The Doorway

IMG_4061.JPG

 

When I look into his face

I wonder

what he is thinking

as he loses himself

in sweet mountain mist.

He’s alone now.

His fear of the unknown

keeps him vigilant

ears erect,

mouth tasting air

standing on two legs to see

beyond summer’s diaphanous veil.

No wonder he climbs trees.

 

He’s not yet two.

Did she warn him

about the others

before she left?

Two legged threats armed

with hatred,

the need to destroy life

men addicted to power,

who will gladly spew fire

through his gut,

strike out an eye, maim a paw

so he cannot flee?

 

 

He slaps chipmunks

in repose,

scents fragrant white lilacs

clasps a metal can to his belly,

kicks it down the hill in play.

He bounds

towards the brook

for a bath,

circles back for protection

in a thicket of

young pines

for a nap.

 

He tolerates me

if not as friend

at least as one

who wishes him

no harm.

He peers around

rough bark like a child

playing hide and seek.

He’s curious to identify

to whom I am speaking.

He listens intently

when I caution him

like an anxious mother.

Do not trust.

Do not trust them.

I am the exception

to the rule.

 

Most want him dead

Skinned and hung –

a furry black skeleton –

a shroud on the wall,

his jaws forever frozen

in an impossible roar.

 

Always present,

Death stands at his door.

Advertisements

Sons of Power

 

Scorched,

by

the merciless

sons of patriarchy

some rebel,

wear flaming orange

to express helpless outrage,

 

But the Sun is at its Apex.

Ultimately,

We will choose

“the right to bear arms” –

seduction by the righteous right,

continue to slaughter

without accountability.

 

Guns speak.

And when held

in the hands

of irresponsible boys

(of whatever age)

permit the weakest to reign.

 

We celebrate violence

as ‘Masters of War,’

rape women,

shoot children,

innocent animals,

pollute and

plunder the Earth,

worship

Power and Might

Even as the Night closes in.

 

Working notes:

There was a time when I would have protested gun violence…but during the last few years I have been struck by the futility of protest. The lords of power have no conscience and are not interested in negotiation of any kind. Men, powerful special interest groups like the NRA and our state wildlife agencies support the right to bear arms at any cost as does the madman I can barely name as president.

Late last night I was assaulted by a round of semi-automatic gun blasts – unfortunately a common occurrence in this area. More blasts follow this morning. I wish I could say that this behavior on the part of my Maine neighbors was triggered by the protesting. But I know better – any excuse will do to shoot up the neighborhood. It’s NORMAL

The Gift

IMG_1145.JPG

 

We drifted through

the green

hungrily absorbing

plant souls,

each twig, flower, and tree

has her own story to tell…

 

Such a joyful way

for me

to spend a

‘mother’s day.’

Being with him

when family

extends sharp claws

is an antidote to suffering.

 

“This is my church”

He said,

not for the first time.

I nodded.

He and I are almost

always in agreement

when it comes

to plants

and people.

 

He bought a pear tree.

His Vision has

brought to life

a thriving orchard –

blossoming trees

whose swelling

seed pods will

one day

offer gifts,

just as he does-

free of tithing.

 

I picked a rosebud.

“The ones I love the best

are wild

I murmur – imagining

sweet magenta flowers

buzzing with bees

halfway across the country.

He listens attentively.

 

“Here are some!”

He remarks with enthusiasm,

gesturing

with generous hands.

We walk down

a stony path…

 

Mary spreads her sails above us

shrouded by cottony clouds –

Lady of Roses,

Wild Peace and Places,

No wonder Pear Trees love her…*

 

When we reach the spot

I am astonished

prickly budded bushes converse

awash in a swirling palette;

pink, purple and blue.

Intoxicated by fragrance,

I inspect leaves and stems.

Laughing, I exclaim,

“ Here the only place

I’ve seen these roses

is at gas stations!”

 

I suppose it was inevitable

that She came home with us.

He dug the cavity so

I didn’t have to,

added yet one more drip

to feed her

before we ate

the sunset.

Does he know that

to fill a void

with a rose bush

sustains me

in the dark?

 

We plant seeds

and trees,

observe with fascination

iridescent black

birds who make their living,

at Walmart –

always meeting

on the edge

of radical possibility,

our friendship flourishes,

rooting underground.

 

Postscript:

*Mary’s Rose

I grew up without a nurturing mother and turned to Mary for help – in so doing I developed a kind of learned helplessness that did not serve me well. I struggled to find my voice, struggled to own it, and continue to struggle to take action on my own behalf.

I will always love Mary – she was my first Goddess – but I see her as a one sided figure. By mid -life before leaving Christianity I was embracing the Black Madonna and Mary Magdalene as parts of Mary that I needed to internalize in order to claim my own voice and power.

