The Poem Inside You

1572A581-956D-4523-9084-AF370F55A833Hear me out

The poem lives under your skin
may be so far under your skin
you might need the raven’s cry
to claw its way in at dawn

And then the poem will roll off your skin
all mist and moist

Your fingers with beets
Your lips with wine
Your thighs with blood—Stain

Your forehead with mud
Your back with her scratch
Your arm with Rumi
Your story with a wound
and wild coursing—Write

Your head with the storm
Your hair with twigs
Your eyes with the moon—Entangle

Or are you here
to let your poem
sleep through it all?

Then form your rituals
and let the world nibble it awake

By Invitation Only

9E7915B3-A2AA-49B3-BAC4-C378A008FBDFEverybody is here by invitation only.

In these parts she’s the host—
the great river, whose ears are never closed,
hears autumn knock gently
with crimson wings
on her front porch.

But I find myself on the back porch
and fall doesn’t even notice me.

Here at the party,
there are no mutters or stutters
though when I’ve filled myself
with all the wrong things
that’s all I can manage.

I’m no good at small talk, but
I can’t abide my own slinking—
so I’ll sit and listen,
I say, I plead
to somebody whose has ears
and eyes, but no face.

Now I’m in it for good, I promise.

This time, I’ll open everything,
I whisper to myself, braving the light
streaming through the door.

But because she hears everything
she just grins and carries on,
the life of the party.

I’m in it for good, I promise.

How Many Leaves Have Landed In Me?

DF99B49A-C1B2-4D1C-9A9B-6261B90C4A3AHow many leaves have landed in me
that I have not yet heard?

That I might shake a cool meaning out of
and launch some season,
some solemn ceremony of better belonging?

That I might compost to build a richer soil?

Might sprout some discourse wide as sky,
deep as the memory of dirt,
seasoned with ripe time?

How many leaves have landed in me
that I’ve yet the ears to hear?

Flutter

9D56CFB2-72D3-4B8E-B1E5-18D5E1885956Question: To where are my veins flowing?

Question: Can I also lay on the cool grass, breathing? Not to stay alive, but to live.

Question: Who killed the heart of the world?

That’s a dead song, short and bitter.

Still the birds of my bones
blood heart feet gut groin flutter,
utterly without restraint,
light and large, like heron.

The birds know no shame.

Who can withstand them?

Not when darkness holds his mask
over the the face of the multitudes.

I name the stars after my birds flowing,
great ancestors-to-be.

I say, let them soar down the shafts of my veins,
unruly and improper, like dawn.

The limbs and lines of cottonwood leaves
are no less, no more
than my veins, my flutter
my precious birds–
who say yes and know where.

I Have Been One Acquainted With the Flow

BAB8AC56-EE98-4E18-8034-4D7B7F1EB9F7.jpegFor Robert Frost (& his Acquainted With the Night)

I have been one acquainted with the flow.
With many rivers and their cousin creeks.
I have walked past the furthest city glow

After looking down long and lonely streets.
I walked right past the gateman doing rounds
Unwilling to explain my wayward feet.

I stood still when I heard the lovely sound
Leap through the hills and pierce my patient heart
To call me back to where the things unbound.

So towards the hills again I made my start
Listening for whatever the wind blows
Of the secret tunes of a river’s art

Proclaiming the place where I was to go.
I have been one acquainted with the flow.

The Nearby Faraway Day 365

E56199F5-46A8-4799-90E4-91C3ABAE6F4ENearby Faraway Day 365: Today marks one year of my experiment of living outside. When I went to the woods, I didn’t quite know what I was in for, nor that I was going for the long haul. It was as much out of expediency as experiment.

But then something happened—I started hearing things. I don’t mean in some woo-woo way, but rather hearing as in remembering, reconnecting, and realigning with the voice of the soul, of spirit, of the voices of the land. In the context of close living with nature through the seasons, I could hear my true voice, I could remember yes, this is our human birthright, I felt grounded and alive! I felt more creative, healthier, stronger. I felt a bigger self come online.

Then I made a commitment-I said I would apprentice myself to the land through the fall and winter. I would apprentice myself to the craft of poetry. And I would apprentice myself to sharing practices of reconnection with others who found their way to the threshold, as I called it. That is, the threshold between the city and wilderness, between their busy lives and the longing in their souls. This eventually became Wild Nature Heart which I started with my friend Katie.

And I did it! Through the autumn colors and dying back, through the cold and dark but green and rainy winter, until spring burst like a supernova of a thousand scents and colors. And I knew I couldn’t turn back. I had learned so much and found liberation in ways I could scarcely imagine a year ago.

The forest taught me, the muse taught me, my authentic self taught me-the alignment that occurs organically when one slows down and listens, and is not overwhelmed by the myriad voices, distractions, addictions of the dominant culture.

In the past year, I have stayed indoors for a total of only about 4-5 weeks, either house-sitting or visiting friends. Those times helped me in other ways, though I always felt the urge to return to my tent or open air, getting my fill of distraction and bad habits, and missing the fresh air, sunsets and sunrises, wild encounters, creativity, and sacred time that is now daily life.

So now on to year two of the experiment. And while it is uncertain what will unfold, it’s certain to be an adventure of learning and growth.