The Watering Hole; Thursday May 29 2014; Springtime, Feathers, and Hope

Busy week, this one. No more snow; gentle rains; sunshine; green leaves and grass; Springtime in the Rockies, I think some have called it. Life returns, renewed; the world is vibrant once again! So, why mess with politics when ‘out there’ things are actually ALIVE!

I did it. Hoping for a sojourn in a different and more pleasant world, I took a break. Took a camera too, along with a slow early morning walk around the local lake. In the process I enjoyed numerous engaging interacts with feathered friends, i.e. dozens of Canadian Goose moms and pops, most with their still-fuzzy youngsters in tow.  Fascinating to watch how their real world works, and then to realize that even an hour or so of mingling within it can serve to change one’s outlook, to remove that veil of drudgery and offer hints that there still is room to Hope for better times out here in our world.

I have to wonder, now, looking back, if maybe Emily Dickinson might have described the bulk of what one finds ‘out there’ in that ‘other’ world when she posited that —

“Hope” is the thing with feathers —
That perches in the soul —
And sings the tune without the words —
And never stops — at all —

And sweetest — in the Gale — is heard —
And sore must be the storm —
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm —

I’ve heard it in the chillest land —
And on the strangest Sea —
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb — of Me.

Feathered critters a metaphor for hope? You betcha! Illustrations below!

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“Hope” IS the thing with feathers –
Indeed!

Meanwhile, in the REAL world, there’s been nothing in the news aside from the usual and typical doom and gloom that’s come to pretty much define “civilization” in this country and around the globe, including but sadly not limited to ever-ongoing war and threats (to randomly name just a few) of ever more war; climate change-inspired droughts, wildfires, floods, and killer storms; mass kidnapping of young girls in Nigeria; mass murder of college kids in California; Erick Erickson’s thesis that the war on women is bogus, that the REAL war is the war on masculinity (his, apparently) . . . oh, and lest we forget, there’s that Colorado dinosaur that drowned in Noah’s flood, bones soon to be on display in Kentucky’s currently-under-construction Noah’s Ark Creationist Park, or whatever the hell they call it.

Better the company of that thing with feathers — That perches in the soul — And sings the tune without the words. Interesting how the composite beauties of life in the natural world can still manage to overcome the dismal realities of human failure, can still manage to inspire Hope. I know. I’m a regular visitor ‘out there’ and can testify with authority that in spite of it’s lavish gifts, it has never, in Extremity . . . asked a crumb — of Me.

*honk honk honk*

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The Watering Hole; Friday April 18 2014; “Come Slowly – Eden”

The following 32-word-plus-3-photograph essay is courtesy of, resp., Emily Dickinson (circa 1861) and Denny Green (2014). Some things apparently remain the same even after 153 years. Poetry in words, poetry in pictures, together at last.

**********

Come slowly — Eden!
Lips unused to Thee —

Bee-1 DG 2014Bashful — sip thy Jessamines —
As the fainting Bee —

Bee-2 DG 2014

Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums —

Bee-3a DG 2014Counts his nectars —
Enters — and is lost in Balms.

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[photographs © Denny Green, Tempe AZ; 2014]

The Watering Hole; Thursday March 20 2014; Reflections

It’s been a busy week here in the foothills of the Front Range. More on that later. Meanwhile, some ‘reflections’ courtesy of Denny Green, Tempe AZ, taken at the Gilbert Water Ranch last Sunday. I dunno. Sometimes the message(s) implicit in the beauty of the natural world can be a bit humbling to “superior” beings everywhere (not one of which I’ve ever met, but then I’ve never been in Washington, never been on Fox News, etc., so that’s surely why, right?).

Humbling. Reflections. Enjoy.

3-16-14-1

3-16-14-2

3-16-14-3Emily Dickinson said it best: Beauty — be not caused — It Is. She was right. It’s surely fair to point out that depiction of beauty most certainly does NOT require the personage (or portrait) of any known politician, or billionaire oligarch, or even of most any common criminal (assuming there’s ever a difference between, etc.). Funny how that works, how those who are totally unimportant and useless (e..g. Koch Bros., Putin, Boehner, McConnell, McCain, Graham, Palin, Bachmann, Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Jindal, and most anyone named ‘Scott’ et al. et al.) are demonstrably paled by even just-last-Sunday’s soliloquies of/by waterfowl enjoying winter’s warmth courtesy of an anonymous desert watering hole. Beauty implicit invariably manages to overwhelm even human ugliness, and with luck the message therein embedded will someday become a driving thesis . . . here . . . in this so-far hallowed hollowed world, the world of . . . ummm . . . “men” I think some have called us . . . them?  . . . errmm . . . ? Yeah. That world. Our world. The world of, as T.S. Eliot described us, The Hollow Men . . .

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

‘Nuff said. At least for now.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday February 27 2014; The ‘Eyes’ Have it

The political world sucks. We all know that.

There is, however, another world “out there”, and it’s different. It’s not ugly. It’s beautiful. And the critters are not to be feared. The emergent gun and fear-based “Stand Your Ground” idiocy is, ‘out there’, as worthless a concept as it is anywhere else, even in Florida. Fear? Nah. Fear is mostly a political thingee, a product of intellectual darkness. But yet, and even in spite of current human faux-reality, there still remains that other option . . . ‘out there’ . . . where, when the ‘eyes’ have it . . . well, the beat goes on and on and on.

Here’s the proof, thanks to my old friend of fifty-plus years, naturalist/photographer par excellence Denny Green, and his most recent photos of waterfowl — each one of which apparently finds the Gilbert (AZ) Water Ranch to be its home.

Note that amongst the eyes (‘ayes’??) there is not one . . . single . . . “nay” — ergo message apparent: subtract humans, subtract politics, subtract ugly . . . and ‘see’ then that ‘out there’ everything is, in a word, Beauty — which is, to each bird (and to the occasional poet), aka Truth.

Eyes-1

Eyes-2

Eyes-3

Eyes-4Emily Dickinson summed it all up some 150 years ago when she wrote,

The Bird her punctual music brings
And lays it in its place —
Its place is in the Human Heart
And in the Heavenly Grace —
What respite from her thrilling toil
Did Beauty ever take —

And then came politics.

*Spit*

Ugly defined. But still and in spite, ‘out there’ remains unencumbered. Mostly. The Beauty of ‘out there’ — it’s everywhere, but especially it is . . .

Out There.

In. The. Eyes.

