Winter 2012 . Volume 3 Issue 2
Winter 2012 . Volume 3 Issue 2 Written River is a literary journal published by Hiraeth Press which focuses on poetry and non-fiction prose exploring nature and our relationship to it. Published quarterly in digital format, we strive to encourage the discipline of eco-poetics and return the voice of the poet to the body of the Earth. Eco-poetics is poetry in which the energy of the ecosystem flows through the poem, creating a written river of words which ebbs with the creativity of the entire Earth community. Written River marks the confluence of many streams and many voices as they flow back into the nourishing ground of the watershed. Founding Editors Jason Kirkey L.M. Browning Editor J. Kay MacCormack Issue Design Jason Kirkey Cover Art Miya Ando Written River is published by Hiraeth Press. Hiraeth Press is a publisher with a mission.Poetry is the language of the Earth — not just poems but the slow flap of a heron’s wings across the sky, the lightning of its beak hunting in the shallow water; autumn leaves and the smooth course of water over stones and gravel. These, as much as poems, communicate the being and meaning of things. Our publications are all poetry, whether they are poems or nonfiction, and reflect the ideal that falling in love with the Earth is nothing short of revolutionary and that through our relationship to wild nature we can birth a more enlightened vision of life for the future. We are passionate about poetry as a means of returning the human voice to the polyphonic chorus of the wild. We publish a range of poetry and nonfiction dedicated to exploring our relationship with the earth. Our titles reflect our mission to participate in the recreation of our culture in full participation with the earth community. Our nonfiction titles represent a diversity of perspectives on the topic of ecology, spirituality, and place-based literature. Each of our poetry collections, in their own way, ask “what use are poets in times of need?” answering in voices of rivers and stones. Our books are food: come browse our collection and nourish yourself.
submission guidelines Written River accepts unsolicited submissions. Our Journal primarily publishes poetry (any form as long as the verse is theme-relevant), nonfiction, (essays, autobiographical stories, and travel writing), interviews and book reviews. Please send a short cover letter, biographical statement and a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) attachment of: •Up to 5 poems not exceeding 15 pages. Please send a query letter and an excerpt if you would like a long form poem to be considered. •Nonfiction work of 5000 words or less. We prefer electronic submissions. This is currently our only method of accepting submissions. Please use the submission form on our website at: www.hiraethpress. com/written-river. We review submissions after the deadline has passed so please be patient if you submit early. Submitted works should be previously unpublished. We are open to publishing a limited number of poems/essays may have appeared in print or online, but the author must hold sole rights to the work. We do accept original artwork/photographs. We request that images be scanned with a resolution of at least 300 dpi. Simultaneous submissions are permitted; however, we ask to be notified promptly if your submitted work is accepted elsewhere. note: If your work is seasonally themed you should consider our issue deadlines below. Written River Submission Deadlines Winter Issue: October 20th Summer Issue: April 20th
contents 5 · Letter from the Editor 6 · Touching the Burning Infinite Light Feature Interview 12 · Sipping Tea in the Pure Land What is Zen Really Like? Where I Am Most At Home What Is Old Mountain 14 · Scarecrow New Shoots Musan Cho Oh-hyun (trans. Heinz Insu Fenkl) 15 · Coastal Rainforest Silhouettes Scott T. Starbuck 16 · The Pond Has Clear Imaginings Autumn at Itako 17 · The Pond is as Small as a Prayer Martin Willitts Jr. 18 · Blue Heron A Rock 19 · Aging Jesse LoVasco 20 · The World as I Found It Martin Burke 24 · From one astray, seeking soul-stice Erynn Rowan Laurie 25 · The Grass Holds the Afternoon Together 26 · Song for Hidden Shorebirds and Grass Confluence The Upper Meadow Joel Long 30 · . . . or night. . . . nothing else. J.K. McDowell 30 · Nooya Lake, Misty Fiords 31 · Full Moon While Flying dfw (Dallas Fort Worth) To Richmond Diana Woodcock 34 · Spring Tide Christine Waresak 36 · Stewardship Genevieve Leet
38 · Wild Nettle Lesson #1: How to Listen to a Bird Sing Laurence Holden 41 · Autumn window no. 3: Vulpes Fulva, Key of Bflat Deer Has Full Tail: New Moon Carved of Cedar Gwendolyn Morgan 42 · Thin Ice 45 · Whooo Jamie K. Reaser 48 · The Nothing Here Tyra Olstad 49 · Trees River Brendan Sullivan
50 · When It Does Not Increase Nicole Parizeau 51 · Fox Vine Michael Bazzett 52 · Coopers' Hawk Caught in the Library of Congress 53 · Yosemite Phenomena Never Seen By Muir Daniel Williams 54 · Joshua Tree, California Colin Dodds
55 · Falling Forward Theodosia Henney 57 · Where There Are No Roads, The Road Not Taken Laura Story Johnson
59 · Preview of Creatively Maladjusted Theodore Richards 60 · Contributors
Photography and other art by Genevieve Leet, Jamie. K. Reaser, Angeliki Savvantoglou, Russel Streur, and Pamela Petro. See pages for photo credits. 3
4Photo ÂŠ A. Savvantoglou
Letter from the Editor
step out of the house into the Solstice night. My mind is full of my grandfather’s recent death, anxiety about the future, and many unanswered questions. Clouds veil the crystalline stars. There is no clarity. But I know what I must do. I crave the woods. Entering the small swathe of pin oak, Quercus palustris, behind the house, I settle on a log. Thoughts clutter within me. Taking a deep breath, for the first time I notice a sharpness in the air. It pierces my inner haze, causing me to pause. Then Rilke’s lines run through my head: If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees. Instead we entangle ourselves in knots of our own making and struggle, lonely and confused. . . . This is what the things can teach us: to fall, patiently to trust our heaviness.
His words wash through me, and without thinking, I find myself sinking to the forest floor, legs sliding under a thick layer of oak leaves. The earth is so solid, holding me. I can smell that oak smell, the moist decay of humus, and the dormant sleep of little seeds. I can smell winter in the wind, but the cold thrills me, reminds me that I’m alive. I shiver. Then I see it. Mist. It’s like a living creature, curling and gliding around the smooth sapling bark and dead winter twigs. It feels like I’ve never seen mist before. It is so fresh, so real, so alive. That’s when I realize that the woods are singing. It may be the bleak midwinter, but down here, amidst soil and leaves and stones, I hear a hum, as branches shiver in the wind, and little crunching noises rise from amongst the acorns and hickory nuts. I hear a bird cry, as though startled. I hear soft animal breathing—in and out. It’s my own. Everything has slowed down. I lay there, burrowed like a squirrel in the red brown oak leaves, and imagine that I am snow melting into the ground. Breath rises and mingles with the mist. And then, looking up through the latticed arboreal ceiling, I notice the first glimmer of stars. Dogen said, “When you find your place where you are, practice occurs.” In this winter issue of Written River, we’ve interviewed Miya Ando, whose artwork marries together the spaciousness of meditative practice with a sensitivity to nature and place. Each place has its own special quality, yet psychology shows us how easily we become habituated, our senses dulled to the aliveness unfolding around us. Eco-poetics is not just about celebrating the earth or exposing the short-sightedness of industrialism. Eco-poetics for us is about practice. It’s about the words slipping off the page and running through your body and heart like a river—a written river. It’s about shifting our everyday perceptions. That tree outside your window isn’t just a tree. There is no other tree in the world exactly like it. And there is no other place in the world exactly like the one you currently sit, breathe, and inhabit. Eco-poetry then is about directness, about cutting through the haze of our over-crowded, dulled sensory experiences to revise and revision our relationship with place, bioregion and earth. Eco-poetry, as a practice, can shift our perceptions of the world from hackneyed habit to honored habitat. Be where you are, wherever you are: indoors, outdoors, wilderness, suburb or inner city. Waking up to where you are, however beautiful or painful—that is the way our world can change. It all just takes . . . practice. With mono no aware,* Jenn * A Japanese word. See page 7, this issue.
Touching the Burning Infinite Light the art of miya ando
“Friends, all is burning.” —Shakyamuni Buddha, The Fire Sermon, Samyutta Nikaya Sutra
e live in a high velocity, technocratic, and a (sometimes) loud and harsh world. It is a world increasingly characterized by violence, environmental degradation, psychological stress, cultural marginalization, urban anonymity, and a mindnumbing overload of digital imagery and information. Living within such conditions can have a detrimental impact upon the human psyche. Under such duress, art—a universal human leaning shared across all cultures—can serve as a salve for the heart-mind. Art, both East and West, ancient and modern, causes us to pause, to contemplate, to return—if for just a moment—to a slower, more natural rhythm. Art also invokes experience, specifically within the inner life of the viewer. When that art is—by its very nature—spacious, contemplative, minimalist, and evocatively mind-like, the viewer is naturally invited into a meditative process. Therein lies healing and illumination. With such art-making, and within such art-viewing, a person may even experience a sudden flash of deeper spiritual insight. This is one of the key features of what the late Tibetan meditation master Chogyam Trungpa called “Dharma art”; and, this was my own experience the first time I saw the art featured in this article. With my first glance, something elemental and primordial reached out to me. The year was 2010. I don’t recall what I was looking for on Google, but as my eyes scanned the smorgasbord of images before me, I saw a photograph that suddenly stopped me dead in my tracks. Without knowing anything about the artist, I immediately uttered the phrase, Mono no aware (pronounced mo’no, no, ah’wah’ray)—a Zen-influenced literary concept first coined by Japanese scholar and philosopher Motoori Norinaga (17301831). Mono no aware does not translate very easily into English. Languages are different because different cultures think and conceptualize differently. Yet, there is a universal human realm that connects us all and that is the realm of emotion; and, it is on that level that mono no aware gently flows in. Some of the most widely accepted phrases used to communicate this deeply spiritual and aesthetic Japanese term suggest that it means an empathy toward things, a sensitivity to ephemera, awareness of impermanence, or a deeply felt comprehension of the
transience of all phenomena. Even more so, what the term truly points to is the resulting tender feelings, including gratitude for the preciousness of things and the melancholic sadness that can result from having such a stark and precise perception of that all things will eventually pass from existence. As I gazed at some of the images you now see placed like stepping stones before you, I realized that many of these pieces stirred memories in me of landscapes I’ve wandered through; horizon lines I have looked out at while meditating near a shoreline, or mountain ranges that are dear to my heart. Still other images conjured pure emotion, washing me in a haunting atmosphere I was unable to articulate with words. In all cases, something about this artist’s work has a strong sense of mono no aware and seem to invoke—in visual form—something of the kensho-experience (sudden illumination) of Ch’an/Zen, or a quality of wabi-sabi— another term from the Japanese tradition of aesthetics, which suggests beauty shining through a rustic sense of minimalism and simplicity. It is no accident, then, that I first reached for contemplative and aesthetic terms from the Japanese tradition to describe these works. As it just so happens, the artist is versed in an understanding of these terms, both from an intellectual point of view and as an internal experience as an artist. Miya Ando is part-Japanese, part-Russian, and the direct descendant of Bizen samurai sword maker Ando Yoshiro Masakatsu. She was raised in Japan by sword smiths-turned Buddhist priests, and grew up in a Nichiren temple in Okayama, Japan. After her early years in Japan, another phase of Miya’s childhood was spent in the misty redwood forests around Santa Cruz, California. Nichiren Buddhism (日蓮系諸宗派: Nichiren-kei sho shūha) is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism rooted in the teachings of a 13th century Japanese Buddhist named Nichiren (1222–1282). Nichiren Buddhism emphasizes The Lotus Sutra, which teaches that all people have an innate Buddha nature and capable of attaining enlightenment in their current form and present lifetime. Part of their practices involve the recitation of the Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, ‘I Take Refuge in the Great Law of the Sutra of the Lotus’, which can also be translated as ‘In the Name of the Great Mystery of Life, as expressed by the Lotus Sutra.’
