Saturday, December 31, 2011

"IN THE LAND OF THE HACS" Pages 129-130 From "SELECTED WRITINGS OF HENRI MICHAUX"

Falling in love with a writer is a terrible problem for me. I am situated in the  middle of several mad passionate affairs with several poets ---right now—both male and female—and to introduce another love into this mad space would be to destabilize what little reality I have left to nothingness. And yet, when I went to the Whitemud Crossing Library today –in some sort of desire state---since I hadn’t been there for a week and wanted to commune with the books on the stacks—I encountered a past lover in Henri Michaux and bought his books home to read again.
Why I even bother is beyond me. The man was demented and his language is a fragmentary universe that throws off energy and dreams and nightmares---until I become quite giddy---- and I want to write like he did—as if he plucked himself out of the banal and virtuous world ----- and become a sort of wizard of insanity—slamming sections of the regular world ----out into an imaginative force field---and then he recombined genes -----to make foreign creatures that alien out at you------ to rock you into your own mad place in your brain (don't tell me you don't have a mad place in your head--everyone does).

I randomly open this book which I have tried to read through----- many times and failed—abandoning the book in various odd positions ----and come to this notation:

Page 129

IN THE LAND OF THE HACS
               
  As I was coming into the village, I was drawn
by a strange sound towards a square full of people,
in the middle of which, on a platform, two almost
naked men, wearing heavy, firmly fastened wooden
shoes, were fighting each other to the death.

**
So already I am dampened by confusion.
First the title of this piece—as if a species of creatures is being described.

Then the men with wood shoes --- who are killing each other.

I emphasize that I am not sure why I am reading this man but I may have to find out why I keep coming back to his works.

The attraction may simply be due to the fact that he was such an independent writer--who wrote whatever the hell he wanted to write----and ignored what everyone else was writing.   It may simply because he was so fertile in his imagery and his ideas.  It may be---- because he was so malleable in his imagination—so inclined to madness and therefore----so different from nearly every writer I have read—and that he did not seem to give a damn what everyone else indicated about him (that he was mad)—but he simply took his magical hat off his head and punched holes in it and tucked in bird’s eggshells and egg yolks and whites all over this hat ---and called the finished item a story of sorts--but like no story or writing piece I've ever seen in the world--before I came to him.

I have no idea why I am infatuated with him and why the love affair persists.


No idea--at all.

But let me look at a small part of this story.



Next part of the same story:

Page 129

   Though by no means the first time I had been
present at a savage spectacle, I felt ill at ease to
hear certain blows of the wooden shoes on the body,
so dull, so subterranean.

***
Now here is the nutty speaker of the story telling us he feels slightly discomfited by the fact that someone is being murdered right in front of him—and that he was conscious of the sounds of the murdering instrument on the victim –that the wooden shoes made a noise “so dull, so subterranean” but still audible.

Hmm... what would you do as a reader?
If you were normal, you would quit the book.
I’m not normal, so I was amused by this flocculation of reality and kept going.


Page 129

  The public did not talk, did not cry out, but
oohoohed. Gasps of complex passions, these in-
human moans rose up like immense draperies
around this bitchy struggle, where one man was
about to die without any grandeur.

**
I liked the cute bit about “this bitchy struggle” and really liked the preceding section where emotions as evidenced by moans—“rose up like immense draperies” ---it makes the whole response of the onlookers—heavy and velvet.

I think Henri Michaux—had a great deal of fun killing off folks in his stories and it must have been one way to get rid of any bottled up rage –in his real life.

Next section sees the man killed off.

Page 129-130

   And what always happens happened: a hard and
stupid wooden shoe striking a head.  The noble
features (even the most ignoble are noble), the
noble features of that face were trampled like a
 worthless beet root. The word-making tongue
drops, while the brain inside no longer simmers
with a thought, and the heart, feeble hammer, in
its turn receives blows, but what blows!

**
The man dies in a sort of prolonged physiological description of depletion of organ systems and the funny bit about how the noble features of the man (which were actually not so) disintegrates like a “beet root”.  The dissolutions of body functions are stated in rather unusual ways—“word-making tongue drops” –the  brain “no longer simmers with a thought” and the heart is no longer the hammer –is hammered with blows.

