Unspoken Word
February 13, 2024
The Mirror

There are times late at night
when I want someone
to look into the mirror of who I am
and see themselves clearly.

I'm not exactly sure why this is so,
other than the feeling
of two people realizing
there are actually
only one of us here.

Whatever happens after that
is gravy.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2024
I LIVE NEXT TO THE POST OFFICE

I live next to the post office
in a one-bedroom apartment
just three blocks from where Mike Tyson
trained to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

If I turn right and walk all the way to the end of the street,
I arrive at my favorite cafe
where I drink coffee, eat chocolate and laugh.
If I turn left, I end up at the river.
There I sit on a park bench and do nothing.
Children and dogs walk by,
ducks quack,
and the ripples of the river,
ever so slightly,
rise and fall.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2024
This Thirst

Some spoken word by yours truly

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:43 PM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2024
Two Kinds of Poetry

There are some poems
that are nothing more than thoughts,
the kind of packaging you might
find around your house
after a quick visit to the mall
where lots things you didn't really need
you bought.

Then there are poems that sanctify
the celebration of pure feeling,
what lovers experience
on a lazy day
after a long, slow embrace
when they find themselves
wordless,
and dancing on the ceiling.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2024
I FEEL A POEM COMING ON

I feel a poem coming on,
not like a cold,
more like a warm,
an unexpected visit from an old friend
whose name I do not know
but can always tell when she is drawing nigh --
there's a kind of perfume in the air,
a scent,
a sensing like a dog,
that his Master has turned for home.
Not having a tail, I'm not really sure
what it is I wag,
but there is definitely something
moving inside me.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2024
Here's the Problem with Reading Rumi

Here's the problem with reading Rumi:
There's a very good chance you will never come back,
which might, of course, be fine for you, oh seeker of light,
but what about the person you are most committed to
here on planet earth? Won't they feel abandoned,
you having disappeared without a trace
your body now a shadow,
your heart having exploded into a thousand pieces,
each one a seed to populate another world?
What about THAT person, the one you
share your hopes and dreams with,
the one who holds you late at night?
If this, perchance, is what concerns you, my friend,
simply tell your partner this:
My darling, I would love you like my own self if I knew who I was,
I would sing to you each day,
which is why I read Rumi, the pied piper of my soul,
and why I breathe.
You and I are more than a couple, my dear,
we are couplets in a greater poem,
each one a moving line with its own rhythm and internal rhyme,
expressions of the ancient quest for love
now made greater by each other,
why I come home to you at night,
why you come home to me,
and time stops,
why I must forgive myself daily for forgetting
just how utterly divine you are, sweet bee to the honey of my life,
the endless sky I soar deeper into,
stretching my wings beyond what I think is possible,
and it's all Rumi's fault.
Blame him!
I had nothing to do with it.
Nothing.

Excerpted from Unspoken Word

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2023
There Is a Poem Within This Poem

There is a poem within this poem,
what lovers have no need to say to each other,
late at night, ecstatic, in each other's arms.
I offer this poem to you, my friend,
perfume from the secret chamber of my heart.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:20 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2023
What Do You Follow?

You can follow the rules, you can follow a trail,
you can follow what's cool, a text or email,
you can follow your dreams, you can follow your gut,
you can follow a meme, you can follow a rut,
you can follow a trend, you can follow your bliss,
you can follow a man, you can follow a kiss,
you can follow the scent, you can follow the path,
you can follow what's meant, you can follow the math,
you can follow the money, you can follow the crowd,
you can follow your honey, you can follow out loud,
you can follow your heart or the yellow brick road,
you can follow your art, or someone's morse code,
you can follow your muse, a recipe too,
you can follow the news, and the latest who's who,
you can follow a leader, you can follow a script,
you can follow palm readers or the Dow when it dips,
you can follow the signs or the realm after death,
you can follow what rhymes or... follow your breath.

Unspoken Word

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:45 AM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2023
Here's the Thing About Reading Hafiz

Here's the thing about reading Hafiz:
I can be completely up to my neck
with the unglamorous mud of life,
lonely, sad, and dreading whatever comes next,
when an unexpected three-word phrase from him
or just a single word,
playfully placed,
turns the ground beneath my feet
into the promised land, each step an arrival.

No longer tourist here,
I am now drinking deep with the man
in the backroom of a tavern far off the beaten path.

We toast the moment and a few things
that will never make it into this poem.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

This Thirst

Excerpted from "Unspoken Word: Love Longing & Letting Go"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2023
There Is a Contest I Want to Enter

There is a contest I want to enter,
but I'm not sure what it's for.

Something in me wants to win something,
walk down the aisle when my name is called,
mount the stage and, almost speechless,
accept the golden trophy from the famous presenter,
approach the microphone and
in a courageous attempt to speak before tears take over,
feel a few words rising
like bubbles from a perfectly chilled bottle of champagne
that, somehow, find their way to my voice, making
beautiful popping sounds which everyone
completely understands before the need to clap or laugh or cry,
sitting there as they are,
Buddhas of the Great Beyond,
poised on the brink of infinity,
their endless silence the perfect applause.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:30 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2023
Three Lines, But Not a Haiku

There is something
that is nothing
and that is everything to me.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2023
In Praise of New Beginnings on Rosh Hashanah

What can be said on this most blessed day that
you don't already know deep within your soul?
What song or psalm can be sung whose words have not already
washed over you many times before,
soothing you, renewing you, refining you once again?

This is the glory of Rosh Hashanah, my friends,
the time of new beginnings, the time of reflection,
the time to slow down from the 9-5 and enter into the timeless,
the sacred space within each and every one of us
the holy realm that is already pure and perfect
just the way it is --
not because of what we have done or what we have forgotten to do,
not because we stumble and fall, human beings that we are,
but because the essence of who we are was made
in the image of God, home base in a child's game of tag,
Free Parking in Monopoly,
the warm spot on the pillow of our lives where we long
to lay our heads and let go to the beauty of simply being alive,
resting in the arms of our Divine Beloved,
our souls awakened, our eyes opened
and, even more than that, our hearts.

Yes, it is Rosh Hashanah we are here to celebrate tonight,
the time and space of new beginnings,
one more chance to pause and look within to the core of our being,
to consider, reflect and introspect
so we might make amends, forgive, be forgiven
and open more fully to a power none of us will ever comprehend.

Rosh Hashanah, ahh... Rosh Hashanah,
a High Holy Day celebrated by our parents, and their parents,
and their parent's parents in a succession of
who knows how many generations going back to the beginning
of all that is holy and divine.

"Shana Tovah" we say to each other this evening,
in Hebrew it means a "Good Year."

And that is God's wish for us and our wish for each other,
and let us not forget... our wish for ourselves.

Yes, ourselves -- the ones who pray, the ones who make amends,
those who are willingly accountable for what has preceded
this precise moment in time,
opening once again like a flower to the full glory of love.

May today be a new beginning for you and
everyone you pray next to tonight,
may the roses of our souls be pruned just enough in prayer
to quicken our sacred blooming for the coming year.

And should we forget, as human beings are wont to do,
may we remember in our very next breath
just how fortunate we are to be alive, to breathe, to be grateful
and have yet another chance to embrace
the joyful journey of the life we are, daily, being given
as if for the first time.

Read for the first time at Temple Israel of Catskill: 9/15/23

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:01 AM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2023
I Live Next to the Post Office

I live next to the post office
in a one-bedroom apartment
just three blocks from where Mike Tyson
trained to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

If I turn right and walk all the way to the end of the street,
I arrive at my favorite cafe
where I drink coffee, eat chocolate and laugh.
If I turn left, I end up at the river.
There I sit on a park bench and do nothing.
Children walk by and some dogs,
ducks quack,
and the ripples of the river, ever so slightly,
rise and fall.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:47 PM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2023
ON FALLING IN LOVE

We talk of falling in love,
one of our great aspirations
here on this third rock from the sun,
the jackpot in the game of life.
The phrase is a curious one.
Why falling?
Why the downward direction?
Is there gravity at the heart of love?
Ripe fruit falling to the ground?
A coin tossed in a wishing well?
Rain?

All of us have fallen in love,
entered the invisible realm --
the place where the heart opens
and we are known as if for the first time.
The need to speak gone, we are heard and seen,
held and received,
celebrated for simply being who we are.
Time stops, space expands
and we enter the holy sanctuary of
this ... present ... moment.
And then?

The falling stops,
we hit the bottom and often with a thud,
the kind no one wants to talk about,
fodder for blues songs, therapists
and late-night drinks with friends.

Might there be another kind of love,
one beyond the gravity of this world,
a realm where there is no falling,
only rising,
what happens to a drop of water
on a hot day,
or a feather caught in an updraft?
All of this falling and rising,
all of this coming and going
are facets of the same precious diamond
we need to give ourselves,
betrothed to the wonder of it all.

The gift?

To feel what there is to be felt,
to see what there is to be seen,
to let go
and receive whatever is coming our way
in whatever form or formlessness,
and then, in the twilight hour,
in the space between this, that and the other thing,
when there is no "other", no object of devotion,
no one to receive our freshly picked flowers,
to open like a rose.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2023
THE ULTIMATE HOST

You have given me everything
or should I say,
you have introduced me to everything,
it being impossible to give anything
to anyone who already has it all
(which is everyone),
or maybe I should say,
you have reflected
everything back to me,
like a mirror does,
free of dust,
revealing what already exists.

Still waters you are, my Friend,
the surface of a cool lake
high in the mountains
showing me my real face
before I dive in or drink,
parched as I've been
from all those years of wandering.

Yes, introduced me is what you have done,
like the ultimate host of a fabulous party --
you the one who greets me at the door,
bows, smiles, laughs and,
with a sweep of the hand,
invites me to enter.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:09 AM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2023
The Only Question Left for Me Tonight

The only question left for me tonight is this:
Do I write by candlelight or moonlight?
Both, you see, have their advantages.
They do.

Candlelight, softening everything in its path, evokes
lifetimes of lovers,
none of whom ever want to take their leave,
only breathe slowly into each other,
luxuriating in the moment that never ends,
nowhere to go, nothing to do,
no future, no past,
silence the manger they find themselves having entered into,
fused breath rising
like a sun inside the same shared horizon.

Ah... yes... candlelight...
a mighty fine contender, it is,
candlelight, the poet's muse,
and I haven't even yet gotten to the moon yet --
the moon,
lighting the way to monastery walls
and all those haiku years
tending plum trees
in a garden swept so clean by monks
that the Master of the Estate -
the one for whom so many traveled so far
to catch a single glance,
a smile, a turn of the head, a word.

Such liquid sweetness there is in this grand elixir of life
where only love exists,
only love, my friends, only love,
love and the second question of this poem:

"Who is it that moves my hand just so?"

