Separation

Mind the gap they said
and I didn’t. There’s
a storm wind but
no storm. Children
play in the distance

or maybe fight. Don’t
mind me I murmur to a deer
trotting past while I type
this on my phone standing
still as a tree at dusk

just vibrating a little
from a Swainson’s thrush
on his yearly trip north.
I’m mindful that everything
human in this hollow
comes from the gap
between the mountains

but to the birds it’s all
one ridge—a high way
made of wind and forest.
To mind the gap means
to keep going.

April Diary 30: aging in place

This entry is part 30 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April today i feel old in a way i haven’t before. old in my bones. the soil’s discourse seems nearly intelligible

this mountain soil has especially hard consonants

i wasn’t working hard i was hardly working playing is more like it messing around in the dirt

tonight i found a new-to-me footpath through our woods which may seem unusual but it is a square mile property and it’s not surprising at all that one of our hunter friends should create an informal path and i not stumble across it for a while. that’s all the boring background to how i had the exciting experience of exploring a new trail in my literal backyard — which i only found because i decided to go off-trail on a whim, tempted by an opening between the trees

going off-trail is actually impossible. how does that Machado poem go?

Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.

wherever you walk creates a path and you step in the easier places which is where other things have stepped and pretty soon you’re drawn into the network of animal trails

this is a path

although i suppose some people might have a hard time recognizing trails if they’re from some highly urbanized environment. those enviable souls get to see the forest with fresh eyes as an adult

which of course is the allure of travel. but seeing the very familiar in a new way is always a worthwhile challenge i believe. it’s the challenge of any marriage or any relationship with a place. most Americans move more often than they change romantic partners. i don’t know if that’s true but it supports my argument so let’s pretend that it is. my contention is that maintaining one’s relationship with a place, or places, is as core to one’s sense of well-being as maintaining human friendships and marriages

i suppose that’s a minority opinion in the country as a whole but in this corner of Appalachia i’d say it’s the norm

shadbush

on the porch listening to a barred owl as i type this. i forgot to tell you of my owl sighting last night: one flew ahead of me repeatedly as i walked back from the far field at dusk. i think i got on its nerves because the last perch it took off from snapped under it and crashed down onto the trail

tonight i was up at Dad’s grave as it was getting dark and i just… felt uneasy. not afraid per se but increasingly uneasy. like i didn’t belong there. so of course i skedaddled


earlier in the kitchen i was remembering something someone had said about Bernie Sanders and the Vicente Aleixandre poem Como Moisés es el viejo popped into my head

Y él agita los brazos y proclama la vida,
desde su muerte a solas.

all that gesturing. “proclaiming the way to live from his death all alone”

apparently i have spanish poets on my mind though it was Zang Di and Shanna Compton that i was reading today. Eleanor Goodman finished up her selection of Zang Di poems with several he’d written in Vermont, which were a great deal of fun—seeing how a major contemporary chinese poet describes iconic american landscapes

so many important poems about america these days are being written by first-generation immigrants it’s easy to forget that shorter-term visitors such as students, lecturers, or tourists may have profound observations as well


today i thought a lot about bears but i’m guessing most bears spent as little time as possible thinking about humans

April Diary 29: wildflowery

This entry is part 29 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

the air is always clearest on the day after a cold front blows in so my mom and i went down to Trough Creek State Park to see what sorts of spring wildflowers they might have

the redbud was at its height all along the little back roads and in the park too. always a treat to see it. we’re so lucky to live right at the northern edge of its range—it’s one of those shrubs that defines Appalachia, along with pawpaw and shadbush/serviceberry. (didn’t stop the car to snap any photos though, sorry)

native bee pollinating a spring beauty

after poking around the park’s usual medley of eccentric geological offerings we headed off along a trail through the adjacent state forest which had many of the same wildflower species we have in Plummer’s Hollow but some different ones as well, including bluets, early meadow rue, pussytoes, and yellow corydalis—a new one for both of us

yellow corydalis

after a mile we reached an area where the spring beauties carpeted the ground for acres. Mom commented she hadn’t seen it like that since she was a child in the 1940s, visiting relatives in Pottstown. it’s difficult to convey this in a photo of course—they’re small flowers

