Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June 16 -- Big Geology


  1. There are kettles by the road in Coupeville WA huge
    Bowls in the ground carved out
    By glaciers one is so deep I can’t see the bottom though
    I always stop and try to peer down but trees grow out of
    It and ferns so thick I think the earth must be rich there
    Since none can go down it but deer so it’s not trodden on
    Or messed up by strangers walking by I’m a one person procession
    Completely unlike the 15 people I saw last saturday
    Walking up Western Avenue in Los Angeles CA carrying
    Long stemmed flowers following a statue under a canopy.
    The statue was a man holding a baby — St Anthony of Padua
    I found out later, the patron saint of lost things and lost persons
    The people — mostly women — were huffing and puffing up the hill
    Western is steep at that point. I remember them and gasp uphill past the kettle
    Asking am I the celebrant, the saint, or the infant, without its mother
    Succored by a man who isn’t the father or those determined unrelated women
    Who hoist themselves from the bottom of wherever they were at proceeding
    Through the traffic hoping always to find their/my hidden God or more precisely that
    Missing maternal unheard in the honking hubbub concealed by
    these trees.

    1. I love the way this poem wanders all over the place and draws implications about everywhere it goes.

    2. thanks! can't wait to see what others come up with.

    3. I love the metajourney of the procession into the huge bowls. the baby is Jesus of course so perhaps fatherless rather ... his mother a virgin. My mom accessed St. Anthony for her misplaced keys and I'm always hoping to find my hidden God

    4. I really like that journey you take us on.

  2. A monster had taken a bite out of earth
    Leaving not a hole but a place
    That a moon would fit in.
    Let's say it's a negative space
    Then we'll say that the ocean is damp
    And the sun is a lamp.

    When you tumbled in
    The Grand Canyon of death
    And while I was shopping
    You gave up your breath
    I stood at the rim and wept at the sight
    An unpleasant night.

    I don't know where you are now
    Let's say I'm unsure
    But wherever you are folks are laughing
    And glad to be there
    With good books and good whiskey
    And steak on the grill
    Stars in the sky on a country road
    And the moon on a hill.

    1. it's an intriguing poem. the "let's say" repetition gives me the idea of the loss of someone that shared an understanding of things in an unspoken way, a point of view that cannot be replaced once it is gone. you manage to blend sadness with affection in a very potent way.

  3. I love the rhyme scheme running through this and the mythology you build. Those two things together are really effective!

  4. It didn’t help. I drove by it nearly every day.
    Eagle Rock, they named a fucking town after it.
    It’s not hard to see why. It’s almost like someone
    carved a half-assed eagle near the top just to
    remind me she didn’t live there anymore, as if to say
    “See this crappy eagle, she’s gone. She flew away.”

    1. That's great man. That hit me where I live! I'd send this one to Nerve Cowboy. I'd bet they'd pick it up!

  5. i really like this one sean. the first sentence is awesome, and "crappy eagle" is just perfect.

  6. Gates of Passage

    On a trip
    to the rivers of
    retracing the footsteps
    Of Lewis and Clark
    There was a passage
    with tall walled rocks
    shooting up straight from the banks
    They were gigantic pillars on the edges
    of civilization
    As we curved around them
    and looked behind us
    the one ledge on the right
    seemed to shut like a slow sliding
    door into the other monolith
    As though passing was a one way
    journey, and going, regardless of danger
    was with a no return price
    Lewis and Clark must have felt
    shut off from the rest of the world
    they once knew
    only to go forward
    on their trek into the wilderness
    unknown and treacherous
    with Natives threatening to kill them
    There was this sense
    of being cut off from going back
    A true explorer would have fear
    of what was around the next bend
    of the Snake river
    They had their Native guide
    Sacajawea leading the push
    into the unknown
    convincing the Blackfoot
    they were of no danger
    Little did they know
    the journey was a critical
    step to discovering safe
    passage into the land
    and started the march
    Westward when Jefferson
    was assured there was a
    direct route all the way to
    The Pacific
    The push began
    and settlers
    Taking the culture
    and culminating it
    into destruction
    through slaughter
    and genocide
    The forefathers
    of our country would never
    have believed the savages
    by helping the white man on
    their journey westward
    left them open to demise
    Two explorers with the strength
    and courage to go forward
    opened the gates of passage
    for all willing to go west

    1. I love all the irony of history working through here. It's a great poem!

  7. Big Bear

    Dad built his first cabin in Big Bear in the late 60s. In those days Big Bear was more primitive, less stores, less people. Everything was closed down at night. The mountain was always a special place I could go, and the trip driving up the mountain road was like I was traveling into another dimension to get there. When Mom finally sold the house almost forty years later, the third home that Dad had built, when there was no longer a reason to go to Big Bear a part of my life was gone - my refuge.

    1. Yeah, I can feel the loss in this poem. I felt the same way when I moved out of Lake Arrowhead.

  8. that road up and back was amazing. that's a loss for sure.

