A Calendar of Gratitude and Praise In January, Gratitude For between the rows of cut corn gullies of soft snow

For in the river high-water ice, like lacy tutus, engirding the larger rocks For on one bank orchards and on the other fields For King’s dream speech read and heard and in a handful of cities half realized For an unprecedented alignment of Saturn and Uranus For a comet approaching, some seeing or thinking they see through telescopes, through third eyes, a crucifix or an alien ship beside it For millenialists as for non-millinealists For those who with seriousness undertake inner work For the rucked and frozen Wallkill River

For noon glare like a bridge across it For the brown bear tramping down it, like a ship growing large Like a ship or a comet watched from afar Like a dream, like a year, like a leader knowing ice is a path and death is a start — New Paltz, New York <<>><<>> In February, Gratitude For the plain black birds who stay For the song of the plain black birds For daffodils, fake or not, on the porch of the yellow house For the bright five o'clock For a gray dog squatted on snow-locked grass For spokes of bootprints from the hub of the junior high For church bells and the quiet after For the boys at hockey, the crack of their sticks on the skidding puck For the hatless gloveless girls watching For under the frozen the unfrozen pond (thinking of it while walking on it) For the sapling bent like an arch For sleeves of bark where the stacked cord stood For oil delivered and gas delivered to accounts past due For kerosene in red plastic containers retrieved For sunlight profligate and uncontained, forever retrieved For sunlight later on the floor of the ward where the son or the daughter mourns For March impendent and the rumored crocus

For whatever weather every February (each one minutes longer) day —Pittsfield, Massachusetts


In March, Gratitude For road crews unclogging our culverts For chipmunks up from hibernation For under the black mulch of layered leaves, green shoots For seed packets spread like solitaire cards For in her house on the Anatolian plain Husneye Gok scooting the seeds she harvested herself into little hillocks on the table For on laundrymat bulletin boards the one word "Rototilling" with a number and a reasonable price For magnolia’s fat braggadocio For cats so obviously happy For the earlier and the later sun For after her last radiation treatment a mother lifting her face to the sun For the run-off roaring beneath our streets For farther away brooks and streams overflowing their banks and farther still the river urging its ice to the sea —New Paltz, New York <<>><<>> In April and May, Gratitude For spears of onion scent along the rail-trail path

For orange and yellow songbirds passing through from Costa Rica For horses in a field, their comfortable gait For three goats grazing near For sycamores so late to give their leaves, giving their leaves For apple orchards like symphony orchestras on the downbeat beginning to bloom For a wild pear beginning For worms at work in the compost heat For leaves of lettuce up so soon and so soon peas For the grave marker of a winter death finally and carefully placed For the workers of the world revered and remembered comradeship a dream, a destiny not dead For the dead of America's wars revered and remembered freedom a dream, a destiny not dead For in one day dandelions painting a field For the windows of the school bus open For the boredom of school soon over For the prisoners who pray For the lilacs that reach For the river so recently flooded flowing evenly between rich fields For mustard blooms like yellow roads between the orchard rows For the new green of maples. We may not see it again For graduation speakers, those who inspire and those who are brief For tulip heads eaten by browsing deer For the one head left, the one red flower as after a daughter's sudden death the widow's one daughter left For wild herbs offering their salves For true love

For young love flowering and seeing in itself a symbol of all else and seeing in all else a symbol of itself For the celibate man or woman seeing in the self the Source, unsymbolic For the old For the young For the middle-aged laboring and unresentful For resentments released For the energy of Easter and the energy of Passover and the energy of the Spring Equinox For those who are depressed nevertheless loving a breeze, a blade, a hue For those in despair nevertheless choosing another day as the ash tree thought dead springs sparse green in its uppermost crown For the woodsman who said No I will not cut it down I will not cut the old ash down. —New Paltz, NY


In June, Gratitude For from every gully and level stretch hip-high the lushness leaning . . . chicory weed in Queen Anne's Lace . . . the endless thickly seeded heads of grain For beneath their leaves the wild strawberries dangling (to lean and tongue the softest seems a sexual thing) For between mowings the grasses lifting their seeds upwards on delicate stalks For the black-white soccer ball deflating in a field For the seventeen-year cicadas, their mating noise a torrent litter of their exoskeletons amazing Do we love them less than we love the salmon? For brides as for red-winged blackbirds For blackbirds as for wild asparagus For asparagus as for the last dandelions For the national parks For the current of the river—taut as plastic-wrap then crimped by rocks For in their scorched grid the orchard trees submitting to Alar, to Malathion, submitting in order to give For in a sudden downpour laughter from the awnings and doorways of Main Street For at dusk trunks and leaves mirrored in the still creek For where the still creek meets the river lovers laughing and deciding For the farmer of a long drought who on network news kneels between the rows of winter wheat to show us what drought has done to the winter wheat For barbecues, for pot-lucks, for the covered-dish For bees with their mouths deep in the sex of the flowers For ants arousing the peonies, and peonies the ants For the summer solstice For sex of all sorts

For on a boulder in the river the conference- or concert-goer comprehending, to the bone, the workshop or the music or the current and its intercourse with stones —New Paltz, New York


In July, Gratitude For goldenrod beginning again and loosestrife taking a field For black raspberries ripe and over-ripe For the black dragon fly For the coppery frog and its throbbing throat For the liquid-orange salamander For in the apple orchard a red blush For the fourth of July for having forgotten it to see green fountains in the sky and remember For the Olympics, for symbols violated yet still symbolic the torch and the dove and the rings interlocked For athletes from nations where children are starving saying into the camera “Children are starving” For the jointed legs of the daddy-long-legs quick over dappled leaves For Sirius so bright before the dawn. Some say it is the sign of Isis, who floods the Nile. Some wake to see it rise For a five-foot high Queen Anne's Lace lifting its intricate white For overhead the heron and the hawk and on an island in the river a sandpiper standing alone then flying off —New Paltz, NY


