Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Corkscrew - Reprise


This poem really is three poems that relate to each other but come from different places. First, the Man of the Northern Wall was a mage and power behind the throne of a queen in a before time, much as Merlin was behind Arthur as King in the time of Camelot when Britain was not yet but Rome had retreated back across the Channel. That is the sense of the Magic. There are limits even at the best of times because the age of true magic is in the Golden Age of archetype, or the Dream Time of the Australian aborigines, or the before times of any cultures. In other words, full power magic was in the world prior to the world of history. Even the most powerful mage is limited in historical time. That is just true, no matter how a magician may strive for power.

Then there is Coyote, one of my favorite gods, almost not a god. He screws up far too often to really be a god. Often he is hilarious, sometimes stupid, sometimes brilliant. He has a kind but self centered heart but can be cruel, even mean his cruelty. In short he is as tangled up as we are.

Of course in classical myth Coyote is sort of a cross between Pan, Dionysus and Hermes and these three are definitely gods.

The last verse goes from a touchy task to the fact that we can all fall from high enough to hurt, and this at any time.

And I mean all this of course. There is something in me that is so arrogant that I think I can save the world. If saving the world is possible at all from our side of things then it is some kind of magic that does it. If it is saved from the other side, it is of course miracle that does it.

**This poem's introduction was modified and the picture added tonight**


If I were Magic
And Magic was as I dream
Then so much would change.

Coyote is the teacher,
Shows the corkscrew way of things.

To thread the needle
Takes courage, wit, hollow bones,
Or else you fall, break.

Written October 13, 2008 3:48 PM
First posted Saturday, December 27, 2008

Monday, May 30, 2011

Yaquina Bay

Yaquina Bay, Newport, Oregon.
Click on the picture to get a bigger view.

In this picture which looks basically a little west of south the headwater of the Yaquina River is the main subject, which is thoroughly tidal all the way back to east of Toledo, Oregon, eight miles inland. Because the tidal zone and the slow flow of the Yaquina makes this body of water mainly a salt incursion of the Pacific Ocean, it is instead known as Yaquina Bay.

At the bottom and to the left of this photo by the US Army Corp of Engineers, there are three rows of apartment style duplexes that were made top and bottom two bedroom apartments. The master bedroom was at the rear (northern exposure) in each, the master bath in what is the northwest corner. North is to the bottom of the photo. Each apartment had a full glass wall and a patio or deck on the south end, the viewpoint overlooking the bay. You see these apartments built on a fairly steep hillside, with the roofs of the five in the lowest row completely below and not blocking the view of the seven units above them. To the right (west) of the seven unit row is a separate row of three. In the middle of that row and upstairs is where I lived with my wife and three cats. We were the first tenants in the building. The complex was built by the man who had the house east of the lower five units, a fellow named Brice. He called his complex "Embriceadero", reminiscent of the luxury Embarcadero Hotel on the bayfront to the East and just outside the boundary of this picture. This was in 1976-1979.

We lived there nearly three years before moving back to the Portland Area from which we had come. In some ways this time overlooking Yaquina Bay was the happiest time in my life, but it was not so for my wife. I didn't really want to but for her sake I agreed and we moved to Lake Grove, south and west of Lake Oswego, itself upriver of Portland above the Willamette River, on the river's west side. Lake Grove basically holds the southwest tip edge of the man created lake (an expanded swamp flooded by a dam) that gives the city of Lake Oswego its name.

Yaquina Bay

I lived on the bay,
above its north front, my home
a soft box that breathed
in the gales sweeping
in from the ocean, bowing
the south wall, curtains
falling away, showing
the plumb line, the house top bent
in the storm's ancient


the blooming secret of joy
she grew in my heart.

May 29, 2011 8:40 AM

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Singing To The Sky - Reprise

I have a penchant for witchcraft and shamanism. I know that mankind's spiritual impulse arose in shamanism first in the long sweep of human evolution. I believe, since it lasted such a long time, most of the time that humans have been on the planet by far, that this sort of spirit walk is probably best suited for the human spirit.

