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.

in tandem 1 and 2 (Earth Day 2022)

when you leave yourself behind,
where do you go?–
clouds a shimmering path

blue like a robin’s egg–
this liquid sky, darkening into shadow–
when you leave yourself behind

does the mirror look back
like a lake regarding the sky?
where do you go?

do fish see themselves in the stars?
do birds ride feathered waves?–
clouds a shimmering path

The prompt for NaPoWriMo today was to write a poem that uses repetition. That prompt was made for me. I had been working on and off all week for a poem for Sherry’s prompt at earthweal, to write from that place of holding onto wildness of soul. I thought that today, Earth Day, would be the time to post it.

So I took my ideas and made a cascade, but there were ideas left over, so I did a pantoum too. You can never have too much repetition in my poetry world.

when you leave yourself behind
(clouds a shimmering path)
where do you go?–
windsong the surface

clouds a shimmering path,
the lake regarding the sky–
windsong the surface
displaced by light

the lake regarding the sky–
as it hues the reflection
displaced by light,
does the mirror look back?

as the earth hues reflection,
do fish see themselves in the stars?
does the mirror look back
when birds ride feathered waves?

do fish see themselves in the stars
on the remnants of moontides?
when birds ride feathered waves,
do they flow into calligraphy?

on the remnants of moontides,
where do you go?
will you flow like calligraphy,
leave yourself behind?

As I’ve noted before, I attended the first Earth Day celebration in 1970 in Washington DC. Not too much has changed since then. We can do better.

Ophelia

Lady sings
the blues,
the reds, whatever

she can find—

–Kevin Young, “Stardust”

She dreams
in the languages
of flowers,
wandering
corridors
of vast gardens
fragrant
with the chaos
inside her heart.
Lady sings

in riddles–
bouquets
of rhymes
imagining
an oasis
of roses,
an enchantment
blooming into
the mystery of
the blues.

Who will be
her lover now?
Where is
the prince
to penetrate
the thorns
enclosing
her mind?  Blood
shadowed with
the reds, whatever

her grief has
aborted  
into deceptive
darkness.  She is
muted into
madness. She is
drowning
in every aromatic
sepulcher
she can find.

The NaPoWriMo prompt for day 3 was to write a “glosa” – literally a poem that glosses, or explains, or in some way responds to another poem. The idea is to take a quatrain from a poem that you like, and then write a four-stanza poem that explains or responds to each line of the quatrain, with each of the quatrain’s four lines in turn forming the last line of each stanza.

Kevin Young is writing about Billie Holiday. Like Ophelia, she is associated with flowers, and had her own ways of drowning in her sorrows. My collage is based on a painting by Redon, who visited the subject of Ophelia many times.

I’ve incorporated roses into my poem for Muri’s poetry scavenger hunt.

Like the Lines in the Palm of Your Hand

Every question is a riddle–
we are stuck here in the middle–
borderlined.

But still we keep on asking why,
continue waiting, standing by
for guidelines.

Answers just confuse, pretending
somewhere there exists an ending–
a lifeline.

Deceiving with complexity,
embroidering with fantasy–
we’re traplined.

In silence there are many words
unspoken and more clearly heard–
sibylline.

Grace at dVerse introduced us to a new form called Compound Word Verse. Wow! this was hard. But enough revising–at a certain point you need to let it be.

space is the place

The Oracle got a makeover from MagneticPoetry.com. It’s going to take getting used to. I used the new “happiness” category. I can use some, after reading the news this morning.

When I saw the Oracle’s message, I immediately thought of Sun Ra, an artist of living, not just music, that my older brother introduced me to when we were teenagers. “Space is the Place” was a title he used for many different pieces of art.

I had titled these birdling collages from my archives “birdlings in space”. The birdlings make me happy no matter where they are.

where is wonder?
make time for space
alive with possibility–
between comes whispering–
soon surprise will follow

eating the heart out

The streets are quiet,
eerie, the walls blank.
I remain inside.

My windows are noisy
with things I can’t see.
I rarely reply to them
because the response flies
away on the wind,
storm tossed and clouded,
darkened by rain
and the fading light.

What would I say
to the ghosts
of the children?–
the ones not
on the playground not
on the streets no
longer living
in an apartment, a house,
a country, a land–
the ones no one can
find anywhere?

How to say the word
death
and to also shield them
from its consequences.
How to explain
why and how
we have come to be

living in this uncertain
tangle of lies
ignorance violence–
a place full
of humans unable
to even acknowledge
or to bridge
the rising waters.

The ones who
would rather drown
than make amends.

Sherry at earthweal has reminded us of all the grief consuming the world, and asks us to write about it. I wrote a version of this poem first in the midst of New York’s early pandemic. I’ve revised it a bit, but the ghosts of the children have not gone away.

raw night

The moon in her current path shines across my bed at about 2 am. She makes sure I acknowledge her gift.

And of course the moon and the Oracle are old friends…

beneath the shadow
of my dream
language sleeps
in a forest of wind

the moon sings me
into its lightship
soaring on mad tongues
without a whisper of why