Friday, September 19, 2014

Stasis

 
 
 
I read a very enlightening article over at the poetry foundation called "Floating". It's an interview with Louise Gluck about her view of writing and the periods in-between. She called the time between her books an initial period of exhilarated fatigue that eventually leads , from extended blankness, to the dreaded emptiness. But that first release from the grind of composing, editing and collating, from the pressure and expectation of finishing something truly great, is a time of cherished privacy. It engenders a euphoria that begs to be prolonged. The individual wants to cling to the finished work, stand back and relish its remark ability along with absorbing the other wonders of "quiet". In a way, this process is also a labor of adjustment and acceptance.  It's about becoming part of the stasis and allowing those blank spaces, the open air and the mood of  languor to own the individual self, to let it overwhelm (momentarily) and even liberate.


                  Stasis
 
Between books,  I first unwind
from the ways of writer and muse. The loose skein
of languor is wind-blown and wanton
but goes no where. It clings to corners of  the garden
like breath slipped out -- in awe
of what has been done. What simply surrounds.
 
I'm that sparrow
landing on the  spigot.  Just there
to tilt  my slight head
but not turn the water on,
 
or the cabbage white
in the briar fussing
over which flowers have a sweeter scent --
 
but not there to pluck
the dull petal or leaf.
 
And you may ask, as my voice hangs
wisped and suspended
along  the lawn, if I'm dying
(piecemeal) from lack of work.
 
And I would tell you
the rabble of broom, cloth and brush
will soon inherit my hand
 
(the chores ever present)
 
but while my pen lies idle
on that blotter,  I'm in the labor
of de - composing.
 
Floating wide and  silken,
summoned free.
__________________________________________
The beautiful artwork is by artist, Annie French, "The Bride".
 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Boatman's Wife



I will come back
which ever way the sea may want
to tell you I love you...
                                 From an old sea ballad.

Perched angular on her garden wall
she waits,  watching the tide. The sun is hot
but keeps her bones havened  in light. So dazzling
its flame gave her  the fervor to pot
(in terracotta ) soil and bulb. All those red
geraniums along the fence
now bright enough to fetch  --
                                 a sailor's eye from the sea.
 
Last month, her husband left
with compass, lamp, and linen sac
to store his soiled clothes . But most essential
 the  bronze bell he declared
was the color of her  hair.
when loose and lit by the falling sun. Something he would ring
when he returned..  And The flowers
she had placed with careful hands --like flags
 held high in bloom
                          or sagging low.


 
 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mememto

 
 

(After a conversation with my mother.)

In the new wing of the nursing home,
she stands framed by an archway.
A bone statue draped
with skin white and translucent
as a Malaysian moth. The psalm of her voice
looming through -- as she talks to the air
or a shadow..
 
I only watch

but no longer pursue
 the art of living. I  linger
on the threshold
witnessing those who come and go.
 
It's not a sorrowful thing;
just stasis, My turn
when the antique  clock
or weathervane shifts.
 
Look, it's raining.
Run  outside
and bring me a stone
 
One from the garden
whose sudden fountain
is a sun shower.
 
I will leave it
where I pass -- and mark
the end of a scene.
 
A sentence of details
defining what I touched,
how they touched me.
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Apollo Park On Labor Day

 
We enter the gates.
No birdsong -- and the lake
shallow, yoked in green.
 
where a figure stands
casting his line and shadow.
 
Across the water fountain
ants sprawl in black
panicles. The shade leaves
so dry, they rasp in the wind.
 
Fearful, we turn around
but don't glance back.
 
Our slender hands
joined, encasing -- the light unseen.
 



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Calling Back Resilience

 


They told me that the wolf would not show itself unless it is trying to tell you something.
                                                                                                              - Gudrun Pflueger

The smell of  Pinesol and hand lotion

halo the bed as she softly hums.

Her arm slants toward  the edge,

a narrow trail leading to the shoulder

that once carried the sun and  shadow

 of island pines as she walked inward

toward the wolf.

 

A path interlaced with vine and weed

held the tracks of the lone traveler

who dispersed white-tailed and slender legged

into the fog. A lupine ghost who seemed.

as illusive as her reason for pursuing it.

 

She found the creature curled against tree roots

clawing the ground with thick tenacity. No fear

was expressed from either species, only the blue stare

stemming from kindred eyes that knew each form

housed a similar spirit. The same breath

spidering into cold air and marking the forest

with its wild strain.

