thin

the ice  is so delicate

shot through with spider web fracture

though the danger lies not in crashing through

but in the bursting forth

 

i read once in an old book of Chinese tales

of a pompous ass of an official

who refused to heed the old monk’s warnings

and broke into the sacred vault where the demon lay waiting

to be fulfilled

and now

it’s just like that

the melting cries of an infant

drowning in the fire of it’s own tears

the whine and shriek of the shrapnel torn air

all the lights dimmed and flickering

muttered excuses so flimsy they are transparent

in the face of the frozen moment

seventy years of catastrophe

 

vexed to nightmare

no rough beast

only a slouch

a whim

a twitter

a twit.

 

shadows

he signs his name with a magic marker

held in a childlike fist

clumsy

crude

stupid

his friends watch

from the sidelines of the playground

and no one is laughing now

 

“we mean business”

he says

when everyone knows

we mean nothing

Nothing will come of Nothing.

 

 

Ritual 2

It is hot in this room and it will most likely get much hotter before the afternoon is out. Just beyond the double paned glass windows of this classroom, the late spring sun is vibrant against the apple green leaves of the trees and the purple hollows and rills of the  hills ringing this small city deep in the river valley, but I don’t see any of that as I’ve closed the blinds to allow my students to chill out and watch a movie. It doesn’t really matter what movie I’ve chosen because none of the students in this darkened classroom are watching the light being projected up on the screen. They are, instead, slouched about the room in some of the most striking examples of really bad posture imaginable. Curled up against the backs of the chairs or leaning over like human question marks doubled into themselves and the glowing screens of their cel phones. There is no actual social interaction in this room for the entire day. By lunchtime I feel so lonely I want to collapse onto the floor beneath my desk and go into a comatose sleep. But instead, I’m sitting here typing this to you, whoever you might be, wherever you might be.

I think to myself every once in a while I should get up and leave the room. Walk out into the open air, get in my car, and drive and just keep on driving until I run out of road. I have, however, no idea where to go or what to do once I get there. And then I realize that I have maybe already run out of road, sitting here  in this airless space, trying to realize a vision that has been made obsolescent by the sleek glassed panes of a pocket toy that responds to it’s viewer’s most shallow desire.

One thing is clear, that I am not, and have never really been welcome here. In this room or in this system. But I manage to hang on through my guitar and my scribbling, and my anecdotal reveries.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a pessimistic rant about the state of the world. It’s just my current observations of the moment at hand. And the really great thing about this particular existence is that it is most certainly going to change, and from my experience, that change will take the most unexpected of forms.

 

 

On Meaning and Ritual. . .

From “Writing About Rituals and Rituals That Help Us Write” by Jessica Mesman Griffith (Creative Nonfiction Magazine, Issue 65):

“. . . the first step is to dutifully record. Ask yourself the following questions when writing about ritual:

What is in front of you?
Behind you?
Look all around you and notice the specifics of the space you are in.
Why are you there?
Who else is there?
Who is leaving?
Who is paying attention and who is not?
Who is crying?
Is this a familiar or unfamiliar place or event?
Do you feel welcome or unwelcome?
Do you feel like you belong?”

 

#Guns and People Essay Contest – Call for entries. . .

guns and people

 

Memoir magazine has extended the deadline for this contest until May 15, 2018. Great opportunity to speak out about an issue of vital concern. . .

Grace and Gravity

Sunlight strikes the forest leaves.

Silence settles between the sounds

Of wings upon the wind.

I settle back

And gaze into the blue sky space between

The branches of the trees

I breath in

I breath out

My heart is still

Listening

For your voice

To bestow your grace

To dispel my gravity

Earth Day Poem

gary snyder

 

Smoky the Bear Sutra

Gary Snyder

Once in the Jurassic, about 150 million years ago,
the Great Sun Buddha in this corner of the Infinite
Void gave a great Discourse to all the assembled elements
and energies: to the standing beings, the walking beings
the flying beings, and the sitting beings-even grasses,
to the number of thirteen billion, each one born from a
seed, were assembled there: a Discourse concerning
Enlightenment on the planet Earth.