I’m not sure how to get the point of the story—if there is any point—but I am curious what Mr. Michaux is going to do with this fatality –and go on.


Page 130

   There, he is very dead now.  To the other the
purse and the satisfaction.

**
So a calm note of death, the match being won by the assailant and a good end to the match.

And so how does Mr. Michaux progress—in this small section of unreality to conclude this utterly bizarre fragment of time? The imagination is shot through with holes and yet the man proceeds as if this were an ordinary existence being described here.

Page 130

   “Well,” my neighbor said to me, “what do you
think of that?”
   “And you?” said I, for one must be prudent in
this country.
**
Oh, for heavens sake. They start to chatter about the business in rather a circular fashion for the speaker seems to understand the necessity for caution—“for one must be prudent in this country.”  

Page 130

  “Oh well, “ he replied, “it is a spectacle, one
spectacle among others.  In the tradition it bears
the number 24.”
  And with these words he cordially took his
farewell.
**
So what am I to make of this section of the book? Was the writer mad? Indubitably.  
Does he care that he was mad?
Nope.
He just made up these nutty stories and poems and alternate places and I simply am not able to run away from his language.
On a regular six month basis, I look at his books, read them, shake my head, try to imitate him –fail utterly  and leave his books alone and soothe my aching head with Thoreau.  If you ask me –there is no one in the entire literature like Henri Michaux.

And that is why I love him

I don’t understand what the hell he is doing in print—but it doesn’t matter.
It is so damn unique—I come back to it regularly –and it is still an alternate universe that I can’t recognize even though I have travelled through it and mapped some of its territory.

It is a far country.

One that I will never master.

"Poem 1523" from "The Poems of Emily Dickinson"

I like the perspective Emily Dickinson has taken in this poem—which is the stance of the little creature looking at her –and how she defines its palaces of plush –for us clearly and then describes –her own eye compared to the caterpillar’s eye. 

This is certainly a different perspective ----offering up to us the caterpillar's world—from such small gems—come a fantastical array of bracelets that jingle golden on the hand of the poet.


1523

How soft a Caterpillar steps –
I find one on my Hand
From such a Velvet world it came –
Such plushes at command
It’s soundless travels just arrest
My slow – terrestrial eye –
Intent opon it’s own career –
What use has it for me -


**
I loved the line –“My slow – terrestrial eye –“ in this poem—that emphasized the eye of the poet at ground level –in contrast to the vicinity where the caterpillar –is wont to be –which is usually ---at tree level—in an airy nest –above the viewer.

In this poem ---however—the caterpillar is in Emily’s grasp –in her grip and she speaks of its softness—its “plushes” and its velvet distinctions all through the poem. 

Being made of such velvety materials –might also be responsible for the caterpillar’s silent ambulations that Emily speaks of here —“It’s soundless travels”---- that are still effective at catching the eye of the poet—as the caterpillar decides single-mindedly -----to go to a destination of its own—and work at “it’s own career” of defoliation of trees.

 I also like the way that Emily Dickinson has remarked on the lack of use such creatures have for her –or for that matter any other creature—“What use has it for me –“.

I’ve never thought whether a caterpillar paid attention to me or not –but I will think of this  matter---now.

Nope. I doubt that a caterpillar thinks of a human being –like a coyote does. Maybe the caterpillar thinks only of surfaces, direction, noises indicating birds that might eat the caterpillar and goal (leaves/metamorphosis). Maybe a caterpillar lives only in its own soft tissues and fur--and senses only what it moves towards or away from.

A caterpillar--- perhaps occupies “such a Velvet world”-----  that it is indifferent to any other except itself—and since--- it has “Such plushes at command” ---then---- why would it bother to search for better garments/ activities/ rewards? It is a "Velvet world" --complete in itself.


ink

Finally –I have been discharged from my duties as Prince Cinders taxi service.
I have bought the older boy home from his scintillating date with Cinderella before midnight.
I have dropped him off at yet another party.
Thankfully, he has indicated that this party will be overnight and I can pick him up tomorrow morning at a suitably robin-like hour when he summons me.
I am relieved.
I did not fancy driving around on New Year’s Eve.
So now I can write.

