Straw Flowers

Straw Flowers
"Straw Flowers" by L. Folk

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The World from the Perspective of a Piece of Meat

June 29, 2011

I am awakened by the violent itch between my toes at three in the morning. I get up, go and put some cream in the cavity there between pinky toe and its sister. The cream is old; the doctor prescribed it for me a few years ago. I use it anyway, wondering if it will work, if it will kill the thing that is trying to eat me..
Yesterday I was in my yard trimming the rose bushes and I saw that one rose bush has a disease. The disease is such that the roses turn brown before they open. It's a sad thing to cut a rose bud, brown and wilted, before it has bloomed. But there they were in the bucket, those fat buds, brown with ruin, like rotten eggs.
I wonder about people who don't bloom, who walk around with their claws clasping briefcases, who move toward money and little else. What happens to them? Do they die like the rose bud, closed and brown? It's a personal thing, blooming. Who can tell, really, if another is blooming or not. But who can bloom in a world that is trying to eat you, when you are always trying to run from a hungry mouth? It's frustrating to have to always take a pill for this, lather on the cream for that. And then there are the monetary hungry mouths, the bill collectors, the credit card companies, the charities. Just a little piece. Can we have just a little piece?
This is a crappy way of looking at the world, from the perspective of a piece of meat.

Here is a stanza from Bert Stern's poem “Counting Crows”. I find it fitting:

As for me, I take pills to breathe,
pills to be happy, but, still,
spitting venom, snakes rise
from brown paper bags
in my dreams.

So I praise the four crows,
buzzards riding thermals,
squirrel lice, and the squirrel
on the maple limb,
scratching her gold grey haunches in pale sun
with a rear foot that drives like a piston.


I think the point of the last stanza is to accept the buzzards, to let be what is trying to eat you. Why get all upset? You will be eaten by death in the end. Better to go willingly and with a sense of compassion.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Desire for Tangibility

 I feel like I am part of the ether, drifting a little bit here, a little bit there. It must be the allergies, the fog of microscopic dust that is clogging my head. Everything, these days, seems of the ether. This is what I've realized as of late: I am lacking in tangibility. I work with people whom I know only through the blips of words on the screen. Even my work is hidden away in some electromagnetic cell. That's the thing about these virtual worlds we live in; we start to crave tangibility. I want to feel a page, hold the money in my hand, have my husband hold me, as he did this morning. Even meditation has become ether-like. It's dished out no concrete image I can work with.
Yesterday, while I was tearing the sheets off the bed, I saw a picture of my father and me. I was in the crux of his arm. I was just a baby and he looked like a young Robert DeNiro or Sylvester Stallone. The thought in my mind: he is ether now. Ether, as in wind, as in the pockets of air in the soil, the foam in the sea, a sunbeam. And I wondered, does he miss his body? The healthy body, I mean, with the strong muscles and the beating heart, and the soft lines of wisdom around his eyes. It's okay to be breath, something inside me said. It's easy, the easiest thing in the world. Even Thich Nhat Han said this, to not worry about your loved ones when they die because they will be born into nature as the lily in the pond, or the rainbow of scales on the carp, or the soft wind that caresses your face.
But then there is Anne Sexton, who says in her poem, “Earth”, how God “loafs around in heaven,/ without a shape/ but He would like to smoke His cigar/ or bite His fingernails/and so forth". And I thought, was that why matter was created, because God who is “all soul” would like to “house it in a body/ and come down/ and give it a bath/now and then”?
I believe the spirit of my father set up camp inside my heart, sure. It is easy to feel it close to the nameless mysteries I house inside myself. But I do miss his face. I do miss his strong arms, his wavy black hair. His laughing eyes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Poetry of Your Life



What spectacular thing can we say happened on June 12, 2011? Nothing comes to mind except the lifting of a black mood. I want to record something I wrote awhile ago about that thing I sometimes do...meditation. I haven't been able to achieve this thing because my mind has broken through the gate and has run away temporarily. So I must write this to remember what it was like to have my mind in its pen, grazing.

Today I realized there are layers to meditation. When you first sit down, you are faced with an onslaught of arrows; aches, pains, you're not this, you're not that, She's this, He's that, restlessness, the ache in your side, the hopelessness of your spine, the sleepy fluid in your sinuses, the elusive words of the chapter, the sins of your body, etc. etc. But if you face these arrows and breathe, you will descend deeper into a primordial mind ooze, an inchoate place where there is movement, exploding suns, collapsing black holes. This is the place where the images rise. Your back won't hurt anymore, your sins dissolve, your breath deepens. If you wait, you will see them, gopher holes, oven mitts, potted plants, thorns. And these images are the poetry of your life, metaphors for you to turn over, see what's hidden and what, with proper attention, may be explained.

