Saturday, October 31, 2009

the earth's wild fairy-dance



each form of beauty's but the new disguise



of thoughts more beautiful than forms can be:



sceptics, who search with unanointed eyes,




never the earth's wild fairy-dance shall see.




(words from: "the unimaginative") madison cawein

all the pictures enlarge to fill your screen when clicked on

Friday, October 30, 2009

the trees are in their autumn beauty

autumn days can be clear and cold and rich.
the eye fills with golds, russets, crimsons, all the shades of orange.
the air is thinner.
see the clear weak blue of the autumn sky.
smell the wet wood, the damp leaves, the early steel-blue edge of frost.
feel the thin fingers of winter already reaching down from the far north.

i love the way the russian artist isaak levitan brings all those sensations together in his paintings.


isaak levitan golden fall

the trees are in their autumn beauty,
the woodland paths are dry
~
under the october twilight
the water mirrors a still sky

isaak levitan the lake

(words excerpted from) "the wild swans at coole" william butler yeats

Thursday, October 29, 2009

happy birthday lexie!



on this day thirteen years ago
our doctor - rick - said hey! it's a girl!
and my heart skipped a beat
and my dreams came true in one moment
and in my arms was lexie
- named alexia brooke by us -
but as with all honourable births,
she has found her own names
as she has emerged
into herself.
the blessing of my daughter
(and the blessings of my two sons)
have been difficult at times,
but then also
the most magical stunning gifts i have known and shared
with this place that we all pass through
- eyes half-closed, hearts half opened -
until such an event
renders locks and keys and other such fripperies
unnecessary and spurious residues
of a world bent on seeing itself
only through surface manifestations.
in my children i experience
the magical present whole now of being.

in my daughter
the clean pure wholeness
of womanhood.

thankyou lexie,
for being so far inside the
loving wholeness we know
as a dad and a daughter
sharing a small space for a while.


somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain,has such small hands

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ali's flown away


"i've gotta fly away"
she laugh-called.

and it was
the middle of the night
so i lay awake
and thought of all the
sort of things
i knew her by.

her life
was lived
fast -
and beautifully.
a blur of movement
pinwheel colours
skip dancing
to the drum circle
and i'm not -
not quite
the sunburnt crazy woman-child
you might have thought i was
in my multi-layered
thousand-scarved
technicolour
inner and outer
rayments . . .

but i'm leaving now
leaving you
and all the others
not the same
but pretty much the same.
hey listen
i'll not leave you
just as i found you.
only wiser.
larger in the ways you can live with
and especially
in those ways
you can't live without.

ali's flown away.

leaving behind
her
kaleidoscopic glasses,
dust from the playa
at burning man,
wishes and dreams
and wild thoughts
that scattered from her
like confetti off the bride's dress
at a wedding.

a fleeting vision
of life lived
as if every facet of it
is a dance -

which it is
according to the cosmology
that ali and i share.

facing the rain


i saw these pigeons
clinging to the wires.
facing the rain.

do you know that feeling . . .
clinging to the wires
facing the rain.

buson's poem paraphrased:

an evening cloudburst
pigeons cling desperately
to trembling wires

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

prayer flags

there are songs
that enter my head
and i recognize them
as songs from my heart -
let's call them prayers.

prayers were jobs once
bedtime postures,
words sent into the air
with pictures of people
in my head.

people i loved
and wished good things for
through my words.

with time
prayers became associated with repression.
a way
of acknowledging a relationship
with a less than benevolent person
who sat high up
somewhere
and doled out
sorrow and kindness
depending on who or what or why
you were.

i knew this was wrong.
but it was what i knew.

so one day.
i don't know when or why
i let that go.

and prayers became
a way of connecting
to the big forces -
the big real of what is.

and they were present
as songs
in my head
freely given
and filled with love
and gratitude
for the creation as a whole . . .