Let me doodle.


A friend in a book is like a lover more than a friend. You know the mind of the book-friend-lover as intimately as you think you know your own mind.
This is why—after knowing the minds of many book/lovers/friends –it becomes difficult to --endure with the lesser beings ----that roam around your nucleus--- uncircumcised in their minds---in the ordinary world.
And this is why it is possible to lock the door –as Emily Dickinson did—and succumb to the charms of men and women who lay themselves beside you on the bed of words and caress you with their heated language.  You are besotted with their intelligence, their ferocious willingness to be truthful and even shame themselves by pointing out their desires, miseries, and failures—and then they are willing to rise out of the descent –to pinnacle themselves on peaks –undreamed of –but that are possible in the imagination.

For the imagination is the door---that they open for you and they also do the good work of---stamping down on the glass pane of reality--which is that floor of illusions we all walk on---- to smash it to pieces and they kindly----shake up the mundane banalities of speech ---which bind us to inanities of existence---and they act lively and they pierce you with the many pinned hedgehog of new ideas—to robe you in the cloud-fuzz  of new desires.

In other words, these writers and poets do the hard work of changing your brain.
And your heart.
Finally --your soul mutates.

You want to become as avid and ingenuous and smart as they are.
You want to become a poet.

Becoming a poet –seems to require a sort of inhalation of laughing gas—and dissolution of mental faculties that goes on throughout life –until you are a simple nun or monk—walking along the road of life with a begging bowl and some sort of inane belief in the goodness of everyone—so much so—that you actually believe –that you will somehow manage to drift along as a poet—and survive as an elevated form of street person (one who reads and writes).

Becoming a poet—requires a tensile strength in the area of the backbone and the willingness to speak and say what is truth—and even to risk oneself in stupid acts that no mentally competent human being would indulge in.

In other words—books corrupt you.
You want to become a writer—or worse still—a poet.
And you end up like me—eating books day and night—living like a nun—in a house –cut off from the real world—and not knowing what the future holds—except the fact of current danger and insecurity.

Ink runs about everywhere in the room of poetry and you don’t care if you drown in it.

you must write

Learning to write—takes a great deal of self discipline because you have to think and most of the time, I do not want to think.
It is far easier to let someone do my thinking for me and abide in the faith and complacency of that faith—that the other knows what is best—is the expert so to speak—and often—this might work out in a situation where ethics are observed, the other is simply a competent individual and willing to abide within the boundaries of kindness and courtesy.
But what if the other forbids himself these duties and decides to behave in a way that is not quite damaging –but certainly not by the methods appropriate for the situation? What do you do in this situation?
I think it is best in every situation to think for yourself.
Too many of us depend on everyone else to tell us how to be in our own lives.
Eventually the cost of depending on experts is that we become stupid and have no self discipline left.

I don’t mind being stupid occasionally.
Love seems to require stupidity.
And then the matter of self-discipline can be relaxed in terms of bringing up children because most parents find out that children won’t be amenable to Gulag Archipelago tactics and instead will teach the parent to relax and even –degenerate further into insanity.

But other than love and children –I feel it is essential for each of us to begin the hard work of self disciplining ourselves.
We need to think and we need to rein in our wants and we need to learn again the simplicities that give us joy without the high credit card  carrying costs.

There is a new year ramming at the door of the old year.
We will all make New Year’s Resolutions even if pretend we do not.

Make only one resolution—and make it the resolution to write every day in a journal and from this one decision will come the ability to think –to feel deeply –and to be self disciplined.

All of the matters of the heart and mind and soul are possible if you write—and write honestly of who you are and what you aim to do in the world---and how you are an ordinary citizen of the world—and how this world---that is so beautiful and lost and damaged---is in need of your gifts.


Whether your gift is to make a poem of a child or a poem of words---whether your gift is to love everyone you meet happily—whether your gift is to give away yourself in pieces as small as those in a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle---the gift does not matter.

But write to the world –and the gift will become clear---both to you –as a writer---and to me –as the reader.

