Monday, February 28, 2011

haller lake

music whirls around this house in all its forms.

the cave singers are sort of new to me.
i think i heard something by them a year or so ago but i didn't really pay attention.
their latest release - "no witch" - has me captivated.

here's a field near me - late last autumn.
i'm looking backwards today - and then also forwards.

ladies and gentlemen - your headphones please

Sunday, February 27, 2011


after the past few days of sylvia's incisive and insightful words i feel a compulsion to return to the soft comfy down bedspread that e.e. cummings threw across the bed of my emerging self at the age of seventeen when i first received the revelation that it was very alright to crack the hardened spine of the book of poetry.
i was writing my own at the time and harbouring wishes to become famous and read by everyone and most especially to be one of the black mountain poets who were being read by the cool english teachers to their students and the even more famous writers who were signing record contracts and who of course
were always surrounded by long haired sweet-eyed girls!

now my wish is much simpler and then also much greater in its scope.
to bring goodness through whatever means i can in whatever time i am given to as many as i am intended to.

i am a little church (no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
-i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying) children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope, and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church (far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
-i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring, i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

e.e. cummings

verdell primeaux and johnny mike cathedral

Saturday, February 26, 2011

the white schooner

i'm loving the writing of sylvia plath - reya's comment about sylvia's writing hovered in a sweet spot
"late february is the perfect season for the beautiful, fragile way your mind worked." it really is!!!

"the white schooner" frederick j. mulhaupt

at this wharf there are no grand landings to speak of

a gull holds his pose on a shanty ridgepole,
riding the tide of the wind, steady
the whole flat harbor anchored in
all around us the water slips
and gossips in its loose vernacular

farther out, the waves will be mouthing icecakes
even our shadows are blue with cold.
we wanted to see the sun come up
and are met, instead, by this iceribbed ship
the sun will diminish it soon enough:
each wave-tip glitters like a knife.

words excerpted from "a winter ship" sylvia plath

Friday, February 25, 2011

into glass

the winter landscape hangs in balance now,
air alters into glass and the whole sky
crimped like fern in the quartz atmosphere

words excerpted from "prologue to spring" by sylvia plath

these images were taken at night.
one of my students gave me a small glass sculpture with coloured lights.
i removed the coloured lights and digging under the ice at the back door i placed the lights
in such a way as to illuminate the accumulated ice.
as the thickness changes, the quality of light and the tiny speckles of colour also change.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

the nest

in the time i've been given
i've gathered
the fallen leaves
rough-edged twigs
and colourful threads of experience
carefully weaving them
into the nest i know as myself

and still
life finds its way
through the little spaces
that in my haste
i didn't draw together tightly enough

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

i am vertical

i am not a tree with my root in the soil -
compared with me, a tree is immortal
tonight, in the infinitesimal light of the stars
thoughts gone dim
it is more natural to me, lying down

then the sky and i are in open conversation

words excerpted from "i am vertical" sylvia plath

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

opening outwards

the sun

like a pearl
settling in the silt
of an afternoon sky

Monday, February 21, 2011

small fires

tonight a small luxury - watching the day pass into evening
all the soft losses
the tender releasing
the coloured unfurling

this was such an evening

the myriad formless pieces of a day
gathering together

how these soft bodies
these tender hopes
kindle small fires

Sunday, February 20, 2011

talkative world

if i only listened to the howling hungry for heat wind
and the soft hushing of the scudding clouds

well . . .

the sky had lots to say today

but i was much closer to the earth
bent over like the pre-mature man that i am
and of course
the trees leaned in
taking me into their confidence

and the sumac sang a song
about their dream
to become birds -
big soft red birds
no longer holding so firmly
to their branch and twig mothers

free to wing
through those butter yellow sky breaks
and most especially
through the vanilla pale violet and salmon clouds
they look up to all day long

so i walked on
keeping it simple
thinking my big thinks
and taking special care not to interrupt
this suddenly becoming
talkative world

Saturday, February 19, 2011

february presents

my little part of the world was washed with wave after wave of warm air that
drifted up from the southern united states.
travelling in its great arms were huge gift-boxes of colours and smells and sounds and a softness that i can't really put into words although if i said it was like walking through clouds of talcum powder
would you understand?

it lasted two days and in that time, each of the boxes was ceremoniously opened and the contents released to adoring children and adults alike who smiled even as the misty rains blew in and especially when the clouds scudded past and left a clear blue sky with mister sun looking shy and bashful as he looked at what he'd done.

"hey thanks for the nice days my man!"

