always digging deeper– roots that grow below, restore– listening through decay beyond stillness,
a place that is neither dark nor light, yet full, aware, gathered germinating into witness,
distilled light casting words that linger as counterpart– revealing mysteries in all that is
held on the wings of birds, circulated through the heart, absorbed into the spiraling axis
It’s poet’s choice of form at Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, and how could I resist a syllabic form called “kerf”? I meant this also to be for the earthweal challenge this week, earthcraft, but obviously did not finish it in time.
The same foolishness everywhere. We talk over each other, repeat words until they are erased. The lines become solid form.
We can’t see either forest or trees. We respond without listening. The same actions, recast, broken up, taken down. Angry
outlines drawn like guns. Hanging over cliffs, waiting. Holding on, out, back. We banish heart, soul. Burning every single bridge. Drowning.
Early in my blogging life, on memadtwo, I did a series of paintings titled what is it good for? Then I did some embroideries titled war is not healthy (for children and other living things). Unfortunately, it’s (always) (still) relevant. Even in my city (mostly) young men are killing and being killed every day by gang and turf wars that are little more than macho posturing. And of course, as in every war, civilians are merely collateral damage.
I do not wander randomly but I also do not follow a map. Unlocated, I listen, I look. The Earth claims me, returns me with her favor. I cannot name all the colors, nor sing all the songs she has nested in my heart. They are unmeasurable, eternal.
I too like the places where categories are neither and both—indistinct forms replace the sharp edges and play with what is no longer there.
Past and future give way to presence, and dissolve who I am—nothing has yet been decided.
There is no need to consult time, to hasten the turning of the wheel–
the landscape seems different, unattached to words or specific actions as it gathers me in, murmuring my pulse with invisible currents.
Crow calls to my soul– a shadow casting deeper than darkness or light.
The NaPoWriMo prompt for today is to write a poem that responds, in some way, to another. Liu Xia is a Chinese artist, activist and poet. “Twilight” is one of the poems in her book Empty Chairs. Although that particular poem is not available online, you can read some of her other poems here.
The NaPoWriMo prompt for Day 3 is intriguing. I already know about Michael McClure’s “Personal Universal Deck” and it’s on a long list of things I’d like to do as I love cards of all kinds. But it needs more than a day to do properly, and I only have an hour on this particular day.
So I stuck with the Oracle’s deck of magnetic words, as I do most Saturdays. She knows these are holy days, as is every day when we pay attention to the wonders of the earth and its seasons. Who will save her?
spring seeds light birds flower air bees following
“The world around us is absolutely mind-blowingly amazing….All you have to do is pay attention. Then the stars come out and they dance with you.”–John Muir Laws
Common you say. Everyday you say. and it’s true: night follows day follows night. Many things form patterns, yet within the patterns are mysterious variations, expressions of one particular momentary intersection of space and time. The moon playing with clouds. Water coming in contact with light. A tree, any tree, in any season. Who can forget an insect’s wing? Pigeons swooping in unison between the roofs of buildings. Common. And yet. But still. It stops me. Looking, listening, wondering. Every day.
The NaPoWriMo prompt today has a link to an animation of the music of the Sun Ra Arkestra. Sun Ra was in tune with the world’s amazingness, but you don’t need psychedelic imagery to notice it.
Brendan at earthweal asks this week: What is the turning point that gets us out of this labyrinth of fated humanity? Who or what must we embrace? How do we find our way into the Totality?
We could start by just paying attention.
For NaPoWriMo this year I will mostly, if not entirely, be using art from the archives. I am in the pre-panic phase of my move–a little over 2 weeks before the movers come. I may not post every day, but I’ll do my best.
You can also see my art this month at the Ekphrastic Challenge at Wombwell Rainbow. Two other artists, and many wonderful poets, including Merril Smith and Jane Dougherty, are participating.
