Monday, April 11, 2016

The River Doesn’t Stop on a Humid Afternoon

THE RIVER DOESN’T STOP
ON A HUMID AFTERNOON--BUT I DO

WATER AND AIR ARE MINGLED, AND
ALL THE SOUNDS I HEAR--
HUMAN, ANIMAL, ELEMENTAL--
ARE THICK WITH THE SUBSTANCE OF LIFE
ON THIS WATER PLANET

IT MAKES ME GLAD--
THIS IS MUCH MORE THAN I HAD A MOMENT AGO,
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD.

I HOPE THAT I SHALL ALWAYS HAVE
A RIVER TO STOP BESIDE,
TO REMIND, MORE THAN THE SEA, THAT
I AM ON A JOURNEY INTO ME

THAT I DO NOT AND CANNOT BELONG TO ANY CREED,
THAT I’M A WITNESS AND A CONSORT OF TRUTH,
SO HOW CAN I BELIEVE ?

SUNDOWN LOW SPILLS GOLD INTO THE STREAM,
I JUST RELAX AND GET QUIET,
KNOWING WHAT IT MEANS--

WATER IS SPEAKING IN THE LANGUAGE OF LIGHT,
AND IF I LISTEN JUST RIGHT
I GET THE PROOF--

I CANNOT HEAR
ANYTHING BUT TRUTH

I CANNOT HEAR ANYTHING
BUT TRUTH

I CANNOT HEAR ANYTHING BUT TRUTH


© Gerry Sackett, 2016

Stopping by the River
Photo by Tony Russell

Monday, April 4, 2016

How to Draw an Elephant: A Chestertonian Inspiration




Your muse has sung in siren tongue 
A beguiling incantation.
Your inspired mind no shackle can bind, 
No qualm deter its vocation.

Artistry pent, pause you resent;
All scruple you christen defeat. 
Your aim, I see: originality
Suffers no orthodox conceit.

Promptly then, your opus begin, 
Unleash that rapacious vision. 
With each stroke defy, make each shape deny 
The tyranny of convention.

Prepare your page, your pen engage,
Your subject (let me now confirm)
Is that splendid beast, that atheistic feast, 
The tusked and truck├Ęd pachyderm.

Stylus grip, press its inky tip
To field of pale obscurity.  
Why stand dismayed? Dare you invade
Its utopian purity?


No pretense is artistic sense
That reveres an unsullied space.
But reluctance to its neutrality hew
Conflates passivity with grace.

Yield not to fear, sketch first an ear
With a broad, elephantine curve.
Now neatly impose a prehensile nose
By a dexterous manual swerve.

How you protest! Do I suggest
So insipid a rendering?
Can I advise such a trite exercise
In artistic surrendering?

Drolly antique—hardly unique—
Is the hackneyed, serpentine snout.
I sense your distress, how can you express
Yourself by so public a route? 

Art must be bold (or so I’m told),
So cowering custom displace.
Why not a square, or else nothing but air
To hang from his singular face?  

Next his leg—your pardon I beg, 
You find its girth too confining?
Then cinch it a bit, or freely submit 
To less inspired designing.

Onward we tack to his broad back;
His bulk let us immortalise.
Never! Cry you, every feeling eschews
The banality of an elephant’s size.

Your pen strays near his unshaped rear
Tracing a concise, playful trail.
How dogmatic, how undemocratic— 
But how sublimely like a tail.

Why do you cringe? Does it impinge
On your avant-garde proclivity
That a form so concrete should now complete
Your surge of creativity?

Bar then, rules of outmoded schools
From your audacious abstraction.
But if I may be plain, while they restrain,
They merit no blithe rejection. 

Though indeed, your subject you’ve freed
From the rigid form that bound him,
In that cage he was free simply to be
An elephant, as you found him.

Corporally shrunk, loosed of his truck.
Can you him an elephant name?
The freedom you prize in willingness lies 
To be restricted by a frame.

Pure license no insight attends, 
But like that fool’s tale does it ring
With the full fury of blind anarchy:
A scene that signifies nothing.

Heed then, friend, lest your daring rend
Image from imagination.
Rejoice that each line from all else defines; 
For true art is limitation.

© Elise Matich, 2012

An elephant, drawn by Rembrandt van Rijn
Chalk on paper, 1637
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, March 14, 2016

Endings and Beginnings

Scatter my ashes
where osprey fly,
calling to each other 
above the rippling marsh grass
and the tides
that breathe and murmur 
in the cove.

Lay a stone
in the old graveyard
across the bay,
where wind and sun
and seasons
come and go.
On it a terse inscription:
“Proceed as way opens.”

That will suffice.


        © Peg Latham, 2016

Tidal creek flowing into a salt marsh
Photo by Brian Bill, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, March 7, 2016

Everything Has Legs

Not only animals can lope about!
Everything has legs,
useful, but often concealed;
static, but still capable of rapid movement;
unthinking, yet able to plan and execute.
For instance:

Cellphones

Never turn your back on a cellphone. 
Such a gesture will quickly be detected,
triggering unseen limbs to instant action.
Electronic sensors will seek out places of hiding
known only to the device.
Without being observed,
the malevolent little creature will hide in a nearby collection 
of computer-driven devices,
or seek out the darkest corner of your current location.
If autonomous features are available to this silicone snake-in-the-grass,
it will modify its own settings to make itself totally unresponsive,
and leave you utterly abandoned, 
perhaps in an unknown neighborhood, 
without fuel for your car, 
surrounded by unfamiliar structures
and unknown inhabitants who themselves
have been abandoned by their disloyal communicators. 


