Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances.”

11 December 2010

for John, after the din dies down.

its the birthday of Grace Paley,

"The ladies who once wore I Like Ike buttons sat on the south side of the sandbox, and the rest of us who were revisionist Communist and revisionist Trotskyite and revisionist Zionist registered Democrats sat on the north side."

       "I own two small boys...When I'm not furiously exhausted from my low-level job and that bedraggled soot-slimy house, I praise God for them."

and of Jim Harrison,

"...the stars and moon were a tonic after the dark lid of her thicket."

 "The first step is to pee and make coffee, which I can deal with, and after that what happens is not in firm hands."

10 December 2010

for friday, and sister mama.

09 December 2010

it's the birthday of John Milton.

"Milton coined more than 600 words, including the adjectives dreary, flowery, jubilant, satanic, saintly, terrific, ethereal, sublime, impassive, unprincipled, dismissive, and feverish; as well as the nouns fragrance, adventurer, anarchy."

08 December 2010

its the birthday of gregg allman

southern rock god, dog lover.

07 December 2010

 Letters from the Outside #31

Supersaturating rainfall turning to heavy snow in the freezing dark and now in the molecular heat of first december sunlight the hill crackles with the thaw of ice like rock candy under a chicory sky. The wind that roars around your house at night whistles under your hat and its hard to hear the cars coming, though when its still the cold air helps you hear for miles.

For all my talk, I think I have it backwards, still. Theres a quantum leap between knowing something and Being it that I have yet to make. And to these ends I wend through vineyards beneath windfarms for a dark, fey woman in a blue house on the hill, her little arctic familiar sounding out the hour, and for now ill call her The Plow. I am thinking Frau, and the guidance of stars and the lovely dark furrows of late fall that presage pale green fields of Springtime. Pixie-led into the forest of symbols I knew as cones and acorns in nimble little hands my lifetime ago. Here, at the bottom of the year, I am arrived at the Gate of my latest adventure, the Seeking of the Key. Key to Box and Whats Within will come later. For now, delighted and satisfied with a sign ive come the right way around. And Lo, the light on the sword that rises slowly to its hand through the water attracts the silent flight of my sharp dark, eyes like the canyon creekbed you fall towards in dreams. Of course the whole thing is translated into some mythic battle for my bright and ceaseless Soul but arent we all the Multiverse made microcosm? Arent all our stories the nth retelling of the One? Archetypes, Transformations, Faery Tales. I go back to Sexton and Bettelheim, Lame Deer and the one about wolves. The Hobbit sets out to Return the Ring. Retrieval of access to Self that is not locked in a box but a wild bird roosted and to a certain tree returning. Fresh scars the hieroglyphs of how I fight to keep the ax in my own hand at bay. The recurring struggle of my Decembers, the Oak and Holly battleground, the Wheel. Its just the next leg on the Road to Find Out. Creiddylad, Drudenfuss and Gawain (whom Zuzu referred to as "those other gwynnishdwiddlinsceruddlinoos") lead me back to The Lady, who was waiting all along on the altar behind the ravens and the rabbits and the horses.

There are no love songs on Highway 61 Revisited, and crows flap and gather in the shallow snow of stubblefields. Water in the culvert turns to slush and the brown reeds in the fen seem less bereft and more an essential symbol for the hope that what once was green will be again. Creeks and culverts adorned with baubled atolls and archipelagos of ice, hibernation pulse of sunlight I can feel the exposed plane of my face respond immediately to the fleeting glow, honey dripping down to meet the steam rising from my skin. The woods seem subdued beneath the first hypodermic freeze thrown sleeping rug of snow the dry autumn carpet not entirely inhumed and the hillfloor is a texture like brushstrokes, the broken surface of change before the deep eiderdown expanse of january.

