Monthly Archives: April 2014

Beltane Eve

I sing the tenebrous tale of night, land of nod
And the nocturnal cricket to its chanting

Gently take reign of the twilight day
Away the glaring fire of the sky yonder flies

Casting peaceful shadows
Where upon evanescent waking drift away

And solitude in its silent walk subdues the endless chatter of the world
Stilling all that once scurried in the frenzied sun

That internal chaos still lingering in the depths of you
From eternal darkness starts to surface

Night knows The spirit’s yearning, secret and longing
Penumbral and reaching, where no light burns

In me the starlight dwindles to black
Visible now nothing but the pupils of their eyes

Save for where vast folds of emptiness
Shine beyond wisps of old mist, dispersed and demure

I weave the journey of the shining ones along their pathways
Through the hearth fires of That Which Watches

And once every moonbeam mine has gone to rest
Freedom behind the shield of night safely stirs

Over the stilled and the hushed and the haunted
The freedom fog crouches undaunted

I sing the rain, I sing the sky
To rise above, to fall, to fly

And I drop the golden leaves
They, like tears, swirl through their falling

I do not sing the leaves to rest
For like a mother who’s lost many children

The earth will gather them expiring
Molding them to herself with her breathing

Melting into greens and greys
I’ll be made whole, once more come home

Brought to the center of an essence which never runs dry
My pain forgotten in moonlit arms

The only voices are of we
Dusted darkly from the very beginning
Free and sharp and clear

I invoke the mercurial mystery of being
Shapeshifter with no name

Who’s child blossoms life anew
Glistening in the predawn like the dew

Whose hollering shadows in the hunt
Dart across open planes of stars
And what dare linger there to catch, is ours

The Effects of Imperialism

They cry endless tears
They make calendars of sorrows
Things are too strong, too great, too hard, too frail, too big, too small
No one remembers where they’ve put the inbetweens

They long, afraid to put a name to the feeling
Old songs whispered throughout the day,
No longer able to sing in their own language,
The people don’t know who they are.

And they laugh about how loud everything is,
Especially they’re voices.
Ice on glass, the embrace of friends:
Wouldn’t you yell if you weren’t being heard?

People wear a kind of stupor like a mask
In and out of buildings, homes, children’s schools
The days go by without notice.

Complacency is the worst sedative
For it makes the strong forget they are wounded
And no one recalls how to get up.

They don’t live in deserts
But it’s easy for minds to go barren and raw.
Red sands hide the scars of war well,
The red rocks of memory could have been monuments

But everything is too stark, too set in stone.
Identities formed through struggle
Wrap like mistletoe,
Draining life out of the oaken heartwood at the center.

Strings cross yards to hold the weight of clothes,
Strings cross wooden frames, waiting to be played,
Strings attach to every letter of every word
That could spell a way out.

They walk on stranded ground,
Along the edge that’s split three ways:
Land and sea and sky,
Not sure why everything is spilling over.

If only they could follow the threads of what is left
Through the maze that nobody remembers starting
To the place where who they are lies in roots and trees
Where the land shapes them, and they no longer shape the land,
Where signatures could be torn from the tarnished pages of history,

Be replaced with their own.

They wonder why, they wonder why,
The reason is written on their faces
But mirrors have been outlawed here.

Otherwise the problem and solution
Would look back at one another
On the surface of a pool,

And somebody would have to dive in
And bring up what lies beneath
The surfaces that seem so smoothed over.

What kinds of unknown things
Would you not understand and yet recognize
Or would you not recognize a self
Formed from the clay of your own belonging
No longer handed to you?

Figures that stood for something immense and grave
Serve the purposes of a country that’s lost it’s origins
And those that profit from that
Do not own the stories they tell.

People argue about who is right,
They argue about who is wrong,
They argue about arguing.
They argue to hear themselves talk,

They argue about who has given them they’re names,
And who has disowned them.
There are as many streams of water as there are streams of people,
Neither is quite sure where to go
Just sure that they are going.

Things don’t just change, they exchange:
Songs for silence,
Mirrors for security.

This silent security,
It stalks the land like some wild animal.
People created it, it waits for the day it will capture everyone’s heart.

We are not the silence or the struggle,
Or the ferocity of wild cats,
Or the shards of broken dreams.

We are not the ancient songs or the lost children.
We are not yesterday’s mistakes or today’s forgetting.
We are not what you told us we were.

Piece by piece, we rebuild what reflects us
Greater than all we previously dreamed,
Louder than the keening of a fractured past,
Our cries are the sounds of what is to come.