they also had no shortage of rue anemone:

i was taken by this sphagnum container garden:

and for sheer visual interest, rattlesnake weed is always worth a stop:

back home i went for an after-supper walk along the crest of the western ridge toward sunset. the cherries, maples and witch hazels that have just burst their buds added pointillist splashes of color to the landscape that weren’t there two days ago

just after sunset i had a short sit by the vernal pools—the smallest two of which have nearly dried up, the water that remains heaving with desperate tadpoles—to read a few poems from (CREATURE SOUNDS FADE) by Shanna Compton and they were a pretty good fit. it’s experimental poetry meaning inevitably some results will be more exciting than others but if the experiment is well conducted we can learn from it regardless

that sphagnum bottle has a haiku in it i’ll bet

April Diary 28: failing upward, tumbleweed, new beasts

This entry is part 28 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

failure i love you
i suckle you on my bile
and on my melancholy

i see the above-ground hollow in the roots turned trunk of a black birch – that space where a rotting stump had stood — as a magnificent monument to failure

as i suppose we all are, safe perches for new sprouts, new rivers flowing upstream with sweet sap

but that stump had been an oak where now there are only birches and our failures outnumber the trees

our oceangoing freight outweighs the estimated mass of all living organisms in every ocean

the sickly sweet fumes of our failure have driven out all but the severest of angels in heaven

those with the fire
and the brimstone


hiking for three hours before i sit down and take out my tea. i can’t have covered more than five miles in all that time, but who cares. it’s been a good ramble in the gloom


graupel starts falling as i walk the last mile back to the house

thinking a lot about likely ecological futures this afternoon. it occurs to me that one advantage native species have over generalist invaders is in many cases much more genetic variation — essential in a world where drought is followed by a flood year, freak storms become common and last and first frost dates vary wildly. if global trade significantly declines that will give native ecosystems a bit more breathing room, and the invaders will inevitably begin to decline as pests and diseases catch up with them

Japanese stiltgrass

or so i’d like to think

near the bottom of the hollow today, rolling up the road in the wind i spotted an actual tumbleweed, i think

another invasive species coming in via the railroad. i love trains, but.

further up the hollow in a side ravine i spotted what looked like a recent scent marking on a beech: scratch marks and i’m guessing urine.

bobcat?

and from a little further up, at the end of the last logger in Plummer’s Hollow‘s last skid trail before my parents finally got him stopped (as detailed in Mom’s book Appalachian Autumn) here are the only two sycamore trees in the hollow, growing about 50 feet apart, both sprouted right after the logging so around 1990

seeing that second one as a single individual and not conjoined twins so to speak

anyway that’s where my head was today and also by sheer coincidence my feet

i liked this stanza today from Zang Di:

Language lives secretly. It lives out life’s
other flavors. Language waits for you to appear
and permits other lives under the sun.

Zang Di, “Secret Linguistics Series” (tr. Eleanor Goodman)

he’s got a point. without storytelling, without narratives, without song and poetry, we’d be forsaken in a way we can hardly imagine. our lives would shrink to the present moment in all its terrifying immediacy. but we take language so for granted, like fish take the sea for granted. who knows what other fantastic beasts this language of ours may yet harbor

that’s why i write poems: to discover new beasts

April Diary 27: half steam ahead!

This entry is part 27 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

the sky clears a little just before sunset which i watch from the eastern ridge for once, among the oaks. there’s a breeze and the forest is full of voices. yesterday when it was so warm the oak buds got close to bursting but tonight’s gonna be cold so i’m glad they didn’t

one of those breezes that makes every twig tingly

clouds moving in on the sun accompanied by a distant low grinding

the more i write the less i see. but the more i see the more i want to write

shadbush blossom

what is this compulsion to record every thought and observation or it doesn’t count? it’s the guiding superstition of the cult of literacy: that writing things down makes them matter. what it makes of them generally is material, raw material to exploit

what if instead we let them matter on their own merits and in their own incomprehensible tongues. no ideas but in things as the man said

