Thursday, November 7, 2013

Poems, a magician, holding the door, the beautiful Wind Rivers, Between Two Fires, dreams and dedications


These are all the poems I could find that I’ve written.

2011 – For about 6 months Leslie and some friends did an epic job of caring for a Sudanese woman who was dying from breast cancer – a refugee, a woman’s rights activist from bleeding Sudan. I helped some also. Maryam wasn’t really her name. I wish I could put her photo in – you’d see what I mean. The whole story is here.

To Maryam

Lying in the bed,
A little smaller each day
Slender once, thinner now
Mocha framing numinous eyes

Quick mind, quick speech
Clear thin voice
Following each thought
Through this strange land
Where everyone everywhere every time
Has gone each time like the first time

Fearful
Smiling in the face of fear
We’ll not speak of this now
Now that we’re here
Here like all before
Here like never before

Last week seeing your sister
With drawn face
Open to her sadness and pain
When I came unexpected
Around the corner
Before she could cover her soul

We are flesh, blood, bone, skin
The carriages of our souls
Rolling through
These streets this life
This pain, this joy
This longing

You know and I know
What’s real (and what's not)
But we can wait for awhile
No need to rush to where we are going

From Hue 2011/2012 (not a poem, but it’s important to me): After a banana pancake breakfast (with honey and yogurt) and not forgetting a glass of very strong cafe sua and a few minutes later splitting an omelet/baguette sandwich, we took a riverboat cruise for 100,000VND (Leslie's bargaining acumen) to
These mist-covered mountains, from the Song Huong (Perfume River)
Thien Mu Pagoda, 45 minutes up the perfume river. This where the monk Thich Quang Duc lived before he went to Saigon in 1966 to immolate himself in protest against the VN government and the war. The pagoda and grounds were quietly beautiful –understated and mossy with just a few people around and a view from the grounds across the wide river, past the plains, to these mist-covered mountains where we fought and bled, where so many from every side fought and bled and died, aching for life – me for a beautiful dark-haired girl whose photo was so washed out from the water that only the shadow of her left eye was left and now, 45 years later, looking across the room from where I write she's sitting on the bed, the love of my life, beautiful, her hair white now and here we are in Hue and I look out through the glass-paned doors toward palm trees and mossy buildings - it's misting in Hue.

Written at the last camp site after 2 weeks on the trail in the southern Wind Rivers


In the early morning sun,
Wishing you were here with me
Knowing we’re together soon
Knowing that’s forever more

I’ve loved you for these many years
I’ll love you many more
We’ll be together now
And forever more

Sun coming up (now) over foothills
Like it’s come up these past days
Over mountains stark and grey
How can I be here
In this place so high and wild

Campsite near where I wrote the poem at left 
All these years passing by
Not like a dream, not like a mist
Like treasures one by one
Passing through my life enriched

Working hard to make it so
Lucky that it’s turned out like this.


2010

and what lies ahead like a sparkling lake in the high snowy mountains, into lakes, lakes into streams, into lakes, into sparkling rivers and
These are the days
All the days we’re given
All that we have
Holding together

2009

No Mas

Mexican girls
Dark-eyes, sad-eyes, sloe-eyes, slow-eyes
Fiesta Mart perfume on
Skin so beautiful it takes my breath away.
Mexican girls
Walking arm in arm in lives
Arcing, peaking in the 10th grade
In love affairs bringing baby girls and boys
Sweet brown babies
Jessica, Junior, Araceley, Raymond
Riding in strollers with young mothers
Heads high in tattered pride
Knowing in this life there are no second chances and that
The 10th grade peak was it.

2007 – I found these lines among some papers. I have no idea who wrote them. Maybe me, maybe Robert Hunter. All I know is that I wrote them down on a scrap of paper.

Roses Round the Virgin

Joyfully she sings
I'll be remembered
A 1000 years and over again.
And I saw
her tear.