There is a caveat to that. Shamanism is not egalitarian. Only a few people really practice, often one to a band, with an apprentice, or perhaps a couple of shamans, though two can lead to severe and dangerous conflict. The rest of a hunting and gathering band do a variety of things and often the band considers each specialty task life saving and affirming and so sacred, blessed by the shaman and a blessing to the band.

Sometimes there are sacred societies, both men's and women's, and so more of the band does participate in some involved sense, but the full meal deal usually is the province of one or two people, the tribal shamans and the rest know this. This tendency for only a few fully engaged individuals suited to the practice continues to the present day in the shamanic spiritual walk. The priesthood is the modern version of hunter-gatherer shamans but priests rarely shape shift or fly to heaven or wage spiritual warfare or chase away evil spirits, all regular duties of a shaman.

Witches have covens. There is good reason and a heritage in this need for privacy. Witches and shamans can be misunderstood and that misunderstanding is deadly at times, the way things have been and in some sense still are.

Nevertheless, the great mainstream religions - the Judaeo/Christian/Islamic tradition of the Near East, the Hindu and its variety of offshoots including Buddhism in Central Asia and China, modern Taoism and Shinto in the Far East, have been around at maximum for five thousand years. Man's shamanic spirit walk is at least 40,000 years old, probably older, and threads of shamanism are still present in Bon in Tibet, and Taoism and Shinto in China and Japan. In the Americas the mainstream was shamanic, though the high civilizations, Cahokia, the Olmec/Maya/Aztec, and the Inca all evolved priesthoods. This is beyond question. Shamanism is the forerunner. Shamanism is the spirit walk prior to history and the artifice of civilization, hence is the spirit walk of the natural man. We call shamanic teachings superstition but this may be dangerous in that in doing so one assaults the heart and soul of the natural man.

I suspect that had I survived childhood and was born 20,000 years ago, I would have been a shaman. Hmmm. I probably have been one. Many times.

*This essay underwent some modification and expansion tonight, including adding the picture of a fantasy shaman from one of the computer games*

Singing To The Sky

If the sky asked me
I would reply with a song
Of how the moon, clouds
Need a dwelling place.
I would sing in keys that change,
Modulate blue moods
To gray and silver,
And back again to sky blue.
I would howl and bray
At the moon's track line
And bare my chest to the sun.
Then I would dance, dance.

January 10, 2009 7:58 PM
First posted June 2, 2009.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Ski Tower, High Centered - Reprise

A spectacular, luminous ring offers the best evidence yet that a nearby star is circled by a newly formed solar system.

The ring is composed of dust particles in orbit around Fomalhaut, a bright star located just 25 light years away in the constellation Pisces Australis - or the Southern Fish. A recent image captured with the Hubble Space Telescope - which makes the system look uncannily like the Great Eye of Sauron from the blockbusting Lord of the Rings trilogy - confirms that Fomalhaut's ring is curiously offset with respect to the star.

The most likely explanation is that the gravity of one or more unseen planets is dragging the ring askew. The fact that the inner edge of the ring is relatively well-defined adds further weight to the argument because it suggests the unseen planets are sweeping up stray dust within the radius of the ring.

The following is the complete post and comments, the post date being
FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 2009 (I added the picture and reference to Arwen tonight)

I am a long time Lord Of The Rings fan. I yearned to follow the elves to the lands in the west. To not know how the emigration of the elves turned out seems cruel to me. Of course, not even Tolkein was capable of telling a true elven story. Elves are NOT human. In order to be remotely like humans they have to step down, corral, back off, pin hole their presence. Otherwise they are at right angles to this plane, hard to even see. When they accepted Bilbo, it meant that a certain elven group would have to exercise that discipline to tend to him. It was what Aragorn's lover Arwen was prepared to fix in place so she could be with him, to essentially cripple her elven self for love. It is that crippling that would render her mortal. I can't write from the elven point of view either.

Arwen Undómiel (Arwen Evenstar)

The Ski Tower

Looks like Sauron's eye
Could appear any moment there
Staring down on skiers
Not suspecting anything
Like such awful disaster.

The ring bearer
Needs to find another way
Up the snowy slopes.

