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.
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.
Recently I had read about a few different indigenous cultures that devoted weeks and even months to honoring their ancestors during the part of the year when the night is longer than the day as opposed to a single holiday. This idea intrigued me as well as soothed my frustrations when schedules and the weather simply did not add up to a satisfactory Samhain celebration for me this year. Continue reading
Below is an excerpt from my essay “In these Hidden Places: An Ecology of Wild Beauty” appearing in the current issue of the journal Written River from Hiraeth Press. This essay explores the engagement of wild beauty in nature and the effect it has on personal psychospiritual development.
Written River is a free journal, full of beautiful poetry, nature writing, and art. It can be viewed online HERE. Also check out the number of great titles published by Hiraeth Press. Buy one (or more) and support the wonderful and important work of a small press engaging the critical issue of restoring our relationship to the natural world.
About Hiraeth Press:
We are passionate about creativity as a means of transforming consciousness, both individually and socially. We hope to participate in a revolution to return poetry to the public discourse and a place in the world which matters. Of the many important issues of our times we feel that our relationship to the environment is of the most fundamental concern. Our publications reflect the ideal that falling in love with the earth is nothing short of revolutionary and that through our relationship to nature we can birth a more enlightened vision of life for the future. We believe that art and poetry are the universal language of the human experience and are thus most capable of transforming our vision of self and world.
And here is the excerpt of my essay “In These Hidden Places”…
A synchronicitous chain has been forming for me around the concept of ‘ritual’. ‘Ritual’ (beyond its more simplistic use as a substitute for ‘routine’), for me and many other people, is a loaded word; it is loaded with attachments, typically to negatively inclined ideas like ‘meaningless’ and ‘useless’ and ‘primitive’ in the Westernized mind. The concept has become tarnished, largely foreign and alienating, inciting anything from suspicion to outright fear. This is a disastrously sad thing.
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?
“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:
-One never quite knows where, when, or how an encounter with Awen will strongly encircle the awareness; I do my best in these instances to allow the encircling Awen to flow in. This short poem fragment and its accompanying photo will hopefully enable me to share the moment with you.
~Riotous Dance of the Dying~