Every day I spend time and words writing about writing. Strangely enough, several items I came across today pushed me to examine that level of thought that transcends language. And it occurred to me that perhaps the best writing practice is simply settling for words. Maybe we have to soar above language, and then as we descend, pick the best words to try to communicate our journey.
I am still reading A Religion of One's Own and letting it guide my wandering. I came upon my old friend Rumi today, and then ran into him again on my friend Sara's Facebook page. And then I recalled that Sara is a fan of Mary Oliver's poetry, and remembered this poem by Oliver:
I wanted to speak at length about
The happiness of my body and the
Delight of my mind for it was
April, a night, a full moon and-
But something in myself for maybe
From somewhere other said: not too
Many words, please, in the muddy shallows the
Frogs are singing.
BURNING THE JOURNALS
Alixa shocked me when she said she’d burned
her journals. All those insights, lost. And yet
each time I’d kept a journal, I soon learned
someone had read it. Wary of the threat
of having candor peeled off like a scab,
exposing raw and stinging sores, I’d sworn
never to bare my secrets to the stab
of prying malice. I could not have borne
having each vagrant thought and wayward mood
viewed with amusement, prurience, or scorn,
like those whose webcams, hijacked, film them nude,
turning unguarded love to vengeful porn.
So now I light a match to every day,
and what I felt then, only I can say.
I write a lot. And I have lost a lot of my poems. Sometimes they come back to me in strange ways. Yesterday I opened a CD titled "Billie Holiday Sings Standards," and when I took out the music CD, there was another disc in the case with a handwritten title, strangely enough, "Burn." It was a disc I had burned to keep up with some old work. Here is one of the poems I found. Rereading it, I find that it does not flow well, but I am glad to have it back and plan some revision...
A MACHINE FOR MAKING GOD
how do I interpret
The I is incidental
the sky blue
perhaps chromatic abberation
explains how we
repeatedly into the crime
stay stand stud understood
all language in the personal realm shatters dualism
transcending images of other & self
human & divine
I am the prism &
is a different condition
the image changes
and as always at the center is
no image maker worships the gods--
he knows what stuff they’re made of…
I am the ocean
& I am lit from within
break the surface
reflect the universe
the angle is critical
“I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.”
Today, I read a fascinating article (You can read it here.) about what happens in our brains when we read, about how we see pictures and hear the words in our head. So I reread my poem with this in mind, experiencing it in a different way. I realized that this particular poem contained a lot of abstractions that were hard to picture! Maybe that realization is what will guide my revision?
SUCH SINGING IN THE WILD BRANCHES
It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb
in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still
and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,
when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,
and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward
like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed
not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last
For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,
is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?
Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
on mornings like this
when the air stays cool
and the sun burns through early
I think of you
I go walking
stir eggs without looking
and think of you
last week, I grew daring
and reached into the flame
just to straighten
a bit of wick
for a flash, the pain of fire
and the strange beauty
of uneven burning