See above.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday January 30 2014; Oswiecim

Lest we forget:

OSWIECIM
In memory of the millions.

in oswiecim
there is a silence
ominous
ponderous
it is a weeping silence
which whispers
only to those who dare listen

the silence is pervasive
to all who visit
save for those who yet can hear
the pounding
of long-stilled hearts
and understand it is not the wind
that speaks to them in muted voice

overhead above the rails
a steel banner shouts
arbeit macht frei
it welcomed all
but never heard the cries
and knows not the sadness of
its message nor the reason for
the silence now

the tracks are silent
rusted rails
there are no more trains
no shuffling burden
no bustle on the platform
no snap of heel
no snarling dog
no click of breech

the buildings are silent
and empty
one can hear within them
but a single sound
a haunting sound
for as the wind
seeps through clapboard cracks
it recalls with grievous moan
vile tales of darkest times

beyond the watchtowers
the fields are silent
save for the wind
in summer the grass grows
bent by the breeze
it thrives
and knows no boot print
nor drifting dust of ash

the bricks are silent
as they play the role of sheltering walls
showers
chimneys
crematoria
have become markers
in a graveyard
a cemetery with no footstones
yet home to untold millions
where any spade of earth
exhumes the ash of bones
and remnants
of a god
who chose to look the other way
in silence

in oswiecim
the silence is deafening
but fleeting
for here the dead

SCREAM!

and beg the living not forget
nor e’er forgive the human horror
now implicit in a place
and in a name

oswiecim

 – Auschwitz –

(From Emeralds and Ashes)

*****

Sixty-nine years ago, in the last week of January 1945, Russian armies stormed across southern Poland. The occupying Nazis, aware of the approaching Russians, had already retreated with all due haste back to Germany. Thus, when the Russians arrived at the Polish town of Oswiecim (January 27 1945), the adjacent Nazi death camps Auschwitz-Birkenau were completely unguarded. The remaining prisoners — some 6900 — were freed, their lives spared.  No definitive records have ever been located, so a precise final tally of the total number of deaths at Auschwitz-Birkenau is impossible, although the estimate of 1.5 million is considered to be a fairly accurate number.

And the smoke will drift over these green hills
Our culture makes us barbarians
It does not allow us to live humanely
We must create a new culture
Or cease to be human
(by Edward Bond in Holocaust Poetry)

Arbeit Macht FreiOPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Friday, January 24, 2014; The Poetry of Earth (part II)

“The poetry of earth is never dead.”
(John Keats, 1817)

A long time ago, the English poet William Wordsworth  wrote, in “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,” a most able synopsis of the ideal relationship between mankind and the balance of earthly life:

 To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
 The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.  And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man
A motion and a spirit that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.  Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear, — both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my hearth, and soul
Of all my moral being.

One has to wonder, sometimes, what has happened in this, our ‘modern’ era, to Wordsworth’s “joy Of elevated thoughts”? A glance around at each day’s news headlinesat politics both at home and globally, at scientific data and the discussions based thereupon — offers little reassurance that “The anchor . . . of all . . . moral being” still has any root at all “In nature” much less in “the language of the sense.” Today about all that seems to count, at least for our species, is acquisition of money and power.

I’m not at all certain as to just how many different and distinct species inhabit this little backwater planet we call earth, but I’m guessing ‘tens of millions’ would at least reach ballpark status. And in a sensibly run situation, each and all species would most likely remain viable for a good long time, susceptible far more to global changes brought about by astronomical events than to any sort of localized ‘eat or be eaten’ thesis. In fact, one of the more significant mass extinctions happened some 65 million years ago when a sizable asteroid smashed into the earth, tossed all sorts of dust, smoke, and other debris into the atmosphere, modified the climate, and slammed the door on the dinosaurs, among numerous other life forms, in result. Extinction by natural phenomena is nothing new.

Then came humans. Homo sapiens, as we’ve named ourselves. Not sure just when it was that we popped up. Six thousand years ago, if you believe the believers; maybe a million years ago, give or take a hundred thousand or two, if you believe science. Not that it really matters all that much, given that it’s looking pretty certain that we as a species are well past the halfway mark of our existence, given how diligently we work with all our clever tools to modify the global climate sufficiently to force another mass extinction. Lucky for us there’s all that fossilized carbon left beneath the surface by all the life forms that disappeared in the last mass extinction; it appears, in fact, to be more than enough to ‘fuel’ (sotospeak) the next one.

Oh well, what the hey, I’m too old to worry about it all that much; my fate will likely already be a historical footnote by the time the mass die-off commences. Still, there are the young folks, and, well you know, the millions of other species, many of which will be at risk simply because of the idiocy implicit in our one species.

What went wrong?

I checked with poet Walt Whitman; he offered this little bit of wisdom back in 1855 as part of the preface to his masterwork, Leaves of Grass. He speaks my mind, and he somehow managed to do it some 87 years before I even showed up!

Animals

I think I could turn and live with animals,
they are so placid and self-contained

I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied,
 not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another,
nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth

Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men – go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers or families – re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.

Sounds like some of the best advice anyone could ever offer to not only you and me, but also to the entire of our species (even including such sapiens marginals as, say, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, et al. et al. . . . the list is endless). And seriously, just how is it that life-on-earth’s most “intelligent” species is the species engaged in a process previously left solely to galactic processes? What went wrong?

I tried to answer that question a decade or so ago. I used a total of 140 syllables in my so called Paradox of Humakind: Superior Inferiority effort and while I’m not at all sure I overturned every stone in the process, what the heck, right?

Brash vanity ordains that Mankind be
Superior to all other life on Earth,
And curious source of this Mythology
Derives from Bible’s unintended mirth.
Thus bold is he who advocates the case
Of Genesis errant, where metaphor,
As whimsical devise, cannot replace
Realities which each confirm the Core
Of Life: that every living form appeals
To Duty greater than itself alone.
A single moment’s intellect reveals
One Truth, as if inscribed in tempered stone:
Each bird and beast, each flowered weed, each tree
Expounds on Man’s Inferiority!

So today, thanks to human consumption of fossil fuels and with climate change well underway courtesy of atmospheric CO2 levels approaching historic levels — with the Arctic ice cap rapidly melting and thereby allowing the release of the even more climate-altering (permafrost-embedded) methane, and with efforts on the part of science and thinking people to do whatever is necessary to halt and reverse the process dismissed as some sort of collaborative tom-foolery by industrial and political power centers — we have managed to contrive a potential mass extinction episode with the potential equivalence of the asteroid collision some 65 million years ago.  Bring on the Keystone XL Pipeline! More War! Invade Syria! Nuke Iran! Yeah! Benghazi Benghazi!!