May is most definitely the month of Mary. Every year I come around the circle to embrace the Mary of my younger years, feeling that same sense of powerlessness and loss of autonomy that comes out of my unconscious alignment with this figure.

This year Mary emerged as one of her roses on mother’s day offering me a gift, but later in the week in a dream I saw a forest of tree trunks stripped of their bark.  Since flowers and blossoming trees are meaningful images of Mary I experienced both sides of Her in one week. The latter image of  dying trees whose bodies are stripped of their life force speaks to the “dark side” of Mary, the entity with no voice, no body, nor agency, the figure who is powerlessness to shift the paradigm of impending death of self and Nature. Very sobering.

And yet, this isn’t the whole story because the self in the poem ( as in day life) is drawn to one special kind of rose – the wild rose. This “Lady of the Wilderness” may embody some hope.

Wandering Mystic

IMG_1025.JPG

 

We are

the golden sun

as it rises

over the luminescent

leaves

casting a lemony

haze over

sharply etched veins –

Sap is rising.

 

We are basking

in the early morning

light, saluting

each other

as lizards

in a universal language

we both comprehend –

Knowing too that

the steep price of intimacy

is loss..

 

The present is

my refuge

as I weave

through lime green

bushes and pale

gray scrub.

Delicately perfumed

magenta, deep purple,

salmon, and

buttery wildflowers

cry out for life as

we burst through

chalky alkaline soil

softened by rain.

Graceful giants, we

stretch our bowed limbs

Earthward,

gifting some with blessed shade.

Our roots

are starving sponges

soaking up

puddles of standing water.

 

I feel wonder at the stillness

that allows for Nature’s

Voices to be heard.

Towhees,

white crowned sparrows

doves and nuthatches

chant in harmony.

One cicada strums.

 

High Praise is offered

to Life in all

its complexity

without hesitation…

I envision the wolf

that licks my face,

a tangle of black snakes,

wiggling tadpoles,

pear trees birthing the fruit

of dreams?

 

 

These mental sparks

cast too dark a shadow

of separation,

and I breathe

deep

sliding back in.

 

 

Then I hear him:

My gray tree frog,

his throat blown into

a translucent bubble

trilling just beyond the veil…

 

 

I am both – him and me,

self and whole,

spinning Nature’s web.

I am the living land,

overflowing with her grace.

Breathing in like my frog does

intoxicating feeling,

sight, sound, vibration,

through fragile wrinkled skin –

open to impermanence,

‘predictable pain’,

and this precious moment

of Becoming.

 

 

Working Notes:

 

Recently, I wrote that there are not enough visionaries and mystics left in our culture, let alone in the world. Sometimes I write to find out what I am really thinking/feeling and I realized when I penned these words that I had uncovered a belief I didn’t know I had. I do believe that modern culture has lost access to its visionaries and its mystics. We dismiss these people as folks who are at best impractical, unrealistic, at worst delusional or crazy. It occurs to me that without including visionaries and mystics any culture will eventually self-destruct from lack of Imagination and lack of Love.

 

One definition of a visionary is a person that thinks about the future in a creative and imaginative way, a person with keen foresight. Many artists and writers are visionaries. This kind of person often lives in what I call the crack between worlds, inhabiting a space that is outside time or ahead of linear time as most of us experience it. If non –conventional or radical ideas are not acceptable then individuals will be forced to live in exile. A good example of a visionary who went through this phase is the poet Bob Dylan who had a pulse on the culture of the sixties and beyond, and was despised for speaking out during the folk era that was so focused on a change for the better. When I listen to Dylan’s early songs it is clear to me that he knew “something” was coming but it wasn’t necessarily a positive development. A careful reading of Dylan’s early work, (The Times They Are A-Changin’ is a good example) will initiate the reader into the visionary’s perspective.

 

There is a relationship between being a visionary and a mystic but there can be differences too. Visionaries “see” what’s ahead but may or may not understand what they are seeing, mystics actually “enter” other realities to experience them. I believe Bob Dylan did both.

 

Visionaries may survive as artists of one kind or another but today mysticism has no place in global culture as it is generally experienced, with the possible exception of the probably insane person who is directly tied to a particular religion who is also tagged as a mystic.

 

Some partial definitions of mysticism that made sense to me focused on those who seek by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into the absolute. Direct experience/intuition/apprehension or its opposite – an experience of nothingness seem to be intrinsic to the mystic’s experience. What isn’t mentioned here is that we are also talking about the experiential aspect of Love.

