In the Sweet, Salt Bye-and-Bye

I just put up a post that was entirely prose. Forgive me! That is so unlike me, and I cannot let it stand.

This happened last night:

17 October 2014

14

In the Salt Bye and Bye

Twine and untwine with your sad little fingers so thin and so worn, they’re like petals in rags
all round a Sun-halo that wanted to flower, but met with sad magic. My own smile now sags,
but something that’s trying to make me pronounce it just leans down like small flecks of spittle—or prayers.
Let me just hang low my head as we both know the reason. Those terrible long-tangled airs
were voices that met amid storm-clouds, then sang out their warnings as high, loud, and clear as need be.
We were both standing alone when they found us. How sad we felt then. How confused, yet—we’ll see
the end of this story, the long tunnel-brightening turn round the curve, then. Oh then. We’ll both die.
Twine with your own and so many sad others both fingers and stems as fresh live flowers lie
in a heap at our feet as we sing out our message: Death has come round, yet we’ve live years to call
to further our message, all dressed up in vestments that woke a brave face born impossibly small
who lived through our most ceremonial hallways, a burden that passed from tired fingers to hand.
Fingers so small. Hand held far out of balance to offer its strength, though it’s weary. The planned
spirit baptism, soul confirmation, and wedding is why we are gathered—but not here; oh—no.
Twine between fingers the endless gold rings that encircle the waters where oceans will flow;
the skies high above that are nigh but not endless; the place we will center our gaze on, next sky—
It’s flowing again, just like water, live Moonlight, and where we are now—love’s tide-plain’s bye and bye.

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Meta-post: True Souls

18 October 2014

Metta, True Souls!

Soon after starting this blog, I recall noting that the visitors revealed by my site statistics were remarkably diverse. This has continued to be the case. I am really amazed and very, very pleased that this is so. Read on, and I’ll share a little more about it, and also why this blog exists in the first place.

My About page doesn’t reveal much about me because I was stalked at my last blog and have become wary. Even so, I don’t mind telling you that I am an aging woman who lives on the West Coast of the US in what we still think of as a fishing village, although fishing is not what it was. I grew up in the Midwest, in a displaced West Virginian family, so I’ve been around. School was not to my liking, as bookish as I am, so it took a few extra years to decide I needed a real education. It absolutely could not be creative writing. I was strongly called to poetry as a vocation and form of mysticism, and swore to myself and my Muse early on that I would never permit a human being to interpose himself between us. Once that decision was made, it was very, very serious, so I did the only thing a poet of my station could do, and I majored in Latin.

Latin was my way of studying the grammar and etymology of my own language and some of the literature that influenced my teachers. It also tied in with my earlier French studies and lasting desire to learn Romanian. My real poetry teachers were mostly English and high-born—I certainly am not! Sidney and Swinburne were privileged, socially and intellectually, in a way that I could not have been, and yet I learned so much from them. They both had a seemingly innate sense of music and cadence that few poets ever master, an instinct for when to tighten up and concentrate, and when to lighten up and let a few lines dance. Poets today seem to think they have to keep the screws on tight all the time. I don’t understand it, myself. It isn’t possible to read more than a few lines like that at a time, if you are really reading. Anyway, even today, Latin is like a skeleton in the shadows of my imagination that I can hang a few scanty threads on, and still conceive a beautiful vision. So many of my visitors are from Romance-language countries. I always thought my syntax would deter a non-English native speaker by its complexity, but perhaps my Latinitas goes further than I knew? I do tend to stick to a very concrete vocabulary; perhaps that helps? In any event—thank you all so much! I am very grateful, and humbled in the face of my earlier doubts, that you have visited, and sometimes like and follow my posts.

Now I am come to a sticky place, and one that has been bothering my conscience: Since my last blog, I no longer seem to know how to get WordPress to follow my orders. I receive email notification of likes and follows, but when I try to visit back and like an About page or a post (and honestly, I do visit every one of you, some many times), a popup shows on my screen, and it is empty. I can tell by the URL that it is asking me to approve an action—i.e., register my ‘like,’ but it is non-functional. Someday I’ll figure it out, but until then—if you’ve visited, and signaled to me, I have at least tried to signal back. I might never have time to be really involved here, but I surely want to do that much!