January 19, 2009 12:21 PM


I got off my high center. This is not unlike stepping out of my elven self for the sake of movement along the high Way. I don't remember writing in code like that. It is a good alternative to being hung up and this being the way I find motivation to get going.

High Centered

You told me to move.
You held the whip's long shadow
In your whipping hand.
Made my withers twitch
To see that lurking notion
Of motivation.
I got off my high center,
Took to the highway again.

January 19, 2009 1:16 PM
POSTED BY CHRISTOPHER AT 6/26/2009 07:43:00 PM


Michelle said...
Christopher! I am clapping my hands with delight :)

Thank you

*big grin*

...and as for finding another way, yeah, some of us can't 'move' the same way around this unfamiliar place.


JUNE 27, 2009 2:43 PM

christopher said...
It is an unfamiliar place. Yes it is!

You're welcome, and you are in my thoughts.

JUNE 27, 2009 3:19 PM

Michelle said...
We all shine for each other my friend.

You know this.



JUNE 27, 2009 4:07 PM

Michelle said...
Not trying to hog your blog :)


go here


Seemed relevant


JUNE 27, 2009 4:30 PM

christopher said...
Michelle, you are not hogging my blog. I think you are excited just now is all. Also many people are leaving special things here and your link is special.

JUNE 27, 2009 7:38 PM
Woman in a Window said...
Makes me laugh a little at all of us about our little business while a big eye blinks out penultimate truths somewhere far above.

Are there always other paths?

JUNE 27, 2009 8:53 PM

Michelle said...
The earth sighed
and the poetry
like rain
cried through
the eye
of a howling storm
and nothing
be the same

Thank you :)


JUNE 27, 2009 9:30 PM

christopher said...
Erin, indeed. Perspective.

Michelle, thank you for your contributions and your warmth.

JUNE 27, 2009 10:05 PM

Lucy said...
I always thought Tolkien entertained angels unawares. I think you may be one of them...

JUNE 27, 2009 11:59 PM

christopher said...
Lucy, if that was true, I would have to deny it as a condition of employment. I am just another bozo on the bus. :)

One of my closer friends these days is a man with a major hit to his record in the music business. He hums along, making enough money with his band, originally out of Detroit. He lives nearby here in Oregon and the others are scattered across the country. They have a business machine that gathers play dates for them at casinos and such. They meet back in the midwest for practice sessions and composing sessions. Otherwise he is just busy with his music.

He is also active in his son's school and keeps connected in his family life.

Of himself, he says he has a trade. Other people think other things about him. Me, I think it is blessing. At least I feel blessed knowing the man before I knew anything about his music, knowing the man first. He is a simple man who loves his family.


JUNE 28, 2009 7:41 AM

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Calling

A blog comment dialog concerning prayer:

Woman in a Window said...
I think this of fundamental importance, that none of us negates the other's specialness, either in the day to day, or in the eyes of god, or in a line at a theatre. If we could all get our hands around that one, and our minds, we'd all be doing pretty well. - JULY 16, 2009 2:33 PM

christopher replied...
Erin, I agree with you. I would like to enrich the notion. I think of how Christians I have known use the idea of talent or calling. We are indeed special, and it is to a purpose. Without that we are perhaps not so special.

This is where it gets a little thick though. Things get thick because the purpose behind the call is plainly much larger than we are, and quite likely not of our choosing. We will fit the calling but maybe quite strangely considering our own point of view. This tends to demand an enriching our own character so that we begin to know and enact humility. I mean the kind of humility that is you or me finding our right size.

I can't figure out what about us is so special if it does not involve following the purposeful path that not only arises beyond us but leads us to return there as well. There is a cycle present though it may extend well beyond the portals of human birth and death. Reinhold Niebuhr commented that nothing worth doing can be finished in one lifetime. That might be completely true in relation to a call and I am sure that is how Niebuhr meant his words as well.