Red roses, pink, white
In fragrant garland
On her breast.
No thorn, but
soft petals on
The Virgin's breast.      

2007

Waiting

The red dirt cemetery is dry under the Texas sun
Monuments stand straight, tilt in red dirt
In the center, Confederate battle flags still fly
Honoring the men who fought for their country

My Grandmother is buried next to those flags
My Grandfather, uncles, aunts, others
Are next to those flags
A little concrete border runs around the plot

Someday we’ll put my mother’s ashes there
But for now, they’re in our dining room
In a box, with an old-fashioned knitted cover draped
18 years there, waiting for me to be ready

That's pretty much my whole poetry output.

A magician

I was at 4211 San Jacinto and an older Vietnamese woman invited me into her apartment. I walked in and What! The apartment was literally filled with
I took this photo of a village meeting near Danang in 1967.
The women in the left and right rear are VN peasant
women archetypes. Not to be trifled with.
Buddhist statuary, incense burners, wall hangings, and the like. Her story was that all her life she’d been angry and subject to verbally and sometimes physically attacking other people. One night she had a dream and in the dream saw her apartment full of Buddhist icons and related. She started recreating the dream in real life and as she did, she lost the anger and people began asking her for advice. By the time I met her, she was counseling and doing ceremonies for many people and very effectively from what people told me.

I liked to visit her, sitting at the little kitchen table, drinking the café sua or tea she’d fix; she’d be smoking cigarettes.

Holding the door

I was holding the door for my wife as we were going into a market today. A couple was behind her so I held the door for them too. The man said thanks and something about me being “old school” and I said something like, “Right.” He says something about me being a Republican and I laughed and said no. Then he launched into a vignette about how he had told a woman he was Republican as he was holding the door for her and she wouldn’t go through. I said, “Right on!” And he muttered something about how he told the woman if she needed help she’d be happy to see him. I just smiled and moved on. It was getting kind of weird.

What I feel for the Wind Rivers

This is a good description of what I feel every time I go into the Wind River Mountains. It’s not that the Winds is the only place that would evoke these feelings – I imagine other mountains and deserts inspire similar feelings in other people. There’s a basin somewhere along the Maroon Bells 4 Pass Loop that also affected me in this way. 
The Winds. Twin Glacier.
“… I had already dreamt my way into their (the Brooks Range in Alaska) fabled midst many times over. And I can say, without reservation, that the age-old dreamer within me was vindicated by what he beheld – a landscape for which I felt an instant nostalgia, a landscape that inspired deep within me a terrible longing never to die, never to go blind to the world…” Dennis Schmitt

Between Two Fires

On a day when something nice would have been especially nice, something
Teaching at psytrance gathering
really nice happened.
About a month ago, in the context of writing about my spiritual development, I wrote about Between Two Fires, an extraordinary book by Christopher Buehlman. Today, the mailman handed me a surprise package with a book inside – Between Two Fires. The author had seen my blog and taken it upon himself to send the book and a kind and affirming note.  

Dreams and dedications

Leslie and I have always talked about our dreams - basically every morning. Now, we sometimes remember that one of us has had a dream, but seldom do either of us remember much content any more. Two important dreams: 

I lay dreaming that I was near an outdoor marketplace, watching a group of musicians set up to play. One by one, they began to tune, softly. Then in a soft clear voice, a woman sang the words, "Who knows ... where the time goes ... " and at that moment I awoke and said, "To Leslie." A true vision. Dedicated to my wife, Leslie.
Leslie and David in the rain in Hue

When my son, David, was about five years old, I dreamed one night that the end of the world had come. Everything was just slowing, slowing, slowing and I was drifting in space. I knew when it all stopped, that would be the end. David drifted into my arms as a voice said, "Into the arms of his father." It was a calm encompassing peace. Dedicated to my son, David.

(On a three day combat patrol 1966 or 67)

Waking one morning to sit smoking
Watching the day begin through misty green
Slow, soft, green and mist
I could sit here for a thousand years.