The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.
Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made
is star-stuff too?
– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –
dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.
Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
between heaven and earth
There is much to praise and comment on in the journal. For my purposes now, though, I was struck by a few lines quoted in an article on Chinese eco-poet Yang Jian from an interview with him in the Jing Daily of 2007.
When asked 'Why do you write poetry?' his response was: 'Because of water... Because of the old ox that drags his plow behind him in the dusk... Because of the red carp in 'Journey to the West' that swam away when I was little... Because of the peach tree in front of an old cottage... it bloomed, beautiful and free...'
This is a poem in itself. What struck me in particular is that he answered that question in images, so inviting us to think in poetry too. Here in the West my experience from asking that question of people many many times is that we tend to answer in the abstract, in concepts. 'Because I have to.' 'Because it's a way of saving my life.' 'Because I have something I want to communicate.' 'To know what I'm thinking, what I'm feeling.' 'Because there is no other way of saying what I want to say.' These are common responses; valid and true responses. But they don't have the vitality of the image, and they don't therefore convey what poetry alone can convey.
So last Saturday with my regular group I asked once again this question, and requested that they respond in images; in poetry, in fact. The difference was enormous, and the poetry that they created in response potent.
For myself, I wrote several pages of image-based notes. I'm aware of a biggish poem taking shape in the liminal spaces as a result of that. My starting point, unbidden, was an image of an owl, and here are the few words I wrote as a 'way in' to writing about other more far-ranging and significant things:
I write poetry
for that owl
perched in its pine tree
eyes lit by the glow
of the Guy Fawkes' bonfire
at that little girl
who so wanted
like the owl
to live between heaven and earth
and didn't yet know
she already did
and I write poetry
to remember that
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- frost, mineral hearts, green hair & slugs...
- Slipstream Poets competition
- in praise of – yes – a bank!
- Just This, mark 11: non-dual being
- to live and to let go
- Just This
- everything that's not elephant (or horse)
- shaking the air
- until exile too is home (a poem)
- letting go the reins
- the spirit of the ash tree
- being nowhere; and other nations
- the walking is the road
- between heaven and earth
- shadow of the heart
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