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Practicing the Art of Zen
Susan B. Auld

how can I be in the present
when I need two hands to twitter and tweet
when world events are everywhere all the time
above   below   under   inside   outside
slithering through
ear buds   flat screens   cell phones
and I miss the exact second the rose
opens its red lips or the dramatic entrance
of the lilac’s perfume as it catches a ride
on the back of a spring breeze
and floats through my open window
how can I listen   to my breath
move    in   move   out   move   in   move out
through the rumbles of cement trucks  
bells and whistles of garbage trucks  
siren songs   ring tones   doorbells
computer music and twitches
how can I possibly be
in the moment
when the world is so
in my face 
in my ears 
in my rooms  
in my yard
swallowing this
moment and
the next and next and next…
how in this world do I let go
of all the cacophonous chaos
practice     practice    practice
This poem first appeared on the Illinois State Poets Society Website.
Used here with the author’s permission.


Susan B. Auld began writing while growing up on Long Island. She left the beaches for the fields of Wisconsin and prairies of Illinois where she renewed her love of words—by becoming first a speech-language pathologist and then a poet. She currently lives in Arlington Heights, Illinois, where she teaches community-based workshops through her Lotus Flower Writers Studio and facilitates The Poetry Place at the community’s library. Susan seeks out natural spaces for renewal and inspiration and returns to the beach whenever possible. She is the author of two poetry collections, Waiting Innocence (2004, $10 + shipping) and Visiting Morning and Other Quiet Places (2008, $13.95 + shipping); contact us if you're interested in purchasing.

Post New Comment:
Susan, We need to hear poems like this. You have it exactly. Wonderful poem.
Posted 06/08/2011 06:13 PM
Mary Beth:
I love the way this poem points out that the world really IS too much in our faces. Often, we don't realize that this is the cause of the unrest we feel. Thanks for the beautifully worded reminder to practice simply being.
Posted 06/08/2011 03:07 PM
The last line, the well-known answer to "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" underscores our desire to satisfy realities that are in diametric conflict. Good work.
Posted 06/08/2011 09:05 AM
I love this poem! I particularly love the lilac's perfume catching a ride on the back of a spring breeze. "The world IS too much with us!" And this poem is a reminder to us all to be still.
Posted 06/08/2011 08:54 AM
Gail Goepfert:
Really like this one! Worth practicing!
Posted 06/08/2011 08:11 AM
Cory Raymond:
Hi Susan, Although I know your question was rhetorical, my one word (or three if you prefer) would be: haiku haiku haiku! This is a great poem. So real and true!
Posted 06/08/2011 07:32 AM
This a lovely poem! Thanks for reminding us to unplug and take in the beauty of this world.
Posted 06/08/2011 04:23 AM

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