matter, mater, goddess etc

a tree just dropped a branch 100 feet away. the wind is bordering on brisk. given my distance from home and lack of a flashlight i should begin to amble back

you know that was an actual human voice on the wind. might be a PA system at some local sportsball thing

when i said the forest is full of voices i didin’t… hold on…

hermit thrush song just past sunset. i’m 100 feet away. a turkey is gobbling down the ridge. i’m having a ridge experience

except for this towhee. shut the fuck up you idiot. it’s not always about you

just slowly following the thrush

the whippoorwill starts up while the hermit thrush is still singing. there’s a conjunction i’ve never heard before

i guess this phone has a flashlight

when i’m too tired to talk i can actually get some good listening in #manproblems

today i read a number of poems poorly because i am sleep-deprived. what does that say about the quality of insight behind my own writing today – the usual morning porch thing, erasure poem, and a couple of haiku plus this nonsense all produced at half power or less

i feel like the only truly worthwhile things i did today were have a couple of interesting face-to-face conversations and get dad’s car inspected. and go for a walk after supper. glad i pushed myself to do that

i’m not saying it’s not important to be productive just to remember to keep that in perspective. products are in some ways incidental to the making. and it’s through making through doing through participating in larger things with other people or nonhuman others, it’s though all that that we tend to find fulfillment. not through being productive per se. though so many default to that for their measurement of self worth. well who am i to say they’re wrong

we poets need to own our wrongness and revel in it. stay away from the ideologues on all sides and just try to be cleverer fools like Charles Simic or Elaine Equi

i do believe in the ecopoetry project but that’s because i choose to believe that our culture let alone our species and the ecosystem can survive in the long term or even at this point the medium short term. if it can than it makes a great deal of sense to pour our efforts into trying to change the culture because the rule of law likely won’t survive in many places but if local people can be led to value local natural areas and common resources and have the vocabulary and ideas to back it up in what may well be a harsh and brutal time well that’s maybe the best we can hope for honestly

that was the depressing thinky thought i had at the start of my walk which prompted me to give myself a stern talking to and pay more attention to what the trees might have to say

about which i still have no clue of course. i’m not a real nature mystic i just play one on my blog

really what i most want to do right now is listen to the Talking Heads

April Diary 26: where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees

This entry is part 26 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April i can’t tell you what a thrill it’s been for me to listen from the morning porch to hermit thrush song, that most ethereal sound: imagine a woodwind made of crystal and inhabited by the ghost of a bell and you might get the idea

(i will never fully forgive TS Eliot for mischaracterizing hermit thrush song in “The Wasteland” which i see someone has written a paper on though as a non-academic it’s off limits to me. the quote is

Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water

TS Eliot, “The Wasteland,” lines 356-358

which he justifies with a quote from the great ornithologist Frank Chapman in a note:

357. This is Turdus aonalaschkae pallasii, the hermit-thrush which I have heard in Quebec County. Chapman says (Handbook of Birds of Eastern North America) “it is most at home in secluded woodland and thickety retreats… Its notes are not remarkable for variety or volume, but in purity and sweetness of tone and exquisite modulation they are unequalled.” Its “water-dripping song” is justly celebrated.

but nobody but Eliot himself seems to have called it that)

they’ve never nested up here as far as we know despite occasionally attempting to set up territories as this one seems to be doing. the last time it happened, in 2020 up around the vernal ponds, i watched wood thrushes chasing him, and Mark and I thought maybe the limiting factor for us isn’t that we’re too low in elevation (1600 feet) for hermit thrushes but that we’re not high enough to exclude wood thrushes which out-compete their cousins

anyway Mark first heard this one on the 16th so he’s a persistent bugger. if our theory is correct, we may eventually get them nesting up here if wood thrush numbers continue to decline. so i should be careful what i wish for because i love wood thrushes too


putting Ripple Effect back on the shelf this morning i noticed i had another collection by Elaine Equi, 2013’s Sentences and Rain and i have absolutely no idea where it came from. must’ve picked it up secondhand somewhere

well so much for reducing the height of my current reads pile. but that’s a high-quality problem indeed. Ripple Effect was from 2007 and i was just thinking i should get one of her more recent books

i really dig the title poem:

Equi is certainly in that age-old tradition of the wise jester


well i just lost a fuck-ton of writing here because the WordPress iPhone app froze. i guess if i want to keep composing on my phone i’d better compose in Notes and paste it into the app when it’s done (i have been doing that to some extent already but not today obviously)


i stopped the car in Sinking Valley today on my way back from the Amish garden center to take a photo of our not-so-impressive mountain and captured what appears to be a UFO


putting up a deer fence, you do need to think like a deer. where they can push in, where they might be tempted to leap. if i were ever to move out west where they have mule deer instead of whitetails i’d have to start learning that stuff all over again. this is the kind of local knowledge one gathers over time. to the extent that old people can be said to be wise it’s because of stuff like this (not generally because of their politics, lord knows)

working in the garden after supper i can hear our neighbors out in theirs, a quarter mile away. well mainly the shrieks of their twin grandchildren, who are four years old and love living in the woods

there’s something really special about not only living where you grew up, but seeing and hearing other kids grow up there too. to use an old-fashioned phrase, it gladdens the heart

so i got the fence all moved and patched together and well as they say, a thing of beauty is a joy forever

also today i shot a brief video of a black rat snake pretending to be a rattlesnake which took me back to the first time i saw that, also on the powerline right-of-way, at the age of 12 or so and i thought it was a rattler ran all the way back to the house and either Mom or my older brother Steve went back with me and it was just a black snake being a jerk:

watch on Vimeo

April Diary 25: migration time

This entry is part 25 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April it’s odd you don’t hear people rhapsodize about the first spiders of spring

there’s nothing like watching a low-angled sun glistening on gossamer threads between the bare shining branches of mid spring

out on the porch i debated whether to dip into Charles Simic or John Stevenson. settled on the latter, read a couple pages and came upon a haibun that could’ve been written by Simic:

the temperatures are due to climb into the low 80s today. glad i got some greens planted yesterday but i’m champing at the bit to get all the other early things in. but it’s blog digest day and besides the Amish-run greenhouse where i hope to get most of my seedlings won’t be open on a Sunday

Amish understand the concept of a day of rest though it’s a luxury most non-Amish can no longer afford. it’s a shame that such things get thrown out as society gets secularized. even so i wouldn’t support bringing back the blue laws. i’d just like to see a cultural shift on the work/life balance — which the pandemic response did seem to spark but it will take a hugely revitalized union movement to really change society-wide ingrained habits

or so the brilliant Maximilian Alvarez argued in a video editorial which i watched during my lunch break on Friday. it made me realize yet again how lucky i am that so much of my time is my own. of course i have to live with the trade-off: no life as most people understand it meaning no wife or kids or career or mortgage or pickup truck. #blessed

anyway here’s Max


cool summer morning
I take my thoughts
out to the porch

John Stevenson with Seneca Kennedy

out at 10:30 for a less strenuous version of my usual walk but i use the time more to plan out my vegetable garden than to focus on what’s around me. i walk right past the trillium patch without remembering to look and i have to backtrack. (they’re still not fully out but probably will be by tomorrow)

walking up Rhododendron Trail I hear my first black-throated green warbler of the year and on the bench in that ravine have a spectacular view of a singing blue-headed vireo making his rounds while another sings 100 yards away

the distant sound of church bells—must be noon

iced herb tea for the first time this year. it was worth the hike

and here’s Stevenson proving that senryu can be just as deep as haiku:

jampackedelevatoreverybuttonpushed

hawk going over high i presume a broadwing since my brother mentioned this morning it was a big day for them (he saw six at once)

discovered a great way to get rid of flies: rather than swat them try photographing them instead, they’ll disappear immediately

two more high hawks drifting northward. i see what Mark meant

living on a mountain that’s part of a linear ridge system hundreds of miles long means we’re on a highway for migrants