Friday, February 18, 2011

the small wheel

on a day like this
the great arms
that envelop me
pass through my sight in a flurry of wings
creasing the drifting edges of the clouds
and then beneath my feet
across the fields
the soil
the trees
the soft flow of rivers
almost as if they are looking
to catch and hold
my soul's filament spindle
humming taut and golden
and resonant
with the unfolding moment

Thursday, February 17, 2011

sunrise by the river

in every beginning there is an ending

somewhere in the world
night just fell
perhaps gently
perhaps suddenly

behind what hill did this sun just slip

through which trees are the last fingers of night still playing

on which river has the last diamond of light just finished dancing

in whose eyes is this light fading

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

it simply was

stopping for a moment
in the river of wind
that had pushed me to this place
i stepped backwards
into a snow-blued eddy

my thoughts
wrapped around
this fragile sculpture

this drifting place
where nothing happened

it simply was

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

heaven and earth

they dropped like stars
on this
the stillest day

perfect forms
like earthbound angels

and i got so close
i could see
their little wings
folded one against the other
brushing close
as they settled against
the winter metal
of a rusting fence

and so do
heaven and earth
rest first side by side
and then become each other

Monday, February 14, 2011

someone's sun

i'm in the woods
knee deep in snow

the sky is truly
this blue

the trees are truly bending down
to see who is passing through

bewitched by mysterious nearness
i gaze through a shadowy veil
and see an enchanted shoreline
and an enchanted distance
hidden secrets are given to me
someone’s sun is for me to hold

italicized words excerpted from the writing of aleksándr blok "the stranger"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

every window a wall, every wall a window

followers of my other blog "flow" will be familiar with this piece of writing as i left it there a little while ago.

norman clark from an upstairs window

i am
sent outside
to play

sunday morning
even the sun is cold

behind me my mother
watches from the upstairs window
her sight of me
by cream and butter-yellow curtains
now coal soot grey
and soft with dust


i like to let my sight of the world
be framed
by the garden walls

each moss-coated brick
has stories
of migrations
fairy tales

but even the walls are silent

like me
in the hollowness
of this day


the ground is frost hardened
and tumbling with hummocky grass

if my grandfather were still here
it would have flattened
under the weight
of his lawn roller
each blade
would have known the tidy snick of his shears


the sudden flapping of wings
draws my eyes skyward
to where tendril branches
grope across the grey expanse
each in search of its opposite

the wind is creating the music for a sort of dance
and i find my own arms and legs
waving and flailing
i stop and slowing my breathing
pat the dog's head

he looks up at me
with his orange-brown eyes
as if seeking something in me

if he could speak
i feel certain
he'd explain so much of all of this

the cold finds its way past my clothes
so i turn and open the door to the shed

the darkness is comforting
a single window leaks light
onto workbenches
furred with shavings

the sweet smells of cedar
and machine oiled metal
weave in orange and blue threads

i sit on the floor
and think of my father
and my grandfather

they worked here

both dreamed of the inexplicable immensity
of this place

this world of worlds
within and without

bisected by the single thin thread of work

sitting on the floor
of the wooden shed
i sit still and listen
to the sounds
rising from other gardens

Saturday, February 12, 2011

the candid psalm of silence

the candid psalm of silence rises whitely burning
the icy wastes are lit with sunset's radiant yearning
white altars stretch beneath the changeless icy skies
a prayer, not suppliant, a psalm, not voiced, arises

italicized words by konstantin balmont from "in the white land"

Friday, February 11, 2011


when i watch my children
pass a mirror

they bring me to think
of slender branches
their own shadows

Thursday, February 10, 2011

as a white candle

when you're little
you don't know to ask questions
to admire

it's enough to deal with
the difference
between you
and older people

coming to know
the simple wisdom
and quiet grace
of people

no matter their age

is one of the great blessings
of my life

as a white candle
in a holy place
so is the beauty
of an aged face.

from "the old woman" by joseph campbell

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

thirty below zero

come into the woods

the air is still and sweet
with the song
of a small bird
singing its tale of the snowy places
where ice fairies dance
with white rabbits
and wind spriggans

soft stepping
and floating on chilly zephyrs
past stately old maples
and graceful birch trees

we'll walk some more -
past bronzed autumn echoes
that rustle and shiver
with our passing
even as they reach
to kiss their own grey sliding shadows

oh, they remember us
from passings
not so long ago

footprints lost under the snow
under fallen leaves
under rain washed paths
under the dust
of summer

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

soft as a may rain

there was an unlikeliness about their friendship.
her an older woman, and him just moving into what his mom called "the messier side of adulthood".
all the same, they'd meet once a week and talk and drink tea and sometimes when she made scones they'd spoon some of her homemade strawberry jam onto them.
"the sweetest thing this side of summer" she'd say
as she popped the lid off an earthenware jar still cool from the cellar.

they'd met quite by chance as he'd been sweeping the floors at his late afternoon job at harper's five and dime. she'd been looking for something small and pretty to place on her kitchen window ledge.
see, a while back she'd been dusting and had knocked the small china cat that her brother had given her clean off the ledge. she'd watched helplessly as it bounced off the counter and then fell back down behind the stove. she knew from the sound it made when it hit the tile that there would be no need
to even think about gluing it all back together.

looking up and down the aisles of harper's it had been hard to see anything that would fit the bill.
the cobwebby shelves were filled with all sorts of knick knacks and distractions and she was rounding a corner when didn't she bump into the back of joey who was equally focussed on getting some of
the kansas dust up off the floor.

when she'd regained her composure and joey had mumbled his excuse me's she had moved further down the aisle, all the while watching him as he worked. then she'd said, "son, the way you sweep that floor looks to me more like someone painting a masterpiece" and he'd been so taken by her words that he plain forgot what he was doing and putting his brush up against the wall began a conversation
that carried through to this very day.

this early february day.