As to who you are, as I hope I have made you slightly curious. Without ever taking part in social networking or otherwise publicizing this blog, I have seen hits from: China, India, Australia, Canada, many countries in South America, the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Angola, Israel, and so many others—I’m pretty sure I have been visited by guests from every continent except Antarctica. Even those of you from within my own country cover a remarkably broad human spectrum, and the talents you all share between you are astonishing. This all just makes me deliriously happy, it truly does, in a way that ties back in with what I shared with you earlier.

My background is English-speaking going back many centuries. My people are from a remote corner where the ethnic makeup is pretty much what it was two hundred years ago. I learned my profession from some of the most traditional poets in the canon, in the sense that they drew on much earlier Classical lineages. And yet, I grew up on hillbilly music, raised my own self on recordings of Welsh folk songs (yes, in Welsh, of course!), and have always depended on dancing to get my blood stirring and at the same time to enter trance in order to be able to compose poetry. That always meant high-energy music, preferably with words and a singer, and that usually meant popular song. What haven’t I danced to, and then made poems! I won’t bother naming names. Just know that, over the years, as I have grown in my work, I have needed to seek out deeper and stronger sources of song. Some of them today are Celtic, but most of them are African-American, and strongly gospel. That’s just where the lived experience sings out most eloquently, in my current listening and dancing experience. I have posted links to her recordings before, and many are available on YouTube, but just to be very clear, I have a serious teacher now who is not English, not high-born, and not male, but I love her more than I can say. Her name is Dorothy Love Coates.

Other profound and powerful singers help me hew close to inspiration now, including some I would never had heard if I had not just clicked on link after link. Elizabeth Evans, you’ll wait right here! I know you will. I’m going to keep on listening, singing, dancing, listening again, and composing, but I can feel something changing. My entire life has changed over the last few years. For the longest, time, it seemed the most important service I could render to song was to go as deep as I could, retrieve the most visionary images I could, preserve the most feeling language I could, and to formalize it into the least-corruptible lines I could. Now—while I still believe in what I have done—I also feel called to reconnect with the more human-voiced natural language of those around me. I’ve been out among the angels for almost a little too long, learning their ways better than my own brothers’ and sisters’, and yet I’m not worried about making it home someday; I know I will. I know we will. God will remember me! That would be the voice of Albertina Walker in my heart just now. I’m going to get up on my feet and get dancing pretty soon. For now, just know you’ve all reached me, and I know your excellent and blessed work will help us all wind back around to speak and sing the common tongue we all share. It will partly be English for me, but—it will mostly be WE ARE SOULS WHO LOVE AND COME FROM LOVE.

Thank you all so much for being here. We all believe in poetry and song. What else is there? What else connects us so deeply, to each other and something More?

That’s a real question, but its answer has no end, and neither has true song.

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Requiescat

A few days ago, one of my most beloved authors died, at a good but still too-early age. I learned of her passing yesterday. Zilpha Keatley Snyder, more than any other author for magical young people when I was both magical and young, understood how to ply the line between knowing and hoping. Far more subtly, and utterly unproveably, she understood and thoroughly mapped the line between make-believe and true imagination. I hope these very spontaneous lines for her show just a hint of the depth of my respect:

