Community

Not a place or a state

not neat

nor tidy.

Sometimes gritty,

a bit contagious,

infectious even.

Community perseveres outside the lines ~

non-conformists

freedom fighters

spelunkers

reformed couch enthusiasts.

Community is a rage of members,

a trickster of inquiry,

an un-settlement of passion.

It is growth with purpose.

 

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Yang

feet firmly plant

mountain pose

while hands drop loosely

shoulders straight and eyes trained

 

breathe through nose

forearms cross (block)

right foot slides forward

knee bends to 45

while left foot roots into terra firma

weight balances equally

arms strongly hold at shoulder height

hands like blades

eyes focus over right hand

 

warrior two

 

– prepare to transition –

 

shift forward, weight on right foot

left front kick then

fall back

settle on left foot, over your shoulder

look

back kick with right foot

then side step,

block

Waiting for Bill at Lava Lake

“Waiting for Bill at Lava Lake”

delicate trills of bird song
cascading notes too quick for human ears to decipher
the underchirp of ravens
and the curious twitter of stellars
poplar leaves, newly budded, yet fully present
tremble on stems fragile enough yet strong
mist is a veil on the mountains though sun shines
and warms my hair
grace and grass waft in equal amounts
over the lava

in body, tired
neck cricked to the left
stiff from a Sunday’s labour of love
internal landscape quiet
with a hint of sun

capturing the moment, stretching it out
like muscles after a long day
it’s a painful kind of sweet
~ being ~

The Mountain Speaks

mountain pass

Through mist and shadowed hope we toil

each foot

forward

a step toward success

eyes certain

chins firm

shoulders straight

no thoughts given to the negative space

to the freefall of uncertainty

to the sure death of anticipation

just inches from our trail.

 

“Ji six-mukws n̍iin,” rumbles Sgan̍ist

~ listen carefully ~

Over our heads a boulder whistles

followed by the clatter of lesser stones.

 

The mountain speaks.

The Medium and The Message

I’m pretty sure that when Marshall McLuhan said that the medium was the message, he was thinking more about social media than about poetry. However …

Marshall McLuhan

I’ve been playing around with my  ode, and observing how this is so true of writing. While experimenting with free verse structure and language, I’m noticing how much more approachable the subject appears to be. The changes really aren’t that drastic, yet they make a significant difference in the way you read the poem. In this case, the formal elements of classical poetry distances both the writer and the reader from the subject. My students also noticed this. Some were stumped by the challenge of writing within a specific framework; some found the task an inspiring challenge; and some chose to ignore the structure completely in favor of simply “getting the poem out”. While I prefer the simplicity of free verse, I enjoy the mental challenge of implementing classical structure. It teaches me more about language; keeps my vocabulary fresh; and surprises me with complex thoughts that may never have surfaced if I had written in a freer medium.

Continue reading

The Challenge

Adiantum Pedatum

We’ve just started working on poetry in my writing class, and (meanie that I am) I decided that we would start with an ode rather than with free verse. Although I love the versatility of a free verse poem, I thought it would make an interesting challenge for my students to start with more, rather than less, structure. Also, considering the sometimes moody nature of teenagers, I wanted my students to really focus on a positive subject. Finally, I figured that I would cure myself of my antipathy for rhyme.

What I remembered while writing my own ode, is that rhyme is not easy and that conforming to an iambic pentameter rhythm sets certain constraints on how you express an idea. In short, writing an ode is no easy task. It is an intellectual puzzle. It requires patience, thoughtfulness, and skill. The emotion is still there, but, is dressed in more sophisticated garb. Also, I have learned to appreciate the subtlety of rhyme.

The Glacial Ishkinish

I

Adamantine, turbulent Ishkinish

Carving granite troughs through boreal groves

Of shadowed fir, mossy pine.  Relinquish

Your leaping, swirling, foaming fandango,

And pool aloof amidst the opulent

Black-stockinged adiantum pedatum.

There, sing of pragmatic and poignant

Travels … serpentine, green and darksome.

Teal coated transient of veiled origin

Stay. Drink. Partake. Until elsewhere bidden.

II

Unspoiled, scarlet-tongued, dewy maids of spring

Growing to frilled, black-gartered madams

Of summer.  Linger long in cascading

Syllables of effervescent freedom

Then furl your pinnate fans…

Impudent coquettes.  Wayward tomboys. Dip

Your emerald skirts into depths unfathomed

And from glacial waters let earth acquit –

Oh, you red-shoed girls with faces aglow

Teasing cool Ishkinish to sweet furlough.

III

Curling round in a lazy promenade

Through sun-sweet shadow and dawn’s breaking mist

The colonial beauties his measure sought ~

All ~ to charm inscrutable Ishkinish.

Fruitful in part. The mighty river pooled

In shallow eddies on their fields of green.

Marshy maidens let down their hair – tenfold –

Then, the brackish beck, his solitary stream

Continued. . . Leaping, lunging, laughing

Into the adamantine spray…