flower of november

you fling
the blooms, graceful–
hands filled with abundance,
harvest untroubled by
time’s immanent
decay,

the cost
of seeds waxing–
each life encircled by
its opposite—how all
language breaks in
to tears—

but dance!–
the seasons are
not closed—the same sun that
sets early now will grow,
expand, greet sky
open

again,
in tangible
contrast to our useless
attempts to resist, turn
back clocks, challenge
the tides

My response to Merril’s autumn ekphrastic prompt at dVerse. I chose the above image, Child Dancing With Chrysanthemum Branch. Chrysanthemums are the birth flower of November, symbolizing both long life and mourning or grief. I’ve used Jane’s Oracle 2 words as inspiration.

I did not realize until after I wrote the poem and was searching for appropriate images how well it fit this response to Nick Cave’s soundsuits that I did for a recent Kick-About prompt.

The soundsuits created by Nick Cave, the artist, are totally different than the songs created by Nick Cave, the musician.

frozen

bombs are cold
explosions of bitterness
sucking the warmth
out of what remains
of possibility

bombs are greedy
machines, meant only
to destroy, burn
any seeds, annihilate
life

bombs are hungry
voracious conduits
for our worst impulses
eating our souls
from the inside out

A quadrille for dVerse, where Lisa has given us the word warm. In 2014 I did a series called “What Is It Good For?” on memadtwo. There were, as always, many conflicts in the news. Hearing this song from Buddy and Julie Miller this morning, it reminded me of the art from those posts.

It also made me think again of how cold this winter will be for the Ukrainians and so many others the world over. How short our attention span. How little we have learned.

What IS it good for–the guns, the bombs, the dying? We know the answer.

misdirection, or:  the politics of suicide

listing waves of change–
immense confused unwell–
a bitter solitude–
fretful shapeless still

wilderness estranged–
damaged undazzled quelled
reversed and left unmoored–
a landscape murdered killed

misunderstood deranged
hypnotic words cast spells–
a whispered mania–
the mind unravels, spills

connection broken frayed–
once Paradise, now Hell

Bjorn at dVerse gave us the challenge of writing a bref double poem. I had a lot of trouble with the rhythm of this form, a dissatisfaction that I could only resolve by making the b and c rhymes similar.

Like Punam, I looked to Jane’s Oracle 2 words for inspiration and received a similar message.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Living  

I
He wanted mountains
as his final resting place:
climb and let me fly.

II
We climbed, ten,
The landscape open, no trees,
just empty and wide.

III
The black ashes fell up to the ground.
The sun remained in the sky.

IV
A camera captured
pieces.
All around earth rocks family
air.

V
Our conflicts dissolving
into suspended time,
breathing memories,
the connections blinding,
the future past.

VI
The shadow of inheritance.
The pull of familiarity.
Love crossed with contradiction,
no answers,
lost words,
absences
uncertain and unknown.

VII
O voice of silences
what would you say to us now?
Do you not seek the many questions
embedded in the reparations
we expect to find?

VIII
I know only murmurs
and the rhythm of searching.
But I know too
that death is involved
in what I know.

IX
When we came down from the mountain
our bodies flew,
scattered to many destinations.

X
At the sound of each day
and each day returning
we noted the discordant measure
of hours and years.

XI
He did not ask
for more time.
He did not seek miracles
or complain of cruelty.
He knew that all stories
have an end.

XII
Her mind departed
long before her heart failed.

XIII
We went back up the mountain.
It was different
and the same and the earth
the sky accepted anew
our darkest gift.

Joy has asked us this week at earthweal to talk about the first poems that helped you to find your own inner eye and voice, and write about it. I’m sure there were poems and poets that influenced me before Wallace Stevens, but none has been as central to me as his “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”. I’ve posted at least 4 variations of it, including one for earthweal.

But the poem above is the one that still cuts closest. The photos are cropped versions of panoramas composed by my older daughter from photos she took in the mountains of Arizona where my father requested that we spread his ashes. My mother did not make any request except to be cremated, but we managed to find the very same place to spread her ashes years later after her death. As I wrote in my original post:  I’ve been thinking about my parents.  My generation is becoming the elders now.  I do not think we are prepared for it.

Careful

I don’t think anyone ever told me it was wrong, exactly, to spend my wishes on myself.  I could want things, ask for them, covet them, even.  But wishes were in another dimension.

The earliest thing I actually remember wishing for consistently was along the lines of “peace love and understanding”.  That was adolescence, the 60s—wasn’t every sane person wishing for the same thing? Aren’t they still?

Even now I am cautious of wishing.  But I can’t help wishing humans would consider the consequences of what we say and do, and take responsibility for what happens as a result.  And I wish fervently that we would be better caretakers of the earth and all of its inhabitants. 