Monday, October 26, 2009

last week in october

so here it is, the last week in october. i love the autumn and you might be getting tired of me saying that but i love the cooler days, the rain, the occasional fog, the clear nights, the leaves, the suddenly bare trees and the unmistakeable urgency around preparing for the winter.

i was wandering through some works by russian impressionists and came across two paintings that open out the thomas hardy poem below.

the rays of the setting sun vasili baksheyev


golden autumn isaac levitan


the last week of october

the trees are undressing, and fling in many places—
on the gray road, the roof, the window-sill—
their radiant robes and ribbons and yellow laces;
a leaf each second so is flung at will,
here, there, another and another, still and still.

a spider's web has caught one while downcoming,
that stays there dangling when the rest pass on;
like a suspended criminal hangs he, mumming
in golden garb, while one yet green, high yon,
trembles, as fearing such a fate for himself anon.

thomas hardy

Sunday, October 25, 2009

a sky like this

it won't rain
with a sky like this.

somewhere
sails are filling . . .

a lake is mirroring
the crosshatched silence . . .

the scent of herbs
and wildflowers
is filling a man's experience . . .

much as these clouds
passing overhead
fill my eyes
head and heart.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

i roam the woods that crown the hill i live on

the sun is low on the western horizon.
time to go and see the woods
before the rain and winds of the coming days
convince them to shed their summer dresses
and prepare for the wintry blasts
that are surely coming our way!
lover to listening maid might breathe his flame . . .
"the summer tresses of the trees are gone,
the woods of autumn, all around our vale,
have put their glory on"
i roam the woods that crown
the uplands, where the mingled splendors glow . . .
forever in thy coloured shades to stray . . . 
 
all text (in pale grey) william cullen bryant

Friday, October 23, 2009

october

october breathes in and out
through dove grey skies
painterly oranges and golds.
nightstories are written in
the translucent spiderwebs of
frosty residues.
leaves drift from spindly inkblot branches.
the days end in salmon grey skies
seba by hiroshige

in the autumn i know my subdued self.
the quiet one.
the shadow who dances
through
the wheel's distant reaches.

i know the dark frames
of my kaleidoscopic self.
the lines between the coloured speckles.

the coloured speckles of pure light, pure joy, pure love,
that you and i share
on our passing through this place.

i celebrate - excerpted from "song of myself"

i celebrate myself, and sing myself,
and what i assume you shall assume,
for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

walt whitman

Thursday, October 22, 2009

an opportunity

when i raise money for cancer research ~
to honour the flying away of my best friend peter
who was taken away by lung and brain cancer.
the suffering of my essence sister ali
(handfasted to my bruvver david)
who is fighting brain cancer out in vancouver.
to celebrate the incredible recovery
of my student destiny
who fought brain cancer and won!

i shave my head.

it's worth a thousand dollars.
or more.

i'm not a handsome person to begin with
(being graced with more goodness than good looks
but you know what?
i'll take what i'm given thankyou!!!).
so baldness doesn't help the cause of my ego!

but i do it
because i wish for people i love
and people i don't even know,
to have their time
in this beautiful place.

and to know it
in a good
happy
way.

for as long as is possible.

or for as long as is necessary
for their soul's journey.

so why am i sharing this horrible photograph on an otherwise notoriously peaceful and lovely blog?

well.

i was just visiting
the blog

and stacey j
has a very cool idea
that i'd like to borrow . . .
and share here.

i'd like you to feel free
to ask me a question.
about whatever you're curious about.

you see, i've been posting
as the golden fish
since august 2007,
and i've said a lot
but not that much
about steven.

i'm circumspect
about the details
of my existence.

and perhaps,
just maybe,
you're curious.

and if not
that's very alright!!!

so i'll start the ball rolling here with some pics:

here's my son from my first marriage standing next to me squinting on a bright hot summer's day. . .
alan garnet rigel are his first three names.

one for himself,
one from his paternal grandfather,
one from the star at the centre of orion's belt.

