what it feels like . . .

I was trying to explain poetry to someone who is trying to understand . . .

THIS . . . THIS . . .

I wanted to see where beauty comes from

without you in the world, hauling my heart

across sixty acres of northeast meadow,

my pockets filling with flowers.

Then I remembered,

it’s you I miss in the brightness

and body of every living name:

rattlebox, yarrow, wild vetch.

You are the green wonder of June,

root and quasar, the thirst for salt.

When I finally understand that people fail

at love, what is left but cinquefoil, thistle,

the paper wings of the dragonfly

aeroplaning the soul with a sudden blue hilarity?

If I get the story right, desire is continuous,

equatorial. There is still so much

I want to know: what you believe

can never be removed from us,

what you dreamed on Walnut Street

in the unanswerable dark of your childhood,

learning pleasure on your own.

Tell me our story: are we impetuous,

are we kind to each other, do we surrender

to what the mind cannot think past?

Where is the evidence I will learn

to be good at loving?

The black dog orbits the horseshoe pond

for treefrogs in their plangent emergencies.

There are violet hills,

there is the covenant of duskbirds.

The moon comes over the mountain

like a big peach, and I want to tell you

what I couldn’t say the night we rushed

North, how I love the seriousness of your fingers

and the way you go into yourself,

calling my half-name like a secret.

I stand between taproot and treespire.

Here is the compass rose

to help me live through this.

Here are twelve ways of knowing

what blooms even in the blindness

of such longing. Yellow oxeye,

viper’s bugloss with its set of pink arms

pleading do not forget me.

We hunger for eloquence.

We measure the isopleths.

I am visiting my life with reckless plenitude.

The air is fragrant with tiny strawberries.

Fireflies turn on their electric wills:

an effulgence. Let me come back

whole, let me remember how to touch you

before it is too late.

– Stacie Cassarino, SUMMER SOLSTICE

Letter to Jenny

Somewhere in the Book of Mary Magdalene it is written just like that, Jenny, a desperate prayer that must leave the room, go out behind the barn or beyond the bivouac, and remain hidden from a civilization that doesn’t want to hear it. So you get to keep it . . . take it with you now.

Never for a moment doubt that you are still on the old, old path, albeit somewhere near Detroit where your words will grow like wildflowers through concrete into a space made sacred by them.

This takes patience . . . and this is what you do when you have lost it or are just lost lost lost…………………………patiently
work the muscle of endurance (JB’ism).

Make an art of it . . . make a science of it . . . make light of it . . . make a shrine to it.

Know it for what it is: the thing you make of it. 

That’s all it is.

That’s all anything is.

And, trust me, the power of that is more than we can ever really grasp.

~ Liana © 6/16

The Book of Gabriel

According to her tattoo, the waitress is sinful. The eggs . . she asked me How do I want them?

Actually, the order was put in a long time ago. Life brings what it will, and on that day, it was serving me breakfast with Walter Gabriel Trachsler XIII in a small diner near the Missouri River bottoms of downtown Kansas City. The band he was traveling with played nearby last night, so “he’s with the band” sortuv; more accurately, he’s with the bus.

In fact, the first time I saw him, he was squatting beside an idling band bus drying his long wet black hair in the warm air flowing from as its AC-vents. This will forever remain on my top three “Most Memorable Meetings” list . . . and I’m still waiting for the other two entries.

We hadn’t finished the first cup of coffee before I switched from calling him “Walter” to the far-more appropriate “Gabriel” after hearing the story of his remarkable name. His chronicles from what he’s doing now (spending months on the road driving some band on its tour) to what he did back when he was the rock star cover lot of crucial, incredulous insider-randomania. Since forming his own metal hair band, The Rotting Corpse, in 1985 (with John Perez) he’s performed as musician and mechanic all over the world.

Stories abound . . . Gabriel is the repository of an entire epoch of cultural history with an “I alone survived to tell the tale” sense of duty to the genre.

There are lots of character sketches and sidebars along the way—especially from his childhood. It is understood that he was a challenging kid to a single mom, but the story of how she sent him on a one-way trip in the cargo-hold of a military plane to his even more rascally father (who lived somewhere on a boat near Puerto Rico) deserves to be a movie. I’d never heard “motherfucker” as a term of endearment before, but most of Gabriel’s stories sound like that and are full of lots of things a small-town midwestern girl wouldn’t have heard before.

I was rapt.

You are a book, G, you get that, right?

 He’s laughing nowadays, possibly with relief. Everything that can go wrong is something he’s seen before . . . been there, fixed that. Mostly.

There’s nothing he can’t fix if it’s not human, and there have been police-radioed breaking-news notable exceptions in the latter category.

For those, he’s put pen to paper and written his heart out. Over the years, I’ve saved his missives for the day he’s ready to serious about the great book of his own life. That’s how we’re connected and I don’t let him forget it, because the Muse won’t let me forget it.

There are a lot of people from the past fully present in Gabriel, grateful for his friendship and loyalty and integrity. They’re all crowded around the breakfast table of his birthday today in person or in legend cuz “it’s another fuckin party!” . . . (dis)ORDERS-UP!

Yes, it’s just eggs, but so were we all once . . . then broken, and made a certain way. Gabriel holds this all inside with a raucous reverence and a powerful, gentle love.

Happy Birthday, Walter Gabriel, from Leeanne/Liana.

the great dream

When I was about 19, I had this remarkable dream that I would have a son one day who would be a seer. I wouldn’t know what that meant until almost ten years later when an audiologist confirmed our baby boy was deaf.baby dane by paul adamsFor the most part, I put off the grief about that news for almost 25 years. Instead, I thought of that dream and dove into its goodness . . . this was going to be about seeing, not about not hearing.