In August, Gratitude For apple crates stacked in the orchards For from the pointed ladders voices Central American songs For the songs of Jamaica, Guatemala and Chiapas For the songs of Mississippi and Georgia (more than Malathion what coats our fruit) For sunflowers bordering the corn For cornfields bordering the river For the Perseus meteor shower For theme parks and water parks and bunjie jumps, that fun For in the cellar of a gutted house mattresses stacked and the daredevil children jumping from the second—no watch the third floor! For the sincere and forthright convention delegate For the African American baby asleep on a lap his destiny to one day accept the nomination of his party And his name shall be peace his harvest forgiveness and America will know again the simplicity of its fields —New Paltz, NY and North Philadelphia

<<>><<>> In September, Gratitude For a spray painted word—the word or name Tokay

For Betina and Porsha like twins for the first day of school For two boys playing catch and a yellow butterfly passing through For a cobalt blue trash barrel For in the night a car alarm calling "I have been tampered with, I have been tampered with" For the sullen look of a passing youth, for the appeal beneath the sullen look For sneakers dangling by their laces from telephone wire, turning like a wind vane in the wind For sycamores with dignity lining a street For a ginkgo in its bracelet of red brick For a recitation in Spanish from the prophet Jeremiah For the Spanish word Zion, so much gentler than the English “Zion” For a pigeon grooming itself on a wire, pulling me as ably as did the great blue heron down the groove of tension into immanence For a mother calling “Hakim, Hakim” For the surf of sound around homes as around homeless shelters around the sullen youth sitting on a cement wall in the dapple of late afternoon, North Philadelphia, early fall —North Philadelphia


In October, Gratitude For ash leaves turned that yellow that even on the rainiest days mimes sunlight—sunlight through trees For Nareida feeding pigeons polenta from an iron skillet For an orange bow flapping on a brown door For the sun setting red over superstore roofs For the gravel of bottleglass in sidewalk cracks—clear, brown and bright green For headlines with a Hubbel photograph—Collided Galaxies (such collision understood as unexplosive intermingling so great are the distances) For the million woman march and after it behind the counter at McDonald's a teenager flaunting her beaded braids For Christ in labor, Christ in the E.R. untreated For Allah For prayer For the resolve prayer brings For candlelight in the cavern of a Jack-o-lantern sweet smell of pith and seeds For the light in the eyes of the costumed children ninjas, draculas, Disneywomen and witches For the light in the eyes of us all —North Philadelphia <<>><<>>

In November and December, Gratitude For hummocks of ice down-slope from the culvert pipe For brown and gray through slow November by first snowfall abated For more running water than January will give us or any month until April or March For icicles examined and tossed high to shatter, the shards compared to consciousness, to light, to laughter (the tosser unaccountably happier) For birch trees bright in the four o'clock dusk like dancers posed pulse ecstatic bright in the four o'clock dusk For Venus before dawn on a violet horizon For so soon the strings of colored lights along the eaves of homes with staple guns to doorjambs fixed and by extension cord to reach the very shrubs For alone in a level field the large blue spruce by blue unblinking bulbs sparsely lit For window squares through thin straight saplings seen For the eight days of rededication and the girl or the boy in the temple praying For the human voice alone or in chorus For the winter solstice, and women night-long 'round a fire dancing For the ceremonies of Native America at last reanimant For of all ceremonies those that accelerate worship For worship understood as increase For the instant on waking when Christmas day is recalled For the widow or widower who wakes alone but anyway (or because) recalls For the neighbors who form to say Yes, Build the shelter here For Umoja, Ujima, Kujichagulia and the rest For the lights of the kenara sparkling on the fresh fruit For under the roadway the river changing course the turbulence and boulders of it from steel bridges glimpsed

For the one who kneeling asks to change and does (choice or miracle or both choice and miracle) For the food convoy let through For ancient and modern the hatreds ending (you may say they continue but I say they end) For those of each race who undertake healing For the improbable peace For leafy and crimped the dark green kale in a careful garden yet For the star in the east (supernova or sign or both supernova and sign) For the infant and the mystery incipient For patience For patience understood as faith For faith For three apple trees after freezing rain their branches to the very twigs bulkened and emblazoned scintillate in the breeze (the seer forever after forbearing decoration whose poverty is less for that—is not) For the plumber who Sunday agrees to solder the burst and spraying pipe For outside Port Authority with awkwardness or ease brotherhood expressed For the buck spared and the shot buck hung proudly from the tree of an upstate town For the delicate and cherished ornament from a low branch hung that the grandchild may lie looking up to see his face or hers among packages and tinsel-light intriguingly transformed For expectation greater than can be explained by packages For resolution greater than can be explained by guilt For charity greater than can be explained by taxes For grace For the turn of the world on its imagined and reliable axis For the gift of beginning again what we failed at before

For the gift offered and rejected and offered a second time For the gift accepted For the giver of all gifts For the thoughtful death, attended or not For song For birth For Christ For breath For whatever debt or depression belabors our praise, our pleasure—December, with light 2/94 – 10/02 Pittsfield, Massachusetts New Paltz, New York North Philadelphia

The end. Thank you for reading, and praising with me. Make your own calender. Live in gratitude.

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