he's amazingly bright, creative, and insightful.

here are my three children.
lexie alan and dawson.

each posing.
in their own space.
utterly connected
by my love ~ their love.
each astonishingly creative, expressive, sensitive. kind,
fun people whom i wished i'd known when i was their age.

but i'm their dad instead.

so i experience each of them as gifts to myself and to the world!

so the questions . . .

well, ask them now.
i'll read them through and answer them right away!!!!
how's that . . . oh and if you think this is too too solipsistic
then let me know and i'll put this post to rest!!!

steven

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

the promise of tomorrow

this evening spread wide into prussian blue
and violet
and inside those sheets of glowing clouds
were threads of salmon and pale butter yellow
that smeared and melded into one.

and my heart
softened like the day
and was grateful
for this everything . . .

inside and outside
this moment.


as low my fires of drift-wood burn,
i hear that sea's deep sounds increase,
and, fair in sunset light, discern
its mirage-lifted isles of peace.

excerpted from "burning driftwood" by john greenleaf whittier

here's some beautiful music from david sylvian entitled, "come morning" . . .

"God is in the silences
between the rhythms
rise and falling
the starring of the skies of blue
the promise of tomorrow's calling
hey ho and away we go
hey ho come morning"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

love fain would hold them fast

i went for a walk in the woods and on the way out i came across this,
the sorry remnants of part of our community garden.

but.

there's promise in the soil.
that will wait
patiently
through winter's blasts
and spring's caprices.

as will i . . .


a song of summer days

as pearls slip off a silken string and fall into the sea,
these rounded summer days fall back into eternity.

into the deep from whence they came; into the mystery--
at set of sun each one slips back as pearls into the sea.

they are so sweet--so warm and sweet--love fain would hold them fast:
he weeps when through his finger tips they slip away at last.

Monday, October 19, 2009

what will it look like?

i ride by this tree lined hill each morning.

it faces east.

for months i've wondered:

"what will it look like
in early autumn?"



i'll keep you posted if there are any changes!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

the swaying moon

it's a funny thing but after teaching for nineteen years and with six, seven, maybe eight more classes coming my way i'm starting to really feel the call of the life after teaching. it speaks to me almost every day. to say that it's a strange and unexpected experience would barely begin to describe my surprise.
i'm what you would know as a dedicated teacher.
that's how i know myself.
that's how my community knows me.

i've been alright with the fact that this work precludes the pursuit of many other experiences i love.
so thoughts of not teaching seem almost sacreligious to me.
as if this is a game to be played out.
the real life - the one i have "earned" awaits me.

so yesterday the thought passed through my mind
that perhaps it's not so much the wishing for time to pass
and for me to be living the life i saw for myself as an artist -
as much as it's a wish for it to be filled with a different sort of goodness,
and that i continue to be able
to share goodness with this world in the time i am given.


martin johnson heade sailing by moonlight


thoughts while night traveling

slender wind shifting the shore's fine grass.
lonely at night below my boat's tall mast.
stars hang low as the vast plain broadens,
the swaying moon makes the great river race.
how can poems make me known?
i'm old and sick, my career over.
drifting, just drifting. what kind of man am i?
a lone gull floating between earth and sky.

tu fu (712-770)


(translated by tony barnstone and chou ping)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

the natural habitat

when my class and i get to school,
the first place we go is the playground.
"the yard" as it's also called has a few different areas:
a soccer field,
a couple of baseball diamonds,
two sets of climbers - you know - swings, slides . . .
and a very special area called "the natural habitat.

this has been a part of my school's green mandate -
which began before there was "green"
or a "mandate".

if i sound proud it's because i am!
for more than twenty years
my litle school
has composted,
recycled,
reduced,
turned lights off,
created a video on helping our planet that won a european video award,
won all sorts of prizes for our efforts
to come to school in a way
that doesn't cost our environment its health
and most magically . . .
created a special area of the playing field for nature.
the natural habitat.
come on in . . .
the sumac is especially beautiful at this time of year . . .
it's a beautiful quiet gift.
back to nature.