The Match-Stick Girl’s Fire

Silver eyes scan the road at twilight,
Tracking purple fog.

Flashlight eyes, cold as flint stone,
Their spark a smoldering of embers

Red dark circles under her eyes,
Imprints of old anger left behind.

Without a sound,
Match sticks strike.

Match-stick girl, cold and alone,
Do not douse your fire with tears.

Ash-child run,
Leap lightly, flicker like a dancing flame,

Burn away the should and could haves that leave their dingy sheen,
Bleach the strife-stains to golden, turquoise, sylvan green.

Shining girl put match sticks down,
Hair singed black, now auburn once more,

Whittle futures with the sharp edge of the present,
That lamp behind the map of yourself, turn the switch.

Watch your space from inside out take shape,
Definite, solid, the topography of relief.

Then firefly girl, find you rising
Rise and rise, and open your eyes,

Fire bird’s child, glow as the night infused with dawn, from near to far,
Radiant, like a wild and silent star, you are.

The Bridge People

Once we rode the waves of time forgotten
The bridge of light before us whining in the wind
Trodden by our silent feet and gazing straight ahead

Over colors glittering above our once sweet sky
The bridge from world to world spanned the abyss
Between what soon will live and what once died

We cross, ourselves and whatever we can hold
Against the howling relentless riff and without a sound
We make our way to the unknown
No looking back, no looking down

And each who crosses continues on
One long and lingering lonely song
The melody of you and I
All living things, what life is ours

Bursts forth in polyphony
The voices of the earth and stars
And to this day the song still rings
Throughout this space, each human being

Where do we learn to sing this song
How do you know which world you’re in
Find a truth where you belong
Then, child, your worldmaking can begin

Home

Could you take me home, back where the light shines, not from your places but from your eyes, in your steps but without a flame? I fall off the bridge with no ending. Unfrightened, I open my mouth to breathe underwater. Someone says, “I am you.”

Where are the brothers and sisters we lost? Where is the completion for the incomplete, the whole for the broken, the new for the old, the awakening for the unaware?

Where is the color for the shadow, the roots for the seed, the space for the stars, the family for the love, the heart for the beaten, the part for the departed, the world before our world, where are those who put us here?

Sometimes I just wish I could see you again. Life bends with our choices, roads wind. Sometimes we cannot see ahead. Mountains are sometimes avalanched into our living rooms.

I cling to our memories but don’t know if they’ll fade. I plead with the wind to keep us together, but it throws our friends to four directions. Scattered like rain, I cannot even hear your whispers. \

Tell She who has so many faces– I’ve sought impressions in her eyes, that I struggle to know every inch of her silences. Her words are my life pattern, in woven relief. She disperses like clouds, and I run to follow her at breathtaking speeds that leave me reeling.

I will join the seekers and slide in the mud until I learn how to survive. I rise and fall like nations. I turn ages as the earth turns seasons. I dance for rain. I dance for the song. I age seamlessly. Earth pulses to a rhythm I cannot quite hear.

All around me people make their verdicts. They tell me who I am and should be. But the caged bird sings, remembering the time signature of clouds, and I recall the beginning.

I fly through the vast universe on a cream-tan horse whose feet tap-dance worlds like stepping stones. I can keep warm by the fire in my bones. I can sing the song of life and death. I know every passionate mother, every determined daughter, every tree, every rainbow, every finch and squirrel, every hardworking man, every grieving boy. I know myself. I am a blanket of stars.

Go ahead, reach across the curtains of loneliness to touch another world. Bring back a lost child. You are no more lost in the mist than I am. Who are you to think you cannot know me like you know yourself, like I’ve known all I’ve ever been? Where have you come from? We are pulleyed to each other by a song. Your ancestors are immortal. They walk among the living. This we have always known.

Won’t You Come?

Won’t you come with me
To the place where the hummingbird dips its wings
A tiny bowl in the sky
Reverberates its whirring by

Won’t you come with me
To hear the song earth’s motion sings to the sun
Its cries contoured by gravity
Are as the call of stones, plunging into ocean

Won’t you come with me
To dwell in the home of the roots
Gnarled and still burrowing, older than bone
Wherein lies the marrow of tomorrow
The dance of my love

Check Out Ali Isaac’s Trailer for Her Forthcoming Book, Conor Kelly and the Fenian King


 

My friend Ali Isaac just made this trailer for her forthcoming second book in her Tir Na Nog series called Conor Kelly and the Fenian King.  I’ve tried pasting in the code for the youtube video, but if it has mysteriously vanished just head over to http://www.youtube.com and search for Ali Isaac Fenian King. Definitely give it a watch!