You must write.
And out of that flow—will come a changed  human being---and each of  us –changing inside our hearts—will change our world.

We can do it---ordinary person by ordinary person—because writing is this wonderful as a catalyst for change and words are powerful and shame is what we will lose—as we move forward to the minor roles of being less and less---until one day –we are no more.

Books bought December 31st, 2011

While I was dropping off older boy I stopped and rummaged for books and found two that I've been searching for.


1) THE VOICE OF THE COYOTE
by J. Frank Dobie

I'd encountered Mr. Dobie previously in an essay he had written "The Smart Coyote"  in "Ants, Indians and Little Dinosaurs".

I had liked the essay sufficiently to have searched for his works in the second hand book stores that I rummage through and today I hit pay dirt and found this little darling stuck in between boring nature books.

The book is about coyotes--who I admire --since all the coyotes I have encountered have been laconic creatures who have stared at me ---rather like a mass murderer with intelligence--and I have always backed away respectfully from them--whether they were chowing down on a stupid Snow shoe hare on a neighbor's front lawn or along the trail --where their size, elegance of motion, and wary calm in my presence was something I found both disquieting and admirable. They are just so beautiful. And what luck to have them wandering about where I am wandering about! So what if some cats and miniature dogs disappear on a regular basis in the locale. It is the fault of the cat or dog for leaving the home base and not that of the coyote who has expanded his menu items to include cat or dog.

But I digress.

I love coyotes.
I love this writer.
And what luck to find a book by him--- on the last day of 2011!


2) Arctic Dreams   Imagination and Desire in A Northern Landscape by Barry Lopez

I'd read part of this book in other collections and I was thrilled to find the entire book and got it ASAP.

I admire Barry Lopez who is a writer of such incredible gifts that I must sift through his pearls and diamonds to arrive at my own sawdust.  Such luck to find him.

And that was it. Two great books.
Two great writers.

What more could I ask for as I do the Prince Cinders Taxi service--ferrying older boy back and forth--across the bridge of illusions that is love?



"Poem 1495" from "The Poems of Emily Dickinson"


1495

Opinion is a flitting thing,
But Truth, outlasts the Sun –
If then we cannot own them both –
Posses the oldest one –


*
In this short missile---on opinion versus truth—Emily Dickinson—tells us that the most resistant bacterium is Truth—and the one susceptible to antibiotic therapy—is that pallid microbial strain---“Opinion”—which is–unlike the hardy denizen ---“Truth” –which “outlasts the Sun –rather a vulnerable entity.

For Opinion----“ seems to arrive –--and simply vanish –like today’s news---for  it “is a flitting thing,” –unable to hold in place.

Emily Dickinson—tells us—that if we are given a choice between owning---an “Opinion” or the “Truth”—that we are to shrug out of the loose, tattered over-garment of “Opinion” that falls to pieces –with use—and instead –don the armor of “Truth”---and thereby –be inviolate.  For then –no matter what comes—we  ---“Posses the oldest one –“  which endures---forever---and not the transitory one--that disappears.

arboretum

There is no point attempting to be a poet when you have adolescents in the house. I have brought back the great slip of tenderness that is older boy from the recreation center, answered his needs for immediate sustenance by shipping him to Sobeys where we bought all the fixings for several humungous teenage-size sandwiches, and soon I will delicately transfer him from the pallid wastelands of our home to the dating Mecca that is WEM where he will meet with yet another pretty girl—who will interest him for 24 hours and then, like all the other wilted freesias of teenage girls that he has sniffed this year –will end up discarded in a glass vase of rapidly depleting water—while he goes on to pick yet more garden flowers from the never ending arboretum  that constitutes the teenage boy’s picking fields. 

 I no longer ask his intentions towards these soon to wither blooms.

I merely smile sagaciously as if I had gone through the opposite sex---in a similar fashion when I was his age---- like a ravening wolfhound through steak. Unlike him ---I had spent --my entire adolescence --in a virginal state----tied to the Romantic poets ---singing on the stacks of the Edmonton Public Library--- in some stupid infatuation that continues to this very day.  I regret --that I did not do what--older boy is now doing --which is basically --going through the arboretum of teenagehood--in a state approximating delirium.

