Stories and poems

"The metaphoric image of 'orphan lines' is a contrivance of the detached onlooker to whom the verbal art of continuous correspondences remains aesthetically alien. Orphan lines in poetry of pervasive parallels are a contradiction in terms, since whatever the status of a line, all its structure and functions are indissolubly interlaced with the near and distant verbal environment, and the task of linguistic analysis is to disclose the levels of this coaction. When seen from the inside of the parallelistic system, the supposed orphanhood, like any other componential status, turns into a network of multifarious compelling affinities.'
Roman JAKOBSON, "Grammatical Parallelism and its Russian Facet", Language, 42/2, 1966, pp. 399-429, p. 428-429

Sunday, November 26, 2017

How Daphne Became a Tree


How Daphne Became a Tree

Running from the god of sun:
It must have been like
this grey light
of early spring,
a changing time
before the flow’s begun,
bitter ends that start, 
the tips of buds on branches,
but, batter back
my leafy bower
and savor February, March,
unsure,
not yet,
until the rain
to wash,
transforms again,
becomes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Gold Can Stay


The Connecticut River in fall from the train
I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing and it’s connection to place, and about writing in general and how it often springs from our experience of a place, how the land fuels writing in a mysterious way. Does the poet give voice to the land, a kind of land ventriloquist? Certainly the poet often speaks for the land, channels spirit of land, learns to hear the songs the seep up from the earth like water in a boggy place. I put my foot down and the words come up around and in between my toes. On the land, the words come. I’ve been writing from the land.

A year ago I returned to live on the land I’ve known the longest and most deeply on this my current trip to Earth. I wasn’t born there but I’ve returned consistently for different periods of time since I was born and I feel attached to it in a way I imagine people must feel who have stayed on the piece of land on which they were born. I know the rocks and the trees; I know the lay of the land. I recognize the curve in the road. It’s like the face of a friend. It’s in Northern Vermont, and since I’ve been here I’ve been thinking of the writers who write and wrote in this state. It’s a good place to write. Robert Frost’s poems touch me deeply when I am here; reading him here makes me feel the meaning of his poems more keenly. This fall a poem of his kept running through my mind as I admired the leaves turning: Nothing Gold Can Stay. It’s a poem he wrote for spring, which I’ve always loved because it comes so very close to describing that first green I love so much that comes before the leaves have opened, just after the red buds of the maple trees have begun to blush. Riding a train down the Connecticut River this fall I read it again.

Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

It’s a fine poem because the lines are short and the rhythm and rhyme are regular; it reads like an incantation. It speaks to the concise innocence of spring, and it also calls on the melancholy feeling one has when one remembers the brevity of sweetness, how blossoms and kisses are fleeting and don’t last and how one would like to hang on to them. Both the meaning of words and the form of the poem speak all this to me, which I think makes it strong. I think the land spoke this poem to him. Pondering the fall, I responded with this. I tried to follow his form as I could and also contrast his brevity with the permanence I feel sometimes on the land when I feel its cycles. I wanted to say, The Gold, It Stays:

The peak is past and yet the gold,
Intemporal sap at the heart of things,
A promise in scarlet of cold to come,
Reminds me of what stays.
This season of dying calls the green again,
This ending beginning of diamond days
reflecting casts and beams of light,
the gold, it stays.

Here I’m not sure if I’m writing from the land. I’m editing it at a distance from the train ride inspiration of my scribbles and channeled poetic intuition. I’ve made my lines fit his, more or less, but missed the conciseness that is so lovely in his. I’m writing in another place and time. I’m responding to the poet, who was a man. I often think of how I’m always conscious of writing and reading as a woman. It doesn’t go away. Also here, we have the reminder of Eden, and so of Eve and her fall, and I want to push all that away. The leaves to me do not recall this fall from grace. And I see I've put a “me” into the poem, which he didn’t. Sometimes I just want to say and do the opposite of all the men offered to me as models, like a child who wants to protest all this dominion. I want a way to say what I want in my own way. But often I still say to myself, Nothing gold can stay. Maybe I wanted to show how one statement often holds its opposite, which is the irony of the poem as well. His poem stays with me, despite the impermanence it describes, like its engraved on my heart. The gold is too, the gold permanence of my forest home. And I like that, that Nature’s last green is gold too. The trees told me that.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

To Be A Flower

Have you ever been a flower?

