“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile…. Wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir
Camp chairs on the banks of a pond, under an oak yet to give out Spring’s leaves. Gray overcast makes the canopy a stained- glass. Looking up I watch angelic hosts rising and descending upon branches. A Tufted Titmouse hops lower and lower – to a limb five feet above me – to deliver the annunciation. Warblers keeps the ants at bay. A Downy taps out the Stations of the Cross. The Bald Eagle fills in for the Holy Spirit, casting the Great Blue Heron from the heavens. A Blue Jay celebrant leads the Exhortation; the Red-Bellied Woodpecker remains unresponsive.
“A poet is a man who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times.”
— Randall Jarrell
Oh yes, it’s true I’ve stood out in storms, but never wrote a single solitary verse. I reveled in the chaotic insanity without having the knowledge of rhyme and meter to know what was poetry about it and what was prose — the crash and the timber struck an untuned, untrained ear deafened.
So untrained, unused to the things of culture I considered the wall cloud, the downburst, hail, and the whirling, gyring funnelled winds fit for the visual arts — never once written in pen and ink. Ah, but I was but a neophyte not yet struck.
A child, barely a teen, fugitive from sudden squalline’s force, in the shadow of a Red Oak, the falsest of shelters, I was struck by my vulnerability– mortality — the deadly bolts, sucking winds.
I became a meteorologist — one who studies meteors of earth — lithometeors, hydrometeors. The meatier subjects of weather were my meal before and after fast. By its beauty, by its force I was struck — the dance between the sublime and the vicious.
When I consider…
the cobalt charybdis that rages across the tabled plains, with all the death and madness that accompanies its run, has the ability to take a tea-swilling short story liar and scare him into a Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge swilling Pulitzer laureate.
Trust me — there are two things in life you can’t outrun: a twister and the muse that grabs you by the neck, tells you to stop, turn around and face the fury… and versify!
Dust again, dust again! We cannot sweep away the origins. We cannot sweep away the central truth of our existence — water separates us from the soil; water juiced with lightning. We are liquid lightning running from water to water, but dusted with a deadline. We run, we run! Dead run to the bridge that is the race’s finish line. Lightning steps and no one wins; no one loses — it’s a tie on the other side.
* * *
So a couple of poets and I have gotten together and decided to whet our brains against the steel lines of Pound’s Cantos. (Let’s see… that would make our heads stone, wouldn’t it?) Interesting sparks flying.
The flowers now have all been forced to bloom cesarean buds, by-passing the womb’s flow of blood; no seminal grace is there to offer mercy at the stone consumed by flames and hellish want of this affair. We flag about and fly surrender’s flare with tails and ties and string; it rains. Don’t ooze don’t weep, our festered sores, a sinner’s prayer for each. Both you and I will stand accused of breaking open wounds, of healing scars. So trim a Valentine that is misused into a fading paper cup unused.
Thoughts: Wrote this in the traditional iambic pentameter because Will’s words flow and broil in my veins. Add a couplet and pretend the rhymes don’t matter and we have a sonnet. What I don’t know is if the Rubaiyat is still ‘legal’ with enjambed lines. Obviously this is influenced by that…