as well, and hold that thought! :)

    Glad you like the poem. It has such nice imagery and ideas.

  22. Rilke's words from here are keepers for me. I'll remember where I found them.

  23. R.W. Can't tell you how glad I am that you found that earlier post and those words by Rilke, and for reminding me of the incredible value in them. Sometimes, I forget. :)

    Seriously. Thank you.

  24. I believe I got a smooch at a traffic light quite recently. Or maybe I gave it. Either way, it was a good thing!

  25. Ah! The View From The Old Street is/will be good!
    What A Splendid Poem Teresa!One To Savour at the end of the year.
    My Bestest Wishes to You & Yours for The New Year.

  26. Linda! You two lovebirds, you! Those wonderful travels take you to some good places. :)

    Tony, And my best wishes for a great New Year to you and Cath and all within your realm!


  27. I want to kiss someone when the lights red! Thanks for the poem, it's beautiful.

    Happy New Year x

  28. Kitty, A very Happy New Year to you! I hope it's filled with Love, and more than one kiss at a red light.

  29. But how do we smooch at red lights with those danged seat belts constraining us? There's something to think about - what constraints keep us from true enjoyment and participation in the world?

    I do love this poem. It's so evocative, and reminds me of something else, which of course I can't remember. But the stanza that begins "You've traveled roads you would never have chosen.." is just reverberating with "something". Maybe it will come to me.

  30. shoreacres, I know what you're sensing and I don't have a specific line or poem, but his cadence and tone does remind me of Mary Oliver somewhat, particularly the tone to her poem, "The Journey," one of my faves.

    Re:seat belts and constraints: where there's a will, there's a way. ;)

  31. Cheers for 2012! Celebrate safely tonight and may 2012 bring you a life filled with many blessings, including good health, prosperity, generosity of spirit with much joy and laughter!

  32. It's Best To Be Colour Blind, Then You Can Kiss At Every Light!!! Bestest Wishes To You & Yours in 2012 X

  33. Tony, What a good idea! The best to You and Yours!