“Let the mind flow freely without dwelling on anything.” —The Diamond Sutra
Now, Ando lives in New York City, where she—to a large degree—continues working with the materials of her ancestors; namely, steel. However, rather than firing, pounding, bending, and shaping the steel into swords, she uses steel, pigment, brushes, and the fire of a blowtorch to express her artistic vision in contemporary forms. I had the opportunity to connect with Miya to discuss her background, her artistry, and some of the themes and influences that find their way into her work. WR: Written River MA: Miya Ando WR: You have a compelling lineage, Miya; both the fact that you were raised in a Nichiren temple, and that you are a descendent of swordmakers that carried on samurai tradition. From the point of view of cultural and spiritual identity and consciousness, how do these energetic forces influence you on a day-to-day basis? MA: My exposure to Buddhism occurred very early. Since I was a child, Buddhism has made a strong impact on my perception of the world, as well as my art practice. I feel a deep affinity to the Japanese word otonashii (Quiet). It is from a place of deep quiet
that I create, and it is a place of deep quiet and reflection that I invite people to visit through my art. The other half of my childhood was spent living in a redwood forest in Northern California, completely surrounded in nature, miles from the nearest store or gas station. I consider this experience to be equally influential and complementary to my time living in Japan. They are very different countries and cultures, but each place and each culture has offered something to me. As a result, I now see that the practice of harmonizing and finding beauty in disparate things has become an artistic and philosophical pursuit. Simple forms and non-denominationalism interests me greatly. WR: Your spiritual and cultural roots are undoubtedly an important part of who you are. What is your artistic lineage—your mentors, your influences, and the figures from the past that inspire you? MA: My Japanese grandparents, with whom I lived, have always been my moral compass. My grandfather was head priest of our temple, but also my caretaker. The connection of family and religion has been significant in my life and have drawn me to make certain choices in my artistic expression.
WR: Due to your Japanese and Buddhist roots, the tendency of some could be to pigeonhole your work as “modern Japanese art” or “contemporary Buddhist art.” I want to resist that because your work stands on its own as a captivating and unique manifestation. At the same time, the links with your ancestral background are undeniable. To what degree do certain principles of Japanese and Zen aesthetics influence your work such as wabi, sabi, wabi-sabi, mono no aware, etc.? MA: I have been strongly influenced by the philosophy and aesthetics of Zen reductivism. I appreciate very much the idea of paring away all except that which is essential and I seek this also in my thinking and execution of my work. Mono no aware is a wonderful concept. I have been investigating the idea that all things in life are ephemeral and transitory and this force, being universal, has always been a subject matter of my work. Hakanai (fleeting) is one of my favorite words and is a feature of some of my install ations. WR: There is a phrase I have heard that: “Some Japanese are Buddhist, but all Japanese are Shinto.” What is your own relationship to the kami and how do the ancient nature-honoring traditions of Shinto influence you and your own relationship to nature, the elements, and the seasons? MA: In my childhood, living in the redwoods in Santa Cruz, I had a particularly close relationship with nature. This, coupled with my experiences in Japan, and being exposed to a culture that has such a deep respect and reverence for nature, has been a strong influence on my being and also my pursuits as an artist. I have always loved the Shinto idea that stones, trees, mountains and natural forces such as wind are sacred. When I was a child and learned that Shimenawa meant that there was a spirit present inside of a particular tree or stone, I was delighted beyond belief. (note: The shimenawa is a large braided rice straw rope placed around certain holy trees, stones or above archways around Shinto temples). Seeing the spiritual power of nature and natural forces myself, it
makes perfect sense to me that Shinto would recognize and make sacred these forces. I have such a respect for the Japanese awareness and sensitivity and adoration of nature. It’s really ubiquitous in Japan, from the architecture that allows one to live with nature, to interior design elements like the tokonoma (a recessed alcove in traditional Japanese homes and teahouses), which is a place to display flowers and scrolls for that particular season. The attunement to nature and harmonizing with nature is really second nature to me, personally, but as an artist I also find it as an inspirational theme in my work. WR: On that note, something we learn from your biography is that you divide your time between the quiet, pristine environs of the redwood forests around Santa Cruz and the vibrant pulse of New York City. How do the distinct energies of these places influence you as a person and an artist? MA: I lived in California when I was a child. Now I am based in New York full-time. Santa Cruz is like Japan in that respect for me. They are both filled with strong, beautiful memories and they are both in my heart wherever I am. I think otonashii, quiet, is inside the self; it doesn’t truly matter what the surroundings are. WR: Are there other places to which you feel an exceedingly profound connection? If so, what makes the spirit of these places particularly important to you on the level of your heart-mind? I’m thinking of how Basho, the wandering haiku master, had a deep connection to a stretch of land near Natagiri Pass, which he explores in his various travel journals, Narrow Road to the Interior; and also some of the other “spiritual-creatives” of Japan felt a deep relationship to a specific place which they nurtured, and which nurtured them; like the Zen hermit, poet and “wisdom clown” Ryōkan Daigu (“Great Fool”) who felt a deep affinity to the bamboo and hardwood forests around his hut “Gogo-an”, or the ‘crazy wisdom’ Zen master Ikkyu, who first developed the Japanese tea ceremony, or the potter, painter, poet, and martial artist Rengetsu (Lotus Moon) MA: Yes, the redwood forests still are the most magical to me. I was just in Santa Cruz filming for a documentary that the film-9
maker L. Young is making about my work. The forests are so comfortable to me. Every time I return, it takes my breath away. The fog and mist, in particular, is magical and mystical to me. That said, I also have a strong affinity to Miyajima, which is near where I lived in Japan. There are torii everywhere (red gates associated with Shinto shrines that signify moving from the profane to the sacred). It is such a spiritual place to me, and for many Japanese people. WR: One of your most well known installations is the 9/11 Memorial in London, commissioned by the 9/11 London Project Foundation as a permanent addition in England. Crafted from polished World Trade Center steel from Ground Zero and the 9/11 attacks, you were actually given the opportunity to create a piece of sculpture from the rubble. What was your own personal experience of 9/11 and what was your experience on the artistic and emotional level working on the 9/11 Memorial in London? MA: Creating the piece for 9/11 was very taxing on an emotional level for me. I worked for two years on the monument and the entire time I kept praying that I make something that had reverence for the victims. I prayed that I was able to make something that was respectful. My concept was simple; to polish to a mirror finish the World Trade Center steel. My hope was to create something non-denominational and put forth light into the world. So, I made a highly reflective piece.
WR: One of your most recent installations, commissioned by the Fist Art Foundation, is called “Obon (Puerto Rico)”. It also deals with the theme of light. Share with us the initial inspiration of this site-specific, large-scale exploration. MA: I was inspired by the ceremony of ‘Obon’, which occurs in August in Japan. The belief is that one’s departed relatives return to the home for 3 days. On the third day, the spirits return to the spirit world and small boats with candles are floated down rivers and bodies of water. I have always loved Obon, in that it is about respect and memory. WR: Seeing the images of the long strand of leaves, each emitting an eerie luminous blue glow, I had my own association of a “blue spirit road” of the ancestors. Truly fascinating. Share with us a bit more about the materials you used, as it is a definite departure from your use of steel and metals of various kinds. MA: For “Obon (Puerto Rico)”, I wanted to create something in Puerto Rico which introduced some of the ideas surrounding the theme of the tradition of Obon, but I also wanted to create this using unexpected forms and materials. So, I used phosphorescence instead of candles because the phosphorescence absorbs light from its surroundings and emits a glow continuously. I love the idea of a sustainable light source and I have had interest in light as part of my vocabulary as an artist for quite some time. Also, I used leaves from the tree known as Ficus religiosa, which is
the type of tree, sometimes called the Bodhi Tree, under which Buddha attained enlightenment. WR: So, there is the theme of light again; the lights of the ancestral festival of Obon, the light of Buddha’s enlightenment, and the phosphorescence or light of nature. It’s not only wonderful, artistically, I like how it really is a teaching for the eyes to behold but communicated on levels that are more visceral and primordial rather than rational. So, what is next in the luminous, light-filled world of Miya Ando? Do you have any specific upcoming shows or gallery openings you would like to tell people about? From an artistic ‘always-inprocess’ point of view, what is stirring for you as far as inspirations, directions, and possible creative expressions?
http://miyaando.com, her Facebook page: http://facebook. com/MiyaAndo, her Twitter stream: http://twitter.com/miyando, her artist profile at the David Lynch Foundation, hosted on YouTube: http://youtu.be/oJlVHY8OHqI, or visit her gallery showings and other appearances in the following: Sculpture Magazine, Fall 2012 issue Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Miami, June 2013, Solo Exhibition Bronx Museum Biennial, New York, June 2013 ArtPulse Magazine, Fall 2012: Review of ‘Obon’ [Puerto Rico]
WR: Thank you, Miya, for your work and the light you are shining into the world.
Old Mountain (Ch: Lăo Shān, J: Kozan) is an American-born poet, part-time Zen hermit, and full-time follower of The Way. His interests include soaking in hot springs, drinking tea and sake, walking, and napping-meditation – in that order. Currently on his reading list are: Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan by Kazuaki Tanahashi and Master of the Three Ways by Hung Ying-ming. Currently on a retreat from digital media, he can sometimes be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about the work of Miya Ando, visit her website:
All photos © L. Young except where otherwise noted.
MA: I am currently in the studio working on pieces for a solo exhibition at Sundaram Tagore Gallery next spring. The work is inspired by my continued interest in states of transformation.
Old Mountain Sipping Tea in the Pure Land Bird song, waterfall Hot tea poured in the mountains. Nothing else needed.
