Thursday, March 31, 2011

First-place Winning Poem

Spirit First is pleased and honored to announce the first-place winning poem for 2011 awarded to Levi Noe for his poem “Om.” Levi is a native Coloradan and a graduate of Metropolitan State College of Denver with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a concentration in writing. Currently he is a teacher of children ages 1 1/2 to 6 years at Montessori Academy of Colorado, but beginning in May 2011 he will be an English teacher in Japan with the English Academy of Communication. Levi's free time is spent reading, writing, bicycling, snowboarding, cooking, eating, learning, unlearning and drinking in life. His current and future goals include, but are not limited to, the fields of writing, education, healing, freeing, and empowering. 
by Levi Noe

The bee’s buzz— the hum, the love

                        Is this Om?

I chase it with my
                    wild longing.

What do flowers chant
to make the bees come?

Levi Noe
First-place Winner
Spirit First Poetry Contest 2011

Second-place Winner

Second-place honors go to Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) for his poem “This Is the Somewhere You Wanted To Get To.” Mankh is a writer, small press publisher, and Turtle Islander who lives in Suffolk County, New York. His most recent book of poems is Adam Had No Earthly Navel. Mankh takes pleasure in nature and enjoys listening to music, learning about various spiritual traditions, and keeping up with world news and cultural trends. His literary website:

This Is the Somewhere
You Wanted To Get To

by Mankh (Walter E. Harris III)

this bus stop
before the bus arrives
is also a destination

this bagel & coffee
in the car before
the work day begins

this reading
and delivering of this communiqué,
this now
is the somewhere you wanted to get to

if you could just
kick it down a notch
you would notice this
bliss that lives in the cracks,
between the lines,
in the air called empty
by those who never noticed
this is the somewhere
to get to

if you have arrived
then you are not waiting,
not hoping,
not needing,
step right up, ladies and gentlemen,
see it before you believe it

if this is really the somewhere
you wanted to get to
then clear the table
and call off the dogs,
call off the second coming,
turn off the porch light,
all bets are off,
send the posse packing home
and let's just waltz
between the starry firmness
guiding us, guiding us on

let's just stand, arms outstretched,
a pack of canines
licking our un-crossed palms,
sandpipers piping the sand,
let's take a stand and take our time,
let's give a shit,
make it work,
let's shake it down and do it up

open your mind
allow the clouds
to roll on by
as a goldfinch
eats the thistle seeds
then whistles blissfully
this is the somewhere

Third-place Winner

Third-place honors go to Kaveri Patel for her poem “Forgiveness.” Kaveri is a practicing family physician in northern California. In her seven years of practice, she has found that compassionate listening is perhaps more important than the exact medical diagnosis. Her own healing journey has taught her that kindness is key to meeting all difficulties in life. She especially loves to empower women and help them reconnect with the sacred feminine within.

Kaveri has written for MotherVerse, Passing It On, and the Palo Alto/Menlo Park Parents Newsletter. She enjoys writing both poetry and prose as a means of connecting with self and the world around her. Kaveri lives with her beautiful husband, daughter, and mother in northern California. In her free times she enjoys mindfulness meditation, yoga, singing, music, the ocean, and spending time with her family.

by Kaveri Patel
There’s something new about the world
the day after it rains.
It’s as if an artist
erased the whole palette,
then redrew homes, the trees, the sky
with bolder outlines, and brightened
them with new paint
more vibrant than the old colors.

What if we were all artists
washing away old images of ourselves
with tears of forgiveness?
What if you could see
past outer appearances
and your heart was
your only canvas?
Would you imbue it
with the shades of your love,
or tear it to pieces
to equal
your number of self judgments?

There's something new about the world
the day after it rains.
An artist erases the whole palette
for the chance to begin again.

Spoken Poem Award

Spirit First is very pleased to announce the Spoken Poem Award 2011 goes to Frank James Davis of Troy, New York, for his poem "For Enlightenment."

For Enlightenment
            by Frank James Davis

As I now rise
to start life's sleep,
I pray the Lord
my truth to keep.
Working each day,
until I'm dust,
I've yet to learn
just why I must.
My mind might soon
remember why,
if I should wake
before I die.

Editor's Choice Award

Spirit First is pleased to announce the Editor's Choice Award 2011 goes to Rick Kempa for his poem "In Northern India Right Now." Rick is a poet and essayist living in Rock Springs, Wyoming, where he teaches writing and philosophy at Western Wyoming College. A book of his poems, Keeping the Quiet, is available from Bellowing Ark Press. Rick is also a poet featured in our Spirit First poetry book Moments of the Soul 2010.

In Northern India Right Now 
by Rick Kempa (for the students in my Religious Studies class)

In Northern India right now
there is a thin, thin man.
He is naked and has been so
for decades.

He is standing off to the side of the road
on one leg,
his other leg tucked high against his inner thigh,
his hands clasped before him.

He has no possessions
not even a bowl like the Buddhist monk.
When villagers come out in the evening to feed him
(because holy men must be fed)
he uses the bowl of his hands.

He does not cut his hair
because it is a home for creatures.
When he walks he brushes the path before him
with a clutch of peacock feathers
so as not to harm the creatures.

He will not kill the mosquito that drinks his blood
If he is attacked by a dog, he is bitten.

He is pursuing
the Way.

What are we to make of him?

In Iran there are men who
whirl and whirl for days in circles,
their hair, their black cloaks flowing behind them
turning inward towards the truth, towards love,
deserting their egos
seeking through the sacred dance
the Way.

What are we to make of them?

In a small town in New Mexico each spring
one man is chosen—honored—to be the one
who has his clothes torn from him,
who bears the lash, wears the crown of thorns,
who, barefoot, hauls the wooden cross up the steep hill,
is tied to it and stood upright,
while the community gathers in prayer at his feet,
believing that his suffering, his penance,
opens for them the Way.

What are we to make of them?

We might put them at a distance
as objects, curiosities. Weird! Strange!
We might even, if our own small world dictates,
judge them. They are wrong.
Their ways are not Truth
(meaning, of course, “my truth”).

We cannot enter their world views,
see them from within.
But can we at least stand at the edge,
understand them,
find something in their worlds
that speaks truth to us?

Friday, March 25, 2011

our resting place

There is a resting place, a starting place that you can always return to.  You can always bring your mind back home and rest right here, right now, in present, unbiased awareness.   ~Pema Chodron

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

true religion

A spiritual person tries less to be godly
than to be deeply human.
                                             ~ Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

photography by Madalina Diaconu
with permission

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spirit First on Facebook

Spirit First now has a presence on Facebook, and oh, my...what great joy this has become! It's been especially sweet for me to create the photo album for our Moments of the Soul poetry book (I had no idea how wonderful it would feel to see the faces of the poets whose words I have been reading for the past year).

Several days ago I sent the word out that we are on Facebook, and I asked folks to visit and choose to "like" our page. My intention was to reach 25 hits and wow, within about 24 hours we reached more than 80! I'm so pleased to have you all visit the page and support us and the work of Spirit First. I've felt encouraged by your presence, your comments, and your emails.With so many of you joining us here, it feels like community.

Come see us and visit us often:
You are warmly invited to "like" us. 
~ Diana Christine

Monday, March 14, 2011

on meditation...

Meditation is something wide and vast that ultimately expands into the Infinite. When we meditate, we throw ourselves into a vast expanse, into an infinite sea of peace and bliss, or we welcome the infinite Vast into us. Prayer rises; meditation spreads. Meditation is constantly growing and expanding into peace, light and delight. When we meditate, we gradually see, feel and grow into the entire universe of light and delight.   ~ Sri Chinmoy