How that boy could see . . . always different than everyone else . . . inside the soul and outside the lines. One morning when he was maybe four or five, he woke up earlier and happier than usual. I came into the kitchen to find him already at the table with crayons and paper drawing something with the kind of intensity that pushes tongue out over lip. IMG_1285He beamed up at me . . . held up his drawing of this scene:
“Last night I dreamt you a raccoon.”grillermanThe years have been full of such gifts . . . deafness has given me much more than it ever cost me. But it cost a lot–frustration, raging at the world that wasn’t kind, patient or just; my guilt and vulnerability and trust and doubt and confusion and exasperation. 57939750759__6A759E99-7933-4451-9669-9D7A815FD90D
But not with my son, at least no more than usual when your kid sasses back, whacks his brother, launders his hearing aids, skips school, keeps dating a bad girlfriend, and trades his sensible car in for a super-jacked ATV.me and DaneNow we are writing a book together, and more gifts come at me a myriad of ways. Things I wondered about in the days before he had enough language to tell me what he felt have come pouring forth. We are waking and dreaming together.IMG_4746We laugh, we cry, we find each other in new ways and discover we were never lost, not even once. Even now when he lives a thousand miles away and days pass without a word, I can feel him in the darkness of every kind of distance. For me, this hasn’t been about seeing or hearing, but about feeling.

 

the write stuff

I write every day for a living, and as a hobby, I also write (and take photos).

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If I could do this any other way, I’m sure I would. But perhaps you can relate–knowing what you are here to do brings a kind of peace along with torment . . . the poison and the antidote . . . the creative imperative . . . the sleeping and waking. Elaine Pagels quoted it best here:

“If you bring forth that which is in you, what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is in you, what is in you will destroy you.”
– Elaine Pagels quoting from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas

On her own steam

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On the day we learned about the college admissions scandal, my daughter was accepted into a selective business school that she found (on her own) and applied for (on her own) and will transfer to next fall. She shared this with us via text, as if it weren’t skype-worthy (it was). I couldn’t possibly overstate my pride in her and am dedicating this post to Makena.

 

You know how you can’t take your eyes off your newborn . . . how every breath and noise and smell and feel are cliff-hanging you for the next moment? The crescendo of her baby cries or laughter . . . the plot-thickening with her new words and discoveries (and hair color changes) . . . the incredulous day of departure that was kindergarten, summer camp, graduation . . . and is now adulthood.

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It’s been like that for me for 22 years now, although the cliffhangers have become more hair-raising: six months backpacking across the UK within a month of high school graduation, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail for six months, trekking around Iceland for six weeks, and the next adventure: working on an elephant preserve in Thailand this summer.

 

In the midst of all that, she has stayed on the honor roll, always kept a part-time job (including being an R.A. in her dorm), and survived some horrific experiences including discovering a suicide on her hall. Her MIH (Make It Happen) Factor is so off-the-charts that my fears for her safety are mostly eclipsed by her track-record.

 

She is one of the most capable human beings I know, and I remain in a constant state of awe.

All I can think to say at this point is YOU ARE WELCOME, WORLD!!!

CU bound

character study

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The grove of pecan trees had been planted generations earlier, long before Hodge was born in the shelling shed to Esperanza, who left him there when it was time to move on with the crew to pick the next farm. His mother gave him his first name, although he never used it. Also, the umber cast to his skin that set him apart in Missouri in 1927.

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From Grigg Hamblin, Hodge would inherit the land where the trees had been set out in orderly rows along the floodplain.

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From the trees, he got both a living and an identity. As if he’d been bred for it, and perhaps he was, Hodge was the special kind of being that is a pecan farmer. Atop sturdy, straight legs, he was mostly trunk supporting a thick V of shoulders, muscles knotting his arms down to long fingers. A head of nut-brown curls went uncut during the harvest season when he didn’t even bother to return to the house at night.

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Arizona Hodges Hamblin belonged only to the trees, and that’s how it went until he was almost 30.

© 10/18

littorally

BeaverDen.May2018

After work last Wednesday, I dropped the kayak in and paddled up river to the beaver lodge, taking in the only news I can stomach these days.

 

A pair of trumpeter swans (black billed) have found a congenial welcome by Keats, the omnipresent mute swan (orange billed). Keats is a curmudgeon with uncompromising rules about his territory. Yet there he was being nice. This is above-the-fold news, people.

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As the sun set, I paddled back towards my house on the peninsula. There’s plenty of yard work to do and writing deadlines weighing me down, yet the water gives me a sense of calm. It’s hard to feel pressure or anxiety here. I am happy with the idea of growing old in this littoral place that is now serendipitously mine . . . the hard work of getting here rewarded by a contentment both unfamiliar and constant.

IMG_5690I may just mark my height on a doorsill and measure how much shorter I get every year I grow older and new in this place.

a wee dram then a dousin’

Feeling my ancestors calling me, so I’m heading back to the old country in just a few weeks. Here’s a good example (from 2015) of why it feels like home . . .

the hour of soft light...

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After a well manneredly morning of service at the Church of Scotland on the Isle of Gigha off the Kintyre Peninsula, the local historian (and relative to practically everyone living here) Alasdair Mc whose family has lived here “a thousand years” invited me back to his farm (circa 1750ish) for a look at the parish records to find my ancestors here.

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They abound . . . it was such fun, the BEST of travel.  (I am such a cheap date.)

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His wife set us up with a wee dram and I wish I had another right now because the weather has turned blustery cold today.

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The ferry back to the mainland ‘ll be sloshin’ and it’ll be awhile before I feel the warmth of yesterday.

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There are many ways Scotland has to warm ye.

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