I should mention at this point that we are not special because we are loved, and we are certainly loved, but we may not be capable of the richest love ourselves unless we do follow our calling. This is the heart of the civilizing process, of maturation. - JULY 17, 2009 8:05 PM

Wiki says:

Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr; (June 21, 1892 – June 1, 1971) was an American theologian and commentator on public affairs. Starting as a leftist minister in the 1920s indebted to theological liberalism, he shifted to the new Neo-Orthodox theology in the 1930s, explaining how the sin of pride created evil in the world. He attacked utopianism as useless for dealing with reality, writing in The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness (1944):
"Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."
His realism deepened after 1945 and led him to support American efforts to confront Soviet communism around the world. A powerful speaker and lucid author, he was the most influential religious leader of the 1940s and 1950s in American public affairs. Niebuhr battled with the religious liberals over what he called their naïve views of sin and the optimism of the Social Gospel, and battled with the religious conservatives over what he viewed as their naïve view of Scripture and their narrow definition of "true religion."

His long-term impact involves relating the Christian faith to "realism" in foreign affairs, rather than idealism, and his contribution to modern "just war" thinking. Niebuhr's perspective had a great impact on many liberals, who came to support a "realist" foreign policy. His influence has been acknowledged by such recent leaders of American foreign policy as Jimmy Carter, Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama.

Alcoholics Anonymous acknowledges the young Niebuhr for his penning of what has come to be called the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
It is quite possible Reinhold Niebuhr was called and followed as best he could. So may we all be called and follow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What's It Like To Be You?

My whole life I have tried to understand you. It has always seemed crucial, as if my life were at stake. I think maybe I am right. This is complicated.

I am certainly no solipsist. I am sure I am a product, a complexity with multiple sources and cannot stand alone in any genuine sense. When I needed to quit drinking it made complete sense to me that I was going to need a community to do it. Since that time I have learned over and over again that I don't get to choose the members of my life except as a collaboration. I cannot choose you if you do not choose me and I cannot keep you if you release me.

If in that moment as you release me I refuse your release it is not you I keep but the gargoyle in my own brain that turns to growing stone. I have to keep carving it to hold its size and by that crude carving it becomes even less like you. Or if I let it grow then I am crushed from the inside and its size still makes it less like you. I must let go, let the stony dream release and shatter and pass, no matter that passing it is like passing kidney stones.

The pain informs me of my regret.

What's It Like To Be You?

You walk on my heart.
I hope you don't mean to be
like this, not to me.
I wish I could see
what it's like to look out your
eyes and taste your mouth
from the inside...is
the stale taste like mine? Do you
have a bad place or
even two in there that
leaks out the small pain, that stinks,
that you hide like me?

December 3, 2009 7:39 PM

Monday, May 23, 2011

Reptilian Mood

I was so taken with writing as a reptile in December of 2009 that I tried it again. I took the second poem apart and put it back together tonight. This is a snake poised to strike, I think, or perhaps a predator lizard. It is certainly no vegetarian.

Reptilian Mood

Behold! I intend
you still, your shudder - cold
stare, cold yellow stare
sizing you up, up
in the clear cool light of noon
of this last summer,
of my sunny rock,
my stand, ‘neath my slow scaled chest,
‘neath my hissing breath.

December 2, 2009 7:20 PM
Edited May 23, 2011 8:04 PM

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pagan Rites - Reprise

My long time blog friend Lucy has written more than once on this subject. She lives with her husband and her wonderful walking companion, Molly, in France. Her blog is a delight because she is not only a wonderful writer but as well an amazing photographer. Here from a post in 2006 is the source of the poem I wrote in 2009. I think it is not the post that inspired me but it might as well have been. The Little Saints
In that post she wrote
"Despite the popularity of the little saints, and their inclusion in many guides and other books on the region, little effort was made to safeguard them. The originals were stolen some twenty years ago, but fortunately a local antiquarian and woodcarver had made faithful copies, which were installed in their place. These too were stolen two or three years ago ( with the exeption of St Eugenie, who must have been better secured). Only recently has the local commune seen fit to even explain their absence with a notice to the numbers of visitors in cars and camper vans from all over Europe who stop at the chapel. The powers that be, sacred or secular, may not have valued them; they were too pagan, too maverick for the theological correctness of the established church, too crude and odd for the artistic arbiters, and too irrational and superstitious for the secular, intellectual spirit of modern France."