Conor is a boy with severe disabilities– so severe that he’s the kind of person many would unfortunately refer to as a vegetable. There’s nothing plantlike about this kid, though. First, he’s got a really sharp mind. Also, like me, he can see the mist between the worlds and talk to the Tuatha De Danann.

Conor’s character is loosely based on Ali’s own five-year-old daughter, Carys, who is herself profoundly disabled and still is a beautiful light for all who know her. 

 

Her first book is called Conor Kelly and the Treasures of Eirean.  Here is what Ali says about it: “lost treasures, an enigmatic sorceress, and a boy in a wheelchair. A quest begins…

Book One of The Tir na Nog Trilogy begins an epic fantasy adventure which takes us back in time to the shadowy past of Ireland’s long-lost legend, where
fairy kings and Gods walked amongst mortals, and where feats of magic, swordsmanship, and courage were customary.

Here amongst the ancient stones of Newgrange and Tara, Conor discovers that anyone, no matter how unlikely, can still be a hero.”

 

She says of book 2: “It has been a year since Conor restored the lost Four Treasures of Eirean to the Sidhe.  During that time, there has been great unrest in the magical realm of Tir na Nog. The Ri Tuatha of Gori has been murdered. Annalee has been accused and imprisoned. Ruairi has disappeared, and the City of Fal is under siege.

Once again, the Sidhe turn to Conor for help, as he goes in search of the only man who can reunite them, a man who rests in slumber beneath the hills of Ireland. Conor must overcome his own demons, if he is to save his friends, and awaken the Fenian King.”

You can buy an e-copy of book one at http://www.smashwords.com as well as hard copies at Amazon.  Book 2 should be coming out this fall. I’m really looking forward to reading it!p>

 

You can read more about Ali’s books, her insightful articles on tidbits from her research, and everyday life living in Ireland and being a mother of three at her blog, http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com.

Along The Road _ When Two Worlds Meet: Part 7

It was Friday, two and a half weeks after I first offered to Caoilte that, as the fianna had no permanent place to live here in the actual world, they could call my small but functional place home. I was exhausted. There were just so, so many of them. Every couple hours when I was home, there were around four groups of five or so who’d come through, and most likely more when I was sleeping, and more when I was gone. They were very respectful and, being disembodied, very quiet. But I was sharing space with them, and it’s very different keeping up a place for many rather than just one. I did end up with some alone time, but never knew for how long it would last, or whether, if someone showed up, there would be something expected of me to do.

 

There were a few times I’d thought of letting Caoilte know this wasn’t working for me, but wasn’t sure whether he’d be understanding or not. I also was extremely stubborn, and every time I came close to actually attempting to contact Caoilte, I’d decide that I could at least attempt to get used to living like this, as everyone else seemed to be, (everyone else had, it seemed, been living in close proximity in groups even in the otherworld, and weren’t phased in the slightest.)  I certainly wasn’t going to give up the minute I felt tired or it became difficult to make good on what I’d promised to do. After all, I’d offered my hospitality, and it would be bad form to change my mind this early on. Besides, I could not imagine a fian backing out of a difficult task, and although I wasn’t a fian myself, I was in some sort of relation important to them or they wouldn’t have included me in the first place. So, I decided to keep learning from the experience, be grateful that I got to meet so many people, and keep up my practice of casting circles around me if I wanted the kind of privacy which would render me truly invisible.

 

On this particular Friday, I was frazzled not just because I’d been entertaining somewhere between fifty and a hundred people, but because it had been the kind of week where I was running into all sorts of obstacles due to my disability. This is a sighted world, and often it isn’t made for me, or at least that’s how it feels. I’d spent hours trying to make the correct formatting on a single poem on the blog. I was trying to finish an a cappella album of music, and as if attempting to record it whenever neither the refrigerator nor the Amtrak trains were running wasn’t enough, I also could only get Audacity to work with sighted assistance. The person I paid to be my assistant was ill and couldn’t show up, which meant I spent five hours that Wednesday including transit and wait time going to shop alone to Trader Joe’s, rather than the mere hour and a half it would have taken with a sighted guide with a car. For all the negative impact cars have on the environment and the planet, the freedom they offer is often taken for granted by those who have them and longed for by those who don’t. Someone without a car, whether sighted or blind, simply has fewer options in the world as to where to travel, and how much to get done in one day.  And ordinary activities such as meeting a good friend for lunch or doing something spontaneous must always be weighed against the hours and hours of transit time and the meticulous planning involved.

