Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thoughts of Sedona



This morning I came across this picture of Cathedral rocks in Sedona, one of Arizona's treasures and a must-see on any trip west. I first visited there in 1980, before the highways were crowded with tour busses and the t-shirt shops had proliferated. I thought I would die if I couldn't live there...I even thought I might have lived there in a former life -- a bit far out for me. It is still one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, but I definitely would not want to live there now. It's a good thing I have not given in to all my impulses. Sometimes first impressions just don't hold up to the test of time, right? Or more likely, we just think we want and need different things at different times in our lives. It reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years ago about Oak Creek, the beautiful Sedona landmark pictured here and the source of many pleasant, reflective moments on my visits there. It is a place filled with an energy that penetrates one's psyche in a deeply refreshing way. (Just do avoid the tour busses if you can!)

The Creek

It used to run wild and uninterrupted
but few things remain that way today.
Now there is a little park, not so bad,
but no one just happens upon the creek any more.
 
Still, if you make your way through parking lot
and visitor center, there at your feet the water
plummets over stones like mirrors in the sun
smooth from relentless liquid caress.

Like a thousand gems, the water gives back
sunlight so intense its brilliance fractures
the horizon, too blinding to stand and stare,
except for the brown bird who seems not to notice.

Now, late in the day, still springtime cool,
everyone gone, silence broken only
by the muted scrabble of water,
I sit on a flat rock and watch the fading day.
 
Red pinnacles now silhouetted in blue dusk
stand sentinel over the darkening stream
whose music orchestrates the twilight
and awaits the rising of the moon.

from "Sip Wine, Drink Stars"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Poetry of Chaos

Wind rattles the trees, the sea grasses
bent low and sorrowful, while overhead
birds catch the draft balanced on the pinnacle,
moving neither forward or back on the currents.

This is not the life I dreamed, this chaos
that somewhat resembles order, this fragile life raft
adrift on a thrusting sea, lifted and dropped
amidst the detritus and dross.

I was enticed aboard, with the belief of a convert
that I could captain this dismal, leaking craft,
pilot down my designated channels, avoid
the storms that befall the timid explorer.

I lean forward, eager to wash up on the shore,
amidst broken shells and mounds of kelp
where nourishment awaits, where wreckage
is an asset, and poems whisper on the wind.

from "Dance On A Dirt Road"


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Bit of Whimsy

Alice Redux

Alice, oh Alice, where in the mirror are you now?
I know how you felt, head all a-twitter. Nonsense
makes perfect sense when up is down and down is up.
I catch a glimpse of you now and then, when my life
has gone jabberwocking into hyper-reality, and I
am the Hatter gone mad, the angry queen, the dormouse.
Isn’t it obvious? I am, at times, all my worst selves
dressed in my best clothes, looking for the party,
one minute too small for my life, the next too large.

Are you who you thought you’d be? And if so,
are you disappointed or glad? Sometimes I can’t decide.
Was there ever a plan, or did I just follow a set
of strange rules for fear of disrupting the game?
What do I have to fear from a pack of cards?
The shuffled deck could yield no firmer answers
nor protection from the Queen who wants my head.
I’ve lost it so many times that it feels normal.

Was it all a dream, dear Alice, was it brillig or not?
I would gladly step through the glass to see
where I might have gone, had I been wiser, braver
or less afraid of looking foolish. I would have followed
my own strange dreams, except that one about
climbing Everest naked; definitely not that one.
But I think of you when I plan my brief escape.
Why is there never a rabbit hole around
when you need it?



Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chronicle

 A yearning to be known builds daily,
to be fully aware and recount what matters,
to tell the story of the journey and understand
what remains to be seen.
 
Notes scribbled in the wide margins of memory
beside journal entries, the real narrative conjured
of long days and nights, rising, falling, with faith
and the plague of hope, all within the same breath.
 
Sounds that drift lazily in and out of doors
left ajar for unknown reasons, echoes of laughter,
nuances of texture, a blend of light, tenderly
filters through windows on the shady side,

familiar blue shadows and the trellis
that crosshatches the wall with squares of sun.
This, the place of my clearest vision, the song
I waited long to sing, my destination and arrival.
 
Here is the proof of life, generations of sweetness,
the children and those that followed living the mystery
as delicate as the white throat of a lily,
legends they have created with their dreams.

I long to shed the faltering version of myself, the partial
truths and condensed editions; morsels and crumbs only,
the continuum evading, slipping through the hollow in my heart
just as I am about to surrender to joy.

N.C.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It was a dark and stormy night...

A nighttime storm is a rare event for us, except during monsoon. I look forward to it all year. It makes for interrupted sleep (for some) and upsets many dogs (not ours, she said gratefully). I had to drive 30 miles or so this morning along a beautiful road that is now green and lush, thanks to a higher than normal rainfall this summer. What a difference water makes! Just one more thing to make me smile.

Rain at Night

timpani in the distance
a tremble of light
the other side
of the mountain;
sleep is broken,
expectant
entering that place
of half-awareness
quiet respiration
eyelids flutter
to notice the
night preparing
for the gale;
now the wind
sweeps up leaves
and dry earth
in one breath
discharges
a turbulent swirl
as serrated lightning
illuminates the room;
count the seconds
until the crash
and the rain
suddenly erupts
on roof and door
to play me back
to sleep.


NC