Friday, January 12, 2018

of fluid dynamics and flight

In another dream, Tulugaq, the Raven, flies over the ocean. She, the sea, hungers for Chronos.

A drum is tapping out a rhythm: ta; ta ta ti; ta ta ta. How far is it to Banteay Srei? Under Angkor Wat, the land ripples.

Tulugaq flicks his wing at an angle: a light-burst from the sun.

Have you ever felt the earth and sea undress themselves inside your skin in two directions, pulling you into their undertow, unzipping their garments over your head in ceaseless motion?

And where have you discovered how the compass is ever a rose?

Is it there, where the scorched breath now burns as incense?

Music plays from an unknown distance.
Survivors gather to resume
a dance unfinished
unfurling their fingers
in gestures
once described
as lotus blossoming.

--Sokunthary Svay

Sunday, January 07, 2018

the silk road

rising above the river
raven breathes cloud-lace
and forgets shiny trinkets

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Tomorrow Island and Shaawatke’é’s Birth

In Bering Strait, in front of a cobalt curtain, the aqsarniit, the spirits of the grandmothers and grandfathers, are playing ball with the ghostly head of a walrus, up in the air above Imaqłiq, which some call Tomorrow Island, and some name о́стров Ратма́нова or Big Diomede. 

Across the water, in a house on stilts on Ignaluk, or Yesterday Island, also known as Little Diomede, an Iñupiat boy sits on his bed near a frost-filmed window and peers through the pane. 

The movements of the aqsarniit are fluid, generating a radiant green ribbon that ripples across the sky. Behind the silken shades of teal and green and platinum mint, the bylyni, too are lurking, the tales of the ancient Slavs that may or may not be true, but have appeared to watch the game. 

A row of bogatyrya, sitting astride great white chargers, who are proudly tossing their manes, rides out behind the aqsarniit.  In their wake, Snegurochka, the snow maiden, breezes in, and waves at the boy from the top of a cliff on Tomorrow Island.

My small lacquer Snegoruchka (made in the village of Kholui) wanted to join the scene

The rippling dance of their combined light grows stronger, until they have been woven into two expanding, mingling bands, and then the boy blinks excitedly, for pink and purple flashes have begun developing along the edges of the scene. 

Attui, a humpback whale, swims through the strait, takes a breath, and then, not caring whether her tail is in yesterday, or whether her head is in tomorrow, on the other side of the border, plunges deep into the Bering Sea.

Annelies Graf, Aurora Borealis


Can you tell that I've been thinking a lot about the local cultures and languages lately? (My apologies if I have gotten any of the words wrong.)

Alaska Quarterly Review just released this bilingual video of a collaborative poem, which brought tears to my ears:

"Your first sound above water will be the language of black feathers, the language of flight."


To all who celebrate this eve,  С рождеством!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

dream elixir, song of stone

I'm reposting a piece I wrote in 2014, partly because it is one of my happy places, and it has been a wild week:

Lacquer box, Fedoskino school

Would you find an end to your wanderings, weary traveler?

Follow with your gaze the arcing flutter of the wings of a white crane until you climb the slate steps to a clearing on the slope of the mountain. 

There you find a most unusual sight: rooted firmly in the gray rock, a translucent crystal tree, which stretches its limbs to the sky, where the crane settles into her nest. A tree as smooth and glittering as a cacophony of bright gems, as perfectly whole as a grail of glass. As radiant as ice.

A warm wind moves through the crystal leaves, and they shimmer while they chime, for within the tree a living flame glows, undulating in waves of rose-red and gold.

At the touch of your hand, the pellucid stone trunk of the tree parts in two and you find yourself sheltered in the center of its crystalline heart-wood.

Within, the tree appears much larger than without. You look up and see that the refulgent walls of your shelter are carved with row upon row of curious runes. The outline of a dragon is etched into the crystal walls near the disappearing door.

Nearly invisible phosphorescent blue-green shapes coax you further within, to lie upon an impossibly soft cloud-bed, where they minister to your sore feet and aching limbs. 

You hear the faint chatter of a stream trickling in the distance. Further in, you glimpse a grassy knoll, where the figure of a forest nymph twirls momentarily, then disappears. Somewhere, someone is singing....

You close your eyes, and the curtain lifts on an indigo sky; a brilliant star gleams in its center.

While you sink into dream after dream, your pain subsides bit by bit, until it is as if the flame in the center of the tree has replaced all other sensations in your body, infusing it with its gentle and tender glow.

So this is peace at last, you murmur.

A reassuring flicker answers.


PS - Take care, everyone dealing with the bomb cyclone weather! Stay safe and warm!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

almanac of echo and arrival

The year of the lion and the lake. Golden, and giddy from dragon-breath. The first month is a good time to embark on a voyage of freedom. Your ship may pass through advection fog. In steerage, the passengers may stir and giggle. When all of the maps are washed overboard by a rogue wave, allow this. Be open to what you see up on the forecastle, but don't attempt to apprehend an albatross. It is likely that a storm may arise, fanned by the pages of a burning book of a dream of infinity. Later, find a fir tree to lean on, and taste the air, while its patient silence rises in transverse waves.

Friday, December 29, 2017

December flusters all the specters,
whose faces appear in candle-flames
roving through Barcelona streets
or sipping mint tea in Tunisia

Mismatched clocks chime in slant rhyme
and thoughts splash onto a liquid page
for time and again and out of time
the smiles of the Dreamer come of age

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Two May Sarton Poems

Halfway to Silence

I was halfway to silence
Halfway to land's end
When I heard your voice.

Shall I take you with me?
Shall we go together
All the way to silence,
All the way to land's end?

Is there a choice?

Tentative steps across the middle of a frozen river. 

A Voice

Blurred as though it has been woken
From an underground and secret river,
This voice itself and not the language spoken
Has made the air around me shiver.

Seductive sound, mysterious chord
That speaks its message in the very timbre
And not in a to be deciphered word
That I might hunt down or remember.
It wanders through my dreams and there I learn
I have to make the journey, have to go,
Whatever I must change or overturn
To reach the source, so strong this undertow.

Like a tapped glass the shivered air
Echoes and echoes a single poignant note.
That voice, where does it live? I must go there,
Comfort, entreat, and bless the magic throat. 

of fluid dynamics and flight In another dream, Tulugaq, the Raven, flies over the ocean. She, the sea, hungers for Chronos. A drum is ...

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