More Space Things palpably everywhere seem identical, so snow is sunlight. And rain a thousand maple leaves seen from underneath. The appearance of space around, through, within the fume of fog or a shining glass sky outlines the objects it obscures. Nothing reveals more space than space taken, when emptiness so visibly embodies there being nowhere to go. ADVISE? I perhaps think one or two more concrete images might be wanted. If this brought any images to your mind, will you please comment and share them? Thank you! (Yes, thanks for asking, it IS a big deal for a recovering perfectionist to post Work in Progress and admit it. I'm pretty pleased with me right now.)
Let’s have champagne first: Here are some spring Haiku, small poetic bubbles that they are.
A half-circle of melon dawn disappeared. March snow. Between small hills, dawn stays blue. The bare tree is still its shadow. Storm wind trickles in somewhere. The prism fidgets, glints green-gold.
There are books I read every few years. Do you have such books? I circle slowly back around to them like the orbit of Neptune because I’ve noticed interesting change between the first and second, and subsequent, readings.
Some books, read again, reflected back a new (older) reader with different responses. That helped me know my mind and sense of language better, as well as opening the vista a good piece of Art is.
Sometimes I return to writing of my own with the changed perspective of time. I understand them differently. Even the way I want specific words to communicate has changed
This poem started with a round burn on my hand got not long after noticing a small, dark rose in falling snow; it bloomed late, into a tight knot of petals, ready to face winter. The poem slid around on those two images, sort of a narrative about my own observations.
Buddhism likes to say…well, Buddha said….the world is burning. Our senses are burning. This simple, complex statement has to do with the nature of the world and our attachments to things. It’s a wake-up call about how easily we make ourselves suffer. It’s also now a new layer of the word “burn” for me, and there it is.
So what happens when I go back to this poem? The actual hand burn once got lifted into something higher through the image of the rose. Now my hand provides the poem with the metaphorical Buddhist burning the real rose can’t escape. Once the burn “bloomed” like the rose, and now the rose is burning. (If I’m not careful, I will justify the false impression that exists in the world that Buddhism is a real downer.)
The poem before was imagining connections, and I feel as if now it’s reporting a real connection I finally paid attention to. I have another “thinky” poem that is struggling to go in exactly the opposite direction and soak its reporting in imagination, to revel in imagined connections. My smile at this knowledge of my own tangled Creativity is both wry and satisfied.
Burn The stove’s sharp blue heat invaded the pot handle you grasped without attention. The burn asserts itself like the red fist of a rose opened late, defying snowfall. Take note. The earth insists. The undulation of your palm has always resembled a drift, snow crept upon by claws of sunset, bloody hue under bare branches. There have always been things on fire. The body burns to say it. So your same grasping hand sets it down, sears white paper darker.
POND WALK Pond blinks, red-rimmed under October cloud-glare, as landscape begins to change. Or that is just eyes grown used to gritty air. But here, freely, widely do the encircling, while water shines or clears of sun-leaves, ripples, swans’ feet. Pass a wine-stained, blood-stained, love-stained vine winding a tree, a melancholy, a potion. Yes and no. Leaves know only their going, not the pacing of minds. Sit on a stone embedded by water. Pick up driftwood birch with its dark inscriptions, but look elsewhere. Hear the greens crackle behind you. Pond wind fans bright, cold coming fire.
After a six-day heat wave, any thoughts for an essay-like post are bobbing around my head like semi-cooked pasta. But the poetry is enough of a practice to have things to share.
I think these are two parents and their two fledgling cormorants at Jamaica Pond (Boston), and I’m always thankful to have them in my day. This poem was inspired by a beautiful online-gathering talk “at” the Greater Boston Zen Center.
Bird and Fish
The cormorant intent, curved,
sharp, sewing surfaces:
diving that stitches the city
edges, the open spaces, my faithful
circling of water.
It sometimes arises with
a sliver of fish,
silver arc of gasp that cannot
live, but eaten, still shines
in the wide net of bird.