So. Where is the sapiens these days, the intellect, the intelligence? What of “The anchor . . . of all . . . moral being”? Wordsworth drew that concept as he apparently pondered the messages he gained from his juxtaposition between the natural world and the world of Tintern Abbey in Wales, an ancient church founded in 1131 by Cistercian Monks who adhered to the Benedictine philosophy that insisted upon a moderate path between individual and institutionalized theses. Tintern Abbey stands in ruins today, as it has for several centuries. One cannot help but wonder if the words “in ruins” are not also applicable these days to most ‘Western’ religious practice, given that today’s major and most murderous conflicts are, after all, between the three major “God” -based belief systems of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And so the question persists: wherein and in whose hands lies the fate of the human species, indeed of the planet itself?

Brings to mind yet one more piece of compelling poetry, this one written by Philip Appleman sometime in the latter half of the twentieth century. It’s titled Last-Minute Message for a Time Capsule, and its message carries an all too familiar ring of truth.

I have to tell you this, whoever you are
that on one summer morning here, the ocean
pounded in on tumbledown breakers,
a south wind, bustling along the shore,
whipped the froth into little rainbows,
and a reckless gull swept down the beach
as if to fly were everything it needed.
I thought of your hovering saucers,
looking for clues, and I wanted to write this down,
so it wouldn’t be lost forever –
that once upon a time we had
meadows here, and astonishing things,
swans and frogs and luna moths
and blue skies that could stagger your heart.
We could have had them still,
and welcomed you to earth, but
we also had the righteous ones
who worshipped the True Faith, and Holy War.
When you go home to your shining galaxy,
say that what you learned
from this dead and barren place is
to beware the righteous ones.

Are we genuinely the ‘masters’ of our own fate? Of the fate of the planet’s biosphere? Based on current information, we may well prove to NOT be that much better an option than another collision with a giant asteroid! Here’s a better idea: re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem . . .Thanks Walt. If we can get THAT done it will be further evidence that Keats might have been correct after all when he wrote, “The poetry of earth is never dead.”


OPEN THREAD

Sunday Roast: Remember How We Forgot

Shane Koyczan.  If you’ve never heard of him, you need to find him on the interwebs ASAP.

…Once upon a time, we were young.
Our dreams hung like apples
Waiting to be picked and peeled
And hope was something that needed to be reeled-in
So we can fill the always empty big fish bin with the one that got away
And proudly say that “this time, impossible is not an option”
Because success is so akin to effort and opportunity that it could be related
So we took chances
We figureskated on thin ice
Belief that each slice of live was served with something sweet on the side
And failure was never nearly as important as the fact that we tried
That in the war against frailty and limitation
We supplied the determination it takes to make ideas and goals the parents of possibility
And we believe ourselves to be members of this family
Not just one branch on one tree
But a forest whose roots make up a dynasty
So when I call you sis or bro
It’s not lightly
And when I ask you to remember
It’s because the future isn’t what it used to be…

 

This is our daily open thread — We were here.

 

The Watering Hole; Friday January 17 2014; “Take All Away From Me, But Leave Me Ecstasy”

A long time ago (‘and in a galaxy far far away’?), the American poet Emily Dickinson wrote:

His Cheek is his Biographer —
As long as he can blush
Perdition is Opprobrium —
Past that, he sins in peace —

Not sure just how she managed, but she did — in just three words — describe perfectly the essentially shriveled soul that has in recent years emerged as the defining feature of the Republican Party, an infirmity invariably pressed ever ‘forward’ by the GOP’s crackpot Tea Party fringe. The premise has at its heart a single goal: to mandate whatever is necessary to guarantee that the rich and the powerful have at their disposal the means to become ever more wealthy, ever more powerful, and that in order to make certain the devastation of everyone else is permanent and irreversible, they are prepared to let nothing stand in the way of their obscene goal. In poetic language, the words “Perdition is Opprobrium” (Spiritual Ruin is the consequence of Outrageously Shameful Conduct) perfectly define that which has become our national malaise.

Such a thesis is certainly not new nor fresh; more likely it’s about as old as is the human presence upon the earth. Still, one can only wonder at what price comes social progress? More than eighty years ago, newly-elected president Franklin Roosevelt inherited a devastated economy, one that had fallen into the dregs of a Great Depression that was brought forth mainly by greed, by the quest for wealth, by the craving for social prominence of a relatively minuscule segment of American society. Roosevelt grappled with massive unemployment, homelessness, poverty, starvation — all the things the American Founders dreamed of alleviating once and for all — and by his actions he brought the nation back from the brink of third world status. And in Roosevelt’s shadow the progress toward social equality and justice continued for another several decades, until . . . until from the ‘bowels’ of perdition and opprobrium the witless conservative ‘movement’ finally gained a foothold. Enter Ronald Reagan and the gradual evolution (read: descent) to the dismal poverty which today has come to define us as a nation . . . poverty implicitly extended and expanded by Republican efforts to defund and/or eliminate programs such as Head Start, Food Stamps, long term Unemployment insurance, disability, even Veteran’s benefits — along with each and every other program designed specifically to help people, to maintain social balance, even to educate the next generations.

Poverty is commonly defined as “the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor. Synonyms: privation, neediness, destitution, indigence, pauperism, penury.” But in today’s America, that rather ‘penurious’ definition leaves out a sizeable increment of the poverty-stricken, i.e. those for whom wealth and power mean everything, where the suffering of others is not even worth noting. In fact, the intellectual poverty of the monied and powerful is every bit as disabling to the national well-being as are the mirror-imaged homeless, starving, moneyless, sickly and dying masses.

So, therein lies the reality. Poverty does NOT refer simply to those who have “little or no money, goods, or means of support.” There is, too, that potentially far more dangerous and destructive intellectual poverty that clearly infects the vast majority of the nation’s upper crust, its rich and powerful, together with . . . sadly . . . a major chunk of its governing politic.

Curiously, however, we are (quite obviously) a long way from being the first Americans to ever have seen or experienced such ungracious invective as one today regularly witnesses emanating from the mouths and pens of our elected officials. And as the following will magically demonstrate, I’m far from the first to prefer MY level of ‘defined’ poverty to THEIR level of ‘intellectual’ poverty, aka the poverty of slothful soul. Many thanks once again to Miss Emily Dickinson who penned this little masterpiece of insight and understanding more than 150 years ago. It took her only five lines and 39 words to sum up the entire of today’s intellectual poverty — the poverty of soul that quite literally has come to DEFINE a major national politic AND the poverty-stricken rich and powerful who are served by that very same politic. That. Poverty. Of. Soul.

