this land (the other)

but there is always another side–
the one that is in our face seems real
because we see it—the details,
the form of its existence–
but what of the side we do not see,
what of the one that looks
in a different direction?  the one not
evident, not the same?  the one
we must be careful not to leave behind?

As usual, Brendan at earthweal gave me a lot to think about in this week’s challenge post. His question–What does it meant to be open, unbounded, united and free in an enclosed world?–made me immediately think of this verse Woody Guthrie wrote in “This Land is Your Land”.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing
That side was made for you and me

which was the inspiration for my poem.

The late great Sharon Jones sings it like it is.

Also linking to dVerse OLN, hosted by Ingrid.

breathing

I woke up this morning thinking of Sue Vincent. The words the Oracle gave me reflect that. She must have been in my dream, although all I remember is the ending which had snow and bright yellow dogs.

The art I was drawn to when looking through the archives for something to illustrate the words was also done for Sue’s prompts.

almost like light
this dusky song
a gentle color

of secret sound
murmured by roots and rain

how to follow
through beneath beside

ask the ancient path
to walk with you

letting go

why wait for now to pass?
always living in to be
tomorrow is not where we are, ever

each minute, hour, a chance
encounter we can’t foresee
full of spans impossible to measure

where am I?  here and now
and no place else—out or in,
over or under, it doesn’t matter

each fragment itself whole–
each moment contained within
the present completeness of forever

I haven’t written a kerf poem in awhile. The W3 prompt this week, a response to Burden of Time by A. J. Wilson, also has the restrictions of 12 lines or less, and the use of the word fragment. The kerf, a 12-line poem, was just right. You can read A. J. Wilson’s poem here.

Illustrations are two variations on the seed of life motif.

Dead Ends

My memories of my childhood, the years between ages five and eleven, are good ones.  We had moved from the city of Cleveland to the suburbs, from a 2-bedroom house where my brothers and I shared a room, to a 3-bedroom house where I had my own, if tiny, space.

But this was the 1950s suburbs—there were still fields and vacant and wooded lots.  The houses and yards were small.  The trees had not been cut down to build the houses.  Each was different.  Landscapers were not called in—yards were maintained in a casual manner.  No one owned a leaf blower or a snowblower.  We raked and shoveled and played in the leaves and snow while doing it.

Families had one car and people rotated carpooling or took Rapid Transit trains to work.  There was little traffic on our dead end street, and we often played there.  Railroad tracks stood at the dead end—we spent hours just watching the trains, counting the cars and waiting to wave at the caboose, climbing the fence and playing in the woods, fields, and streams “across the tracks”.  We walked or rode our bikes to school, to friends’ houses, to the candy store.

I recently looked at that house on Google Maps, shocked to see a bare front yard—all the oak trees had been removed.  What was once a dead end had been connected to the next street.  Gone was the Beck’s house on the hill, and Beck’s field where we played baseball in summer and ice skated in winter.  Gone was the Fleming’s double lot with its beehives, rabbit hutches, sheds, and hiding places perfect for kick-the-can.  Worst of all, “across the tracks” was now populated by warehouses, not fields and trees and the creatures that lived there.

My entire childhood had been erased.

screens the new playgrounds–
no more cloud-watching, fresh picked
berries, forts of shoveled snow—

finding a four-leaf clover
in the middle of your lawn

For earthweal, where Brendan asks us to witness the magnitude of the changes in our environments.

Beyond All Knowing

They wished to be passengers on a river of stars,
but the road they followed fell below the horizon,

a road that insisted on following darker paths.
Suddenly they found themselves accompanied by wolves.

The wolves ran through an expanding tunnel–
its walls were spattered with the past,

a past too scattered to contain or understand.
No door appeared within, no window,

no exit from the accumulations of bad intent,
the gods and humans that demanded obedience.

The wolves made no demands, but extended an invitation
to join them as they became transparent—

to join them in sheering the mind’s self-imposed limits.
They wished to be passengers on a river of stars.

A duplex sonnet for NaPoWriMo Day 27.

