A quiet evening as the dust settles
and chaos is held at bay,
watching the sunset
with nature’s creatures.

Simple.

These moments defining a life
provide peace and a bit of
knowledge grounding our place
to and within the world.

Given the current conflicts across this land and the earth, this timeless poem from the late John Haines conveys the words I have no voice for.


How strange to think of those street
sand vacant lots, the sandhills
where we played and dug our trenches;
the forts we built, the enemies
we conjured to aim our stick-guns at,
and then went home at evening,
to victory, to safety and sleep.

And now the vast acres of rubble,
the pitched and roofless houses,
upended stonework and sunken bridges.
The dog-packs roaming, digging,
for the one still-unclaimed victim;
the stray sniper aiming at dusk,
and in the roadside fields,
flowers that explode when picked.

The children wandering from one
burned suburb to another,
seeking that which no longer exists:
a neighborhood, a playing field,
a wading pool or a standing swing;
for a kite to fly, a ball to throw,
or just one pigeon to stone.

And through all this haunted vacancy,
from cellars and pits of sand,
come and go as on a fitful wind
such whispers, taunts and pleadings:
the scolding voices of dead parents,
the lessons of teachers no longer
standing, whose classrooms
are blown to ash and smoky air.

And far-off, unheard beyond the drone
of a single hovering aircraft –
in Paris, Zurich, Prague, or London,
the murmur of convening statesmen.


From:
For the Century’s End
Poems 1990—1999
by John Haines
Seattle and London: University of Washington Press.

I stood at the base of a mountain
on a world far from where I thought I was born

and fought the descending wind
gathering snow and ice.

The sky was void of any star
yet shadows moved across fields.

The sky gave nothing away
and kept directions secret.

Crossing snow bridges
and stepping between tall seracs

I moved away from the mountain
into unknown horizons.

There is something dramatic and something many times larger than us. What surrounds and embraces us with reluctance because we are there within its midst.

The thrill of venturing into unknown and undiscovered lands, into unnamed glaciers, lakes with undisturbed shorelines, trails and elevations unknown to maps, lives within us. I desire to truly experience wilderness, the way the scene unfolded before God’s eyes and the final touch of a masterpiece, with unfettered air breathed when emerging from primitive shelters, built by hand from what the land offered and gave to them. Where does this experience lie in our time? Is there some far away land, hidden under tussocks fed by glacial streams, within a mountain’s shadow? Who or what holds this experience secret, and pristine? Does it even exist anymore? It might remain an elusive chase and game, an experience we live and die by in our dreams, the end game we pour our heart and soul into.

Why do we chase that experience so close to our fingertips, yet the feeling, the tingle, so elusive? What is encoded into our bodies and our DNA?

What is the most pure, and at the same time, most simple experience we as humans, can learn from? It is time spent alone, with your hands as survival tools, sustenance found while roaming the free land, water down the hill at the creek, ripe berries dangling in the morning sun reflecting dew, fallen trees and dried bush to make the evening’s fire.

The cold water lifted from the high-tide runs through the clenched fist. The eastern wind passes through the outstretched arms and fingertips. The ancient trees reach for the sky with entrenched roots that have withstood time, storms, and worse, human intervention. What all of these elements have in common is their resilience and ability to thrive without humans, and the unfortunate consequence of dying at our hands.

Who is to adopt and change in this sometimes toxic relationship?

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What is a life
but the experiences
and memories,
the fragments pieced
together as the sentient being.

What is a life
but the place
we fill within
the world we see
and the universe unseen.

“We speak of nature, of the natural world, as if that were something distinct from ourselves and the social world we appear to have made, seldom noticing that we are in nature and never out of it…” – John Haines, “Fables and Distances”

The border defining a boundary
the line between worlds, realms,
our consciousness
exists only in our minds
a projection of the hardship
we impose, we feel, further
defined and limited
by action or inaction.

The Border
The Border

Reading “Inside the Grass Hut” by Ben Connelly, an analysis of Shitou’s “Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage”.  When we look out a window or sit in a small space, it includes you and the entire world, the entire universe.  What you do in that moment impacts you, the space, and the world, and you yourself are the culmination of all previous choices.

Quotes from the book:

We need to realize that we’re both interdependent ant autonomous, both together and apart. Each moment we have a choice, an opportunity. We can do something helpful, we can do something harmful, we can be completely unaware and operate out of habit. We have this chance to use each moment of choice that we are given to take care of our lives and the world around us. Let’s take this chance together. It is a beautiful way to live.

As the wind blows across sand, rocks, and driftwood I marvel at the change within me that I am aware of.

Time has not softened the being, but strengthened through experiences and exposure to a world so scary as a child.

Reaching out beyond the close-knit sphere I sought to understand the blood and tears of others.

Reaching within I sought to understand myself and my place in the world.

What was my purpose here?

A struggle developed to find a balance as fragments continued to stack higher and higher.

The mind seeks continuous interactions, energy, connections to keep the fire burning, but this fire will burn if not controlled, if not kept within a moral framework.

How then to make a difference, to find balance, to not proposer at the expense of others? Through time and experience I had to learn empathy and respect. The silence we hear through chaos and the peace we feel through balance, teaches empathy and respect as the world you see circles around and in the middle a portal opens revealing the threads connecting us to everything and everyone.

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The world is large, sphere-like
and hurtling through space.

Life began in primordial forms
billions of years before

giving the life we have
through complex processes.

At some point in ancient
history of the human species

we merged from the same source
from the same cells and sub-atomic parts.

We are one and in this together.

On the cusp
between two worlds

the fine edge we walk
through each day.

One world filled with the
memories we choose to keep.

The other filled with what
we have left behind.

In the current understanding
time is a persistent reference

a way to communicate and exist
within this space.

But memories operate independently
wavering through all space

and the fabric that holds the
grid keeping us from flying off to nowhere.

They exist as energy and continue a journey
we started and they pass back and forth

ignoring conventional laws and mathematics
seeking out and obtaining experiences

from systems and lands we will never see
with our eyes but will return to our minds.