We share many things, this Dutch Iris and I
Both tall and slender, bask in warming weather
Country of heritage by name together
Blue edged with gold in the iris of my eye
We just got back from a forest retreat in a rustic cabin… no electricity, no running water, no gadgets…. Only us and the forest. Though it was only for a few days, the experience was significant in many ways. I hope to share more in the coming days as I integrate and process the experience, but here is the first poem to emerge.
Morning is beautiful because
the dark has fled and you turn inward
to the poet speaking outward
and baptizing your eyes with sight
reaching deep into the forest’s green shadows…
A stag breaks from the brush.
Startling you in its immediacy.
Nature leaves a layer on you –
cuts and sweat and smoke and Earth.
A domestic embrace we call dirt and grime
in the wild city, running to the shower to scrape
and scrub, pushing it away to the invisible,
only to replace it each morning
with plastic and greed and exhaust and deceit.
A truck rumbles down the street.
Startling you in its hubris.
Yes, the honest smoke from the campfire still clings,
searing the soothing ritual of sweat and dust into your skin.
The breeze grants you a part in birdsong poetry,
the movement of the city reminds you of being
green-washed and cradled in layers of stillness.
The experience settles in.
Startling you in its recognition.
Alban Arthan, apples, Carmina Gadelica, cedar, celebration, cleansing, clooties, December, festival, holly, Holly King, juniper, libations, longest night, mandala, nemetons, oak, Oak King, pilgrimage, ritual, smudging, stag, sun, sunset, tradition, wheel of the year, wine, winter, Winter Solstice, wreath
Yes, it has taken this long to get around to posting about the Winter Solstice of 2014.
The Serpentine Mother and the Altar of Dreams (Birth of Heroes)
Serpentine Mother, beautiful and terrible
of breath and spirit, lantern-eyes brightening
patterns in sunlight and forest shadow – she enters
the labyrinth and places sacred riddles,
scribbled flags in perfect order,
for you to find when you awake in the center,
on the altar of your dreams.
Her Spirit and Breath will never be far, but now,
a vessel of living or dying and her ancestral scream
unchains you –
Sight, sound, touch, and
SCREAM. Aahhh, the taste of
dappled shadow ground in the grove, a pattern of sunlight,
an unknown verse, the first of your great song,
resting on the deep lake of Mother, warm
with blood of forgotten riddles, cold
from long footsteps of journey, she dares you
to read those scribbled flags, she leaves you
on the altar of your new name.
Crane’s wing sweeps
floating like snowfall
Sweetly poised, graceful dancer
elegant hunter, steady watcher
Bugling call shakes dust from the soul
opening the inner sight to wondrous colors
Like water on a dusty ceiling,
cathedrals flee candlelight’s memory
and walk to places that can’t be known
like Babylon, Eden, or any of the above.
Today, not yesterday, the incense is burned
and spirals dance on strings and dreams –
stairwells and mazes light the way, reminiscent
of gothic stones, tales of hiding.
Or of release?
eyes within eyes
blessed and cursed
with two clarities
seeing what is
seeing what is to be
doomed to record
as if it is past
forced to feed
here and now
yet to be baked
by the hands
ensuring a slow
a foreshortened life
the day it was born
(originally posted December 2013)
“He is no poet who does not preserve the traditional tales and synchronize the common knowledge”.
Poetry is discourse with the Sacred. It was the primary art of that class of druids known as bards (in Ireland as Filidh). Considering the central role that the druids played in their societies, it is reasonable to assume that poetry also played a central role. It was a means of storytelling, preservation of wisdom, political control, but Bards were doorways for the people – doorways to cultural and spiritual belonging, and this included being at one with the land. Druids were submitted to long years of training, required to memorize the wealth of poetry that allowed them to perform these roles in their culture.
With all these wonderful haikus floating about lately, poetry has been on my mind the past few days…. So I thought I would share some of my feelings on poetry. But first, as good poetry should do, the haikus have inspired me, so here is a poem: