Friday, December 21, 2018

Winter Solstice 2018: Hope, Courage, Mercy

At this time of the rolling year, I usually post a solstice poem - or something seasonal. I wrote the poem below a few days ago when the snow was still on the ground. We've had at least three significant snows this year, after years of "unseasonably" warm winters. Unfortunately, the unseasonable-ness has become the norm. 

The reason I bring this up is because I've been witness to and have been experiencing something that now pervades the culture, the world - what has been termed "eco-grief." That all-pervading anxiety and sorrow at the back of the mind, dwelling in the heart; the knowledge that things have gone too far, that we are now living (for those of us that are older) on a different planet from the one on which we were born. It is overwhelming - too big for the small human brain to take in - and it can lead to numbness, dissociation, and mental paralysis.   

During the winter solstice, when we begin the transformation from the darkest day towards spring and more light, I think of the word "hope." Hope in the dark. There is an optimistic strain in the American psyche that always holds out hope in the dark. Sometimes this is helpful. But I think hope is the wrong way of approaching our situation (mass extinction) now. The world has already changed and we must change with it. 

What I feel is required is courage. Courage to face the situation, look the terror in the face and acknowledge it for what it is. Courage to participate in trying to keep the world from total collapse. Courage to have compassion for those who are frozen by fear and deny that it is happening. 

I say all this with the knowledge that I'm not a particularly courageous person. My courageous moments have happened because I was in community with other people who shared the same energy: a communal spirit.  

In the poem there is a reference to a streetlight near where I live - it is always on. About a year ago I started calling it "Our Lady of Perpetual On-Ness." In my mind, it alternates between symbolizing an excessive and useless waste of energy and an eerie yet merciful, blueish-aqua light in the darkness. 

There is also a reference to "shadow people" that are seen by those who suffer from schizophrenia...the figures, for the most part, when drawn, usually look the same...

Winter Solstice: Mercy

What's been lost follows me up
            the mountain. A lone crow

somewhere on the trail ahead. His
            voice, all gravel and rags.

A slight ripple across the reflection
            of a piñon branch in a

sandstone pool. The same vibration
            that moves through

the hollows inside my chest (looking
            for a way out, finding

none). I long for sleep, the right
            dream. Human sleep and

juniper roots, twins in the same dark
            amniotic sac, knowing

the other is near, so close - What is
            this shape? Is it part

of me? Shadows form at twilight
            among bare trees, the same

shapes drawn by those who suffer
            from schizophrenia -  this,

they look like this: a head, shoulders,
            great-coat, dissolution at

the feet…a Pygmy Owl turns its head,
            scans the ground. Near home,

I see a man beneath the streetlight
            that never shuts off

(the one I call Our Lady of Perpetual
            On-Ness), arms spread,

looking up. Begging for mercy. When
            I'm close, he dissolves up into

the light, a weave of bare branches
            against the first few stars. 

 Find the beauty in the dark.

Where transformation resides.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Poem in Gingerbread House

I have a new poem
in the current issue of

A journal dedicated 
to publishing poetry & fiction 
a magical element.

The poem arose from the sensation - 
while hiking during the extreme part 
of the last drought -
that there were small, stone-like 
human-shaped spirits 
crouching beside the trail, 

Who were they?

What did they want?

The poem can be found