(which 200 years ago would’ve been used by human migrants too as part of the Underground Railroad)

finally a blooming shadbush! i was beginning to think we weren’t going to see any this year. of course if it continues warm like this we won’t have them for more than a few days, which will be sad. seeing those little white clouds on all the mountainsides is one of my favorite things this time of year

weezaweezaweezaweezaweeza! black-and-white warbler


i can see why death metal started in south florida—humid heat sends my mood straight to hell

black metallers think that despair is a thing of the cold but no. especially on a rapidly warming planet

(just to clarify this is still what they’d regard as a cool day in south florida, i’m just a wimp)


working on the poetry blog digest I love this typo from Kristy Bowen: “I feel more string as a poet than I ever have”

(no disrespect to her of course—it’s always astonishing to me how much she gets done and still makes time to blog. understandable that copy-editing the blog might be low on her list of priorities)


speaking of south florida, my mother informs me that she and Mark had a brief sighting of a swallow-tailed kite zipping along the ridge just after noon. this was accepted by eBird because Mom had had one other sighting many years ago… and doubted her own sanity until other birders verified that the bird does sometimes wander very far afield from its usual range

and even more warblers are back than i heard on my walk, indifferent birder that i am. also the first wood thrush apparently. which according to family lore always used to return on the day we planted peas. if i were planting peas this year, this would definitely be the weekend to get them in


when i went to open my bedroom window and let in the evening cool, i saw that the cardinals had hatched: blind, naked, trembling, but quick to open their beaks for food when they hear a sound above them—the ersatz shutter on my camera phone

here’s something i wrote back on March 24 about the tree the cardinals are nesting in:

Standing outside my front door on this rainy night is the closest thing to a son or daughter I’ll ever have: an eastern red cedar tree, which I found and transplanted when it was one or two years old back in 1993, and has since grown into a bit of a monster, towering over the house. The old place in Maine where we lived till I was five had a number of juniper bushes in the former pasture, where I used to play a lot, and I think that’s what appealed to me about having a closely related species right by the door. And sure, I knew it would turn into a tree rather than a bush, but I still thought it would stay on the small side. It hasn’t — much to the delight of roosting songbirds. I have to prune branches that rub against the roof, but still, on stormy nights, I hear it thump, thump, thumping against the house.

evergreen
adding our darkness
to the night

April Diary 24: dueling banjos, a roomier Rumi, and some moving art

This entry is part 24 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April whippoorwills are back. two of them like dueling banjos out here as i cool down from puttering in the garden and going for the usual hike and puttering in the garden before that and going in town etc.

whipoorwhipoorwhipoor is what i’m hearing of their inane battle for vocal supremacy. once upon a time people in places as far-flung as Greenland and Yemen used to settle disputes with song contests though so i guess dueling banjos is better than an actual duel ya know?

this morning on the porch i finished my re-read of Elaine Equi’s Ripple Effect: New and Selected Poems as part of my never-ending quest to keep the current reading pile to a reasonable height. it was as always a blast. Equi is such a fun poet. why aren’t more poets fun?

actually poked some seeds in the soil today. and it felt as futile and ridiculous as ever. it’s a good thing i like being wrong

but whilst hoeing openings in the straw mulch i wrecked a nest of field mice — didn’t hurt any i don’t think but they were still blind and pretty helpless scattering in random directions. i scooped one out of the path and it just lay on the straw trembling. i laid a bit more straw on top of it to give it a fighting chance until i left and mama could come back and move her babies

that was part of my excuse for heading out on a mid-afternoon walk. also i wanted the openings to dry out a little before i stuck seeds in

the new Rumi arrived so i tucked it into my pack

Dear April there are few sights in nature more entertaining than the sight of a wild turkey fleeing at a fast trot. it makes me think the cretaceous period would’ve been equally full of humorously dorky creatures that would also eat you

i did get to see wood frog tadpoles—the doomed ones in the too-small pools that always dry out too soon. they appeared to be feeding on the remains of the egg masses. it quickly became too disturbing to watch, all that teeming and thrashing of tails

i do not care for teeming. in fact i don’t hold with it. it may be natural but that doesn’t mean i have to like it. the buddha was right, life is suffering

don’t mind me i’ll probably go back to being a Daoist tomorrow

anyway so i get to the bench and take out the book and realize why it was so cheap on eBay

so i got a review copy of a New York Review book. seems kinda collectible, right? except for one problem

the entire introduction is missing

do publishers really send out review copies before the introduction is finished? might this in fact be an earlier author proof?