                      *  *  *  *   *  *  *  *

The slow drip of  a new drug enters her vein ;

 she remembers snow dripping on snow

that had been  traversed by light footsteps. The wolf

walked on the white crust with  divine grace

as if the soul were levitating the body. As if the field

were solaced by its stealth agility. Bed linens

envelop her in layered cotton. Hours quilted

in quiet confinement -- but she rises leaving

her limbs at rest and drifts toward the window. Its metal

arch like the steel binding on the canoe

that ferried her to the island. A  coastal

reliquary that had been keeping

her unknown rations Her  ancestral instincts.
______________________________________________

This poem was inspired by Austrian skier, Gudrun  Pflueger who made a journey to a coastal island off the Canadian mainland to study the wolves. She went ashore with her camera and some wisdom  gained form The First Nation, a  North American Indian tribe. They told her the wolf was a very secret yet wise species. And like a prophet, only chose to be seen by  other beings  (outside the clan)  to reveal something essential  about themselves and their human pilgrimage.


 
She stooped quietly in a meadow and waited for them to emerge from the woods. Slowly one wolf came toward her unafraid and simply curious. Other members of the pack followed. Neither species, human or animal was afraid. At that point, Gudrun, formed a special bond with the lupine mammals. She drew from them strength, a sense of resolve and determination among other extraordinary traits.
 
Never forgetting that experience, she took gifts of revelation and newly discovered self-knowledge off the island. A few years later, when she developed brain cancer and had to survive intense surgery and chemotherapy, she drew again on that encounter with the wolf to sustain her. She journeyed back mentally and even in spirit to that sacred place. This poem is derived from and inspired by her story and her remarkable character.
 
Also See:
 
 

 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Appreciation From The Road

 

Home  again 
I unlatch the door
and wander though the house
dragging the slight luggage
of my bones.
 
They are lined with travel,
a silk-painted weariness
of the quaint and foreign.
 
Home  again
 I find your shoes
on the table. Polished but missing
their laces.
 
I want to string their holes
with a long strand of words.
 
A skein of sentence
that unravels
as I walk this room
touching:
your comb,  your decanter
of shaving cologne,
 
your white shirt
that lends cover
to a scratched chair.
 
A run-on reason
of why I bind myself
to you.  Our mutual journey
within.
_______________________________________________________________________
 
I thinks sometimes coming home after the travelling allows us to appreciate even more what we left and what is there to welcome us back. The journey taken enriches the mind and heart with new experiences and knowledge. And while that dazzles and intrigues, reflecting on what is not there, what is back at the familiar place, the home front, becomes a journey of longing. And once we return, off the road, a beautiful sense of appreciation arises. It comes in like a weary traveler ready to resume a way of living that has been put on hiatus but with new insight and fervor.

 
Note: The painting is called "The Green Bedroom, Morning" By Edward Hopper
 

Through The Doorway Unto A Canvas

 
The shop rattled. Antique bottles broke.
Oil and vinegar spilled
staining the stone pavement.
A painting of saplings
that caught the eye of the crow.
 
He landed keeping
his large wings open, umbrella'd
 as if to protect
this sudden print
crafted by the quake.
 
He clenched an olive pit
in his beak 
and dropped it at the point
where a sprig should leaf
and flower, reveal the bead work
of rain, the white  luster
of a moth. Where a  woman's hands
 
on a hillside terrace
tied string around a vineyard branch.
A tree she  had planted  to praise
her husband's return from the dead --
its tasting room
of mold  and shuttered light.
_______________________________________________________________________
 
Recently, with the occurrence of the earthquake in The Napa Valley, I was looking at various pictures of destruction done to cafes, shops, houses in the town and the  lay-out of  vineyards in the distance. What caught my attention was a photo of an olive oil and vinegar tasting shop/room that had suffered tremors from the quake. Bottles of precious oil and vinegar broke while the contents spilled out of the doorway onto the sidewalk. They stained the pavement with streaks that resembled saplings on a van Gogh or even Monet canvas. It was an entrance into sudden art crafted by the event. It left an impression, a design that tempted the mind to envision different scenes and to invite strange or familiar possibilities, memories. I thought of a crow landing there with an olive stone in its mouth, a guide to what this all could symbolize, how this spontaneous print could be a marker of hope, a link to somewhere else and someone else who had planted a vineyard tree in gratitude, in praise of her husband's return from dark depression. A splattering on the pavement that becomes a metaphorical gateway to new beginnings and growth.