"ada what is it about birds that makes them need to sing so much?"

ada liked to settle back into her chair when he asked her questions that she needed to think about,
just so she'd get it right enough that he didn't go down a path that he might not come back from.
joey knew that when she settled back like that, this was a time for him to be quiet,
to let the sounds and the smells
of the house fill him up with their stories.

"joey i reckon they have so much sunshine and so many stories flying around all that sunshine that they try and tell some of 'em but it comes out all messy and more like songs than stories 'cause they're telling them fast like if you know what i mean."

"so if i slowed up the bird's songs they'd be more like words?"

"well, i sense that it's best to leave them alone", she replied. "soon as you start playing with that sort of thing you get yourself into a mess of bother", and she chuckled in that bubbling brown sugar voice of hers all sweet and soft and settled even deeper into her chair.

soon enough she'd be breathing the little sleep breaths that he'd come to know.
he'd sit on the floor for a while listening to her breathing in and out.
after a time, looking outside he'd see the mid winter light was almost all gone for the day and he'd get up and pull on his boots and coat and quiet as ever, walk down the creaky floorboard hall and pull the front door to with the gentlest tug to make sure the lock caught.

he liked to stop on the front steps and turn around as if she were standing there and he'd say
"thanks for the scones and jam and tea ada. i'll be back next week".
and he fancied he heard her reply, soft as a may rain "i'll be lookin' for ya".

visual prompt provided by tess at magpie tales

Monday, February 7, 2011

the sign

to tell the beauty would decrease,

there is a syllableless sea
of which it is the sign

emily dickinson excerpted from part five: the single hound (cxxiv)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

listen to the wind

my father would come here
to watch the sea

i see now
that towards the end of his life
his learning
came hard and fast
but also gently

and when he learned
what he needed
it was all he could do
to hold on to this place

he knew he had to turn around
the next arc of the helix
and so he prepared himself
as best he could

talking to the wind
gets you nothing
but answers
that ask questions of you

better to be silent

better to listen
to the wind

Saturday, February 5, 2011


then many

filled with stillness

each somehow seeing past the darkness
with eyes like souls
eyes like hearts
eyes like mouths

warming the air
with cinnamon

each breathing
the souls they see for
for the hearts they see for

locating reconciliation
redemption even
in the voice
of one man


with the many

"i have also called it love-force or soul-force. in the application of satyagraha, i discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and compassion. for what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. and patience means self-suffering. so the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth, not by infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on oneself."

mahatma gandhi

Friday, February 4, 2011

whole as all

the light of a day
is so much a part of its song

when you think of
the words as its colour
well here they are moving
from a sudden tangerine at dawn
to a slow flowering mid-morning yellow

if you don't show care
on the cloudless days
it can catch you full-faced
and unsubtle
in its glare

with care
it is a scarf
of embroidered silk
drawn across the face
of your world

even the trees
deep in their mid winter contented state
wrapped hard around
the soft green flame
that flickers inside them
even the trees
get caught up in the dance
of the returning sun
and perhaps it's not so much
a dance
as a flirting
between dark and light
a kissing in the shadows
a passing of notes

but it's there
that subtle oscillation
that reciprocation
that solar embrocation

rays as lips
sky as mouth
branches as fingers

whole as all

Thursday, February 3, 2011

at daybreak

i had a dream and i awoke with it -
poor little thing that i had not unclasped
after the kiss goodbye.

and at the surface how it gasped -
this thing that i had loved in the unlit
depth of the drowsy sea . . .
ah me!
this thing which i drifted toward the sky.

driftwood upon a wave -
senseless the motion that it gave.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


on this day
everything is holding its place
under the clouds

my body turns
my mind holds still

one hand earthward
the other towards the sky
the entire detail
of everything
that is
floods through

the sky above the roof
so blue, so calm!
a tree, above the roof
waves its crown.

the bell in the sky we see,
gently rings.
a bird in the tree over there
sings his complaint.

words excerpted from le ciel est, par-dessus le toit by paul verlaine

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


i like to be
on the good side
of the candle

i like to feel
the ink draw up the nib

i like to follow
the arcs and quivers
of words emerging


the sky is thin as wax paper

all around me
people are glimmering feebly
as they pass
through the day

there's more light to be had
than a month ago
but there's an empty
but not quite
about the air

boris pasternak spent time reflecting on a very similar sort of day

february. get ink, shed tears.
write of it, sob your heart out, sing,
while torrential slush that roars
burns in the blackness of the spring.

excerpted from "winter's night" by boris pasternak