I review my understanding of vast mechanics and am briefly allowed into their telescopic perspective. The sacrificial Sun spending itself in Light and the attendant orbiting aggregates of dust, rock clockwork tipped like pears in the hemisphere of a wooden fruitbowl, making their Way. I see how the good growing world changes, how the light shifts. I represent my pagan tribe, a small shining vigil for tolerance and wonder, at the school again this year, invited to share the Celebration of the Light, drawing down the Lady Freyja in her amber and her falcon cloak and her fiery crown. Then I circle small tables in my big black boots and serve white-icing sweets to wide-open faces.

Cold now until april, with mud and sprouts and everything emerging into itself. I discover a cache of fine stovewood earlier obscured by the gown of an old lilac. 'Tis a golden gift and im out in my socks and my clogs, climbing sliding piles of industrial shelving to carry the heavy eggs of fire inside, celebrate by baking brownies and drinking the last of the shiraz from the bottle. 

Three o'clock low sky twilight. The boys come home, showing me their gentle, smiling faces, inspiringly patient, kind and understanding, my wee ones. And all this after all that questionable parenting. Coming in from the cold to the smell of fresh coffee and baked chocolate. A little Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band, waiting to start supper. I hope these letters are leaves of filigree that you can hold up to the light like paper snowflakes and see a little of the world that waits for you, the wind and the weather and the wildness. The Faerie Keep and the butterfly silhouette made from the tenacious open husk of a chestnut high up in its tree.

We enter the long dark, but how bright the stars burn for us now.

for Zuzu, and the giddy, and the tea.

01 December 2010

its the birthday of Woody Allen who said,

"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once."

30 November 2010

 Letters from the Outside, #30

It seems a glorious march day, in the thrust of the thaw, except theres no ragged hold-outs of snow in the shadow of the trees. The south wind is warm and wet and the sound of the woods tells me ill shortly be wetter. The road is a leopard slug. The dogs and I revel in the smell, even the smell of spring, the wet earth. I stand here in gentle rain, in no fetter but of my own devising, the dogs wet and wondering why the wait, and I dedicate this feeling of quiet grace to you. I take up again with Sitting and Stretching, and extra walks, even when it rains. This time of year im more than willing to release myself from the bonds of my body, so living deeper into it helps maintain the fragile attachment until Spring restores my fiercer dedication to living. The cars hiss close and hard going by, and it drives the dogs bonkers, who dont like them much anyway. The sound of bullets is everywhere now, deep hoof tracks in the damp sand by the side of the road, the deer so freaked out theyre driven from the heart of their home to the fringes by the hard scars where the alien anti-creatures kill but do not eat them. I am grateful for canny hoof-folk around here, thats its few and far between the buzzard pickings for this road. The woodpeckers and the jays raise their wild cries beating branch to branch a blur of bright blue or the broad black wingspan of the woodpecker, Picus, with the white slashes. Cardinal and Spruce and Jay are the colors of this season.

I tend the fire, bake hot milk cake and cornbread, paint my Zuzu a letter, send her the little videos of my day, T. on the trampoline in tinted swim goggles which he wore onto the bus in the morning, rain on water by the wayside. We stopped in front of the barn at the place to make way for a car coming up over the rise and in the grit was a red stone, human heart shaped, perfect. Wrinkles and cracks on the back draw a fox, a woman walking, a star. It is windy and warm and everything is cast in either high glare or black shadow. The branches of the barren feral apple trees seem sinister in the contrast and the empty pasture has a perfect summer tundra quality, I expect to see an arctic fox in his winter whites loping across from copse to copse, nosing along for mice or the track of a rabbit, headed for a good drink at the creek, one eye on the treeline.

