Soar Your Southern Bird at Dawn

IMG_7581“Descend the western gorge at night
and soar your southern bird at dawn
pitch your poem in northern sky
before the blessed day is gone.” – Umbrano

According to scholars, this enigmatic epitaph was thought to have been written by the forest monk variously called Umbrano or Umbra Minor, in the hills surrounding Rome in the 3rd century B.C.E. Dated to the winter of either 286 or 287 B.C.E., during what is considered his annus mirabilis (wondrous year), it is one of 999 poems he purportedly composed in Aduana, one of several pre-Latin languages. Local uncivilized people considered him to be a rainbow wizard or mud magi of sorts, and bestowed the name Magi Arcus Iris upon him (Ijana Oma in Aduana). Of course a number of legends arose around the figure of Adumbra, none of which can be verified. But it would be interesting to look into what source were at the root of wild tales, such as the one that has him being swallowed by a sea beast and living at the bottom of the ocean for 6 months before being spit upon the shore unharmed.

The epitaph above was engraved on his tombstone, and is thought to be but a fragment of a larger work he was composing when disappeared into the mountains.

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Forest Poet

forest poetThey’re casting for the role of forest poet

I wanna play the part
weaving words like vines
that look into the face of love and fear
among the redwood trees

it’s only slightly mad

not on any high school
career-planning curriculum
college major quiz
or drop-down menu

I wanna play the part
of the forest poet

have morning tea
with animal allies
and titillating conversations
with flowing creeks

Notice how the light
and shadow dance together
playing tricks
on the leaves of
unfurling ferns

compose poems
as medicine
for a world caught up

a bit strange
they say

stranger than sports fans rioting
black friday madness
or making gas-powered leaf-blowers,
landmines,
or little plastic scented trees for cars?

so let others play the part of
politician, programmer,
engineer, janitor,
office manager, military officer,
designer, carpenter,
athlete, mailman,
gadget-maker.

They’ve all got their place.

It’s just that I wanna play the part
of the forest poet

I wonder, is it needed any less?