Pagan Rites

I'm a holy thief
Stealing little saints
When nobody looks.
I've kept them in caves,
Come and dance before the flames
I set down in front
Of the half circle
I made of them, tall to short,
But I left behind
Eugenie, not mine
To take, so strong her magic.
I have principles.

Written January 26, 2009 4:25 PM
First posted July 12, 2009

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Please Don't - Reprise

Self-harm (SH) or deliberate self-harm (DSH) includes self-injury (SI) and self-poisoning and is defined as the intentional, direct injuring of body tissue without suicidal intent. These terms are used in the more recent literature in an attempt to reach a more neutral terminology. The older literature, especially that which predates the DSM-IV-TR, almost exclusively refers to self-mutilation. The term is synonymous with "self-injury." The most common form of self-harm is skin-cutting but self-harm also covers a wide range of behaviours including, but not limited to, burning, scratching, banging or hitting body parts, interfering with wound healing, hair-pulling (trichotillomania) and the ingestion of toxic substances or objects. Behaviours associated with substance abuse and eating disorders are usually not considered self-harm because the resulting tissue damage is ordinarily an unintentional side effect. However, the boundaries are not always clear-cut and in some cases behaviours that usually fall outside the boundaries of self-harm may indeed represent self-harm if performed with explicit intent to cause tissue damage. Although suicide is not the intention of self-harm, the relationship between self-harm and suicide is complex, as self-harming behaviour may be potentially life-threatening. There is also an increased risk of suicide in individuals who self-harm to the extent that self-harm is found in 40–60% of suicides. However, generalising self-harmers to be suicidal is, in the majority of cases, inaccurate.

Please Don't

When I cut myself
it was with your stainless knife
I pulled out.

It passed
me by, the caress
signalling the coming pain
and the red red blood.

Flowing down after,
Looking for you, calling out,
I try to say it.

Please, I say, don't.

January 15, 2009 10:28 AM
Edited today, May 17, 2011
First posted June 12, 2009

Monday, May 16, 2011

Reptile Afternoon

The windows of my soul I throw
Wide open to the sun.
~John Greenleaf Whittier, My Psalm

John Greenleaf Whittier (December 17, 1807 – September 7, 1892) was an influential American Quaker poet and ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States. He is usually listed as one of the Fireside Poets. Whittier was strongly influenced by the Scottish poet, Robert Burns.

Reptile Afternoon

I am a little slow
these days like a lizard
lazing in the sun.
You come close to me.
I cock an eye out, stony,
a reptilian
eye on you, ruffed up.
Don't you push me now, not now.
It's my sun, my rock.

December 1, 2009 4:39 PM

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Stripes

"Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could." - Louise Erdrich

Karen Louise Erdrich, known as Louise Erdrich, (born June 7, 1954) is an author of novels, poetry, and children's books featuring Native American heritage. She is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant writers of the second wave of what critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renaissance. In April 2009, her novel The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore in Minneapolis.

My Stripes

So I asked of you
this gift, that you would crop me
like a photograph
that the stripes across
my raw red back turn into
breathless new found art
and for one moment
I am unbound and free of
the price paid for life.

November 29, 2009 11:18 AM

Hold The Mayo, Please

Here's life in the fast food nation as it once was. I have no idea what it is like now. I left all those fast food shops behind except for an occasional deli sandwich. I left them behind a long time ago. This is in part because I am allergic to potatoes and stressed by the french fry grease as well (where they fry other things). Even more importantly I really really really, I mean REALLY HATE something about Mayonnaise. Once it is on something you cannot scrape it off enough for me because just the thought of mayo brings on nausea if I think about actually eating it.

When my mother was alive I had corroboration of this because she learned before I could speak that I hated Mayo. It would go into my mouth and come back out forcefully even when it was not obvious.

I know they are better at special orders in general these days but that change happened way later. I formed my habit of institutional distrust based on relatively constant experience with throwing sandwiches and the like away. I threw them away because I also really hate going back and making a stink about it. They look at you funny, you know, because it is so hard to grasp that someone should actually have trouble with Mayo. I hate that look from fast food clerks.

