Monday, November 25, 2013

Desert road trip

White dust rose in our rear view mirror
Inexhaustible silence pushed us in deeper 
We became vast in its presence 

Whenever we slowed or stopped
Wherever our feet touched ground
We found a hundred sorrowful things to love

Inside the Navajo nation
our tires hit washboard road
A clunky expedition met
the imposing dignity of ancestral desert 
Where ancient cave dwellings converge 
with patches of mobile homes and abandoned Chevy trucks 

A ghost town feeling threads through random settlements
Here and there, they seem to thrive...but most appear as if stranded

Pueblo ruins and corrugated aluminum shanty-villes  
Mirror each other at a distance
Collapsing into the sand,  the ground... as if trying to return home

Still,  the strength of the tribe endures
As does the Dwarf Oak and the Cottonwood with its 
complex Sage understory

The ways of  Song and Story are protected here
by those with a powerful will to wait 
Who suspend themselves upside down on the oldest limbs
of desert trees
Watching the land intently as they have for millennia
With all other eyes ( more than human )
They peer through their canyon wall windows
Whispering blackened or nearly extinct languages
who speak the textured sounds of  the woven Place
Songs guide, tales navigate wilderness 
and negotiate threat
These we imagined embedded in thousands of caves and Kivas 
The refuges of the still threatened land
Vast reservoirs veiled by darkness
Vulnerable to pillagers and thieves  
even now.

"The veils"

The light that shuts is still the light—
which is what? The bulb, the socket,
the meeting of wires and current—
the switch, the Tinkerbelle faceplate—
the concentrated heat, the shine—

the cloud of rays that radiates—
the objects upon which they bounce—
the eyes that absorb all those glints—
the mind that somehow pronounces
-gh- as a silent switch making lit

long? How do we divide what counts
as off or on? The room goes dark
while outside comet-eyed cats pounce
on each other with fearsome yowls.
Now the light is on for those cats—

and for the bugs under the hose.
The veils move like nothing we know.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

She Lies, a Simple Sin

I ask her to take a veil
and hold it up to her face,
simple shadow play

as the dancer Salome wed

to the idea of my head on ice
like the Baptist or Antoinette.

She could drop all seven shrouds
on a visit through the underworld;

but, she shuns my comedy.
She rips the cloth in two and swears
my demise is imminent, but not yet.

She covers me with lace
and plods through deep dark myths with army boots.
She lacks imagination. She's heavy.

Then, she lies like snow on leaves in the south,
a lightness that melts before morning's out.

Bring branch to fire

Bring branch to fire

    “cock a doodle do”
awake on the Other side
     dawn break too
bring a branch to fire
     & “Wail”
bring a pail
     to sound
     & fill
earliest bell, chimes blue
blurred lines meld
& which side of the mesh?
to look through to see which other side

pop! button...snooze pop!
ten dream scenes more
break dawn dance
    Over there
     a drop in water
       is of water
surface ripples not.

up hardwood stairs
 chant begins
 wen- fo-lo-see-da

  bring brang branch to fire.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

kiwi kill


overnight the veil of green
curdles dries and drops
tons of leaves cast out
kiwi can't
stand 19 degree
and the overreaching arboreal green
man addiction
has heaved
to earth

i test her
pearlescent green moons,
still hard rocks
soon to ripen
untouched by what
her chloroplasted

plants are like us
will do many things
to ensure
the fruit
is more sturdy
than branch
and thrives


twenty years ago
my wife died

cancer frost
instant wither

until you've seen how death
can reach out long fingers
grab and twist

you won't expect it,



from the vine of life


once you've seen it,
again and then again,
again, and then again,
you hope for swiftness,
pray for blight or
kiwi kills
not longlinger


so should i be glad
my best friend died
this year
relatively quickly?
am i searching for some spin
on misery?
what of the other side?  all i see
are those grim thin fingers
coming through the veil.


once you've seen it
like slow shutter camera frames:

turn and run. pretend you don't know
what you can never again be free of.

we pray for space and grace
when we should
wish for company

and even now, the sudden sunset
freed by space
of kiwikill
through the leaf-free vines

so exquisite,
whole sky pink
i'd rather see the living leaves
caterwauling green
than this sudden


i see them now,
the tangled, knotted vines
cleaving to magnolia branch,
threaded through walnut

their gnarl set off by sunset
deathgrip even here
kiwi vine emulating veil thin wraiths
when what i want
is grace
(is it?)
when what i want
is grace


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stir The Pot (taste the life)

With each veil, whether opaque or transparent
There you are, such that the phenomenon
Of 'behind' a veil takes on a new slant.
You've redefined it for me in the juxtapositions
You carry, heavily, awkwardly, and some tenderly.

For 'behind' becomes 'out in front,' the evening drunkenness 
Marries with the sober mess of another day
Creating one breathtaking yet somber step
In the choreography of this life, the life
You have surreptitiously invited me to witness.