What is Zen Really Like? Zen is what Zen is. It is not “like” anything. Outside, Inside, One.
Where I Am Most At Home Quiet autumn day. Pines swaying ‘neath a gray sky Saké at sunset.
What Is What’s the greater fraud? What is? Or your idea of how things ‘should’ be?
Photo ÂŠ Russell Streur
Musan Cho Oh-hyun translations by Heinz Insu Fenkl
Scarecrow He waves at the passing age, At the man walking by— This scarecrow, laboring with a smile A year of bounty, or a famine year, Take a walk along the paddy dikes— Mine, yours— See the field, the autumn wind? Not a sole possession, yet I, too, a smiling scarecrow
New Shoots The sky, the eye’s light, open once more at the point of breath, An ember born again where a star’s light glanced— Today, at last, the green waves of May come surging again
Is what they say I am, But clear my mind, spread my two arms wide, and Everything, even the sky—all just a single step away
Photo © Genevieve Leet
Photo ÂŠ Russell Streur
Scott T. Starbuck Coastal Rain Forest Silhouettes We could teach the boy what we know about fishing but it will be more fun, for him and us, if we watch him in silence behind these trees. He will fall through deadwood, scrape face on devilâ€™s club, lose footing on river stones, and eventually land a gasping salmon. His shout will echo in old growth. He will eat red flesh with a pleasure he has never known. He will be a silhouette like us soon enough.
Martin Willitts Jr. This Pond Has Clear Imaginings It wants to empty itself of all earthly concern, to reach an unique, passing insight, a clarity, unspoiled by carp or freckled tadpole, splaying across the water in long, lingering, laziness, it wants more of itself, more purity of the divine, the inspired, to be thoughtful and thought-provoking, to twingle when disturbed, to blush when reflecting upon sunrise, to stand perfect as a heron becoming light, it wants seven impossible things before waking, it yawns serenely, it holds its own breathlessness
Autumn at Itako Based on a woodblock by Kawase Hasui Note: Itako are blind shaman
Our boat of ghostly rains merges deliberately into a stream of darkness. It is a song of settling-down. The kind a mother coos to her baby. The river is messaged and its skin ripples. The moon light is a part of this song. Noise whispers across water as a dwindling star. Let go of the oars. Let them slip into the evening, and trust that you will be taken somewhere. Anything else is ripples that fade into nothingness. The oar is already into the lost. You are barely moving and yet you are moving, like a mother swaddling a child into a blanket of clustered stars. What is the difference, when you are so loved, that the wrapping takes the length of a song, and not less? The songs cross a lake with the same current as moon light. When we grow older our songs unravels it wrappings, the boat lists, the stars are further from our cupped hands, but our whisper is a mosquito heard in the absence of a lake.
What startling secret can you let drive in stilled water? When a distant voice calls for you to come home, will you answer that plaintive cry?
Photo ÂŠ Genevieve Leet
The Pond Is As Small As a Prayer Too small for discovery or ruin, barely more than a bearâ€™s snout unexpected and forgotten and left to its own conclusions the smallness of it all, protected by an amulet of blue light something to singe the tongue if spoken it could remain undisturbed in forever hibernation it could keep its prayers to itself and remain radiant only a whisper inside. 17
Jesse LoVasco Blue Heron I spotted her on the stone that sat beneath the willows, pruning her slate gray feathers like an old queen, sliding her beak down the creases of her satin gown. I was eating an apple still and quiet except for the crunch, letting the wind roll my kayak in on the water. Bending low she listened, tilting her head, discerning whether my slow approach was a threat. I had entered her parlor, where privacy was the treasure of her existence. Could she sneak a bite of fish in the mauve milk weed and goldenrod she was moving through? Several times she pecked and swallowed something small. I followed the lump in her throat roll down like a snail. I gave a thoughtful glance to a dragonfly zig zagging a kingfisher swooping low, and a mallard duck gliding by, but returned my gaze to the heron and her regal gestures . Rolled in on a wave to the edge of her boundary. The invisible cords were severed. She ducked and opened her great stretch of wing toward the sky as she painted a low slow stroke to circle me, take a closer look at the intruder, to see if I was offering my core.
A Rock This rock is part of a wall surrounding a stone tower. Shall I sit on it, scrape the flowering carpet or bend down close, see how many small forests it has fostered in this miniature world? Perhaps they are stars and this rock is a planet, shall I look for the moon? How many ways does creation tell its story? How many things die before they are known?
Aging Growing old, The memories of youth are holding on like a spring shoot on a dried out tree. The number of years doesn’t equate with the behavior. I’m a seasoned woman, expected to know. Fold the napkins just so, attend social events, wear elegant clothes, pour sweet wine in crystal and sip slow. Instead, I scavenge the hills and hollows, crawl on earth’s dark mud to gather lichen and pinecones, seeds, nuts and sticks, remnants of the blowing wind.
Photo © Genevieve Leet
Wrap the long wool scarf around my neck, marry the wilderness.
The World as I Found It Martin Burke i.m. David Gascoyne To build up, not pull down To be makers, not destroyers 1 The house is silent, the world is mine. Rain attempts no dialogue yet speaks incessantly to the world. My ownership is fictive but even the not-real sustains me Not again loneliness but over-simplification. Only the world at its best approaches the purity of this moment In a way nothing I do ever will. The house is silent, the world is mine: My ownership tells me this is the Buddha’s poverty. 2 Like that – Blue sky and the hard sheen of the river And the sky’s glance in the river Hold it And hold to it And do not take your eye from it Where what it is given Must be received And imparted in water’s tradition And Two drawings which say This is the way the world is And this is how you should see it And I see it both ways And see no contradiction – Clarity in the wind And clarity in a charcoal stroke And clarity, hopefully, in a spoken word That the not-spoken be spoken The not-seen be seen Without embellishment Just blue sky on the river’s sheen Composing a mind’s tabula rasa 20
The river assuming my gaze And holding me to the conclusion Conclusion? There is no conclusion Where the gist of my shadow Is absorbed in the river’s steady sheen And I in its tide towards – � And then it was December Walking the hard-packed leaf-mould paths Of Lappersfort wood Where the intention was to be a maker Not a destroyer; to, countermand the ice And honor the solstice light That its mark might be upon us And make a strong song. And Marcus like a troubadour Calling to that green life underneath the ice That the sun’s eclipse be undone. To be makers Not destroyers; that summer find its solstice honored And its mark be on our minds that we might forge A new tradition. When was it different? When did I not acknowledge Shiva’s dance as my own? 3 To winnow the air for its seeds of light To usher in by such the verbs of living Aftermath of rain in a sunlit square Birds scattered as we approached Then returned to feed from our hands Gent in the shadows of evening The world like a hammer striking the gong of the mind And the sound-waves making new formations Assembling a moment which said Whatever you say next will speak me And speak it does
Becoming an inheritance without preconditions Where everything said winnow the air and remake me And the only transgression is not to begin Nor confess that such is beautiful and imbuing. And the river saying follow and my shadow saying I will Until I could not tell one from the other Unless I know what this river knows no day will ever be mine. 4 Can it be told –all of it, or part of it In the truth of it as I know itWords with the fire of a comet’s fire-tail With shards and shrapnel from the sky Burning my lips As I waken to a world the I Ching says Is generous under heaven And hyacinth, gladioli and chrysanthemum proclaim As the land of expectation and fulfillment The world is its own otherness – Target held in a hunter’s eye Or that of a weaver working lissome moments to a thread That I might live this moment So as to live beyond it Where the dark is no more than that absence in which Adam waits for Blake And not even a doodled page irrelevant to the day; Like a gap in a stone wall leading to a tree Where if I am an intruder I am so at the tree’s bidding Which does not begrudge the pilfered leaf I dip in ink to write with So that it be told without alteration to the world Outranking the clipped dialects of critic, theorist Bored practitioner of un-expecting expectation, Of looking the others way When it is the other cheek which should be offered; For it is April and the world surprises me again Where if Blake be denied what can be affirmed Where stars, friendship, and begetting words confirm We were not born for fear. Thus before I know which word to speak I must forget the lessons of priests And if I come with apples in August What can I bring in December? And winter’s ice no longer webbing the grass And her hand resting on my hand And moonlight shuddering at the first of many ecstasies. And I will enter your heart like a thief of hearts Where moon after moon, unappeased like a moon-drinker
My purpose will be to have no purpose Nor need to justify myself to history. Sweetly Oh sweetly Only fire-blessed lips could sing it Words infiltrating wasteland and border For which if mistakes have been made Who has not made them And who can cast the first stone Where brotherhood is essential and not at all fragile? Hail brother Adam Newly come to the world teachers hesitate to enter As if Breughel wove it clear and steady By which they fear their undoing As spring undoes winter And a word the connivance of silence And all be there dust and ash And splintered verbs and brittle mouths Yet the lyric maintains its sure cadence Which in many a voice is pleasing. Listen: Even the wind is attentive, The stillness of water not at all unbecoming, The breath of spring has begun its first canticle Soon to be a cantata. That music –yeast of new weather And by the river-bank walk More walkers than I counted yesterday And for this which the world gives with largess What can I give in return When nothing can be given Which the world has not already given of itself That I winnow the air for its seeds of light To usher in by such the verbs of living. 5 To make a painting is to make love to the wind Is to make an occasion of grace from circumstance To say to the future that the present existed So, as the wind curls in from the sea I see that nothing has changed and nothing will It is always the light which astounds us 21
Erynn Rowan Laurie From one astray, seeking soul-stice Cascades behind me Olympics before me facing west to the setting sun Kulshan my right Tahoma my left Grandfather Snow-Face glacier crowned below me mountain ridge above me all the sky peak spirits stone spirits spirits of mountains I offer cedar, cedar and smoke offer salmon offer rice offer pure clear water mountains sound range round me steep face of protection keep strong lest destruction throw down the worlds before me behind me my right and my left below me mountain ridge above me all the sky
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Joel Long The Grass Holds the Afternoon Together When we are dry, we look so lovely. When the land is our shape, there is no shame. I will be quiet from now, let the shape the wind gives me say I wanted to say this all along. And this, is enough. A beetle clicks the tuft where stem meets root. A swallow wants my color. I do not blame it. Perhaps its wings have the sky’s ambition, its name, combed a thousand tendrils, forged in the gas fire’s root. I know where the limb clamps on, where the heart clings to the fallen fence post or willow, barnacle clinging with its blue ghosts.
Photo © Genevieve Leet
Song for Hidden Shorebirds and Grass Tawny bones of last year’s storm, the reeds recognize wind as kind, in rungs of an untuned flute, strange stations invisible watchmen climb, transcribers of bird song and bird.
