Ah Love, you smell of petroleum
and overwork
with grease on your fingernails,
paint in your hair
there is a pained look in your eye
from no appreciation
you speak to me of the lilacs
and appleblossoms we ought to have
the banquets we should be serving
afterwards rubbing each other for hours
with tenderness and genuine
olive oil
someday. Meantime here is your cracked plate
with spaghetti. Wash your hands &
touch me, praise
my cooking. I shall praise your calluses,
we shall dance in the kitchen
of our imagination.

Judy Grahn

I hardly existed

July 10, 2020

In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.

Mary Oliver
Upstream: Selected Essays

Self Portrait

July 9, 2020

I did not want my body
Spackled in the world’s
Black beads and broke
Diamonds. What the world

Wanted, I did not. Of the things
It wanted. The body of Sunday
Morning, the warm wine and
The blood. The dripping fox

Furs dragged through the black New
York snow–the parked car, the pearls,
To the first pew–the funders,
The trustees, the bloat, the red weight of

The world. Their faces. I wanted not
That. I wanted Saint Francis, the love of
His animals. The wolf, broken and bleeding–
That was me.

Cynthia Cruz

Civilization

July 9, 2020

Those are the people who do complicated things.

 

     they’ll grab us by the thousands

     and put us to work.

 

World’s going to hell, with all these

     villages and trails.

Wild duck flocks aren’t

     what they used to be.

Aurochs grow rare.

 

Fetch me my feathers and amber

 

         *

 

A small cricket

on the typescript page of

“Kyoto born in spring song”

grooms himself

in time with The Well-Tempered Clavier.

I quit typing and watch him through a glass.

How well articulated! How neat!

 

Nobody understands the ANIMAL KINGDOM.

 

         *

 

When creeks are full

The poems flow

When creeks are down

We heap stones.

 

                      Gary Snyder

Even in Winter, you are not safe. Stay indoors, attend your hearths. Try to keep the night at bay by the telling of your tongue. Remember your kin, honour your ancestors. For at this time the dead begin to stir, riding upon hallowed and familiar roads, galloping through villages and wastes, flying through the forests of the mind. Such raids are reminders that the past is not a dead thing, but may return, like a hunter, to follow us for a time.

Ari Berk and William Spytma
The Wild Hunt

Before Dark

July 8, 2020

They used to mass
in the crowns of oaks
on every street for blocks around
but have gone elsewhere,
the evening no longer
gathered by their feathers
but by the leaves, which blot
whatever light is left to the sky.

Whether we saw the crows
as a barely worth mentioning
image of death for the way
they took over branches
with perfect authority,
whether, where did I hear it, their
numbers were thinned by disease,
nothing avails. They are

missing, the crackle of wings
against the weight of their flight,
beaks that broke open
broadcasting any scrap of news.
Like our children, they carry off
whole years, like the wind-borne thought
of cries never welcome enough
day or night in our ears.

Jennifer Barber

I live, at all times, for imaginative fiction; for ambivalence, not instruction. When language serves dogma, then literature is lost. I live also, and only, for excellence. My care is not for the cult of egalitarian mediocrity that is sweeping the world today, wherein even the critics are no longer qualified to differentiate, but for literature, which you may notice I have not defined. I would say that, because of its essential ambivalence, ‘literature’ is: words that provoke a response; that invite the reader or listener to partake of the creative act. There can be no one meaning for a text. Even that of the writer is a but an option.

Literature exists at every level of experience. It is inclusive, not exclusive. It embraces; it does not reduce, however simply it is expressed. The purpose of the storyteller is to relate the truth in a manner that is simple: to integrate without reduction; for it is rarely possible to declare the truth as it is, because the universe presents itself as a Mystery. We have to find parables; we have to tell stories to unriddle the world.

It is a paradox: yet one so important I must restate it. The job of a storyteller is to speak the truth; but what we feel most deeply cannot be spoken in words. At this level only images connect. And so story becomes symbol; and symbol is myth.

It is one of the main errors of historical and rational analysis to suppose that the ‘original form’ of myth can be separated from its miraculous elements. ‘Wonder is only the first glimpse of the start of philosophy,’ says Plato. Aristotle is more explicit: ‘The lover of myths, which are a compound of wonders, is, by his being in that very state, a lover of wisdom.’ Myth encapsulates the nearest approach to absolute that words can speak.

Alan Garner
Aback of Beyond

Soul Traps

July 5, 2020

She calls to you from ten feet past the breakwater,
the likeness of a girl with features grim,
and a rucksack full of multicoloured pots,
or “soul traps,” as she calls them.
Her eyes are stars in sea foam;
her hair is braided kelp.
You gaze upon her scaly skin with wonder,
and ask her what they’re for, these so-called “traps.”
She paints for you a scene of sailors drowned,
of spirits free and swimming for the surface,
but rarely do they make it,
for among the ones who call the sea their home
are those who fancy trophies from above,
those who carry pots and brandish tridents.
Hunters, some would call them. Collectors.
It seems her father counts himself as one.
She says she can’t abide such savage sport
and begs of you to please come down and take them,
quickly now, before he knows they’re gone.
The angel on your shoulder calls for pause,
but the devil’s voice is louder in your ear.
It says for you to help her;
it says to take the lure.
Down the rocks and into shallow water,
and once you’re close enough she pulls you in,
holds you fast beneath the gentle waves.
The daughter of a hunter learns to bait.

Kurt Kirchmeier

Cradles it now, climate-controlled, in her concave belly.
She’s cedar, stained dark from time,
from human hands and fish oil,
a century’s-long avalanche
of sand.

So holding, she becomes everything’s mother:
all bounty, all food, all tidbits, even
the earth and air. Thus she offers
her power of bearing to your
command.

Head, arms, legs splayed, she’s open to anything:
salmon, oolichan oil, seaweed, berries,
your curious eye; her emptiness
is fullness, her submission
demand.

Neile Graham