Alaska

Mountains and Ice

Recently resurrected the domain and website at http://www.mountainsandice.com that will focus on stories, poetry, photography and anything related to Alaska. Two poems were posted today for your reading pleasure.

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Poem – Clearing

From the collection “Beyond the Border Kingdom“, the 13th and final poem.

(1)

threads hang openly
defining a life – what happens
when they are pulled
or cut?

does the puppet fall?
who will mend the broken legs?

one by one the headlights pass
through silence and growing fog
hidden unknown faces travel into
hidden unknown places.

the shadows that follow,
what fills the void and vacuum
the consumed space where light has left,
has forgotten the open fields?

give me truth
give me strength
to expose and kill
the false deity within.

(2)

one last look back
before the stampede begins
my feet in rubber boots
sink into virgin snow.

the tree line leads
thoughts grow beyond the river
past meadows and tundra
to the peak forever in a storm.

the trail ahead is obscured
whoever passed first
their footsteps have been lost
to the landscape…
winter sky
frozen movements
miles of silence
the setting sun and the cold orange and blue.

(3)

unknown moments never experienced
– things I will never know
the harvest moon covers
open fields of wheat and barley,
the open sea, wild horses –
simple beauty.

people around me circle closer
the space I have built
is shrinking, collapsing
I must leave, it is my time to leave.
black outline suspended in flight
one last moment here before my time passes.

the sea slows. light bends across
our eyes. rocks glisten.

(4)

events beyond control
the long black paved road
simmers in the distance
apparitions rise and fall.

the barriers erected soften
the layers peel away
exposing the true self within.

who are you when all else is gone?
what is left when each layer falls?

broken wings
above the blackening sea
merged into the shoreline
a pale hand moves methodically
over the flame releasing
jasmine into the room.
rain blankets the landscape.

over time the room and rain become one
as the being within falls into a temporal sleep.

early morning…
and the suns fingers extend to me.

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John Haines is Calling – Fables and Distances

As nature becomes essential to daily life and getting through the chaos, I have been thinking about John Haines.  Some of my most-often used quotes come his book “Fables and Distances” and so I have started reading it again and am reminded the impact his writing has had on my outlook in life.

Fables and Distances: New and Selected Essays

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Photo credit: Dorothy Alexander

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Poem – I Now Walk into the Wild

I now walk into your
arms, the words spoken
in passion, black wisps
of hair I brush away,
your eyes a light into the soul.

I now fall into your arms,
your breath against my neck,
I am vulnerable, exposed skin
waiting for your embrace,
I wait for you.

I walk into the wild,
the unknown territory
my heart longs for, the words
of freedom, swirling about,
motions in the air we reach
out to grasp, moments of
solitude, the chance to listen to
the wandering thoughts, the mind
opening up.

Into the wild, the backcountry
of my mind, the thoughts behind
actions of the heart, the soul
reaching out, a voice not
heard, but felt though vibrations.

Deafening silence as the wild
expands the further I emerge into
the tundra, lost and wandering
I keep close your scent and soft touch
upon my chest, the slight pulse of your
veins coaxing my heart to keep going,
during moments of weakness, when
the winter sun rises briefly and hurriedly
sinks, the horizon thinning and the darkness
returning.

I walk into the suns light
the golden sheet cradling me
with eyes closed I see your smile
and the words spoken without hesitation
and I am overwhelmed with pureness,
the honesty, the unflinching eyes.

I walk into the swift Sushana
river, with ice floes and glacial till,
you are there somewhere near the base
of the mountains I can see from here,
the rolling shadows frigid.

And I awaken next to you under
the flaring aurora borealis,
the flashes of opaque green and deep red,
sedge and willow glow and reflect
off the pure snow.

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Poem – Ocean

Across sullen waters
I watch the madness
play out each evening.

And in the morning
I watch land recede
until I am the ocean.

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Poem – In the Distant Valley

A wanderer of the frozen lands,
I stopped at the edge.

A silence wrapped in wind
and ice scattered across

the valley and we took
shelter beneath overhanging rock.

In the morning after the fire
we hiked 7 days to the distant valley

steeped in legends of living spirits
and the black wolves guarding the way home.

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Alaska Adventure Tours

A sincere post for my friends that own and operate Exposure Alaska. They have been in business since 1999 offering true Alaska adventure tours.  New this year is the Chugach Challenge offering: Fast paced and fueled by adrenaline and coffee. You’ll raft Class V rapids, ice climb on a glacier, ride the fastest zipline in Alaska and backpack in the wilderness.

Here is a review I wrote in 2013 after the last expedition I took with them (first was in 2007).

https://williamricci.com/2013/09/09/alaska-2013-guiding-company/

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Poem – Revolution Rooted in Ancient Lands

40 Days become 40 years
and the revolution/transformation
I began culminates from the
mountain peak.

Into the valley life flows
as the new sun rises
over the range.

Caribou continue their
thousand mile trek across
vast swaths of land
following their ancestors hoofs.

I teeter on this ridge and see
beyond the glacier fed waters
and the crystal sky and fall
into the ancient land where

the marathon first began,
where the fields were first built.

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Poetry – Sun Rises

Sun rises over mountain peaks
after 40 days of darkness
and despair.

We sing, dance, and cry
while the mountains darkness
subsides and the peak, birthplace
of our gods, appears.

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Ice Child, by John Haines

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Cold for so long, unable to speak,
yet your mouth seems framed
on a cry, or a stifled question.

Who placed you here, and left you
to this lonely eternity of ash and ice,
and himself returned to the dust
fields, the church and the temple?

Was it God—the sun-god of the Incas,
the imperial god of the Spaniards?
Or only the priests of that god,
self-elected—voice of the volcano
that speaks once in a hundred years.

And I wonder, with your image before me,
what life might you have lived,
had you lived at all—whose companion,
whose love? To be perhaps no more
than a slave of that earthly master:

a jug of water on your shoulder,
year after stunted year, a bundle
of reeds and corn, kindling
for a fire on whose buried hearth?

There were furies to be fed, then
as now: blood to fatten the sun,
a heart for the lightning to strike.

And now the furies walk the streets,
a swarm in the milling crowd.
They stand to the podium, speak
of their coming ascension …

Through all this drift and clamor
you have survived—in this cramped
and haunted effigy, another entry
on the historian’s dated page.

Under the weight of this mountain—
once a god, now only restless stone,
we find your interrupted life,
placed here among the trilobites
and shells, so late unearthed.


John Haines, “The Ice Child” from For the Century’s End: Poems 1990-1999