Oh yes, when I returned to the US from East Pakistan and started my last two years at San Jose State (1969-1971), I funded my education in gas stations and fast food places. In those days in the Cal State University system it was still possible as a California resident to pay your own way from term to term on little better than minimum wage. Um, I did some outlaw income too, but I never made much money that way, just kept my using expenses low.

Hold The Mayo, Please!

Over and again
I say it until I lose
all patience and go
never to return
to that shifty house of cash
and carry on out
in greasy brown bags.
Look inside and see the way
they've done it again
no matter how I said it,
said, hold the mayo.

May 15, 2011 3:22 AM

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Go hear the new Paul Simon recording, So Beautiful or So What, released April 12, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Be Well

Taking the night off. Be well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Wish I Was

Stargazer by Philip Straub

My last two lovers left me when you get to the bottom line because I just wasn't the guy, though there is no question I came close to being the guy in many ways in both relationships. In the first I knew I would fail but I had to try. There was no choice. If I had it to do over again, however many "over agains" there are, there is no doubt what my choice would be. If offered the chance to go back to her from here, however, that would be doubtful.

In the second relationship I felt like I had found an immensely improved version of my former wife. In that way she was marriage material but I would not, could not compromise in the ways that led to our final debacle. There are other ways I will not compromise that are not about relationship but about my character, whatever that may be and whether or not this is a good thing. Weirdly, even while she was overtly pulling away at the end, I was maintaining the faith that we would eventually be together. Now this is not to be, so it seems. I am still clear that I will not compromise in certain ways. It appears certain she also will not. I am not the guy.

Interesting. I had no idea I was coming to this conclusion tonight.

I Wish I Was

If I was really the guy
I would unravel
the tied skeins of you
so you could sweep back
freely in the winds of change
and not try to stop
it all in pockets
you fashion of your knotted
self. I would comb you.

November 29, 2009 11:07 AM

Monday, May 9, 2011

Holy Moment

The angels speak amongst themselves concerning the humans scuttling among the tumbled boulders near the first cascade beyond the cirque...

Or perhaps it is humans who speak among themselves concerning the crickets they keep in bamboo cages...

Holy Moment

They too have touched us
in this matching of their love,
in this last descent.
It is here we meet
with them most surely,
in loving the tiny ones
with their rapid hearts
and small secret thoughts
who leave us so easily
and so soon.

November 28, 2009 7:38 AM

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Where I Find You Revisited

I am not having a good time...enough said. I am doing this one a second time close to the last time. This poem is of course in its fundamental meaning a hymn.

Ulex Europaeus, Ulex Galli, Ulex Minor

"I am the blaze on every hill”

by Fiona Ware 2003

After the bleakness of winter, furze clothes the hillsides and heaths with a welcome blanket of headily scented yellow flowers. It is one of the first flowering plants of the Spring, with most bushes in full bloom by April. With the newly awakened bees busy among the flowers it fills the senses with the promise of honey and other good things to come

Furze, also known as gorse or whin, is a perennial evergreen shrub belonging to the pea family. It forms a much branched, stunted shrub usually no taller than six feet high. The leaves are very small and in older plants they form into long needle-like thorns. It is found in rough pastures, heaths and rocky places, preferring a dry soil. The word furze is derived from the Anglo-Saxon name fyrs, and gorse from the Anglo Saxon gorst, which means ‘a waste’ this being a reference to the open moorlands where it is often found.

The plant’s thorns, and its dense habit, makes furze an excellent hedging plant. It can also be used as a barrier to protect young tree seedlings in coppices and as cover for game birds. Chopped up branches were placed in vegetable beds to keep mice and birds off newly planted crops. Pliny, who first named the plant Ulex, stated that the branches were placed in streams to collect gold dust from the water. When dried and burned, the gold could be collected as tiny nuggets from the ash.

The thorny nature of the plant means that it is often viewed as having protective powers. In Wales it was said to guard against witches.

Looks kind of like what we call Scot's Broom

Where I Find You

In unexpected
pathways through furzy gardens
and forgotten fields
looking at fine points
to find wild secret beauty,
find heart illumined
beyond and between,
in that sweep you hold this world,
formed, perfectly placed.

