Something Poetic

He spent the morning watching time seasoned men fell trees. He admired how accurately they aimed the tall and heavy towers, bringing them down exactly where they wanted, sparing the homes from the looming menace and allowing sunshine to once again douse hardwood floors, rugs, and happy inhabitants. The way the ground trembled upon impact was thrilling.

Now, back home, his empty stomach laments over missed breakfast and demands meat. He fixes tuna fish, regretting having earlier sentenced his last celery stick to the compost bucket. He briefly considers going to the garden to obtain fresh celery, but is much too hungry for extravagances. Instead, he walks the plate of sandwich and potato chips to the front porch, rests in the old rocking chair, and resumes reading his novel. By the time the chapter is finished, he’s collecting potato chip crumbs on wet fingers, but since the wealthy old woman has been seducing her young house-guest behind the back of her sickly husband, he can’t help but read another chapter.

With lunchtime consummated, he vaguely wonders what to do next. His options are simple and revolve around wood: he could put the excess cedar siding undercover, he could finish making curtain rods from doug fir poles, or he could split some wood for tonight’s fire. Instead he gets up and sweeps the tan and ocher oak leaves from the porch. “What’s the rush?” he asks. It feels like the seasons, and time itself, are slowing down — dropping like leaves and thermometer mercury. He loves this porch nearly much as anything.

He sits back down and stares into the distance, not thinking as much as watching. Little flies dance like dust motes in the afternoon sun, stark against the forest green backdrop. He knows the rain is coming, and this could be the last sunshine for a while, but he’s okay. He feels okay all over, even under his skin, and he wonders why he hasn’t always felt this way. Is it a secret he’s discovered? If it is, it’s not the sort he could tell you in words and sentences. Heck, whatever it is, he doesn’t even know if it’ll be here tomorrow. Doesn’t know if it will persist past the setting of the sun.

He gets up to split some firewood, one of his favorite activities these days.

Redwood Refresher

trying

Dry lightning has sparked many wildfires in southern Oregon, and thick white smoke lies heavy and stagnant in the valleys, making even close mountains disappear from sight. My throat feels like coarse sandpaper, my lungs like dry paper bags. It was the pursuit of fresh pacific air that caused me to flee to the coast this weekend, and while initially it felt like an inconvenience, it proved itself a blessing.

The Redwood coast is my church. A place where worship flows out, yet I am filled. A place where time and eternity meet, and offer a new perspective. A place crudely depicted on my very own website banner, yet rarely visited in person. Thankfully I was smoked out of my comfort zone and reminded of this unique pagan temple, so close to home.

Rumi has been my morning companion for some time now, and he joyfully followed me into the forest, laughing in his mischievous way; he thanking I, and I thanking him. Rumi is a treasure trove of wisdom and arcane knowledge, and by spending time with him, I feel like my understanding is deepening. If the Bible is the Way of the Servant, the Bhagavad Gita is the way of the Warrior, the Tao Te Ching is the way of the Monk, then Rumi is the way of the Storyteller. It is also the Way of Devotion and Adoration. Rumi, steeped the Sufi tradition, speaks to me more than any other spiritual text I’ve encountered, and goes to show that spirituality need not be so damned heavy and serious. Like a whirling dervish, Rumi’s words fly off the page, playful, humorous, racy enough to make a prostitute blush. Not all translations are created equal, however. I highly recommend “The Essential Rumi” by Coleman Barks.

Ever since leaving my Corporate Life and pursuing the Artist’s Path, I’ve felt a tremendous amount of pressure to perform: to create something big, worthwhile, world-changing. And while that desire is indeed a God-given vehicle by which to move forward, too much of it causes paralyzing anxiety. Visiting the coast helped me gain perspective on Art in relation to Life.

Fact is, I’m not just an artist. I’m a son, a brother, a lover, a friend. I’m a community member, a volunteer, a worker, and an activist. There are many roles I play in life, and while “Artist” is important to me, it does not adequately define who I am. The clean pacific breeze whispered in my ear: being an artist is not a destination but a way of living, a lifetime journey. I could live to be five-hundred and still not “arrive” as an artist. Likewise, I can die without having created something world-changing and still have lived a great life.

Seducing the Muses

seducing_the_muses

Seducing the Muses

you ignore my demands
taking orders from no one
like a scent on the breeze
I chase you though forests
finding only undergarments
strung upon Madrone branches
or peppering empty fields

from first steps to high school hallways

army barracks to hospital rooms
I’ve escaped cubicles
for you

don’t tell me those evening highways
trashed out city streets
meant nothing
beat-bopping with poets
in the back alley shutter house
crying
god-dammit I’ve named mountains for you

makes me want to give up
stop eating
turn away horny women
makes me want to find peace

I will rise each morning
arms outstretched to the sun
wanting nothing

I will prepare a home for you
in case you come knocking

Today I saw a Fawn

It was the first I’ve seen this season. Small and fragile and emblazoned with white spots, it wore a temporary coat which even the yearlings had lost some time ago. It’s appearance spoke clearly:

Love me, mama! I’m cute!
Nourish me, protect me,
I was once you.
Do you remember?

From my window I watched the Fawn leap around the meadow in large orbits. Over and over, with boundless energy, to and fro it bounced among the tall grass. Occasionally it would stop, stand crooked on uncertain legs, look around, and begin again. Having just emerged from the darkness, its delight with the world was palpable; it’s every movement a joyful dance to the triumph of existence.

A scene I saw, and a poem I like.

beavers_swimming_at_night_dallion

After the e-mail saying you forgave me
by Ralph Earle

It was about the time the first
poplar leaves turn yellow.
The cottonmouth, thick as a muscular arm,

slid into the water at my feet.
The marsh burst into autumn.
Motionless in the rushes,

a mother doe and her fawn stared
at me, necks slender, eyes intent.
Your heart would have overflowed.

The beaver arched its glossy
fan of a tail in the far shallows.

I looked in vain for its mate as
it disappeared, wild and beautiful,
into the black water, out of reach.