Yet another instance of uncooperative technology:

The Coat Hanger.

Surprisingly strong, ubiquitous, a denizen of every household,
an ancient form of “helper” device,
embodying no electronic content at all,
yet capable of causing wholly unexpected and endless frustration.
They normally live in closet spaces, some holding clothing, others bare and apparently available. 
Somehow these circuitless, detectorless, 
brainless creatures from our distant past know when they are needed, 
and respond in most unpleasant ways.
Having been observed in an available state, 
they deploy hitherto unseen appendages and move silently,
quickly to other more distant locations.  
They are also known to burrow into piles of clothing, 
and, if left alone on a large flat surface such as a bed, 
organize themselves into hideous tangles 
which can reach the complexity of the legendary Gordian Knot. 
It is said that Alexander the Great himself, 
upon encountering such a mess of metal and plastic,
refused to attempt its disentanglement.
Reduced to mumbling impotence,
he was heard by bystanders to observe in his frustration “…but they haven’t even been invented yet!”   
Shortly thereafter he died after tripping on a hanger 
left on the floor of his command tent by a careless servant.

There are many more amazing facts unknown 
to even the best-informed scientists.
Next time we bring you unprovable facts about 
computer detection of user identity and 
how machines  determine 
which problem is most disturbing to the person at the keyboard 
and how they then implement these problems….

And for your own safety, remember –
Everything has legs!

© George Phillips, 2016

Decorative lamp shaped from old wire coat hangers
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, February 29, 2016

Utah Youth

Do you need those glasses? 
Why not clean them off a bit, 
Lift the dust and grime, 
And see clean through crystal. 
Or better still, why not chuck 
Them over the side of that mountain.
From inside a basin, or from up there on the 
Mesa Arch, see this tilting Earth?
Let the One who made it sing you to sleep
And wake you up tomorrow with new vision. 
These layered mountains tell the story 
Of your fourteen years, all your striated hurt and glory. 
I wish everyone could see you 
Clean through their glasses.
Your mind and heart a symphony unheard,
I wish it could echo loud through these mountains. 
Pain eroded you, and the sediments collect deep. 
Maybe if we yell loud enough it will bounce
Off and disappear.
Or do you need a quiet
Wind to brush the pain off your shoulders?


© Emily Brown, 2016

Bryce Canyon, Utah
Photo by Jean-Christophe Benoist
from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Who

My people are the most hated people in history.
Am I the most hated person on this earth?
Benighted by night, I walk thug-haunted streets,
My only fellow the thug who follows me.
It is satisfyingly easy to hate a race everyone hates.
There is no guilt in hate the world validates.
No nation is so evil, could be so evil, or so good!
Can a people be despised because it gave birth to Goodness?
Can a people be despised because it wasn’t good enough
But wasn’t bad enough to either conquer or disappear?
My people gave birth to many religions, who loathe their mother.
Our identity deleted, our nation nullified, our humanity distrusted,
Our home is negated, old or new, proffered and withdrawn.
Every smartphone glares: hate this race and be spared!
Join certainty, fatal justice!
My people mothered high and low thought—deplored by both.
Sometimes our identity is to delete our identity,
Such unselfing the last refuge of affirmation.
Of course we sinned—but were we sincere?
Are you sincere in your sinning?
Some sinning was earthy, fun, inventive, a bit helpful.
But sinning is sometimes not fun.
Is the Unforgivable Sin to, unassisted, refuse nonexistence?
Is our Use to be the canary in the coal mine?

Though I feel the thug following, I still walk.

© Stephen Margulies, 2016

Anti-Semitic Graffiti in San Pedro Sula.JPG
Anti-semitic graffiti in San Pedro Sula, Honduras
from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sit Quietly and Take It In

When you sit quietly and allow yourself to hear your heart
Then your soul can come forth to comfort you.
When you sit quietly and listen to the wind and feel the flowers
Then your soul takes on the contentment it begs for.
When you sit quietly and view the vastness of the mountains
Then your soul can feel the presence of the Divine Creator
When you sit quietly and view the tiny creatures of the earth
Then your soul can feel deep into the soil of life
When you sit quietly and feel the flow of the wings above
Then your soul can step out and fly with a joy
When you sit quietly and feel the mist of the waves
Then your soul can be washed clean with a pureness
When you sit quietly and watch a deer slide gracefully in your path
Then your soul can feel the gentle love of your Higher Power
When you sit quietly and feel the earth under your feet
Then your soul can plant itself solid in your temple
And you can write and write and write
To seek the contentment of your soul
And you can write and write and write
To find the answers that rumble inside to come out
And you can write and write and write
To know the joy of exploring what surrounds you
And you can write and write and write
To feel yourself on a healing path
That brings you to write and write and write
To know you are right with the world
And So It Is!


             © Hilda Ward, 2016

Deer
Photo by Tony Russell