Occasional Picture May 2014



© 2014 Marina Rundell



The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the pale blue walls of this room,
bouncing from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past--
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that's what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sickroom,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift--not the archaic truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hands,
I was sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

- Billy Collins


“Many parents love their children. Yet they make them suffer a lot in the name of love. They’re often not capable of understanding their children’s suffering, difficulties, hopes, and aspirations. We have to ask ourselves, ‘Am I really loving the other person by understanding them or am I just projecting my own needs?’”

“The most precious inheritance parents can leave their children is their own happiness. Parents’ happiness is the most valuable gift they can give their children. Your children can use those lessons the whole of their lives. You may not be able to leave them money, houses, and land, but you can help them be happy people. If we have happy parents, we have received the richest inheritance of all.”

“Many of us are caught in our ideas of how we can be truly happy. We are attached to a number of things that we think are crucial for our well-being. We may have suffered a lot because of our attachment to those things, but we don’t have the courage to release them; it doesn’t feel safe to do so. But it may be that we continue to suffer because of our attachment to those things. It may be a person, a material object, or a position in society, anything. We think that without that person or thing we will not be safe, and that is why we’re caught by it.”

“Letting go, releasing, is one technique that can bring about joy and happiness.”

“Mindfulness is another method that brings about joy and happiness….’Breathing in, I'm aware of my eyes; Breathing out, I know they are in good condition.’ And the insight comes that you have a condition of happiness that is already there. That is mindfulness, and mindfulness brings joy and happiness.”

“So we have to train ourselves to learn that mindfulness is a source of happiness.”

“First we develop the capacity of letting go. Then we develop the capacity of being mindful. Then we can see that happiness is already available.”

“When we’re mindful of something, we can absorb it and concentrate on it. Such concentration increases the quality of our happiness. Suppose you have a cup of tea. When you’re mindful and concentrated, your tea becomes something very real and the time of tea drinking makes you happy. Your mind is not disturbed. It’s not dwelling in the past, in the future, or on your current projects. Your mind is focused entirely on the tea. That’s concentration. Tea is the object of your concentration. So drinking tea in that moment can make you very happy; and the more you are concentrated, the happier you become.”

“Insight always liberates you. If you’re inhabited by fear, worries, desire, or craving, you can’t be peaceful. But when you have insight, fear and craving are removed; you are free; and true joy and happiness come to you. The practice of meditation—releasing, mindfulness, concentration, and insight—is the practice of true love.”

“Joy, mudita, is the third element of true love…Mudita has been translated as sympathetic or altruistic joy. I don’t like that translation because if you don’t have joy, you can’t offer joy. Joy is for you, but it is also for me. A true practitioner knows how to bring joy to himself. We don’t need to talk about altruistic joy. Joy is just joy. If you are really joyful and your joy is healthy, then that benefits other people. If you’re not joyful, not fresh, or not smiling, then that doesn’t benefit anyone. If you’re inhabited by joy and freshness, even if you do nothing, we profit from you.”

- Fidelity, Thich Nhat Hanh


economic sanctions - any actions taken by one nation or group of nations to harm the economy of another nation or group, often to force a political change

- World English Dictionary

free speech sanctions - any actions taken by the Supreme Court to harm the free speech of the 99 percent, often to force a voting change




Call it Mr. Nevada
For all the attention
Received lately

It shades his eyes
And keeps his forehead dry
For all sorts of
Reasonable thoughts

Like how he’s free to roam
His cattle wherever
Whenever he pleases

How he’s free to graze
His cows on pasture
That nobody owns
So fees are overblown

To make meadows free
All the Presidents
That came before and after
He doesn’t recognize

All the taxes paid
For roads carrying
His beef to market
He doesn’t recognize

His public education
He doesn’t recognize
If he’s on Medicare
He doesn’t recognize

Should he remove
Mr. Nevada off his head
He may be forced
Into sensibility

So Mr. Nevada must remain
Snug on his brain
For all his followers
To shoot anyone enforcing
Grass isn’t always free

To collect the fee
Don't bring guns
When Mr. Nevada
Is worn to a sheen
Bring instead a lien

© 2014 Marina Rundell



Have you seen the well-dressed army
up and down the peninsula
on that rebellious thoroughfare
with their guns in the air
portraying Puttin’ on the Fritz

Come with me and watch them use
their last two bits for snappy boots
marching chaos on the avenue
parading Puttin’ on the Fritz

See them spending every dime
for some trooper time
miming Puttin’ on the Fritz

If you’re blue and want to be free
join the jubilee
rub elbows with misfits
riot on to keep Puttin’ on the Fritz

Until the shirtless pageantry
is a perfect fit
for a peaceful ruler
not on the fritz

© 2014 Marina Rundell


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