14 October 2014

12

Love Laid Underhill

for Zilpha Keatley Snyder

You’ll cry about your father and your daughter till their trail goes cold,
till someone more than anyone still seeks the trace of love so old,
you’ll so adore the places where it lay in wait, like dreams grown wild,
and then you’ll feel both cold and sad and let your eyelids seal the child
who used to stare with hard, unsparing principles all the down the streets
where love was wont to let its children play outside. It loves and greets
the little human, upward-tending cast of eyesight sent the way
it means its longing, lovely magic—Let it lean, and let it play
toward the true, straight cast of vision someone who might mean us yet—
Dance about in frocks of silver, eyesight clouds where Moonlights wet
our long-occasioned beaches where the singing swimmers on us lie—
Don’t just be a fretful cast where song would crest, where eyes would cry
from out of old long memories through beaches where the salt tides rows
would still call back from old but living memory. We’re real; we’re those—
I’ll make immortal memories the next time I fall faint and wake.
Open oceans, real salt tides, my bloodstream, yours; it’s yours to take
when kind low skies recall the reasons we were sent to meet and love.
I’m much more than mourning’s sister’s claim on skies so white with dove,
so grey with summer coming down, so hushed with winter leaning low—
if I were fallen overboard, I’d love my death, as you well know—
A mountain range behind the seeing silhouette where all we stare—
He’s not stolen half a glance; he’s ours; we’re love made everywhere—
Then the cautious, stolen, soft-voiced moment where new dreams are born—
His hands and mine are held out wide; so many old soft skins are worn
where cunning little faces want to peer out, sweet, but wise, as years
accumulate amongst us. You are beautiful, old man, whose peers
just pass amongst our settled valley, singers who have seen, and still
remember how to call love home from everyone laid underhill.

Love, come home; my valley greets; my lover, too. I sing you so,
so many magic meanings. Till I can’t, please understand—I’ll flow
the sweet red running river blood is made of, as we greet and cry.
Life will move between us, like the land where oceans rise and—I—
Please understand the whole of living Earth is song about to rush,
and I am just a lonely signal fire where small true lights will hush
the hours where we’ll now lie together, called to see what we have seen.
Under such cold lonely depths. Love underhill. We’re all we’ve been—
and when in just a scant scarce hour from now, you’ll mean what we must see?
Love was always swimming close behind your eyes and mine. Please be
the sower who set simple, loving, multiply endeavored seed—
wherever my glad steps would glide. My tender, spelling, prayed one, speed
the music that’s been good to us, all carried on sweet breath that knows—
We’re the loved and gentle children angels wrote through books that rose
toward the settled salted cloud their loving words hung all throughout.
When we reach the open oceans’ shells’ wide gates, the songs that shout
will understand the more for our sad dancing that took steps to bear
imagining’s tomorrow morn. I’ll die, and wake, and know nowhere—

and then, I’ll rearise, one pillow under me, and one thin sheet.
I’m not only going to hide my eyes; I’ll die where both we greet.

Zilpha, you are one of the few who taught me the load-bearing bones of my work.

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Procession

The last line is what it is because of the way it sounds: It sounds like where it comes from.

30 September 2014

23

One Morning, Midnight, Day

One day I’ll join the heavenly choir, and when I have, you’ll hear my dreams.
All those nights of weary anguish, love much less than all it seems
between low tearful downcast eyes, where all the mire just writhes with life.
Don’t you stare down past your feet. That cesspit’s where you’ll meet your wife,
if you’re not careful. Dreaming’s not that easy. Think it; aye, it comes
to life—if in a far uncanny way. We’re deaths and lifes whose sums
don’t ever add up equally, but if you lie down soft and still,
maybe just a wing fans near, a feather loosens, drops—a quill
you might take interest in: What if this shaft draws up a drop of ink,
carries it a far wild way, and bids one read its message? Think
again before you go so far, but really; when have poets thought?
This feather’s brought itself to you, in hope you might inscribe the lot
of insights it’s gained, flying low and high, but always fast. Dear man,
I need to raise my voice again, and birdlike. My own wild wingspan
is greater than your vision, fore and aft. Full circle, mine rings round.
I shall die the death of love before I face the crushing ground
on which all hopes lie, having flagged and dropped their care for this small place.
Choir, bear down, and sing with me. I’m coming home, with such a face
upon me, you’ll scarce recognize the daughter you sent here to sing.
Only one more day—one day, in which I’ll fan my whole soul’s wing
toward the wind that promises to bear it far. On that—this—day—
lean to me, who hear me from so high a place while I yet pray.

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Fading Autumn Days

This could hardly be newer. I’m not giving my self time to decide if I should post it or not!