Do you know what it is like
to stand, to root, to grow,
to shoot up filled with light?
To bend slowly and smoothly.

My bones have dissolved back
into the earth, as calcite.
I am golden and round at the top.
My heart is pulsing and green.
Where my leaves run, my blood is white.

Have you ever been a flower?
The flower asked me and gave me this gift
of sight, no, to feel, no, to be a flower.
Here, he said, be like me, and I will
show you how your body too can
be with every root, in every tree.
From seed to growth and back to seed
but rapidly, to be sown on every continent,
endlessly, to be unique, complete,
yet various and varied,
rooted and movable,
tall yet going down
so deep, to the gold beneath the earth
resplendent in me. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Poem for Peepers

Virginia Herpetological Society
A Chorus of Frogs

Peepers, make the sound of the
universe, small and round
not big and black,
light, inside the night.
Peepers, their voices
outlast their echo, calls,
resounds. Peepers
make that small sound
in the cold April dark
by a pond, the reeds
just reaching, the lillies
still asleep, the daffodils
would open inside.
Peepers, make that sound
of the universe, the cosmos
in an acre of land.
Peepers, a friend to space,
at midnight, in the dark,
you make my heart
open wide like the universe.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Story for Spring


The Ice Princess and the Sun God

Once upon a time, in a dark forest, there lived an Ice Princess. She had lived alone there for so long that she didn’t remember who she was or where she had come from. All she knew was that she loved the trees and the darkness and the shadows and that they kept her alive. She loved the snow on the moss, the stones in the hard dirt, the crunch of dead leaves and the branches that creaked and fell to the ground. She couldn’t remember spring. It had been dark and cold for a long time. She had forgotten about the cycles.
             One morning she woke up in her stone castle and wanted to go out for a walk in the gloom and admire the imprints of her boots in the snow alongside the tracks of the creatures that lived with her in the cold forest, but when she opened the door, she almost cried out in surprise. Everything was sparkling! The icicles on the trees looked like silver shafts and the snow crystals were glinting and dancing in some strange new light – the Sun! She saw a beautiful golden man coming towards ther through the trees, bringing the light as he came, making the ice start to drip and the plants look alive again. She was amazed. The man was tall with golden hair and green eyes, all dressed in green with a thick, brown wool cloak wrapped around his shoulders.
As he approached, she thought he was coming towards her to greet her, and she wanted to invite him in, ask him to take off his cloak, and get to know him. But when he drew close to the castle he turned abruptly away and started walking around the building as if he hadn’t seen her. She ran after him, confused. It had been so long since she had found someone to talk to and she worried that her voice might have frozen as well. As she was running after him, she realized that just as he couldn’t see her, he couldn’t hear her either. She reached out to touch him, but as she did so she felt her body start to melt as well, as though to touch him was to die. She wasn’t ready yet so she let him go.
After that, every day for a month, the Sun God returned and every morning the Ice Princess watched him from the doorway of her castle, making his careful way through the trees and branches, slowly bringing light to everything and making the Earth green again. Every night the Ice Princess went back to her icy bed and dreamt of being able to be a part of spring, but she was scared of what she had felt when she touched him, and of the change it presaged.
One morning, as she watched, the Ice Princess noticed that the Sun God was not alone. He was with a beautiful brown skinned girl who held his hand and laughed and kissed him as they walked. She lay down on the warming ground and he joined her, bringing new life to the Earth where they lay. As she watched, she silently screamed, for she recognized her intense longing for him and yet she knew that they would never lie like that together because she was not made of the Earth. His warmth would be too much for her and she would disappear. Yet afterwards, as she watched them leave, she suddently felt ready. She prepared herself, knowing that the next time, if he came alone, she would reach out to him, at the risk of her own unknown transformation. Even though she knew she would melt, she would at least get to partake a little of his light.
The next day he came alone. He knew it would be the last time that he would have to take care of this portion of forest for the snow was almost gone. Only a few patches remained in the shadow of the rocks. The birds were singing and the trees were humming with the birth of new leaves unfurling. As she saw him make his rounds of the forest, going in and out of the trees, she felt ready. She saw him come and ran to him, throwing her slender white arms around him. As she did, she began to stream down and around his body, creating little rivulets and forming a small stream at his feet. The God felt blessed by this sudden, sweet shower and he blessed in turn the river as he passed, watching it run over stones, twist and turn as it found its path, gurgling through the forest.
It was then that the spirit of the Ice Princess understood and was glad to have embraced her change, for though she missed the cold solidity of her body, she loved the flowing feeling of being a part of everything and of bringing another necessary element to the life around her. In her own way, she also brought nourishment to the forest, and like the Sun God, she was integral to spring. She infused the land with creativity and growth. The Earth held her as the Sun sparkled on her burbling and babbling, shining through the branches of the trees and the leaves. She remembered the cycles and knew that the time would come when she would once again find her icy home.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Turning in