1 Did you know? Was it you who sent Crow? Black wings swallowed by the sky—
2 I had time and seasons rising to meet me like trembling in my bones,
3 like Icarus ascending on beautiful foolish arms.
4 Crow and I are not one– but we are together in this cosmos, on this earth.
5 I do not know myself and yet I know of the intersections of that unknown self with the call to attention that is Crow.
6 My mind is busy with trivial things. The shadow of a cry spills everything out empty waiting for the return of listening, watching.
7 O ragged soul— why do you take flight? Do you not see the trees? They are returning from the dead again and again.
8 I know many words and the images that accompany them. But I know too that Crow lives deeper and wider than what I know.
9 Diving diving diving diving. There is no bottom no top no inside or out.
10 At the sight of Crow resounding the light the layers reveal their chorded songs.
11 I walk these streets in oblivion, trying to escape the fear of the known by making up stories that rearrange my life.
12 I hear my fate turn turn turn— how many crows?
13 Always standing in the doorway like Janus—neither and both– cursed and charmed— Crow laughs—he knows I have a dream to fly.
Brendan at earthweal asks us this week to think about the nature of poetry. I first encountered Wallace Stevens and “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” in high school and it remains my poetic touchpoint more than 50 years later. But equally important to my connection with poetry was music–first, traditional folk music, and then the whole crop of singer-songwriters that emerged from the folk revival. I love Joni Mitchell’s “Blue”, but “Hejira” has always resonated with me most of all. The form of this poem is based on Stevens, but the spirit and italicized words are taken from Joni and from my own encounters with Crow, a master shaman.
I have not been posting much, and will probably be mostly absent for the next month or 6 weeks–I’m moving (again). But this is good news! I will have a dedicated work space once again, and a real kitchen. I knew the last 2 moves were temporary, but I thought both moves before that would be the last one–so I’m making no predictions. But I’m planning to be there for awhile.
There is no drama in most moments, but the accumulation becomes a story. One day you wake up, or you think you wake up. But something burns—you can smell it in the air. Ashes of yesterday are falling from the sky. You thought the past was dead, but it has only rearranged itself into today, or is it already tomorrow?
And what happened yesterday anyway?
I went out to the hazel wood because a fire was in my head. I walked and walked and walked until I came to a pool of water, still and deep. I sat beside it, watching my reflection smolder, waiting for something to be revealed. The light scattered on the liquid surface held me and gave me a different life, turned me inside out.
Now I am only flames, or was that yesterday? Which side am I on?
For the dVerse Prosery prompt from Kim, some inspiration from Yeats: ‘I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head’.
The art is from a series of constellation poems I did for Pure Haiku. Freya’s current theme is Unfurling–you can submit until February 28.
memory fails to stop enduring grief daily farewell face death alone
In 2015, when this post originally appeared, the New York Times published a chart explaining some of the ways civilians have died in the Syrian War. A little research online shows that in modern warfare it is estimated that 85-90% of all casualties are civilians (June 2014 American Journal of Public Health). War also wreaks havoc on the environment, leading to more death.
A Hard Rain
has fallen shadowed by endless endings, ghosts both multiplied and lost
Some estimates of civilians killed in recent and ongoing conflicts: Sudan-Darfur 200,000 Iraq 170,000 Syria 200, 000 Congo 60,000 Afghanistan 45,000 Pakistan 35,000 Mexico 50,000 Libya 30,000 Chechnya 100,000 Eritrea-Ethiopia 70,000 Sierra Leone 70,000
These numbers have only increased since 2015.
There are not enough tears to encompass all this sorrow.
Bjorn at dVerse asked us to write poems of war. I decided to repost some of my headline haiku embroideries–I did a number of them from 2015-2017 when war was in the headlines every day. Now we’ve moved on to other things, but lest we forget, civilians and soldiers are still losing both their lives and homes every single day all over the world
Silence weeps and eyes refuse sight. No questions can be posed, nor answers given. Light is erased. Dust and blood.