Today birds hide in the ready dimming warmth of new storm coming, shade of lint clouds pulled to north, the sun another retreating bird of fire, breathing behind the sudden gray. When I’m still, I hear swollen needles in the reeds, silver birds, killdeer, blackbird. I know grass cannot sing but rattles a snare against the singer’s tone and wind, its mindless intent, rasps dry grass against itself, hollow pulse to the afternoon that falls to the empty hour where every window opens at last.
The Upper Meadow
So many visitors have walked through me, dark and light, depending on the illumination. —Regina Derieva
Twilight trees dream their own light, flecked with tanager, song that moves. Shadows come from brilliance, growing shadow-deep. We find our way by touch. Our hands know the way through branches, through sky among black branches, know the way toward where two waters meet at night, every night that gravity leads them. Touch like water, blooms the other inside, current in primrose, penstemon, lily, wild rose. Silt shimmers down, pull of the planet. We two find the gully, cool braid of water, jostling nerves beneath the pouring distance. Stars in water stream through silence. Motion makes every motion under water. We cannot leave our shadow, so formed we are from light, will not leave the river made when two streams meet in twilight.
A basin of wind strikes sparks, wind-colored, sun-dimmed a tawny hum. I part; weeds part. Tassel of brewer’s daughter, comb the brown mole, I raise the rim of the sky, its low limit and muddle it closed, let sky move through me, mimic me in its mirror and the flies, night moths drifting down. If I let waters come, they come through me, some lesser light threading skin and cold, motion like falling sleep. Vanishing trees keep me hidden like memory, a sliver of some day held, nearly still, a place you were walking, cricket note, black wing splayed. You never remember what you said exactly, only scent, tea, plum. Cinnamon dissolves your tongue.
Painting ÂŠ Genevieve Leet27
. . . or night.
. . . nothing else.
Each sip is precious, drinking from each other’s grief. Souls mingle then are torn apart but flames remain. That fire is a gift. This will take most of the night.
The label read “elixir” – in an all caps font. The bottle was ink – blue-black – now those sweet worlds of Night and Darkness, could be captured on parchment.
Moonlight, silver crescent, sharp against my throat. What pleas would grant me another day of writing? This happens so often, yet I cannot fear the night.
September, tell me, what is left to be crossed? The trespass was unavoidable but bloodshed? Darkness, I cannot claim the presentiments.
The Beloved lifts Theresa from the floor. Winds of passion, the cloak rustles, folds, flowing. Here, feel this Divine Ecstasy, in the darkest night.
Are you still writing about darkness? With a splash Of malt vinegar and a sprinkle of sea salt This twenty-one cent kale is the best salad ever.
Sometimes the sunlight is more dangerous. A target So well illuminated, any pause means the end. Moving among such brilliant arrows I pray for night.
Your autumn light is poor at hiding my darkness. The South is still warm for a cloak. Soft nightmares beacon, Perhaps to borrow that old velvet mantle.
The final alchemy? This is far from over! The ingredients, the proportions and the timing. To see the stars, we need to wait until night.
The impending balance of the equinox offers Little comfort this year. We confuse so much. The charge, the spin, yet we can survive the darkness.
Federico’s Heart opened wide to embrace the Moon. What else could any eyewitness account add? Anyway Jim, I was not there, day or night.
There is the sinking – your whole form embraced by the Dim waters, then the current takes you into darkness. Are you writing? Living is an art like nothing else.
Photo © Genevieve Leet
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Diana Woodcock Nooya Lake, Misty Fiords Following tracks and scat of a Brown (Grizzly) bear, we made our way from float plane to shore over muddy trail to shelter, surrounded by Skunk cabbage
with the vegetable world that I might be transformed—my autonomous self joined in holy matrimony with ecological matter. Having basked in Systema Naturae
and flowers of Salmon-and Blueberry (on which one Rufus hummingbird dined). A Varied thrush sang to us each night, rang a wake-up call each dawn. Day one we canoed the lake
in all its glory—beasts, birds, plants—I came away convinced Homo sapiens will no time soon hold a candle to Brown bear, Devil’s club, or loon.
from which granite walls of stone— rounded sheer cliffs—rose up, snow-draped this late June (a dolly of lace to grace the peak), the loon pair calling, answering their own echo again and again as we drifted late afternoon. We, like the loons, the only pair of our kind on the whole lake. Sound of waterfalls, Glaucous gulls crying when we paddled too close to their nest. Day two, we hiked into summer through an old-growth forest—where Methusula’s Beard hung from Hemlocks, Yellow and Red cedars—to the ocean where it lived up to its name (Pacific), where we sat on mossy ground in a meadow of Black lilies, buttercups, Indian paintbrush— around which snow-crowned rounded peaks glistened as we listened to the tide rising. Summer Solstice, what better way to spend the day than in the heart of a temperate rainforest. After days of rain, the sun all day. I paid rapt, animal attention that I might be put back in complicity with things as they happen.* With only one intent, I went into the forest, onto the lake— to interact with wildlife, intuit and imagine, be at bear’s and loons’ disposal, communicate
Full Moon While Flying dfw (Dallas Fort Worth) To Richmond Red eye, early July, returning from Alaska— Juneau, Ketchikan (Misty Fiords)—where I practiced echo-location, ontological insubordination, considered with every step along the wet, slippery trail, each dip of paddle into lake
and give way to the berries they crave. A green so lush the only proper response is a hush of silence, mist over the fiords like ecstatic chords of mystical music only audible to ears of the humble. Alaska put me in my place, its grace reminding me my species was an afterthought. Caught in its eye, having no permanent home,
my mortal indebtedness,* my goal to live as an equal partner with bear and salmon, raven and eagle, glacier and old growth forest; to entangle myself in intricate roots of Hemlock and Sitka spruce, in tendrils of Old Man’s Beard, to be insatiable in my hunger
I was taken in—more than pilgrim, I sought to enlarge my sapience, to participate in all of her nature so reconciliation could occur. And it did—between me and her as I leaned out over lakes and Pacific, observed and listened while glaciers glistened all around me, their surging rhythms ancient, echoing, all-knowing.
to know loon and humpback whale, to treat each moss and lichen, bird and insect with utmost respect. What did I learn from my brief sojourn? That I must, at every turn, begin again in humility and gratitude, to locate myself in the biosphere, perceive each species as distant relative. Alaska taught me what I thought I already knew—how dependent and connected we all are. What joy to recognize the Stellar’s jay, orcas at play—to get so caught up in their worlds that my own was no longer separate. Temperate rainforest singing its refrain, bears waiting in the lull of late July for salmon- and blueberry flowers to fade *Herman Melville
Photo © Genevieve Leet
ea of marrow. Sea of blood. My qigong teacher says to calm the seas within me, and I imagine moonlight on dark, gentle waves. I cannot see the moon this morning as I walk on the beach. Overcast, windy, cold, and somewhere behind the clouds a full moon is causing this very low tide. A spring tide, when the moon and sun are aligned with the earth, and their gravitational forces combine to create tides of exaggerated range. It’s Monday morning, and I can be out walking because I have quit my job, a good job, and by good I mean decent pay, with beneﬁts. But also a boring, exhausting, and draining job. People don’t know how to react when I tell them, not in this economy, not at my age. They raise their eyebrows. Wow. And I don’t know how to explain why I quit and what I will do with the time that I could be making money. The beach is deserted except for crows feeding on the small islands of seaweed newly exposed, and schoolchildren, who scamper between the wet sand ﬂat and the tent where their teacher waits on high, dry sand. Their shouts and screams of delight ﬂoat to me on the wind. Debris litters the beach. Crab carcasses, hollowed and broken, tangled ribbons of copper-colored seaweed, bits of shell. Rivulets of water ﬂow back from the higher sand to the Puget Sound. I search for something whole to take home, to show my husband, and to put on my shelf, but nothing is whole except the rocks, and I can’t even ﬁnd an exceptionally pretty rock. I give up and walk awhile, gazing outward now at the milky waves. And that’s when I almost stumble on it. Startling, and I want to say beautiful, but it is not beautiful. Orange with purple dots, about a foot long, it could be starﬁsh-like except it has too many limbs, maybe 20, purple-tipped, all facing the same direction, toward the water. The way it is lying, with the meaty middle near the top and the limbs pointing down, it makes the shape of a heart. Fascinating and compelling, yes, but too strange to be beautiful. It’s a little scary, resembling the spiders of my childhood nightmares, or images of cellular beings under the lens of a microscope. Things not meant to be seen with the naked eye in the light of day, which makes them as irresistible as a secret whispered just out of earshot. If I touched it, it probably wouldn’t move, but I don’t touch it for fear that it will. Instead, I pull out my iPhone, take a photo, and send it to my husband. And as soon as I do, the mystery of it evaporates a little, and I wish I hadn’t taken the photo and sent it to David, not yet. I wish I would have kept it to myself a little longer, let the wonder of it linger like a dream I’ve just woken from but can’t quite remember or the silent, stunned minutes after reading the last page of a great book. At ﬁrst I think what draws me in is to learn what this creature is. To know what is unknown. But then I realize to know the strange and not-quite-beautiful phantoms of the sea is not the point. To show them to you is not the point. That’s not where the ultimate pleasure lies. The pleasure is in something else. It is in the almost ﬁnding but never knowing absolutely. The search, the surprise, and then the mystery. That is what makes the children on the beach squeal and makes us strain to hear a whisper. That is what makes me quit my job to do nothing but walk on the beach and scribble in a journal. If seas exist inside me, what creatures are revealed during the very low tides of my being? During a spring tide and a full moon? All I want is a little time to look. 33
Genevieve Leet Stewardship One way or another, The choice will be made by our generation but it will affect life on earth for all generations to come. —Lester Brown I’ve tasted it; and the water is sour there where the ocean lips up against the air. Carboxylic acid. All that chemical vastness bending the four directions. The medusa jelly twisting its streamer like a tattered feather, floating on a sullied current. The coral cities are dim rainbow, all flickered and crumbling, the empty spaces of a hungry mouth. Two lost starfish seek for each other, following their shadows, one way or another. I’ve seen it; the water is ancient there where the moisture kisses the briny air. Teeming and nebulous. Coral’s spawning transparent polyps which anchor as ghostly flags or swirl in full-moon tides. Blooms of adaptation. The slippery, colorful blush of scales, the meats of the sea, delicate and savory – first flesh, then memories, then ghosts disappear. A dying language and development’s temptation, the choice will be made by our generation. I’ve tasted it; the muscle of a baby king. The soft meat of shark is a mythic thing. Who’s this “I” to judge? Two foreign eyes, a student and a guest. I’m a puff of carbon, a thing of gossip, leaves, and little worth – a pelican dipping it’s wing-tips into the globe. Those who hunt parrotfish over the pale coral with nets of vines and rocks to hold them down, may they then begin to guess the oceans worth? Which calculations will affect life on earth?
