Friday, December 20, 2019

Winter Solstice 2019: Labyrinths

Picacho Peak in Snow
This is the time when, sometime around ten or eleven at night, Sirius rises from the top of Picacho Peak. 

Picacho Sunset

This is the time when, around four in the afternoon, all the trees in the canyon turn red.

Picacho in snow-fog

This is the time when the junipers, the ravens, the juncos, and the wall stones, all pause,
reflect the last light, as if that is the only way 
the light will return the next day.

From Thanksgiving's Snowfall - Picacho in the background

Winter Solstice:
A Lattice, A Labyrinth


Stillness as the sun sets. 
The sun draws red from
the bare trees. Red skeletons
reveal the path each tree
took on the journey between
shadow and light.

A lattice. A labyrinth.


A child slips into the world,
does not remember how 
to take that first breath, stares 
up into the cold blue-white 
eye of Venus.

So hard to climb, this grille
of dim cave-light and bone.


I touch the shredded bark
of a coyote fence. My hand
touches my hand’s shadow,
the pattern of twenty-seven
little bones beneath:

Scaphoid, shaped like a boat.
Lunate, a crescent moon.
Triquetrum, the pyramid.
Pisiform, small and round… 


Stand still as the trees. A
red-orange seam finds its
way into the grateful dark
between organs. I forget 
to breathe.


A lone coyote cries: all
secrets have been laid bare -
and nothing was revealed.

I want this night to go on
and on,

never end…


Have a peaceful, lively, sacred & mundane 

Monday, December 16, 2019

The Worlds are Unstable by Nature - Short Story

Someone recently pointed out to me that a couple of stories of mine that were published in The Sun, back in 1994, are now available online.

There was one story  called “The Worlds Are Unstable by Nature” that may be worth a read. It was the second short story I ever wrote. It takes place in Livorno, Italy, at the beginning of the seventies. And there is plenty of snow.

My family lived in Livorno for a year when I was in elementary school. During that winter, there was a freak blizzard.
One of my first early vivid memories is standing on a sand dune and watching snow fall into the waves. It was the first and only time I experienced that happening – until the winter of 2010 in Swansea, Wales, when I stood in the sand and watched snow fall into Swansea Bay.
Livorno Snowfall
The story can be found at The Sun Magazine site - here.

The title comes from a Kenneth Rexroth paraphrase of something in the Lankavatara Sutra or the Lotus Sutra. It’s been so long since I wrote the story, I can’t remember the source for the phrase. 
Back in the day, I had a tape of Rexroth reading some poems and before one of them he quoted from this "unknown" sutra: “The worlds are unstable by nature…strive hard!” Then he banged his shoe against the lectern a few times. One way to wake up an audience.

The way I interpreted it was that the world is transient by nature, there is no stability to the world (or worlds – meaning all our different perceptions, sensations, emotions, thoughts, maybe even dimensions and other realms we move through without knowing), and so the only thing that does not change is change itself. It seemed like the right title at the time. Does it still work? Dunno.

I’ve posted the first two paragraphs below with a link to the whole story on The Sun Magazine site.  The narrator is an American girl - maybe in third or fourth grade. As with most fiction, the improbable and ridiculous parts probably happened and the mundane, everyday parts are all made up…

The Worlds Are Unstable By Nature

It snowed three nights in a row, the first heavy snowfall in Livorno in more than twenty years. The Red Brigade, angered by U.S. involvement in Vietnam, were busy that month spray painting US GO HOME in jagged red letters all over the American-owned cars in town. No one had sprayed our car yet. It was only a matter of time. My mother was on the lookout.

On my way to the school bus stop the first morning of the snow, all the old women on the stoops were talking about the last great blizzard. This snow is heavier, some would say. No, this is nothing compared to that, others argued. The young men on the street were playing in the snow, rolling huge snowmen, throwing snowballs, snow-wrestling. I loved running around with them, watching them play football after school. They told me how beautiful I was going to be when I was their age. They told me it was a tragedy I was not older…


 The rest of the story can be found at the link below: 
The Worlds are Unstable by Nature