Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Awakening

“If the book we are reading doesn't shake us awake like a blow to the head, why bother reading it in the first place?.... A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us." --Franz Kafka in a letter to Oskar Pollak dated January 27, 1904” ― Franz Kafka

My heart in your hands by Louise Docker 
 If you say to someone who has ears to hear: 
"What you are doing to me is not just," 
you may touch and awaken at its source
 the spirit of attention and love... ~ Simone Weil

“When one realises one is asleep, at that moment one is already half-awake.”
P.D. Ouspensky

Sculpture of the Buddha meditating under the Bodhi Tree, 800 C.E.

  Midweek Motif ~ Awakening

Awakening is more than waking after sleep, it involves coming to a realization that is personally transforming.  It may be rational, but more often the path is visceral, emotional or spiritual.  

Have you had an awakening?  

Where is one needed?

Take us there in today's poem. 

File:Frances MacDonald - The Sleeping Princess 1896.jpg
Frances MacDonald - The Sleeping Princess 1896

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.   
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?   
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?   
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,   
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?   
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do   
To you and me; so take the lively air,   
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.   
What falls away is always. And is near.   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I learn by going where I have to go.


Excerpt from "To Begin With, the Sweet Grass"

by Mary Oliver
Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat
    of the sweet grass?
Will the owl bite off its own wings?
Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or
    forget to sing?
Will the rivers run upstream?

Behold, I say—behold
the reliability and the finery and the teachings
    of this gritty earth gift.
Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets
    are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds
who are drinking the sweetness, who are
    thrillingly gluttonous.

For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.

And someone's face, whom you love, will be as a star
both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.

And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two
beautiful bodies of your lungs.
. . . . 
What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was many years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
   though with difficulty.
I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.
I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment
somehow or another).

And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.
(Read the rest HERE 
or in Mary Oliver's book Evidence: Poems, Beacon Press, 2010.)
By Robert Bly
Inside the veins there are navies setting forth,
Tiny explosions at the waterlines,
And seagulls weaving in the wind of the salty blood.

It is the morning. The country has slept the whole winter.
Window seats were covered with fur skins, the yard was full
Of stiff dogs, and hands that clumsily held heavy books.

Now we wake, and rise from bed, and eat breakfast!
Shouts rise from the harbor of the blood,
Mist, and masts rising, the knock of wooden tackle in the sunlight.

Now we sing, and do tiny dances on the kitchen floor.
Our whole body is like a harbor at dawn;
We know that our master has left us for the day.

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—

(Next week Sumana’s Midweek Motif will be ~ Longing.)

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Pantry of Poetry and Prose #4

Hello word weavers and word lovers! For those who don't know me yet, allow me to introduce myself... my name is Rommy Cortez-Driks, tea-adoring, music-appreciating, witchy-flavored, nerd extraordinaire. I am honored to be the latest addition to the staff at Poets United and will do my best to uphold the standards of all the people who have given their hearts and words to this page.

Harvest Brew by Lady Viktoria

While you are enjoying your Sunday beverage of choice, you may want to linger over this past week's offerings. Winter came early in Sumana's Midweek Motif. This last Wild Friday introduced us to the work of Christine Strelan. Get ready for an Awakening for this upcoming Midweek Motif.

So hit us with your wordy wonders--poetry, prose, fiction, nonfiction, old, new--it's all good. But keep prose pieces to 369 words or under, please. Thanks and enjoy the word magic.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Wild Fridays: I Wish I'd Written This

This is the Place 
by Christine Strelan

Do please click on the (short) video before scrolling down to read the text! Christine's delivery is clear and beautiful, and should be your first experience of the poem.

The poem itself is clear and beautiful, and is from her latest book, electric lady lands, published 2015.

When (in late 1994) I first came to live in the Mt Warning caldera, in the sub-tropical Northern Rivers region of NSW, Australia, I discovered two of Christine's poetry books in a wonderful pottery (so it was named) which stocked not only stunning pottery but all manner of other works by local artists, including books.

A quick glance inside the covers of Christine's books and I was hooked, and bought them on the spot. I've acquired others since, over the years, the latest at a recent poetry reading where I was lucky enough to hear her perform this piece and several others. 

She also writes fiction, and self-publishes her work in paperback. Inside this latest book, we are told:

For enquiries or mail order, contact 
Christine Strelan at 
P.O. Box 536
Nimbin NSW 2480

This modest marketing and the fact that she is a rather private person (who did not wish personal details included in this post) has led, I think, to her being much less celebrated than she deserves. I think she's one of the best poets in Australia but I have the impression she is not widely known, even in poetry circles – 
except locally, where she frequently participates in spoken word events and is justly admired. 

Her work is varied. It can be bitingly satirical, gently humorous, passionately romantic ... or several of these at the same time.

I love the beauty of 'This is the Place' – not least because I live in the same region, though not quite so deep in the bush as the poem suggests she might. The place she is celebrating is clearly very specific, not the Northern Rivers as a whole so much as her particular corner of it.

Still, I have a number of friends here who do live more rurally than me, am well acquainted with those environments, and can relate very much to her love for this part of the world. I frequently ask myself rhetorically, 'Why would anyone ever want to live anywhere else?' 

Here is the text of the poem, for those who like to see things written down:

This is The Place

Is this the place
in the sink of the valley
on the banks of the creek
by the curve of the caldera
where rain pools like ichor
under a shining web of leaves?
This is the place.

Is this the place
where thick spring mist crouches
through the night and does not depart
till dawn finds every green thing
drenched in its residue
and dirt dents like a sponge underfoot?
This is the place.

Is this the place
where palms spread their scissor-hands
beside glistening lilli pilli
and the earth's grass fur hackles
rise and fall as I pass,
bamboo bows like shaggy monks at matins
and the fig is queen of a ravine
the machine never reached?
This is the place.

Is this the place
where hoop pine hide curls like a
gilded manuscript tinted in blood
while I work my way through
the paperbark scriptorium
learning the language of the birds
and persuading acacias to spill their secrets?
This is the place.

Is this the place
where I sieve spirit crossing the creek
seized and pierced by
an iron maiden of ether?
All life takes refuge in a single space.
This is the place.

Copyright © Christine Strelan 2015

Note: As this post goes live, the devastating bushfires in several surrounding regions are coming close enough to be threatening to parts of the beautiful Northern Rivers, and we have had a thick smoke haze on all horizons for days. So far we are luckier than many others.

Christine tells me she herself is well out of danger; not so sure about her place.

Material shared in this post is presented for study and review. Poems, photos, and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, usually the authors.