On Rambling/City Streets

Under concrete still lies the earth.
Am I bridged?  Do I travel on or over?
The air takes my thoughts and plays with them,
embroiders them, suspends them between.

Am I bridged?  do I travel on or over?
My fingers want to hold the windwhispers–
embroider them, suspend them between
the bare branches of the trees.

My fingers want to hold the windwhispers
that touch the moon on her journey
through the bare branches of the trees
into the fullness of the reflected light.

I want to touch the moon on her journey.
My own face is shadowed with uncertainty,
backlit by the fullness of reflected light.
My own hands are empty, unthreaded.

My own face is shadowed with uncertainty,
a landscape I too often inhabit.
My own hands are empty, unthreaded.
I keep trying to rearrange what isn’t there–

a landscape I too often inhabit.
I look for birds.  I want to ask them their secrets.
I keep trying to rearrange what isn’t there–
how to be someone that is also everything.

I look for birds.  I want to ask them their secrets.
How to dance across the invisible threads.
How to be someone that is also everything,
crisscrossing land sea sky stars.

How to dance across the invisible threads
that hold both concrete and earth,
crosscrossing land sea sky stars–
(the air takes my thoughts and plays with them)

This pantoum is definitely a work in progress. For NaPoWriMo day 15, and the earthweal weekly challenge: Toward an Ecopoetry.

Also linking to dVerse OLN, hosted by Sanaa.

To Our Mother

Who gives us life–
you have many names–

the seed, the root, the vine, the flower in the field,
the lily, the rose, the fertile garden,
the cedar, the cypress, the cherry, the tree of life,
the fountain, the dew, the living waters,
the cloud raining upon the earth,
the lighthouse, the harbor, the shell and the pearl,
the star of the sea, the cresecent moon,
the morning star, the air we breathe,
the cup, the vessel, the channel, the conduit,

the food of the spirit—

You need no kingdom.

You belong to everything,
the very elements that make up
the earth and the cosmos.

You bestow mercy and grace to all,
saint and sinner alike,
rejecting both power and glory,
vengeance and servitude.

May we honor your gifts
with gratitude and humility,
mending and treasuring
the fragile balance
that sustains them.

We remain, stubbornly,
Human

Dear Humanity,

Open your eyes and your hearts.
Honor and practice what preserves life
not what destroys it.
Take only what you need,
and return as much as you can.
Be patient and persistent
and don’t lose hope.

I remain, forever and ever,
Your Mother.

NaPoWriMo asks us today to write an exchange of letters.

Also linking to earthweal. Did you know it’s Earth Month?

masses of green

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

walk with green spirits
on earth as it is

Linking to earthweal Open Link Weekend.

Familiar

“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.

Thirteen Ways (after Wallace Stevens and Joni Mitchell)

crow #2s

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
.

There's a crow flying # if I flew

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.

apolcalyptic crow 2s

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.

crow tree close up s

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.

spiral crows 2s

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 blackbirds s

13
Always standing in the doorway
like Janus—neither and both–
cursed and charmed
Crow laughs—he knows
I have a dream to fly.

crow #1s

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.

Creation Story

Let there be lines, he said.  Let there be vectors, plots and graphs.  He skipped pebbles over the pool of his mind as he devised a plan made up completely of endings.

Let there be angles troubled by twists and turns.  Let forward and backward be arbitrary, just a dubious arrangement of flotsam and blitz.  Let there be clues and traces, but no solution.

Let shapes enter forms that echo shadows cast by ladders to nowhere.  Let uncertaintly be vexed by avoidance and puzzled by what arrives after.  Let eons come before next.

Let all the signs hint at comprehension while remaining unspelled.  Not either/or but henceforth.  And inasmuch as.

clueless
this world
without a prayer

Brendan at earthweal has asked us to describe the unsayable nature of the pandemic we are still fighting our way through.

I ask the Oracle about the wind

Jane and I were discussing the source and destination of the wind this week, and I thought I would consult the Oracle.

Another collage from the archives. I seem to have an endless supply. And yet I always feel like I can never get anything done.

who breathes this wind?

a wild seed growing roots
from tendriled air—

winter deepens the moonforest path
between after and always,
following ancient secrets into spring

Also linking to earthweal open link weekend.

Soundings

tides entombed in unchanging light,
reflecting the absent sky,
shimmering with intangibles–
an ancient web woven with stories–

the stilled sea contemplates its origins–
heavy with the cadences of gravity
boundaried by the afterlife–
tides entombed in unchanging light–

surrounded and asunder, astonishment
becomes tinged with enigmatic clarity–
holding particles of stars as if enshrined,
reflecting the absent sky–

the fulcrum rests inside the echo
of what endures, arising
from an aqueous womb
shimmering with intangibles–

the circle continues, horizonless,
quivering in confluence–
who can refuse the voices of the sea?–
an ancient web woven with stories–

I’ve been futzing around with this all week, inspired by the Kick-About prompt, Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez, and the earthweal challenge natural forces. The painting above, my first attempt, probably has 20 painted layers. Watercolor looks very different wet, and each time it dried I was dissatisfied with the result.

Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez was an Austrian artist who designed a diving bell, below, so he could paint the landscape that existed under the sea. This was in the 1860s–both crazy and fantastic. His paintings have an eerie green magic, which was what I was trying to capture.

Eugen Ransonnet-Villez

Because what is the sea but the most elemental of magic?

Like Ransonnet-Villez, I wished to immerse myself inside of it. Being at the moment concrete-bound, I could only try to conjure it with words and paint.

Already Dead

We have written our words all
over the land, constructed cages
to contain what we can’t
control.  We have put a price
on all the things that can’t
be bought or sold, raised
our voices until we are all
deaf.  We have invented gods
of fear instead of harmony,
raped and discarded what could be
raped and discarded, left
bloody sorrow to fertilize
anything mistakenly overlooked.
We long ago sold our souls,
and our hollowness is so vast
no one can measure it.  And still
we look for more more more–
because what can ever satisfy
the absence of what was
never there?

2-gone-silent-s

For Brendan’s earthweal challenge, already dead. The art is a postcard fiction from 2017, but it seemed appropriate to both the theme and my thoughts.

4-empty-handed-s

You have to become empty in order to begin to fill up again. Perhaps we can learn to choose more wisely this time.

Linking to dVerse OLN, hosted by Bjorn.

Shapeshifter

Do the mountains touch the stars?

Tell me, child of the skylands,
how to balance on the glittering surface of time—

awakening the stillness,
transforming the silence
into answered prayer.

The snow leopard is found only in the mountains of Central Asia. Expanding populations in this harsh habitat compete for the same food sources. Although they are one of the least aggressive big cats, snow leopards kill livestock and are trapped in retaliation. They are also killed by poachers for their pelts and bones, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Only 5000-7000 remain in the wild.

Traditional cultures of their habitats consider the snow leopard to be a shapeshifter, a mountain spirit that serves as a guide between worlds. In Tibet they are sacred, existing as vessels to remove the sins of past lives. Anyone who kills one of these creatures is forced to take on the burden of those sins as their own.

They have huge paws and tails, which help them to balance on the snow in the rugged terrain of the mountains.

For earthweal, where Sherry has asked us to consider the earth’s dwindling populations of big cats.