I look at him as he gets ready to meet with yet another pretty young thing and look into the future when all this will abruptly end—when a beautiful, impossibly demanding woman will wrap him into spirals and knots—where she will merely have to bat her eyelashes at him and he will fall down at her feet—where she will simply smile at him to get him to run to the store to pick up anything her little heart desires—where all the giddy foolishness and imaginative folly of imagining that he is in charge of the mating game will vanish forever—leaving him a wet noodle in the bowl of some slurping young miss—well—I have to encourage him –in this brief period of time—where he really is in charge of his fate.

Once he meets that stubborn miss –who will boss him around—get him to do all the work around the house / garden / shed / etc.  and who will give me my grandbabies—well—he will be into reality and out of the imaginative folly that men are in charge of the world.

Sure men are in charge of the world.
But women are in charge of the men who are in charge of the world  --so in essence—women are in charge of the world.

One day –older boy –will find out this dirty little secret and be devastated.
I won’t mop up his damp cheeks when this happens.
He’s had his fun.


He’s got to pay for it.

slops

If you have a way to the next day this is good.
I imagine that we mostly go to the next day in a sort of organized pre-rigor mortis--- that we are unable to extricate ourselves from--until we think our way out of this state. Thinking wakes you up.

A near brush with death is useful to wake you up --as well----but only if you stay awake.

Choice is often forced upon you by strangers.
Try not to let this happen to you.

Make conscious decisions about how you want to waste your life.

Hours are the garments your life wears and discards daily.

Maybe you should simply stop puttering around here----waiting---- and go out for another walk.  A habit of walking ---requires repeated walks.

Music is the great hand I hold as I go towards a poem.

Silence serves to do the matter of emptying out the slop pail of the mind when it is full.

I like to sit here and fart around with my slop pail of the mind -----spilling its contents everywhere--and here on the blog ----before it is time for a piece of buttered toast and a big mug of over sweetened coffee--that will occupy me until poems come.  

But ... thankfully... the master calls and I go to serve him.

I have to go drop older boy at the recreation centre since he is suddenly overwhelmed by the need to exercise.

early singing




Ah--- the paper hoods the bushes wear—when they rub themselves to empty –how I stare! I could stand veering towards their red lines and forks of grasses—at the robed masses--forever.  They seem to be the smallest units of life—these dogwood chain fences, these laminated mats of leaves and these sullen rapiers of grasses.

A small community—they sit in the forest without any shame. They flock with others and they hold their crumpled bodies as they age—in the disarray prone to aging—to death. They form metaphors of how to disappear—not hidden in packages of rooms in extended care centers—but --instead ------out in the world--with the aspens ----who tower over them----unfeelingly.  

I plan to hike my way to death.  In the dull trails of cities, in the slippered with wildflowers meadows of national parks, in the side trails by small towns, in the grope of rivers and oceans –wherever they may be found--these walking places---I will arrive and lay out the lines for a disconnected life.  I don’t plan to pot myself –geranium fashion—into the safety of a care center—and wait for death to arrive with his needle and sewing threads—to make a shroud that will envelope me daily. No. I won’t be his quilt that he works on as he remembers the patches of time that I have left.

There is a murdered path of weeds—that shake their robes—that move their dissenting heads.  If I go out it—well—I choose the open road. The aspen crosshatched skies, the red gleaming basket of coffined dogwood.  I will walk through the last hours –without any show—and go as brownly and as simply as these common weeds—who lived their lives in exhaustive haste—to plant their seeds—before they stand murmuring poetry at Winter’s gate.

Small ordinary people are all about me. They go towards the place where we will all stand –in our multitudes—stripped of title, status and disguise. We will openly show---then----upon death—our shining souls—and what we have kept hidden and small----will burst out of our mouths—and we will all begin---finally to sing.  A poet—is merely one—who is unafraid---of her own voice---and begins the singing –while still in life.

All the days hush out.
The candles all bend low.
The brown weeds make their small whisperings.
I begin to sing.

dirt road

It is the last day of the year.

I spend a great deal of time reflecting on what I have or have not done and then trying to do something when I need to do it.

