March 16, 2018. This poem emerged while studying Zen poets – mostly male, but one female poet made the syllabus. Otagaki Rengetsu (1791–1875) became a Japanese Buddhist nun and one of the country’s most respected female artists – combining her poetry, calligraphy, and pottery. She learned from Kyoto potters and decorated her rough and rugged bowls, cups, and other vessels with her poetry, either painted on or scored into the clay in flowing calligraphy. Orders from tea masters and others kept her very busy. This collage of found images shows both her pottery and calligraphy styles.
February 16, 2018. My affinity for digital collage is two-fold — for the freedom to make a moon as dominant in the image as in my mind’s eye, and for the meditative process of detailing, removing distractions to emphasize desired geometry — directed by whim.
A nod to recent posts from Michael Fiveson (m5son.wordpress.com) and Stephanie Harper (slharperpoetry.com) – your words stirred mine.
January 18, 2018. Tuesday Austin Texas shut down due to iced roadways – schools, government offices, many businesses sent out alerts the night before: please stay off the roadways. This happens once every year or so, usually for one day. In colder places, cities take remedial action and keep roadways open. Here, we get a day off (except schools must take away a planned free day later in the calendar.)
I slept in, waking to the lure of chicken soup simmering, gave the day’s opportunity a few select thoughts, and pulled out a jigsaw puzzle. Not just any puzzle – I chose the greenhouse scene, plants thriving while “shut in” – like me. The collage hopefully conveys my sense of being in the greenhouse while working the puzzle.
December 5, 2017. I spent yesterday foraging through 15 years of digital photos, seeking the right image for this poem. Finding the poem was a simple search on title. The search was triggered by reading Robert Okaji’s poem “Shakuhachi Blues” (on his blog: https://robertokaji.com). It took me back to the mountain above Cloudcroft NM, sitting around an evening campfire, watching a young man whittle while listening to my man play a wooden flute – feeling the flute vibes reshape me.
That evening was in 2008, before I began pairing poems and photos. In time the right photo surfaced – an image from elsewhere in New Mexico, at sunset, man and flute in beautiful trance.
November 29, 2017. I love to wander the aisles of hardware stores, or Home Depot. Usually I have a problem on my mind, looking for some fix. But I can be sidetracked by a gizmo with no apparent use. Like the day I found the goddess, thinking she would never set posts!
The new power line to the tiny house my daughter is building needed to be elevated, visible above grasses soon to regrow from recent mow. Though others had previously borrowed the goddess for such, this was my first post thrusting. Impressive.
(Yet I continue to revere her for hue and curve aesthetics.)
November 24, 2017. I once worked in project planning, computerized schematics of software development broken into steps performed by multiple groups, overlapped in a what-must-happen-before tapestry that seldom lasted a week without major revision. Life outside IBM is far simpler, but my gears still spin at times, guessing at prerequisites, trying to rationalize delays that go unexplained to those of us outside the realm of decisions. The totally unexpected accelerates those gears! This week has been like that.
Finally, I have in hand the beautiful chapbook from Robert Okaji – ordered months ago anticipating a September publication. Worth the wait, the timing truly is perfect – a long weekend to reread these poems several times in succession. From Every Moment A Second – available from: http://www.FinishingLinePress.com or Amazon.com
Finally, there is electricity in the tiny house my daughter has been building for nearly three years and has just moved into. Powers that be seem to have delivered a persistent young tabby as house-warmer.
A lot to be thankful for this November!
May 11, 2017. Reflecting on a day at Red Corral Ranch in the Texas hill country – I go every other month with a spiritual awareness group. Last week, right after group reflection on a Stanley Kunitz poem – we went out into the May sunshine to spend some quiet solo time reflecting and observing. Red Corral is home to a number of peacocks, noisy birds, calling back and forth to one another. Their squeals are intense, sounding like “HELP” – mixing in with Kunitz words, the birds helped this poem emerge. They reminded me who I am – poet.