Take all away from me, but leave me Ecstasy,
And I am richer then than all my Fellow Men —
Ill it becometh me to dwell so wealthily
When at my very Door are those possessing more,
In abject poverty –

One can only wonder just how a reclusive poet in the 1860’s managed to so eloquently describe the “abject poverty” implicit in and defining of such early 21st century luminaries as, say, the Koch Brothers, Dick Cheney, Chris Christie, John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Darrell Issa, . . . well, you know, the list is absolutely endless!

Pardon me as I pause to bow in the general direction of the obvious and perceptive genius, the coolest of the cool; the one known to us as Miss. Emily. Dickinson! 😎

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday December 26 2013; Of Flowers, Mists, and Words

Been a busy week, so rather than attempt to reach into today’s nonsensical reality, I instead retrieved a couple of “images” I came up with a decade or three ago. I’ve long been intrigued with the concept of “image,” both the graphic type and the ‘other’ one that the mind’s eye pulls from the ether that can be created by words only. Always thought it was interesting to attempt to match the two rather disparate entities; it’s not easy, but fun to try. Since I can’t paint or draw, my only real graphic image-generating choice is a camera. Words? Lots of options, but to me the Shakespearean sonnet with its fourteen lines, ten syllables per line, and a somewhat tricky (a-b-a-b-c-d-c-d-e-f-e-f-g-g) rhyming pattern offers the most compelling challenge.

Anyway, following are a pair of photographs with “matching” sonnets. Not sure whether one can ‘say’ more with a simple photograph, or with a mere 140 syllables, or whether each is better in combination, or standing alone, etc. I suppose the real challenge is the mental effort required to go in either direction — a far cry from politics no matter the choice, given the FACT that in today’s politics “mental effort” is either a non-sequitur or an oxymoron — or both, maybe? 🙂

Of Flower and Mist

Ginger-aa

Drowned within the shroud of eternal sky
Essence lives, dressed in softest shimmering white.
Beauty is the flow’r which, in garden, lies
Beside the rippling stream where mists are light.
Infinity collects in droplets. Dew,
Ensconced in winsome grasp breathes soft fragrance
And sweet scent of life to all who dare view
Nature’s gift of  love, in her wind-kissed dance.
Defilers are not welcome, for Beauty
Pursues naught but Truth and Love – her message:
Enter not unless you share this with me!
Render unto me your heart-sought passage;
Receive me as the soul of life and Love,
Yet gentle be – approach with velvet glove.

****

Manzanita

Manzanita floral clusterIn Springtime, Manzanita calms one’s sense
With flaunt of color, shape, and form’s repose –
Conveyed with vivid flash of sentience
To all who see that every breeze which blows
Instructs each dancing bloom: “Communicate
Life’s earnest quests, its ever-wondrous goals.”
Ethereal concepts, thus revealed, create –
Upon each flow’r – reflections of our Souls.
And Muses too, embedded there within
Each tiny bit of beauty, dare imbue,
Along with Truth and Love, now e’er again
Delights which shift one’s thoughts to sense anew –
Each bloom a briefest poem which lends, to me,
Divined sweet light – and images of thee.

****

That does it for today, the day after Christmas number 71 (for me, at least). I can only add that the best part about today is that as of midnight tonight, we’re only one day short of one full year before the next one! I shall use each and all of those 364 days to relax and, of course, to get ready for next year’s (sigh) Christmas. Holiday. Season. Etc.

Meanwhile, the appropriate greeting for this day, December 26 2013 is: HAPPY KWANZAA!

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Friday October 4, 2013; “That Which We Are, We Are”

Ok, so I’m weird. I know that. Still, a pair of photographs snapped here within the last two weeks almost seem to sum up . . . to sum up America, circa fall of 2013. That would include, on the one hand, the America that once was prosperous and once a beacon to the world, displayed alongside that which she has since become today . . . a withering and proto-fascist state, motivated solely by greed and the quest for power, and owned by the greedy, all thanks to the bizarre influence of its crazy fringe, aka the Tea Party.

Maybe it’s time to allow the innocence that is so deeply embedded in the natural world to have a moment, to have its say in the matter? Dare we try? Sure, why not!

Two photos. Sunflowers. Colorado, Front Range foothills. Two weeks apart. The resemblance to concurrent actions by the U.S. House of Representatives is uncanny to say the least, and maybe even (to some) a bit concerning. Do those actions describe US? ‘We the people’? Or . . . dare we hope . . . they might simply and only describe those congressional idiots who, whether they know it or not (and most surely do NOT know, true story!), are, themselves — along with all whom they presume to represent — withering???

Like this, maybe??

Sunflowers, 2013Two weeks: from Vibrant! and Alive! . . . to a dry and shriveled death where the remnants appear worthy . . .  only . . . of becoming . . . Tea?

Flowers. Dying. Nations. Dying. T.S.Eliot summed it all when he wrote,

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us — if at all — not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

The Hollow men; The Stuffed men; Headpiece filled with straw. Boehner, Cantor, McConnell, Cruz, Paul, . . . the list goes on, and on, and on.

It’s fall. Flowers wilt in the fall. Do Hollow men wilt? Ever? Or were they born wilted?

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom . . .

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Or, on a brighter note, words from Alfred Lord Tennyson:

‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world . . .

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Brings to mind a panorama: the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Colorado, taken one week ago. No Hollow Men; no Republicans; no Government Shutdown; no Idiots; no Politics; all that’s left is . . . this:

Sangre de Cristo 2 shot panorama“. . . that which we are, we are”

OPEN THREAD; SPRAWL!