The next day I go out in a pour and come home under the clearest sky in a long time. Thats two in a row. But its been good to walk in the rain, the supersaturated air and your good wool sweater doing its job, the rain rolling across your eyebrows and collecting on the tip of your nose, striding along with the shadow legions the rain makes looking through it as it falls and blows on the wide empty spaces, billowing ghost rags, waves and undulations across the valley floor. The rain is symphonic, and I can hear it drumming on the bare branches of the far hill. Voices carry so clear through the valley, and on windy days its hard to tell from where the cars are coming, and if theyre even on this road or the one over. But the significance hasnt been lost on me, my rainy graveyard grandmother and her cold mist sister calling the spirit of their man back into the Open. I knew it yesterday walking past the place, knew it when I came home and “Saule, Perkons, Daugava” was playing. The man lived a long life, full of lifetimes, shook hands with Adolf and Dwight D., but didnt say much about it, or anything. He was a fine tenor. Grew roses and raspberries and liked to sit in a rowboat and fish. He was always aloof with me. I think kids reminded him of all of his he left behind in the ground across the Ocean. My grandfather had a good run; we should all be so lucky. And now the deathrattle of a bitter ancient bloodfeud in my family, hostilities embroidered onto our bones, poisoned fingers pointed at the funeral of all things, certain cars sliding out of queue to convene with the leather elbowed attorney to see if something cant be done. It was an arctic cold that attended the interment, and I took brief refuge in the blockstone chapel across the path where the gravediggers leaned against the walls like bit parts in a Shakespeare play. I thanked them all for the crucial service they provide and they responded with wide eyes and silence so surmised I, again and as always, had breached some unspoken etiquette. One man looked to his others and back to me. “No ones ever thanked us before,” he said.

This time of year im just hanging on with my fingernails, and the words are few and far between. But you are never far from our hearts and minds, especially now, in the waning of the year, the protracted dark, when we as naked apes huddle together around our hearth fires and are thankful simply for each other. It cannot be too soon you are returned unto the motley rumpus.

23 November 2010

tuesday is the new friday.  in honor of The Engineer.

Dievs Sveti Latvija.

20 November 2010

instead of another post of "loose" (for now)

walking and stretching and this song. 

thanks to cowboy and zuzu for seeing through me,seeing me through.

17 November 2010

Letters from the Outside, #29

Dark comes quickly now, the Sun not rising that high over the horizon to begin with these days, like the Moon just rolling east to west barely bridging the hogbacks that frame my wide ribbon of sky. Shadow congeals in the leaf litter, draws out of the trees their more cryptic qualities, night breezes bringing that sleepy hollow clatter of imagined phalanges, but the air over the creek to Avalon is cool and sweet, and I stand at the rise of the road between the lea and the grove and am hopeful, and unafraid. To think its almost december again without you.

The wind is strong but almost warm through the valley pulling clotted cloud cover over our heads. The black dog flushes doves from the high willow scrub and my mind is blank as a page, empty as sky between branches. I stand for awhile with the last of the hickory leaves telling their secrets, the tall dry creek grass singing the bardos, just listening. Lavender buds for the walnut tree, for the bone of the doe mouldering down into the bank, preserved in the dough of the road, exploded by the last pass of the tractor that mows. Deer bones and goldenrod burls and only just opening Asclepias with their perfectly filed fishscale seeds that turn to birds in the open air. I salute the knowing of each thing to differentiate seed from feather and release in order to grow.

November has been so gentle with us, these days like May, dry and bright, but today a do not resuscitate called in, clouds like dirty batting between us and the Sun and into the thousand browns of November ive got that call to wander, so we walk farther afield, over the crossroads, and take photos of old hollyhock and empty seedheads and the folks up ahead dont always keep their dogs tied so we turn around, standing for a long while with a white pine I collect soft dense resin from for smudging. I am so desperate for the woods today I stand up against the posted signs like a bowsprit and dream my way up these hills and over these boulders and through the trees over the sweet dry leaves to somewhere there are no cars or x-ray machines, to somewhere that doesnt ask questions it doesnt really want to know. A little clearing in the trees in any season where there is always something new to smell and hear and feel and see, that accepts you as you are, as part of itself indeed.