November 28, 2009 7:08 AM

Saturday, May 7, 2011

For Jozien

I never had children. This has been a conscious choice renewed throughout my life, not accidental or as far as I know, a failure of my biology in any way. By the time I was nineteen my young life had hit a wall of misery so profound that I realized I had no business bringing another soul into the world.

As an older child myself, I loved the younger kids, loved hanging out with them and my ability to swing them around, among all the other things. I love children. Quite often they love me. The conundrum that confronted me, my parents were wise and dedicated, trained teachers who understood child psychology as it was known in their day. They raised me and brought another family member in trouble into our home to raise as my sister. They did absolutely and without question the best they could.

As for myself, I was a childhood asthmatic who suffered from a serious allergic condition, but even there my folks came through, eventually giving me a course of treatment with an outstanding allergy specialist who uncovered when I was twelve the hidden food allergy that was driving all that disease. My recovery in a couple years was nearly complete, except that I stay away from certain foods. By then of course I had been through extended periods of asthma so severe I could not even run a short distance without bringing on an attack. I was an only child until sixth grade when my sister came to us, herself in fourth grade. I had learned to live as an isolate.

As all parents must risk, so my parents took risks with me trying to raise me as a most excellent child with a chance of growing into a decent man. Much of it worked, but some of it didn't. The critical point was, that by nineteen I was desperate, lacking something but not knowing what, unable to even ask, even if there was any way for someone to answer should I be able to voice the question. I felt locked away from my own life stream, that death was coming soon because I could not see a way to survive. That drove me to desperate measures, acting out and generally fouling my own nest so that my outsides matched my insides, that at least I was living consistently and not hypocritically.

What this meant to me, even the best parents cannot control the nose dive their kids might take. I would not ever bring a kid of my own into that risk, not ever let a child of mine hit the misery I was experiencing even though my parents were as good at parenting as any I knew on the planet. I knew I could not control that risk and it was too big. It was real. It was too much.

So even though I delighted in kids, I decided in that moment of despair I would never knowingly bring one into this world. At this end of my life I still feel I made the right choice. It has been my destiny in this life to remain childless.

For Jozien
(whose son, Alexander, is training to be a paramedic)

This most amazing
moment in my day, she's seen
her son hold new life
as dearly as she holds
his own in her memory,
an unbroken chain
of love after life,
life after love that comes from
the heart of her hope.

‎May ‎7, ‎2011 4:27 PM

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sitting For Vincent

Tonight over at Shift Movement a friend who calls herself happiness posted a YouTube of Don MacLean's "Starry, Starry Night", a hymn in remembrance of Vincent Van Gogh. Don sings of Vincent as of a beloved friend. Then I remembered a novel I read not so long ago written as if by Van Gogh’s long term lover (she was in this novel a prostitute). That plus Starry Starry Night put me in the mood. The rest was easy.

Sitting For Vincent
(A poem from Van Gogh’s studio)

Your intensity
terrifies my flaky heart
and strips me.

All cheese
is gone and the loaves
as well but your paint remains
daubed all around me
on the dark canvas
of my yeasty acrid soul
and this changes me.

Written this evening, May 6, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Grasshopper At Peace

My childhood friend, Conal, is highly trained in many fields, among them languages. He is trained in both art and science. He loves Basho, a Japanese Haiku poet, among the most famous. He wrote this morning:

"Here is the preface as translated by Dorothy Britton (and the three lines of verse translated by me, since I didn't care for her attempt):

"Tada Shrine

"At Komatsu, we visited Tada Shrine. There we saw the helmet of the warrior Sanemori [1111-1183] and a piece of his brocade armor robe. They are said to have been given him by Lord Yoshitomo of Minamoto, when Sanemori served with the Genji clan.
It was no ordinary helmet. From its peak to the turned-back ear flanges, it was embellished all over with chrysanthemum arabesques in gold. The crest was a dragon's head, and the helmet had flat, gilded 'horns' that were proud and graceful.
When Sanemori was killed in battle, Kiso Yoshinaka sent Jiroo of Higuchi to offer these relics to the shrine. All this is vividly recorded in the shrine's chronicles.

A cruel fate
For the great warrior's helmet:
Home to a grasshopper"

I replied,

I want to write one now from the grasshopper's perspective.

