Haiku- Autumn 2013
and weather vane
geese flying south,
black beans on the stove...
was four years ago
or harvest moon
in the window
scarlet fire grove
above the frost,
a form of love
leaves have fallen
tannic and silent,
father and son,
above a hundred years
of russeting oaks
and a country road-
what was before
and leaves spiral
in the alley beside
scale of evening,
geometry of the sun
in falling degrees
have you found
the floating ladder
heard in a poem?
yellow's gone onward
as November light
I live here in a village house without
all that racket horses and carts stir up,
and you wonder how that could ever be.
Wherever the mind dwells apart is itself
a distant place. Picking chrysanthemums
at my east fence, I see South Mountain
far off: air lovely at dusk, birds in flight
returning home. All this means something,
something absolute: whenever I start
to explain it, I forget words altogether.
--No. 5 from Drinking Wine; T'ao Ch'ien (365-427 CE)
*trans by David Hinton
[Branches; Léon Spilliaert, 1912]
Anyone can see that if grasping and aversion were with us all day and night without ceasing, who could ever stand them? Under that condition, living things would either die or become insane. Instead, we survive because there are natural periods of coolness, of wholeness, and ease. In fact, they last longer than the fires of our grasping and fear. It is this that sustains us. We have periods of rest making us refreshed, alive, well. Why don't we feel thankful for this everyday Nirvana?
We already know how to let go - we do it every night when we go to sleep, and that letting go, like a good night's sleep, is delicious. Opening in this way, we can live in the reality of our wholeness. A little letting go brings us a little peace, a greater letting go brings us a greater peace. Entering the gateless gate, we begin to treasure the moments of wholeness. We begin to trust the natural rhythm of the world, just as we trust our own sleep and how our own breath breathes itself.
- Jack Kornfield (via whiskey river)
You need not do anything.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
You need not even listen, just wait.
You need not even wait, just learn to be quiet,
....still and solitary.
And the world will freely offer itself to you unmasked.
It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
– Franz Kafka
[via secret notebooks wild pages]
Six Reasons to Spend
Saturday Afternoon with Poetry
Where is the mood?
the other day I lost
relation to rooted stars,
heart not sewn to the close
distance of wide light
grown from shadows.
Another way out- hallow
a downward dark sky into
the tune of the yard, deep
enough to descend upon
later on night wings sprung
from therianthropic air.
Spoken joyful melancholy,
gray weather that hampers,
two feet that move along
untowards but as simple
as what’s been found,
melancholic joy of song.
A world showing clear
abandoned Ash leaf
remain beside gothic
point black street lamp
city crosshatch about
poised pedestals, of it all.
Il Penseroso indeed,
with thee, too, I behave
into cragged textures so
softened with hard haunts
of old and new, find fire
in the visage of my quarter.
This is where I can
return, turn, and not
move steadily forward,
time covers that soundly
with spaces hiden between
missteps of new colors.
Don't go too early.
You're tired. But everyone's tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.
--from 'Wait'; Galway Kinnell
What do they sing, the last birds
coasting down the twilight,
across woods filled with darkness, their
curved on the world like a lover's arms
which form, night after night, in sleep,
an irremediable absence?
in the grate. Whatever it is
that keeps us from heaven,
sloth, wrath, greed, fear, could we only
reinvent it on earth
A secret came a week ago though I already
knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.
The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds
are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.
I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite-
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation
and now they’re roosting within me, recalling
how I had watched them at night
in fall and spring passing across earth moons,
little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing
on their way north or south. Now in my dreams
I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,
the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying
me rather than me carrying them. Next winter
I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado
and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching
on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye
and I’ll return my dreams to earth.
Some recent fiction reading has been with Jim Harrison’s 2008 novel, The English Major, about a 60 year old man who finds himself without home and with limited finances after his long term wife runs out on him for real estate. What’s an American male to do? Hit the road for time out and reconfiguration, as well as to check in with an old flame. In this instance, the twenty years younger, Marybelle. From the NY Times Book review:
Jim Harrison’s writing is oddly mysterious. His prose style is plain, even flat. His sentences unspool casually and are often comma-free to the point of sounding almost hapless. Yet they fuse on the page with a power and blunt beauty whose mechanics are difficult to trace even when you look closely.
And it’s the fusing that brings Harrison's depth to the otherwise, comic tale of an aging baby boomer (“I slowed down in order that my neurons might duly record this butt’s splendor and when I passed I noted that her cool, intense face signified a true ‘Belle Dame Sans Merci.’ I had quickly become horny as a toad”). Some examples:
One of my companions who described himself as a "failed writer" told me that in Kentucky authorities had found in the journal of a schizophrenic who had escaped an asylum the following quote, "Birds are holes in heaven through which a man may pass." This dumbfounded me....