Ive been collecting more lately, sticks and twigs and stones and feathers, leaves and bones and I discovered that oak galls rattle like dry beans. To go farther, deeper in, I look more closely. The elegant script of grapevine, an eggshell buried under leaves. Burls and branches and mushrooms and moss are gentle professors of a lesson it will take me lifetimes to learn. Running the same route every day and its different from minute to minute I send my spirit out into the world and see what returns in reflection, how my life aligns with the the day, the season, the year.
Rain late in the day and into the evening, rain and buttercake and early to bed, the morning muddy and cold, my hands cramped from damp winds moaning and whistling in the chimney, an aeolian harp of ghosts that begs my listening. I may just go out even today, all the more ruddy and alive in the dim decline after the ides of november unties her knots and releases the flaying winds that blow us into december.

Fell this morning in the slick of mud where the dogs turn the corner to torment passersby and grateful for these cosmic wake-up calls, mercifully gentle reminders of enormous invisible forces that rule us all, Inertia and Friction and Gravity, all the Old Gods we clothe in robes of words so we may see them, apprehend their outline, set them like marble statues of ewer bearing toga models in the victorian boxwood gardens of our ignorance. We share 70% of our genetic material with a sea sponge, and the mud on my clogs is the same as me, after the last fire, mixed with a little rain thats been raining here since before our pioneering ancestrals set naked toes into tall grass.

Enclosed please find a photograph of the red cedar tree I stop at sometimes, to collect a branch for smudging, or smile at the wild vine that twines, spirals and scrolls in simple curves and flourishes, the purple black foxgrapes, their leaves broad and veined and pinked along the edges. I imagine your happy return, wreathed in a chaplet of this ancient symbol of plenty and joy, contented and smiling, Bacchus among gentle maenads. For now the openfaced base of a branch cut away from the tree to help remind you of all the Love and folk who wait through the interminable winter of your absence evergreen with hope and prayer for the ecstatic springtime of your return. 

16 November 2010

a few of the  many to fill in for a little while more

it feels bad to rant, which is why i deleted all of that to begin with.  but was encouraged to post in the interest of full disclosure, and balanced reporting.  but i really dont care to actively feel that sort of way, and try to accentuate the positive.  we all have those days, no?  but im almost embarrassed to have posted it, and struggle with not deleting it.  i practice patience and compassion to the best of my ability, but will admit to litter being one of the real achilles heels in my peace love and understanding.
ive been walking a great deal, collecting sticks and rocks, but not a lot of writing.  ive been plagued with a spate of unhappy night dreams and the yucko feeling is coming back (more technical meds and subsequent claustrophobic x-ray encounters in my near future) but theres a lot of great stuff hovering over my head that help me abide. 

13 November 2010

previously omitted sections of Epistle XXVIII, for the curious, with thanks to Cowboy.