    1. I've always loved the ride and when I started driving I love to drive the mountain.

  9. The mean Road

    I see flashes of fading sandstone
    of dry grass and looming rocks
    the twisting road ahead
    I see the edge meet the sky

    I hear words of comfort
    to just sit still
    we will be there soon
    I don't really hear them

    I feel deep pressing heat of the Sun through the glass
    from the swoosh of the wind outside
    I feel my fear of Grimes Canyon Road

    I smell the dust of the road of last year's tar
    of this year's rains
    I smell my fear

    I taste the eventual relief the feeling of my feet on the ground
    the flavor of safety
    I taste home

    1. Sorry... a couple of the lines got crammed together in the copying and pasting. Every stanza is supposed to be 4 lines :)

    2. Beautiful poem. I don't know Grimes Canyon Road, but I know it if you know what I mean.

  10. I like very much the I see I feel progression.


  11. SUMMIT

    Working up along the south wall of the canyon
    The sun bright, reflecting off wet stone
    The air cool and dry.
    Three hours of climbing fall away below
    Down to the cabin where the blue smoke rises
    The pass above my left shoulder
    The trail etched like the path of a tear
    A seam between peaks
    I follow a step at a time the inevitable journey
    The air thins, the field of skree flattens
    As I approach the lip of the pass
    Sharpened by the wind
    And stand upon the edge overlooking the north face
    A snowpack in the shadow of the dawn.
    The valley beyond is cool and green,
    A paradise untouched by boots since late summer
    An eagle’s domain
    Switchbacks hidden beneath the molded snow.
    The way home.
    Dusky slabs of shale absorbing the morning
    Granite glittering, polished by the wind.
    Ten million grains washed down into the sandy canyon bed
    Below the bank of snow spread without a single imprint
    Flawless and deadly
    Above the world, a steel canister
    Contains a single journal
    With dated comments from a hundred hands of years past
    Since before the great war
    Year upon year of lonely reflection
    Of men who sat upon that very spot
    Seeing that same scape
    Those same trees across the valley on that far ridge
    This same wind upon their faces
    Writing something never to be equaled
    And I wrote
    A poem summoned by the arc of history
    That moment
    Inspired by the awesome miles above the mountains
    Surging in my breast
    Rare words fanned by an enflamed spirit
    Catching fire upon the stained page
    Until it stood in ink, encrypted in time
    And looking back to read
    I breathed satisfied and stood
    Leaving forever a page with no motive
    But momentary solidarity with a future soul

  12. I like the way this moves. The imagist tone and focus is great especially "The trail etched like the path of a tear
    A seam between peaks"

  13. I think it's a bit adjective-bound, but here it is:

    Painted Canyon

    Earthquakes built this place.
    The earth shivered, shook, heaved
    until it spewed its vital juices
    over the mounds that its suffering
    created. Sharp hills wear these remains
    in raiments of pink, brown, and rust.
    Gravel roads lead through close canyons,
    sandy paths into the narrowest ones;
    seen from these the sky is a thin blue ribbon.
    All around the mountains lie in pleats
    and folds, each sand- and rock-studded layer
    leans heavy on the next. Once vertical,
    they now pitch toward two o’clock:
    an oppressed race, smashed together
    cheek upon cheek, keening silently
    in the still and silent desert night.


    1. Most of the adjectives really work though. I think you can take out "keening silently" and strengthen it. And then make "narrowest ones" more specific and you'll have a more satisfying poem, but for the most part this is done and fantastic!

    2. I like it. Lots of very textured sounds and images. It's a simple painting of a scene but quite beautiful to see and hear and feel.

    3. Thanks, John! I liked keening silently, but I agree -- stronger without. Ah, killing the darlings! Now I need to think of a replacement for narrowest ones -- how to describe these thin pathways that eventually lead to open land. Fissures?

    4. I think I'd put your body in there, someone's body, so we can feel it!

  14. Laguna Beach

    My grandpa said that he wanted to take me to the beach.
    I loved Laguna since I was small,
    Since he first took me there.
    "Today, I want to show you the tidepools though," he included a little later.
    I felt a surprise on it's way.
    "Tidepools?" I questioned.
    "Yes, on either side," he answered.
    In shock, I responded, "Wow, I had no idea."
    Instantly I was fascinated by the black rock,
    The grooves,
    The creatures,
    The fear of being washed over by a large wave during a storm.
    I wonder if tidepool rocks and creatures feared large waves.
    Resolved to believe they were okay because they were meant for such a climate,
    I answered my grandfather's request to come into the cave.
    How majestic it was.
    Until I saw how tainted if was by cheap anx irresponsible graffiti,
    All over.
    My hopes for a true, natural cave came down crashing
    Like a tidalwave upon small creatures inside the tidepool.
    Killing any hopes for normalcy
    Or what used fo be
    "Could be"
    Later I developed an intense love
    For graffiti art.
    What a hypocrite.

  15. White Cliffs of Dover

    As the ferry’s engine churned the sea into a froth
    muttering behind the boat, I turned to keep the wind
    from whipping hair into my eyes,
    And faced the cliffs.

    What were these stone-slashed iceberg rising from the blackened water?
    Carved as if some Roman god who led the
    Conquering army long ago had
    Raised his arm and wielded a gleaming sword
    Bigger than a whole column of men
    And crashed it onto mountains,
    Slashed the ice-white rock in half,
    And let the boulders tumble to the sea.

    These were not cliffs—here, land was
    angrily stopped. No centuries of erosion
    but a gash, long, alabaster, along a country like a continent
    stretching far away to north and south,
    The landing place of tribes that I descended from,
    Ancestors whose only traces remain locked within our bodies.

    As the ferry headed east and the wind grew colder,
    I watched the white cliffs,
    blind witnesses
    of kings and women, slaves and armored warriors
    who landed, left, fought, fell sick--
    Carried here on wooden ships of war.

    The armored boys who climbed atop these cliffs,
    followed the command to fight against each other
    and dying, fell from the cliffs onto
    the narrow rim of sand below,
    a sepulcher that
    held them till they rolled into the sea.