false storm

I tried to photograph the lightning–
the flash between the layers of sky—

(no thunder)

clouds streaming over the moon

how many miles distant?–
far away, too far away to hear—
a silent film that eluded my camera

so I let it go and let it shine
in bursts through the window
into and through my eyes

the color was salmon, maybe
yellow, maybe pink—a pastel
shimmering against the dark

eventually the moon disappeared
behind the false storm,
and only the city lights glowed–tiny
squares of refuge against the night

For this week’s challenge, Brendan at earthweal asks us to interrupt our usual programming with flashes and booms of this extraordinary power. Lightning falls: what are we going to make of that?

The Language of Riddles

Who provides the soundtrack
when the film ends,
when life is a series of missteps
made in solitude?

Who sings to you
(of love, mostly of all)?
Who puts wings on words
and conjures crows?
Who opens the day with robinsong?

Who walks with you like the wind,
rustlesoft through trees?
Who tells you that you are and are
beyond what you yourself can see?

Who puts your name in a sentence
with a smile, sailing it
on the rippled paths of rivers?
Who tells you what you could be
instead of what you are not?

Who gives you each day
as a gift meant to be shared?
Who reflects your eyes into the vast
silent sky and never questions
the validity of their light?

Who holds you together
and echos your voice across the void,
vibrating through your bones
until they are centered
in its starstrewn tides?

Who hums you the moon?
Who is always waiting no matter
where you go or what you do
to welcome everything about you
home?

For earthweal, where Brendan poses the question: What is this wild language in the deep forest back of our mouths? Mine is evidently riddled with more questions.

consecration

a feather,
a rose, an apple–
small pleasures,
blessings of
continuity, gifts of
joint inheritance,

of stillness–
a hallowing that
exists if
we choose to
walk with the land—unhurried,
emptied, listening

I’ve used words from Jane’s random word list this week from the Oracle II, to answer Brendan’s call at earthweal to the wild stillness

Safari

“Living day by day with elephants, he had absorbed their deeper, more philosophical cues. In fact, he discovered in them the virtues he would work to develop in himself: courage, loyalty, the ability to trust (and the good sense to know when to be distrustful), fairness, patience, diligence, kindness, and humor.”
–Vicki Constantine Croke, “Elephant Company”

Step this way–
sink deep, uncreatured,
into the
mouth entombed
in death—enter the ceaseless
current of slaughter.

Destruction
overtakes rebirth,
permanent–
we cannot
remake the magic of earth,
uninculcate ends.

Silver tongues
make promises, kill
what little
is left, drunk
with power—bleeding life out
to termination.

Elephants once roamed in Syria, Turkey, and Iraq. This species became extinct about 100 BC due to overhunting for ivory. This is still a major threat to both elephants and rhinos, along with habitat loss, which includes all the ramifications of climate change. Poachers are looking for ingredients for traditional Asian medicine. Local residents see wild animals as threats, and/or kill them for food when other sources, such as agriculture, disappear due to extreme weather. And of course Western big game hunters love to take home trophies to prove how manly they are.

The Northern White Rhino recently became extinct.

Endangered African primates include the chimpanzee, the gorilla, the bonobo, and the drill. The cheetah is critically endangered, and lions and leopards are also in a vulnerable state.

Other critically endangered African species include the African penguin, the African wild dog, green turtles, pangolins, and hundreds of species of birds.

For earthweal, where Sherry asks us to consider how humans have changed the African landscape. I’ve used words from the Oracle II list generated by Jane this week.

All the art is from previous posts about endangered species. Interestingly, I only found one other poem written to go along with the images. Perhaps it’s because words are inadequate for me in the face of such a huge loss. It’s easier for me to draw or paint or collage my distress.

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.

Being

Before me the world is clarified
by a luminosity that consolidates
all presence into chords of stillness.  What
song would this landscape sing?

Just a little green–
color disappears into the air, glimmers in
still lines across the meadow.

Like the color when the spring is born
the quiet is dizzying, embracing.  All is solitary,
complete.  Waiting.  For what?

The nights when the Northern lights perform
the hour is transfixed inside a secret whisper of
pulsing breath.  An alternate world,
muted, mysterious, not quite real.

And sometimes there’ll be sorrow—shrouded
in uncertainty, time has lost its focus.  The land is
primordial, inscribed with a narrative
that has no translation into any language
we are capable of understanding.

Just a little green—a vessel
immersed in air, from the bottom up

earthwalkers–
exchanging wonder
there will be

italicized lines are from Joni Mitchell’s song Little Green

Carl Zimmermann, Deer in a Summer Meadow

Merril supplied five paintings as ekphrastic summer inspiration at dVerse this week. I chose Carl Zimmerman’s painting, above. Since I’m late, I’m posting on OLN, hosted by Bjorn.

Also linking to earthweal, where Sherry supplied the prompt of dreaming in green. A good color to dream in.

into the deluge

thrown into or carefully placed
to sink or swim you can’t
figure out whether to wade
or walk upon these waves
of mystery and missed fortune—
who can tell what flies
out the window and into
your brainwaves?  how do you
carry all this drowning in destiny?
you try wrapping it up
but it only brings you down

the monsters seem familiar
but where have you seen
those faces before and why
are there so many of you?  each
with its own refusal its own cuts
and rearrangements of the narrative
you have lost in the multitude
of channels and static that keeps
trying to tell you what
you don’t want to hear—all this
motion drains your energy

you wish you could become
the water instead
of being layered flat
over its rocking curves–
nearby you think  you can
see the desert, thirsty,
a voracious patch of fire
and land but you know
it will not welcome you it
will not open for a solid
form even an imagined one

again and again you look
for the part of you that will
hold all those hands, that will
gather the waiting cries into one
sound riding the waves until
they tire of the fruitless weight–
all these journeys into the continuous
restructuring of what is unknown–
turn around a voice repeats
inside each of your weary minds—
the corner is just around the bend

At earthweal this week Brendan has asked us to consider “our wild dark brains”.

Agnes was here (before Hugo, Fran, Floyd…

…Isabel, Jeanne, Ivan, Charley, Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Ike, Irene, Sandy, Maria, Irma, Harvey, Michael, Laura, Ida…)

the glass falls shattered by the wind
the water rises to the trees
the heavens cry that we have sinned
approach the ending on your knees

the water rises to the trees
the air in spirals bends the sky
approach the ending on your knees
you’ve passed the time for asking why

the air in spirals bends the sky
a wild revolving cosmic hole
you’ve passed the time for asking why
you must surrender all control

A wild revolving cosmic hole
the heavens cry that we have sinned
you must surrender all control–
the glass falls shattered by the wind

In his discussion this week at earthweal of extremes, Brendan specifically mentions unrelenting storms and hurricanes as part of the new weather patterns brought on by climate change. When I looked up the damage and death from hurricanes in The United States and the Caribbean the last 50 years, since Agnes in 1972, it was hard not to be stunned by the continued lackadaisical response of our government to the obvious magnification of severe weather. Band-aids for situations that require surgery.

reticulation

spinning winding then weaving
spiraling into endless
connections which appear
to be hanging nowhere
suspended without edge
ending always at inception
never does the fiber fray
the beginning continues

follow where it leads
through the unknown
miles of endless webs
a glittering reflection
metamorphoses
illuminating the darkness
accumulations
of ancient intricacies

dispersed without direction
resonating chords
of the cosmos naked
glory of formless flow
undefined by outlines
unshadowed unbroken
blurring the boundaries
between us and we

For earthweal, where Sherry asks us to Contemplate the web of life and see where it takes you.

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.