Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I was going to post another TS Eliot, but decided, in light of my fieldtrip to Barnes & Noble, where I found this collection called POETS AGAINST THE WAR, to share this instead:
stones and bones
here is a country where old men
gather in the capital and
speak their language filled with
their syllables are chips of bone
they speak of lifting up a creed
while cold and still there under
their tongue is somebody else's child
bones and stones
our ears bleed
red white and blue
Monday, May 15, 2006
A nice piece I found in some old papers today while looking for something else. This article appeared in SUNSTONE, August, 1990. It's written by an old acquaintence, Levi S. Peterson, and was presented at the 1990 Washington D.C. Symposium.
A MORMON EVOLUTIONIST AND THE WILD GOD'S GRACE
...Prairie dogs are rodents which live in burrows. In prehistoric America their subterranean dwellings covered hundreds of miles of grassy plains. Viewing them, I thought of the birds to whom St. Francis of Assisi preached, for these prairie dogs seemed like a congregation of worshipers--curious, attentive, and devout. I join St. Francis in declaring the plants and animals of the earth to be my closest brothers and sisters. I rely on my mute intuitions to inform me that the impulse to to live I find everywhere on this fecund earth, in grasses and algae and pine trees as well as in prairie dogs and human beings is godly. This inorganic planet of magma, rock, water and air, is divine; but even more divine is the life that has occupied it and made it home. I love the wild world because it is so replete with an unapologetic impulse to live. The plants and animals claim their birthright. They do not agonize over duty; they listen to an inner commandment and strive to exist. And in their presence I worship, for God has spoken them, and they are his Word.
...I do not limit culpability among animals to the carnivores, for herbivores are guilty of maiming and killing plant life. For that matter, plants too participate in evil as they ingest, inhibit, and kill other plants or animals. It is the inborn curse of the mortal order whereby all living things are under the grim necessity of devouring other life. To achieve the goodness of developing my own life and the lives of other human beings and the lives of the plants and animals I choose to favor, I must sacrifice innumerable other plants and animals.
...I do not try to clear God of complicity in this tragic state of affairs. It was God who ordained that the original protoplasm from which life has evolved should be mortal. So on Judgement Day, if there is to be a Judgement Day, God will stand indicted under a law of his own devising. On that day I will be ready to forgive God, as I hope he will forgive me. I will forgive him because I do not believe he can intervene in the natural order he has established. My only certitude regarding God is this: he is the creative force of the cosmos which expresses itself in natural law. But of course, I am pleased to imagine, to hope, he is much more as well. I hope God is the guarantor of certain outrageous miracles, one of which is the immortality of individual human beings...I hope he is the supernatural destiny toward which consciousness and spirit in the natural world are tending.
...Each Sunday as I partake of the sacrament, I devote a portion of my meditation to a prayer for pardon. I do not ask Christ to forgive me, because I do not believe he has ever condemned me...I must forgive myself, over and over for failing to be a saint. I affirm that the best and purest expression of God in this wide universe is in the imperative of the human conscience toward self-sacrifice in behalf of others. "If any man will come after me," said Jesus, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me...." The cross of our new ecologically oriented age is vaster, weightier, more hopeless of being borne than the old cross of earlier ages. We are asked to be eco-saints. Though our duty to our own kind is in nothing diminished, we are now asked to love and cherish the wild world as well. We are asked to covenant ourselves to the cause of clean air, pure water, and natural soil. We are asked to engage ourselves in behalf of snails, meadowlarks, kelp, moths, and earthworms, too. The living world is our temple and we are asked to keep it holy."
(It's LONG but it's worth it.)
Sunday, May 14, 2006
This is a lullaby I used to sing to you. A keepsake.
A PAVANE FOR THE NURSERY
Now touch the air softly,
Step gently. One, two...
I'll love you till roses
Are robin's-egg blue;
I'll love you till gravel
Is eaten for bread,
And lemons are orange,
And lavender's red.
Now touch the air softly,
Swing gently the broom.
I'll love you till windows
Are all of a room;
And the table is laid,
And the table is bare,
And the ceiling reposes
On bottomless air.
I'll love you till Heaven
Rips the stars from his coat,
And the moon rows away in
A glass-bottom boat;
And Orion steps down
Like a diver below,
And Earth is ablaze,
And the Ocean aglow.
So touch the air softly,
And swing the broom high.
We'll dust the blue mountains,
And sweep the blue sky;
And I'll love you as long
As the furrow the plow,
And However is Ever,
And Ever is Now.
--William Jay Smith
Thursday, May 11, 2006
From Preludes, T.S. Eliot
The winter evening settles down
with smells of steaks in passageways.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.
(I will post II, III, and IV the next 3 Thursdays)
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
...And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows,
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace,
Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of his hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
(The poem is too long to post the whole thing, but look it up. S'wonderful.)
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
ARCHIE SAYS TURTLES ARE PEACEABLE CREATURES *
"Turtles," Archie says, "are
legs sprawled awkwardly
out to the sides."
And if anybody knows all about turtles,
You, my love, my own, are a mud-turtle,
armed with a ridge of spines
and snapping jaws.
I, on the other hand, am a box-turtle,
when danger threatens.
Fallen on my back, clawing, toes spread
wide apart, I cannot right myself.
Defending yourself, you hiss,
withdraw into your shell,
and squirt out foul yellow musk.
