Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Many weeks ago, I started posting the first of a projected series of thirty prose poems which I actually began writing early in February. With "Home" this series is finally completed. I'm not sure what will come next--probably a creative rest for a while. But please check back periodically. I'll likely be starting a new writing series again soon.
but which? there have been many there'll be more and what kind? some had roots others were just makeshift I remember the yard where I buried a toy soldier my bedroom window with a view of the cemetery the big dining room table Mom chased me around -- she was ready to box my ears! and what about that dreadfully dying girl? her ghost's haunted every home since then
home's been the refuge I couldn't survive without the prison I had to escape from the womb world of my greatest need the ground zero of my harshest pain to wander homeless is hard but to feel like an exile in what pretends to be home -- it's worse this home where I sit now and write is a haven a blessing yet it's only a tent I've pitched for a while only a camp in the wilderness
a huger home's waiting and I'm getting closer to it after my ashes are scattered in the ocean I'll have no more good dreams or bad dreams I'll sleep deep and sound and long the primal sea will be my next-to-last home my last will be my first the one I knew before I came here the one I carry like a Diamond in my soul I've been journeying back to that Home for a thousand lifetimes I'm almost there
Since I'm on the subject of "home," here's another piece addressing that theme, one approaching it from a different angle. This poem is from my 2009 book "Black Butterfly."
Rolling up my pant legs above the knee,
I stand by the great Atlantic, gazing out
over breakers to that unbroken horizon.
For the first time in more than 25 years
I'm drinking this glory with every pore--
surf streaming noisily against my calfs,
a brisk, salt-tasting wind, the play of sun
on foam, gulls' audacious cries! Amazing!
How did I think to live without the sea?
And how alive will I feel after I leave?
Yes, it's always there inside me, ebbing
and flowing, its primeval flux as vital
as the blood sluicing through my veins.
But these senses strain to know it too.
This spirit aches to savor its immensity!
Now I see. I was in exile all those years.
My true home is here, facing the ocean,
one with fire and water, earth and sky...
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
It seems the days--the centuries--of the book are numbered. Facebook, Twitter, et al, increasingly rule. Kindle and its ilk digitalize the written word, yet compromise the contemplative heart of reading in the process. But I don't believe that the choice of holing up and getting lost in a real, live, actual, compelling book can ever be replaced. It's an activity as essential to our complete humanity as breathing.
In my vision the Angel's always holding a book with the left hand pressing it close to the heart by this I know a book is more than simply a human invention it's an eternal archetype a potent symbol for wisdom teaching the computer can't replace it the computer thrusts me out into the hustle and distraction of the marketplace -- I'm a click away from a billion seductions! but the right book spirits me off to another world
inside me there's a special breathing space a watchful and listening solitude high up on this inner mountain nestles a secluded meadow where I drink from an icy cold and crystal clear stream here is my secret haven for reading the right book not only teaches and inspires me it's an enlightening guide sent to lead me back to my own boundlessness the right book distills a bracing elixer for my soul
I don't think we'll stay fully human if we abandon the palpable book a book of real pages we can turn with our hand a book of a certain heft and feel -- one we can also see and taste and smell a book we can carry off to a private room or tote into the deepest woods if we lose the intimate companionship of great books we lose more than just their enthralling wisdom we lose an irreplaceable part of ourselves
Whether we realize it or not, we're all walking on a certain road--the road of our destiny, a road that never ends. We don't really have a choice about this. But everything depends on our growing consciousness of the journey!
this road I walk along sometimes it's wide other times it's narrow sometimes it's crowded other times it's solitary sometimes it's easy other times it's hard yet always I'm walking on some road coming from one place and going to another now and then I stop and rest for a while here or there I wish I could stay but then a dawn breaks which seems to widen outward forever and I know I must walk on
this road stretches back before I was born it leads forward beyond when I will die it's as new as my breath as old as my blood as primal as my bones meeting a stranger on this road we might pass without a word or decide to walk together for just a day or even a lifetime parting on this road can hurt like hell it's better to stare at the horizon and keep walking it's better not to turn around
this road sometimes crosses other roads then I stop and wait and ponder which way should I go? each direction's equally unknown if I veer left there could be danger but if I pivot right it might be worse yet marching straight ahead is no sure thing either when there's not even a signpost to guide me I do what I always do I listen for the still small voice within I follow the compass needle of my soul
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Part of the point of this series of prose poems is to explore the multi-layered personal meanings of everyday things through discovering some of the multiple associations of the everyday words we use for them. Here, for example, is a mini-meditation on an indispensable comfort and convenience we may take for granted most of the time--a chair.
hello chair thanks for being there I need a pit stop right now you fit my butt and match my mind yet you're more than just a practical convenience you're a way station at the intersection of time and space a welcome oasis where I can pause rest drink deep from a well of inner reflection standing up I defy mortality lying down I surrender to it but sitting quietly I bridge the worlds of life and death
some chairs are minimalists they say "stop here for a few minutes but don't get too comfortable -- you've little time and much to do" but others croon a siren song they seduce me to sink into their cushiony cocoon and never come out I want an in-between kind of chair one that gentles me down but also props me up I want a chair that's humble modest serviceable that says "I'm ready and waiting just for you"
what about all the people who don't even have a chair to call their own -- no safe corner anywhere with its familiar frame to comfort them and take them in? ignore me if you must but don't steal my chair! you're not just messing with my body you're slapping my soul there might be many other places to sit but there's only one where I know I belong finding the right chair feels a little bit like coming home
I've always been a sky junkie. Wherever I am outdoors, whatever I'm doing, my eyes invariably lift upward to gaze at the sky. It reminds me of that other Sky shining inside me -- an infinite Spirit which will never die.