A weed in the wind, it is,
bed sheets being shaken out on a far hillside,
God's mime, somehow able to see without looking,
holding his pen
as if it was a 17th century sword,
its handle so heavy
only a light heart
could lift it tonight.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2023
Scrolling

So there I am, scrolling
through my long list of Facebook friends
when I see the name of someone who died last year.
It's not like they were my best friend,
they weren't,
but they were a good friend, a pearl,
someone whose company I very much enjoyed,
someone I laughed with and listened to,
whose stories moved me
not to mention their uncried tears.

Their name is staring at me from
the cold screen of a laptop
I bought to stay in touch with people I love,
but they are gone --
gone their smile,
gone the scar above their eyebrow,
gone the curious way they turned their head.

I am not scrolling now, just looking at their name,
and then I scroll again.

Five people down,
I see another friend
no longer here to check their inbox or send me a joke.

I pause,
take a long, slow breath,
and scroll again.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2023
Smiling from Within

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2023
The Real Marriage

Today, my own best man, alone in my room,
I am going to marry myself,
love who I am until death do me part,
embracing what exists
at the core of my being,
knowing, as I do, that my soul mate lives inside me,
closer than my breath,
muse of my muse,
and has always been with me,
even when I was not,
whole until itself,
radiant, free,
snuggling, in its wrinkled pajamas,
with infinity.
This marriage of myself,
this loving the love that loves
is not a rejection of the world,
nor is it a denial of the passionate glory of loving another,
it is, quite simply,
the recognition that who and what I am
were made for each other a long time ago,
best friends, lovers,
the pauses in this poem,
not so much holding hands,
but being held
in the massive arms
of the nameless One
who animates us all.

Excerpted from "Unspoken Word: Love Longing & Letting Go"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2023
Prometheseus Speaks

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2023
Today is the Launch of "Unspoken Word: Love, Longing & Letting Go"

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Dear Friends:

If you have been reading this blog for a while, there is a very good chance you will enjoy my just-published book of poetry dedicated to Prem Rawat, "Unspoken Word: Love, Longing & Letting Go."

Today is the day it launches on Amazon.

If you are thinking about buying it (or even if you're not), today is the day to buy it. Why? Because the more people who buy the book on the same day, the greater the chance the book will rank high on Amazon's NEW RELEASES list. And the higher it ranks, the more visibility the book will get. And since my vision is that millions of people read this book, visibility is a good thing.

PS: If you read the book and enjoy it, please consider writing an Amazon review -- one more way to help me get the word out there. Gracias!

Buy on Amazon
What ChatGBT says about my poetry
The website

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2023
What People Are Saying About My New Book of Poetry: Part 1

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UnspokenWordBook.com
Buy on Amazon
What ChatGBT has to say about my poetry

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2023
Sometimes I Cry for No Reason

Sometimes I cry for no reason,
something takes me over and shakes my body free of all tears,
I don't know where it comes from, but I love where it takes me.

Volcanic, primal and pure, it moves me to
the other shore of myself,
the place beyond place,
beyond thought, thinking, or having,
leaving me with the only thing there really is,
what has always been and will always be,
call it what you will,
there is no name for it.

This force of nature,
this tightrope strung between worlds
is totally invisible, even when you walk it
or sing about it
or pretend it doesn't exist.

It does
and it doesn't,
both at the same time.
maybe that's why I cry,
my way of being shaken awake,
free of anything and everything,
wholly alive, present,
empty, full,
and very, very grateful.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2023
Reading Kabir in Bed on a Saturday Morning

Don't do anything
and don't do nothing either
which includes, of course, you, in this moment,
thinking that "don't do nothing"
isn't exactly the King's English
and I should rewrite the second line of this poem.

See how fast the mind moves
even when you were invited just six lines ago
not to do anything?

Zero is hard for most of us.
We assume it's an absence,
as if something important was missing.
It's not.
Nothing is missing,
nothing at all,
everything you need, you already have.

What is all this rushing about,
this urge to accomplish, this need to prove?
God is not your mother
waiting for you to come home from school
so she can put your cute little drawings on the refrigerator.
She has other things in store for you.

Today, even if it's not yet Sunday, rest!
Go slower than you usually do,
watch a cloud,
listen to the sound inside of you,
pull the fishing line you have cast into the world
back into your self.

Is there anything on the hook?

There is no correct answer to this question, by the way.
Hook, no hook, it doesn't matter in the least,
not when the ocean that contains all those fish
isn't really doing anything at all.
Its waves, the ones you like to surf on or write poems about,
are made by the pull of the moon!
Let that same moon pull you.

Be a wave of that celestial orb.
Be moved in ways that don't require thinking.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2023
Who Can I Share My Joy With?

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MitchDitkoff.com
Full Moon at Sunrise
Photograph: unsplash-logoNathan Dumlao

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:54 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2022
Advanced Praise for "Unspoken Word: Love Longing & Letting Go"

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My fourth book of poetry, Unspoken Word: On Love, Longing and Letting Go, will be published in March, 2023. What follows are a selection of comments from early readers of the manuscript:

"Your poetry has given me one of the greatest gifts of all -- hope." - Michael Nouri, Television and Film Actor

"Unspoken Word is entrancing -- a stellar accomplishment. This precious book is a rare treasure, a cloudburst of wisdom, a true feast for the soul." - John Audette, Author, Loved by the Light: True Stories of Divine Intervention and Providence

"Mitch's poetry resonates with the story of my life and pours forth like an erupting volcano, igniting that unnameable thirst within." - Joan Apter, Healer and Author, Miracle of Thirst

"Ditkoff connects everything with invisible threads of joy that point to a past, present and future of profound acceptance and gratitude for what is." - Rabbi Zoe B Zak, Temple Israel, Catskill, NY

"Open the cover of this book, and in the first few words you'll be greeted by an old friend who knows a part of you that you may have forgotten. Take your time and savor each bite of this delicious meal!" - Jim Hobbs, Psychology Professor, SUNY Ulster

"I spent a month reading a few poems each day from Unspoken Word. It became a journey of searching my own soul. It connected me with my loved ones, the world, and a better understanding of myself." - Hank Alpert, President, Spartan Petroleum Corp.

"I've just read the first few poems and am very touched. Tears started falling almost immediately. How beautiful! For me, what you've written is a love letter I want to savor." -- Susan Hubly, Realtor

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"Mitch Ditkoff's poems are striking and lyrical. They grow more profound each time you re-read your favorites. His wide-range of poetic styles reflect the gentle romanticism of Rilke and Gibran and the wry wit of Billy Collins. Like Rumi and Hafiz, Mitch has the gift of distilling infinity into words that inspire you to feel its vastness within you. Unspoken Word is ecstatic poetry for the 21st Century." - Francisca Matos, Writer

"Inspiring. Ecstatic. Mystical. Profound. Exciting. Mesmerizing. Juicy. Memorable. Joyous. Wondrous. Sublime. Uplifting." - Jonathan Lloyd, Writer & TaiChi/QiGong teacher

"Mitch Ditkoff's poetry is inspired -- an invocation to Spirit for guidance, grace and opening to a life of love. His writing makes the unseen world visible and palpable. It opens the heart." - Steve McHugh, Author, You are God Enough

"Unspoken Word evokes some of my favorite devotional poets, Rumi in particular. These pages will delight with a familiarity similar to remembering an enchanting dream that has long been forgotten." -- MaryAnne Erickson, Fine Artist

"From the very first poem in this book, we find ourselves on a journey all of us share in common. Mitch Ditkoff has eloquently put into words the transcendence of our limitations as we experience the grace of being human." - Steve Ornstein, Founder, Israel Seen

"If one thinks of ecstatic poetry as something created in the past and preserved by a few in the present, I offer another possibility. Make way for the living! Mitch Ditkoff lives in his own ecstatic landscape -- NOW. He reminds us of this magical place we all share because we are alive." - Alla Rogers, Director of Art and Cultural Impact Programs, Global Peace Education Network

"Mitch Ditkoff takes us on the ride of our lives, holding us tenderly and showing us what's possible in the world and in ourselves. Unspoken Word is a gift!" - Joseph Bennett, Author, Rest, The Art of Doing Less

"These beautiful poems reflect us back to ourselves, allowing us to see our human condition with greater love and compassion, to breathe a sigh of relief and flow." - Ellen Goldberg, Mystic and Author, The Art and Science of Hand Reading

"I applaud Mitch's relentless efforts to share these secrets of the heart, for they are hints of how to enter through that invisible door to your truest home." - Jan Buchalter, Humanitarian

"One cannot fail to respond to the call of Mitch's poetry to awaken us in the midst of life's circumstances. No matter how apparently estranged from our hearts we feel or troubled in mind, we glance a second time at what's before us and find it suddenly transformed." -- Robert Esformes, Cantor

"A true joy to read and contemplate." - George Samuels, Tibetan Buddhist


SOME MIGHT CALL IT DANCING

Some might call it dancing,
I call it stumbling closer to God,
the unrehearsed
falling forward into God
as if the world was tipped.

Why I wrote Unspoken Word

To receive an alert when the book is published, send an email to mitch@ideachampions.com with "Unspoken Word" in the subject line.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2022
How to Order "Unspoken Word"

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My next book of poetry, "Unspoken Word: On Love, Longing and Letting Go" will be published in March, 2023.

If you would like to receive an email alert when the book is out, all you need to do is send me a email with the words "Unspoken Word" in the subject line. That's it. Simple.

mitch@ideachampions.com

Advance praise for "Unspoken Word"
Poets on poetry

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2022
Poets on Poetry

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"A poem is never finished, only abandoned." - Paul Valery

"Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood." - T.S. Eliot

"If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry." - Emily Dickinson

"Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." - Leonard Cohen

"Poetry is the liquid voice that can wear through stone." - Adrienne Rich

"The poet is the priest of the invisible." - Wallace Stevens

"I have nothing to say, I am saying it, and that is poetry." - John Cage

"Poetry is the deification of reality." - Edith Sitwell

"Poetry is the one place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private." - Allen Ginsberg

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"Poetry is my cheap means of transportation. By the end of the poem the reader should be in a different place from where he started. I would like him to be slightly disoriented at the end, like I drove him outside of town at night and dropped him off in a cornfield." - Billy Collins

"Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful." - Rita Dove

"A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"Poetry is one of the ancient arts, and it begins as did all the fine arts, within the original wilderness of the earth." - Mary Oliver

"A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman." - Wallace Stevens

"Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat." - Robert Frost

"Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman." - Virginia Woolf

"To be a poet is a condition, not a profession." Robert Graves

"A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone's knowledge of himself and the world around him." - Dylan Thomas

"Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone." - Lawrence Ferlinghetti

"There's a reason poets often say,'Poetry saved my life,' for often the blank page is the only one listening to the soul's suffering, the only one registering the story completely, the only one receiving all softly and without condemnation." - Clarissa Pinkola Estes

"I'm a great believer in poetry out of the classroom, in public places, on subways, trains, on cocktail napkins. I'd rather have my poems on the subway than around the seminar table at an MFA program." - Billy Collins

"Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness." - Alice Walker

"Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiers." - Yevgeny Yevtushenko

"Poems are like dreams: in them you put what you don't know you know." - Adrienne Rich

"Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings." - W.H. Auden

"The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth." - Jean Cocteau

"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words." - Robert Frost

"I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything." - Steven Wright

"Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason." - Novalis

"Reality only reveals itself when it is illuminated by a ray of poetry." - George Braque

"Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry." - Muriel Rukeyser

"Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity, it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance." - John Keats

"Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits." - Carl Sandburg

"A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses." - Jean Cocteau

"Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo." - Don Marquis

"The fate of poetry is to fall in love with the world." - Derek Walcott

"Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild." - Denis Diderot

"Poetry is more a threshold than a path." - Seamus Heaney

"You will not find poetry anywhere unless you bring some of it with you." - Joseph Joubert

"Poetry is a sword of lightning, ever unsheathed, which consumes the scabbard that would contain it." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history." - Plato

"Poets are shameless with their experiences: they exploit them." - Friedrich Nietzsche

"Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility." - William Wordsworth

"I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I'll die like a poet." - Bob Dylan

"Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own." - Dylan Thomas

"A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms to be struck by lightning 5 or 6 times." - Randall Jarrell

"Poetry, I feel, is a tyrannical discipline. You've got to go so far so fast in such a small space; you've got to burn away all the peripherals." - Sylvia Plath

"A poet can survive everything but a misprint." - Oscar Wilde

"Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"In the house of poetry nothing endures that is not written with blood to be heard with blood." - Pablo Neruda

"A poet's autobiography is his poetry. Anything else is just a footnote." - Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Photo #1: Radu Florin on Unsplash
Photo #2: Trust "Tru" Katsande on Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

The Shortest Pilgrimage (and the rebooting of my MEDIUM blog)

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Good news! After a long hiatus, I have rebooted my blog on MEDIUM -- a very lovely online platform where the best of my writing is being published. I will be posting one piece daily. Feel free to subscribe. It's free. And if you want to receive email alerts whenever something new is posted, be sure to click that option.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:52 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2022
What People Are Saying About "Unspoken Word" Performances

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On October 22 at the Arts Society of Kingston (ASK), Steve Gorn, Barbara Bash and Mitch Ditkoff performed an alchemical mix of evocative poetry, inspired music and in-the-moment art-making -- all under the creative direction of Wiley Basho Gorn.

The premise of the show was a simple, yet universal one:

There is an aching deep inside of each and everyone of us for the Divine -- a calling to experience and express the very best of what it means to be a human being -- especially during these challenging times.

Hope is needed. Love is needed. Inspiration is needed, as well as the ability to adapt and adjust to the ever-changing play of life.

The spoken word for the evening was selected from Mitch Ditkoff's recently published book of poetry, Unspoken Word. The music (bansuri flute, clarinet, and gongs) provided the perfect soundscape to establish a deep listening mode. And the spontaneous image-making provided evocative visuals to give shape to whatever was emerging in the moment.

What follows are a sampling of comments from attendees:

"I experienced last night's "Unspoken Word" performance as luminous. I came away from the event with a part of myself shining bright. Perhaps it was my soul. Poetry can deliver a book's worth of insight in a few lines. Your words expressed in a beautiful, concise way, the essence of the human experience." - Ellen Goldberg

"Unique, warm, meaningful, positive, powerful and providing peace of mind. What more can you ask for from a night out!" - Paul Solis Cohen

"What a unique event! The wisdom in the poetry was timeless. The poems were alive -- sometimes with humor, sometimes pensive, but always thought provoking. It refreshed my soul to hear the spoken word, carried into my ears by Steve Gorn's magical music. And Barbara Bash! I loved how she hesitated and became thoughtful before she put the brush to paper. She was a real conduit and meant every stroke. Thanks for a great evening!" - Maria DeFranco

"What a lovely evening. It was a fine performance. I enjoyed the combination of art, music and the moving and lyrical poetry. Good Vibes during these troubled times!" - Dick Goldman

"Thank you dear Mitch Barbara and Steve for the wonderful evening of poetry, music and art. A true blessing of love and closeness especially in this time of strife." - Eldad Benary

"The presentation of three artists supporting each other at the same time was extremely creative." - Maxine Hirsch

More about the performers:

Mitch Ditkoff ("Unspoken Word")
Barbara Bash
Steve Gorn

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Upcoming shows:

Arts Society of Kingston (Spring, 2024 date TBD)
Temple Israel of Catskill (Winter, 2024, date TBD

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2022
How to Listen to the Beloved

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Excerpted from Full Moon at Sunrise

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:40 AM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2022
So You Want to Be a Writer?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2022
Rilke's Late Night Violin Music

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Rainer Maria Rilke, the genius German poet
who translated God in ways
no scripture has ever come close to,
once wondered why every time he walked
beneath a high window
(out of which violin music could be heard)
he thought it promised him a future lover.

When I die, I want to meet this man,
standing, as I imagine he will be, just beyond
the gathering of my long gone relatives waiting to greet me.
I don't think he will be saying much of anything,
just looking in my general direction, his dark eyes singing,
his body completely at ease, having just released
a thousand poems he never needed to write,
the lips of his high-windowed lovers still unkissed,
summoned as they were by violins to embrace him
far beyond the body's few pleasures.

Rilke will not be looking up,
remembering as he was, from a few years ago,
a beautiful young couple crossing the street before him,
laughing, talking, holding hands, but not his glance,
always reserved, it seemed, for someone else,
but if you dared to ask "for whom?"
he would fumble for his pen,
reach inside the quiet pocket of his favorite coat,
and find the old notebook he always kept there
for precisely moments
like this.

Rilke's Duino Elegies
Painting: Leslie Dietrich
More of my poetry here

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2022
Sailing

The tears of a thousand lifetimes searching for you
is the ocean I sail upon today,
the knowledge that both of us are very much alive,
but not in the same room.
Wind in my sails, I see the sun, the sky, and the
backs of my own hands, having aged, it seems,
when I wasn't looking, odd little brown spots
some kind of secret code I do not understand.
This feeling inside me,
this uncontainable, untranslatable feeling inside me
is all I am today,
my heart, a helium-filled child's balloon,
flying free.
Overhead,
I see a lone seagull,
just one,
wings outstretched,
having caught the downdraft
and gliding.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2022
MY HEART OPENS

My heart opens
like my eyes,
involuntarily,
like a child upon waking,
amazed
with not a single plan for the day
and though it blinks from time to time,
still it sees
and though it cannot speak,
it beats,
a late night drummer
alone in his room,
the entire universe his gig.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:31 AM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2022
THERE IS A MOMENT

There is a moment
and that moment is now,
a single drop of water on a spider web,
a warrior sharpening his sword,
your child,
whose first word
is just about to be pronounced,
the moment when
everything stops
and nothing needs to be
started again,
your first kiss,
the toothless smile of a beggar,
rain,
the glorious moment when you let it all go,
all that trying
all those promises made too late.
What remains is
everything and nothing,
the place where the path
begins and ends,
your next breath
the only proof you need
that God exists.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:35 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2022
Madonnas of the Basement

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This just in from Alla Rogers, a deeply soulful and benevolent woman with Ukrainian roots.

In the basement womb
of unrecognizable buildings once homes, schools, and hospitals,
amid the shuddering and shaking of bombs and missiles
proclaiming their symphony of darkness and war,
drowning out the whimpering of infants and pets
as they seek solace on mattresses and toy strewn floors,
suckling for life itself at their mothers breasts,
our 21st century madonnas of the rubble,
madonnas of the basement.

A basement womb where new life grows,
it's DNA imprinted with a thirst for freedom,
it's heart beating out its own symphony of love,
faith and hope.

Did it take a thousand years to be born a slave?

Our Madonnas of the basements and rubble,
our vessels of life,
they birth the dreams of a thousand years of faith, love and peace.

A choir of madonnas invites the planet to
join in the song of rebirth into freedom and humanity,
the song written in the hearts of all mankind,
the song that is constantly reborn and never dies.

Photo: Zach Lucero, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2022
All I'm Doing Right Now

All I am doing right now is writing these words to you,
small helium-filled balloons
I offer for all your birthdays I missed.
I really don't know where these balloons will take you,
I don't,
it all depends on you,
the way you hold the string
or maybe there is more than just one string.
Well, of course there are --
we're talking about balloons, multiple, not singular
lighter-than-air-transportation devices for you.

They may seem to be words, but they are actually balloons.

Go for the ride!
Wherever you are or end up is the right place to be,
It is!
Always remember that and the way butterflies move in a breeze,
and, please tell me, kind madam or sir,
how in the world did butterflies ever get created in the first place
and am I still expected to pay my taxes?
What if I forget my name and wherever I go
gardenias spring up all around me,
hoping as only gardenias can hope,
that one day the one they call the "Master"
will find his way there for no particular reason,
he being completely "of the moment" or perhaps I should say
(and please forgive me if I mess up the translation,
but it goes a little something like this:)

"You were made in the image of God.
You were, you are,
of that you need not have any doubt.
As you are you are.
How great is that! How simple!
As you are you are.
I may even have to make a t-shirt with those words on it,
an advertisement from our sponsor -- both yours and mine.

Nothing has to change with you.
You don't need to get better
or work smarter or be worthy of anything.
As far as I can tell, you are worthy of EVERYTHING,
though if you recall George Carlin's perspective on it:
"If you had everything, where would you put it?"

And now, one last thing,
the best book I've read in quite a while is
Hear Yourself: How to Find Peace in a Noisy World
by a man, Prem Rawat, who is the most astounding human being I know.

So much love! So, so, so, so much love.
Heaps. Buckets full. Mucho, mucho love.
What Rumi, Hafiz, Mirabai, Kabir, and YOU,
on a good day, are plugged into full-tilt boogy,
hang ten, high five,
walking the high road home to the essence of who you truly are.

Welcome to the fountain of laughter and tears, my friends,
welcome to remembering and forgetting and then remembering again,
opening like a lotus
or a clenched fist.

And with that, dear brothers and sisters,
daughters and sons, wizards, fools, home run hitters,
flash back Frankies, and little Joey from Brooklyn!
Yo, Joey, how did you find your way into this poem, dude?
Wait, don't tell me. I know why. I do. I really do.
This massive, bodacious love and presence is who and what you are.
How could you be anywhere else?
Welcome Joey! Stay as long as you like
and bring your friends.

Praise the Lord! And praise the praisers, too!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:36 AM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2022
Coleman Barks Reading His Poetry with Some Rumi Sliding In


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2022
Rumi Poetry on Fire

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:29 PM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2022
There is a Place

There is a place between day and night,
between now and later,
between body and soul.
there is no entry to this place,
no portal, no gate.
you cannot get there by going,
only by already being there,
it is, this place,
a secret chamber of the heart,
but only for those who can keep a secret,
you have no proof it exists and never will,
the more you look for it, the less you will see,
the more you listen for it, the less you will hear,
this mystery cannot be attained, only received,
a bestowal it is, a gift,
like the first few drops of dew on this morning's spider web.

