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.


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 Re-Membering or 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), Lover Earth, and my ever lovely friends (in particular, I’d like to thank Diane, Katie, Ariana, Karen, Aaron, Ashley, Miranda, Jocelyn, and Oort), all endless fountains of inspiration and beauty.

“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)

Ruthless As Any Angel

persimmon dawnRuthless as any angel
you asked for a commitment

in your radical way,
it was all or nothing

so with a deep roar
of primordial pain
I said Yes.

Yes, I said it.

and yeses came bubbling off my skin
like water boiling
flying off like mist

and yeses arrived like dancing worms in dirt
breaking down the scented world

I understood the terms of the deal
marked with that echoing Yes:

all that is not aligned must fall away
you shall abandon all the false homes
I may wake you at all hours, like a lover;
with but a touch, you’ll respond
my whisper will be your watchword
and you shall empty yourself for me
all the terrifying and beautiful beasts
will be your friends
we shall make a flowing river of glaciers
and dust off the moon
the overwhelming fountain of things
will pour into and out of us
and things as pure as a spider bite
a horsekick a persimmon dawn a broken bone a new kiss
will sing themselves into the stardust world


Signed with black feather in rainbow ink,

Heir of Eternal Spring – Part III

icarus rainbow feathersA continuation of what I am calling “The Epic of the Feather Queen” or “Heir of Eternal Spring.” In this installment, the Woman tells of her experience receiving the rainbow feathers. For background on the origin of this very different species of poem, see Part I. Part II, the Wondering in the Mist and the reception of the Black & Silver feathers, is still being dictated.

The final, the Glory,
wherein the bounty lay:

The memory clear, a mirror
in warming light
(I weep at the memory now,
not from grief
but from melting away
for the colors still adorn my face)

A field o’ flowers without end
purple, gold, ribbon blue
well wide enough to hold the TWO

I mentioned battle
in that there is some truth,
but here the rages of war
are not a sound
no swords unsheathed
nor arrows unleashed
nor poison drunk
or clenched fists feast


on the road to this very field
and that is a story yet to tell…

Lavender and sage
and all the lightly-framed scents,
hinted through the cerulean sky
touched and danced bemused
like butterflies
of which scores appeared
about their merry way

it tickles merely
upon my memory.

At this point, you must simply TRUST OR TURN AWAY
(which perhaps is the only thing mortals may do)

For the tale of this feather is far-fetched, I know,
almost too lovely to be true
yet there I was,
these feathers may be the proof,
but of that need I am cured.

I, too, like you,
have seen and loved a rainbow
upon a time,
with joy and awe, full and ripe

Yet here in the field I lay
’tis was not mere glimpse, nor beheld
with eyes alone,
but rather one such came
into me

A rainbow pierced each cell
body, mind
and lifted me to heights
I blush to say

Of what shall one say
of rainbow play?

To convey in haste,
I’d say of honey it tastes.
But even that’d be so far removed
from the truth o’ it

this, a nectar
touched within
with the pure tongue of simple heart
or in the spine
refined joy
of which honey is but crude remains
I sipped, not gulped
as one would wine
for the sensation so sweet
so sublime

From here, the Proving
proved unneeded
The Chasing, chased away
the Blame, no target found
here or there
Struggle, a most constant fiend
through the years
now was but a friend

….and thus my final feathers
took their place upon my crest
a rainbow, ‘longside black and red
my plumaged gleaming guests

Heir of Eternal Spring – Part I

The other night I was up in the night, awoken by words that would not let me sleep. It was a figure, that I’ve taken to calling The Queen, that has appeared in other forms and contexts. I am taking it to be Muse/Anima. Whatever the case may be, these entire verses arrived to me as blocks, I have not altered them but merely tried to take them down. This has never happened to me before beyond a word or two. And is a very different
style and form that what I write, as readers of my poetry will notice immediately.

The feminine figure is telling me how she arrived to have three different colored feathers or plumages (Red/Bronze, Black/White/Silver, and Rainbow), and hints that she will tell me how she arrived on the throne, the story from heir to Queen-in-exile. I don’t have any idea what she is talking about. I met her first in a dream a couple months ago, as a disguised commoner. That’s all I can say for now.  This is the first part of about 4 so far that I have received, and it’s clear that I have only so far been told a little bit of her story.
I, Courtly Heir to Eternal Spring,
thrust a’sudden upon the throne
with backward glance
yet onward travel in startled gown,
festooned with light,
And tattered from the wind,

Now try to carry forth the word
of a battled plumage
Thrice conceived:

First, in fury
fiery wrought

Second, mist born
in fog imbued
Silver, black,
And all between

The final, the Glory,
Wherein the bounty lay
A field serene
In flowers infinite
Meant for rest
The memory clear, a mirror
in warming light
(I weep at the memory now,
not from grief
but melting away
for the colors still adorn my face)

But I’ll tell the tale of First Born First
Through which the red plume came to be:

Once in fury, locked within
Animated by a grievance, petty born
It now appeared as a ship
A mighty ship sailing strong
Carried past all Ports of Reason

On an ocean cast wild, unending
no anchor in the maelstrom
could find purchase
nor rope ever found
thick enough to have me bound
hence a raging storm
pure and bright
conquered sea and left me
a captured sailor
bound by no oath or earthly good

I took to raving-mad it seems in retrospect-

But then the Truth out:
clean and sharp
a mighty fang
a splendid song
a ruthless pouring
of heart enthralled

(better this, I thought,
than stand a worm)

Several days like this, three or four,
’tis not clear
for fog of memory takes its toll.

What had been sealed behind fair lips
could not now keep
its bubbled roar
from joining froth
foaming on boiling sea:

Break thy False Mask, Beautiful Villain!

(Her furious outpouring To be continued in the next installment)

Poems’ll Cut Your Head Off

IMG_6958He thinks poems are angels.
You think poems are angels?
You think poems are angels?!

Maybe an angel with a sword

tuck you into bed at night,
cut your head off with a golden scimitar

Sweet things they are not:

“Don’t let the amber color of my beautiful words fool you”
she didn’t say,

but her eyes gleam it,
diamond serious