That Hour Is Not Today

IMG_7507Winter arrives with an ocean
on my head–
a good time to hibernate
and maybe get lonely and despair
of the horrors of the world
my own losses and wasted hours…

But I can’t seem to do it.

That’s just an idea I have–
just the worst hibernator ever!

Besides, the golden birds are out
singing the drizzle delight
beside a creek that’s chirping
and the soft lichen and baby mushrooms
keep me occupied with warm conversations.

Neruda sang odes to bees
and even his own suit
and laziness.

So certainly I can summon
a sonnet for a day such as this.

That hour of shadows will come
and the missing-ness of things
will hum a melancholy tune
with a moist eye–
but that hour is not today.

Ulaba: The Song of the In-Betweenness


Ajana minoet a’lan
Aunee min ajana
Unja idi anju idu
(ch)ulaba idi lana

[Sudden emerges the sun (or light)
Sudden arrives the dark
A beat here, a moment there
A song between the two.]


When I was growing up in Iowa, my farmer grandpa would walk the beans. On occasion he would let me tag along. Walking beans entails getting up before dawn, putting on overalls, and walking up and down rows upon rows of little soybean or corn plants, scouting for interlopers like milkweed that needed to pulled out by hand (Before the ubiquity of massively sprayed chemicals).

Half-asleep I would hear strange words emerge from my grandpa….Ajana minoet a’lan…
As if he were intoning a spell conjuring the plants from the dark earth. And perhaps he was.
He’d let his hands glide over the sapling plants as he walked at a steady clip….Aunee min ajana.

I later discovered that the words were from a song handed down through a long lineage, a song of the old tongue. My grandma told me that their grandparents, indeed everybody’s grandparents, used to sing it around the fire ‘in the olden days’.

The national language of my grandpa was Dutch, a language he knew but a little, but it was one of the lifelong language spoken by his parents–he arrived from the Netherlands to the heartland at age two. But this song/spell in the fields of Iowa was in the old language, Aduana–before Dutch, before there was such a thing as nations, what my grandma called ‘the language of the earth’.

It’s been a long time since I walked beans, but I’ve learned a lot about Aduana since then. A rich and endlessly versatile language, with deep roots in the land and flowing water, I’ve been inspired to excavate and resurrect it.

The above is the result of the first dig, with my best attempt at translation and transliteration.

Whenever I’m around a campfire, whether alone under the stars or with a group of friends, I feel the urge to sing it in the original language. What matters is not some ‘right way that it used to be sung’ but that it is sung. And when it arises suddenly (ajana), I let my body and voice be carried by it, until it sings itself.




No Less Than Rain Am I

raincloudNot less than rain am I
What thought of flood or mud endured
when flung from ample glandular?

“Secrete!” commands the cloud.
“Release it all and fall to earth,
unleash your fine and furied mirth.”

Of life nor death but both
and that which strikes the heart of it
through an endless flowing forth

Suck up what can be drunk
Dip your eager, root it swelling.
Yes, sate your dipsomania.

Once flung, the deed is done
the wetting fills the gaps still dry
calm falling from a patient sky.

For now, a beat sustained
’tis but the mood and form of day
and tends to match her thirstiness.

But come the night of storm
When touch is lost with ordered land
No cloud will lend a calming hand:

A mood mercurial to varied motions lend
an amorous discourse earthward bends:

of sudden pace it abandons form
to whipping gale spinning uttering thundered breathless patterns pounding
lightnings’ tonguish flame in wettest
omni-operant flicked and folded
orgasmatic undulating
inundation slams!
and meets her gaping, groping
in old and ancient passion play.

“Too much! But More!” the ground it cries.
“Our mouths entaste in gulps of you
Let us resting, digest it full.”

Then dawn dips in again,
Absorbing night’s emissive mission.

The land is clear and still.
The sky, and I, reposed fulfilled.
and new, fine feature geologe.

Not less than she, do I
this etch upon the face of things
does flow-a river, freshly born.

To where she goes, do I
from whence she came, like rain, is round
and wrung from sky spectacular.

Yet night is nought, but mark
’tis on its way around again
to give its gust(o)racular.

Not less the rain am I
Nor less the wind, and storm unleashed
Obeying throbbing pulsity.
To spend itself again, again
In hallowed-born necessity.

