Castle in the Sky/the earth sings

Too much and too little of everything,
this disembodied crowd of kings and fools–
the culmination of faith is a leap into the unknown–
the spaces between are all that remains.

The details of life become blurred and distorted,
fragments scattered into ghosts
reflecting the collision of bottomless dreams and desires–
too much and too little of everything.

Plans go astray, linger unrealized.
The path is long and winding and there is no map —
what makes us think we have finally found the truth?
(this disembodied crowd of kings and fools)

Does only night reveal the secret of the star?
The past follows us no matter where we go–
how little is really necessary!
The culmination of faith is a leap into the unknown.

The earth embraces us, teeming with life–
what are we looking for?  where do we belong?
Will we recognize it when we reach our destination?–
the spaces between are all that remains.

memories are
woven into tales–
time and space
expanded
and compressed—fragments scattered
like ghosts of what is

no longer
there—we know why we
seek this thing–
Divine Light–
but there is no star, only an
endless procession

escaping
from its past—still we
always come
back again,
repeating the well trodden
paths of Holy fools–

and when our
destination finds
us what will
we see?  grace
reflecting the gift of life?
or the gold of kings?

I wrote these two poems (a cascade, and a shadorma chain) in response to a painting of the daylight travels of the Magi followed by multitudes of richly garbed men which was part of the Ekphrastic Review Holiday Challenge. These did not make the cut. But when I saw the Earthweal Challenge for the change we are, I thought they fit.

I know my prompt responses often seem to veer off course, and maybe this one is also in that category. Perhaps it stems from my sense of things not fitting properly in the world–myself included–which gives me a general inability to feel I am accurately responding to anything. But I also feel that’s where “we” are at this Solstice 2020. Changes are all around us, but it’s hard to find the proper light in which to tell exactly what they are.

with more art from the archives

Traveling in the Wilderness

Mid the woods,
snowdusk shadows are
spare–lovely
but cold, dark,
clinging like shaded brume and
wandering silent and deep.

Drawn here but
not belonging, I
do not have
promises
of morning or an end to
this vigil I keep

of if and
beyond—all those miles
now lost to
me.  I go
in circles of before–I
beg the night for sleep.

The Kick-About prompt this week was the last 4 lines of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. I was struggling with my poem, a shovel poem (using the words of Frost’s lines as the last words in the lines of my poem) in the shadorma form, when Sarah at dVerse posted her prompt suggesting titles taken from “Surfacing” by Kathleen Jamie. The idea of traveling in the wilderness helped me find a focus.

I had already spent a long time fooling around with the art. The diorama I planned didn’t work out as I expected, but I liked the background paintings I did more than I thought I would.

Done on very wet rice paper, with black ink and silver and pearl metallic watercolor, they had much more of the feeling of Frost’s words than I expected. The diorama on the other hand, failed to match my vision, and I took 50 photos to come up with just a few that I liked.

Still I learned from the experience, including how natural light is much more blue than that from my drawing table lamp which has a yellow cast.

And I got a surprise in the monoprint that emerged from under one of the wet rice paper paintings which also seemed to capture well the feeling of my poem.

on all sides (after Neruda)

thus
each day begins again
and wanders to its end

in the deep darkness
I follow and am pushed
through sequences
that turn me inside out

hours pass
as they bypass me–
we seem to be in different stories

the pages open to places
I have seen before
while the landscape becomes
a backdrop
to somewhere else

crow flies
over the fields
between worlds
carrying
the ears of wheat
to be planted in both places
at once

tolling in concert
with the continuous chaos
I wonder at the expanse of tangled
entrances and exits
in the mouth
of the threshold

which side am I on?
my voice carries nowhere
as I reach out to catch the wings
of the wind

This was done for a dVerse prompt from August, where Rosemarie Gonzales offered wheat as a poetic inspiration. I took 2 lines from one of the Neruda poems she provided, Ah Vastness of Pines, and incorporated it in pieces to make my own verse:
Thus in the deep hours I have seen, over the fields,
the ears of wheat tolling in the mouth of the wind.

I’m linking it to dVerse Open Link Night.

The art is from the archives.

The Flames Burn Cold

The voice of the wind is harsh, unending, bringing news of winter.  Under dusky grey I watch the heavens close in as tree bones rattle with last leaves.  Night is everywhere, penetrating with howling visions the sanctity of sleep.

