Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What You Have Is What You Need \ Thinning The Corn

Nancy: This phrase, carved on a stone water basin at the famous Japanese garden at Ryoanji, calls on us to realize that we can build in our minds the garden, the world, the universe, the simple shelter in which to meditate or dream.

What You Have Is What You Need
                                                        engraved on a water basin at Ryoanji

A flower.
If not a flower, a leaf
still, without a leaf
a twig.
Perhaps a curl of bark.
The stone on which the lichen
A stone.  But not just a stone
a fossil.  A shell of time
and here, a place to rest
or a place waiting for me
that I may never have less
than I need.

Alan:  Attention: so simple, so difficult.  In the attended moment, so much happens!

Thinning The Corn

Bending low, thinning
the seedling corn;
weeding the hills.
No thought.  Attend
the task.  Listen.

Wren’s piccolo.
Double reed of hermit thrush.
A hawk, no –
jay making hawk-call.

And that ravens’ caucus?
Are they critiquing
a cornered owl?

Distant thunder –
sense of cumulus
piled in the north
too far for rain.  Attend.

Crunch of tires on gravel.
Car half a mile away
on the town road hill.
Here in three minutes.
Someone I know?

Or strangers stopping
to talk through rolled-down windows
a little sheepishly (lost)
who say
as they start slowly up the lane,
“Such a beautiful place!
So beautiful!”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Who? Who? \ The People Of The Outer Shore

Nancy: Stories I heard, story tellers I knew, going as I will go. “What was her name?  A weasel you say, and a porcupine?  Up there where the roses grow in the cellar hole.” 

Who?  Who?

The last bit of debris
     melting into mold
the Black Monahka?
only a story now
     that corner
scared us some

The gone
     going, going
the Buds, and Little Buds
     and which was it
that walked to Eastport
     on the ice

Drunk old man
     hollerin’ at the door
dead drunk, Agnes, Aaaagnes
Fifty years here, there
     melting into one another

What was her name
     lived up on the hill
kept that weasel
ran up men’s pants legs
     tickled her some, didn’t it

     some come-from-away
lived here fifty years
     gone now

Alan:  Feuds and fights, village rivalries, sects and schisms, a new little grocery store starting up every time there’s a falling out – there’s less of this now, but it still flavors the place.

The People Of The Outer Shore

The people of the outer shore are not my people,
and the outer shore is not my shore:
shoreline of marsh and mudflat,
gray, worn ledge and shallow, tangled bays.

Theirs, they say, is a hammer of cliff and kelp bed,
dank fog forests, rollers in the storm.
And the people themselves are hard,
sharp and prone to squalls.

When they asked me to visit, I did not go.
On account of the rains, I said, though it was not true.
For the outer shore is not my shore, and those people are not my people,
and there is no meeting them half way.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Illuminations \ Looking Back

Nancy: Those strong years of childhood, again and again weave like bright threads through my todays.


Tonight, I might write my name on the dark
with a sparkler.  I might write my name, or
I might change my mind and write “Papa”,
at my age life is like that, I might see
myself sitting in the grass waiting for my father
to strike the match, I might see another year
in thunder on top of the mountain, wrapped
in blankets, there are so many years waiting
in sparks, waiting to be unwrapped like the
firecrackers folded in their mysterious Chinese
newspapers.  If I were to light a sparkler my father
might be a young man again, waiting for the dark.

Tonight I might gather my family of dogs and cats
and say watch, I am going to astound you,
I am going to write my life on the dark in fire.

Alan: When someone you love dies, you don’t stop talking to them, even though you know it is just an offering to emptiness.

Looking Back
                                 for Don

In your dream, Uncle
and Aunt and Father and Mother
walk up the long slope, its top
hidden in mist.  Just short,
they pause, Uncle looks back
down at you, takes the last steps,
vanishes.  You wake knowing
he will die first.  You tell me
this, and so it proves.

In my dream, which I
am having over and over,
you are falling, the road flashing
sideways, and I am thinking
“no” and at the same time realizing
that I am looking back
at what has already happened,
your head hitting the pavement
again and again and again.

It is no accident, then,
that I am looking up into the mist,
looking up into the mist and shouting,
telling you this, shouting
into the silence.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Tossing Surfy Green Of It \ Heaven-heavy

Nancy: The grass rolls in waves under the wind and makes a background for daydreams, for the stories of seal women, for the voices as I row, row in the green saying "tell me, tell me".

The Tossing Surfy Green Of It

Frothing foamy July
wind shaped grassy sea
green surging July

Oh paint me July
paint me a small gray boat
paint me rowing July

Paint me the darting, the silver
the mystery.  Paint me
as I lift and drift
with the wind
with the surge of July

Paint what you can't see:
how the sea whispers
how it surges, how I lean forward

Alan: The dog days of summer can be downright mangy.  Just when the summer folk arrive, we begin to long for fall.


Whatever happened to the vaunted blue dome?
To the proud empyrean?
This sky is gray to meaningless.
Sure, the overcast has a name,
lighter and darker patches their local cause.
Sure, it comes from yesterday
and evolves toward tomorrow.
But the sky is too big; it glares over this wavering line of road
that runs through the thick woods and wide swamps of July.
It sits down heavily among the treetops
as fog, fills the pores of the mind
without purpose or intent.

Nimbo-stratus?  That could be it.

The sky, amused at our presumption,
settles in like a sweaty new neighbor
who announces, “My little bit of heaven,”
and determines to stay.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hurrying Grass \ Doves

Nancy: July – midway through summer, a time filled with memories and the growing awareness that I lived in a world of time.

Hurrying Grass

In the heaviness of July
the sun draws the mists up from the river, the meadows.
Grass comes to a head, hurries
to golden seed.

July mornings bury me –
layers and layers of indistinguishable fragrant mists,
mud, flowing water, my feet crushing green paths in the dew.

Gone, the Tawasentha waters, down to salt –
my father, gone to dust.
burning off, like July mists in the early sun
leaving the ripening, hurrying grass.

Alan: Ubiquitous, ordinary, under-appreciated, our doves add their drowsy coos and percussive flurries to the slow heavy music of hot summer days.


Mourning doves fly
                       back and forth
      to and fro
                                       hither and yon

common as clich├ęs,
as half-noticed redundancies.

They call from the trees
with voices like a sweet potato
played by a refulgent child,

                                      burst forth
      with a clatter
                       of throat or wings

that, if I were driving,
would make me stop,
look under the car

for anything

“Hurrying Grass” first appeared in Blackberries and Dust (Stone Man Press, 1984).