Tag Archives: sacred

Arabic Coffee

Rituals can seem simple in themselves, but as acts carried out over a period of time they become imbued with complexity and meaning. The sacredness of ordinary things lies within those layers. You don’t have to understand all of this poem to appreciate it’s beauty or appreciate some of it’s remarkable lines.

Arabic Coffee                                     Naomi Shihab Nye


It was never too strong for us:

make it blacker, Papa,

thick in the bottom,

tell again how the years will gather

in small white cups,

how luck lives in a spot of grounds.


Leaning over the stove, he let it

boil to the top, and down again.

Two times. No sugar in his pot.

And the place where men and women

break off from one another

was not present in that room.

The hundred disappointments,

fire swallowing olive-wood beads

at the warehouse, and the dreams

tucked like pocket handkerchiefs

into each day, took their places

on the table, near the half-empty

dish of corn. And none was

more important than the others,

and all were guests. When

he carried the tray into the room,

high and balanced in his hands,

it was an offering to all of them,

stay, be seated, follow the talk

wherever it goes. The coffee was

the center of the flower.

Like clothes on a line saying

You will live long enough to wear me,

a motion of faith. There is this,

and there is more.


All the Hemispheres

About two weeks ago I met Daniel Ladinsky in Abiquiu, New Mexico where he was one of three poets at a poetry reading.  He’s a translator of the works of  both Rumi and Hafiz and has a remarkable ability to quote passages from both.  He was generous in many ways:  in the words he drew forth and in signing and sharing his books with us, or listening to our stories.  It was a very moving evening. He stayed nearby us at Ghost Ranch, so we saw him at breakfast and lunch the next day.  This Hafiz poem is one of his translations, enjoyed by five of my writing classes this week.  I’d like to note  some of his particular word choices:  watermark, soul, and campfire.  See below, enjoy the details!

All the Hemispheres                                                                                    Hafiz

Leave the familiar for a while. Let your senses

and bodies stretch out


like a welcomed season onto the meadows and

shores and hills.


Open up to the roof. Make a new watermark

on your excitement and love.


Like a blooming night flower, bestow your vital

fragrance of happiness and giving upon our

intimate assembly.


Change rooms in your mind for a day. All the

hemispheres in existence lie beside an equator

in your soul.


Greet yourself in your thousand other forms as

you mount the hidden tide and travel back home.


All the hemispheres in heaven are sitting around

a campfire chatting while


stitching themselves together into the great circle

inside of you.