Im letting go of negativity, all her wanton blemished bastards picking my pockets my dreams careening on a bed of nails an impotent crucifixion signifying nothing. Nihil, god of my abhorrence. I reach for Grace. I reach for the Light that infuses strength enough to choose peace and kindness, for the Darkness from which all good things are born.  
Dark Moon performance art theres one that wont commune, wont connect, and the antagonism I feel is unjust, but implacable. All this anger and impatience people practice upon one another, rewiring and corrupting an original and essential Interconnectedness. The white priests that pray to profit understand this completely. That unity is power. So the tools they use to feed their shiny horrors into us like Hamlets uncle are ever undergoing unification. Conglomeration. Deregulation. Empire. Having make a manure lagoon of the world they need now only enslave the inner frontiers. My fellow mans attention has therefore been corralled entirely upon a tiny screen. In a rubber mask of friendship and connection they slip the fiberoptic noose around our necks, and we are thusly transformed into empty ambulating consumers for corn syrup and technological plutocracy.
I resist. I celebrate the sunrise and the stars. I attempt to bridge the howling chasms between reflections of the One, my life a crazyquilt as unenthralled by their pestilent puppet show as is possible. To do this I keep my soul power strong through clean air and deep rest and nourishment from the Earth. Power bestowed upon me at my first breath by the power of Love in the world which I shall not forsake nor deny through participation in the illusion of separation which exists only to assure the wraith lords of the military industrial complex the only time we are given, our lives. 
Does it matter that food rots on the shelf while millions die of hunger? Does it matter that our planet is dying from us? Does it matter that the man woman child we murder with a bomb dropped from a plane as they smile at one another across the breakfast table are you and I? What color is your latest cellular telephone? Did you spend a sufficient number of hours in front of the television to have a conversation that doesnt threaten the ignorant bliss of american social norms? Do you look like the person in the magazine? Are you afraid? Excellent. Make yourself at home in the Machine.
T. asks me where the one cat is. “I fed her tuna from my fingers this morning in the snow.” That evanescent negligee is long gone, replaced by what passes here for warm weather in november but its still raw and windy, a weather that inspires you to transform a large hard squash you bought off the side of the road along with your eggs from chickens you can watch flutter and fuss in the pasture past the horsefence into a food you eat with a spoon, or sip from a mug with bread toasted and buttered that rose while you were out on your walk. Winter reminds us what fragile creatures we truly are. 
Why are we so willing to allow our fear and incomprehension to keep us from generosity and compassion? Why do we work so hard to harm others and not believe it harms ourselves? People say this is an unreal and na├»ve perspective. It is only unreal when you accept their superimposition of the dogma of man upon the natural world. When its not a tree but board feet. When its not a river but a swill tributary for industrial waste. When its not the finite liquefied remains of Earths biotic history but the mother of our culture, Medea eating her children, what we live and kill for. I emailed the man who talks through trees and the ad attempting to get my attention said, “save us from our phones,” said, “be here now.” it was selling us some new kind of application for some new kind of device. It didnt say, “Put the damned thing down.”
Its a bit grim out there and Im wildly short of breath but I bridle the dogs and away we go, down the same road we walk every day to the same place where I stop and pray and turn around. The same way I suck the wild marrow from, leaving behind only the bone of the road that not a long while ago was most likely a way to the lake through the valley, a wooded footpath along the lower wetlands. So I pick up the butts and beercans and nappies and plastic trash in defiant honor of the Soul of this land that offers to me such succor and solace and to honor my soul which is also one part of it. And people in their vehicles using their miraculous thumbs to push buttons to signify that they are laughing (when I laugh out loud in a public place I garner dirty looks by folks who must only engage in that kind of behaviour through a series of letters on a keyboard) throw the discarded skins of their salt sugar alcohol nicotine fat stashes (I picked up almost ten aerosol whipped cream dispensers the other day, all full except for the cache of gas that escaped through someones orifice into the space before the stars, burning a hole in the wall of the womb of the world).
What we do to the Earth we do to ourselves. I rail impotently against my lemming contemporaries, but theyve only done what was expected of them, successfully neutralized by people in charge of excising everyones humanity and replacing their brains with a clutch of cubbyholes for just enough necessary input to keep the organism traveling through to the next stage of consumerism, stumbling dumbly into disease and at last released into death, even these assigned their hundred fees.
Letters from the Outside, #28, Part 2

After the thick fog burns off, the morning is clear and cold as creekwater. Otc asthma meds resorted to, but they give me the wicked jitters and my scalp crawls. For the second year in a row theres a martial chauvinist choral performance at the high school where they will, inexplicably and also for the second year in a row, be singing “dixie," as well as "praise the lord and pass the ammunition."  I sit in the back and bring my knitting.

