09/17/2013 02:29 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2013


My new book of poems, Reduced to Joy, has just been published. The book contains 73 poems, retrieved and shaped over the last 13 years, about the nature of working with what we're given till it wears us through to joy. For the next few months, I'd like to share poems from the new book with you.

The mind is such a gift that, unless met and directed by the heart, it will take over the show and run our lives. Then, no matter how well intended, our serious focus can narrow the things we're looking at to a smallness that betrays their true nature. It's always our job to meet life where it is, not to break life down so it can enter our small room. This poem explores the difference.


The trouble with the mind
is that it sees like a bird
but walks like a man.

And things at the surface
move fast, needing to be
gathered. While things
at center move slow,
needing to be

What I mean is
if you want to see the
many birds, you can
gather them in a cage
and wonder why
they won't fly.

Or you can go to
the wetlands, birding
in silence before
the sun comes up.

It's the same
with the things
we love or think.

We can frame them
in pretty cages or follow
them into the wild meadow
till they stun us with the
spread of their magnificent

A question to walk with: Are you looking at something in life in too narrow a way? How can you expand the way you are relating to this?

For more Poetry for the Soul, click here.

For more by Mark Nepo, click here.

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