the translation by Haleh Liza Gafori seems absolutely credible in every way, it’s a Rumi that actually reads like a medieval Sufi, translated in modern poetry as good or better than anything out there, as such an enduringly popular poet surely deserves

after reading a dozen or so Rumi poems with great satisfaction at their beauty and power i realized i just wasn’t in the mood for what he was selling actually

so this book probably won’t go on the current reading pile just yet. but it’ll be on the shelf when the mood strikes

i wish i could be more like my mom and methodically read every new book i get plus many many more from the library but i’ll never be half the reader she is. few people today are, i suspect

insert punditry here re: what it might mean for a literate culture to slowly lose its great readers and lovers of books, might we in fact now be post-literate etc. ad nauseum

my relationship with books may not be entirely healthy at least if you accept the once common belief that greed is harmful to the soul. i like owning books even though or perhaps because i can’t really afford to buy them. the problem is with most of the haiku i read, the presses are so small and the entire scene so invisible to academic poets, huge university libraries like Penn State’s don’t acquire them. a lot of the other small-press stuff i read would be a bit easier to get on inter-library loan, but not all of it…

like an addict i clearly have my excuses all lined up

i think i found a winter wren nesting spot down in the hollow but i’m not sure yet. i’ll keep an eye on it

also while waiting for a train to clear our crossing i took some pictures because people don’t believe me when i tell them i can see traveling urban art galleries at the end of our lane

late in the afternoon i paused to admire this massive old wild grapevine, which seemed pretty damn big when i was a kid 50 years ago:

there’s probably a haiku in there. hmm…

brown thrasher
back for another spring
ancient grapevine

but even when this loop of vine dies as long as there’s forest here this individual will go on, sprouting roots as needed and adapting to the ever-changing forest conditions over the course of who knows how long? i don’t think there’s any way to date them. they could go back 8000 years. it seems just barely possible

April Diary 23: earthy day

This entry is part 23 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April it was one of those rare mornings when both the sun and the moon were visible from my usual spot on the porch. not only that but a hermit thrush kept singing in the distance — many years we don’t hear them singing on migration. (sadly they don’t seem to nest on the mountain. we’re not high enough)

when the day starts out as beautiful as today did this time of year i’m always torn: go for a long walk or work in the garden

well today being earth day already the spring is getting away from me as usual so i figured i’d better dig in the dirt— and not fun stuff either like planting things but putting in new fence posts and moving the fence to expand the garden because (Samuel L. Jackson voice) i’ve had it with these motherfucking deer eating my motherfucking potatoes

but first to procrastinate in the best possible way: by banging out three erasure poems by ten o’clock. then outside to dig as the red-tailed hawks circled overhead and wild turkeys gobbled up on the ridge

of course digging holes on a mountaintop you have to expect to encounter a few rocks

that one gave me a good five-minute workout

i do love the smell of our heavy rocky iron-rich clay

after a couple of hours of that i headed off down-hollow to check on the wildflowers. the first rue anemones were just opening…

windflowers
our annual exchange
of nods

the hepaticas were blooming in profusion. “snow? what snow?”

even in the ditch
with last year’s leaves
this April sun

white pine
fused to a hemlock tree
creek voices

ya know people have a point, Appalachian hollows can look kinda creepy sometimes — a combination of long shadows and old things, half-rotted hulks and mossy leviathans

the mid-spring woods is a weird place with all these wildflowers racing to do their whole thing before the trees leaf out and they lose the sun. i love how whole communities can evolve to take advantage of such narrow temporal windows, like when a desert blooms after a rare soaking rain

spring forest
the shadow of a vulture
crosses my page


i’m two-thirds of the way through this Zang Di book and i’ve just found the third poem i feel as if i fully understand and it’s very good: “Scarecrow Series”

all about like effigies and doubles and the other and maybe i feel like i grok it because it’s something i happen to have given a decent amount of thought to over the years. more likely though it’s just a more straightforward less riddling poem