Archie says, "The most dangerous time
in a turtle's adult life
when it is mating."
If there is anything else
you'd like to know about turtles, my sweet,
*Archie Carr, University of Florida
Who said you can't go home again! Here am I rocking on the front porch of Thomas Wolfe's home in Asheville, NC. I went back once to look for my old home in the California Mojave desert one summer, with my mother. We laughed all the way to the airport, ate peanuts and drank Cokes on the jet. The day we drove out there the desert was hot. Most of the wildflowers were gone. The town is still there, but our house was gone. Vanished. Where it should have been was a small square foundation, a lizard, a few weeds. Vanished. Like Grandpa and Nannie, and Nannie's yellow cat called "Pinky." Like my brother's black dog Sparky. Like Daddy. And Mama. Daddy was a miner. Mama said my father was always one shovelful away from the glory hole that would've made us rich.
OK. So, maybe you can't go home again. But words are magic! In 1939, Mother's Day came on a Sunday, May 14th. I was born the day after. They said Daddy leaped the fence like an Olympic hurdler to tell my Nannie and Grandpa, "It's a girl!" The newspaper headlines that day announced that Premier Mussolini gave his views on the question of war in Europe: "There are not enough problems big enough...to justify a war," he said. So, he was wrong. That day Bob Feller, pitching for the Cleveland Indians, saw his mother in the stands hit by a stray ball. Sophie Tucker, Katherine Cornell, Tallulah Bankhead, and Katherine Hepburn played on Broadway the night I was born. I was a shy kid. I told my husband I spent my childhood reading Plato and Aristotle. I lied. I wasted a lot of time under the fig tree in our back yard floating ants on boats made of leaves. I practiced flying off the swings, sure that if I wished hard enough and kept practicing, one day I would take off like a bird, and never come back.
I decided I'd be an artist. I majored in art all thru High School. Then I decided I'd be a great actress (like Katherine Hepburn), and went to the Pasadena Playhouse. I spent about a year travelling with a road repertory company, and we played seven different shows across the U.S. and Canada. I did mostly little girls and old ladies. I got tired of living in hotels and suitcases, so I left the road and enrolled at the University of Utah. My dearest friend decided I was going to wind up an old maid because I hardly ever went out. I spent much of my time in the music library listening to Palestrina Masses. At any rate, I graduated in '64 with BFA and got married a couple of weeks later. And had five sons. And no money. I survived that. I survived melanoma, and wrote a book about it, called CHRYSALIS (out-of-print now, but several copies are still floating around on Amazon.com). I taught writing for several years, had a poetry textbook and a book of poetry published, IN WILLY'S HOUSE. I love to write, but have kind of gotten out of the habit. Maybe this will inspire me again.
Now that I am--almost--sixty-seven, and closing in on an ending that may be a beginning, or a continuation, I know that it's all about change. Susan Griffin, in "A Chorus of Stones," says: The body remembers who we are supposed to be. And in this there is grief.
I think sometimes I am supposed to be about four, read to, sung to, rocked to sleep in the wicker rocker on our vanished front porch, wearing my small thin body, without this unfamiliar heaviness, these strange wrinkles, this loose flesh. Last night I dreamed I was in my Grandmother's house. My mother was there. I was ecstatic. My father came past the window and looked in, and then came into the room where we were all gathered. I threw my arms around him and gave him a kiss. Then the dog woke me up wanting to go outside.
H.G. Wells said that "Man must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind him to the fact that each moment of his life is a miracle and a mystery." My life so far has been a miracle and a mystery. As all of our lives are. Isn't it grand! Almost like going home.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
--Rainer Maria Rilke
The Second Elegy
"...But if the archangel now, perilous, from behind the stars
took one step down toward us: our own heart, beating higher and higher
would kill us...."
(This angel is, in fact, a "white dwarf butterfly." The nova star is the bright dot near the center, the cast-off cocoon is an ejected shell of gas. Apparently our sun will, in just 5 billion years, become itself a "white dwarf butterfly.") The angel's heart is the nova star, pulsing as it should, in the left side of her breast.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
You can't go home again
Who sed that?
Did somebody say that
or was it in one of them dam books you read?
It don't matter
it's a pile of crap
I go home ever day
don't matter where I am
I'm the prodigal son coming back
I don't even need a Greyhound bus
I can go to my town right now
right here talking to you
I've ever been
--David Lee, MY TOWN
Monday, May 01, 2006
Thanks to Rexroth's Daughter, at Dharma Bums: Decades Full of Dreams, who says, "The only thing that disappoints me about this photograph is that it's the right wing. How happy I would have been if the Great Blue Heron had raised its left instead. We take what we get. The right wing is beautiful. Damn!"
Because she infuses so much of her work with poetry, ie:
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridge to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
in a culture up to its chin in shame
living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the back door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in banks that use us we are saying thank you
with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like the cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is
And here in dust and dirt, O here,
The lilies of his love appear.
There are cracks, cracks, in everything,
that's how the light gets in.
The heart that
breaks open can
And did you get what
you wanted from this life even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
And finally, from T.S. Eliot:
Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance,
and there is only the dance.
All these included in Anne Lamott's "Travelling Mercies," which she ends this way. "I can't help but say again what I said on the beach that day, in a whisper this time and without even being exactly sure to whom I'm saying it: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
(For Erin M.)