A Currant Affair

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Pink-flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum glutinosum)

A mid-winter warmth wins your hand
and draws you out for pendulous play
to blossom right in front of me
a dream of pink in light of day

Draw me in your inflorescence
Draw me in with all your senses
Draw me with sweet sagey scents and
Draw me in with rosy fervence

Fragrant is your dangling racemes
bunching grapes of blushing dreams

Your pretty little grape does dangle
in morning dew at such an angle
I want to pluck but dare not do it
perhaps the spring brings ripened fruit

I want to be a tiny ant
and on my tongue take in the sweet
But I’ll wait a little longer
and savor all your lovely treats

Coffee berry is your partner
the ruby-throated loves you too
a sparkle in the green and grey
it doesn’t take you much to woo

Grow in flow of warming current
purple berry in longer days
I want a taste, Sweetest Currant
before the birds take you away

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Is Your Castle Bee Proof?

rampartWhat rampart wrought again?
oh how you worked so well that stone within

Iron bound and tough beyond which
no entrance to the throne at all
and repelling any purchase on your wall

What sentinels on parapets posted
with fistly smiles of security boast
yet mute your extravagant heart?

The bees of love have come,
sound the alarm–

Let the bells sound off:
Sing, Song, Sang, Sung!
Ring, Rang, Rung!

Ablaut! Ablaut! The bees are about!
They’re tickling
the rampart east and south!

Abominate with love your fear,
dressed as knights
and like shadows at noon,
let the sentinels take flight

Once they’ve abjured the realm
to move on to better positions
worthy of their vigilance

Let even your fourth stomach
form an original conversation
with the open meadow

While the bees sip sweetly
your bold blood
drunk on delicious dreams
in your throne room

The Poet’s Assent (An Ode to Rilke)

a9f03dab4540ebd5c3e9b4d0165571f2--rainer-maria-rilke-the-birdsThe poet Rainer Maria Rilke has been some sort of koan for me. February is the time of year that was a creative hurricane for Rilke, allowing him to finish The Sonnets to Orpheus and the Duino Elegies in 1922. In one week, Rilke completed the unfinished elegies, and from February 2 to February 23, Rilke completed all the 55 sonnets of the two parts of Sonnets to Orpheus

He then wrote to his long-time friend, the inimitable Lou Andreas-Salomé, that he had finished “everything in a few days; it was a boundless storm, a hurricane of the spirit, and whatever inside me is like thread and webbing, framework, it all cracked and bent. No thought of food.”

In the fall I had thrown myself into trying to understand the heart of Rilke, his poetic motive, as it were. This is a poetic attempt to get at some of what I think he was up to and how he got there. In the meantime, I am still diving in.


“Incline a while,” she said with a smile.
A simple life, simply styled.

So with legs outstretched and peering into
the Poet’s mind and querying:
what’s this queer soul really hearing?
what’s this mirror really mirroring?

Seeing into things and Being
Into emptiness beauty fleeing

The whole of his heart’s work
from the hole in his heart works

because he dug and dug for days
he found upon his tongue a praise

Upon a summer solstice morn
on the eve of World War
a poet bent his inner ear
and found the point drawing near

Descended deep until he found
a limit to his seeing eye
no more secrets could be spied
until he looked with loving eyes

without it there would not be
the Sonnets or the Elegies

Only with that descending tone
could he ascend – not merely up
but with the whole earth on its throne
and with an ear so different bent
with drums began: “ASSENT! ASSENT!”

Only heart bent circling love
could form a praise upon a tongue
could a faithful Yes be a sung
like a song from morning dove

Only then the jailbreak
of those images locked within
and from behind the bars of time
the Poet affirms the world again

Eclipse of the Super Blue Blood Moon

super blue blood moonIn your uncanny orb of night, join these
Gathered ingredients of earth and sky,
Bold eremite of the winter season.
Blushing argent cheeks with ancient red wine
In the darkling hour of your silent
Transfiguration: Let the pot boil.

Hue with bodies heaving spells the spicy
Concatenation of your churning dish.

Accept the earthly shadow and resist not
The wondrous gravity of the moment.
With light and dark thy destined orbit’s marked.

Wax gibbous and grow a pregnant shaping
Of some image towards unfurled freedom

From that uncooked root called fear, a toxin
Spreading through the whole like soured liquid

And festering, sinks a sumptuous stew–
The more ingested, the more hunger too.