I am born in a time of clocks. I’ve seen it; The world fumbling towards progress admits nothing. Emits everything. In the Coastal Commons Lady Petroleum in her iridescent gown romances King Coal and his new black shoes. What trill will whistle when our externalities return to us? What bell will toll? What future will reach down for us? We flock together, lick our fingers, hurry on. Forgetting we’ve become the stewards for all generations to come.
Photo ÂŠ Genevieve Leet 35
Laurence Holden Wild Nettle
Lesson #1: How to Listen to a Bird Sing
This wild nettle that is Creation trembles.
Take off all your clothed and clammy thoughts.
Our touch and words pinch at the knot there that is knowing and not knowing.
Sit awhile. Make nothing up between the intervals of silence, but listen to them. Between each breath is a song youâ€™ve forgotten, is always calling us to gather to this wild and shocking world. This music happens to us before we can ever think about it this song happens in us before we can ever say itâ€™s impossible to listen before we speak of nothing or everything.
Photo ÂŠ A. Savvantoglou
Photo ÂŠ A. Savvantoglou 37
39 Painting ÂŠ Genevieve Leet
Carved of Cedar
Photo ÂŠ A. Savvantoglou
Gwendolyn Morgan Autumn window no. 3: Vulpes Fulva, Key of Bflat She walks along the edges of music star-lit before the fog rises from the river Her black paws are quarter notes black-tipped tail, white belly
We see her in the early morning in the meadow where the Great Horned Owl flies. Douglas Fir above, blackberry thicket below Look! She is the color of vine maple leaves warning symbols on a topographical map danger! Fire danger high global warming when we have forgotten the lyrics the pendulous nest, woven tightly of plant fibers, our relations. She slips through the grove of Hazelnut like the mists over Salmon Creek, above the Cascade Mountains. She remembers the Sumac, the runes of trees, voices of Spotted Towhee.
Deer Has Full Tail New Moon
Carved of Cedar According to Corvidae Myth it was Crow not Raven who brought light to the people open a carved cedar box tell the truth with transformation masks forgetting about duality light, dark, good, evil count backwards and you will fall asleep remembering the light is in the Crow feathers, the colors of snowflake obsidian, black-and-white fine-line geometric designs light isn’t trapped, it is held, so cherish the shiny silver bracelet you carried to me at the gathering of tribes the one carved with Celtic and Tlingit designs slip the phosphorousinto the water at dusk in the sea the phosphorous is the sky shimmering mountains in my hands release the story you brought light to the people – the cedar box is open and I’m walking home late in the evening as if you had just flown overhead and the bracelet on my wrist our ancestors alive takes the shape of your black wings like desires still to be named.
In a time beyond memory: Look for calligraphy pens and nibs. Relearn to write your ancestor’s alphabet, runes. Wind and weather spirits, birds, native ornithology. Stillness and silence, migratory. How we walk between shadows, up mountains, outstretch our feathers and wings. What it is that makes a place, a day, a moment. The ineffable presence of divinity. Animate, invest, enliven. The doe and her two fawns stand beside the dry Queen Anne’s lace on Salmon Creek Avenue. “Good Morning!” I greet them as I pass by on my bicycle. Thousands of people march in the city blocks of thirteen cities around the country for what might be called “Occupy Peace.” Standing up, walking through the dry stalks of our economies on the deerskinned fringes of our streets for social justice, peacemaking, hope, courage, common sense. Our neighbor says we might have protested sooner, louder, longer. She says she has begun to play her mother drum in the morning. She is sitting on the earth for a few minutes each day to recalibrate. Columbia White-tailed Deer return from a distant time.
Jamie K. Reaser Thin Ice There is always one winter morning that is the first winter morning for ice on the pond.
Now older, I focus on the red-spotted newts and the snapping turtles moving in the cold waters below the ice:
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising to those who have lived decades in the north next to still water,
No one ever told me they could. By the rules I was taught, they can’t. But they are.
But, for me, it still remains a wonderment, an ordinary miracle made possible by elements conspiring to wake us with befuddling predictability. We have a ritual, this particular winter morning and I. I wait for the sunlight to come, anticipating the spectrum of colors dancing among the gas bubbles trapped in the glassy-crust. And when it does come, memory transports me back to my youth: I am watching small wall-rainbows emerging from crystalline prisms hanging from lamps in a home that we once thought was quiet and tender. And then I’m in my teens: The minister arose and ventured onto the frozen reservoir, and with the confident stride of a once-Olympic skater, drove forward until he found a place thin enough to free him of this world. The imaginary me has stood, for many a winter, at the gaping hole left by his sinking body,
asking questions about beliefs and vows and faith.
They are there shuﬄing their thick legs and looking, golden-eyed, back at me with not a glint of surprise. I love this ice, thin as it is. It reminds me that that which can be readily explained is sometimes best left to wonderment.
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Photo ÂŠ Jamie K. Reaser
Jamie K. Reaser Whooo
from Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life
Tonight the barred owls ask their question upon the chill of dusk; one from the tulip poplar grove, the other at creekside. “Whooo?”
The moon will light the way in the darkness, but only so much as to allow you to take one uncertain step at a time, often, backwards.
Is what they want to know.
You’ll find that what the sun illuminates, is frequently outsized by its shadow,
and that the shadow has a life of its own.
It’s a dangerous inquiry.
You are going to have to befriend it, as your fellow journeyman.
A warrior’s initiation right if you dare seek the answer. Do you dare? Do you dare to know who you truly are? Coyotes run the crest of the ridge, yips and howls formulating the collective voice of the pack. Don’t listen to them, they are tricksters. This is what I have to say: If you go searching for the answer, you will Die. And if you don’t go searching for the answer,
“Who?” from the moment you were born, has been the question gifted by those who want you to find your way Home.
Be prepared to leave who you think you are behind in the quest for authenticity. It’s best if you put down the large bundle of “what no longer serves” at the trail head. Do bring your most spectacular heartaches and your deepest wounds; these are the trail markers that will help you stay on course. And too, have within you a most beautiful verse. You cannot fully understand who you are until you have courted the Beloved with such wild abandon, that you become completely undone.
you will die.
from the top of the tallest pine.
If you want to Live,
you must go searching for the answer.
from the sycamore at the edge of the meadow.
The Nothing Here Tyra Olstad
Photo © Tyra Olstad
mean, 45?” the man grumbled to his wife, referring to the speed limit along a stretch of road in Petrified Forest National Park, “It should be at least 65! There’s nothing there!” Nothing there. Nothing there? I wanted to ask him, shout at him, shake him, Nothing? Nothing but the sagebrush and the sparrows; the paintbrush, the pronghorn, the prairie, the sky. Nothing but that big beautiful horizon stretched taut across distant mesas and buttes; nothing but the puffy white clouds floating merrily overhead; nothing but the wind whipping up whirls of dust, nothing?
Nothing. I said nothing. I sat silently, looking out across the landscape. It wasn’t my place to say anything just then – I had already hung up my Smokey Bear hat and badge for the day. I had already told hundreds of visitors what they would see and urged them to stop, listen, look carefully, learn. I had already rhapsodized about the rocks, the wild life, the history, the scenery therein. Now I just wanted to sit and enjoy the place. And by the place, I mean the space – the curve of the earth, the height of the sky, the miles and miles and miles of pavement that unfurled beneath my bike tires. It was early evening, mid-summer – a delicious time to be out there, with the land exhaling the heat of the day and the rabbits emerging to nibble on brush. After pedaling from the Visitor Center down to Puerco Pueblo – about 11 miles – and most of the way back up, I had, as usual, stopped at Pintado Point to stretch my legs and drink in the view. It’s my favorite place to pause and look: to the north lays the Painted Desert – thousands of acres of colorful clay hills, sandstone ledges, dry washes, and basalt-capped buttes; to the south, there’s nothing but prairie. (Nothing! Everything!) The land yawns gently away until it reaches the Puerco River, then rises up toward petroglyph-pecked boulders, fossiliferous formations, and, eventually, the “forests” of petrified wood that form the historic core of the park. 46
Photo © Tyra Olstad
Photo © Tyra Olstad
I love that view. As much as I love the Painted Desert, I lovelovelove seeing breathing biking hiking and, yes, even driving through swaths of steppe, rich with plants and animals, wide with horizon, buried in sky. (It’s all about the sky.) I know, though, that many if not most people do not share this sentiment. I’d heard “there’s nothing there”-like comments several times before, and studied a long legacy of pejoratives that EuroAmericans have used to denigrate mixed- and short-grass prairie since the days of the pioneers. (“Desolate,” “Empty,” and, most damning of all, “Boring”. Meaning: no shelter, no landmarks, no mountains or trees. Nothing.) People come to Petrified Forest to see geological and archaeological curiosities and spectacular Painted Desert scenery, not wander through the prairie’s low shrubs and grasses; unless they happen to catch a breathtaking sunrise or storm, most probably won’t notice much about the drive from Puerco to the next pull-out, except that it seems to take an awfully long time when traveling at 45 miles per hour. 45 miles per hour! What was I supposed to do, stand up and tell the man and his wife just what they were missing? Give them species checklists and a lecture on local history? Insist that 45 is, in fact, far too fast? Cry, “Pronghorn can barely dash at that speed! You’d be better off at coyote’s trot, or a kangaroo rat’s hop; the scuttle of a stink bug! Better yet, leave your car behind – take bicycles, boots, walk walk crawl on bloodied knees…” No, that’s Edward Abbey’s rant, written on behalf of the once-underappreciated wonders of Arches National Park. Abbey had his most beautiful place on earth; I have mine. I realized, when I heard that man say “Nothing there,” that I just have to let some people whiz through, snap their photos of Giant Logs and move on – on to Phoenix or the Grand Canyon or Santa Fe – on to the rest of their lives. The prairie aesthetic is not something that can be told or taught. But some people do understand. Some people slow down or stop at Pintado Point, of their own accord. They sit with me. We listen to the grasses rustle and ravens crraaaw. We watch the sun sink behind the dusky earth, flinging reds and golds into the troposphere. We sit silently, or whisper, “wow,” and smile. Smile for nothing.
Photo ÂŠ Russell Streur 48
Brendan Sullivan Trees
The secret life of elm and oak and thin white poplars elegant apostles on a winter night, grazing the moon like tapers in December.
cold punches through the river, webbed silver trails leading down down to the caves where we lost the children last summer. buttons left roaming in the rocks cleave the past in two, their tiny holes gaping through tender fiddle ferns and the cry of white geese mocking us like snow.