The Watering Hole, Thursday September 19, 2013; “My Life Had Stood A Loaded Gun”

Current events, gun related, bring to mind something written by Emily Dickinson a bit more than 150 years ago. Poem 754 in Thomas H.Johnson’s chronology, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (Little, Brown and Co.) reads as follows:

My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun —
In Corners — till a Day
The Owner passed — identified —
And carried Me away —

And now We roam in Sovereign Woods —
And now We hunt the Doe —
And every time I speak for Him —
The Mountains straight reply —

And do I smile, such cordial light
Upon the Valley glow —
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let its pleasure through —

And when at Night — Our good Day done —
I guard My Master’s Head —
‘Tis better than the Eider-Duck’s
Deep Pillow — to have shared —

To foe of His — I’m deadly foe —
None stir the second time —
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye —
Or an emphatic Thumb —                           

Though I than He — may longer live
He longer must — than I —
For I have but the power to kill,
Without — the power to die —

To me, she speaks from the viewpoint of the gun itself and, in so doing, pretty much defines America today, this day, more than 150 years down the road . . . a nation, obsessed by guns, wherein the operative slogan is simple to express: For I have but the power to kill, / Without — the power to die —

Is that, really, what we’ve become? A quick look around — Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Newtown, DC Navy Yard, to name but a handful of our most recent atrocities — suggests that yes, we, as a nation,  have indeed FAILED, miserably, and demonstrated for all to see that yes,WE have but the power to kill, Without — the power to die.

Or, stated another way: “History? We don’t know. We’ll all be dead.” (George W. Bush, 2003)

BUT IT’S OUR RIGHT! IT’S THE SECOND AMENDMENT!!!! THIS HERE’S AMURKA!!!

Right.

OPEN THREAD.

The Watering Hole, Friday August 2, 2013: “Beyond The Edge”

There are times . . . like now, for example . . . when the temptation to leave the human sphere overwhelms and becomes the urge to escape, to banish the collective idiocy of politics, of fear, of irrational hatred(s), to visit somewhere ‘different’ . . . somewhere Beyond the Edge.

So, now that that’s all settled, a few photos and a few words — recollections of moments captured — which together speak of and describe that other reality, that other sphere where human is but the occasional visitor.  Out there . . .

Elk at HorseshoeBeyond The Edge
 of Wildness

There were voices –
Noisome human sounds which rose
With fragrant campfire smokes
To float amongst the trees in waning morning sun,
Above the Edge of Wildness.

There were voices –
Softer now, which spoke in wonder of surround
As trail led north along the wash
Through thick and tangled brush,
Past water tricklets in the sand –
Where more than silence thrived.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were voices –
Silent voices, footprints in the sand
Which spoke of bear, of deer, of mountain lion
But not of man until we passed
And left our bootprints there.

Cougar printThere were voices –
Panting voices as we climbed above the spring
On rock-strewn slope to find a grassy meadow
Where solitary spruce and pines whispered through the wind –
Where spoke the buzz of locusts in a swarm,
Where sang both bird and bug.

There were voices –
As afterglow of day slipped slowly into night
And birdsong waned with sinking sun,
Cacophony began – the lovesongs of billions –
Each six-legged and far smaller
Than collective melody.

1018-Cicada-0537There were voices –
Across the blackened sky where starlight
Spoke of esoteric things –
Eternity and timelessness, with beams of light
A billion years of age and more –
Excepting newborn meteors.

Mystic Eye

There were voices –
To hail approaching dawn
Coyotes yapped and howled in unison as pack
Expressed both thoughts and memories
Which never cross the mind of man –
And likely never will.

There were voices –
Children at play, a wailing country song
Among the trees, between the tents and trucks
As we returned to more familiar ground –
But changed we were, for now we knew
That we had left our home behind –
Beyond the Edge of Wildness.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANature’s voices softly speak to those who dare take the time to listen. The consequence remains invariable and constant, and it is both simple and profound. William Blake, in his poem Auguries of Innocence, offers the perfect summation:

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

Indeed, indeed.

Open Thread.

The Watering Hole, Thursday August 1, 2013; The Flower-Bee Song

Bees. Flowers. Humans. Of the three, which is not worth much, if anything at all?

Yep. Humans. Us. ‘We the people’ cannot, in the final analysis, even claim, much less brag about, our earthly ‘usefulness,’ and for obvious reason(s). Bees and flowers, on the other hand, . . . well, suffice to say that in terms of intrinsic earthly value, they put us to shame.

It was roughly forty years ago that I somehow managed to figure it all out, and the figuring out part had a lot to do with one lucky photo that I shot in early June of either 1972 or ’73 of a bee exploring a Saguaro cactus flower on Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. One thing led to another, and within a year or two I managed to come up with a poetic synopsis of . . . well, of everything, more or less.

The Flower-Bee Song

A bee upon a flower did light,
With curious eye, I watched it . . .

Bee on Saguaro flowerAnd after moments passed, it flew
Away with nectar’s booty,
Life’s sustenance for bee,
From flower’s heart.

I asked the flower, in whispers hushed
(Lest uninvited ears might hear)
If such intrusion to its heart
Were injur’ous to softnesses
As which, I thought, must linger there.

The flower replied, “No, of course,
For bee and I depend upon
His forays, he for food and I
For life; Future’s generations
On his excursions do rely.”

“May I, too, then, such pleasures seek
Within your golden heart?”  I asked.
The flow’r said, “No, for you are man,
Not bee. Ascendancy’s your only quest –
Your footsteps weigh too heavily
On softnesses.”

Reflective, then, I walked away
Through desert’s springtime scented air
With heightened sense that I, myself,
Might someday find – like bee and flow’r –
A sustenance in life alone,
Apart from Man’s disruptive goal:
That need for dominance and pow’r.

What is it about the human species that invariably seems to completely disavow the sustenance of life alone in favor of that obscene quest for dominance, for power? Why do ‘we’ find virtue in our apparently eternal quest to either damage or destroy . . . or severely modify . . . everything we touch as we struggle to ‘survive’ and/or ‘prosper’?

I find it odd that we . . . the “intelligent” species (according to our own definition, at least) . . . cannot do even the most single and simple task without either damaging or destroying something, anything (everything?) . . . even as bee, and flower, mutually prosper with NO damage or destruction, each to the other.

What went wrong? Why are we here? We the people . . . we whose footsteps weigh too heavily On softnesses ??

I suppose we could ask one or another of the bee-killers at Monsanto . . . or maybe one of our Congressional ‘heroes’ in DC . . . just why it is that . . . that . . . that the ONLY things we presume to matter in this life are our dominance and pow’r  (and, of course, our money). Yeah. Money. Whatever THAT is.

Superiority. Choices:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARushYeah, well, OK, ’nuff said.

Open Thread.

The Watering Hole, Thursday July 11, 2013; “The Hollow Men”

Some eye-catching headlines popped up in the past several days, headlines for articles and essays which detail what can only be described as further evidences of the rapidly-expanding field of Republican intransigence and idiocy. Here are a few of the better ones:

Right-wing myths about merit, money and morality

Who Says Conservatives Are More Patriotic?