 

I personally like William James’s viewpoint which suggests that during mystical states we become one with the absolute and/or become aware of our oneness. This perspective contributes to the interpretation that mysticism is a distinct experience that highlights the importance of the senses to attainment of unity with the ‘divine’ however ones defines that word.

 

According to James mystical experiences have four defining qualities: They are ineffable; they cannot be explained in words. There is a noetic quality to these experiences; any insight into the depths of truth cannot be apprehended by the discursive intellect. Thirdly, these experiences are usually transient but their effect persists. And lastly, mystics do not come to these experiences as active seekers, but as passive recipients. It’s important to note that for James there was nothing inherently theological in or about mystical experience.

 

It is also argued by some that mysticism is part of the process of perception, not interpretation; that is to say that the unity of mystical experiences is perceived, and only afterwards interpreted according to the perceiver’s background. This may result in different accounts of the same phenomenon. For example, a nature mystic seeks union through objective experience, an individual mystical experience of union can also occur in the Great Void.

 

Visionaries and mystics allow us to perceive possibilities or actualities that are beyond our very limited human androcentric understanding. They also teach us about Unconditional Love. They lift us out of ordinary time, not through intellect, obfuscation, or denial but by opening a door through the present moment into a place where experiences have no past or future. The Now is all there is.

 

I have spent my life trying to function in a foreign culture that has remarkably little meaning for me; a culture totally disconnected from that of the natural world. Personally, Nature is both source and container – the place where both the visionary and the mystic originate and thrive because we are one. On-going communication with non-human species is a natural part of this way of being in the world, and all language, human and non human a like, is directly mediated through my body, which is, I repeat, also the body of Nature.

 

I always capitalize the word Nature because S/he is generally ignored, dismissed, despised, exploited (read raped) by humans; I seek to re-dress that imbalance by highlighting her importance, and not because I perceive her as some kind of deity.

 

The little poem I wrote attempts to illustrate how fluid this natural connection is for this nature mystic, and how easily I slip from one way of being into the other. It is also a reflection on what it means to be ‘in love’ in the largest sense of the word.

 

I should probably add here that I am severely directionally dyslexic – the universe does have a sense of humor – navigating the natural world may be effortless (although I am never the one orchestrating these experiences/relationships), while I am literally lost at sea in the violent culture I was born into.

 

As a dedicated naturalist and a nature mystic I also can’t help wondering how entering into an intimate relationship with Nature might change our attitude towards the planet we depend on for life. Perhaps instead of seeking transcendence we need to choose immanence?

 

 

Blue Truck and Open Sky

IMG_0843.JPG

 

I waved goodbye

gazing into

blue space

as rattling metal

dissipates,

leaving

dust

in its wake.

 

‘Change is the

only constant’

I remind myself

as I turn back to the adobe

to prepare for

my own leave – taking

with a hole in my heart.

Am I always saying goodbye?

 

The next day

I cannot get out of bed.

Is it too much to expect

that I can continue

to endure these ruptures

that catapult my body into

a coal black cosmos,

even as a spring veil

casts her grace

over the land?

 

I have no answers

to these questions.

I lean into gray – green

imagining warm rain

that falls quietly for hours

aligning myself

with elements

I trust – hoping

for insight.

 

I dream about Black bears,

those primal mystics of the forest.

Like them I must have a Tall Tree

to sleep under,  to lean upon…

 

On the outside

I endure

my body exhausted,

wrung out, as

I throw a furry coat

over a shivering child

who no longer trusts

that dawn will come.

 

Postscript:

I am struck by the personal truth that childhood abandonment creates its own powerful reality – a closed system that even the most self -aware adult cannot shift. Developing keen awareness regarding this issue may even make this ‘knowing’ more difficult because it becomes impossible to medicate this void with denial or any other kind of drug* induced coma. What is left is to endure. This is the position I find myself in as I attempt to create a bridge to move from one beloved earth-space to another.

*I use the word drug in the cultural sense not restricting myself to medical/ recreational drug overuse, although, of course, I include these with the others. We often cite medical/or recreational drug users as the core problem while the rest of us appear to be numb to the fact that unhealthy addiction includes any behavior that is taken to the extreme in every day life. It’s also important to recognize that we live in a culture that celebrates “doing” (read as addiction) as the way of life. In this way of thinking if a person is not actively engaged with some activity or machine every second of her/his time then there is something amiss. Being alive isn’t enough. Healthy doses of silence and self-reflection are not considered useful.

 

 

 

 

 

Dreamscape and Blue Door

IMG_0941.JPG

 

Blue Door

opens

into a room

of stone,

dark and

softly lit.

 

I meet the

Other

who moves

with Mercurial

grace from

Love to Indifference

with equal

Intensity.