I have learned that sometimes I simply need to wait.

Waiting is the place between trains, between airplanes, between people.

I am in the waiting place now and I am looking about me at the crowd of past days rushing by.

What have I done?

I started writing five years ago.
I mean I’d been writing –on and off since I was a girl but it began to feel more real about five years ago when I began to write consistently.
Three years ago, I walked the Whitemud Ravine Trail, mostly trying to avoid daily writing.
One year ago, I kicked myself in the rump and took the advice of a retired professor of English from the University of Alberta who I had been whining to about wanting to be a poet and he gently told me to start reading.
I started reading for my younger boy.
This blog started.
I read.
Everything.
I wrote about everything.
As usual, writing and reading about children’s books—did not stay within the lines of children's books (I have problem with boundaries)—and so here I am-one year later with some reading done.

Now what?

I think I will keep going.
I have found that once I am on a small dirt road, it is always a matter of curiosity for me—to find out where this dirt road will go to. I do not have  a map and even if I did—the Orienteering course I took at Blue Lake Center at Hinton –proved to me a long time ago—that I will never get to a destination without a McDonalds parked next to it.
I’m hopeless.

But even being hopeless, I am able to make an ant-like squiggle towards the end of the dirt road.


Here is the dirt road of reading ten thousand books.

Where will it end up?

I am curious.

Let me find out.

Friday, December 30, 2011

dust



I am listening to “Dust in the wind” by Paula Fernandes.

I am very tired now. The day has leaked out of the balloon of today.
Night shrieks outside the door like a storm that bashes at the walls and windows and wants to be let in.
I never got to Thoreau, never reopened Paul Celan, did not even try to look at Gerard Manley Hopkins and I am now playing an end song—about how we will be dust—and so why even bother to try.

The attempt.

The attempt is sufficient and even if nothing arrives flying with scimitar fling to take you to victory –it is surely coming to do you in—and would you do the last bit—with the attempt undone? Nope.

So attempt. 

There is no shame in failure.

There is only shame in becoming dust without attempting.

I attempt every day, every chance I get and with every human being I want to love.
Sometimes it all goes splat and most times---I know I look like an idiot.
I don't give a damn.
I only know I am going to be dust --soon.
And I do not want to waste a single moment of my time--being afraid to attempt--to do--to love and be loved back.

When you get to the end of life--there is a small room--where you will lie on a bed ---like a curved nail ---in the wood of a bed. 

You will have no visitors.

Your food will be fed to you.

You will be with strangers.


Despite this--if you have attempted --you will not be unhappy.
You will  have music flowing like a river of light in your head---that will say---you have attempted--you have done what you wanted with your life---you have loved everyone you wanted to love and you have been loved back.


But you need courage to do all of this.

Do you have that courage?
Or are you going to be cowardly and choose the life of insensate existence ---and become dust---before you are meant to become dust?

You decide.

All it takes is courage.
All it takes that you attempt.


So attempt.
What have you got to lose?

Only your shame.

Walking Notes –Friday December 30, 2011


Got out of the house at about 10:30 am and sauntered back—utterly content at 2:02 pm. I like to do these long walkabouts in the small sectional couch of the woods near my house –because I need these alone times-to be refreshed to the world and to learn again the dictionary of Nature.

1)      Just at the start of the walk – a great wash of light spilled out from the bucket of sun—over the trail and made –beautiful –all the dead things there—resident.



2)      I walked to the end of the trail—back and forth—first in silence –without writing anything of note-and then taking photographs and finally trying to note a few images for this post—it felt very relaxed—as if I had been uptight all week—and finally –all the knots were being undone—all the words were being dislocated from fixed places—and the body itself was smoothing out.  At first –I did not feel like taking pictures since the photographs are all the same but then the light seduced me –and I was convinced to make more blurred pictures of this place. It may be that all I am doing when I photograph the trail—is looking at the collapse of shadows—the biting through of darkness by the teeth of gold that is the light—the textures of folds / pointillism of decay spots/ the overlapping layers/ the ascent from floor of the trail to the skies and the shifts in plants/ shrubs/ trees and dead-fall that pattern the boreal forest so extraordinarily that I am never bored here as I am bored in human company.  It may the only place where there is so much rich information—so much resonance in light—so much music in silence –that I am only able to be content here and no place else.  Going from the beginning of the trail to the end of the trail—I differentiate the two ends by putting the bookend of dead weeds at the start of the trail –and the bookend of red dogwood clumps at the other end of the trail. I like to walk back and forth on this small strip of trail –as it I were learning its palm print—as if I could ever learn anything—completely and become its photocopier.  The dogwoods are blotches of red –and sit wagging their red tails—at the feet of their masters—the decrepit aspens.








