I did have the NaPoWriMo prompt in mind today when I visited the Oracle. At least in terms of a song. My things are mostly in boxes, not drawers, at the moment–this is my third move in the last 18 months so it’s all junk now. I was also thinking how much I would like to just take an entire day and do nothing but sleep. Which led me to James and Joni. And the Oracle obliged.
all I want is to sleep beneath a still sky– a shadow of whispered light on water moondreaming the wind
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Always standing in the doorway like Janus—neither and both– cursed and charmed— Crow laughs—he knows I have a dream to fly.
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.
Crow calls to me from above–
“Crowman are you stalking me?”
There he is—on that roof.
Call to attention–
harsh, always interrupting
the pause between the lines.
“Do you want me to look up?”
He extends the invitation again and again.
“I’m telling stories,” shape-shifting in the interlude–
“remaking the recent past.”
how to release and how to begin–
but that part’s invisible,
stark with intention.
“…or do you hear it?” unseen voices echo across the gap,
“and are you laughing at me?”
an interior bathed in blue–
“OK—I’m leaving that world—” memories circle round and round–
“I’m here now, present.” thoughts hang in the air–
“I’m unfolding those regrets.”
Crow flies over my shadow.
“Are you happy now?” the clash of silence, unbound
Crow has been following me around for about 15 years now. I notice birds all the time, but I don’t always know what they are saying to me. I have a tendency to space out, especially when walking. Crow’s message has always been clear: get outside yourself, pay attention.
A message that’s more important than ever. For Earthweal, messages from the wild, hosted by Sherry, a revision of one of my many poems about Crow.
Times Square is empty, like the weather—grey now, the colors drained like the empty subway cars, residing hidden in tenements, written in the isolation of morning coffee. The Sunday newspaper remains undelivered (again) as even that thread of connection frays into feral cats in dark corners and the shadows of crows haunting the hometown I never knew.
All of this is imaginary, of course—flora and fauna are absent from this enclosed space, except as chimera, impoverished by the boredom of my own company, the same jeans and shirt waiting to be worn like the trackless days. No Significant Other to keep me in, and an invisible barrier blocking me from leaving. Outside my window a graffiti of exclamation points greets me each day behind the passing cars and on clear evenings I say “Goodnight Moon”, remembering bedtimes with small bodies close and sleepy and warm.
But the lines have been drawn, and as Joni reminds me, the seasons still go round and round. We’re always captive on the carousel of time.
growing new wings
The NaPoWriMo prompt today was “to fill out, in five minutes or less, the following “Almanac Questionnaire.” Then, use your responses as to basis for a poem.” You can see the questionnaire here.
The NaPoWriMo prompt for Day 6 asked us to be a voice from inside Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights”. Although I did a voice from outside the painting last year–On Seeing Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” –for NaPoWriMo, I couldn’t write anything from inside of it that didn’t seem too depressing for me today. So I chose another piece of Bosch’s for my Ekphrastic review.
I found the drawing above titled in 2 ways–The Trees Have Ears and the Field Has Eyes and The Hearing Forest and the Seeing Field. Both are true.
the eyes talk–
have you heard them?
they breathe music
of earth stars–
light opening everything
as if you could fly
My first bike was a childhood gift, way too big for me, that my father lovingly assembled one Christmas Eve so it would be waiting by the tree the next morning. No speeds, pedal brakes. As I grew into them I turned the wheels faster and faster until I left them behind.
It took a few years before I began pedaling my way around the city, this time with 5 speeds and hand brakes. My legs moved the wheels around and around once again, through the park, dodging traffic during transit strikes, climbing flights of stairs as the wheels bumped my body to my apartment door.
Finally I had an elevator! And then a baby. No space for cycles that were not attached to a carriage, a stroller, then tri and then bi accompanied by training wheels. My legs walked beside them, watching my children turn them around and around until they too were flying on their own, faster and faster away from my slowing path.
Now all those wheels live only in remembered rotations.
These days my legs spin in a pattern that repeats itself, over and over, in the same location. The world outside my window does the passing by.
the still point
The NaPoWriMo prompt for day 1 is “write a self-portrait poem in which you make a specific action a metaphor for your life”. For all our lives these days…
As I did two years ago for NaPoWriMo, I’ve been working on art to use in April for a number of months, this time inspired by the work of Matisse and Richard Diebenkorn. The circles come via Matisse.