Governor: Pregnant Women, Breast Cancer Patients Are Free Health Care Moochers

Bringing Back Jim Crow

New Hampshire Republican Compares Obamacare To Deadly San Francisco Plane Crash

State Troopers Forcibly Remove Texas Woman During Epic Testimony Against Abortion Bill

Company Advertises Shoot-A-Gun-Control-Lobbyist Target With Picture Of Virginia Tech Victim

That’s just a small handful, seven little examples which describe the mass stupidity that’s out there. Everywhere. Surrounding us. Instructing ‘us.’ Telling ‘us’ how to live, plus telling others who don’t want ‘us’ anywhere around (‘us’ being we Progressives, i.o.w., especially those of ‘us’ who are not yet dead from the neck up) how to arm themselves, how to shoot something/someone — ‘us’ — in order to draw blood, to kill, allathat.

For one or another perhaps not completely odd reasons, I’m reminded of a poem written by T.S.Eliot, circa 1925. It so ably describes today’s wingnut movement that I have to wonder . . . was T.S.Eliot incredibly prescient? Or maybe he was writing of the earlier ‘wingnut’ movement that was showing itself in the mid-1920’s, also (as today) screwing up the political system to the point where their machinations practically destroyed the country, sent it reeling into The Great Depression? It actually wouldn’t surprise me a whole lot if Eliot’s words were not simply his poetic expression of the same level of greed-embossed idiocy that we witness today, and have witnessed every day for a good long time now.

In any case, you be the judge; here is the entire published version of T.S.Eliot’s masterwork of poetry, The Hollow Men which, to my very old ears, speaks volumes of truth. Enjoy!

The Hollow Men
TS Eliot, 1925
            
I
            
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us – if at all – not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.
           
II
            
Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer —

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom
      
III
            
This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.
           
IV
            
The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.
           
V
            
Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

These days, whenever I read the line Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! the first image that pops into my head is that of Paul Ryan. It’s followed quickly and in rapid succession by images of (in no particular order) Mitt Romney, Dubya Bush, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Dick Cheney, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, James Inhofe, Paul Broun, Darrell Issa . . . and on and on and on until my brain surrenders and literally begs that I numb it a bit with a bottle of decent wine. The wine does its job, but only for awhile. When I snap out of the bliss, there they are. Wingnuts. Idiots. The Hollow men. Everywhere. Which is apparently nothing new. Their 1925 forebears were quite obviously every bit as void of mental substance as is the current issue. And it’s probably fair to assume that, with good regularity, THEY have been a significant presence during each and all of the million or so years that humans have existed . . . forever across, in fact, that lengthy span of time during which each and every particular cluster of Neanderthalic sub-human (read: wingnut) has wandered about, in fashion meaninglesss / As wind in dry grass / Or rats’ feet over broken glass / In our dry cellar.

Like that . . . in a mere sixteen words, Eliot describes and defines with absolute perfection 21st century’s American Wingnut Fringe, today’s Grand Old Party of greedy racist palefaced Christianista idiots. One can only dare to try and understand just how it can be that such trash apparently has ALWAYS been out there, that it survives. Somehow.

Just why is that, I wonder?

*Special Note: in the movie Apocalypse Now, Marlon Brando recited Eliot’s “The Hollow Men.” It remains, indeed, worth a moment or two. Maybe three.

Open Thread — Now’s the Time to Toss (Shhh) IT Into the Fan!

The Watering Hole, Friday February 22, 2013; Life’s Symphonic Essesences, aka “Namasté”

Hanalei Bay dawn-3

Dawn Breaks Over Hanalei Bay on the North Shore of Kauai, Hawaiian Islands.

Namasté!

There are days during these troubled and irrational times when the overwhelming urge is to ignore the moment, to instead ponder other potential options that human existence might — maybe? please? — pursue or (at least) offer: something beyond those politically-inspired nonsensicals embraced within all of current discourse as if by mucoidal slag. Today is one of those days; the world’s global and human-inspired destructive political and dogmatic silliness and downright stupidity demand an alternative view. No politics, no dogmas, no destructions, no desolations are permitted. Not today. Instead, I wondered: why not a reflection of certain ‘lessons’ I have (accidentally to be sure) been fortunate enough to encounter over the last nearly four decades, ‘lessons’ which finally want to gel, to become ideas, maybe even concepts of that which life offers, what it “means”?

OK. So off we go. Back to the source (for me, at least), to Polynesia, to the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, and especially Kauai — via old photos, via an old poem, and via a recollection or two gathered in a Buddhist Garden . . . overall, an excursion, really, onto The Sea of life’s potential, its “meaning” — the undercurrent of the entire planet’s divine spirit, its Namasté . . . at least as seen through my own admittedly dimmed and foggy vision.

It begins with the obvious:

The Sea

Kauai Kalalau Valley

Kauai’s Na Pali Coast and the Pacific beyond, viewed from the slopes of Mt. Waialeale overlooking Kalalau Valley.

In distant view, the azure sea is calm,
Her mottled, cooling blue speaks peaceably

Of gentleness;

aerial seascape collage

L. to R. in order: Waipi’o Valley, Hawaii; Honolulu, Oahu; Kalaupapa, Molokai

And here and there soft sunlight’s tinted hues
Suggest life’s calm abode – which, with cold arms

She doth caress;

Hawaiian Sunrises

Sunrise over Wailua Bay, Kauai.                   — Breaking Wave, Hanalei Bay, Kauai.

Yet on her shores, in frenzied battery,
Great waves disintegrate with energies

Near limitless;

shattered crystals collage

L. to R. in order: Hanakapiai, Kauai; Windward Maui; Wainiha Bay, Kauai

And broken swells, like shattered crystals, fly,
Then fall and quickly wash the sands, with masked

Abrasiveness.

seacoast collage

L. to R. in order: Hanakapiai, Kauai; Ke’e Beach, Kauai; Windward Maui

**********

Byodo-In, Oahu’s Buddhist Shrine in the Valley of the Temples —

A few decades ago, I visited a special place in the Hawaiian Islands, on Windward Oahu. As the crow flies, it wasn’t far from the geographically-confined sprawl of late 20th century Honolulu, but in every other way it definitely stood a world apart.  It’s called the Valley of the Temples, and its beautiful centerpiece is a Buddhist shrine called Byodo-In, a replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple in Uji, Japan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Arrival is ordinary; there’s the parking lot, of course, generally a small crowd coming and going, and a paved pathway into the grounds.  The scenery is impressive and eye-catching; with the fluted cliffs of the Nuuanu Pali as a backdrop, the frequent rain clouds, rainbows, and salubrious tradewinds combine to effect a very nearly idyllic rendition of an ideal tropical scene.  But once on the grounds (which are spacious and open, but still private and lush) a feeling of ‘something’ seems to gradually overcome the senses.  There are clear meandering streams, ponds of lily pads where huge gold and multi-colored Koi swim . . .