I smell earth â€“ peat and cedar and the indulgent bulge of maple, crafting the air like a smith lost in his work. Chestnuts bear an offering and the yearning pall of pine scents the sky till itâ€™s thick with resin. And they gather with boughs and limbs bent like monks at play, roots tight as ancient drums to ruminate on stories, sinewed in fragrant bark making merry where the green bends back the world.
the tide claimed their faces, rude shallows pulling them down down to the bottom where the wet could not reach them. skin caught like cloth in silt carves the riverbed, the slender reeds wrapping round knots of slippery elm and the glimpse of dank weeds marking us like ash. our hands try to remember how they felt when we put them to bed that last time, the soft flannel of their good nights bunched in our arms like angels, never dreaming their toys would wake up alone or that god would forget where we live.
Nicole Parizeau When It Does Not Increase to my mother
What happens to me here, underwater, has nothing in common with what you see from shore. We all drown distorted by surface tension. At depth, the moon rises like ice. Love is like the moon; when it does not increase, it decreases. Lunar maria: Sea of Tranquility, Sea of Crisis. I see it’s time to tap at recent wounds, assess what’s scarred over sufficiently to hold our weight. Every day I vow to call you. It’s easy, like wholesale butchery. I sway between balm and venom on the continuum of love and you groom your reef perversely, laying skeletal coral on top of the living. There are two of us walking this plank, each to her own sea, but there is only one ocean. So we warm and re-warm the surface of love til the gyres and tides evaporate and only the moonlit salt remains. With that, I swim to shore and we wait to cure, as if this long storm has all been a fantastic misunderstanding. I need to tell you something:
Michael Bazzett Fox
The slough by the river is tangled in fox trails, musk hangs in the air. Ahead, on the trail, russet flutter, then gone, over the soundless snow,
Melon vines twined up the sycamore tree drooping crimped blossoms that swelled
along the spine of a log, each footfall dropping in a quiet place, leaving redolent prints for the dog, leaving delicate bones by the trail. The fox hems the fringe, needling voles into their dens, stitching up the ragged woods with his daily thread.
into fruit pulled by ripening weight which dropped cracked open to feed the endless lines of ants simmering into the flesh like fevered sentences
slashing with hooked black mandibles
at the honeyed sweetness of its opened mind. Photo ÂŠ Genevieve Leet
Daniel Williams Coopers’ Hawk Caught in the Library of Congress Dept. of Fish and Wildlife – January 2011 This too another kind of book– a young coopers’ hawk describing the rotunda ceiling of the Jefferson Reading Room with its flight gray and white lovely power it swoops and sweeps below gold and white fanned seashells the 24 carat cornices and moldings of American federalist rococo What a surprise to find something so primordial this accipiter whose wings and shape have flown to us straight from the Jurassic looking down with ruby eyes at all those colors in neat rows the blue of Spinoza green of Locke leather tomes of Shakespeare and Jefferson’s journals in yellowed array
Our own survival may just depend upon this captive hawk’s escape all our thinking and writing and yet we sit helpless to save ourselves we must learn from simple lessons she senses our gilded and cruel cage and wild responds with power and grace she’s hungry for prey and pine forests for clear space of horizon-less skies
It will take two starlings used as bait to deliver this predator her freedom a simple idea –appetite as lever– BF Skinner winks from his shelf while a bird back paddles down settles over humanity at its cleverest– all our dear hidebound cursive composed of millions of words over the last two hundred years
If fortunate she may carry us with her far away from all stultifying thought into the full meaning of moonlight and heartbeat and the joyful scurry of those newly released wings in air over no matter how many and what kind our entombed tomes of wisdom
Yosemite Phenomena Never Seen by Muir A thousand cars and trucks parked among a hundred sparse pines day glow signage shows them where to park rainbow pools of coolant settling under them I walk a new trail beaten into the orange earth crossing a slim road of black top and then back into grasses dappled with light and bright with bunches of fuchsia foxglove daisies and scarlets a dark shadow moves across the rye and I look up to see a young bald eagle rise on air bitter with the stench of lighter fluid its dark body with pallid head my pulse quickens at so rare a sight at this elevation seeing such a visual firework I am reminded of my connection to the wild and to all things even when upon second glance I realize itâ€™s only a raven grasping a saltine cracker in its beak
Photo ÂŠ Genevieve Leet
Joshua Tree, California
The disk of the galaxy runs diagonal to the ranch road And so slowly that I can barely stand to listen, the stars call me cousin They say I’m like the motel on the hill that overlooks the desert and the mountains but whose rooms all face the pool The stars call it an exile and an expedition, a sitcom and a crucible, say that bounded by senses, by plain stupidity, given seasons to think and death to forget, I may yet form a true word from the infinite I’m eager for more, but the cold worms through my sweater, and strange headlights illuminate the Joshua Trees I unlock my rental car and climb in The car is a body over my body The dashboard flashes concerns over my concerns The radio plays The headlights show no stars
Photo © Pamela Petro
"‘World Clock, Morning and Two Twilights’ is from a series called AfterShadows: A Grand Canyon Narrative. The zebra-like stripes on the pebbles are actually photographs of immense shadows cast by rock formations in the Canyon, printed using liquid emulsion and radically shrunk to fit Atlantic beach pebbles. The backgrounds—sand, shot at noontime, and sea grass and ash, shot at twilight—refer to different eons in the Canyon's development. Each shadow corresponds to the time of day it was cast, and the sequence represents different locations on the globe at the same moment. The triptych functions as a multi-layered sundial, evoking both human and deep time scales, and our place in the earth's chronology." —Pamela Petro 54
Photo ÂŠ J.Kay MacCormack
Theodosia Henney Falling Forward Rain patters the roof of the bus through Nicaragua. Looking out to the yellow and blue of mountains, cornfields, stark trees, I want to run into it, fully into it, coming apart as I go, so that I become liquid, rain falling forward, drops rushing to cover everything, soak into the land, make the lush smellâ€“ hot, damp, organic- rise from the ground, the wetted stalks.
Where There Are No Roads, the Road Not Taken Laura Story Johnson
Photo ÂŠ A. Savvantoglou 56
y husband Shawn was the first to notice the strange van in a parking lot adjacent to our apartment building. The driver was leaning against it, smoking. We’d been waiting all morning on our stoop, staring at the three dozen two liter bottles at our feet: sun-catching kaleidoscopes on the cement. Green. White. Blue. My sister and her friend Liz had catapulted themselves from their high school graduation in the Midwest to my closet-sized kitchen in Ulaanbaatar. There we’d spent hours boiling and filtering water to put into the plastic bottles I had been collecting for months. Safe water and a knowledgeable driver were the only two things we needed. We were ready for the Gobi. Only the driver we hired never showed up. We’d met with him in advance, paid him some pink bills, checked out his mode of transportation. He spoke English, an added bonus worth the higher price. We mapped out the two week trip we wanted to take with him and left our address and phone number. I stretched out fully on one of his van’s three rows of seats while Shawn secured the departure date and time with a handshake. We had his name, but not his number. No one had cell phones then. The morning of our scheduled departure arrived and we waited. And waited. Shawn stayed by our apartment phone while the girls and I sat outside. As the sun crept above our Soviet block, I prepped myself to disappoint my sister and her friend. “Sorry guys, I guess we’re not going.” Then Shawn came outside and pointed at the other van. I argued that it wasn’t the vehicle we had looked at, but agreed it was strange how the driver watched us while he smoked. Shawn went over to speak with him and returned to tell us that, indeed, it was our ride. “He says he’s here to take us to the Gobi. He doesn’t speak English.” I will never know the events that transpired to bring Batchuluun so briefly into our lives. At the time we theorized that the driver we’d hired passed the job on. But, sometimes I still wonder if, like us, Batchuluun just happened to be there. I’ve thought it’s possible he just stopped to have a cigarette when an American approached him and asked in broken Mongolian if he was going to the Gobi desert. Perhaps Batchuluun took his last drag, tossed it to the ground and thought, “Why the hell not?” “за,” he answered, “говь-руу.” Mongolia then was still undiscovered, wounds fresh from independence. Today sparkling skyscrapers bandage the raw skyline we knew and English has replaced Russian in schools. Though I would be pressed to recognize our old neighborhood if I were to return, the beauty of the country is that outside of the capitol, everything else remains unchanged. The Gobi is a place where you can feel as though you are the first, and the last, person to ever walk across the infinite desert, scorpion-like bugs skittering along with the pebbles that roll from under your sandals. The Gobi is a place where you understand why Mongolian reporters said a live dinosaur was spotted there a few years ago; Loch Ness monsters lurk on the mirage-lined horizon. The Gobi is a place where you can stare up at the sky, the swallowing sky of the Land of Blue Sky, and disappear. The Gobi is also a place where you may have to park your Russian pillbox into the wind, hood up, so that the engine that sits between the driver and the passenger seat can “хөргөх.” Batchuluun would go out to smoke while the engine cooled down, sometimes we would wander around, other times we would sit in the van and play cards to win a chance to ride on the floor. Batchuluun’s van was from the days before independence and the original seats had left with the Russians. With the seats torn from the floor like the televisions and tape players pilfered after the collapse of the U.S.S.R., Batchuluun had devised a creative solution. He drilled a mismatched van seat into the floor. Then, to make the whole thing into a six passenger van, he had drilled two airplane seats into the back. The bolts were loose and so the airplane seats swung and bounced over the desert, but the tray tables still worked. We took turns getting carsick in the airplane seats, recovering on the somewhat more stable van seat, and passing out on the floor, where the heat of the desert rose to meet the heat of the vehicle, warming, eventually burning through the sleeping bag we spread out. We told ourselves that there were no roads so we didn’t need seatbelts. It was during one of our хөргөх breaks that Batchuluun told Shawn about Yolyn Am. My Mongolian was on par with Shawn’s, but Batchuluun preferred speaking to a man. While we had planned to see the Khongoryn Els (the singing sand dunes) in the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, we didn’t know about Yolyn Am. Shawn got out our EnglishMongolian dictionary to try to interpret what Batchuluun was describing. Wall of ice, road of ice, I realize now that even had I understood the words, I still wouldn’t have understood what he truly meant until we were there. There is no translation for an ice field in the desert until you decipher it with experience. We agreed to camp there and, engine cooled enough to carry on, put our tray tables in the upright position. We arrived in the late afternoon after hours of driving, looking. Batchuluun asked a couple of camel herders for directions, men on horses who scratched their heads and waved their arms about. After some time he made Shawn get out binoculars and point them toward the horizon. There were no roads, no gps, no map. Batchuluun found things in the Gobi by sensing them. Eventually, mysteriously, he sensed Yolyn Am and found the entrance, flooring it through the gates either because it was closed or so that we didn’t have to pay, shouting over the rumbling and clanking something that justified his decision. We 57
wound our way into the gorge, beyond the reach of any park rangers or their Mongolian equivalent, beyond the reach of humankind. Yolyn Am is a valley in the Gurvan Saikhan mountains. The mountains are mythological towers; impenetrable walls line the gorge straight out of a Tolkien book. Arriving at a patch of green where a river widened the space between the hills, Batchuluun pulled over and parked. Mongolian ponies, wild though owned, grazed where the low river ran, wider than it was deep. They scattered as we walked through the icy moss, tripstepping from one stone to the next. We left our yellow two-person tent staked by the river and started out for the “мөсөөр хучигдсан тал.” Batchuluun led the way, cigarette dangling between his dry lips, a jacket open over his sunbrowned, hair-tufted potbelly. The air around us cooled as we hiked into a narrow opening in the mountain. The ice started at our feet, low to the ground like a melting winter storm. It quickly gained in height as the gorge went on. Though it was June, it was chilly. Shawn, Liz and Batchuluun stood at the entrance for a while, taking it all in, their thoughts in different languages. My sister walked above on the ice; I walked in the middle where water had carved a path just wide enough for me to fit. Soon she was way above my head where I couldn’t see her. My path constricted, then dead ended. I had to go back in order to climb up to join her, finding a place where my bare hands could grip the ice, a place where I could bury my exposed knees into the packed cold to scramble up. Up. The others joined me and we forged ahead into the frozen jaws of an untamable beast. Hiking next to Batchuluun, I contemplated the otherworld meaning that a place embedded with time evokes. A place outdoors. I listened to remember. Memorizing the sound of my breath echoed against glacier-carved rock was necessary, for returning to that place, to that moment, was already impossible. This memorization, this consideration of our own existence is why we seek these places. Walking on time, quite literally, frozen, the precarious, fragile meaning of it all was, for a fleeting moment, completely clear. I imagine this to be the grounded version of what mountain climbers seek: the clouds tumbling back to reveal a view omnipotent. To remain there, perched above the world forever, would be impossible, so they strain, bodies exhausted, to see by gulping air, swallowing the experience into a place inside where it will stay until another of earth’s wonders calls to it. Listens. Way leads on to way. We will never go back there. For a long time I dreamed that we would, but that was when possibility stretched before me in a different life, a life when I believed I would climb mountains. I may one day return to Mongolia, even to Yolyn Am, but we will never go back to then. We can’t. At a portion of the ice field where enormous chunks of ice were piled like buildings after an earthquake, Batchuluun sat and asked me to take his picture. Later he scrawled his address in my journal so that I could send it to him. We stayed as long as we could, perched on the ice until evening made the cold of the cavern unbearable and we hiked back to our tent.
