1. He Returns His sound surrounds me, and it is lovely that aimless thoughts do not need to be my friends or my enemies. The red-headed woodpecker searches for soft bark, and I do not have to wait for something else. 2. Rain at Last I move stone and sand around the water-logged walkway. I welcomed the rain. and now I welcome sun. The nature of opposites brightens my neighbor the forest without apology. 3. December Moon After the rain, a clear night shines full moon against the early dark. I open the driveway gate for you. Quickly, a cloud surrounds the white circle with rings of gold.
A quote sent to me via one of my students:
Personalities are born once.
A mystic many times….
I am not Shams Tabriz,
But a light within his light.
The poem reminds me of my teacher who passed over a decade ago. His light continues, and is the same within us all.
I still remember the strong scent of rose when Gurudev, unexpectedly leaving his assigned seat, sat down beside me at a movie premier. Earlier, I had been asked to wait, for a time, before I entered the theatre, finally, just before the room went dark, my name not having appeared on the list. I was later than I wanted to be; embarrassed, I sat far in the back.
To Gurudev, Again
88 years you walked the firm
and the soft
through space thicker than water.
Your father called on your gift
for the rhythm and dance
You planted seeds unknown to me
a tree of gratitude has grown.
November 24, 2014
Poets such as Gerard Manley Hopkins and Emily Dickinson have appealed to me for the metaphysical nature of their work, their innovative use of language and spirit of independence. I admire in Sylvia Plath’s poetry what has been called her “control of intolerable pain.”
Theodore Roethke’s grandfather was a Prussian, as was my maternal grandfather. I was born in the home of my grandparents in East Prussia, and when I met the poet Kenneth Rexroth in the 1970s, he said that my poetry was very “Prussian.” At the time, I didn’t get what he meant by that. However, when I review Roethke’s work, I am still drawn, as I was from the first, by his wry approach to nature as a great clarifying force.
Discovering the mystical poets such as Kabir and Rumi was very exciting for me. They both have the quality of being refreshingly irreverent and, at the same time, intensely spiritual. I find that these mystical poets’ ability to describe the strange and awesome world of ecstasy to be a continuing source of inspirations.
Adversity Series 1. During the night, a branch crashed; the wound looks rough, bruised, cracked. The broken branch invaded fruit trees and picnic table; I contain reaction to create something beyond confusion. 2. One way to go beyond the wall, observe; along the perimeters are movements light. The wall dissolves. Everything is possible. 3. Listening to Ralph Nader on Labor Day, pain has me hard at work since 3:00 am; Let me be grateful to understand why. Let us not inflict cruel greed from the top.
During the time I was working on the poems for Wife of the House, I wrote an article for the Premier Edition of the PRACTICAL MYSTIC called “Poetry as a Spiritual Journey.” The article still seems current. Certain excerpts make me smile, because I am surprised that I knew these things then. It’s a bit like a parent suddenly thinking, wow, when did my child become a thoughtful and conscious being. Here is a quote from the article:
The concept of a spiritual quest didn’t occur to me in the beginning. All I knew was that, through the reading and writing of poetry, I experienced a joyful, creative energy such as I hardly knew existed. I wanted to develop this heightened state of consciousness….Spiritual teachers who subsequently came into my life showed me the possibility of achieving greater mental clarity [through…the] process of quiet observation and meditation.
…I often like to write poems beginning with [an area of concern] or a lack of comprehension and depict [a] clarification which is discovered by the end of the poem.
An example of such a poem in Wife of the House is “Full Moon,” which begins with:
She sits hungry
she cannot eat…
on the tree
will ripen and break loose
This search for discovery depends on an attitude that the poem itself is guiding me. Consequently, I work as a scribe, and the voice of the poem is a gift of higher consciousness from everything around me. If a poem is faulty…, it is because I’m not a pure instrument; I don’t always hear or see, unhindered by old programming.
Also, I don’t always know what a poem’s gift is; sometimes, it takes years. Just recently, looking at the first poem in Wife of the House as something I might want to read to an audience, I was shocked to see something I had never wanted to acknowledge before. “A Young Girl’s Dream” is about a dream that had haunted me for many years. The last stanza,
She tries and tries
to keep from going bare
to her feet
I understood, at last, is about the aging process. The dream was prescient, and finally I am able to admit, though blossoms may fall away, each age has its own special beauty. Going bare can also be about feeling free to be transparent.