back up the mountain to start supper (venison casserole) then off to the other end of the property. Mom had said all the wood frogs were hatching in the vernal pools this morning and i should be able to get pictures but by the time i got there they had all buggered off to deeper spots. quite a few egg masses had been deposited in a shallow area that almost dried up completely at one point so it was great news that they’d made it to tadpole stage

sitting on the bench up there though i take another gander at the Zang Di book and find that something just clicked and now i seem to get most of his poems actually. i’ve had that happen with other somewhat difficult or arcane poets where because i think i’m a little slow on the uptake it can take me most of a collection before i learn how to read it. i’d argue that’s a good part of the fun of poetry: everyone gets to make up their own universe and they have to trust that a few readers will put in the work to understand what laws govern it

after supper more work on the fence moving project until dusk then sitting out on the porch watching a bat swoop back and forth. the hermit thrush was singing again. every day is of course earth day it’s a ridiculous thing to have to have a holiday for BUT today did feel especially earthy i have to admit

April Diary 22: serious riddles

This entry is part 22 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April would i be a better reader if i were less comfortable with mystery?

a better scholar probably. but would i enjoy it as much? this Zang Di translation for example continues to delight and entrance but i often have only the fuzziest idea what he’s banging on about. “Riddles are serious,” he writes, “must I really prepare each step for you?”


oh hey, poetry prompt time! CIA Torture Queen Now A Beauty And Life Coach

I see you, Queen of Torture, and everything you’ve always been.

Do you think your Instagram ads and Botox siren songs fool me?

I see the eels behind your eyes and the skulls inside your smile; in your heart you are still torturing, and you love it.

Torture is your first love, your only love, your soulmate, your sex; torture is what you’re made of, torture is what you are.

You are inseparably one with the machine which tortures the poor, which tortures our ecosystem, which tortures children under blockades and starvation sanctions, which tortures our dreamworlds and our sacred seeds of disobedience.

We will beat the machine. We will win.

That primal clarity lives within us still, and you can only sedate a giant for so long.

kind of shocked to see Caitlin Johnstone end the essay on an upbeat note but she’s a good egg i think


steady rain and a midday social engagement kept me out of the woods till after supper. the leaf duff shines wetly like an amphibian instead of the usual shaggy mammalian look. fog forms around me as i type that last sentence and slowly dissipates


i decided i would rather be moist than hot is a real thing i just said to myself, concerning my decision not wear rain gaiters

i am finding so many fallen branches covered in jelly ears this evening. well the traffic noise from I-99 is pretty bad. maybe all those ears just couldn’t take it anymore


can one wallow in happiness? or is wallowing reserved for misery?

that may sound like a joke but i really need to know. wallowing is important to me. it feels as if i do quite a lot of it. but i don’t feel at all miserable


where snow
just sat
the red sporangia


mushroom ladder
the sunset’s own
waterthrush


met another hiker:

the first red eft of the year. pictured next to the aforementioned red sporangia. winter’s monochrome seems well behind us even though there are still a few small patches of snow (and lord knows we could get more)

what a crazy lifestyle. as with knights errant the death rate for efts is quite high but if they survive their years-long wandering they get to transform into an aquatic newt and spend the rest of their lives in a pond or spring BUT if it ever dries up they can un-metamorphose back to being a terrestrial eft and walk away. both are considered adult forms

at this point i’m a little annoyed at how literal my earlier likening of the forest floor to an amphibian has become


what does it mean to be found in a lost world? christians think they know. i am way more interested in being lost in a found world. at least as far as poeming is concerned

tongues of fog form in Sinking Valley as night falls. barred owls begin a conversation down ridge. the world is always speaking whether we listen or not

i suppose that’s what i meant yesterday by poetry as revelation. nothing particularly wootastic


i often can’t tell whether i’m serious or joking. that’s the danger with dark humor perhaps — after a while you might forget it’s supposed to be funny

“riddles are serious” indeed


what i just went on felt like a jaunt rather than a ramble. definitely neither a stroll nor a hike. a jaunty wander out with the efts. home in time to finish my erasure poem. and so to bed