Friday, October 16, 2009

through the day

(peter scott canada geese coming to the marsh)

early this morning
i parted the curtains
and pressed my face against the cold glass.

at that moment,
a small flock of canada geese flew by the house
at window height.
heading north.
not quite a perfect "v" yet -
but at least they're talking!

the morning air has been edged with woodsmoke these days.
a small fire takes the edge off a cool beginning to the day.

in the nearby fields,
the corn has been cut down to stubble.
shades of tan and faded gold.

on lawns, sidewalks and streets,
leaves are drifting red, gold, and dry.
curled inwards like old hands
holding tightly onto the last rays of warm sunshine.

(karl heffner autumn evening on the thames)

a song of an autumn night

under the crescent moon a light autumn dew
has chilled the robe she will not change --
and she touches a silver lute all night,
afraid to go back to her empty room.

wang wei

Thursday, October 15, 2009

old fisherman dreams

aivazovskiy leave taking (detail)


the buddhist nun hai-yin (tenth century),
having taken holy orders in her youth,
lived in tz'u-kuang temple in ch'eng-tu (in present-day szu-ch'uan province)
to the end of the t'ang.


in the kaleidoscopic perspectives
she paints through her words,
she offers insight into the inner
and outer worlds of a person
in whom those worlds are merged inexorably.

sadly, this is the only one of her poems that has been preserved.

~

at night, aboard a boat: one text

the river's colours draw out
the colours of the sky.
the sound of wind
whips up
the sound of waves.
the traveler
tastes bitter thoughts of home.
old fisherman dreams
of ghosts, and
twitches.
wakes.
he raises oars:
fog-clouds
make land to the fore.
shifts the boat:
moon follows
in its wake.
chants a few
bits of poems.
stops.
like seeing a line of mountains
crossing
the horizon, far ahead.

translated by jeanne larsen

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the songs of mystic poets



the songs
of mystic poets in a purple world
ascend to me in music that is made
from unconceiv├Ęd perfumes and the pulse
of love ineffable;





text excerpted from "the hashish eater" by clark ashton smith.

the full text is available here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

the door to freedom

when rene magritte painted "the door to freedom" in 1936,
he might have been describing the shattering instant
in which the distance
between who a person is
and who they are to become
is laid bare.

on one side of the shattered window is a comfortable room.
on the other side, a grassy hill.
in the distance - the sea.
the glass shards contain elements
of the image beyond the room.
the glass shards have fallen inwards creating discomfort in the room.

i am drawn to see the view
beyond the window
- the world beyond myself -
and the shattered fragments of my understanding of that world . . .
lying on the floor.

the air blows in . . .
i imagine it warm and scented with grasses and wildflowers.

sounds - the breeze, the rustling grasses, birds.

the light passes through the glassless window
- clear and bright.
it illuminates a dusty floor.
the old paint on the walls.
shabby curtains.

the opening in the window
- like a star -
pulls me through.

are those paths in the meadows?
does one lead to the sea?
i hope so.

it's a destination.
a formless destination.
broad . . . expansive . . .
the opposite of the room i have lived in for all this time.

i have lived in rooms like this for most of my life.
i have sought them out when paths to the ocean lay before me.
those paths drew me like a moth to a light

but they also frightened me.

that expanse.
that great unknown.

so many fears, so many questions.
what is there when i arrive?
where do my rules fit?
where do they go?
what happens to my expectations?
what are they replaced by?

the not known often has greater power than the known.

the little rooms i have lived my life in are all labelled
"what i know".

the oceans are all labelled
"what i have been afraid to know".

the distance between what i know
and what i am afraid to know
is a measure of the suffering i have chosen.

to cross the space between the two is to pass through the door to freedom.