And for myself, today?  I pour another cup of coffee–

watch birds
open wings, touch the sky–
all I need

For Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday where the theme chosen by Anita Dawes is what you wish for. I’m also linking to dVerse OLN, hosted by Linda.

When I was searching for this song I found more different versions of it on YouTube than any other song I’ve ever looked for. It obviously strikes a chord.

and of course, the original…

rise up

I couldn’t get the Oracle to work online this morning, so I turned to my box of magnetic tiles and arranged them on the metal magnetic poetry stand Nina gave me a few years ago. Wing was the first word to appear.

Last night I attended a Zoom memorial for a friend who died a little over a year ago. It was clear from everyone’s words that she was a shining light for all those she whose lives she intersected with. Certainly she was for me and my children, and for all her many students, some of whom spoke eloquently about her influence on their lives.

I dreamt about her–although I remember no specifics of the dream, I woke with these words on my mind–“Rise up into the truth that matters”. A fitting epitaph, We miss you Chris.

as if whispered
by a child’s dream,
magic gardens came flying–
butterfly-winged roses
inside the mothermoonship
of a songforest night

Trees Ring You With Watchful Silence

Hands pause—you whistle between.  White bridge slips through your fingers.
Who can number the space of days?  To cross them, you must open.
The gate shapes all beginnings, all answers, to equal zero.

This is a black & white image of an ornate pond & garden from the Felt Estate in western Michigan
© Lisa Fox, Felt Mansion

Lisa, at Tao Talk, supplied Colleen’s #TankaTuesday image, above. I wanted to try a sijo, which is the Wombwell Rainbow’s form this week. I think I’ve done one before, but it was a long time ago. I like the way it encourages the writer to think about different aspects of the same thought.

I’ve used some embroidered circles I did for a Kick-About prompt as illustration–the Eames Powers of Ten film, a barrage of images, made me think of zero, Lisa’s photo reminded me also of crossing the circles of space and time.

This week’s Oracle 2 words from Jane gave me a starting point–whistle. Which made me think of whistling in the wind. The human condition. Nevertheless, we continue.

You can read the story of the photo at Tao Talk here.

Crow on the Cradle

They had collapsed into an empty cave of nowness, replacing a past of empyrean wonder with the unceasing presence of burning flesh, condemning the contagious and aliferous joy of birds to smoke-filled air hanging heavy over stone landscapes that had lost all green.  What they called life, the promise of continuity, was at an impasse.

They had forgotten to build an ark.

They had forgotten to build an ark, and so they were left standing between a raging wall of flame and an infestation of endlessly rising waters.  A fierce susurrus rose from the spirits of the ancestors–an oddly wordless murmur riding on the howling wind, carrying the silent but distinct rattle of bones.

what happens when where
we were going is gone?–crows
seize the winter sky

For earthweal, where Brendan asked us to fill your poem’s sails with a blast of something akin to the hurl of atmospheric plumes, and dVerse, where Mish has given us a list of uncommon words to incorporate in our poem. I’ve also taken inspiration from Jane’s Oracle 2 wordlist.

be the asking

My message this morning from the Oracle. My dream last night included lots of children–laughing, singing, and telling each other stories.

when the universe was young
born from color
and rhythm-kissed voices
singing open with ferocious joy

sacred fools danced into always
flying like cloud ghosts
dazzled with star magic

who lost the way to eternity
the secrets of sailing ocean skies
the heartbreath of how we are?

River Man

She did not remember the way, but she remembered the times, the place.  She wanted to connect present to past.  She did not know how or where to begin, and yet she needed to try to construct that bridge.  Words were all she had now.

Two ways, really, even though she always pretended they were the same.  Or maybe it was only her longing that failed to understand that they were two, not one.

She had been dreaming of a river.  A man, a boat.  Trees, weeping, or was that her own voice, crying on the wind?  It had been summer once.  Flowered.  Sweet.

But here was the river again, littered with fallen leaves.  What magic word would turn back the seasons, dispel the haze, repair a lifetime that had already disintegrated into dust?

Was she coming or going?  In her dreams a voice kept repeating you have to choose.  But between what?  Who?  Did she get to choose who would be waiting on the other side of the river?  Or was she to be the one left waiting?

to begin,
become the current–
sing its song

Brendan at earthweal has more to say about rivers this week and poses the question: What voyages are found there, which deities are vast in its depths? It made me think of my response to the Kick-About #61 prompt, which was Molly Drake’s haunting song, “I Remember”.

I wasn’t aware of Molly’s connection to Nick Drake, but when I learned that she was his mother, Molly’s song immediately made me think of Nick’s song “River Man”. I took the feeling I got from both songs–a kind of remembering intertwined with uncertainty, loss, and the passing of time–and wrote the above prose poem, adding a haiku coda for earthweal, and some water art from my archives.