Solstice and the beginning of the roman calendar year is a dark time meant for turning inwards. We all enjoy this to differing extents. This year I've been able to do it at home, near the fire, in the forest, on a dirt road, in a closed room, in silence, with support and regular warm meals. It hasn't always been so and my winter grieving this year has been more bearable than most.

I didn't post anything at all in 2016. I think the whole year was, in some ways, a turning inwards, but also a turning outwards in ways that didn't involve thinking about lines of words to present to a public. I was seeing and experiencing things more urgently and directly. I don't think I was alone in this. 

I do want to share more writing this year. I have lots to say that I learned from the trees, they need more human language users these days to speak for them, and I need to practice this form of expression, which sometimes feels so strange and difficult. It's crucial for our survival that we realize how connected we are to the land we live on, to other creatures, and to each other. I think our words, though often divisive, can help with this. 

Everything is happening inside, which is also what is happening outside. I'm becoming more and more familiar with my cycles which are also the outer cycles I am a part of. We've put new names on things, but at this time there is still a baby born to a goddess which is a new light bearing gifts. There are still many languages to learn that aren't our own, and that place that is always mysterious, that we can always turn to for contemplation and for ressources, to re-source (se ressourcer the French say). It's infinite inspiration. 

Dark Moon

This is my dark moon, and yours too, a chance 
to learn all you ever wanted
from the mountains of your heart
and the ridges of your soul.

You can be dark too,
and Time doesn’t know
the straight path down to your toes.

It picks its way among the bones,
whitewashed in moonlight
from the month before.

A month which dried them out
as, staring at the sky,
desert eyes and bright,
they shattered in their last attempt
to fix the progress of the mind.

Stay in this new place with me,
this sacred space, made of stardust,
and wait for the dawn
that will come on the wings
of locusts.

Sit and stir your pot for now
as we wait for the sun
that doesn’t come.

We recognize our devotion
to the present path,
our faith, even when
no light has ever shone
on these dark shores.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Finishing the document

So about a month and a half ago I turned in my dissertation.

I realized today that, as I have been writing that book for so long, another one was being written, in the shadows, so to speak, and that I also have ten years of poems, at least, written on paper bags, the backs of envelopes, the bits and scraps of other projects, in journals, each one unfinished. There are in fact so many that I could beat my record and certainly post more than just a few year on here while I think of what to do with them.

And now I have the head space to do so.

And the Moon is in Leo, which makes one, usually so private, with my Black Moon Lilith in the eighth house, audacious, wanting to put oneself out there, here we go. For, in spite of the lover who thought himself clever to call me so, I am no Emily Dickinson. I will not keep all these poems in drawers. Every few days or so, I will pick one out of the piles on my desk, and if I like it I will post it and I will throw away the ones I don't. And who cares if there isn't any reason anymore to write poetry and if I'm all out of sync with the times.

They were meant to be read by someone, by you, though I didn't always think so, though it isn't always true.

This one I wrote during the last few weeks of writing. It's called 

Finishing the document 

My small heart a rabbit
I leap and thump
I don't know why
a basket that didn't burn
a relic untouched
a body that rose from the dead
a dream she lost an eye
they retreated to their rooms.

I've loved before now,
I have, what hurt
to let go of, to
love again, what prayer,
what bell,
I rang the one
in my heart
it was in tune with yours.

What's inside
so strong one moment
so fleeting then. 

I think, perhaps, it captures some of the frenzy of that last month of writing, of what I was reading and feeling, of what it's like to finish a long project.