PremRawat.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2022
IF YOU WANT TO LOVE ME

If you want to love me,
love yourself first,
if you want to love yourself first,
love me.
When you understand this, oh precious one,
everything will begin to make sense,
all doors will open
all windows, hearts, and minds,
nothing left to own, but yourself,
nowhere else to go,
you having arrived a long, long, time ago.
Here's as simple as it gets:
love is the absolute center of the universe,
everything revolves around it,
everything.
Einstein understood this,
one of the reasons, no doubt,
he always seemed to be on the verge of something,
his hair the only proof he needed,
that, and his ridiculous love for the violin.
But, if perchance, you should ever lose your way,
the original orbit you came here with
and find yourself, as they say,
drifting into the far reaches of space, no one to hold you,
know this:
every cell in your body is a standing ovation before God.
Every. Single. One. Of. Them.
Let them all sing out, I say --
let the massive choruses of joy and longing deep within you
fully express themselves.
Understand, without thinking,
that everything, exactly as it is now, is perfect,
a gift.
You remember, of course,
the two monks who were arguing, one fine summer day
about whether or not it was the wind or the flag that was moving,
both of them very sure of their position on the matter.
That's when they asked for the sage counsel of their Master,
"Neither," he said.
"Neither the flag is moving, nor the wind.
Your mind is moving."
What he didn't say,
in his grand tradition of keeping everything as simple as possible:
was this:
There is an unsung scripture in every drop of water,
an unplayed symphony inside of each and every breath.
How many Zen Buddhists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
None.
There is no light bulb
and there are no Zen Buddhists,
even this poem doesn't exist,
which makes everything so much easier --
"the stage upon which the heart can dance,"
I once heard Prem Rawat say,
no dance steps to follow, no lessons,
no one to lead except yourself
which, of course, brings us to the nameless,
sacred space between in breath and out.
If, indeed, there is no one to follow except yourself,
who, then, is following whom?
who leads
and who follows?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2021
The World Is a Milkweed Pod

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More (or less) here

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:25 AM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2021
THIS THIRST

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There is an aching deep within my heart
that cannot be explained.
It wakes me in the middle of the night
and write these lines --
a kind of fishing in a great sea I cannot find by day.
This escapade is not the search for something new,
it is not the need to find --
more it is the being moved,
my being pulled by an unseen moon,
how small birds, when days get cold,
make their way across dark skies
to the place where they were born,
how a feather falls to earth
and a child, finding it, looks up,
why dogs pace back and forth before a door
as their master turns for home.
Ah, this restlessness, this thirst, this ache,
this silent undertow inside
that takes me back to the hidden spring
where lions come to drink,
and snakes,
why birds sing when they are all alone
and the long ride home on an empty train
often feels like an arrival.

Painting: Evelyne Pouget

Excerpted from Full Moon at Sunrise
Oil pastel: Evelyne Pouget

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2021
SLIDE SHOW: Poetry of the Heart

Greetings! Here are some excerpts from my 2012 book of poetry, Full Moon at Sunrise. Enjoy!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2021
I WANT TO SAY THANK YOU

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I want to say thank you,
but to whom?
Who is the one I want to thank,
the one for whom I was born
or should I say born through,
the source of it all,
the center of the wheel,
the hub.
Who?
Who is it, this one,
this holy, ever present one?
Who?
Do you know, my friend?
Do you know
the space between each breath,
the healer of your broken heart,
the ancient one
who is
gracious even in death,
your parents gone
or going
heroes, lovers, friends,
and all those unremembered words
whispered slowly in the dark,
the best of you
driftwood on the far shore of arrival,
tidal,
primal,
pure,
stunned by all of this
coming and going,
this silence,
this laughter,
these tears,
operatic in your cells,
being made love to
by this very moment,
nothing else to do,
nowhere to go,
nothing to prove,
each atom a standing ovation before God,
your heart's hieroglyphics
still unspoken.

More poetry here

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2021
And I Have Seen Him Dance

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2021
Letting It All Down

There are women in the world with long hair
who like to put it up,
twirl it and stack it and swirl it
high on top of their heads,
clamped and clipped,
held, sometimes, in place, with long sticks or pins
or multi-colored bands that come five to a pack,
or maybe, on a Sunday afternoon, just a simple red scarf.
It takes many shapes, their hair,
a bun, occasionally, tightly wound and worn
just before a formal affair,
perhaps a concert in the drawing room
or, on a more casual day,
a kind of waterfall splashing just for fun,
strands of silky hair going this way and that.
The reasons, if you can call them that,
are more than many,
perhaps it is a summer day
and the back of their neck is way too hot
or maybe it's time for a new look,
a subtle shift of personality,
here in this world where time is passing.
I really don't have a clue,
me being of an entirely different species,
and yet, without a doubt, there is a glorious moment
amidst all of the changes that happen
at least once in the grand opera of our lives
when the woman lets down her hair,
letting it fall to the place it can fall no further from,
nothing propping it up,
nothing holding it in place,
no style except the one she was born with,
wind playing with each strand
or, if the air just happens to be still (as we all long to be),
simply laying there, at rest,
done with absolutely everything,
nothing on her list
watching, for what seems to be forever,
a few birds, in the downdraft,
gliding.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2021
Writing These Words to You

All I am doing right now is writing these words to you, small helium- filled balloons I offer for all your birthdays I missed. I do not know exactly where these balloons -- some red, some purple -- will take you. It all depends on you -- the way you hold onto the string (or maybe there is more than just one string). Well, of course there are -- we're talking about balloons, multiple, not singular -- lighter-than-air-transportation devices for you.

They may SEEM to be words, but they are actually balloons -- or could be, at least for this moment in time.

Go for the ride! Wherever you are or end up is the right place to be at the right time. It is! Always remember that and the way butterflies move in a breeze, and, please tell me, kind madam or sir, how in the world did butterflies ever get created in the first place and am I still expected to pay my taxes? What if I forget my name and wherever I go gardenias spring up all around me, hoping as only gardenias can hope, that one day the one they call the "Master" will find his way there for no particular reason at all, he being completely "of the moment" or perhaps I should say (and please forgive me if I mess up the translation, but it goes a little something like this:)

"You were made in the image of God. You were. You are. Of that you need not have any doubt. As you are you are. How great is that! How simple! As you are you are. I may even have to make a t-shirt with those words on it, an advertisement from our sponsor -- both yours and mine. Nothing has to change with you. You don't need to get better... or work smarter... or be worthy of anything. As far as I can tell, you are worthy of EVERYTHING, though if you recall George Carlin's perspective on it: "If you had everything, where would you put it?"

And now, one last thing (though I do intend to return to this space later on), the best book I've read in quite a while is Hear Yourself: How to Find Peace in a Noisy World by a man (Prem Rawat) who is the most astounding human being I know (but more about that another time).

So much love! So, so, so, so much love. Heaps. Buckets full. Mucho, mucho love. What Rumi, Hafiz, Mirabai, Kabir, and YOU on a good day are plugged into full-tilt boogey, hang ten, high five, walking the high road home to the essence of who you truly are. Welcome to the fountain of laughter and tears! Welcome to remembering and forgetting and then remembering again, opening like a lotus or a clenched fist.

And with that, dear brothers and sisters, daughters and brothers, wizards, fools, home run hitters, flash back Frankies, little Joey from Brooklyn! Yo, Joey, how did you find your way onto my blog post? But I know why. I do. I really do. This massive, bodacious love and presence is who and what you are. How could you be anywhere else?

Praise the Lord! And praise the praisers, too!

250718820_10158611679671158_5191493216484685541_n.jpg Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2021
UNSPOKEN WORD: 20 Book Promo Options for Your Consideration

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Thanks for your interest in helping me spread the word about my forthcoming book of poetry (pub. date: 3/21/23).

What follows is a list of ways you can help. Please take a moment to review this list, then email me the options you see yourself taking on.

This will help me understand what outreach options have the most juice for people, so I can provide you and the other 62 people on the book outreach team with the kind of support and materials needed to make best use of everyone's time.

I am so happy you are part of this!

1. Buy the book on the day it's published
2. Buy a few extra books and give them to friends
3. Write an endorsement of the book and send it to me
4. Post the Amazon book link (and a personal note) on your FB page
5. Email the Amazon book link (and a personal note) to your friends

6. Write an Amazon book review
7. Post a link to my book in Facebook Groups
8. Join the "Unspoken Word: Facebook Group
9. Participate in monthly "Unspoken Word" Zoom calls
10. Send me the names of possible book reviewers

11. If you have a blog, write a review
12. If you know a blogger, ask them to review it
13. Invite your local newspaper to review my book
14. Ask your local library to order the book
15. Word of mouth -- tell your friends

16. Subscribe to my poetry blog
17. Participate in monthly Zoom Poetry circles that I will facilitate
18. Post a video of yourself reading your favorite poem from my book
19. Become a member of my personal think tank
20. Read a "sneak preview" version of the book I will send you

Other ideas of yours?

NOTE: Most of our book promotion efforts will begin in January, 2023.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2021
23 Ways to Spread the Word About My Forthcoming Book of Poetry

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Thank you for stepping up and becoming part of a creative community of big-hearted people open to helping me spread the word about my forthcoming book of poetry -- "Unspoken Word" -- to be published on March 21, 2023.

I am trying something very different than what I've done before with my other books of poetry.

Instead of just crossing my fingers and being overly optimistic, I am creating a grassroots tribe of friends and fans who see the value of my writing and are willing to make their own genuine effort to let other people know.

Because I know that your time is precious, I've put together the following guidelines, options, and scripts to make your outreach efforts as time-efficient and impactful as possible.

If all you have is five minutes, I've got exactly what you need. If you have lots of time, I've got lots of cool choices for you to select from.

What's in it for you?

Inspiration, fun, community, insight, and learning some new approaches to marketing and social media that you can apply to any of your own creative ventures in the future.

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PS: Poetry books usually don't sell very well. Most sell less than 100 copies -- and those are mostly to friends and family. Even the biggest-selling poetry books don't sell all that well. 25,000 copies is considered a huge success. We're talking Billy Collins and Mary Oliver territory.

My goal? 50,000 copies. My primary motivation? To spark a big dose of inspiration, longing, appreciation, insight, presence, and love.

20 percent of the profits will be donated to my favorite charity -- The Prem Rawat Foundation -- an organization dedicated to increasing dignity, peace, and prosperity in the world.

BOOK PROMOTION OPTIONS FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

1. Amazon

-- Buy the book on the day it comes out. (I will let you know when).
-- Post a review of the book. (I will send you the link).
-- NOTE: If everyone buys the book on the same day, there's a good chance it will rank as a #1 Amazon seller.

2. Email

-- Assuming you like the book, email the Amazon link to your friends, along with any comments you have about the book.
-- Include a JPG of the book cover (which I will send you).

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3. Facebook

-- Post my Amazon book link and a few words of support.
-- Post the link to my book website (which I will send you).
-- Post either of the above links to any FB groups you belong to.

