Sunday, November 28, 2010

We Who Might Be Beautiful Together...

I took a walk to visit Poem Tree. The wind was blowing ribbons and poem cards this way and that. I leaned Spirit Stick against the bench and untangled some of the ribbons from the branches. They love to dance in the wind. They love to dance so much they forget themselves & get tied in knots. I know how that feels.

A woman came by and noticed Spirit Stick. This is beautiful, she said, where did you get it? On the street, I said. A piece here, a piece there. And things people give me.

Oh, you made it! she said. (this happens more than you might imagine... as though one could find this in a store)

It is beautiful. I think so too.

The things it's made of don't seem like much by themselves. A bit of colored ribbon, packing tape, aluminum can tabs, plastic rings... most of them found on the street. Things people have dropped, tossed aside. I pick them up from the sidewalk, from muddy puddles by the curb, on parking lots. I see something... a bit of color, something that shines in the sun, and I think -- oh, this will be nice to add to Spirit Stick. I'll find a place for it, and it will become part of Spirit Stick.

Like a line in a poem

Most of them, not much in themselves, a few stand out. Like the bit of a bracelet I found on the subway platform. If you look for it, you can single it out. Oh, this is pretty--where did you find it?

But the pretty things are no more or less important than the aluminum tabs I took from cans in the trash, or bits of string from a muddy puddle. A pigeon feather. They all come together, become something else, something more. & yet are no less what they are in themselves.

Like the words of a poem

I think the best poems... the poems I love, are like that. Made of things others have tossed aside. Thought useless.


But in just this resides their beauty--which has no use we can readily assign. A poet, an artist... sees this lost, abandoned thing... 'you are like me, he thinks, and I am like you ... and she loves it for what it is, and gives it a home. With other homeless things.

A Spirit Stick.

A Poem Tree.

A poem.

And they rejoice and dance in wind or rain. In the mind of someone passing by. We are beautiful together! they say...

... and they are... and so might we all, be beautiful together. Lost things waiting to be found

Thursday, November 25, 2010

November 25, 2010

Observe. Write what impreses
the senses
let the mind follow

It's in naming common things
we draw the reader in

A kind of touch
                                                               you see
                                                               I see

where every conversation
wants to go

Outside a neighbor is talking on her cell phone
It's the day we call Thanksgiving
This morning snow flakes descended from gray clouds
There is neither rhyme nor reason for these lines
Distilled out of air
Out of the gray chemistry of my brain
Out of what we call mind
We can neither touch nor hold them.
As they pass through words
At near the speed of light
Cosmic rays pass through the earth
They are everywhere
Hydrogen protons
Alpha particles of helium
Hurled by magnetic storms from dying stars
A faint hiss
On my neighbor's cell
breaking open

the genetic code





of death & dreams

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Urban Ecology

A single squirrel


a universe

of squirrels          sparrows
by eves in leaves

by berries on the juniper

back yard

& lost
& found again

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Talking to Trees

I walked in Morris Park along the creek where last year I found the bones of a deer. I talked to the trees. I tied the poem I wrote to a tree by the creek.

Yesterday I was meditating, sitting on the blue wall, not too close and not too far from the Poem Tree. Meditating for me doesn’t mean spacing out, entering an altered state or filtering out the passing world. I attend to what is happening: passers by, cars, bickers, pigeons hunting for scraps near my feet--but without following after. Not unlike how one deals with the unceasing river of thoughts. Cannot be stopped, but you learn not to hitch rides. Let them pass.

I became aware of something missing—something I was perhaps blocking out. This came to me when I spontaneously greeted a pigeon, and then a dog as it passed. I didn’t say anything, but acknowledged them in silent greeting. I wasn’t on a heavily trafficked walk in Center City where one is forced to withdraw, to block engagement, and yet I realized I was treating the people who walked past like phantoms. How would it interrupt or disturb my meditation to let myself be open to greeting those who were in turn, open to my presence? I began to bring that into my meditation. People would go by, folded up in their own thoughts, their cell phone conversations--noticing little more than what was necessary to keep walking in a straight line, to not trip over obstacles. But a few would see me on the wall. See the Spirit Stick. Something would pass between us. Mutual acknowledgment.

I exist. You exist.

It felt so natural. Why had I needed to remind myself? To choose to do this? And it occurred to me, not as a thought exactly, but an impulse, that if I could greet birds, dogs, people—why not passing cars? Planes overhead? Trees? Trash receptacles? Sign posts? The street itself? It all began to feel like a great river of love was sweeping us up in its embrace—everything.

