Friday, February 18, 2005

The BB and the Raven in Yelapa, Mexico Posted by Hello

Hecuba’s Song - Poem

With photos of crows posted today, how can I omit this poem? Don Cuervo, of course, is Sir Crow in Spanish, and this is for the Raven, my dearest friend. The imagery comes from Euripides' The Trojan Women, a powerful play about the aftermath of war.

Hecuba’s Song
For My Soul Mate

Don Cuervo, ever with your tricks,
you shake things up
and create possibility.
Without your mischief
would anything new emerge?
Like Poseidon you shake things up—
even a god who builds towers of stone
may lament groves become desert,
divine things fallen sick,
and forsake his altars—
structure shifts, certainties fail,
relationships rupture.
Who can know tomorrow?
If we did, none would believe.

“Oh, fools, the men who lay a city waste,
giving to desolation temples, tombs,
the sanctuaries of the dead—so soon
to die themselves.”

Upon what willows
might we hang our harps
when Babylon’s rivers
themselves lament?
Exile upon exile,
sorrow upon sorrow,
we have no continuing city.

Do our bones tell us
deep within
that our county is lost?
Triumphant over distant foes,
but lost to its own soul,
its dream,
its honorable hopes.

“All was nothing—nothing, always.”

I am no Cassandra.
Some believe me.
I know nothing.
Not what to expect,
nor what to hope for;
what to dread
or how to prepare.
Yet, I will launch my ship
with no known destination.
We sail we know not where.
“Drift with the stream.”
Oh yes, we drift.

Raven, troubler, do you know?
Have you any idea
where your detours may send us?
What you stir up?
Have I any notion
what I pray for,
or offer my tobacco,
or dance and beat my drum?

At last the vision
I could never draw
seems real:
Raven and Bear dance,
bearing their part
with all creation.
I cannot draw it,
but I see it.

It is good.
Creation continues.
This is no longer Troy.

April 10, 2003

Liquidambars in February Posted by Hello

Crow on the Ground Posted by Hello

Crow on Lamppost Posted by Hello

The BB in Colima, Mexico, a few years ago Posted by Hello

Friday Morning 2/18/2005 Posted by Hello

The voice of the turtle

The Song of Songs speaks of the coming of spring:

My beloved speaks and says to me:
"Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.
—Song of Solomon 2:10-13

I am fond of the Authorized Version's turn of phrase, "the voice of the turtle," though that was always difficult for me to imagine as a child. Cannot recall ever having heard a turtle making noises, you know what I mean?

Still and all, there have been dove sightings aplenty from my window of late, in spite of the heavier than usual rains from the "pineapple express" that has been blowing through. I saw several this morning, but was not able to get a photo of them. I did get some pics of the crows that hang around the neighborhood and a few of the day in general.

I hope you enjoy them.
The BB

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A companion Blog

You may find other writings and art by the BB at our companion blog: BearFeathers.
Check it out.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Dust on a Bowl of Rose Leaves - Poem

Emergent glories yet unrecognized, do they startle or confuse?
Xs formless at first, small seeds that blossom in elegant cross-stitch,
Cryptic till we see the hints of pattern—how to decipher or discern?
Eyes trained, dulled, by habit grasp the whorish flower, understand its gaudy
Pigments and display—that reveling in hue, curve, scent, allure—
Teasing, tantalizing, shameless in the cry: I am alive! Behold!

For children untrained, for weathered souls with wandering mind
Or the true gardener, wonder is allowed: to catch at first emergent greens, to
Rest and pay respect at breaking soil, at hints of configuration, before

The secret discloses itself, the plant is known. What clue lies in the
Heart’s unknowing, the futility of the mind’s appetite? Should
Each creature, moment, place explain itself? Would it matter?

Perceiving beyond knowledge—in the bone, the pulse, the breath—
Or simple ignorance: how do they differ? My sureties and
Insecurities both speak of what I wish I knew but don’t really.
Nothing, we acknowledge often, is so well known as the fact
That we know so little of this world, of ourselves, of God.

This being the case, how have I come to think that I can turn
Hints of the moment into knowledge of what must pass,
Ever planning, predicting, adjusting, seeking readiness?

Surprise overtakes me always. There is no certain knowing
This side of the veils, my eye-binding grave clothes,
Illusions wrapping me Lazar-like against the day’s blinding
Light as I struggle free of the enclosing stone. Shall I trust this
Luminous brilliance woven in the fierce voice of my Friend?

Plunged deep in swirling I never set in motion and cannot still,
Overcome, not by saltwater sobs but the great ocean’s womb
In which our life is formed, tossed in cosmic contractions,
Not sensing above, below, behind, before, beside,
Turned constantly about by waters I cannot grasp,

Tasting the wet death of bloody birth, the tearing terror,
Have I the faintest inkling of the way? I am lost in joy.
Earth and Heaven bring me forth, costly delight! Deep
Rightness! The wheel turns as it should, again and again—
Everlasting newness in the repetitions, inexhaustible grace.

What of the searing death, the birth of fire? Swirling tongues
Of flame now leaping, soaring, rising in exultant roar,
Up, up, linking worlds, sucking the air into its consuming ecstasy!
Lungs released from the waters cry for this breath, craving
Draughts of life even as each residue is burnt away.

Bereft of direction, possession, place, and certainty, I strike my feet on
Earth in rhythms only partly mine and mostly not. The drum calls.

Now I look up at batik dancers, total motion and abandon. There is
Only pulse and movement, nothing solid: action not quite frozen in fabric.

Do I have the slightest hint of what emerges now, in this place
And moment, this specific intersection of roads within the sacred hoop?
No sure knowing of my own self (desperately deceitful heart), no
Certainty of what comes to birth in me. And yet I dare trust that
Each moment, action or inaction, is part of God’s pattern,

Ancient and novel realities surpassing terms of our defining,
Now colliding, colluding, combining, creating, expressing life,
Defeating death through its acceptance—cruciform marvel!

The vision, O Christ, you gave me of yourself a year ago—
Halo of red flame amid the waters of baptism—only began to
Emerge with the painting of the ikon. You continue to unfold
Riches of meaning to my too small heart, painting yourself with
Every pain I must endure, each joy, each stroke of faith and hope and love.

I am now the maple boards, hewn and milled and cut,
Sanded smooth and joined by Nazareth’s son, sized with hide

Of rabbit, wrapped in linen (your shroud, surely),
Next closed in seemingly endless layers of gesso, sanded smoother still,
Lined with graving steel, your message and image carved into me,
You having first engraved my name upon your palm.

Then there is the guilt when gilded over with gold, fearing my
Heart cannot deserve such adornment. You reassure, knowing better than I
Each fault and flaw in the material you made and chose.

Does it seem likely that all creation and the creator’s presence
And blessing can appear in me? Your Gospel tells me, Yes!
Not understanding is no barrier to my formation in your image, gracious
Christ, I need but trust you in and above all, yes, and within me.
Even the deaths of earth and water, fire and air, are but birth in you, your birth in me.

July 31, 2002

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline.
Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance

—From T. S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton,” stanza II, in Four Quartets

The poem above was written during a turbulent transition period of my life. In addition to being an acrostic of the sentence from Eliot, it references two pieces of art. The primary one is an icon I wrote the previous year, hence the references to the whole process of icon-making. The other is a piece of batik with wonderfully dynamic silhouettes of drummers and dancers.

Imagery of the four primal elements had emerged in a session with my spiritual director in the context of trial and transformation, and I knew that some kind of rebirth was going on in my life as well. This is the densest and most complex poem I have ever written. Thanks for reading through it.
--The BB