Solstice Fires

A joyful Solstice to all!

Lately, most days I set to work with a bit of a vision or dream-blip to start with. Today I had nothing in particular, so that’s what I began with. Immediately, I started seeing ferns–lots of them, a fringe many yards deep around the edge of a forest. No more than that at first, and then….

Rain poured down all night, and hasn’t yet let up. It’s good to be inside where it’s warm and safe. Heat of the Sun, heat of the core of the Earth, and those of us who require temperate and watery conditions trying to find a place in between–such are my Solstice thoughts. The moment of Solstice has already passed; the Moon is still waxing.

Dreams have often sparked poems, but I don’t have much dream recall these days. So, I dream awake. As with sleep dreams, anything is grist. Solstice, solstice fires; my neighbor has been casting beautiful iridescent bowls out of molten bismuth, and one is on my altar; a dear old friend was an all-around smith–black, silver, gold; my family’s story and mine began in the cave-riddled karstal mountains of West Virginia, where fossil ferns are often discovered in seams of coal. And, as they are lovers, the story of Venus and Vulcan lends an ancient aura to the overall scheme. Some very, very old trouble still keeps them from their full waking reunion, but we are remembering as fast as we dare.

Have I explained about ‘the wires and lies of the mind?’ This is a long-recurring image. Many of us who have had liminal experiences consider the physical brain and nervous system to be receiving devices rather than originators of awareness. Radios, in a sense, carrying a message from afar. The condition of the body and brain affects the clarity and accuracy of reception, so if all is not well, broken and mistaken ideas can take the place of genuine understanding. The ego-mind is subject to confusion and often lies to itself to protect its perceived safety and comfort, but the lies won’t stand long-term. Best to remain a bit detached from the whole process whilst it’s under way. Easier said, but it can be done. We’ve been working on stripping out the lying wires for a long time; the poems are evidence of that.

21 December 2020



How different the world will have seemed, all our false dreams discarded and wires all unwound and pulled out.

There’s only the one stream with meaningful winding; the clear running water that flows round about

the stones of the path at its deepest depression will never stop moving downhill till it’s carved

a series of beautiful chambers, a seemingly endless array of glad rooms to lie, starved

and half-paralyzed, buried inside–any dim hope of rescue a sad superstition–no good.

All down the mountain and under it, hard rains of winter wash over the evergreen wood

on the slopes of its sides and the caverns below. There’s no world but a language made visible here.

Under these very old trees grow the others, more ancient by many a long cosmic year–

split a seam in the coal that threads all through this region, and find what remains of the forest here still.

These were all evergreen leaves; every season they cast a green glamor. Your eyesockets fill

with emerald light when your look at them lingers. They’ve so much to show you, you can’t look away.

What will you know when you go home again that you didn’t know then and don’t know yet today?

Where the fields were electric with after-storm glow and the trees swayed in winds like the breathings of souls

the two of us lay in a glow of pale twilight, our pulses as hectic as cantering foals

over swards of particular foliage–how will I tell you, the memory haunts me too hard–

they ran through the ferns to the trees where they turned and eyes met and engaged and with sharpened hooves sparred.

They hated this part of the story the moment they knew they were living it over again.

Blood on the leaves and the ground and their garments were rent and their own very flesh bore the stain

of the dreadful mistake they seemed doomed to repeat for the ten thousandth time in the very same–cave,

down where the coal-seams of forests that were serve as world long enough for a soul with no grave

and no gravity anywhere plain earthly daylight has touched with its powers of odd inverse sleep.

Only in this soothing bourne of the beautiful softness of eve’s casting shadows that creep

through the dreams of the lovers who’ve grown far more vivid for having lain nightly in love’s search for lore,

watching the coal-fires glow through the stone where the ghost of lost sunlight’s been minding its store,

and only among the long-memoried fronds of a summer that turned into winter but not

into colorless darkness–will glorious gardens recall them to why this glad land was their lot,

even all the sad while a drawn wire made of metal it still doesn’t recognize–grew hot and glowed

till it melted like snow and the river resulting ran under the mountain and there overflowed

the old banks of the earlier stream-course. It still isn’t water–that takes cosmic years–yet to run–

but these lovers are tireless when stories unfold like the leaves of the trees and the ferns in the Sun

at the heart of the underworld’s first smelting furnace. Who with a crucible works without rest

where living ferns blaze out of coal and resume being beautiful, deep in your own burning breast?


About J

formal verse poetry and commentary at
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