As I walked home, I told myself… I need to learn how to speak to things.
Today in the park I talked to the trees. And to stones. And to the creek. I told the creek I knew that people had given it a name—but I couldn’t say it. It felt like a brand of ownership. I told the creek I didn’t want to own it. How happy it made me, watching it flow past, free of me, of my need to bind it to a name! I told the trees the story of the Poem Tree—how it had found a second life. They must be pleased, I thought—to hear a story of a tree come back to life. And I felt such happiness! That it was right, telling them this story. That what I had done was perfectly natural and right and good.

Later, on the upper path, there was no need to tell the story. It was enough to greet them. They knew. They understood. Their roots in the same earth. Their branches moved by the same wind.

It isn’t because there are spirits in the trees, or consciousness… like human consciousness. It was because, in speaking to them, it was so deeply pressed upon me how different they were, and yet, under the light and warmth of that great thermonuclear furnace beginning to bath the tops of the trees in orange and gold, it was equally pressed upon me that we were also alike. Specks on the surface of the earth, the earth itself little more than a speck in the Milky Way, and the Milky Way a speck in the universe.

On the way home I spoke to many things. I spoke to the signs on the walls of the subway… they were so heavy, so weighted down in the slavery of being owned, and in the service of owners and ownership. But by speaking to them, I sensed that they were more and other than their slavery. Things. Things that held powers, other powers, that might become visible once relieved of the slavery of ownership, and of service to ownership.

This is what poems do, I thought. What art does. Makes visible in the poem, in the work of art, a trace of what is beyond using and being used, resisting ownership. A trace of Being… for itself, and nothing else.
Let me add this as a follow up:
Debrah Morkun, in responding to a FaceBook post on how good it was to talk to trees, added... "It is important to talk to trees. Wise trees." I think the "wisdom of trees" consists precisely in their inhuman silence, in their making no demands, requesting nothing, having no secret wisdom to reveal. They stand beside us in their own Being. If we resist projecting our desires onto the tree--it becomes an almost effortless experience of 'traversing the fantasy,' so much more difficult to do with other persons where we stand trapped in anxious need to respond to what we can only guess they might want of us, ready to betray our own desires in trying to resist or fulfill the demands of what Blake called Nobaddy, and Lacan, the Big Other.

... first you do stuff,
and then you write about it
and if what you do is a poem...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Barking Dog Says...

Barking Dog says... All things in being owned are SLAVES, and owning first makes slaves of those who own

Barking Dog says... First you do stuff. Then you write about it. If what you do is a poem, you are a poet.

Barking Dog says... Just because you're a poet don't make everything you write a poem

Barking Dog says... there is no stasis in nature. All Things have powers. All Things, act. A poem is a trace of the power of Things -- its hidden life cannot be owned.

Barking Dog says... a poem, too, is a Thing among things, what it is remains hidden. Withdrawn. The hidden life of Things cannot be owned.

Barking Dog says... what one reads is always a trace, which is another Thing. There is no end to the labyrinth of Being.

Barking Dog says... no one has ever found the Minotaur. No one ever will.

Barking Dog says... Jack went to Market with the World, and traded it for a hologram called 'reality.'

Good reason why the young reject the wisdom of the old. They know intuitively that there's no shortcuts: wisdom grows out of the accumulation of one's mistakes, so it's always retroactive. The more mistakes, the greater the wisdom... but it's wisdom only in regard to mistakes already made, never to the ones that lie in wait. In this, young or old, wise or innocent, we are all equals

Barking Dog says... elections don't drive change, change drives elections. Become a movement of one in a movement of three in a movement of ten to seed a movement of millions.

From: Teachings of the Barking Dog

November 20th
Natalie Lyalin
Michelle Taransky
Jacob Russell

Read at Chapterhouse
8:00 PM

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Time change

tonight at 2:00 AM, take all your clocks, all the appliances and
electronic instruments that keep time, throw them into a deep pit. Cover
with dirt, and plant a tree over their remains. Close your eyes and
listen to the wind sweep away 12,000 years, wake beside a fire, the eyes
of dogs glowing in the dark outside your camp.

Now you may begin again.

You can keep the dogs

Monday, November 1, 2010

Notes Towards an Object-Oriented Literary Criticism

On Larval Subjects

Since I Went Missing: Poem at Danse Macabre

I have a poem up at Danse Macabre, under Nouvelle Poésie de Guerre

Danse Macabre has a wonderfully relevant and powerful issue on line today; WELTKRIEG, could not be more timely.

I had in mind as I was writing this poem,  something that would be, simultaneously, intensely subjective, and a problem on the level of language and aesthetics--the paradox of emptying the poem of the first person I.

Context has transformed it--I read it here and gasped. This is not my poem! I didn't write this! This is so much better!

The absence of specific context invited, what for me, was a whole new reading. But of course, I thought, conscious only of these abstractions as I wrote--how could I not have been thinking all along about death?

For me--a powerful example of how completely irrelevant the idea of 'authorial intent.'

Thank you, Danse Macabre!