That night, our foursome crammed into the two-person tent and Batchuluun asleep in the van, I listened to the gentle breathing of my husband, my sister, my friend. They were the only souls on earth who knew where I was. With them asleep, I didn’t exist. When I fell asleep, Yolyn Am would sink into a place where the echo of breathing was just a memory. The experience of a place so wondrous that it seems imaginary blurs the line between the self and the world. When the outdoors engulfs us into a true physical relationship, when it begs our senses to be aware of the meaninglessness and yet overpowering-importance of time, that is when we become our truest selves. The beauty lies not in the place, but in our relationship to it. Each of us will find our own undiscovered breath-catching moments in nature. One of mine was Yolyn Am. Another was this morning. My daughter walked barefoot across a beach for the first time just hours ago. Watching her baby steps, her round, smooth face as she opened her mouth at the sensation of sand between her chubby, uncalloused toes, as she laughed and marched on toward the water, I felt the fragile nature of experience. The fragile experience of nature. I was the only soul on earth to see, to know. I caught myself trying to memorize the feeling of the moment, the sound of the grey waves lapping at the shore, the warm wet of almost rain, and I realized I was once more in the gorge where the memory of an experience will inevitably feel like a vivid dream. It feels too beautiful to be real. And in that moment I can’t return to, I hear Yolyn Am. I awoke that night in the pitch black, squished between my husband and sister in our tent, to the sound of distant singing. The eerie melody of deep voices grew louder and the ground shook. I felt the beating of a hundred horses galloping before I heard it, listened to the rumble through the thin layer of nylon, through the bottom of our tent deep into the earth, deep into the Gobi. In the middle of the night the herders drove the animals through the valley, right past our tent. We all sat up, huddled together, frozen together in awe and fear. The horses were so close I could hear them breathing as they ran by. None of us dared to move. In a matter of heartbeats they were gone, leaving us to finally break the magical silence that remained with a whisper. “Was that real?” The letter I sent Batchuluun came back after several months, Mongolian stamped across the envelope telling me the address was incorrect. It was the address from my journal. He was no longer there. He didn’t exist. I sadly opened the envelope, removing the picture I had enclosed. I stared at Batchuluun captured, proudly sitting on the ice, and for a long time I wondered. “за,” he had answered, “говь-руу.” And that has made all the difference.
“This memorization, this consideration of our own existence is why we seek these places.”
Creatively maladjusted The Wisdom Education Movement Manifesto “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
he work of education, of course, is not to make better schools, but to make a better world. Too often, I believe, educators forget this obvious and simple truth. Discussions about education seldom reflect the kind of world we might imagine is possible; rather, they focus on achievement and success within a given paradigm. Educators seem not to realize that the way we educate our children creates, reinforces, or shatters the paradigm. For example, when we assume that the purpose of education is to help students find a job in the global economy, we forget that the “global economy” is not some force of nature. Humans created it. It exists because of the decisions we made, decisions based upon how we view the world, which is based on the way we have been educated. While what goes on in a school is important in itself—after all, our children spend most of their childhoods there—the ultimate relevance of a school is what kind of civilization it inspires our children to create. A school is not “good” if its students get good test scores but are so unhappy, so disconnected, and so unable to think critically that they go out in the world and commit acts of violence and destruction. Such schools only give more power to the miseducated, who become what Wendell Berry calls “itinerant professional vandals”. I think I prefer the “bad” schools. Modern industrial culture is ill equipped to deal with the crises of this moment. For the first time in human history, we face a mass-extinction that threatens the viability of life on the planet. This crisis was largely created by modern industrial culture. Its values can only lead to more destruction. I would like to give some attention to what I believe to be the real consequences—good and bad—of the choices we make about how we educate our children. On the one hand, we have the current model in which the world is the marketplace for global capitalism, the school a factory, and the child a machine; on the other hand… this is a hand is empty, a story we have not yet told. In part, it is our responsibility to offer our children a new vision. But we also must empower our children to become mythmakers, to tell the story of their generation themselves.
Theodore Richards author of Cosmosophia
Available Spring 2013
Contributors Michael Bazzett has new poems forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Massachusetts Review, Pleiades, Salt Hill, Literary Imagination and Prairie Schooner. He is the author of The Imaginary City, recently published in the OW! Arts Chapbook Series, and They: A Field Guide, forthcoming from Barge Press in early 2013. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two children. Martin Burke was born and raised in Ireland but live permanently in Flanders where he is poet, playwright, and actor and from which he has published sixteen books of his work in the USA, UK, Ireland, and Belgium. He recently finished a successful run of his monologue Beowulf (published by Cervena Barva Press, USA) and is working on a new show about James Joyce. Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. He’s the author of several novels, including The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” Dodds’ screenplay, Refreshment – A Tragedy, was named a semi-finalist in 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. His poems have appeared in dozens of publications, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. Heinz Insu Fenkl, born in 1960 in Bupyeong, Korea, is a novelist, translator, and editor. His autobiographical novel, Memories of My Ghost Brother, was named a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection in 1996 and a PEN/Hemingway Award finalist in 1997. His most recent prose translation, Yi Mun-yol’s short story, “An Anonymous Island,” was published in the September 12, 2011 issue of The New Yorker. Theodosia Henney is a circus enthusiast who enjoys standing in the spaces between raindrops. Her work has appeared in over a dozen journals, and has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and The Micro Award. Laurence Holden is an artist and writer in the North Georgia Mountains of the US. He draws his poems and paintings from living here. Words and paint – just two natural dialects for the same thing – bearing witness to Creation. Just two sides of the same bright coin, tumbling in one great river. His connection is to the land here, its life, its promise and to it’s living place, as very much like a river, or even a breath, in our lives. His poems have appeared in ‘The Chrysalis Reader,’ ‘Appalachian Heritage,’ and ‘The Reach of Song,’ the poetry anthology published by the Georgia Poetry Society. His work received an award of excellence from the Georgia Poetry Society in 2010 and an honorable mention from the Byron Herbert Reece Society in 2011. His paintings have appeared in over 20 solo exhibits, and are in over 200 public, private, and corporate collections. His art and writing may be viewed at http://artistspath.info and at http://www.laurenceholden.info. Laura Story Johnson is an attorney working in human rights research and advocacy. Born and raised in Iowa, she has lived in New York City, bush Alaska, Mongolia, Boston, west of the Zambezi River in Zambia, and in Austria. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has most recently appeared in apt and the South Loop Review. She currently resides in Chicago with her husband and two children. www.laurastoryjohnson.com Genevieve Leet is a 23 year old poet and artist from Michigan. The arts, she believes, speak to sustainability issues in moving and engaging ways. Through poetry, painting, and photography, she hopes to build the public’s relationship with the land and thereby foster responsible stewardship. In 2010, Leet received a fellowship to study Thailand’s coral reef decline and write place-based poetry on the experience. The work focuses on 60
an artisanal fishing community and the degradation of the reef they traditionally rely upon. “Stewardship” is from this collection and grapples with the complicated moral questions regarding the use of our natural resources. In 2011, Leet graduated from Kalamazoo College. She won Terrain’s 2011 annual poetry competition themed “Ruin and Renewal,” the 2007 Brave New Voices: Global Warming Poetry Competition, and was twice named a national Udall Scholar. She has performed across the nation, including at the introducing Governor Sibelius’ Earth Day speech. Her work is forthcoming at Terrain.org and has appeared in Off the Coast. Genevieve looks forward to her honeymoon hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington State. She will be carrying her camera, notebook, and ice axe close at hand. You can find more examples of her work at genevieveleet.com. Joel Long’s most recent book Lessons in Disappearance was published by Blaine Creek Press in 2012. Knowing Time by Light was published by the same press in 2010. His book Winged Insects won the White Pine Press Poetry Prize and was published in 1999. Long’s chapbooks, Chopin’s Preludes and Saffron Beneath Every Frost were published from Elik Press. His poems have appeared in Quarterly West, Gulf Coast, Rhino, Bitter Oleander, Crab Orchard Review, Bellingham Review, Sou’wester, Prairie Schooner, Willow Springs, Poems and Plays, and Seattle Review and anthologized in American Poetry: the Next Generation, Essential Love, Fresh Water, and I Go to the Ruined Place. He received the Mayor’s Artist Award for Literary Arts at the Utah Arts Festival and the Writers Advocate Award from Writers at Work. Jesse LoVasco studied poetry and art at Vermont College of Norwich University after years of writing on her own. Her poetry is inspired by time spent with plants, woods, inhabitants of the earth and the experiences in between. The human/nature relationship holds a great deal of importance in her life work as well as poetry. She claims not to be a scholarly poet, though she has read and studied many published poets. The discipline of going to the page day after day, after being in the woods observing an animal or tree, feeds her intention to create words that have meaning, inspire deeper awareness and intimacy with the natural world. She teaches poetry workshops for adults and children and is currently working on a non-fiction art, writing and ecology workbook called AWE. She has resided in Vermont for the past 14 years, where her daughter and two grandsons live and also has two sons in Michigan. J. K. McDowell is an artist, poet and mystic, an Ohioan expat living in Cajun country. Night, Mystery & Light is McDowell’s first collection of poetry and part of Hiraeth Press’s Catalog. McDowell’s poems have appeared in the Journal of Shamanic Practitioners and Written River. McDowell recently contributed the foreword to Homebound Publications’ rerelease of L. M. Browning’s Ruminations At Twilight. New work can be regularly found at McDowell’s poetry blog “Night Mystery and Light.” McDowell lives 20 miles north of the Gulf Coast with his soul mate, who also happens to be his wife and their two beautiful companion parrots. Gwendolyn Morgan not only learned the names of birds and wildflowers but also inherited paint brushes and boxes from her grandmothers. With a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College, and a M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary, she has been a recipient of writing residencies at Artsmith, Caldera and Soapstone. She has poetry published in: Calyx, Dakotah, Kalliope, Kinesis, Manzanita Quarterly, Tributaries: a Journal of Nature Writing, VoiceCatcher, Written River as well as anthologies and other literary journals. Gwen and Judy, her partner, share their home with Abbey Skye, a rescued Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Master Cho Oh-hyun, who writes under the pen name “Musan,” was born in 1932 in Miryang in South Gyeongsang Province of Korea. He has lived in the mountains since he became a novice monk at the age of 61
