Chapter 5: THE JOURNEY
"The best way out is always through." Robert Frost
READ LEFT TO WRITE
Larraine Seiden, Passage #12
in your language normal progression
understand notation & gesture:
newsprint, book, label on can
tomato soup or paint chip,
Million Dollar Red.
The every day nuanced,
quilted as receipts, news,
notes to self. Look deeply,
softly as wax. See what life
stills & incises.
The Drifter, Hot Air balloon, vintage dictionary print
Emergency Instructions (The Bay Area Rapid Transit Guide to Life)
Look, be aware of your travel environment
you are hurtling through space at impossible speeds
spinning around a G class yellow star
spinning around a spiral spinning
around the center of a great galactic web
celestial navigation is embedded in your DNA
you’re getting off at Powell Street
don’t forget your briefcase
Listen, follow directions in an emergency
even though people are known
to give directions whether or not
they possess knowledge of the destination.
Your directions are: Turn left
on Market………no, wait….purchase
flowers for your lover
from the kind man with Mediterranean eyes
before leaving the station. What?
You have no lover? Give them
to the first stranger
whose laughter astounds you.
Respond, report or act upon unsafe conditions,
like the young Chicano
sitting on his lunch box
whose angel face tells you
his name is Raphael
whose hole-laced sweatshirt
conveys his welder’s trade,
whose three-year old daughter
is the hope of the world,
who smiles, even knowing
life is always an unsafe condition.
Karen Elizabeth Huff
Three Crosses over a Highway
stand tall, white sentinels against the border
of black night, forest, and concrete railing.
They guide an aging woman through a highway,
Their internal light cutting through the dark
and over her beaten yellow Rabbit.
The car jerks and she feels her hands and feet
shrink, her skin pull back
her head tingle.
A glance at the rear-view mirror shows
that her hair is black again.
Her face too youthful that childhood fears suffocate
her lungs, and yet the guardians point onwards
through the darkness camped over the roads
towards the Siguanaba with her long hair and horse face
peering at her through the trees.
It drives children mad, her Tia says.
But then white knights rise from the bright
sentinels’ arms and hurtle downwards
into the forest. Passing,
she hears the muted screaming of a felled beast.
Mike Harrison, vulnerable, Acrylic, charcoal, and newspaper
Here the scrub oaks’ shadows veiled the propitiatory flowers,
The meadow never seeing lean-tos or ramshackle chicken coops,
Tangles of barbed wire; here one summer I rode a cutting horse out
Where the acreage was free of cattle, and almost took a spill
Because of a rattler like a prophetess that reproached me.
Now there is no calling of frogs or chipmunks or sparrows,
No black glass chipped into the pure accuracy of arrows.
Someone is chopping wood non-stop with a trace of blood
On his chin, tossing limbs here and there like unfinished sentences.
Someone’s mind is on fire to possess, uproot, subdue,
While another riding a bulldozer, hums a little tune to himself,
Leaving in his wake, gleaming trails of spit like pneumonia.
The days are becoming shorter, not simply because it’s winter.
Oh poor trapped earth, the sun grips the map of your death
While the recoiling wolf at your core continues to howl and shiver.
WAITING FOR THE LIGHT TO TURN GREEN
Amazingly we manage
somehow to go on as if
we're not falling off the cliff.
We hear the news: man
convicted in the beating death
of his seven-year-old step-daughter;
people in Tibet setting themselves
on fire, having had enough
of the invaders’ bullying.
We go on keeping to our agenda
till we come to an abrupt stop
at the red light—held up
in a few moments of suspension.
We let ourselves forget where we’re
headed and why, hang our heads and
cry for the tortured living and dead,
become the starving little girl
beaten for stealing a snack,
the Tibetan monk shoved back
against the crumbling wall of his
monastery. Finally the light turns
green. Free to go, we race ahead
to do what the day demands
while the dead bury the dead.
We leave our tracks like birds
on the snow, and even though
we know they’ll melt away leaving
no trace of our passing, we cannot
bring ourselves to do what would
endure—what the dead are asking.
The town settles down to rest.
Sky cools, prepares for night, drips
her ice-cream colors on quiet streets.
Light pulls skirts tight and
houses trees buildings disappear
in transparent washes of grays become opaque.
Early morning hours open to night winds
cool as fresh snow.
Morning seems a distant dream, a rustle of silks
somewhere over there, to the east.
Keenan Lee, Heading West, Photograph
Later, the moon reproducing
young nestled in crook
of branch. Below spoors and
in the sea, anemones practical
This, the path you walk knowing earth will care for
the soon-not-to-be. Only eyes know
interlacing landscapes geometry & hum
the honeybee flies the equivalent of 6 times around the earth
to yield one pound beeswax
some facts don’t fit the pocket: some won’t stay in the grave
deliberate & insistent dreaming wax & twig
yet, you call this the most sublime fabric
and plead for something as soft to be wrapped in
the lens must capture and preserve
coalesce, an emulsion: shape letter space
As you leave, take comfort,
over your shoulder
the Golden Gate bridge
will begin its attempt to swallow you.
You will stare up into its crimson
peaks and wonder
how anyone could keep their veins still
to climb its towering mass.
The view from the top must be
a suffocation of breathlessness,
a blinding of awestruck
and salted air.
What a wonder
to stand at the top of such
and live to speak of it.
How wild it is
that the line
is so very thin.
Lena Levin, The sixth sense (after Nikolay Gumilev), Oil on canvas
Flocks of gulls in sunrise
carry in their beaks
Rugged headlands facing
the wind are kin to the ocean
rising and falling like tides.
Driving along, car camping,
our String Theory is boot
laces and canned spaghetti.
Climbing a mountain, if we
start to leap before we look
an intuitive goat, leads us
to safer terrain.
Claire J. Baker
Bruce Barton, Sonnet 12935, work on paper