3)       Such a lovely, glowing silence! I have already gone back and forth on the trail two times.  I have taken pictures, enjoyed the sun on my face and the sudden ushering of the light –on the trail—where it had been—earlier-- dull and inconspicuous furnishings of bright swags and curtains.  Quiet is spread out everywhere like a blanket of snow to muffle out the noise of the chickadees and the squirrels who insist on remarking on my trespassing on their properties.










4)      Started the trail again.  It feels like I am eating a tiny morning bowl of silence for breakfast or as if I am absorbing silence through my skin pores—thirstily—as if I have been craving absence, motion, and solitude all week long and only now—am I receiving what I had unknowingly been searching for and not got—all week.   Silence is poured into me –like heat through all my skin pores and I feel so healthy and well after feeling sickly at the start of the walk.  Light is beating down now to simplify looking at the forest.  In the dark shadows—everything becomes one blur of deadwood---tangled vines—weeds—grasses---and firs. But when the sun leaps out like a pirate to capture my interest—everything that was a blur separates into individual sailors on this ship.   Dogwood—for example—which was a massive hairdo of red—is now showing individual strands of twigs—that form long, slender lines—of red tissues.   Aspens are simpering nearby and becoming vulgar in their distortions of form. They do not grow up in one long simple vertical but insist on splaying their arms and legs all about and pretending to fall to the ground—when in reality –they are suspended in horrific poses of descent—by the woody beams ---that they are made of –that somehow defeat gravity –and instead form a maze of them –in many collapsing states.  It is very dangerous to walk near them—as some of them –appear to have no compunction about falling on each other  --as if testing their faith in each other –to hold them up.





















5)      Clouds are diffuse tissue, snow mounds, pulled out and teased apart skin in the blue sky. Almost a mirror image of the snow mounds on the trail. Some of them try to hump into camel shapes but they wobble and fall down to splurge all over the skies.








6)      Light “prettifies” and “gentrifies” the worn tenements of weeds, detritus and deadfall in the inner city of  the Whitemud Ravine Trail.  Light is marking all the stems of the weeds with a marker of gilt. The light is burnishing the leaves to a gold foil.  The light is arching its shining back in the grasses. Its copper haired children run about everywhere. 


7)      I stopped at a section where rope-like vines were clenched fists about the saplings it had clutched for support.  The vines have twined themselves determinedly about the saplings and are climbing –fist over fist—to the top of their heights to reach for the higher trees above. They are determined tree climbers and they are using the saplings as a springboard for further expansion ambitions.  I see them step on the backbone of the saplings to mount the backs of the trees and then their tentacles spring out forlornly—as if they were attempting further trespasses when Winter arrived—to halt the conquest of the world.  They still show themselves as determined explorers.  Next year –I imagine they will rise up from these settled territories and become again—upright, exploratory and invasive Vikings of the New World. They seem to be permanent adhesions on the saplings they have subdued for their invasions.






8)      I spent a long block of time looking at light on the forest denizens. I am fascinated with light on surfaces. I am able to spend hours just staring at the flickering of light from one place to another and seeing the quality of expression of the colors/ shapes/ layers—in the presence of the painting brush of light.  Light is almost the only color I am interested in. When light is present it seems to halo everything so that the original color isn’t important and only the impact of light on the colored surface seems of interest. I spent ages looking at light on leaves—how long leaves ate the light—while other leaves drank it all up—and yet other leaves seem to abstain from gluttony or drink—and instead seem to hold the light in their cupped leaves—so that it stayed on their “tables” of cells.