Maybe like this:

Grasshopper At Peace
(on an abandoned but ornate warrior's helmet)

I have found myself
clinging to a slippery
slope, gilded and warm
in old summer sun,
in the heat of late
afternoon, nothing nearby
to eat, still, at peace.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Reality Sucks

Yesterday my body put me in emergency, the outcome was to diuretic about forty pounds of water off me so my symptoms will recede and also to investigate whether my sleep is disturbed by the basic conditions of apnea. I don't snore, I am almost positive. But my breathing is really shallow, trained by difficult times with chronic allergies and viruses messing with my breathing tubes. So it may be that I have that too. If the machine works for me that may help me live better too. Oddly, I don't think I sleep poorly given my conditions but the doctor gently corrected me and assured me that being unconscious is not necessarily sleep. That's when I pointed out that I am up every couple hours no matter what because of the way my body has aged. So I am not sure how this all works out.

Then today my healing former molar that is now a hole in my lower jaw popped a gasket and started bleeding heavily. That started two and a half hours before I could get in to the dentist. No biting on gauze stopped it. When the dentist uncovered it he said he had never seen the like in all his practice. Swell. We agreed to not open it up and return the site to brand new again but to attempt a plug. I at least am not in too much pain but just yesterday I had this surgery checked to be sure it was okay. It was doing fine then. It was doing fine this morning. It did fine when I chewed some gum, carefully, to keep my mouth from drying out this morning. It did fine at lunch when I ate my normal lunch. It has done fine for nearly a week. It did fine til three o'clock, then some tissue popped out of the center of the socket and a fountain apopeared there. So far the plug we have attempted is holding, just about three hours.

Why me?? Reality sucks. Bummer. Oh yeah...why not me?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Abandoned Lighthouse - Reprise

There was a photograph. It told me a story. I tell it to you.

The Abandoned Lighthouse

The end of all things
Consists of one long shallow
Stair to a closed door
In the abandoned lighthouse
On the rocky crag above
A frozen dead sea,
The wind at my back as I
Stare resigned to fate.

Written November 18, 2008 9:56 AM
First posted Friday, February 13, 2009

Monday, May 2, 2011

Decapitation - Reprise

Irene, Greek Goddess of Peace, with Baby Plutus, God of Wealth

Irene, Greek Goddess of Peace, with Baby Plutus, God of Wealth, Sculpture, Image

Irene was the goddess of peace (eirênê) and of the season of spring (eiar, eiarinos). Late spring was the usual campaign season in Greece when peace was most at risk. Eirene was one of three Horai, goddesses of the seasons and the keepers of the gates of heaven. Her sisters were Eunomia (Order or Good-Pasture) and Dike (Justice).

She was probably identified with the Hora Thallo (Green Shoots), whose name Hesiod gives to Eirene as an epithet in the Theogony. Her opposite number was Polemos (War). In classical art she usually appears in the company of her two sister Horai bearing the fruits of the seasons. Statues of the goddess represent her as a maiden holding the infant Ploutos (Wealth) in her arms. In this guise she was identified with Demeter and Tykhe.

I was just asked to clarify myself in matters of crime, punishment, justice. This is so very difficult. Mostly I stay with mercy and love, with forgiveness. My experience is that justice is seldom achieved on the planet, at least not as meted out by men. Not on fields of honor, not in the courts, certainly not on the battlefield.

I saw an internet video of a snake head, bodiless, a viper, who was still trying to defend itself as it died not so quickly. It broke something inside me.


If I was a snake
With just my head left because
Evil took the rest,

I would snap and snap, fading,
Hating, calling on my God.

I would possibly
Ask for vengeance, possibly
For peace, forgiveness.

Written October 1, 2008
First Posted December 10, 2008

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Where I Find You

"We could say that meditation doesn't have a reason or doesn't have a purpose. In this respect it's unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment." - Alan Watts

Where I Find You

In unexpected
pathways through furzy gardens
and forgotten fields
looking at fine points
to find wild secret beauty,
find heart illumined
beyond and between,
in that sweep you hold this world,
formed, perfectly placed.

November 28, 2009 7:08 AM

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