Which of these veils lay, in their transparency,
Across your heart? How do you know 
Your own heart when that which obscures lends
Its fashioning to nearly every breath you take?
What, in your own private ken, can take your breath away?

Why not let it be so even here, even now.
Regardless of what it could bring, what could
Be said of you, of the other. Melt, like the snows,
That brick of larder sheltered in the walk-in
Of the kitchen of your existence. Taste.

What is here. Taste. Join me in the life that is yours.
Join me in taking in the smells, the fragrances.
Yes, you may suffer immunity from those. Walk
Anew into your own life through my eyes,
Landing there in a freshness that is Timeless.

May these words beckon to you in the way
Your touch has softened something in me,
Even in your withholding. For touch is beyond
Flesh, includes flesh, is the origins of flesh,
Something more than the senses that sees, hears, and listens yet.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

IMUNURI Prompt: Other side of the veil

In this time of waning in the northern hemisphere, the veil between the world thins. What is on the other side of the veil? Poetry, perhaps more than any other form, can help imagine the unimaginable. In some cultures, beyond death, green fields. In others, fiery pits below the earth, or life on clouds. For some, rebroadcasting electrons to the galactic depths. For others, recycling into another body, perhaps not human. For some, a process in-between, or to the land of the fey. Are the ancestors in the rocks, in the air, in our breath? Or nowhere/held briefly in the memory of the living before blinking out...

Enter a revery state, between the world, and imagine the other side of the veil. 

Tags: veil, poem, <poet's moniker>, epic-earth

An ongoing series of earth-related prompts as part of an Imunuri experiment to dwell repeatedly on a theme and its riffs, and/or the possible poetry challenge, bit by bit, of producing an epic or body of poems...

Image Credits - All from Wikimedia Commons  (clockwise from upper left): J Schulman (2010), The Witch's Broom area of the Veil Nebula (CC-3); The Veils (1983), Spaceland Los Angeles (Public Domain); Tanya (2007), Veils of Humanity Sculpture, Nagasaki Peace Park, New Zealand (CC-2); HFSW (2010), Bridal Veils Park in British Columbia (CC-3). From this search.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Earthbrain (After Fifteen Years)

"More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet." - Marge Piercy
I receive an email from someone after fifteen years:
who are my roots, the unseen connections, nodes and nodules
rilling and trilling,
rifling the soil, shaking
hands beneath my feet? Those old friends
who helped nourish the part we see.
And the ancestors,
bones and ashes
mashed by worms
in the moshpit of destiny
some named, most forgotten
yet linking generation to generation
through violin music, the
building of roads
(which is perhaps just another form
of manifest destiny/
some poets an eternity ago,
on and on, back and back,
deeper and deeper into the
earth. this tracery
of tree roots anchors
me through treachery,
poisoning, child labor,
and possibly even slavery,
backwards and down,
all the way back to earlier times
when we remembered how to
live with earth, harvest roots
backwards and down,
drilling down, and connecting across
to the tree roots of others' lineages.

do we notice, like someone
plunking our ancestral piano,
know each other, kin
to kin, kenning our kinship
(a kind of radical ecology)?

i remember how i felt
when i learned there are
fungal nets that span miles, extending
the reach of tree roots in forests,
tree to tree, and on,
serving as a kind of epicommuni
cation system:

satisfied that something greater
than what i could understand
yet still could sense, with my
outer antennae
of fungal nets,
how we are all touching,
communing, roots
slithering out, snakes
of earth
in earth

we are spreading and spreading
the sacred dirtlinks sucking earth
as large below as above.
my earthbrain
clock opposite below,
reaching out
and holding, kenning, kinning
kindle-spinning the earthweave,
the rootmop, cleansing, connecting
Medusa-spread and writhing lively.
root tips wriggling,
first goddesses,
beam me down,
brain of earth.

11-11 scooter cascadia

A mushy pear

There is no great poem in our language which is simply happy. … We reach for explanations: maybe to be happy is to be a simpleton; maybe poets are morbid; maybe life is darker than it is light; maybe when you are happy you are too busy being happy to write poems about it and when you are sad, you write poems in order to do something. There may be half-truths in these common ideas, but the real explanation lies in the structure of a poem; and, I suggest, in the structure of human reality. Energy arises from conflict. … The sensual body of a poem is a pleasure separate from any message the poem may contain. … If the poem contains a message which is pleasurable (a word I have just substituted for “happy), then the two pleasures walk agreeably together for a few feet, and collapse into a smiling lethargy. The happy poem sleeps in the sun.

—Donald Hall from Claims for Poetry

“A mushy pear”

Please excuse Daniel.
Yesterday, he wrote
his daily Ghazal,
but it was a fruit
for the compost pile.

On the sweet pursuit
of a Parisian
day, who cares what art
has to say? No grain
scrapes to spark a pearl.

His words fell supine
in giggling puddles,
convening at nine
into a little
daydream of moments.

He barely cobbled
the sea-glass bottle.