4. Instagram

-- Post promo graphics that I will send you.
-- Do whatever Instagram stuff you already do that works.

5. Blogs

-- If you have a blog, write a review of my book.
-- If you know bloggers, let them know about the book.
-- Choose from any of the scripts below (once they are done).

6. Make Your Own Video Readings

-- Choose your favorite poem from the book, make a video of yourself reading it, and post it on social media.

7. Post My Video Readings on Social Media

-- Once a month, I will make a video of myself reading one or more poems from the book.

8. Book Signings or Home Readings

-- Invite me to do a book signing at your favorite book store (but you will need to set it up). I will charge a fee for this.

9. UnspokenWordBook.com

-- In February, post my book website link on social media and/or forward it to friends. (The website isn't built yet).

10. Schools

-- If you have connections at high schools, colleges, or universities, invite me to speak there. I can also do Zoom sessions. There will be a fee for this.

11. Subscribe to my poetry blog

-- Click here to subscribe. No fee.
-- Forward the link to friends and encourage them to subscribe.

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12. Monthly Zoom Readings

-- Attend a series of monthly "Unspoken Word" poetry sessions I will be hosting on Zoom, beginning in January. Invite your friends. These Zoom sessions will be more than me just reading my poetry. There will also be break out groups for people to dive deeper into some of the themes of my book: longing, appreciation, presence, self-expression, love, solitude, wonder, pausing, and silence.

13. Bulk Purchases

-- Consider buying five or more at a time.

14. Kindle Giveaways

-- From time to time, I will sponsor "Kindle Giveaways" where you can forward a free digital version of my book to friends.

15. Influencer Testimonials

-- If you know any "movers or shakers" - especially people with name recognition, let me know and I will get in touch with them. Book reviews from these folks are pure gold.

16. Book Reviewers

-- If you have connections with book reviewers, publishers, poetry magazines or anyone in the media who might be open to reviewing my book, let me know.

17. Podcasts

- If you or anyone you know has a podcast, invite me on. Have podcast, will talk.

18. Poetry Contests

-- If you know any poetry contests you think i should enter, lay them on me.

19. Book Clubs

-- If you are a member of a book club, consider "Unspoken Word" being one of your books for your group to schmooze about.

20. PDF Sneak Preview

-- Forward a "sneak peak" of my book to anyone you think might be interested. The PDF will include seven poems and the introduction.

21. Join my "Unspoken Word" Facebook group.

-- This will be a place where you can stay up-to-date on various book happenings. It will also be a place for you to share your book promotion ideas, best practices, questions, successes, and anything else you think will help the rest of our community to stay in the game and get results. The group will be ready to launch in mid-October.

22. Monthly Zoom Gatherings for the "Friends of Unspoken Word"

-- Once a month, beginning in November, I will host a monthly Zoom meeting for everyone who has stepped up to play some kind of "Unspoken Word" book outreach role. At these meetings, I will update everyone on all things related to the book. There will be plenty of time for participants to share their successes, ideas, and questions. So far, 56 people have stepped up to be a part of this tribe. If you'd like to be part of the effort, let me know via email. The more, the merrier.

23. Whatever else you can think of

-- I'm sure you have tons of great ideas well beyond any of the ones I've noted above. Fantastic. Go for it! If you discover some cool ways to get the word out, please consider posting them in the UnspokenWord Facebook group.

OPTIONAL SCRIPTS

-- Coming soon! These will be short, ready-for-prime-time paragraphs you can use in your emails and social media efforts.

Questions? Ideas? Connections? mitch@ideachampions.com

Book cover photo: Greg Rakozy, Unsplash

Heart illustration: gapingvoid

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2021
When I Grow Up

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When I grow up, I want to be nobody,
do nothing, go nowhere, having already arrived a long time ago.
When I listen to my voice mail, no one will be talking,
no one asking me for anything at all,
my need to hear a voice, other than yours, completely gone,
me being done with proving or improving myself,
done with what's next and any more stories to tell,
this so-called "me", like a single drop of water,
newly dissolved into the fabulous sea of this moment,
nothing left to say,
each breath a prayer needing no answer.
Perhaps I will make a paper airplane out of my to do list,
fly it out the window and watch it flutter in the wind,
perhaps, when a nearby child picks it up,
forgetting everything and everyone else,
I will hear birds singing as if for the first time.

Not excerpted from this book

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:00 AM | Comments (2)

July 20, 2021
The Arrow That Flies

I am pulling the string
of his great bow back,
me being the arrow that flies.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:48 PM | Comments (0)

July 07, 2021
Laugh Lines

The only lines
I want to wait on
are the ones
around your eyes.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:07 AM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2021
WHAT IS THE SOUND?

I am the proverbial tree that has fallen in the forest,
no one around to hear if I have fallen or not,
I am also the moss upon which the tree has fallen,
and the sky
and the birds in the branches just a song's distance away,
not to mention (which I have just done),
all of those clever teachers wondering
if this is a strong enough metaphor to use at their next retreat.

Who, may I ask, is listening to the sound
a tree makes when it falls and does it really matter,
especially when you consider that the homeless person
you have just passed on the street needs a hug
and your tomato plants need watering?

Is it the tree falling in the forest we need to be listening to
or the ones who listen
or, maybe, just maybe, the little known fact
that there is absolutely no difference
between the tree, it's falling, the listener, what's heard,
and what's said about what's heard?

This, my friends, is why dancing exists.

How about we all meet, tonight, at my place,
drink champagne, listen to Pavarotti,
find the nearest forest
and all fall down?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:27 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2021
MY TRUE PROFESSION

I have finally understood what my profession is --
I'm a stripper.
I strip away everything that is unnecessary,
whatever separates me from myself and others,
and whatever I forget to strip away
is stripped away for me,
any way you look at it, I'm a stripper.
Completely naked on a good day,
I'm not sure where the money goes.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2021
HAVING ARRIVED BY ALREADY BEING THERE

Desire is wanting what we don't have,
longing is wanting what we do,
but if we knew how much we already had,
we would have it all,
so much so, that a million lifetimes
would not be enough to give it all away.
Here's a simple as it gets:
There is an underground spring within us all,
the waters of life that quenches all thirst,
and the only thing we need to do is drink.
Yes, the world that surrounds us is beautiful,
but only if we are,
otherwise, it is just the centrifugal pull
of wandering away from ourselves,
the merry-go-round ring always out of reach,
the thought of love, but not the love itself.
You can marvel at the stars all you want,
you can praise a single blade of grass,
but it is only because your eyes are open
that any of this matters.
God's nature is, undeniably, a gift,
the earth, the sky, the butterfly,
but it is only human nature that allows us to open it,
the impulse to see beyond the wrapping and be seized,
pirates on our own ship of this moment's sailing,
passengers on the long journey home,
having arrived by already being there.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2021
The Still Point of Creation

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The still point of creation is
like arriving, late at night,
at an empty railway station,
no trains coming, no trains going,
just a big sky overhead
and all the rivers flowing,
there's nothing left to do here
and there's nowhere left to go,
simply sitting on a wooden bench
with a cup of morning joe.
It's a place of no beginning,
no start, no stop, no end,
just the space between each breath you take,
your lover, mother, and your friend.
Or how about this?
Why birds sing when they are all alone.

MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

April 30, 2021
Poetry Written in the Parking Lot of My Health Club

#1

I am a rosebush, pruned,
my flowers trimmed for the long haul,
the core of myself less visible than ever,
but bursting with life.
There is a season, I think, for everything,
even songbirds sleep,
lovers, spent for the night, stare into space.
Is it the sun now rising in my breath?
The moon?
Alone in my room, but not at all lonely,
I feel the flaming red bud of creation
opening in my cells.

#2

Many years ago,
with my good friend, Bill,
I drove from Denver to Miami
in a Ford pickup truck
that had seen better days,
stars in our eyes, gas in the tank,
and only one CD --
the Best of the Eagles.
We must have played it a hundred times,
never once being bored
on our way to see the one
who showed us how to enjoy the ride.
We barely slept.
There was no reason to.
We talked. We sang. We breathed,
The Best of My Love
playing over and over again
many more times that made sense.
But you see (and you do),
when love is in your heart
and you are driven by it,
everything sounds good, everything,
there is no such thing as boredom or complaint.
Birds sing, water flows, flowers bloom,
and two young men drive cross country, singing along,
pounding on the dashboard, alive.
And when, many miles later,
we finally arrived,
unwashed but not unloved,
we listened to the one we had driven all that way for
hold court in the castle of the Kings,
a man, I surmise,
The Eagles, God bless their souls, would have loved --
such sweet harmonies
heard between the silences.

#3

What is happening to me?
I am sitting here in the parking lot of my health club,
gym clothes on the seat beside me,
overwhelmed by poetry.
This is crazy! This is nuts!
I came here to move my body,
but it is my soul, instead, getting the workout
sitting in the front seat of my Subaru,
storm clouds above me,
wind in the pines,
James Taylor on the radio,
me not having shaved for days,
dazed as I am by what it really means to be alive.
"Goodnight moonlight ladies,
Rockabye Sweet Baby James,"
tears now rising in me
like a thousand suns.

#4

There is an oyster in the shell,
a song in my heart,
a heaven in the hell,
a union when we part,
a birth inside the death,
a kiss inside the monk,
God within my breath,
A treasure in the trunk.
Such is the great mystery of life,
such is the game we play,
everything we want we have
and everything we have
will one day fade away.


#5

Here is the great paradox:
The one you seek is seeking you,
the one you praise is praising, too.
The object of your devotion
is not an object at all, but a vibration
having taken human form,
the face of infinity,
the mask of creation,
the ultimate mirror
in which to look and see your reflection
and, upon seeing it, dance
even if you choose not to move at all.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:52 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2021
Three Line Practice of the Day

Crab apple branches thickly laden with red buds,
Grass missed by mower standing tall and elegant,
Bird feeder swinging gently -- waiting.

- Barbara Bash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2021
Praise

Praise.jpeg

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2020
I Need a New Alphabet

I need a new alphabet,
a new moon to stand before and howl,
every time I open my mouth to speak I make no sense,
people look at me and ask if I'm alright.
What I feel here in this too dense world
does not compute,
me a mutant sailor on a silent sea.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2020
THE MASK

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All my life I have tried
to remove the mask --
that which separates me from others and myself,
the face I show to be seen,
the shield and the sword.
Now I am being asked to put another one on,
become even more unrecognizable,
remembering only to breathe,
but not on anyone in particular,
quiet as a nest,
alone,
only my dark eyes visible from across the room,
windows to my soul,
portals to the place
where all of us,
whether we want to or not,
continue being born,
saying everything that needs to be said,
without a single word.