16 September 2014

11

Fade Out of You

By mountains all covered with will o’ the wisps, and little fey clouds that just shine where they like,
why will you stare with such mournful regard where the sky is yet glowing, like flowers, each spike
a live flame that will only bloom harder and longer the moment the Sun passes out of near sight?
Turn me my head till it spies in the distance the nearest, now oncoming true lunar light—
Why will my staring at you make such strange mad impressions arise out of very deep streams?
Now when I watch with most holy regard for the waters that know me, I dream your death-dreams:
Hands, they are everywhere; hands filled with flowers, birds, then they open; hands reach out for you,
and skies filled with star-cloud formations whose rapt conversations appear as long lines drenched with dew
that reach back and forth, as they all sing your praises; these ancient songs then rush swiftly to me,
opening stars in the mind of their hearer as words all align in a space I can see,
and touch with my hands as I strain to record it so faithfully, I cannot lose it again.
Mountains before me, all covered with fey living lights, will I live past the next drenching rain?

When things settle down a bit, I’ll tell the story behind this. Oh, yes, there is one.

In the meantime, I’m Sealed.

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From the Foundry

11 September 2014

6

First Founder of My Line

When I can lie with my eyes wide awake, and know I am praying, I know what I’ll say:
this was a vertical pool of cold pavement in which I lay down; in which no one can stay
for long without losing all reason—all reason for knowing, or loving, or being alive.
If I can’t so dance beside you, a little alight, may I tender the light I mid-wive,
the one who, from so far inside me the glances of angels beheld us as stars—must remain,
though all the world lies down in ashes, and flood-waters sadly reject what was left of the grain
that might have withstood it. It wants me to tell you, you know I can’t use the world-telephone here,
the lines are all down and all wet, but the magic of knowing this woman means—signal reads clear.
Here’s what she voices us back: Call awaited; while signal comes sometimes, all sound is not lost.
This is just winter onsetting, and frost on the leaves, and—a strange morning fog of unfrost.
Those were my eyes that were fixed on the ceiling, and now they’re intent on the sea they still find
nearly everywhere we are engaged, their inspirer, and meaningful one who first brought them, designed.
Back of that magical meeting of memories, knowledges, whole fields of knowledge, vast lore
I will never know how to make use of, one moment reminds me of every love I’ve loved before.
Someone must question and someone must answer before it can ever find live flesh again,
but stars flow like mountains of geysers of ash just like—rain. From a grey forest sky. Soft, kind rain.

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Excuses, Excuses

13 August 2014

Excuses, Excuses

This time, I have a pretty good reason for being so slack around here. I discovered a literary journal that impressed me sufficiently that I began to consider it. The literary world in general is not attractive to me, and I have not sought to find a place in it—until perhaps now. More formal verse is being published these days, so the zeitgeist is finally with me. We shall see. As I was making up my mind, I did not want to post anything here that I might wish to submit there. Now that I have made my selection, I would like to share a recent piece of work.

After this, it will be a while before I post again as I will be traveling.

Happy Summer to us all!

1 August 2014

1

Homing

If there really never came a trace of warning, why should we
be sad as we await the words that lead to mourning? Couldn’t he
have told us long before it happened, this will hurt, and very much?
I am going home alone, I really am. The cold wet touch
of what has meant me harm forever sought out my slight neck. I walked
a solid, hard half-mile before I glanced back once. I’d long been stalked;
I knew who stared behind me as my footsteps grew in length and weight.
No one lay beside me when I stayed up late. God knows my fate
is delicate, and complicated. Leaves will yellow, fall, and lie
strewn all about the feet I mean to leave myself. Pale pages, die,
but glow forever after I am just an inverse-shadow. Why
console the lonely, old, recording angel who is soul at fly?
Remember who we used to be, when uses made so much of her—
She died, she closed her eyes, she made her way back home, and—Don’t confer.
Each of us is broken; when we draw out first, we fly home fast,
and then we circle round again. It’s home, it’s us; it’s home at last.

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