Koi collage and beyond which sprawl ‘minimalist’ gardens where tropical flowers are amazingly pervasive.

tropical flowers collageHere and there a graceful footbridge arches over a stream; there are rock gardens, and occasionally in a small corner an unobtrusive bench upon which one can sit for a spell, often in the midst of intensely fragrant flowering shrubs and/or next to a gurgling stream.  After a short while, one slowly becomes aware that things are different. Somehow. There is no ‘un-natural’ noise. One senses that he is, indeed, “Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife” as even the occasional stray voice seems muffled, barely audible.  Everything one sees or senses is perfectly placed, perfectly manicured, but nothing looks either disturbed or out of place, or even pruned or planned; it all seems and ‘feels’ completely natural in every way.  After awhile, even the temple itself – the centerpiece of the gardens – seems as if it has grown from the ground naturally, not as if it’s been constructed by humans.

I suppose I wandered there for at least a couple of hours before leaving, soon to re-enter Honolulu-bound traffic on the Likelike Highway.  I puzzled the entire trip back to ‘civilization’ but was unable to quite figure out – to put into words – just exactly what it was that I had just experienced at Byodo-In, and it wasn’t until several weeks later that it finally struck me: I had spent two hours of my life in Oahu’s Valley of the Temples, and become thereby as if an intricate part of a giant artwork.  In the metaphoric sense, the experience probably most resembled a visit to an art museum, perhaps even to a symphony concert in a renowned hall somewhere, but with one huge difference: at Byodo-In, I, the visitor, was intended, prearranged, to become part and parcel OF the artwork – a brushstroke in the Mona Lisa? a note in a Mozart symphony? – but surely not, any longer,  just an observer.  I wasn’t listening to a Beethoven sonata, I was, rather, now parcel to the score of a Beethoven sonata, and the melody implicit had subtly emerged to define my entire surround!

It’s begun to seem, to me at least, that art has many levels and it really doesn’t matter just how – or precisely where – one fits himself in; the important thing is to do so, to open the mind and allow the transition, the transcendence.  The only superlative to gazing at an artwork may well be to exist as part of it, to be surrounded by and intrinsic within whatever it is that sets the work apart from the ordinary, that which makes viewing it an experience and not just a minor event.  And therein lies the virtue of art — no matter whether the form be painting, sculpture, music, words, even an ocean sunrise. Whether natural or of human creation, all of art requires only the substance of intrinsic quality, that sum of esoteric value as expressed in one form, or another.

Perhaps that’s the point where one’s sense of existence blends with and becomes an intricate part of that far greater sum which some choose to call the Universe, the Creation – or any of a number of all-embracing ideas which emerge to define the transcendent breadth of one’s own life. And that “simple” idea is what I like to think I’ve finally come to comprehend; IT is (intensely, on occasion) implicit in the compilation of words and graphic renderings of isolated partitions of each and every place on this planet that I’ve visited over the years, and in that context IT is, in reality, nothing I might have ever brought to THEM, but what THEY have CONSISTENTLY! given to ME.

My hope is singular – that each and all might learn to seize one of THOSE moments, every now and then — a moment which allows the escape from current reality to become even the briefest of brush strokes in the art of whichever natural paradise might be at hand.  Exist there for a moment or for a lifetime – become a word in a poem or become a poem; become a note in a piano concerto or become the keyboard, the score; close your mind to the intrusions of man, and shield your eyes from man’s desecrations of the land, the sea and the sky.  Relax, become part of that which you truly are, and disavow that which you are not or should never become.

And, later, when you return to the reality of the modern world, recall from whence you’ve come; engage yourself in the fight to save that small part which remains undisturbed, to repair all which is repairable of that which has been desecrated or destroyed. And then – rejoin the beauty from which you and all of life and form have once derived.

Waimea Canyon pan

Waimea Canyon, aka “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”; Kauai

I’ve never since viewed art in the same way as I once did, nor have I ever since been able to immerse myself into an undisturbed natural expanse and not become, once again, an intricate part of each the reality AND its attendant metaphor(s). The distinctions between brush strokes, or pigments, or shapes, forms, even words in a poem or notes in a melody fade to the point where I am no longer a separate entity, but am instead part of that Song.

William Wordsworth summed it all up in his poem Ode on Intimations of Immortality:

 No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
 I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
 The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep . . .

On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his Mother’s arm:–
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sunrise over Hanalei Bay and local fisherman; Kauai.

Note what is missing in the scene just above: each and every evidence of human’s Politics, of his Greed, Power, of his perceived “Dominion” (in any sense, Biblical included), also Conquest, Authority, Money (whatever THAT is supposed to be), Dogmatic Usurpation, Pollution of Essence . . . none of that. But yet, there stands a human. How can that be?

It’s because HE stands there on that sunrise-emblazoned shore as if a note in that symphony, a word in that poem, a single brush stroke in that painting . . . and deep within, he knows he is but a PART of that universe in which he stands, HIS universe, OUR universe. He knows full well he does not own it, that he has no dominion; all he knows is that HE is parcel to it . . . and that HE is every bit as integral to its music . . . as is every aspect of his entire surround.

To him, and to all like him, I borrow from the Byodo-In, from the lingua franca implicit within The Valley of the Temples, one word:

Namasté.

This is today’s open thread. Carry forth . . . and Namasté!

The Poetry of Earth II: Truffled Fairyland

“The poetry of earth is ceasing never.”  ~John Keats

Luther Standing Bear, an Oglala Lakota/Sioux leader from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota a century ago, once remarked that “The Lakota was a true naturalist – a lover of Nature. He loved the earth and all things of the earth, and the attachment grew with age. The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power.”  It took me a long time — far too many years, in retrospect — to independently discover the truths embedded in Standing Bear’s thesis, although in better-late-than-never style I did ultimately manage, somehow, to become ‘a lover of Nature’ in a fashion that ‘grew with age’ and continues to grow thru this day. To many, in fact, I’ve become an ‘extremely RADICAL(!) environmentalist’, a title which I continue to both accept and endorse with great pride and passion!

