“I Have My Home in Two Worlds”: Coleman Barks, John Willison, Rumi, Magic Musicians and Wild Wonder: Everyday Magic, Day 744

With Coleman and John (and a very bright lamp)
With Coleman and John (and a very bright lamp)

Last night was one of the shining evenings of my life. Surrounded by lightning and thunder lighting up the stained glass windows at Unity on the Plaza, and immersed in Rumi’s poetry and all the improvisation in word and music it inspired, I was bedazzled. I’ve long felt a kinship with Coleman Barks and a deep appreciation for what he’s done to bring Rumi to the world, and I love Rumi’s poetry with a vengeance.DSCN2021

It was enough to land here with  Rumi performed by Coleman Barks and a trio of musicians who had never played together before on a stormy, perfect October night (while also reunited with old friends), but there was more glory. I was there with Kelley, one of my closest friends, in great part to hear John Willison, one of my Turning Point writing workshop participants. Through a phone call (thanks to John’s wife Pauline, and Coleman’s open heart), it was arranged that John would read one of his poems that evening while the musicians chimed in.

John started his reading by telling the audience that he had metastatic cancer — cancer traveled from its sight to other points in the body with little chance of turning back. His poem, written on Sunday in the workshop “Writing for Life, Love and Legacy,” speaks to what it means to live so vibrantly while knowing in each breath how mortal he is. John read the poem first without music, and then with the astonishing merging of Allaudin Ottinger on percussion, Nathaniel Caetanya Bottorff on strings, and a marvelous clarinetist. Here is his poem:

I have my home in two worlds


This one:

With all its wild running,

Stuffing my pockets full of pleasure.

A smile the size of a candy shop!


I open my closet,

My whole life pours out

In excessive sweetness.


Even my suffering has taken a shine.

Running my fingers over my scars,

What were once indignities

Are now a flutter in the heart…


I bashfully flirt with every beauty.


The blushing maple, there

That brushstroke of moon.

Her hand on my chest,

Light as air,DSCN2011

And just as needed.


It’s all an enchantment.


I am aware of the windows being shut at the back of the house,

The doors, propped open, closing.

But this is not to be a constraint, a prison for beggars.


Not a house of sorrows.


Yes, everything will tremble.

All will fall.

This container will topple off the shelf and shatter,

Spilling into an infinite field,


Where this greeting awaits:


Hello, darling. Welcome home.

~ John Willison


3 thoughts on ““I Have My Home in Two Worlds”: Coleman Barks, John Willison, Rumi, Magic Musicians and Wild Wonder: Everyday Magic, Day 744

  1. Jolene Grabill says:

    Caryn, once again the world draws a clear line connecting you and I. Earlier tonight I signed on to facebook and read an inspiring poem posted by my friend Pauline. Pauline and I first be acquainted in Wichita decades ago when we both frequented a popular dancing establishment called “The Coyote Club”. Six or so years ago we connected again at West Side Folk Concerts, where I met her husband John. We have stayed in touch via facebook since then and I have marveled at the strength of their joy and their connection in the face the “closing doors and windows” John refers to.
    So when I signed into facebook again just now and found John’s poem on your own post, I am simply left to say….there must be a reason all these circles of life keep connecting you and I.

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