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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fast Day 256 April 29 2012 {In The Time Of Nectar Famine}

In the time of nectar famine,
the winds are filled with pollen:
aromatic like spice from the Islands
of Cockaigne and Creole spice cake;
a bawdy savory of genital
peppercorns of trees:
crabapple and dogwood.

In the time of spring blood heat,
the rains come after midnight;   
shaking down half the cherry blossom corymbs,
leaving half pennant on the trees:
accounting of patchwork flowering cloves!
pink lanterns in suspense
between heaven and earth!


a happiness to balance the previous poem.
spring pollen from crabapples can be very heady.
The scene is a park where crabapples have bloomed, the air is filled with their peppery (to me, at least) scent, and rains have knocked so many blooms down that everything: sidewalk, lawn, trees, and sky are perfectly pink, and one is indistinguishable from the other. (real story.)... so it is a hard "accounting" of the spicy tree blooms.

Cockaigne - mythical land of plenty or make-believe. I am thinking of it as a French usage:
George Ellis printed a 13th century French poem called "The Land of Cockaigne" where
the houses were made of barley sugar and cakes, the streets were paved with pastry, and the shops supplied goods for nothing.
and that matches up with "creole" which gives the idea of a mixture or melang.

pennant - "to leave half pennant" means "to leave half (of them) flying like pennants on the tree branches."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fast Day 255 April 22 2012 {On Meeting Neighbor Knowles In The Cemetery}

On Meeting Neighbor Knowles In The Cemetery

We walked to a primeval grove
of a ripeness passed beyond its time:
Absalom Vandever four-square stood
a funeral obelisk inscribed,
cut with the names of all his wives
and their progeny of his despair:
Afra was the first
who bore James of the three days:
she died in ’75, and the child
followed soon thereafter in the last
two of his toll of days:
he knew, Absalom thought, and inscribed
upon the  face of stone:
The face of God is the first delight!
And the only delight for thee!

On each remaining triune face
was a woman’s name and a child’s
who was born to pass right on,
at least by the testament of this granite here!
Four wives, five children, the last were twins
a final paradox to Mr. Vandever
not fathoming fruit and multiplycation
combined with a cursed division...
Neighbor Knowles says no tomb of Absalom
is hereabouts and no one kens  his farm;
maybe all knowledge has disappeared…
or folks fear the bane of lecher death
that could not wait, and hied them all
to his dance in the Puttygut Road cemetery.

“Being in troubled times, I wonder
what will break the spell
of this profound despair of mine,
this my titanic hell!”


True experience...
I use the word "triune" because there are 3 remaining faces; this may be illogical from a certain point of view.
It is sad.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fast Day 254 April 14 2012 {Walking Through Cranbrook}

Walking Through Cranbrook

Give me paper; give me pen!
give me a monumental poem
as enduring as Saarinen’s fountain,
with Orpheus ascending.

When is the last time you heard
a poem in praise of strength
a poem in praise of valor?
bronze statues black as leather!

If I sat and gazed from a window
through potassium oxide glass,
from the second floor bedroom
behind a brick-work fa├žade,

I would transcend the years
back to the time when my soul
was not a Taliban,
but was a student all enamored!

I would wander back and re-create
the ruined boathouse by the lake
which in desuetude still stands,
loyal guard to love long gone!

The Old Boathouse at Cranbrook


On the grounds of Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Eliel Saarinen was the first resident architect.
These echoes of art re-program my mind...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fast Day 253 April 8 2012 {Spring Plantings}

Spring Plantings

Susan planted pansies yesterday
and I moved them in the evening
to protect them from the freeze
although hardy plant they be;
the full moon shined upon them,
and the full moon frost cuts deeply
in the spring.

I stood and watched that fulgent star,
like Hesiod stood within his vineyard
together with his brother, Perses,
in their childhood, Demeter bless’d,
and like them waited as Pandora
opened a jar of corrosion
to melt gold.

So we plant our flowers in hard times,
awaiting life’s newness once again:
like old vines who have sent down roots
deep in the soil, we are pruned again,
but await the graft of spring’s new
scion wood into our wounded souls:
Easter time!


The references are to Hesiod's Works and Days, a poem from ancient Greece.

Demeter - great Mother, source of wealth and growing things; associated with the Golden Age.

Pandora – according to Hesiod, opened a container of evils, ruining the perfection of the world; a reference to the present less-than-perfect state of affairs.

scion wood – wood to be grafted onto existing stocks

We have faith in a return to goodness after winter, after the end of a golden age, after we have been cut and wounded.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fast Day 252 April 1 2012 {Being There}

Being There

I woke up this morning and found
the twentieth century laying
on my front porch like a newspaper
that had been out in the rain all night,
its screaming headlines now weeping
tar-like sins and ink everywhere;
the twenty-first century flashed
and died, an electric light bulb
failing as I trashed the newspaper.

I woke up before first light;
in the coal-oil lamp hours that
are angular and severe,
like an unfurnished house,
full of promise, austere yet rich,
like an empty Shaker meeting hall;
I walked out in the rain:
let God’s leather
take God’s weather…

Shaker Hall


I almost entirely forgot to post this.
I called it "Being There" because I was there...  Zen-thing...

There is an antithesis between the first and second stanzas expressed by the first sentence in each.