Only one aspect of Nature remains a puzzlement to me. It’s a huge one, of course, but still is one which I can state in what amounts to a small handful of very simple words, i.e.: how is it possible that SO MANY humans are SO LACKING in their appreciation of the natural world, of what ‘it’ so readily brings to imagination’s table? As I’ve noted here in an earlier post, the poet John Keats — way back in 1817 — proposed a profound concept that Nature is poetic, that Nature, really, IS poetry, a thesis with which I have no argument, none at all. Nature is, at least to my mind, Poetry Ohne Worte, or Poetry without words.  Impossible? Nope, no way!

A decade or so ago (2001, actually), as I was trying everything I knew to recover from a major medical difficulty, we spent as much time as we could possibly manage, then and over the course of each ensuing year, ‘out there’, away from the city, from people, from ‘civilization’. In Nature’s grip. And we found many truly magic places ‘out there’, places which literally DEMANDED that old people (such as moi) should come … to love the soil and  [sit] or [recline] on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. Yep, I done it! Esp. during late summer, in mushroom ‘season’, following the monsoon rains, sprawled on the dampened earth, old camera firmly in hand. And. There. It. Was! The MAGIC! of Nature on full display! The Poetry of Earth in spades!

Below, the Poetry of mushrooms both in photographs and in words, inspired by the reality of Nature! in Arizona’s Blue Range mountains, in and around that bit of paradise man has named Hannagan Meadow.

Life can, indeed, be sweet. Especially at that moment when old people [come] literally to love the soil and [sit or recline] on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power.

Yep. Been there, done that. 🙂

**********

Implications Upon Awakening
In a Truffled Fairyland

In darkest night they come alive,
With noiseless fury, start to thrive –
Ubiquitous in numbers, still
A Fairyland ephemeral.
mushrooms 2At morning’s dawn, a look around
Reveals that life requires no sound
To fast emerge, then prosper there
On forest’s floor, now vibrant lair.
mushrooms 1When simple things of multi-hue
In silent, stoic dance imbue
Their lives with purpose, not intent,
They signal a disparagement
mushrooms 5Toward we who bare our shallow mind,
Who sometimes seek yet never find
Life’s noiseless essence, all-the-while
Engaged in greed, conceit, and guile.
mushrooms 4Thus elves of red, of burnished orange –
Of black, of brown – in rich mélange
Portray a Spectrum, gleaming, smooth,
A breadth of color born to soothe
mushrooms 3The wits of Earth’s most savage Beast
Which, true to form, might chance to feast
Whilst uninformed! – then find its doom
In noiseless, calm – and Suave – Mushroom!
mushrooms 6

NOTE: In June of 2011, a human-caused forest fire fed on the consequences of protracted (human-caused?) drought and destroyed nearly 850 square miles of forest in the Hannagan Meadow surround, probably including the mushroom ‘lairs’ pictured above. I don’t know the details, haven’t been back since the blaze. Probably won’t return, either; better the memories which are, perhaps, proof, indeed, that “The Poetry of Earth is ceasing never” and that for those of us who choose to remain forever close to the Earth, her poetry will, forever, be the reality. Thanks to that ensuant “feeling of being close to a mothering power.”

Sunday Roast: Hello, Autumn

(photo source)

On Fields O’er Which the Reaper’s Hand Has Pass’d

On fields o’er which the reaper’s hand has pass’d
Lit by the harvest moon and autumn sun,
My thoughts like stubble floating in the wind
And of such fineness as October airs,
There after harvest could I glean my life
A richer harvest reaping without toil,
And weaving gorgeous fancies at my will
In subtler webs than finest summer haze.

~Henry David Thoreau

This is our daily open thread — Talk amongst yourselves…

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, 2-22-12: A Limerick for Your Thoughts?

The candidate Richard Santorum,
Touts the ’vangelical forum;
He’d ban birth control,
With great vitriol,
To women who like sex, he’d whore’m.

Mitt Romney is just such a blast,
Once you get over his past,
He’s on every side,
Like the ever-changing tide,
Schizophrenic’s the role he’s been cast.

Now Newt Gingrich, what can I say?
Shut the government down in his day.
It’s not his fault,
He rubs wounds with salt,
And derides all who stand in his way.

Libertarians stand by Ron Paul,
And surely he gave them his all,
Legalize pot,
Smoke all you got,
But his poll numbers still fall.

The drop-outs are there by the score,
Cain, Palin, and Bachmann and more,
Perry said “Oops”
While Palin did loops,
And Cain’s 9-9-9 hit the floor.

Dear Friends, here’s the GOP pool,
Each one sounds a 1 percent tool,
But lest you should dread,
Tis our Open Thread,
Where Comments are really quite cool.

Sunday Roast: Summons

Keep me from going to sleep too soon
Or if I go to sleep too soon
Come wake me up. Come any hour
Of night. Come whistling up the road.
Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door.
Make me get out of bed and come
And let you in and light a light.
Tell me the northern lights are on
And make me look. Or tell me clouds
Are doing something to the moon
They never did before, and show me.
See that I see. Talk to me till
I’m half as wide awake as you
And start to dress wondering why
I ever went to bed at all.
Tell me the walking is superb.
Not only tell me but persuade me.
You know I’m not too hard persuaded.

By Robert Francis

 

Photo by Zooey

Here’s what William Rivers Pitt had to say about “Summons”…

“Summons” is about love, simply. The voice in the lines could be a man, a woman, black, white, gay, straight, American, immigrant, old, young…the person being addressed could likewise be a man, a woman, black, white, gay, straight, American, immigrant, old, young…there is no evidence to prove or disprove any assumption. The person asked to come stomp on the porch could be a lover, a wife, simply a friend, or even a stranger; the relationship is not established, which leaves the work wide open to any and every interpretation.

But it is above all else about love: love of the open heart, of the one who comes with that summons, of the moonlight and the night, of the wild urge to run and see and breathe and be, of the drive to experience all there is to be found, and not alone, but with that un-named other who is loved as much as the moonlight and the night and the lighting of the light.

What this poem says to me is, “Don’t let me drift away; don’t let me fade away.  If you see that happening, reel me back in.  It won’t be too hard; I just need a nudge.”

What does it say to you?  Anything?  Nothing?

This is our daily open thread.  Got something on your mind?