Bare Bones

bare tree at dawnYour flashy garments gone
And stripped austere you stand
Thrust extravagant your eager hands
In splashing persimmon-dawn.

Who but you owns your bones?
None other than sips your roots
Or with delicate fingers caress
The moments eternity loans.

Be not impatient for the buds
That flow from your marrow blood
But revel in your naked form
In the season’s quiet flood.

Believe in your bones sincere
In quiet unadornéd dance
Who you are in winter
Is who you are all year.

Lament For the Makers


Hamlet and Horatio in the graveyard, by Eugène Delacroix.

This poem is dedicated to Ursula Le Guin, who died this week. RIP, Sorceress. I adore her EarthSea series, and have enjoyed many of her other novels and essays. This poem’s theme and form is modeled after 15th century Scottish poet William Dunbar’s Lament for the Makers. Dunbar ends each stanza with the phrase, “Timor mortis conturbat me,” translated as “The fear of death disturbs me.”

In is interesting to note that the word ‘poiesis’ is derived from the root meaning ‘to make’, and extrapolated, means, “the activity in which a person brings something into being that did not exist before.” So the subject here is poets, writers, musicians, all creators and their creations juxtaposed with death, or that which returns all to the nothingness from which it rose. And in particular here I honor recent artists that great mysterious sea has recently drawn into her fold: Leonard Cohen, Prince, David Bowie, Maya Angelou, Tom Petty, Ray Manzarek.

The strong unmerciful tyrant takes
All that will and desire makes
Down to that great and dark deep sea.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

What’s built up must come down,
The ruin of all laurel crowns
The fall of all pageantry.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

All the songs sung in the day
Will in the night be swept away
And embrace the fate of darkening.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

The Sorceress of EarthSea told
A suite of magic new and bold
Now to furthest shore carefree.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

Beautiful Loser sang Hallelujah
He sang it dark, but not to fool ya
He rang the bells that could be rung
And sung with dark but golden tongue
And then the end as meant to be.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

She knew why the caged bird sings
And sang of all the beautiful things.
But in the end the bird must flee.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

He sang to us from afar
The vision of his rising star
But Ziggy rises and Ziggy falls
And in the end the black star calls
Reclaiming its space oddity.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

A heartbreaker who loved to toke
‘Twas his heart that finally broke
He’s still working on the mystery.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

The Purple One played his part
The doves will cry and break your heart
An artist formerly known to be.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

He took us for a wild ride,
Led us through the other side
Come on light our fires, please.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

When the tune’s done, the fiddle’s set down
Where is the ear that can hear to be found?
Perhaps beyond all what we see.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

When every third thought shall be the grave
And all that we attempt to save
Will be sunk in the unknowable sea,
Timor mortis conturbat me.

All the art and artifice wrought
Falls to the ground to finally rot
And fade into the Big Dream.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

All of the songs by beautiful breath
On their way to the dusty death
Perhaps a memory yet may be.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

There’s more we want to hear and see
More we want to make believe
Much more we want to love and be.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

But the end is built into it all
The makers’ splendid fires fall
To ashes and the embers cool
With death as the final school
A hard and ruthless finality.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

Cricket’s Eye Point of View

cricketHere is the 6th installment of winter Haikus. My goal is to birth a total of 107 Forest Haikus and mini ‘coyote’ poems over the winter, sharing in groups of 10. (See the others: Being Stalked By A Forest, Wings Like Boomerangs, My Tent is Leaking Haikus, Always Coming and Going, and Dancing Naked In the Rain)

Cold coyote crows
like a mad, laughing rooster
bringing in the new year

On my boots and mugs,
underneath my everything–
snails hang about

Rain and Rain and Rain
January comes in threes
Mud and Mud and Mud

Clouds make the winter
And gives its blessing: crowns mud
King of the forest

Wonder how I look
from cricket’s eye point of view
atop a tent roof

Holy fucking blue!
a winter or summer’s dream?
even birds don’t know

Two eyes from forest
my neck hair standing on end–
I am the hunted

After three days rain
trails become rivers wide
and walk together

Midwinter runners–
a momentary thunder
splitting morning peace

Morning jays jumping
shake light from ancient live oaks
like wintry dreams