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life after death

The blackened iron
of the stove
is ticking into coolness
when the first drops
start against the roof.
It is late: the night
has darkened into this
like a fruit--
a sudden pear-aroma fills the room.
Just before dawn
it comes up harder again,
a white, steady drum of day-rain
caught in the moon's deep pail.
A battered tin-light
overspills ocean and sky,
hill opens to facing hill,
and I wake to a simple longing,
all I want of this ordinary hour,
this ordinary earth
that was long ago married to time:
to hear as a sand-crab hears the waves,
loud as a second heart;
to see as a green thing sees the sun,
with the undividing attention of blind love.

~ Jane Hirshfield

yes love

Apr. 10th, 2011 06:22 pm
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thank you god

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

~ e.e. cummings
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An elderly Cherokee woman was teaching her children and grandchildren about life. She said to them, "There is a great fight going on inside of me. It's a fight between two wolves.

The first wolf is fear and greed and anger and deceit and self-doubt and competition and all the ugly things in the world.

The second wolf is hope and love and trust and sharing and faith and cooperation and self-appreciation and all the beautiful things in the world."

They sat there for a moment and then one of the children looked up and asked, "Grandma, which wolf will win?" The Grandmother simply replied, "The one you feed."

love bells

Word Play

Mar. 20th, 2011 02:09 pm
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I am hypersensitive lunar extractions breathing nervous pebbles.
I am coiled orbits spiraling in a heartsick terrain.
I am not harboring pent up pangs of pinging pink pinnacles.

I love coral mistakes conceived in a cosmic sea of magnetized mollusks.
I hate digging dirges and wallowing in horse quartz.
I come from phosphorescent sky murmurs, sacred circles suspended in space-grace.

I remember cherishing bliss in vast woven zones.
I forget clotted expressions of tangled parachutes conceiving bamboo in botched buckets of blame.

My heart says velvety vistas sistered up the sun while curious harps spooned beneath borrowed buttons.
My mind says sync up, butter dove, the elf owl is emperor now.
The moon says meet me in the kaleidoscopic dimensions of yes near Hallelujah Junction.
The river says semi-succulent dagger yuccas are smuggling horse crippler tonight.

Come back to me Tripoli, tuffed upthrows of arroyos.
I can't give you up saw-toothed suffering, lost box of barbed hoarfrost.

Read about the poetry writing workshop I attended )
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If we could see Japan from outer space right now, with eyes we've never known, we would see a brilliant burst of lotus flowers hovering over the devastation, each one opening and giving birth to another. We would see this because the creative power that Dylan Thomas called, "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower" is violent and holy and terrifying and the fractals of beauty that arise when life is torn open by Life is likened unto a woman going into labor when she doesn't know she is pregnant, doesn't know what labor is, the concept of birth utterly foreign to her. Her body seemingly betraying her, her agony unbearable, her suffering seemingly meaningless. She despairs of God, despairs of Love, despairs of Light, until the giraffe of new life stumbles in the room, blinking on wobbly new legs and the continent grows hushed. Everything pulses with a soft pink light and her sorrow is transformed into inconceivable joy, rippling out into eternity.

Eons later she whispers to her ancestor-sisters on the earth, "Don't despair of the labor. Wait for what is to come."
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My mother would be a turtle and my dad would be a walrus.
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A wondrous thing occurred in 2002. It was the publication of a book written by Jonathan Safran Foer called, Everything is Illuminated. This luminous thing dwelt on my bookshelf for many years until one of you mentioned it a few days ago, prompting me to pull it from my shelf and now, NOW a powerful example of how imagination is more important than knowledge dwells within me. One Hundred Years of Solitude has been bumped to number two on my all time favorite books list.


When it is not possible to know where we come from, or who our great-great-great-great-great grandmothers were, and when it is not possible to make sense of human suffering, we can create ineffable stories bordering on magical realism that are more true than the truth. From failure, wondrous things can bloom, from loss, love and beauty are born, from darkness, illumination occurs.

I hope that you are not too jaded, dear readers, to take this book to bed with you, because if you are an artist (and you are) and if you are a writer (and you are) then you need to know how the impossible is possible. You need this knowledge to dwell and swell within you.

Listen, this young American man went to Ukraine to find the woman who may (or may not) have helped his grandfather escape from the Nazis, and he failed. He was only 20, and ill prepared for this task. He had only a photograph, a first name, and the name of a small village that no longer exists. Because he failed to find anything, he made it all up. He took a few scraps of something real and invented a legendary great-great-great-great-great grandmother, he invented a village, he invented a history and he wove it all into true events in human history and told a story that is more efficacious than the truth.

This idea is not new. Tim O'Brien showed us this in The Things They Carried, and others long before him have demonstrated this as well. But you have not seen it on the level that Foer has given. You have not seen anything so luminous. Take a pencil with you on this journey, because you will want to underline numerous passages, and you will want to document the strange dreams you will have after you have read these passages, you will want to nurse the spell it casts on you, you will want to lie underneath the stars and feel the aftershocks of this book contract through your being.
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Makes me laugh, lots of cash.
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The dream that we are our fathers. I walked to the Brod, without knowing why, and looked into my reflection in the water. I couldn’t look away. What was the image that pulled me in after it? What was it that I loved? And then I recognized it. So simple. In the water I saw my father’s face, and that face saw the face of its father, and so on and so on reflecting backward to the beginning of time, to the face of God, in whose image we were created. We burned with love for ourselves, all of us, starters of the fire we suffered——our love was the affliction for which only our love was the cure…”

— Jonathan Safran Foer - Everything is Illuminatedli
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Why does my mind go blank every time I try to write on a topic of someone else's choosing? I've been reading The Sun Magazine for years. If you've never heard of this magazine I urge you to check it out, especially if you're a melancholy literary/writer type. You can sign up for a free sample issue on their website. DO IT! You'll thank me. Every issue has an interview with a compelling thinker, author, activist or artist, etc., followed by essays, memoirs, true stories, fiction and poetry --- all peppered with amazing black and white photos that seem to transcend time. People who love this magazine, tend to really love it and consider it a form of spiritual or communal sustenance. I'm one of these people.