I consoled myself with the idea that there was freedom in having this large portion of your past vaporize. Fuimus fumus, or something like that, said Thomas Wolfe, my hero when I was a senior in high school. I think it meant that our life goes up in smoke.
My dissipating thoughts of life in terms of victory or defeat came along willy-nilly from a culture that pretended that life was far more solid than it actually was. The edges were actually blurred and moved along with the infinitely variable shape of a river
I walked her home as far as the Ninth Street Bridge and we paused to look down at the sweet-smelling, turbulent river. I said, "Life is a river," and she said, "No, a river is a river and life is life." I felt corrected.
..........We live in dread of something:
..........Need, perhaps. Tears,
..........the air inside a woman's dress,
..........the deep breath of non-ambition.
..........In a valley of stone,
..........men had to carry stones.
..........In a sea of fertility,
..........women could drown
..........in the wake of conceptions.
..........We no longer build in stone—
..........houses of rice paper, beds
..........of feather. Manhood
..........is the one stone we still
..........insist on, lifting it
..........From abandoned quarries,
..........carrying it on our backs
..........even when we make love,
..........until the woman beneath us
..........calls passion a kind of
..........Suffocation, surfaces for air
..........like a young child whose head
..........has been pushed beneath the water,
..........a way to learn swimming.
..........Did you come? we ask,
..........her head bobbing above the brine
..........that pours from us. Applause
..........is what we want now,
..........Her wet hands
..........clapping in the last wind
..........before she sinks again,
..........before she holds us again
..........so tight we both plunge
..........like a cry for help
..........into the water,
..........Before we fall to the bottom—
..........not even the fish
..........will pause to tell apart.
(1980) via poets.org
waking with blinds open,
day glances options
to leave sense to itself,
........such roosting with coffee,
........her leg sliding through the bed,
........one cat’s linen-cool reply
as birds fly, molt of yesterday’s
clock hands that lay in the bushes,
as poplar of new directions
........toss through spacious form,
........tremula ellipse of leaves
........that skirt unattached wind
while tactile forms it aloud:
a home sealed fibrous matter,
surmountable red of life,
........gravity, toadstool, agitate,
........sex, respite, sibilated death,
........along song-touched affection
and sometimes for stillness
through simile, the room as quiet
as a hermit-blue pond, a
........dual breath under roof
........with cracks in flawed plaster,
........tilt frame about a silent door
There is nothing that man fears more than the touch of the unknown. He wants to see what is reaching towards him, and to be able to recognize or at least classify it. Man always tends to avoid physical contact with anything strange. In the dark, the fear of an unexpected touch can mount to panic. Even clothes give insufficient security: it is easy to tear them and pierce through to the naked, smooth, defenseless flesh of the victim. All the distances which men create round themselves are dictated by this fear. They shut themselves in houses which no-one may enter, and only there feel some measure of security. The fear of burglars is not only the fear of being robbed, but also the fear of a sudden and unexpected clutch out of the darkness.
- from 'Crowds & Power'; Elias Canetti (1960)
[ Still Life with Four Sunflowers ; Vincent van Gogh, (1887) ].....
As you pass through fire, as you pass through fire
Trying to remember its name
When you pass through fire licking at your lips
You cannot remain the same
And if the building's burning, move towards that door
But don't put the flames out
There's a bit of magic in everything
And then some loss to even things out
Some loss to even things out
Some loss to even things out
There's a bit of magic in everything
And then some loss to even things out
"Living" means eating up particles of death
....as a child picks up crumbs from around the table.
"Floating" means letting the crumbs fall behind you on
To live is to rush ahead eating up your own death,
....like an endgate, open, hurrying into the night.
-- Robert Bly (1979)
Last night the first heavy frost.
Now the brave alfalfa has sobered.
It has folded, as if from great heat,
and turned away from the north.
The horse's winter coat has come
through the bark of the trees.
Our ears hear tinier sounds,
reaching far away east in the early darkness.
In the introduction to Robert Bly's 1979 collection, This Tree Will Be Here for a Thousand Years, Bly advises of an experiential concept concerning "The Two Presences":
Many people who think about it believe that the desire to weep comes entirely from inside us. Conservatives in these matters declare that human intelligence stands alone facing a world that appears sometimes hostile, sometimes inviting, but that actually possesses neither intelligence nor consciousness. Many ancient Greek poems, on the other hand, suggest that human beings and the "green world" share a consciousness. Each of the poems... contains an instant.... when I was aware of two separate energies: my own consciousness, which is insecure, anxious, massive, earthbound, persistent, cunning, hopeful; and a second consciousness which is none of these things. The second consciousness has a melancholy tone, the tear inside the stone, what Lucretius calls "the tears of things", an energy circling downward, felt often in autumn, or moving slowly around apple trees and stars.