Illustration: Lisa Dietrich

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2020
I Take Photographs With Words

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2020
Leonard Cohen on Where He Found His Song

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2020
I Have Written 1,000 Poems for You

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I have written a thousand poems for you
that have never left my room,
they fill the pages of notebooks
stacked high on a shelf no one can reach,
orphans they are,
beggars afraid they are not
noble enough for the King,
would never make it past the guards,
I make a vain attempt
to dress them up,
disguise their ridiculous origins,
but still they smell bad,
even so, there are times, late at night,
when they think I'm asleep,
I can almost hear them talking to each other,
conjuring ways to make it to your court,
oh, the arguments they have,
the brawls,
the lunatic moments of staking their ground!
Some of them actually believe
all they need is a shower and a shave,
others, unsure of who they are or might have been,
insist on practicing, all night long,
their perfect way of greeting you.
Of course, there is much to be said
for these backroom bards,
these arm wrestling vagrants from another world,
indeed, if I was dead,
my slightly deaf biographer,
after paying his respects to my dear, sweet wife,
would borrow them just long enough to search for pearls,
find the perfect turn of phrase,
the sudden storm of brilliance
even my harshest critics
would have to praise,
he'd think of clever little titles for the tome,
describing, in his mournfully halting way,
the "man who left his muse too soon"
or some such thing
that might make you stop for a moment and wonder
why I never gave these poems to you --
the one for whom it all makes sense,
even when it doesn't.

Excerpted from Full Moon at Sunrise
Photo: Aaron Burden, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:43 AM | Comments (0)

He Always Wanted to Say Things, But No One Understood

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The following poem was written by a senior high school student to his teacher, in Canada, two weeks before he committed suicide. This is quite a powerful piece of writing -- one that gives voice to what, I imagine, many students, around the world, experience when their individuality and creativity is not honored or encouraged. The poem was sent to me by Mohammed Azim, a very caring and tuned in teacher (Head of the English Department, Coach, and Team Leader) at Al Siraat College in Epping, Australia.

Mohammed has shared this poem, for years, with his Year 9 and 10 level students and it always has a huge impact on them. He especially remembers one of his students asking, "How can we demonstrate creativity when we are always preparing for exams?"

If you are a teacher or parent, pause for a moment and ask yourself how you can allow more time and space for the young ones in your life to express their creativity. Yes, there are things to learn and tests to study for, but there is also the deep need for creative expression. In your classroom or home, there are not only future doctors, lawyers, carpenters, welders, entrepreneurs, and teachers, there are also future artists, dancers, musicians, and writers. Maybe THEY don't know that yet, but in time, they will -- that is, if you give them the time and space they need to explore and express their God-given gifts.

PS: For maximum impact, read the poem aloud, slowly and with feeling. The young man who wrote it committed suicide two weeks later. May his life experiences and his poetry be of great service to all of us.


HE ALWAYS WANTED TO SAY THINGS, BUT NO ONE UNDERSTOOD

He always wanted to say things but no one understood.
He always wanted to explain things but no one cared.

So he drew.

Sometimes he would just draw and it wasn’t anything.
He wanted to carve it in stone or write it in the sky.
He would lie out on the grass and look up at the sky and it
would be only him and the sky, and the things that needed saying.

And it was after that, that he drew the picture.
It was a beautiful picture.
He kept it under the pillow and would let no one see it.
He would look at it every night and think about it.
And when it was dark, and his eyes were closed, he could still see it.
It was all of him and he loved it.

When he started school he brought it with him.
Not to show anyone, but just to have like a friend.

It was funny about school.
He sat in a square brown desk, like all the other square
brown desks, and he thought it should be red.
And his room was a square brown room like all the other rooms.
It was tight and close, and stiff.

He hated to hold the pencil, and the chalk, with his arm stiff
and his feet flat on the floor, stiff with a teacher watching
and watching.
And then he had to write a numbers.
And they weren't anything.
They were worse than the letters which could be something
if you put them together.
The numbers were tight and square and he hated the whole thing.

The teacher came and spoke to him.
She told him to wear a tie like all the other boys.
He said he didn't like them and she said it didn't matter.
After that they drew.
He drew all yellow and it was the way he felt about morning.
And it was beautiful.

The teacher came and smiled at him.
"What's this?", she said.
"Why don't you draw something like Ken's drawing?
Isn't that beautiful?"
It was all questions.

After that his mother bought him a tie and he always drew
aeroplanes and rocket ships like everyone else.
And he threw the old picture away.
And when he lay out alone looking at the sky it was big and blue.
And all of everything, but he wasn't any more.

He was square inside and brown, and his hands were stiff,
and he was like anyone else.
And the thing inside him that needed saying didn't need saying anymore.

It has stopped pushing.
It was crushed, stiff.
Like everything else.

Unlock creativity.jpg
Jung2.jpg
Keller.jpg
Davis.jpg

Excerpted from Possibilities, by Des Petersen

Do Schools Kill Creativity?
30 Ways to Know if You Have What It Takes to Innovate
Photo: Alexander Dummer, Unsplash
Illustration: gapingvoid

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:02 AM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2020
May I Stay Here Forever

Inbreath Out.jpg

TimelessToday
Excerpted from this book

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:24 PM | Comments (1)

July 29, 2020
Face Your Life Like a Cuban Trumpet Player

Face your life
like a Cuban trumpet player
standing his ground
for whatever comes next,
eyes straight ahead,
not a thought in the world
and blowing,
I said blowing his horn
at the peak of his power
so his long gone grandfather,
the man who worked the sugar cane fields
and always had a kind word for strangers,
will hear.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2020
What Is the Difference Between a Grocery List and a Poem?

Poetry is
really nothing more
than a list
of unexpected words and images,
one line following another,
like this one, for example,
and this one,
each adding
a little something extra,
to the flow,
a shade of meaning,
a wink, a hint of perfume,
woman nowhere in sight,
not unlike what follows,
perhaps something you have carried
in your pocket for weeks,
without knowing it,
crumpled.
Bananas (one bunch),
tomatoes (ripe),
three avocados,
hummus, pickles, and feta cheese,
a pint of chocolate ice cream.
Tell me,
what is the difference between
a grocery list and a poem?
Give up?
Good.
(We all have to give up, eventually).
A grocery list gives you things to get,
a poem gets you things to give,
things you will not find in Aisle 3,
but high up in the many selves you are,
especially the one
who measures how long it will take you
to get from the parking lot
to the front door of the supermarket
by how many haikus it can recite
without rushing.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:12 AM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2020
TAKEN UP

I do not write, I evaporate,
drawn higher by a heat
I do not see, but feel.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)

June 30, 2020
SOAKED!

Prem waving2.jpeg

People ask me
what it was like being with you
five days in a row.
Here's what I tell them:
It was like spinning around in a monsoon,
cup in hand, trying to catch the rain.
Every time I noticed my cup was full,
I opened my mouth to sing,
but my mouth filled up with water.
I gulped, I drank, I bailed my boat of joy.
Somehow, in between the tidal waves of love
and my odd little habit of trying to understand
what in the world was going on,
I heard what you said:
"Get wet! Get wet!"

Photo: Courtesy of TimelessToday
PremRawat.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:15 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2020
Where Poetry Comes From

I do not write.jpg

TimelessToday
A Man of Few Words
Choosing the Poetry of Life

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:51 AM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2020
POETRY

Poetry.jpg

Full Moon at Sunrise
Photo: Sydney Rae, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:35 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2020
Give Everything You Have

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The Poem I Will One Day Write.jpg />
Ira Leaves.jpg

Excerpted from this book

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2020
Homeless

Homeless.jpg

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2020
Poetry Unread in 40 Years

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A few months ago, while cleaning out my home office in preparation for selling my house, I found an old notebook filled with bits of poetry -- words I'd written 40 years ago during the time I lived in one of Prem Rawat's ashrams -- a time where I had majorly unplugged from the world to "go within." Each verse of what follows stands alone. There is no particular order to them. It is not a single, coherent poem, but rather bits and pieces of a moon-howling jigsaw puzzle that was my life when I was 32. Please don't try to make sense of this stuff. Maybe a single phrase or line will speak to you -- or even sing. In the end, methinks each one of us is on a quest to discover what's real. Part of this process has something to do with getting in touch with our thirst for the divine -- that deep, inner longing for love that truly moves us.

THE POETRY

I sit in the cave of myself,
alone with my breath.
There is no one else here
in this cool, dark hollow of my soul.

I sing your praises.
I hang the seeds of treeless forests
in the heaven of your Name.

Night falls around me
like the arms of a lover
widowed by daylight
and seeking the warmth of another.

The one who yearns for God must die
like flowers to the fruit,
must fall to the root
around the tree of life that gives me shade.

He walks on water,
I walk on ice,
and when I lay my head at his feet
I remember there is no place left in the world to go.
Here. Only here.

How deep can I look into
anyone else's eyes?
Only to the place where they are looking for you,
unafraid of what they'll find.

Words are only burrs on the path
through the high country brush with God.

Homeless,
with only a few stars to guide me,
I am a bum in a roadside temple,
cheater, whose deck of cards
has long since been stolen.

There are angels buried in my flesh.

I must be in love
or is it insane?

Who can receive me?
Who is deep enough
for me to disappear into?

He joins heaven and hell
with a wave of his hand,
his breath, the wand,
his smile the ground I walk upon.

Void of all tears,
sworn to silence,
I lose everything, once again, but myself.

Oh song-studded boy of bothersome beauty,
fall to the feet of the only one here,
bring what you've stolen,
peel your skin like grapes
and offer it as cloth
so he might wear what once was you
for a twilight ride through the country.

Suture the ragged wound closed,
let all your scars be roads to follow home.

Like a breeze through lace curtains,
enter softly
and stay with me a while.

I bend because
he has removed the weight.

I am melting,
I am burning at both ends,
and what I see by this flickering light,
is enough.

How can the desert flower thank the sun?
It cannot speak, only bend in the breeze of his passing.

Oh Master of my soul,
you have ignited the brittle tinder of my heart.

The closer I get to you,
the more I see how far away I am.

Who else listens to me when, speechless,
my heart begins to sing? Who?

I have gone to meet you in your secret place,
but when I arrived, neither of us were there.

Forget about ashes on your forehead,
let your whole body be consumed in flames.

Who can this Master be,
the one whose path is strewn with rose petals?

If you want to subscribe to his blog, feel free. Just enter your email address and click SUBMIT in the space provided in the sidebar.

PremRawat.com
TimelessToday
MitchDitkoff.com
Full Moon at Sunrise -- my book of poetry

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:37 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2020
THE RECOGNITION PRAYER

This just in from my good buddy, Ted Chadwick

Today is a New Day
The eternal first day of Life
Yesterday is shadows. That door is closed.
What was real then is here now, reborn.
Tomorrow is a dream. Its time will come
when the river of life carries us there.
That door is out of reach.

The Power that gives birth to all things
lives in me, and I dwell in it.
In that light there is no darkness, no shadow,
no want, nothing to fear. All is revealed.
It nourishes me, heals me, lifts me up when I stumble.
It protects me and guides me.

My heart overflows. This is the One Truth.