Serpent’s Tale

The serpent grew wings–
emerging from the cosmic egg,
it became a bird.

Embracing the tree of life
and all of spirit’s progeny,
the serpent grew wings.

Beginning as a vast secret
of stars and swirling light
emerging from the cosmic egg

The serpent shed its skin
and imagined miracles.
It became a bird.

The NaPoWriMo prompt today was to write a poem about a mythical person or creature doing something unusual . My response is not exactly on prompt–I took a mythical creature but I reimagined it into hope instead of despair. As Brendan at earthweal says: let’s celebrate radical hope — that hope whose only basis is our faith in the wonder of life and our capacity to embrace it.

The form I used for the poem is the Cascade, one of Muri’s April scavenger hunt poetic prompts. I’d forgotten how much I like it–thanks Muri!

I did not have to look far into my Redon-inspired collages for a mythological subject. The stitched mandala is from my constellation series–this is the Phoenix, first published on Pure Haiku.

Your ashes illume,
cradled beyond day and night – 
great is the unknown.

Threads and Circles

1
to be a thread held
on the wings of birds soaring
through vast light-filled air

2
layers merge
separate become
something else

3
stilness waits
to expand beyond
what is here

4
particles of light
that remain uncaught—a song
you can almost hear

5
tethered to itself
or maybe nothing at all–
just an idea

The last Kick-About prompt was Naum Gabo’s sculpture, linear construction #2, above. It brought to mind some small shibori swatches I had that I wanted to embroider on. I meant to do a few of them, but only had time for one. But the others are waiting.

NaPoWriMo begins tomorrow, and I also wanted to post the 5 Japanese-style poems I wrote to accompany my stitching in anticipation of a month of poeming–I have not been writing many new things lately.

The first year I participated was 2016, so this will be my seventh year. As in recent past years, I’ve tried to accumulate a month’s worth of new art to use with the writing. This year, a lot of my inspiration has come from the art of Redon.

Come In (she said)

What do we remember of the womb, the world of mother-child, when we were one?  Do we remember gentle waves,  rocking on a seabed of safety, embraced by its self-contained shores?  Do our cells forever feel the pull of oceans?—longing to find once more the lost liminal—floating free, water and earth overlapping in an intertidal dance?

Is shelter the same as home?

If we carry our belonging on our back like snails.  If we build temporary abodes like caterpillars, waiting for transformation, a future entirely reconfigured, a momentary ephemeral flight.

Is there an either/or, or is it always both/and?  The leaving, the long road back, the journey the same but different, a vast and endless circle, each step verged, again and again.

I stand impermanently on a threshold of sand, looking for solidity, a resting place.  Where is the first mother, starborne, moonshadowed?  What existed before the beginning, the original dreaming?

mystery
of return—how to
meet yourself

Sometimes I feel like I keep recomposing the same poem over and over. This meditation on shelter, for earthweal, is just the most current version of my repetitive state of mind.

barren

I can’t dispute the Oracle’s words.

black blows the skywind–
raw shadowships raining
the bitter storm language of lies
into the bare breasts
of dead mothers

you ask for spring
and the music of love
when the sun is swimming
through seas of boiling blood—

what can grow here?

“There is no glory in battle worth the blood it costs.”
–General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Since Nina and I started blogging in 2014 I’ve posted far too much art about war.

Coiling

My sojourns repeat themselves, going
after relics that never existed, recapturing
the memories of ghosts.  You may ask
why I continue to tolerate a hopeless
cause, finding solace in circles—

I do not know how to define existence,
or the way to measure its boundaries.
I am lost and confused by an absence
that seems to be devouring what
might have become the future.

What can I do but shelter the things
I can’t yet see inside an identity
I do not yet possess?  Soon there will be
nothing left but the letting go. Until
what isn’t there becomes all that remains.

Here is the place I must abide.

For earthweal, where Brendan asks: Working for the best present, this shifting, dysynchronous, pre-apocalyptic now: That is your challenge this week. What does the landscape of this look like where you live and celebrate your being?