Here are some poems:

  1. Let the Genius Spin Gold

Let the genius spin gold, let her writhe
and birth out a red quail with a seraph's eyes.
Let the ship's anchor fall through her throat
in one fell swoop and pummel the acid
tongues in her stomach.

She walks around with a terry cloth towel
absorbing the crystalized thoughts of her
mind. Enough, says a small voice to
the left of her right ear. This voice is a
prayer that unearths the root covered in
fine dirt and happy worms.

Get the fuck out of the house says the
booming drum to the right of her left ear.
Call your mother.

But the washer churns, gurgles and spits
like an infant and there's always something
on the stove and in the oven. Even on one
hundred degree days.

She wants this, to cut a path to the river,
get down on her hands and knees in the
wet sedge, dunk her whole head in at
high tide when the water is shifting
and blessed.

Dunk, yes, her whole head, yes,
come up drenched in stone cold
blessings, swallow nothing, yes,
not a word, nor a thought, nor the salt
on her tongue, yes, nor the air she is
destined to breathe, yes.

  1. Worlds


You learn to straddle worlds with a parade of
people at your heels, your own miraculous face
mirrored in the pits of their eyes.

In the first world there is the bathroom sink
with remnants of pearly soap and facial hair.
There are clouds that come to soak the Earth
for days.

There are books, rivers, torrents of symbols
filling the airwaves.

There is a dishwasher with its maw open
waiting for filth; crumbs jammed in crevices
as bothersome as dead flies.

In the streets, there are people who walk sideways
with pincers, hard crust shells, and twitching
black marble eyes.

Sometimes, at night, under a grapevine arbor
with staccato light and arcing stars, there is a
gathering of wits. Laughter.

The door to the second world lies behind
your own beating heart. Here life ripens,
as it should.

People wash your feet, open doors to
elegant rooms where you dance with lovers
who whisper your name among applauding
hands.

In the third world, you have missed the bus.
The keys to your car have turned into
wasps in search of a hive.

The river's one hundred year flood waters
rush under a severed bridge. Attached to the
bridge is a sign for the ferryman, but he
has already gone.

You must do one of two things, swim to the
other side where your loved ones are curled
in their beds like grubs, or wake up.

So you wake up.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Fruits of Limbo

 
June 2, 2011

We are back from Europe and...what? It's hard to say really. I've scaled time zones, have shifted sleep and eating patterns, have shared with strangers, have spoken exotic words, have eaten the cuisines of the regions, have seen these regions themselves. So there is the wind outside now, a soft hush. I have straddled the world in over eighteen hours. My life here awaits me and yet the wind of limbo, this place of “just having come from” and “not yet entering into” is quiet. I want to fill it immediately with poems and writing and memory. With lessons learned. But there should be a time to just...digest. No? Now all of these new memories will integrate themselves into my life. So, traveling and traversing time zones is good for a fresh perspective. Yes.
I only wonder if it will last.

Here are some new poems:

42. Sojourn to Lucerne

I.
We land here asleep. Logistics, maps
abandoned. We follow the river, sit
where the floodgates have opened,
Drink wine.

At nightfall- the illuminated banks.
The fat troll at the bridge's gate lies
drunk and requires no fee. Above
him, history resides in the rafters.
Death's debonair bones pose with the
fashionable flesh of life.

II.

We ascend above the ramparts, above
the Earth's crook and curve, half veiled.
Within the hour, the last veil falls to
the soft tussle of bells.

We descend through a path in the wood,
flanked by shrines. Someone has left
nosegays at their footings. We murmur
what we remember of our childhood
prayers.

III.

We scale the city's walls. Put our
fingers in the holes of the fortress. Touch
timeless stones.

IV.

We honor the dead masters, wander
their rooms eyeing divine strokes,
pieces of woman, the auburn shift
of light. We weary pilgrims recognize
our own faces
unclothed bodies,
robust hips
manifested in paint.

  1. Equanimity

Get up. Walk barefoot to the mat.
Sit cross legged. Ring the bowl.
Pet the dog as her cold nose nudges
your hand. Bow to the array of
leaves. Breathe. Twitch. Stretch.
Greet the first arrow.

  1. The Musee d'Unterlinden

Two American teenage boys point
to something wedged between a wall
and the Crucifixion.

A middle aged French woman in a
chemise blanc and a jupe noir, carries
an unraveled coat hanger. She maneuvers
the hook to snatch a petit oiseau. Drags
it across the ancient stone.

Le petit oiseau sits for a moment in the
woman's hand, stupefied.

The woman closes her hands over
the petit oiseau, carries it to an overgrown
shrub in the courtyard. The petit oiseau
hops, falls, flies haphazardly to the
ground. Disappears.

C'est tous! The woman exclaims.

It lives, says one boy.
For now, says the other.

I am left alone with the absent bird.
Thinking of its fledgling's wings,
it's fledgling life.
Of faith.