Now the lunatic transmutation made
Not by magic, nor with wand of wizard
But by channeled heat and moves cathartic.

Stir with patience the hearty blend within
Until all poison into sweetness changed.

Behold a new fruit, orb oracular!
Transliberating itself down the west
By and through and with that which holds it all.
A Peach, vigorous belly earthbound bent
And bruised. — Merely emblem of its ripeness.

Pluck it from the sky! Break your holy fast
With holy hunger and greet the dawn with
A wild and boisterous jubilance:
Sun in one hand, the moon in the other
With nectar dripping down your canny face.

Conversations With An Emperor of Dust

black holeAmor vincit omnia (Love Conquers All)

“Rust may never sleep, but then, neither does moss.” – Brian Awehali
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Emperor: I am Conquest.

My dark army vanquishes all
with its settled presence,
The wide world yields before my dusty scepter.

What I don’t cover with my relentless rind
I break and tear and dissolve into me–
my appetite knows no end.

All to ash, I say, All to ash.

I: Pin not your proud imperial hopes on me,
for I’m the rebel to thwart you, Dust.

You may fall, I’ll sweep you clean.

Emperor: What you build, I devour,
for at last you and it and I are one.
I will fade your brightest colors.

Call me King, subject!

I: You may tear down my citadels,
rend each wall and roof asunder,
but I shall thrust up once more
a sparkling edifice, refulgent

with a heart beyond your dark fingers,
my lineage is indefatigable
its coat-of-arms bears the Phoenix
on whose feathers no dust remains long

Emperor: Look around, what pitiful Phoenix do you see?
I’ve ground each beak and wing to dust.

My soldiers have thrown to their tasks well
rewarded with their own unending meals
Nothing is beyond the vast reach of my march,
All submit to my…

I: NO! All do not submit!
This is the voice of the one
who does not.
My head you shall cover,
my feet you shall sully,
my works you shall dissolve,
with Time as your conspirator.

But No, ‘King’, my heart slips through your grasp.

‘O King, O King, O King’,
the word mocks itself
on the tongue of my fierce beat.
I’ll make of your crown a tiny watermark
within my ferocious design.

Whatever power you usurp through the eons–
from the imperial center of decay
to your outposts of dirt–

I defy it like a riot.

My heart is no subject of yours.
Its riotous root runs deeper than your Rome,
where your empire has no purchase.

Should your mindless soldiers
dare ask its name, it’ll reply,

“Tell you master, my name is Defiance.
My task, Creation, my motive, Love.
My will be done.”

 

 

 

 

The Pronunciation of Love

monet sunriseI am excited to post my 200th poem on Rumi and the Shadow! It’s hard to believe I’ve reached this milestone-especially considering the vast majority of these have been within the last year. Of course, it’s about quality not quantity-and I hope that a handful of these have found some measure of insight, beauty, or power, or at the very least approached telling the truth and faithfulness to what I hear and see. The new year will see new projects-among them is publishing my first collection of poems in book form, tentatively titled Mud, Moon, and Other Memories. Thank you everybody for reading!

What worthier way to commemorate the occasion than with a poem about love? I dedicate this poem to my Muse(s), Mother Earth, and my ever lovely friends (in particular, I’d like to thank Katie, Diane, Ariana, Aaron, Ashley, Laura, Miranda, Jocelyn, and Oort), all endless fountains of inspiration and beauty.
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“Start by saying ‘L’, by touching the tip of the tongue to the back of top teeth. Add a short ‘u’ sound by relaxing your lips and tongue. End with a ‘v’, by gently biting your bottom lip. Be sure your voice is on, or this will sound like a ‘f’ sound. Love. Let’s try it.” (From How to Pronounce Laugh & Love)

Love–I’d been pronouncing it wrong
all these years
like ‘loaf’, or ‘loathe’.
with a hard long and hard ‘O’,
as in ‘own’.

then, adopting a faux French accent
like some spelunker of romance
seeking only affect
and a labyrinthine dance,

I would say lové
as in Monet–
mere impression, a sunrise
ignoring the sunset it implies

Finally, practicing proper pronunciation
I learned to utter a short ‘o’ sound
soft and relaxed:
‘love’ like ‘dove’

voice it with me:
‘love’ like ‘dove’
_________________

“If you begin to relax your tongue,
you can improve the clarity of your pronunciation.” (From the Pronunciation Coach)