Solitude is impossible.  Chanting surrounds me, invisible hands, the edge of a nightmare hovering on the threshold.  Ghostlike it travels through the streets, knocking on each door, finding the cracks in each soul, rearranging the molecules of each defense.  No prayer or good luck charm repels the chosen path of this bleak pilgrim.  Its faceless form looms like a black hole.

A cacophony of silence tunnels into the center of my mind.  It asks me no questions, desires no answers–an insatiable voice in a vortex ancient, eternal, lost.

forsaken, stars hide–
sky fallen into stillness
swallowing the moon

For the Earthweal Weekly Challenge, A Hallowed Moondance.

crossing

Last night I had a vivid dream about bridges. Consulting the Oracle this morning, I was able to form the word bridge in both the Poet and Geek kits, giving me two sides of the coin–a question and an answer.

1
which star
streams the galactic code
to open
this bridge
through light
into completion?

2
blue bridge sails
ghoststars of skybreath–
opening holes
in the haunted ocean
of remembering–
a fool’s magic
embrace of time

Hozier’s version of this often-covered song captures most closely the atmosphere of my dream.

the chorus of everywhere

tree 2

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.”
Hermann Hesse

stop making
maps—destinations
are without
meaning—this
journey does not follow roads
to faraway lands

look around
at the familiar
landscape—light,
water, stone,
the patterns of trees joining
wings to earth and sky

listen to
the stillness of no
time—listen–
suspend all
expectations—what you need
is already here

tree 2 close up s

For Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday, a shadorma chain inspired by a quote from Hermann Hesse, selected by Sue Vincent.

tree 1s

on a turtle’s back

turtle back round s

we cling to ourselves
(a)mending all our invitations
with threads that must be pulled
in just the right way

we disguise our own
houses as fortresses–
foundations sunk deep
into the growth of the economy

we arrange nature
to reflect order, not chaos,
not seeds strewn on the wind–
we kill the intruders,
the unwanted, unexpected,
the exceptional,
with chemicals and pruning

we have forgotten
awe, the strangeness
of wonder, of what
we did not know
to look for

we’ve forgotten to be
curious, to open
the door, to enter
into dialogue with
forces we cannot control

we no longer know how
to return what is given
with care and kindness–
to celebrate the earth,
to leave room for her
to sing her own song

turtle back half a

Merril’s photo of the turtle she moved off the road on one of her walks provided the inspiration for both my art and my poem.  Turtles are symbols for Mother Earth in many cultures, and are said to carry the world on their backs.

They could use some help right now with the load we have given them.  For the earthweal challenge culture and nature.

turtle back close up s

Nina and I both love turtles and have posted about them on memadtwo many times.  You can see some of the posts here.

turtle shell s

In Praise of Ecology

trees s

calling all the names–
circles of words and being
woven into life

branches comp s

I greet the oak, the way
its branches frame the sky–
morning and evening
preserving the winter light
holding as shadows
the imprints of birds.

Listen:  they begin
the day—robins and blue jays
emerging from the cacophony
of sparrows and starlings–
and here again—my constant
companion, Crow.

We name our streets
after the trees that once stood
there:  elm, walnut, pine, maple,
chestnut, cedar, oak.  I wonder at
the words, now only images,
memories of  a lost inheritance.

Once landmark and shelter,
the empty vertices wait–
listening for the bearers
of seeds to refill
the gaps that echo barren
now, seeking new songs.

trees close up s

For earthweal where Sherry asks us to write love songs to mother earth.

Ancestor (Dance of the Happy Shades)

ancestor comp

He seems friendly
enough, this presence
of the past, shifting
languorously as if
drugged by sun
light shining in his eyes
after a thundering rain

In truth his voice
is seldom called
upon—an apparition
furniturial, fixed
impermanently in
corners and along
walls

ancestor close up 1s

His dance contains
unpredictable
undertones—the hours
move around him
as his buddha smile
glimmers knowingly
in the dark

ancestor close up 2s

Phil Gomm’s Prompt #3 at The Kick About is Dance of the Happy Shades.  My Rorschach ancestor mirrors himself and transforms in both vertical and horizontal directions.  It was fun to add a little nonsensical creation to my days.