So be it.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2020
The Value of Nothing

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:27 AM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2020
The World Is My Day Job

The world is my day job,
but it's the night that is my calling,
when everyone is gone
and Adam's done with falling,
when there's nowhere left to go,
and nothing else to do,
just staring at the moon
and thinking,
as slowly as I can,
about you.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

My Uber Driver

My Uber driver, I just found out,
sings in a Mexican rock band.
80's covers. Spanish only.
That's why he asks me to sit in the front seat with him.
If I sit in the back, he explains,
the State Police will impound his grey Toyota
and he'll never get to a gig again.
They will keep his car for two months behind a barbed wire fence
next to a field where many dogs bark.
35,000 pesos it will cost him if he ever wants to see his vehiculo again.
You see, the Regional Governor, owns the local taxi company
-- 100 shiny green and white cabs.
That's why the State Police, in leather boots,
stop Uber drivers in my little town,
but only if their passengers are sitting in the back seat.
Not today, however.
I am sitting in the front.
Like his best friend.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2020
I Share My Poetry Too Soon

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TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2020
Floodgate Poetry

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Sometimes, when I least expect it, something opens up inside me. A Red Sea parts and I am flooded once again. That's what happened to me today. I wouldn't call it a state of inspiration, but more a feeling wanting to be freed. During the course of an hour, the following emerged, requiring just a bit of cleaning up afterwards, not unlike a drunk about to enter paradise.


ONE

I am not proud to say this,
but I want someone
to look into the mirror of who I am
and finally see themselves,
but more than that,
as soon as they see their reflection,
I want them to dance in the diminishing space between us,
their movement a language I do not speak,
an embrace unheld, the love we make,
lighthouse keeper within me
just about to turn in for the night.

TWO

The moon I am howling at without a sound
is sometimes full and sometimes not,
many waves made larger by its pull
somewhere in a world I will never go.
Poets, saints, and lovers
far more wide awake than I,
have also stood beneath this orb,
their stunned silence having the same origins as mine.
It leaks out of course, this mutant palpatation of the heart,
in a thousand different ways:
tea made for a friend,
the touch of a cheek,
a glance held just a little bit longer than it needs to be.

THREE

I am reading the great hieroglyphic of my soul
and am actually deciphering it,
knowing there is nothing left to do but praise.

FOUR

The space between thoughts is where my life begins,
God's temple, cathedral, and mosque,
places with no need to be swept
they already being clean,
no incense needs to be lit there,
its scent already sweet,
no prayers need to be said,
the brief pause between now and whatever comes next
the perfect invocation.

FIVE

"What is freedom? the young monk asked his Master.
"What does it mean to be free and how do I get there?"
The Master, smiling, looked up from his cup of tea.
"Do you see this cup of tea, my friend?
Do you see how it has taken on the shape
of that which it has been poured into
and how it warms my hands here on this chilly morning?"

SIX

I read my poems to cows,
I love the way they moo
and turn their heads just slightly towards me
though I do not know what moves them.
Is it the words I speak
the sound of my voice,
or do they think I'm hiding a carrot behind my back?

SEVEN

It is not the poem, song, or work of art,
it is that which moves us to create,
to write, to sing, to paint,
the bold attempt at expression
by that small, shelled creature,
pecking from within,
wings folded into its side.

EIGHT

Here is the secret:
There is no secret,
but if that's the secret,
then there IS a secret,
and if there is a secret,
then the second line of this poem
is a complete and utter lie
even though I was doing my best
to speak the truth.

Mitch Ditkoff
My book of poetry
Want to facilitate Wisdom Circles?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:26 AM | Comments (2)

January 22, 2020
Every Bubble of Water is a Jewel

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Not excerpted from this book
Not referred to on this website

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:01 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2019
Pavarotti and I

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Luciano Pavarotti just walked into my kitchen.
He is crying,
not for all those arias that made their way though him
when he was a much younger man,
but for the ones not yet written,
the joy of a thousand composers unborn.
He asks me if I have a clove of garlic,
which I am glad to say, I did,
and toss it to him,
amazed at how large a man he is.
He finds the knife, himself,
humming as he makes his way across the room,
and begins chopping, slowly at first
and then with great abandon,
almost as if the 10 million people he has performed for
were all in the room with us, which they are,
stunned, speechless, hearts bursting,
like unpicked pomegranates beneath a Tuscan sun.
Pavarotti, I am happy to say, keeps on chopping,
even when I think, for the third time,
the pieces are small enough for the sauce
he won't begin to make
until all my neighbors are asleep,
everyone of them.
We ate well that night, Luciano and I.
We laughed a lot and drank a lot of wine.
He told a story about the time
he was way too drunk to sing
in a country he couldn't quite remember.
I think there's a very good chance I may never be hungry again.

Photo by Vlah Dumitru on Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2019
The Fling

The Fling.jpg

MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2019
ONE OF THE ILLUSIONS OF LIFE

One of the illusions of life
is that something needs to be done:
a field to mow,
a room to clean,
a destination to reach.
Actually, it's quite the opposite.
something needs to be undone,
untangled, unraveled, unmade,
like the spider web I weave each morning
pearled with dew,
to catch what I already have.

Not excerpted from Full Moon at Sunrise

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:13 PM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2019
Cruisin' With Rumi

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On a bone cold February afternoon, 23 miles from home, in a Japanese car leased three months ago, I listen to Rumi, 800 years gone from praising everything that breathed.

Lights are flashing everywhere, especially behind me, not white like those that lit up Rumi's eyes. No. More like red, the kind that signal stop and oops and maybe I should slow down and pull over.

Rumi, on the 5-CD changer, is completely unconcerned, his monologue of love making perfect sense, as I, poised, tribal, and whole, notice a large man of the law approaching and reach for my license -- not the poetic kind, but the other kind, the one with the photo no one shows their mother, even as the uniformed man standing tall by my door beckons me to roll down my window and announces, like a small town accountant wishing he was home for lunch with his wife, my speed, which, he informs me, was 20 over the limit, Rumi still holding forth beneath an ancient Persian moon.

He has kind eyes, my sudden companion for the moment in his well-pressed uniform, kind eyes and a smile that speaks of long winters keeping roads safe for travelers like me who, somehow, must have missed the sign about a mile back, veiled, as it was, by that old willow tree and the last few rays of light finding their way past the steepest hill in town, the one where all the kids go sledding, kids, as far as I can tell, who have never heard of Rumi, the officer of the law, or me.

TimelessToday
MitchDitkoff.com
Rumi and Kabir bowling (in the HuffPost)

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:28 PM | Comments (2)

October 26, 2019
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE HEART

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

There Is a Lemon Tree

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There is a lemon tree in my garden
and a peach tree needing
just a bit of fertilizer to return itself
back to its pristine state of ultimate juiciness,
which, they tell me, will take a year.
In between them both is a white clothesline.
No clothes, just clothespins:
blue, orange, yellow, and green.
Off in the distance, the sound of church bells
interrupts nothing, red bougainvilleas
blooming in all four corners of the garden.
Yes, it has come to this: watching flowers grow.
Now I know why those 80-year old Chinese poets,
wrinkles like hieroglyphics of an unspoken poem,
spent so much time tending their plum trees.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2019
No Portal, No Gate

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There is a place between day and night, between now and later, between body and soul. There is no entry to this place, no portal, no gate. You cannot get there by going, only by already being there. It is, this place, a secret chamber of the heart, but only for those who can keep a secret. You have no proof it exists and never will. The more you look for it, the less you will see. The more you listen for it, the less you will hear. This mystery cannot be attained, only received. A bestowal it is, a gift, like the first few drops of dew in this morning's spider web.

Photo: unsplash-logomichael podger
MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:41 AM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2019
The Relationship

She wanted
more space,
I gave her
the universe.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2019
FOR LIA

Here is a wonderful poem recently written by my friend, Robert Esformes, in honor of his friend, Lia Lynn Rosen who has recently opened up a lovely pottery store and studio in Rosendale, NY. Pottery and poetry. They both begin with "P" and they're both good for the soul. Read it and leap. Then check out Lia's new store...

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Slippery clay on the wheel spins round center,
Not unlike how we turn and turn in our time.
The mud of history becomes a dervish dancing,
Tethered to this moment while praising
The Circumference that is everywhere.

The rains fall and reservoirs fill
While the earth sings chorales
for old bones decomposed, ready to take new shape.
Clay's thirst is slaked with a cup of poured water.
Mud meanders towards bowl, dust gathers from dust.

Unfinished vessels head for the furnace of fire;
Fire kindly offers its heat to make firm the form.
Earth, water, fire invite the air into a pas-de-quatre.
Air accepts and conjures a healing breeze,
Stirring up the stillness, refreshing the dance.

All is, in time, finished in its final form,
The cup ready for service to the eye, the tongue,
The nose, the echoing ear.

Ah, the spaciousness of this tea, and cup,
Dancing in our hands, satisfying in perfection
Of the alchemy of the elements!

You are in good company.
Sip responsively.

image2.jpeg

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LIA'S STORE: A Potter on Main Street
430 Main Street, Rosendale, NY
845.658.2163

Think Global, Buy Local

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2019
Meryl Streep, Yo-Yo Ma, Isadora Duncan, and the Creative Process

OK. If you are an artist, dancer, sculptor, writer, poet, photographer, musician or anyone else for whom creativity is paramount, this performance by Meryl Streep and Yo-Yo Ma is your sweet tasting medicine of the day. Or perhaps every day. Turn up the volume. Go full screen. Let's here it for Isabella Duncan, whose words are memorialized in this fantastic reading. Go for it! The door is open! No doubt!

A Poem Reading with Meryl Streep and Cello with Yo-Yo Ma from Center on US-China Relations on Vimeo.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2019
How to Make a Poem

Akka's website

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2019
What Moves Us All to Dream

What Moves Us All to Dream2 .jpg

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:16 PM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2018
A Song of Praise for the World

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What follows is a piece I wrote and performed at the Woodstock "One Voice" event, produced by Evelyne Pouget, three months after 911. For maximum value, read this piece aloud.

I speak today with one voice,
here in this town known around the world for peace,
a place that is metaphor for the highest aspirations
of the human soul: Woodstock.
What I have to say existed long before speech,
long before teachers and those who thought
they needed to be taught.
I speak of the time before time, before us and them,
before otherness, separation, fear,
or the need to make amends.
Pure presence there was back then,
isness, first light, love --
what the wise ones among us call by many names
according to their faith, but it has no name,
this impulse to be, this pulsation of life, this truth --
what poets feel before they pick up their pens,
why dancers, quivering in their own skin,
look around the room for space in which to move.

Back then, before the yes and no, the good and bad,
the East and West,
before our addiction to naming and knowing
and the curious claim people make that
God is on their side and their side only,
there was only one thing,
one infinite expanse of grandeur, one breath.
The human voice was quieted with awe before it.
I speak of presence and wonder and the state of
divine receptivity,
I speak of being at home in ourselves and with each other,
what children feel before they sleep, alone in their beds,
knowing their parents are awake in the next room --
the place where no fear of death abides
and even more importantly, no fear of life.