One day one dive,
one sudden reappearance, with
this, long body of a trout, caught
with unrealized skill, but now, what, so wildly
not to be swallowed. A fish unaware
it lived in water, too blinded now,
too bitten, too big not to pull
both of them under again. Cormorant
then bathes and flutters back
to quiet floating. Fish will be fish
below, being one of those
too much to enter
the gate of bird. Cormorant will eat
later, even later stand with wet wings
offered open to the air. Fish may
remember when water was something
that could be left behind, that would
release. But it may not.
I take pleasure in sharing Creativity I encounter. in our brimming-over world. A couple of things about doing so occurred to me recently. One, I have some lovely photos of local gardens I am just too lazy to sort out of my phone albums. Two, Everyone and their neighbor’s second cousin is putting Creative Work online because we have to, and although the reasons are awful, the results are often wonderful. And three, I’ve never really put my own Creative Work on my own damn blog. Maybe 2020 is the year to let that hesitance fade into the past with a lot of my former way of living.
Actually, I’ve been writing as steady practice, and I’ve been growing. In earlier heydays of my poetry, there was an intellectual quality to the way I handled language and ideas. Buddhist practice has made me want to let go of that type of hard work, to see what happens when I am more embodied and present in the moment as a writer. Yeah, and vulnerable and open, and all that stuff…
The thing is, it’s working, and I like it. I still falter, as I did with a recent poem that originally had a fixed end point and a prettily written lecture to get it there. Turns out it really is a woefully and wildly personal poem , and I’m letting that happen now in the revision, and it’s like riding surf without a boogie board.
So I will share some of my recent work here. Although I have been published in both journals and anthologies, it’s a somewhat big step to put this here without the ringing approval of a poetry editor’s acceptance.
This is a poem I wrote for an artist friend when she shared on social media that her tough feelings about our times were hampering her Creative energy. I hope it brings some uplift. And yeah, I’m going to link you to her work, of course. It is her poem, after all.
Bears in Bad Times
Antique brown bear observes bad times from a shelf,
ears wide, silent, but flourishing its bronze ribbon,
a bohemian tie. Imagine evening, a half-dressed
painter, youthful and intent, the room’s view
a damp canvas, the sky’s blue hour rising.
Another artist, red and green in woods
elsewhere, is photographing bears. Her
bird feeders strain and sink beneath mounds
of starved gravity with long tongues
intruding. Every type of refuge now
seems hollow of all but emptiness. Yet
companions appear, right over there—
the bearings we have lost, the kind bearing
of chaos and grief, and creatures,
too, who are constellations.
Thank you for the inspiration and for your beautiful jewelry, Jen.
The Cambridge English Dictionary online defines a metaphor as “an expression that describes a person or object by referring to something that is considered to possess similar characteristics.”
A metaphor points at a connection perceived, one that, for someone, suddenly arose from the interconnectedness of Everything. The path of one raindrop down a pane of glass deserves noticing; there’s a limitless number out there, but this one is right here and now.
I read a metaphor I’d like to share here at the end of 2018. It’s by Buddhist teacher and leader Pema Chodron, from the book Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion, compiled and edited by Emily Hilburn Sell, published in 2003 by Shambhala.
Another image for maitri [loving-kindness] is that of a mother bird who protects and cares for her young… People sometimes ask, “Who am I in this image—the mother or the chick?” The answer is we’re both: both the loving mother and those ugly little chicks. It’s easy to identify with the babies—blind, raw, and desperate for attention. We are a poignant mixture of something that isn’t all that beautiful and yet is dearly loved. Whether this is our attitude toward ourselves or toward others, it is the key to learning how to love. We stay with ourselves and others when we’re screaming for food and have no feathers and also when we are more grown up and appealing by worldly standards.
Wishing Us Loving-kindness and Steadfastness, to and from each other. Wishing Us Well-Being, Freedom, Peace, and Creativity in 2019. Thank you.