Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Poems Are Like Whispers \ Out Of The Silence Stone Men Call Me Home

Alan: How can poetry flourish today?  It can shout along with the rest.  Or it can ask us to become that rare thing quiet, attentive, open.

My Poems Are Like Whispers

My poems are like whispers
from the dying
or like a lover’s murmurs.
Do not talk loudly
if you wish to hear them.
Do not talk.
They are like a colloquy
of hidden selves;
they speak so softly
from the shadows, right
and left.
Be silent, O my soul;
incline your head gently
that your ear may fill
with the sound of the sea;
bend closer, my inheritors,
bend closer.

Nancy: The Stone Man, once standing in full view on ledge, is now hidden by spruces.  Words, however, still say “someone passed this way.”

Out Of The Silence Stone Men Call Me Home

Out Of The Silence

Before the City, there was a great
wide silence,
and day after day
no other men.  No one
to hail.  No open palm in greeting,
no signing of game.
If men passed
they left less sign than animals,
no scars
such as left by ice.  Wind
made a greater imprint
than the hunter alone
on the wide land.
No shadow
remained when the sun had gone,
when he had passed
into the silence.

Stone Men

The stone men come from those
long ago times
before the grandfathers were wise,
and there are no songs
holding the story.
No one
saw them born.
Yet the stone men cross the land,
breaking the silence
with their presence.  After
the hunter has gone,
the stone men cast a shadow over the land.
No longer
are we alone;
someone has passed this way.

Call Me Home

A stone man stands to the east,
speaking for the need of men to say:
I was here.
Day after day, his is the only break
in the silence.  No men
raise their hands in greeting.

This is the home I have chosen;
I have come here to give birth to words,
to poems.  They are like the stone men
across the beautiful wide land.
When my shadow has passed over
the bruised grass into silence, they
will call out: know this:
someone has passed this way.

“Out Of The Silence Stone Men Call Me Home” first appeared in East Of The Light (Stone Man Press & Slow Dancer Press, 1984).

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Monkey Mind \ Six Ways To Know Water

Alan:  Once, long ago, a friend told me this story from some TV show he’d seen.  At least that’s what came into my own Monkey Mind years later when I wrote the poem.  

Monkey Mind

Monkey is magic!  Monkey is power!
Monkey defeats all the animals in his net of words.
Monkey is quick!  Monkey is grasping!
Monkey taunts the world and races to the end of the universe,
relieves himself at the pillars marking the edge of space and time.

Oh Monkey, look at Buddha’s hand,
urine trickling down His palm.
You’d give anything to be with Him for a moment
and He’s always here, taking your abuse.
Monkey Mind, stop and realize:
He is always here.
Sit still, hold your tongue.
Do not defile the guardian of all worlds.

Nancy:  This poem wrote itself during a 10-mile car trip while I listened to a CBC radio program on the search for extraterrestrial water.  The first line came unbidden, and soon the rest followed.

Six Ways To Know Water

Feel the gush of it between your legs;
after nine months the child must leave
water, learn air.

Stand in the gorge, stand between the stones
in the spill of the dam and feel the heat
of the sun, the cold of the deep water.

Wait for a small dark hole to form in the pond.
Push the canoe out across the ice, which will
break slowly into diamonds.  Strike the crystals
until you are floating, until the ice
acknowledges April.

Fly through it in a small plane made of
sticks and fabric and yellow paint, always
staying in the center of the rainbow.

Watch the cold sea boil into the colder
air; watch it build the peaks and valleys
of a nameless range; watch them tear loose
and drift inland, dragging their shadows
over the barrens.

Query the planets:  Water?  Ask the moons,
look into the stars.  Water?  Are we alone?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Into Another Country \ A Bear Came

Alan: Right brain, left brain: outside the mind, life and death go on regardless.

Into Another Country

People tell me I do well what I can hardly do at all:
write clearly, organize my thoughts into little freighted trains,
ten cars or fifty cars long, carrying their meanings
down rails that join together like clasped hands in the distance.
And what I most want to do I am completely unable to accomplish:
cross those tracks into another country, the same
as this one but utterly unlike.

As I write this, the half-grown hare that the cat caught last night
is dying – perhaps from its wounds, or from being
one of (what we have to call) “nature’s mistakes,”
or perhaps from grief at being held this long,
out of harm’s way, in a strange and comfortless place
by people who meant only kindness.

Nancy: Bears meander through our lives here, following their own imperatives.  What would a bear’s calendar say? – “check out bird feeder”, “explore along bay”?

A Bear Came

One day this summer,
a bear came.
It wasn’t written on the calendar
– “bear coming” isn’t the sort of thing you write
in those boxes.  If it were,
who knows what I might write –
“have an insight”
(hopefully) “poem”.

My boxes were a ritual.  I filled them
with country things,
as if it were important that my days be seen to have order,
just as I swept clean floors.

Not on the calendar, then,
were many things that I looked at sideways,
as a shaman might trick charred bones
into yielding secrets.

The bear came.  My life is an incantation of boxes,
but even as I trim wicks and stack kindling
I watch the edges of the days.  There, perhaps,
(not on the calendar, these are not the things you find
on calendars) there I may find dream bears:

“who was I yesterday, and what of tomorrow?”
“where is next year?”
“are poems real?”

“A Bear Came” first appeared in East Of The Light (Stone Man Press & Slow Dancer Press, 1984)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

At The Door Of A Small House On An Old Cellar Hole On A June Night In Maine \ East Of The Light

Alan: To be centered in a place that feels right... what could be better?

At The Door Of A Small House On An Old Cellar Hole On A June Night In Maine

I would rather live
where I can hear the bullfrogs
a mile away up a silent road
and see ten thousand fireflies
doing their bugged-out strobe-dance
under a quarter moon
and shoo mosquitoes
so that the air near the roses
moves and scents the still night
than to be
anywhere else in this
sick old USA.

Nancy: Watching for whales as they pass through the East Quoddy channel is more accurately “listening for whales.”  The loud sound of their blow alerts you to scan the horizon.  Just as you find the exhaled cloud, they are into another dive.  Dive, feed on plankton, rise, blow, repeat.

East Of The Light

The whales say tchuf, tchuf,
hard, sharp,
and that’s all I know of whales,
tchuf, an eye,

The islands behind the whales
are Wolves,
were wolves;
they will never catch the island called Moose.
The whales say tchuf
to me, tchuf;
I see the flukes, and then




The whales are making love;
they are pursuing the naked sea butterflies;
the Wolves are tirelessly pursuing
the island called Moose.
The whales are eating the brilliant
and blue
naked sea butterflies; they are
making love.
they rise.


I want, and do not want.
How would it be,
to swim to the east, east of the light,
breathing tso,

“East Of The Light” first appeared in Anthology Of Maine Women In The Arts (undated).