Monday, June 15, 2009

The Gardeners

A Renga by David Irwin and Bill Graffius

White blossoms push out
from the wood. Wet dirt wisps steam
almost all morning.

Nothing worse than too much time
on one’s hands while the ice melts.

The forest dances.
Blossoms fly from meadow trees.
Tall grass undulates.

Seize the moment to watch this
in the mists before the storm.

A clutch of young grass
falls from your hand. Did the wind
take it as it fell?

Ahead, summer's horizon;
Today, sweat and more planting.

Baskets on the porch
filled with trailing spring flowers
will bring summer joy.

Dirty hands, satisfaction,
Sense of zen captured in now.

The dirt hands you your
meal - this is where we first taste
the too-young tartness.

Berries, when ready to fall,
are different, not better.

When plucked before ripe
fruit and berry are less sweet.
Taste is the victim.

Life must fully gestate
or bitterness will prevail.

There are still cold winds
to make us forget breakfast
and stay in our beds.

Blossoms are a memory.
The flowers do not make spring.

Cold dew at daybreak
glistens on the fresh mown lawn.
Wake! And join the day.

Blossoms are the memory
and midwife to spring's rebirth.

Clouds are not bleak or
joyous. Understand the rice
you bring to the meal.

Do these blossoms understand
how little time they have left?

Time is circular.
Which season begins the year?
Which one marks the end?

The cycle is a circle.
No beginning and no end.

The moon's white halo
is no sign of anything
but rain tomorrow.

A bicycle replaces
the ox. The field goes fallow.

Preparing to change
with feelings of unfolding,
a sense of blossom.

Rain today, sun tomorrow,
life grows from the excrement.

The verde blossoms
are already a carpet
here, gathered by wind.

Thus each gray morning begins
with the usual triumphs.

Daffodils abound.
Yellow pollen everywhere!
Summer approaches.

Gaia is blessing us with
rain for our emerald world.

Sweet morning chill is
disappearing. Open doors,
plain tea our pleasures.

The hills are changing daily
when I take the time to watch.

Our labor brings joy
as the sun paints our skin brown
and backs bend weeding.

Hummingbirds thrum at feeders.
Ice water is our reward.

Their furious wings
lift them through the warm evening
to sip one more meal.

Tomorrow, summer's journey
up the mountain will begin.

The flowers offer
nectar to the travelers
in their migration.

Bees and butterflies partake.
My efforts are rewarded.

Savor sun and growth -
not that there's a choice - because
the cold will return.

Endless vistas from the peaks,
but our crops need the river.

Standing deep in green
our joy is restrained, knowing
fall follows summer.

Until the cycle renews
we celebrate abundance.

For those who visit this blog regularly, you have seen two previous "in the middle of things" postings of this poem. It is now officially finished.
For those seeing this for the first time: David Irwin, a poet, writer, musician and longtime friend (I hate saying old friend, even though we're both getting there) read one of my haiku poems and invited me to Renga with him. Renga is an ancient style of Japanes poetry wherein two or more poets collaborate to create a poem by writing alternate stanzas. It is also the original source of the haiku. It uses syllable counts of 5-7-5 and 7-7. In its strictest, original form it goes to 100 verses. Google it for more information. Here is the result of our initial foray into this form of poetic conversation. Hope you enjoyed it!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Native Moon

I am nagual, my familiar is peregrine.
When the season is harvest full
and Ix Chel bathes the cooling desert
in her silver light,
I perch in the saguaro, watching,
until in a ghostly shimmer I see
the Surem rise out of the Yo Ania.
They unroll their shining lake
spreading it over the creosote plain,
for a feast at the place of the last dance
far from the modern, disapproving eyes
of monotheism and civilization,
all of existence still intertwined
enchanted, no duality,
no dichotomy of good and evil.
Passing gourds of balche spiked with morning glory
and slapping bones on stretched deer hides
coaxing a rhythm for the dance
the ritual of healing begins.
All the gods have gathered,
Klehanoai dances with them,
lightning in sheets rippling overhead
as Mama-Kilya keeps time.
Grandmother Metsaka sits at the edge of the firelight
warding away the darkness of Tokakami.

Tsohanoai calls, distant, a hint of gray on the horizon
and in a puff of smoke the celebrants disappear.
I am nagual, taking wing to begin the morning hunt,
a shadow outlined against the dust reddened orb
sinking in the western horizon.

Ix Chel is the Mayan moon goddess.
The Surem are nomadic precursors to the Yaqui People who chose to shun the rise of religion and civilization and live in a parallel universe, the Yo Ania.
Balche is a drink made from the bark of the balche tree mixed with honey and water and is mildly psychoactive, even more so when mixed with morning glory and other hallucinogenics. Believed to be used by ancient Mesoamerican cultures in religious rituals.
Klehanoai is a Navajo moon god who face is said to be covered with sheet lightning.
Mama-Kilya is mother moon, an Incan moon goddess important in the calculation of time and the Incan calendar.
Metsaka is the Huichol Indian moon goddess known as grandmother moon. She guards the huichol against Tokakami – their god of death.
Tsohanoai is the day bearer, a Navaho Sun God

Monday, June 1, 2009

Baby Boomer Son

It isn’t so difficult.
I don’t lead a tortured life,
no longing for some sweet release
like a cold wind through a hot kitchen,
dad in his dirty white wife beater
pounding down another pony bottle
of Fort Pitt beer,
cursing the officers
who spent men like pennies
somewhere in a dark German forest
frozen forever in his memory
rising up through nightmares
to become midnight screams of terror.
There is nothing I have to fear,
nothing to drown in cheap alcohol
dulling the razor cuts of each monotonous
identical day of machinery
and mass production
cursing the white-shirted managers
who didn’t have to breathe in the ceramic dust
and metal filings,
who never had to sweat, just decide,
who spent men like pennies
somewhere in a dirty factory hall,
straddling some sickly yellow stream
belching sulfur and disease
winding its way toward the Allegheney,
the Ohio, eventually the Mississippi
and the freedom of the Gulf.
What I have to endure
isn’t so bad
that I can still mourn for my father.