While I was watching light consumption on dead leaves I also noted the flux of fabrics / patterns/ colors used by Nature to make leaves.  I noted spots (tiny, gray dots—pinpoint pattern), wrinkles –like silken creases—ragged edges as if the hem of the leaf was being stepped on and worn away—and then edges/curvatures/spines/circulatory systems/holes. Each leaf is a complicated sculpture. Each leaf has its own unique drying pattern that allows for an inexhaustible variation in morphological outcomes. I love these rumpled skirts of leaves that speak softly as I go past them-they are all in various states of submission---some leaves have a half closed palm –other leaves have closed a few tips of their “fingers”—still other leaves—stay with open palms –and finally a few “roll” their hands into cigarette forms.  A few leaves group together protectively to form “nests” that hang on shrubs rather like Christmas ornaments of a rather miserably decrepit sort.  It is obvious to me leaves no longer believe in conformity when drying to paper states. Even though they were all obedient citizens of trees –all greening and flapping on the laundry lines of tree branches with all the enthusiasm of totalitarian populaces under the thumb of the greater dictator –Life—they understand at the end of their lives—that they need not be docile tree folks anymore—and so upon dying-they assume morphological stances of individuality—to dry into grins/ grimaces/ odd visages of strange appearances that delight me.  They become fearless at expressing their opinions—at death.





9)      The unbecoming light is everywhere and showing up the age of everything.  It is very devastating.  I am very attracted to this brilliant afternoon light for reasons that are utterly pointless. The light does no work—earns no wages—and skips off without leaving any productive lineage—and yet—it is charming, industrious in showing its hiding places and gleaming places—and it is a mood booster when I am most down-hearted. Light is the main defense against misery.   I am drawn to the light on snow—how it pillows the light in some places---and how it loses it elsewhere.  Light is standing in the footsteps on the trail.  Elsewhere –shadow lines form to kill / extinguish light in long diagonals across the trail that seem to divide the lit world from the other world of ghosts.   On the one side of the trail—the weeds are painted with white light that forms a visible wafer of light in the mouth of the land.   Light is lining on one side of the leaves—like a muff—and is absent on the other side of the leaves—which is clean of the gold tinted fur.   Light is stumbling through the deadfall and licking up the saplings—marking them caught in “traps” of light.  Light is tangled in the branches—and dripping down the sap of trees.  Light is perforating the bark of trees and the dark variegations on their surfaces shine with captured light-in that cloth.   Light peels off shadows from the forest—leaving only a glowing interior that seems just washed—just laid egg of white light.  



10)   Occasionally, I need a bucket full of silence –like I have picked up today—on this walk—to slosh all over me—and wake me up to wonder—to see that the world needs only the threads of light—to slipcover it with the finest garments—gossamer –and silky—all of the invisible nature of light.   All about me—it is silent—and would remain entirely a hard quiet—except for the red squirrel alarm clocks intermittently going off as I walk.  


11)   The soulful dirge of a single chickadee—is answered plaintively by another one further off and I almost burst into tears as they team teach each other all the ways of mourning in their singing—and they make it ultimately so melancholy that I have to move on and leave them to their wanton unhappiness.  

12)   My children seem to be the only published poems I will ever have but perhaps –it isn’t necessary to have more than them—for the world has so many poems already in places such as this boreal forest—that maybe there is no need for any more poems but these.   


13)   Some seedheads—even after the seeds have been deployed in battle—are of a pretty architecture that resembles space ships and landing pads—and in this particular constellation of seeds—there is a radiating cluster of star-like seed heads (empty of their seeds) that seem to machine gun out at you. 




14)   A squirrel comes to visit me and I am just too late to capture his friendliness and I got only a picture of his tail as he remembers we are enemies and takes off.


15)   The creaking of the grinning green fir trees—resemble the aching in my knees.
16)   A screen of light formed from rows of saplings halts me.  


17)   It is time to go home on the slippery streets where only my walking poles save me from tumbling on the glacial pavements, the slides of streets---and even the cleaned sidewalks are black ice and dangerous.  I see the ice greeting me at every step and I am glad to make it home without falling to my knees in personal greetings with the pavements.