I choose a place that is unfrequented by men

The moon has risen on the last remnants of night–
floating she brushes the heavenly stars.
The lake has widened till it almost joins the sky
and the mist rising from the water has hidden the hills.
Far off the Dipper lowers toward the river.
You’d think you’d left the earth–
body and spirit for a while have changed place
and open, open–
the world’s affairs, just waves.

A cento poem for NaPoWriMo Day 30. Thanks to Maureen Thorson for once again hosting this wonderful month of verse.

poets in order of appearance
Po Chü-i (title)
Po Chü-i
Li Po
Po Chü-i
Ou Yang Hsiu
Tu Fu
Ch’in Kuan
Po Chü-i
Li-Young Lee
Li Po

Beyond All Knowing

They wished to be passengers on a river of stars,
but the road they followed fell below the horizon,

a road that insisted on following darker paths.
Suddenly they found themselves accompanied by wolves.

The wolves ran through an expanding tunnel–
its walls were spattered with the past,

a past too scattered to contain or understand.
No door appeared within, no window,

no exit from the accumulations of bad intent,
the gods and humans that demanded obedience.

The wolves made no demands, but extended an invitation
to join them as they became transparent—

to join them in sheering the mind’s self-imposed limits.
They wished to be passengers on a river of stars.

A duplex sonnet for NaPoWriMo Day 27.

welikia

I see you
superimposed on
the landscape,
melting in
to the shadows of buildings,
sidewalks, trunks of trees–

woodfern
sweetpepper bush cherry
maple oak
panicgrass
fleabane hornbeam chestnut
marsh blue violet–

I float on
streams to the river–
pickerel perch
otter duck–

climb paths up forested hills–
bear fox rabbit deer–

My Lady
of Mannahatta–
swallowtail
buckeye spring
azure monarch
–you gather
me windwhispering

on hawkwings–
full green animate,
this island

return me
to the timeless before, when
land was shared, not owned

Welikia means “my good home” in the Lenape language. The Lenape tribe were the original inhabitants of Manhattan and the surrounding lands. Their main village was where Yonkers is now; they had temporary structures on the island of Mannahatta for use in hunting, fishing, and gathering.

The Welikia Project is an interactive map of New York City, where you can find out about the biodiversity and landscape of the island in 1609, before it was developed by Europeans. The idea that the Dutch “bought” the island was not one shared by the native peoples they then forced to leave the land.

Today, the NaPoWriMo prompt is “to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.”

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.

if I call will you come

1
an enchantment spelled
in the blue whisper of your voice
disembodied in the dim light–
a pretense of sushi and saki–
a stolen hour

2
the stitches accumulate,
suspended from needles
awakening color and fiber
into patterns, images,
ideas, dreams

3
a glittering ocean of blue
starlight afloat
massive celestial waves
unmoored no longer conjoined–
an ancient sentient land

4
how can I remain here,
undecided on the edge,
an intruder seeking
to override forces
I neither recognize nor understand?

5
all tautness,
the bow hovers between
contingencies, conclusions, desires–
I hold my breath
inside the heart’s beating wings

The NaPoWriMo prompt today is to write a poem in which you first recall someone you used to know closely but are no longer in touch with, then a job you used to have but no longer do, and then a piece of art that you saw once and that has stuck with you over time. Finally, close the poem with an unanswerable question. A prompt that seems ready made for a cadralor. The first four stanzas answer the prompt. Stanza 5 is the conclusion required by the cadralor form, the one that illuminates a gleaming thread that runs obliquely through the unrelated stanzas and answers the compelling question: “For what do you yearn?”

Ode to the Octopus

You think me a delicacy,
braised and grilled with tangy sauce–
raw, prepared as sushi–
in a salad perhaps, tossed.
You think my senses merely serve
to aid in my survival–
that my existence
is secondary to what you deserve–
a special meal without rival.
And what of my disappearance?

My body is all potential,
alien to your bones–
my way of life, untranslatable
as words or thought alone.
I study you, your habits,
both curious and sly–
resisting my captivity,
escaping from your limits–
forcing you to abide
with me if me you wish to study.

I am my own canvas, I paint
colors with light and disguise–
my form always in flux, I create
patterns of magic, surprise.
Once we were one, at home
in the sea, the waters of birth–
since opened by history, cleaved–
now you claim land as your own,
along with all creatures of earth–
disenchanted inside your vast greed.

When I saw the NaPoWriMo prompt this morning, to write a poem that anthropomorphizes a kind of food, the first thing that came to mind was how I could never eat octopus again after reading Peter Godfrey Smith’s book about them, Other Minds. These paintings are from a previous post where I also used the voice of a cephalopod, though not from the point of view of being eaten.

I promised Muri I would attempt an Ode–just as difficult as I expected. And this one needs work. But the octopus is more than worthy as a subject for one

Wonderland

Feed your head they said—what does that
really mean?  How can any time
be larger than now, more extreme
than here, this cosmic habitat?

Microscopic, yet infinite–
reflected, a mirrored convex
lens—adjust, open, refocus
your inner outer space—do you
need to follow white rabbits to
become unbounded—curious?

An espinela poem for Muri’s April Scavenger Hunt with vision as its subject, and following the NaPoWriMo prompt to write a poem that starts with a command. “Feed your head” was, somewhat strangely, the first command that popped into my mind (along with some Jefferson Airplane playing in the background), and fortuitously I had these cut up paintings from the Kick About prompt based on Marie Menken’s film “Lights”, which worked well with the words.

It’s all in context, perspective, how open your senses are to what surrounds you. What you notice. What notices you.

the welkin ring

and could I be mistaken for a bird?–
whirled inside an everchanging sky,
suspended ocean-bound in waves of air
and carried clear, aloft, bestirred–
a vast and overwhelming need to fly
above the trees, beyond and anywhere

like rainbows cast unanchored toward the ground
my thoughts unravel, specters drawn and spare–
I try to hold my occult gravity,
but find the words, my wings, have disappeared
without a sound

A curtal sonnet for NaPoWriMo Day 16.

as it is

…and so it begins with essence—unmeasured, all-seeing, untranslatable, present.

What is really there–here?  Everywhere.  It gathers nowhere, takes all in.  Releases the vast emptiness of center.  Unpredictable but never random.  Jumping through and crossing over.  Falling down down down into the other side of what was never, into the opposite of what is.

Only the light. The compass that points in all directions, overlapping and then merging into pure vibration.  A conduit of currents, waves with wings, voices without identifiable form or name.  Pinpoints glittering against the darkness, floating on the gasp of final breaths, forever on the verge.

Belonging neither to man nor to god nor to anything in between. 

Immersed in song.

This prose poem is a revision of a revision of a revision (no doubt to be continued). The art, on the other hand, was an experiment that exceeded my expectations. And so it goes.

For NaPoWriMo Day 15, on the eve of the full moon, where the prompt is to “write a poem about something you have absolutely no interest in”. To put it plainly,

I have no
interest in writing
a poem
about something I
have no interest in

But I’m enjoying reading the rants of my fellow poets on the subject.