 

Fire and Ice.

 

I can’t feel

Earth below me

but the comfort

of his touch

grown cold

slices my

heaped up heart

in two.

 

Fire and Ice.

 

He lights

tall sconces

illuminating round stone.

Flames of Blue Fire

Consume

even the most

Hopeful.

 

Fire and Ice.

 

Leavetaking

is my problem –

Not his.

I crumble

in the face

of the truth,

of what is.

 

Fire and Ice.

 

Sifting through

black ash,

broken dreams,

believing

based on words

without substance

I weep.

 

He walks away

with impunity –

the pattern

doesn’t shift.

Discarded,

I shrink

into mud walls…

invisible to myself.

 

 

Shadows

follow

in his wake.

 

 

Commentary:

This poem speaks directly to the destructive aspect of unconscious projection. Projection is the unconscious  human tendency to place blame on the “Other” in oneself or others. When we do this we fall into an “either or reality.”

Our Lady is on Fire

 

 

IMG_9979.JPG

I entered the Silent Tomb;

the Mosque felt

devoid of Presence.

We wandered through

a myriad of glorious arched rooms,

ornately carved woodwork –

soft carpeted floors.

Removing our shoes

we spoke softly

in deference to

Something ineffable?

Each tiled courtyard,

Mute, yet

starred in

cobalt blue.

Opaque light streamed

through precisely cut

geometric shapes,

domed ceilings

cracked the heavenly stream

into patterned shards.

Outside,

unattended,

High mud walls

kept Creation

at bay.

Fruit trees

twisted by bitter west winds

ragged junipers

sagging in sorrow

rendered invisible

by those who choose

not to see…

I wept for the casually discarded

living breathing

Beings –

Pulsing with Light.

 

Beyond white sand walls

the stark white capped

Mountains cried out in torment

“Here we are!”

“Sangre de Christos” –

It is our body, our blood

that has been shed

not just his.

Stretching north –

Ridged, ribbed serpents

split the continent in two,

valley gorges meandered far below

arroyos flooded Rio Grande

and all the colors of

the rainbow streamed

out of mud and stone.

 

I picked a fragrant branch

on my way out –

a blushing apple blossom.

Re – attaching myself

to Her through a plant,

to what is tangibly real

helped me to breathe…

I felt the split

between mind and body

heal the artificial division

that I had just experienced

beneath words –

Inside and outside

remain perpetually at war

for so many.

 

I stared –

Transfixed by a miraculous painting –

bewildering beauty

stretched around me

from horizon to horizon

I bloomed with the usual awe.

Turning back I gazed at

the graceful rounded lines

of a “holy place”

where Nature was kept at bay

by stark walls,

lack of windows,

cold shadowy halls.

 

Why is it that humans

can no longer see

that the ‘holy’

may manifest

in man made structures

but containment

requires situating

oneself in the Whole?

 

At home

When I placed the

budded branch in water

I recalled another

holy place engulfed by flames.

“Our Lady” is on Fire

during this week of

crucifixion

as once again

body is severed from

the spirit to which it belongs.

 

 

Working Notes:

 

Yesterday I spent more than two hours with a friend exploring a huge and empty Mosque situated just down the road from me… this beautiful structure was situated high on the Mesa with the snow covered Sangre de Christo mountains (Rockies) in the distance – other mesas and volcanic mountains stretched in every direction. The whole landscape was draped in pale spring green. A deep blue sky held a white star in her arms…

Once inside the enormous structure all light was diffused and entered only from ABOVE – mostly covered by some kind of translucent material or plastic… Each magnificent courtyard was enclosed – stone, tile adobe, star patterns carved into ornate wooden doors – The arched doorways and niches were astonishing to behold.

And yet, my body felt heavy – “de -pressed” in some fundamental way. It wasn’t until I was outside the compound that I realized that what I had experienced was a brutal and mind – body split as I was FORCIBLY separated from Nature’s beauty while wandering about inside this extraordinary building…

From my point of view this compound reflected in a concrete way how religions force us to make a choice between loving natural beauty and “worshiping” in man made structures. Churches etc. separate us from wholeness, creating a split that damages not only humans and all non human beings, but allows us to discard this beloved planet that is our home.

How in such a magnificent setting could people separate themselves from their landscape as effectively as this place had?

Then I thought of Notre Dame burning…. “Our Lady” is going up in flames.

I do not believe in coincidence. The message implicit in the burning down of the cathedral in France during the Christian holy week also speaks to what we are doing to the Earth.

Indeed this is the week of Earth’s Crucifixion even as Christians and Jews celebrate resurrection – freedom from the body, slavery, and redemption.