A couple in a tiny town right outside of Chico recently started a Sun Magazine group that meets in their home once a month. There are only a handful of us, but I am truly loving the amazing people in this group! All of us are writers of sorts and we often bring some of our own writing to share. The Sun has a section called, "Readers Write." This section is my favorite. At our meetings we try bring in something we have written on the "Readers Write" topic. Usually, when I sit down and try to write on one of these topics, I freeze up.

December's topic is "Fights." Lord knows I've had plenty of those. When I was 13 I chased my 11 year old sister around the neighborhood with a butcher knife until someone threatened to call the police. I can't even remember why we were fighting. The tv, maybe? My dad and I had nightly power-struggles at the dinner table, a few of which ended with me dramatically declaring that I was running away from home to live on the streets where I would be forced to launch my career as a prostitute--- all because I objected to my mother's meatloaf or something equally ridiculous. In college I fought "the state," "the status quo," "patriarchy," and "the man." Later I fought God -- tooth and nail -- my most fierce battle to date.

These days I fight myself: my propensity for anger and self-doubt, my negative thoughts toward bunnies and babies (read, "over-population"). I especially fight these negative thoughts when I'm driving on icy roads. If I don't, God will surely smash me into a mountain in an attempt to teach me for the millionth time not to hate.

Till then, I freakin' love my Sun magazine groups where we talk uninterrupted for hours about boring adult stuff like poetry, psychology, spirituality and politics.
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Blessed are the peacemakers.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed are the peacemakers.
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I recently re-watched the movie "Closer." This song is still echoing within me.
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"I am an old man and have known many troubles, but most of them never happened."

--Mark Twain
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I am loving this sound.
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"...the human mind is an amazing contraption. It's a veritable self-justification machine."

- my friend Tom
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I recently found a small feather hanging from my cat's tail. Assuming she had killed a bird, I plucked the feather from her tail and pointed it at her face while I lectured her on how her lack of awareness of how her behavior affects other creatures is the foundation for why I refuse to worship her kind as the ancient Egyptians may have done. I also questioned whether she would have any empathy for other living creatures even if she were to possess such an awareness, given the obvious disposition of her soul as one that is quite ungrateful and needlessly hissy. I explained to her that she will likely have to endure many more incarnations in order to reach a level of awareness and compassion that will be worthy of a final release from this veil of suffering.

When I relayed the above story to friend of mine she replied, "Maybe she didn't kill a bird. Maybe she's joined a burlesque show."

And that, my friends, is the height of positive thinking.
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I had been waiting for a good excuse to burn a bunch of fossil fuels in order to check out the artsy, well preserved California Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Then I heard about an Artisans Festival there this weekend. It was the excuse I had been waiting for.

Nevada City is about 120 miles southeast of Chico, 2500 feet up into the Sierra Nevada foothills. It's off the beaten paths to San Francisco and the north coast which is why I've never been there. I took my camera, expecting to take a frenzy of photos in this historic town, but it was super windy and nippy which made me just want to get indoors. The whole town was having a power outage, but there were a lot of people out on foot, trying to get some Christmas shopping done in dark stores. Thanks to the sun shining brightly through the Miner's Foundry windows, I was able to check out most of the artwork at the festival.

I bought this piece by Liz Collins. She named it "To The Volcano II." It's oil pastel/oil stick on a wood panel, approx. 12" x 12". She told me it was inspired by a hike she took to a live volcano in Guatemala. She described a crusty, black layer of ground that cracked open periodically to reveal the hot orange lava flowing at a snail's pace below the surface. She even straddled one of these cracks. That's pretty damn brave in my book.

volcano 6

Another artist whose work I was drawn to is Lissa Herschleb.
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A brief summary of what I've been up to lately....

arcata community garden buddha 1

Read more... )
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This poem begins in this corner,
where barely awake and naked
I stand at the top of the stairs,
a bas-relief against a book-encased wall,
and watch you leave for the day.

You may ask: how does the nude
fit into the contemporary setting?
And Cézanne thought apples
were the most difficult fruit.

Remember the year I stopped eating apples?
Remember the summer I kept bringing home
abandoned chairs? A lucid Vincent wrote
to his brother: I have tried
to express the terrible passions
of humanity by means of red and green.
His self-portrait now hangs in the Fogg.
Remember the summer I had to walk
to the Lake just to feel anything at all?

When I descend late in the afternoon
there's a blue plate of heart-
shaped cookies, there's an orange
on the kitchen counter. I notice a crack
in the seam of the ceiling, a spider
vein on the inside of my knee.
What a still still life!

The rest of the day is a slanted floorboard.
The rest of the day is the color of absinthe.
Note the personal and detached attitude.
Note the application of arbitrary color.
The tilted perspective.
This poem is all surface.
You may stand where you choose.
This poem has no vanishing point.


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