In this beginning,
(which comes with each and every breath)
the only path there was
was the one we made by walking on it,
the path Mohammed walked and Buddha,
the path Jesus walked and Krishna.
Moses, Rumi, Kabir, Lao Tzu, the Ba'al Shem Tov,
Masters known and unknown,
your neighbors and your friends,
each on fire with the possibility of living life as it was meant to be,
each ignited by the very same power some call God,
the God, whose name, lovers, no matter what their path,
invoke at the height of their passion,
the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Abdul,
the God of wizards, the God of fools,
why the earth turns
and the sufis
and the seasons.

It is this unreasonable force, this power of love,
this mirror of our selves to whom we pray,
while preying on each other,
that joins us together today --
why men dig deeper underground half a world a way
and others penetrate the sky,
each fueled by what they think is noble enough to die for.

The question, my friends, is not what to die for,
but what to LIVE for.
What is your calling? Your dream? Your gift?
What is your responsibility?
The choice, as always, is yours.
The messenger abides within you,
comes to your threshold,
sneaks past the guards you've posted at love’s door
and speaks:

"The cave you seek is the cave of the heart,
the air you patrol is your breath.
Walk whatever path you choose, but know that
each step is also an arrival.
Slow down, breathe deep, trust,
Give roses to people you barely know,
make someone tea,
embrace humanity all you want, but don't forget
to embrace each other -- now, the only time there is.
Let your weapon of choice be Cupid's bow,
see God in everyone,
have fun, wake up, be real!
Live as if this was the first day of your life, or the last.
Men, be men. Women, be women.
Win the war inside you --
the battle between the darkness and the light,
rejoice in the undeniable fact that you are alive!
Find your voice
and when you do, use it wisely.
Sing! Dance! Praise!"

Photo: unsplash-logoHumphrey Muleba

MitchDitkoff.com
My book of poetry
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2018
The Slightly Overweight Modern Art Museum Security Guard

He stands there, barely,
a kind of slow moving
piece of performance art,
just a bit off-stage,
not comprehending
the apparently fabulous shapes
recently described in the New York Times,
though he is, indeed, dressed for the part.
His hands, lightly clenched behind his back,
hold no brushes, no paint, no cloth.
His eyes, unsure of much,
here in this large white room,
glance off into somebody else's distance
while the rest of him,
curious for the moment,
wonders if the tuna fish sandwich
his wife packed for lunch
will be quite enough today.
Now he is leaning up against the wall,
now is he not,
now he is not leaning up against he wall,
now he is.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2018
An Infinite Amount of Poetry

There is an infinite amount of poetry
in every drop of water,
an infinite,
always-being-written
book of psalms
in each and every breath.
There is milk and honey everywhere,
milkmaids, magic, and gypsies
who steal your heart,
then give it back
ten thousand times infused
with secrets that take
far more than a full moon
and a lifetime to decipher.
No automatic alt text available.

MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:56 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2018
Here's How I Want to Love You

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Heart of the Matter
Storytelling for the Revolution
Full Moon at Sunrise

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2018
Be a Peacemaker

Janice.jpg

TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

FIREFLY

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Linda Laino

PHOTO: unsplash-logoMolly Belle

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2018
Full Moon Rising

Alan Poem.jpg

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:58 PM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2018
Here's a Little Secret

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MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2018
The Poetry of Storytelling

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If you've been enjoying this blog, there's a good chance you will also enjoy my new book, Storytelling for the Revolution, available on Amazon as a downloadable, Kindle ebook or an old school paperback.

More about the book
More about me

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2018
Now You See It

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We are here for just a little while,
freshly fallen snow
on a half-opened rose.
That's it. No more.
It doesn't take much
for the vanishing act
to begin,
a burst of sun,
a sudden breeze
someone knocking on our door
and we are gone, done,
a tale told by a friend
tending his garden at dusk.

One more for you

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2018
Easier Done Than Said

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TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:44 AM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2018
Like an Old Mexican Woman

Mexican Crocheting.jpg

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:04 AM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2018
The Buffet in Your Living Room

In memory of Joan and Stanley Deutsch. Written by their loving daughter, Cathy, upon the passing of her father several years ago, and recently remembered as her mother left this mortal world.

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The buffet in your living room
is now a shrine to your life.
Shiva book open to hold the names
of friends and family come to call.
A candle burns in memory
it's Hebrew markings a prayer.
A petition for mercy
that your soul rest in peace.
I have arranged the flowers differently
than the ones from my garden.
These carry a thorn of sadness
as I place them in a clear glass vase.
I strive not for beauty
but for some pictures of you,
the reds your fire
pink of tenderness,
elegance of rose and
simplicity of fern.
Many splendidly open
and others never to bloom.
This still life set for a stilled life
sits not for the painter's eye.
It hold fast your memory
and too will find you in its return
to soft brown earth.

Cathy's email: crotoncath@aol.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:11 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2017
I Used to Write Love Poems

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2017
THE CALL TO CREATE!

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A star exploded deep within you years ago
and still the light has not yet reached your eyes,
not yet turned the night to day for birds to leave their nests
or monks their caves to play.
Blind to your own infusion, you insist there is nothing to see,
nothing to celebrate your reasonless being for,
and yet you feel it, you quake, you quiver to begin.
An unseen trembling turns your head,
the way you stand, the wind, the ground beneath your feet.
You think the shock of this bodily remembrance is fear
and do not sing, do not burst into song,
do not wring the beauty of the sound long buried in your bones.
You stop and throw a stone, half hoping it will come back to you,
and wait as if there was time,
wait, like a beggar ashamed to ask for a bowl to beg with.
How can this be?
The sky is bluer that the eyes of your own mother
on the day she first beheld you and still you cast your gaze down.
Don't you remember?
You were made in the image of God!
The Creator! The One who creates
river, eagle, ladybug, leaf.
If anyone else gave you the moon you'd call him a thief
or worse, refuse to look.
Give up the notion of stealing from God,
the only crime here is to hoard.
Prometheus?
Only board of chilly nights
with no flame to write his poetry by.

TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2017
There Is a Poem I Will Write

The Poem I Will Write.jpg

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2017
THE PATH

The path is simple,
but not always easy,
kind of like a teenage boy,
on his first date,
who discovers he has a pimple
right before he goes to kiss
the girl of his dreams
who,
as it turns out,
is in love with someone else --
a nice enough fellow,
or so I'm told,
but with wicked temper
and a red '63 Corvette.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2017
Hiding in Plain Sight

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2017
Poetic Justice?

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The Best Archer in All of China
A Bag of Small Red Berries
What I Learned from Listening to Bolero for 14 Hours

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2017
My Pen Is a Butterfly Net

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TimelessToday
Heart of the Matter
Butterflies

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2017
The Holiest of Prayers

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MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2017
Like an Old Mexican Woman

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:34 PM | Comments (1)

June 10, 2017
Rumi and Kabir Bowling

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Last year, as I understand it, Rumi was the best selling poet in the United States -- more than 800 years after he was alive. Kabir, too, is still being widely read -- as is Hafiz, Gibran, and a host of other ecstatic poets from times gone by. Many people assume these guys must have been praying, meditating, or fasting all day long. I don't think so. This next poem is an homage to Rumi and Kabir -- my fantasy of how the two of them might have spent an evening, in a bowling alley, knocking back some brewskis, if they were still with us today. PS: For maximum value, read this poem aloud, with some drama in your voice.

RUMI AND KABIR BOWLING

Rumi
I have been to the place where Rumi and Kabir are... bowling all night long. They are rolling perfectly round balls down a perfectly polished alley, laughing at the sound of the pins falling down, again and again and again.

Every time they bowl a strike even when they miss which is often, I must say, their aim wandering in fabulously random ways around this grand interior space.

Rumi orders a shot of Red Eye, Kabir, a Bud Lite, their clinking of glasses some kind of esoteric temple bell ritual neither of them understand.

They keep drinking and laughing and drinking again, knocking back the elixir of their late night bowling life and muttering under their barely moving breath about the strangers outside returning home from yet another too long night shift.

Rumi opens his mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. Kabir, long beard flecked with foam, orders a second round and then a third as if the world was on fire.

Suddenly, Rumi looks over his left shoulder. More pins fall, this time leaving a perfect 7-10 split. Kabir, sweet Kabir, knowing he never has to write another poem to prove himself whole, leaps from his chair and hurls himself down the perfectly polished alley, arms outstretched, moving at the speed of lite... beer.

Bang!

Both pins fall, like cedars in Lebanon... like Adam from Grace... like trees in a forest with no one near enough to hear whether anything had actually happened or not. No one, that is, except Red Eye Rumi now swiveling like a madman in his chair and pointing to the door.

A small man, in a starched white uniform, enters, many keys hanging from his belt.

"HEY! You two! What are you doing here? This place is closed!"

Rumi just smiles, tilts his head back and speaks into his empty glass now megaphone for the moment.

"I beg to differ, my good man. This place is not closed. It is open! If it were closed, we would not be here. Open it is, I say! Wide open! Open like the Red Sea, like a window on a summer night, like the eyes of a young man upon seeing the most beautiful woman in the world walk across the room, her body the perfect mix of spirit and flesh. Open, I say... like a book, like the sky, like the heart of one not yet disappointed in the ways of human love. Go about your business, friend, and leave us here, two happy hieroglyphs of love."

"We have a perfect game on Lane 23," intones a disembodied voice over the PA system "A perfect game!"

Rumi and Kabir pull over another chair, pour another drink and beckon to the man in the starched white uniform, many keys dangling from his belt.

"Good friend, come closer, come drink with us. Come now! The night is still young."

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2017
They Barely Looked

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2017
There Is a Poem

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MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2017
I Used to Write Love Poems

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MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:58 PM | Comments (1)

March 24, 2017
Another Kind of Wall in Mexico

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Watercolor by Evelyne Pouget

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2016
How ee cummings Writes a Poem

Big thanks to Scott Cronin for the heads up!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

September 03, 2016
Poets, Lose Your Pens

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2016
Welcome to UNSPOKEN WORD: THE POETRY OF LIFE!

Greetings! Mitch Ditkoff here, author of UNSPOKEN WORD: The Poetry of Life. My intention with this newly launched blog is to spark some inspiration, reflection, and gratitude -- a chance for you to take a breath, pause, and savor some of the sweetness of life. Knowing how busy you usually are, each post will take you less than a minute to imbibe. Today's launch is the exception, one that includes ten posts -- my attempt to give you a flavor of what's to come. Please enjoy. And if you do, please spread the word. Good muse travels fast...

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2. Poets Toss Pens.jpg

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10. swing.jpg

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7. Disguised as myself.jpg

Spinning Off Coast.jpg

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TimelessToday
PremRawat.com
Heart of the Matter

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

“I have nothing to say, I am saying it, and that is poetry.”
— John Cage

Welcome to my new blog — brief ruminations on what it is that moves me (and maybe YOU, too). If any of my poems inspire you, please forward them to friends. Good muse travels fast. Or could, with your help.

About me.
Contact me.

My Books

© Mitch Ditkoff