Alan: A mandala, a sacrifice, an emptying-out world: what I see from our place by the bay.
Tonight, the sun sets and a full moon rises
over this circle of bay and sky,
a charmed see-sawing of light and shade,
warming and chilling the settled air
of February’s soft, false spring.
Beyond stone fields and spiky woods,
the chuckle of ducks, the hoo of courting owls,
three miles over water and islands as the crow flies,
thirty by road, at the audible edge of the world,
the Reversing Falls grind their teeth on the ebbing tide.
In my dream this is Jambudvipa, Rose-apple Island,
where all is ancient, empty, ready,
proceeding as it should.
The land remains unbroken. It swallows plowshares, spits out people.
The sea takes on all comers, has never lost yet.
The ghosts of farms hide in the stones.
The fisher-folk call in the fog with the voices of gulls.
To the east, a ridge. Beyond,
memory of a house or two, a town.
A sense of truck bodies, power lines, water tanks,
poised like spears.
I turn and shout, they vanish.
You dream they are shooting
the house cats and you are crying.
You dream the bears have gone north
and you release the hummingbirds over all the world.
A plane makes passes, casual, low over the cabin.
Who could own such a thing in this land of make-ends-meet?
In the cities we are deep-water ports, refineries and dams,
a naval base, a nuclear powerplant,
the edge of so many targets,
the part that gets hit by mistake.
“Where are the cats, the bears and owls all going?
Why can we not talk to the animals?”
This is the Kali-yuga, where all is swallowed
and made nil.
They are going to Reversing Falls.
They are dropping through the bottom of the world.
The moon is high.
Let us prepare a shrine,
cloudy with baby’s-breath, chrysanthemum,
alive as galaxies with light.
We chant and sit while an ocean of love
claims us and all horizons vanish.
I dream this is Sukhavati, the Pure Land,
that the land is flowering, the tide has changed
and the bears have come back singing
and with gifts.
Nancy: A summer in a tent by a pond, where my neighbors croaked their “knee-deep” all night long, some comfort-seeking visitor took advantage of me.
Yesterday One Of My Constituents Ate My Pillow
“You mean there’s a Senator for all this?” – said by a visitor to the Sierras.
It seemed a hard cut,
after all, hadn’t I
(it didn’t matter that I was never elected
but came self-appointed, and after all
didn’t Gary Snyder sanction it, and he
a Published Poet?)
hadn’t I spent my energies in their cause?
Miles of poems, probably –
and not one touching on bureaucrats,
modern science, technology,
or even (well, hardly ever) affairs of the heart.
No. I spoke for the voiceless ones,
always affirming that they had souls
and deserved our respect.
Life is precarious. I hoped that even a poet
(lower case, never assuming to be a Spokesperson)
might make unexpected gifts.
Gone for bedding, no doubt,
lining all those tunnels under the groundcloth
where by night I’ve felt the earth tremble.
Forging Bonds of Empathy, I thought,
squinting a little and trying to ignore the thumping.
Well, there it is. I wasn’t expecting praise –
as an audience they remained noncommittal (not
that I expected to find Poet or Senator scrawled on the walls) –
but empathy ought to be a two-way street
and even a lower case poet needs a little comfort.
. . .
I heard an owl last night (empty tunnels!)
(where are the dispossessed?); quickly thought, “well,
that’s Nature’s Way.”
(It’s not as though anyone elected me to take sides.)
“Reversing Falls” first appeared in Slow Dancer magazine.