embryonic

she constructed herself out of symbols–
wings of air, pearls of fire and water,
darkness flowing through light on
foliage ships sailing empyrean tides—

wings of air, pearls of fire and water,
cast like a talisman amid waves of
foliage ships sailing empyrean tides–
stars swimming through sea and sky

cast like a talisman amid waves of
vast infinite whispers—blooming, listening to
stars swimming through sea and sky–
shapeshifting in cosmic reflection

of vast infinite whispers—blooming, listening to
the chimeric form of quintessence
shapeshifting in cosmic reflection–
the wheel turns through moons, dancing,

a chimeric form of quintessence,
crossing the rainbow bridge of between–
the wheel turns through moons, dancing–
female, fertile, fiercely bathed in blood—

crossing the rainbow bridge of between,
like darkness flowing through light–
female, fertile, fiercely bathed in blood–
she constructed herself out of symbols

Another pantoum, for earthweal where Brendan asks us to consider how we can fit well into the land–how do history and mystery intersect?

The Melting of Time

Snowfall.  Night.
The shore is distant.
I dream of
flying—but
I remain enclosed within
ice blue, glittering.

North seems far–
where I am has no
direction.
The landscape
retreats until almost all
is trapped within dreams.

Barren seas
echo with silence.
The world cracks.
Wind weeps in
side chasms of solitude–
the melting of time.

Sherry’s heartbreaking photo, above, that accompanied her prompt at earthweal to talk about the connections between life and the melting ice of the arctic, inspired the dreamscape of my shadorma chain, written also for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday, where Jules selected shadorma as this month’s form.

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.

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.

The River Knows Your Name (reprise)

The river has songs to fill every season.  I turn with the circles, swimming the wind that chases the water, bending around the curves, following the changes in tempo and depth, bound to the ripples that radiate from every slight disturbance of the surface.  Looking for the most efficient path.

I construct imaginary boats and then dismantle them, leaving the remains dashed and forgotten on the farthest shores.  The river continues, reflecting the sky’s transformations, a window opening into the changing light.

Stilled, I try to capture the current as it passes by, to fill my pockets with the riddles it holds inside its voice, all the wisdom gathered from its ancient repeated journeys.  I want to be cleansed of all the outside forces that try to bind me, to find again the center hidden somewhere inside that keeps escaping my grasp.  But I am too far, too long, too hindered by my own noise.  I have lost the lines and the point of the contents of my brain.

Let it go the river sings.

Not anything.  But.
And this too.  What seems.
To be.  There.  You are.

Brendan’s challenge prompt of rivers at earthweal brought to mind another recent post, consecration, that featured John Haitt’s title song as it’s coda. It, too, included the weekly words from Jane’s Oracle 2 generator.

And of course I can never have too much of John Haitt’s song.

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.