seven. Over the years he has written over a hundred poems, including many in sijo form. In 2007 he received the Cheong Chi-yong Literary Award for his book Distant Holy Man. The lineage holder of the Mt. Gaji school of Korean Nine Mountains Zen, he is in r treat as the head of Baekdamsa Temple at Mt. Seoraksan. His work has appeared in The Asia Literary Review, Asymptote, AZALEA, and Buddhist Poetry Review. Old Mountain is a poet, part-time hermit, and solitary Buddhist. He conducted the interview of Miya Ando. Tyra Olstad recently moved to upstate New York to teach Geography and Environmental Science at SUNY Oneonta. Before that, she spent several years wandering around wide open western landscapes, working as a ranger and paleontology technician at units of the National Park Service in Arizona, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Alaska. She also earned a PhD in Geography from Kansas State University, where her research focused on place attachment, land management, and the aesthetic of plains landscapes. She has published articles and essays on ecoregions, exploration, wilderness, and sense of place in a variety of professional and literary journals. Nicole Parizeau is former senior editor at Whole Earth Magazine and principal editor at University of California, Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science. She writes and edits in the San Francisco Bay Area, to which she moved from Montreal as an interpretive naturalist. New poetry and prose appear or are upcoming in Folio, Poecology, Emrys Journal, Opium Magazine, Writers Rising Up, and the anthology Weather, from Imagination & Place Press. Nicole is writer in residence at Sonoma Mountain Ranch Preservation Foundation and a 2013 Associate Artist at Atlantic Center for the Arts. Pamela Petro is an artist and writer who lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has written three books of travel-based non-fiction, and teaches creative writing at Smith College and on Lesley University’s MFA Program. Her essays and articles have appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Granta, The Atlantic, and The Paris Review Daily. Her work with “petrographs” – silver gelatin photos printed on stone – grew out of her book The Slow Breath of Stone: A Romanesque Love Story, set in Southwest France. She is currently creating an artist’s book based on her tenure as artist-in-residence at the Grand Canyon. Her new book of creative non-fiction will be about hiraeth in and outside of Wales. Jamie K. Reaser has a deep fondness for the wild, intimate, and unnameable. She received a BS in Field Biology, with a minor in Studio Art, from the College of William and Mary and her doctorate in Biology from Stanford University. She has worked around the world as a biologist, international policy negotiator, environmental educator, and wilderness rites-of-passage guide. She is also a practitioner and teacher of ecopsychology, nature-based spirituality, and various approaches to expanding human consciousness, as well as a poet, writer, artist, and homesteader-in-progress. She is the editor of the Courting the Wild Series, as well as the author of Huntley Meadows, Note to Self, and Sacred Reciprocity. She makes her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Visit her Talking Waters poetry blog at www.talkingwaters-poetry.blogspot.com, or through Talking Waters on Facebook. Angeliki Savvantoglou is originally from Greece, but now lives in Bristol, UK, where she studies Conservation Biology. Her photography reflects her love of the natural world and her hopes that humanity will develop better relations with the diverse kingdoms of the earth. She also enjoys drawing, swimming with dolphins, traveling, and singing.
Scott T. Starbuck was captain of the fishing vessel Starfisher in Depoe Bay, Oregon, and a writer in residence at The Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. Now, he communes with dolphin yoga masters off Encinitas, California, and frequently hikes in the Pacific Northwest. His most recent book, River Walker, is at Mountains and Rivers Press in Eugene, Oregon. He works as a Creative Writing Coordinator at San Diego Mesa College, and has claywork online at The Trumpeter Journal of Ecosophy at Athabasca University, and Untitled Country Review.
Russell Streur is a born-again dissident residing in Johns Creek, Georgia. Published internationally, he operates the world’s original on-line poetry bar, The Camel Saloon, located at http://thecamelsaloon.blogspot. com, where the beer is cold, the whiskey Irish, and the door is always open. Brendan Sullivan is a lifelong beach bum who has turned from acting to poetry, as he finds it a more remarkable and reliable muse. He also enjoy surfing, sailing and diving. His work is a series of snapshots..small stories about life and what we all share in common. He wants readers to take away what they need and want from his words, as poetry should be an individual experience. His poetry has appeared in The Rusty Nail, A Clean and Well Lit Place, Haggard and Halloo, Mad Swirl, 521 Magazine, Gutter Eloquence and The Missing Slate. He has just had short fiction accepted into the Horror fantasy anthology, Nocturnal Embers. Christine Waresak is a writer and editor living in Seattle. She was born in Pennsylvania and moved to Florida as a teenager, but it wasn’t until a free plane ticket brought her to the Pacific Northwest that she recognized her true home. Even though she is often cold, she never tires of watching fog thread through pine trees or wind toss waves against the shores of the Puget Sound. She has an M.A. in English from the University of Florida and recently published a short story in RED OCHRE LiT. Martin Willitts Jr retired as a Senior Librarian and is living in Syracuse, New York. He is currently a volunteer literacy tutor. He is a visual artist of Victorian and Chinese paper cutouts. He was nominated for 5 Pushcart and 3 Best Of The Net awards. He has print chapbooks “Falling In and Out of Love” (Pudding House Publications, 2005), “Lowering Nets of Light” (Pudding House Publications, 2007), The Garden of French Horns” (Pudding House Publications, 2008), “Baskets of Tomorrow” (Flutter Press, 2009), “The Girl Who Sang Forth Horses” (Pudding House Publications, 2010), “Van Gogh’s Sunflowers for Cezanne” (Finishing Line Press, 2010), “Why Women Are A Ribbon Around A Bomb” (Last Automat, 2011), “Protest, Petition, Write, Speak: Matilda Joslyn Gage Poems” (Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, 2011), “Secrets No One Wants To Talk About” (Dos Madres Press, 2011), “How to Find Peace” (Kattywompus Press, 2012), “Playing The Pauses In The Absence Of Stars” (Main Street Rag, 2012), and “No Special Favors” (Green Fuse Press, 2012). He has three full length books “The Secret Language of the Universe” (March Street Press, 2006), and “The Hummingbird” (March Street Press, 2009), and “The Heart Knows, Simply, What It Needs: Poems based on Emily Dickinson, her life and poetry” (Aldrich Press, 2012). His forthcoming poetry books include “Waiting For The Day To Open Its Wings” (UNBOUND Content, 2013), “Art Is the Impression of an Artist” (Edgar and Lenore’s Publishing House, 2013), “City Of Tents” (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2013), “A Is For Aorta” (Seven Circles Press, e-book, 2013), and “Swimming In the Ladle of Stars” (Kattywompus Press, 2013). Diana Woodcock’s first full-length collection, Swaying on the Elephant’s Shoulders—nominated for a Kate Tufts Discovery Award—won the 2010 Vernice Quebodeaux International Poetry Prize for Women and was published by Little Red Tree Publishing in 2011. Her chapbooks are In the Shade of the Sidra Tree (Finishing Line Press), Mandala (Foothills Publishing), and Travels of a Gwai Lo—the title poem of which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize (Toadlily Press). She has been teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar since 2004. Prior to that, she lived and worked in Tibet, Macau and Thailand. Daniel Williams is a poet who resides in the Yosemite region of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California. He holds an M.A. in English Literature from San Jose State University and has taught at Foothill College, Columbia College, and Metro State in Denver. Daniel has read for PoetsWest readings at the Frye Art Museum, and has been a frequent reader on PoetsWest Thursdays on KSER-FM radio, Barnes and Nobles, and Epilogue Books in Seattle, and at the former Cody’s Books, Berkeley. Recent poems have appeared in Grrrr..Poems About Bears, A Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare, Sierra Songs and Descants, Into the Teeth of the Wind, Amoskeag Journal, NEBO, Sea Stories, The HotAir Quarterly, Minnetonka Review, Great American Poetry Show, Raven Chronicles, Rockhurst Review, Flowers & Vortexes Manzanita, Common Ground Review, and Yosemite Poets: A Gathering of this Place. 63
Detail, Painting © Genevieve Leet
Poetry is the language of the Earth—not just poems but the slow flap of a heron’s wings across the sky, the lightning of its beak hunting in the shallow water; autumn leaves and the smooth course of water over stones and gravel. These, as much as poems, communicate the being and meaning of things. Our publications are all poetry, whether they are poems or nonfiction, and reflect the ideal that falling in love with the Earth is nothing short of revolutionary and that through our relationship to wild nature we can birth a more enlightened vision of life for the future. We are passionate about poetry as a means of returning the human voice to the polyphonic chorus of the wild.
Written River Copyright © 2012 Hiraeth Press All poems, photographs, and essays copyrighted by their respective authors.
Published on Dec 21, 2012
Featuring an interview with artist Miya Ando. Poetry by Old Mountain, Musan Cho Oh-hyun, Scott T. Starbuck, Martin Willits Jr., Jesse LoV...