Janine Canan

The Sacrifice

Emily Dickinson erased herself.
And where she once was
a thousand poems


Lunch at the Depot Hotel

I love this crazy world, and I am not
without hope.

Sonoma greens, Sicilian olive oil, local shrimp,
bread from the grasses invented by women eons ago,
Dubonnet from the red vine of the French, lovers who honor
the blood, coffee from beans of the South—

this soulful feast inspires me to share with you,
while provincial voices on money and strangers rise
in the next room amid laughter and heavy home-grown wine,

to share with you that no matter how much change
or how fast, no matter the winds, spreading viruses, unexpected
explosions, rapings of women and babies, grand upheavals of the Earth—
no matter how annoyed Mother Earth becomes,

Life does survive, inexpressibly beautiful, that makes dahlias maroon
and huge open their faces to us with—what else can we call it—Love.
And if there is a better word, let us use that.

Love flowers no matter what,
rest assured.



It is not God who is dead
but we who are
dead and need to be

We Are All Teachers

Everything we say
and do


Art is simply a gift—
but how passionately and totally
the artist gives it.

Like any worker
saintly or egotistical,
the artist keeps working.

Artists are the rememberers,
lovers and givers,
when others forget.

They offer a vision
that even unnoticed remains
an offering to Life.


the poet,

by all the miracles,

receded into the silence.

(She was a miracle too.)

The Desire

To have made something
so beautiful
that there will always be someone
who saves it

it is so beautiful.

The Last Laugh

The Violin says: Did you enjoy
my music? I practiced
so hard, I sacrificed,
I put my whole body into it
and performed well as I could.
Listen, I will play again.

But wait, cries the Soul,
it is I who played you!
All I have learned from lifetimes
went into the playing.
I am the music that
reverberates through you.

Then, in torrents
came the Laughter: Who
willed it all but I, the Self
of All That Is, who dreamed this
world and others you know nothing of.
From Me—music, soul and violin.


There is no end to the books.
They are rivers without beginning or end—
the gold of the soul
woven throughout Creation.

Step down to the river
and dip your pan
into the flow...


Then let these books
crumble and flow
with the mud down to the sea

Let them become part
of the ever moving
earth and water

Let the words return
to the essence
they came from

syllable by syllable
let them merge
into the melody of the universe

Let them go
where they want to go
and where they are needed.

Poems by Janine Canan selected from Ardor:Poems of Life (Pilgrims Press, Varanasi, 2012) and Majesty, forthcoming 2014. Please visit JanineCanan.com for further information.

Copyright  © 2013 Janine Canan

Janine Canan is the author of 20 books including the award-winning anthologies, Messages from Amma and She Rises like the Sun; acclaimed translations of Francis Jammes and Else Lasker-Schüler; illustrated storybooks, Journeys with Justine and Walk Now in Beauty; a collection of essays, Goddesses Goddesses;  and poetry including NEA grant-recipient Of Your Seed and, most recently, Ardor: Poems of Life. Janine lives in California’s Valley of the Moon, graduated from Stanford cum laude and NYU School of Medicine, and is a psychiatrist and consultant for Indian humanitarian Mata Amritanandamayi. Please visit her at JanineCanan.com.