The light comes from somewhere closer to the ground, the long shadows stretching into december. Cardinals and Jays and a bird I follow in a tree with my ears until I seem to breach his comfort bubble and he disappears into the frugal defense of silence. Trees along the easthill practice the howl of snow in the backs of their throats. The cattle are shaggy and contented. The wind picks up and we walk into it, a northwind Boreas rinsing the warmth from our faces. The trees are full of secrets. I pray fervently past the place, Hawk offers benediction. There are dusty smudges on the hill, all thats left of larches gold chain, little links lying on the forest floor in wait of returning. The clouds are frog bones. I offer lavender buds to the air above an oak leaf with dew like the map of the sky.

Walking moves the white noise through me. I felt myself relaxing into the turns of a slow emotional death spiral, and was grateful for all that taking my way had to offer. The turkey buzzards who inspire silent reverence, the cry of the hawk that cleanses the air, and today, arcing along the phone line above the dense brush in the drop-off, a bluebird. Perfect gorgeous creamy blue and a rust red breast, a bluebird. I make a wish and my heart is happy.
Sudden developments that may lead to one of my wishes coming true. Lovely and terrifying the hope that swells inside me for such a crucial boon. The keystone for all other wishes to rest upon. I try to relax, do what needs doing. Bake brownies, wash the kitchen floor. Take a nap in a sunbeam. Ride chanticleer, feel my heart beat beneath my bones. Its like May here, a dry clear day in May when theres a sense of emerging except in November its a knowing of your last look before the long sleep of snow and dark at four-thirty. The nights have been so clear, the stars so close in an infinite sky.  The glory of Jupiter, Orions belt in the east, doomed Cassiopeia to the west. My cozy home, dogs and a woodstove, coffee pot and crow feathers, books, blank canvas, music.   The miracle of my life so far.

A sudden, unexpected, marvelous and cathartic experience derived from someones truth-telling drives me outside into the warmth of the world, the pure priceless sunlight and air, and im cleaning up and rearranging the threshold when words come to me to assure me I am strong and beautiful and worthwhile, the kind of words we all need to hear, strung together in just the right way so that they ring like a bell of mindfulness and wake us to living and to Love.

"And if the question were asked: What is more real, the mundane or the sublime? most would hesitate before they gave an answer. On the one side, details: say, the aftermath of a breakfast, dirty chipped plates in the sink, their rims encrusted with egg yolk. Against this, the unnameable: small aching heart with boasts, what can you know? Outside the cage of everything we ever heard or saw, beyond, outside, above, there lies the real, hiding as long as we shall live, there stretch and trail the millions of names of God burning across the eons. When all through this our end will come before we even know the names of us.

For many the egg yolk prevails." -L.M.

"Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well."

"The perfection of the Absolute where all Becoming stops and pure Being, immutable, timeless, unchanging, hangs forever like a ripe peach upon the bough." -E.A.

"...and the whole incident was incredibly frazzling and angst-rod and filled almost a whole mead notebook and is here recounted in only its barest psycho-skeletal outline." -D.F.W.

"At the top of the mountain, we are all snow leopards." -H.S.T.

"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." -D.T.
"Cometh a voice: My children, hear; From the crowded street and the close-packed mart I call you back with my message clear, back to my lap and my loving heart. Long have ye left me, journeying on by range and river and grassy plain, to the teeming towns where the rest have gone - come back, come back to my arms again. So shall ye lose the foolish needs that gnaw your souls; and my touch shall serve to heal the fretted nerve. Treading the turf that ye once loved well, instead of the stones of the city's street, ye shall hear nor din nor drunken yell, but the wind that croons in the ripening wheat. I that am old have seen long since ruin of palaces made with hands for the soldier-king and the priest and prince whose cities crumble in desert sands. But still the furrow in many a clime yields softly under the ploughman's feet; still there is seeding and harvest time, and the wind still croons in the ripening wheat. The works of man are but little worth; for a time they stand, for a space endure; but turn once more to your mother - Earth, my gifts are gracious, my works are sure. Instead of the strife and pain I give you peace, with its blessing sweet. Come back, come back to my arms again, for the wind still croons in the ripening wheat."
-John Sandes, The Earth-Mother (excerpt, 1918)