so much of me's stitched together from all the skies I've breathed never have any two shined the same it's as if I owned an infinite number of priceless hats: transcendental blue cloud-mottled gray dawn-streaked lavender rich velvet black -- spangled all over with diamonds! what if this day I finally broke the last shackles of gravity soaring higher and higher until heaven's splendor and mine became one
some things can't be measured such as the height of the sky towering within us dust we are and to dust we return but not entirely not what's never been born and so can never die I have a thirst for boundlessness I have a hunch there's more to me than just this shrinking brain and aging bag of skin as certain as the sky inspires the earth I know an Immortal Spirit animates my bones
one great thing's needed to heal and transform our fractured world -- if only every human being could rediscover their innermost communion with the sky! this hope seems impossible but I'll hold it in my heart nonetheless wish on a cloud walk on a star launch your soul like a rocket blasting off into the blue! the sky's limitless horizon is just as blindingly intimate as your next life-changing breath
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
When I started this current series of prose poems I planned 30 of them, including the title of each, and I've now posted 25 so far. But even though I already had many written before I started posting, I've only been writing them at a pace of one per week, while I've been posting them at a pace of two. So, temporarily, I've now caught up with myself and need to take a prose poem break until I crank out a few more. Considering the searing drought we're still suffering here in "the Heart of America," what better kind of break could I provide than these two older poems, each evoking blessedly rainy days from the past.
THE DARK, HEAVY CLOUDS
When the dark, heavy clouds roiled low
and then the slant wall of rain struck,
my heart went out of me into the world.
Neither here nor there, this nor that,
I became anything thirstily drinking,
became a landscape receiving it all.
My heart went out of me into the world
when the dark, heavy clouds roiled low
and then the slant wall of rain struck--
went out of me, but did not return;
although, one night, as I waited alone,
an owl hooted from the nearby trees...
Can a poet still chant with delight about the rain?
Or is that cornball, cliche? After months of drought
thick grey clouds crowd in, loom lower, darkening,
until the first cold drop suddenly stings my face.
Then another, and another, plucking at dusty leaves,
splotching the sidewalk, trickling down windowpanes,
smacking a squirrel square on the nose, nudging worms
where they quiver like squirmy fingers underground.
Can a poet still be a mouth of the Earth, drinking?
Or is that old hat, passe? Yet my tongue's a root,
my hair drenched grass, my heart a glistening boulder,
my thighs tangled with the thirsty bones of the dead.
Rain has Intention, and Voice. My ear becomes night,
listening. Who can state absolutes, rigidity, limits?
I'm simplified to this elemental choice--grow, or die.
I'm a planet and its weather, a seedbed and a storm.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Some things we can lose and replace--but usually not a glove. A glove is one of a pair, and when it's lost the other's useless. Which is worse: to be the lost glove, or the one left behind? Either way--loneliness...
just one glove lost pointless without the other searching for a hand it's useless now yet still wants to serve two gloves together meet a need make a difference every finger slips snugly into its fleecy pocket each hand sports its own mini parka but the lost glove -- fallen into a dark corner of the closet absently dropped on the sidewalk left behind in a theater seat -- it has no meaning no future no hope
many people are like this lost glove no matter how hard they try or what they do it's already too late they've plunged through the ever-widening cracks in our splintered world with seven billion souls now and more on the way how could it be otherwise? think of all those who never have a chance children battered or abandoned babies born only to starve I'm not a lost glove like these but I might have been
we should be careful with our gloves we should be careful with each other the worst thing is to be created for a purpose we can't fulfill I long to discover the reason for my existence -- why I seem made to offer a hand of compassion of service and belonging if you wear the glove that matches my own for even one day or just a lifetime we'll suffer that much less loss savor that much more love
Our bones are with us every second of our lives, and last long after our deaths, yet most of the time we're hardly aware of them. How would I be--who could I be--without my bones?
even while still wearing this suit of threadbare skin some days I feel peeled right down to bare bone as if time and eternity played dice for my soul I live splayed in those cross hairs now at the bull's-eye of exacting transformation once unconsciousness was my sandbox I conjured such intricate castles in the air! but they've all been swept away what's left are just these blabbing bones
yet a bone has beauty meaning purpose it endures and witnesses -- a gleaming link in the stringent architecture of the cosmos no more disguises no more costumes only an austere purity where form and function fuse as one I hanker for what's lasting what reconnects me to verities unmutilated by fashion money fame pettiness I'd rather be a simple bone than a cunning fomenter of complication
my skeleton keeps whispering reminding me to make each hour count to manage carefully this infinitesimal kink in space and time do you hear your own bones crooning their insistent song? don't ignore them listen and learn grow and change your bones are saying there's another Reality one deeper and wiser than you know