Duet of Grateful Longing

Duet of Grateful Longing / by Ihsan Jaffar & Halima bint Ayuba

a response to Ihsan Jaffar’s “My Beloved” interwoven into the original; Ihsan’s original lines are in italics

My Beloved,

You have saved me from myself
How to return the favour?

My gratitude wanders, homeless.
It sleeps on benches beneath stars.

What does a beggar offer
The King of the worlds?

Anything I could bring has already
been in your Hands — what stick
might this dog retrieve to place
at your feet, Beloved Master?

You brought me back from the dead
I was far beyond the edge

I am too small today to reach
the basin, splash water on my face
perform ablutions — I kneel,
that One might lift me.

Now I’m moved by your Power
I have wings to fly

Racing through life, breathlessly,
breathlessly, calling to You:
“Look Pa! No hands!”

You have forced open my eyes
I see what I am inside

Before I could see anything,
I had to dust and sweep.

A vessel of your Beauty
And a soul of Love

This cup–You crafted.
This wine–You poured.

Only you know who I am
The world doesn’t understand

None can know the vessel
as the One who shaped it,
placed it in the kiln.

I want nothing in this life
But to sit with You

Burnish me to a brightness,
place me in service
at Your table.

My Beloved,
You give me the strength to stand
You are the one who guides
You bring meaning to my life

What value the cup,
if the Beloved is not thirsty?

Please don’t ever
For a moment
leave my side.

What value the cup,
if the Beloved does not lift it up?

Ihsan Jaffar & Halima bint Ayuba, 04/29/14





Transmutation / by Laura M Kaminski

a response to Ihsan Jaffar’s “Love’s Shadow”

on a full moon night
stand out beneath the sky
in the late evening

stand barefoot as
the pauper that you are
and face the light

feel your body now becoming
a transparent figurine, like a glass
chess-set knight or king

let each beam
of reflected sunlight
bounce off the moon

and flow right through your clarity

without appropriation or delay

and when you turn
you’ll find those shadows
you were carrying inside

have piled up behind you
weightless now

–Laura M Kaminski, 2014


misdirected / by Laura M Kaminski

a response to Ihsan Jaffar‘s “Our Heroes”

misdirected, only
these aspirations

misunderstood, only
these desires —

does not each
sapling yearn
to grow into a larger
tree? each cherry
blossom beg
the bees for pollen
that it too might
make fruit?

even this idolatry
is a reflection
of our wanting

the dawning
of our craving
to be part of something
greater than our

even this idolatry
is only misdirected

does not Rumi say
the One accepts
all coin, bad
and good?

–Laura M Kaminski, 2014



Making Ready

Making Ready / by Laura M Kaminski

My tiny self is not willing
to participate in this suggestion,
will not undertake a voluntary
evacuation — so it makes
a plan for hurricanes,
how it will shelter in place,
place tape across my eyes

so they won’t break, bring in
all of me that’s fragile,
gather all it thinks it needs
for self-sufficiency, withdraw
into some inner hallway
deep within, hide inside
determined to survive alone.

But Love is stronger than
the solitary shelter where
I cower, it roars and crashes,
takes the roof off, strips
away all my protection.
Indiscriminate, it also
tears away my self-perception,

insecurities and all fear of rejection.
It rips through this tidy place
of safety that I’ve made until
there’s nothing left beneath
my feet or in my grasp but air,
and nothing left for me except
to dare the storm.

— Laura M Kaminski, 2014


Birthday Wish, Croissant and Squirrel

Birthday Wish, Croissant and Squirrel / by Laura M Kaminski

for David Wright, 20-April

Someone today is playing all the birds, tuning them up
for a winged concerto. Warm from the oven, a fresh croissant

exhales yeast and butter. What better gift on a still-crisp
April morning? The squirrels are not yet rejoicing, they’re

still living on old rations, last year’s broken hickories
gathered from beneath the mail box where the postman’s

Jeep has crushed their shells. For the squirrels, this
is when it’s lean, all things are just now greening,

all so far from seeds and harvest. But take this flaky
pastry and place it at the base of the creaking sugar maple,

adorn it with a dandelion blossom if you please, set a fine
table for that frumpy fellow watching from the branch.

Back away and give him space to gather up his bravery, rush
down the trunk and grab the gift, race back up skyward home.

Soon crumbs tumble, scatter soft upon the grass below,
manna falling from the sugar maple into new spring clover.

Delighted finches skip and taste.  May your birthday be this way,
this kind of banquet. May even the crumbles of this day be joy.

–Laura M Kaminski, 2014



Every Last Drop

Every Last Drop / by Laura M Kaminski

How does one go / about dying? / Who on earth /
is going to teach me — / the world is filled
with people / who have never died.”
— Franz Wright, “On Earth”

I sip what’s left, the grace of small surprises
flitting through my life like dandelions
transforming suddenly to finches, taking flight

or the strip of paper in my husband’s fortune
cookie that confirmed (and ended all debate):

Out loud? Rich laughter — I mean, who
gets shopping advice from a restaurant biscuit?

But inside, the layered memories of stained socks
that always need an extra scrub because
the mud finds ways to seep through worn-out soles —

inside, a chorus-line of tiny hallelujahs
burst free from the wings for a round of high-fives.

What’s left in the cup, I sip, grateful I have
not (yet, at least) fallen into the pit of pity,
it’s early-mourning wall so thick I might not

have seen past it, I might have missed these joys.

–Laura M Kaminski, 2014



Lagomorpha / by Laura M Kaminski

The rabbit with the white-splotched fur
who creeps along with twitching nose
past the sorrel and bramble-burr
stops underneath the tuberose —

considering again the dung
she left beneath the blossom sweet:
do nutrients remain among
these pellets? Maybe. She will eat

them all again, just to be sure
that anything she might have missed
when she first tried to digest them
is taken in and chewed once more —

she gathers up the complex bits,
and, like poems, re-ingests them.

–Laura M Kaminski



Matchmaker / by Laura M Kaminski

for Jim Corner

There is no path except the one
I’m making with my feet —
I wind past cactus, prickly pear
and yucca, these bristling sentries
zealously guard scant patches of shade
beneath the stubby junipers.

The needled fingers of these
ancient trees are tipped with caps
of gold — a gunshot echo rolls
along the ridge as one explodes
beside me, coats me in yellow
dust — I’ve been entrusted by this
Midas with a message —
I must take it up.

I continue climbing, reach
a cliff-top, find another tree
that’s split a boulder
with its roots; it stands
in solitude.

I scrabble up the rock,
gently rest my back
against its bark.

–Laura M Kaminski

NOTE: Conclave: A Journal of Character published this poem in their most recent issue; I am re-posting it here and elsewhere today with their permission as a tribute. Rest in Peace, Jim Corner.)