“In some future time, there will be a continent called
America. It will have great centers of power called
such as Pyramid Lake, Walden Pond, Mt. Rainier, Big Sur,
Everglades, and so forth; and powerful nerves and
     channels
such as Columbia river, Mississippi River, and Grand
     Canyon.
The human race in that era will get into troubles all over
its head, and practically wreck everything in spit of
its own strong intelligent Buddha-nature.”

“The twisting strata of the great mountains and the
     pulsings
of great volcanoes are my love burning deep in the earth.
My obstinate compassion is schist and basalt and
granite, to be mountains, to bring down the rain. In that
future American Era I shall enter a new form: to cure
the world of loveless knowledge that seeks with blind hunger;
and mindless rage eating food that will not fill it.

And he showed himself in his true form of
     SMOKEY THE BEAR.

A handsome smokey-colored brown bear standing on his hind
legs, showing that he is aroused and watchful.

Bearing in his right paw the Shovel that digs to the truth
beneath appearances; cuts the roots of useless attachments, and
flings damp sand on the fires of greed and war;

His left paw in the Mudra of Comradely Display-indicating
that all creatures have the full right to live to their limits and that
deer, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, dandelions, and lizards all grow
in the realm of the Dharma;

Wearing the blue work overalls symbolic of slaves and laborers,
the countless men oppressed by a civilization that claims to save
but only destroys;

Wearing the broad-brimmed hat of the West, symbolic of the
forces that guard the Wilderness, which is the Natural State of the
Dharma and the true Path of man on earth; all true paths lead
through mountains-

With a halo of smoke and flame behind, the forest fires of the
kali-yuga, fires caused by the stupidity of those who think things
can be gained and lost whereas in truth all is contained vast and

free in the Blue Sky and Green Earth of One Mind;

Round bellied to show his kind nature and that the great earth
has food enough for everyone who loves her and trusts her;

Trampling underfoot wasteful freeways and needless suburbs;
smashing the worms of capitalism and totalitarianism;

Indicating the Task: his followers, becoming free of cars,
houses, canned food, universities, and shoes, master the Three
Mysteries of their own Body, Speech, and Mind: and fearlessly chop
down the rotten trees and prune out the sick limbs of this country
America and then burn the leftover trash.

Wrathful but Calm, Austere but Comic, Smokey the Bear will
Illuminate those who would help him; but for those who would
hinder or slander him,

HE WILL PUT THEM OUT.

Thus his great Mantra:
Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana
Sphataya hum traka ham mam

“I DEDICATE MYSELF TO THE UNIVERSAL DIAMOND
BE THIS RAGING FURY DESTROYED”

And he will protect those who love woods and rivers,
Gods and animals, hobos and madmen, prisoners and sick
people, musicians, playful women, and hopeful children;

And if anyone is threatened by advertising, air pollution,
or the police, they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR’S
WAR SPELL:

DROWN THEIR BUTTS
CRUSH THEIR BUTTS
DROWN THEIR BUTTS
CRUSH THEIR BUTTS

And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surely appear to put the enemy
out with his vajra-shovel.

Now those who recite this Sutra and then try to put it in
practice will accumulate merit as countless as the sands
of Arizona and Nevada,
Will help save the planet Earth from total oil slick,
Will enter the age of harmony of man and nature,
Will win the tender love and caresses of men, women, and
beasts
Will always have ripe blackberries to eat and a sunny spot
under a pine tree to sit at,
AND IN THE END WILL WIN HIGHEST PERFECT
ENLIGHTENMENT.

thus we have heard.

(may be reproduced forever free)

1969

from American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau, ed. Bill Mckibben, Library Classics of the United States, 2008, NY, NY.