 

Being blind confounds these limitations, and adds more to the growing list. When the bus driver forgets to announce my stop in an area with which I am unfamiliar, I not only have to walk an extra five or so blocks but also, usually, get lost. It’s way too easy to be late somewhere because the bus is late, there’s construction, or a light has stopped working. Sometimes buses pull up in the middle of the street, and I miss them as I don’t even know they’re there. Sometimes four or five buses pull up at a stop at once, and it’s necessary to literally run from one to the other and back asking each driver the name of the bus and hoping, if that’s not the right one, that I can find the right one before it leaves. In other words, it gets very complicated, very quickly.

 

It was that kind of week, one with which I am all too familiar, in which I was being told or shown, implicitly or explicitly, that I would have to miraculously reattach my retinas if I ever wanted to participate in the kind of living the world had to offer me. The alternative would be to completely adjust my own expectations and goals, so that they fit the limitations the world was prescribing for me, and I of course found such an option intolerable. Yet the problem really did seem to be that I did have expectations and standards, and it was not just the world that didn’t measure up to them: I did not meet my own expectations either.

 

Given all this, when I installed a new version of Audacity onto my computer and the sound was suddenly muted, rendering every capability it had useless to me, I lost it. A muted computer means I can’t work on anything. It’s akin to having your hard drive go out, and every project you’re working on is suddenly gone. The difference, to my mind it seemed, was that whereas the problem with a hard drive is internal to the computer, the problem with muting was internal to myself. If I could only see, nothing would have been amiss for more than a few seconds. Retrospectively, I wish I hadn’t spent so much time feeling sorry for myself: but that is what happened.

 

I did have the wherewithal at this point to get out of the house. I decided to take a walk down by the bay at Aquatic Park, hang out with nature (the great equalizer of all beings) and soak up some sunshine. Perhaps the light outside me would blaze out the darkness that was threatening to swamp the space within me, threatening to convince me I was actually worth nothing despite appearances, and that giving up my expectations entirely was the only option. Somewhat miserably I made my way across the Amtrak tracks at breakneck speed as to not be caught on them if the bell went off, and wound my way more slowly down the cracked tree-rooted sidewalk to the path by the bay.

 

The bay at Aquatic Park is actually a lake. Building up the area had caused some of the bay to be cut off from the rest by filled land (not landfill, but legitimate land that was used to displace the water.) It’s an incredibly difficult challenge to stay angry while birds are calling, ducks are splashing about and quacking, children are shrieking on a playground, and trees are rustling in the wind. I decided it wasn’t a challenge worth taking, so I let go of the anger. The anger of course was more with myself than at any one in particular, and the more I lost myself in the surrounding world I love to which I’ve always belonged, the world of earth and wind, water and trees, laughter and song, I forgot the meaningless chatter of the world of illusion that humans have constructed which had never been able, let alone ever had the intention, to adopt me.

 

I was now no longer angry, but disheartened and sad. I felt sad because so much of my life in this world is spent alone in isolation, partly due to my disability, and partly due to one of the occupational hazards of being a philosopher. Sad because many people are so afraid of blindness that they would rather exclude me than ever consider whether there would be value in getting to know me. Sad because this manifest world often shuts me out, and I am not the only one who experiences this kind of banishment caused by prejudice and discrimination. As I walked, I thought about how so many people, for varying trivial reasons, from race to ability, gender preference to objectifying standards of appearance, are given the message to find their way elsewhere. There are only a few groups of people for which this world is truly made, but none of those who have been rejected have ever thought to band together, to find commonalities among their differences, including the fact of their differences, and create the communities they long for. (More on that later.)

 

I thought about how I was sad because most of my ways of belonging rarely, if ever, fall within any shared reality I have with others in this world. Some part of me still remembers the world I would have gone to at six months of age if I hadn’t wanted to see what life was like instead. A part of me still recognizes that world as home, and has never adapted to this one. A part of me has always belonged their more than here.  As an adult, I walk both worlds, one foot in each of them, belonging holy to neither, and for that I am a wanderer. In a way, it was no surprise that I wanted to try to create once again somewhere between this world and the next a place where other wanderers like myself are welcome. I’d still like to do that, actually, but not at my house.

 

As these thoughts went streaming as they always do through my head, I continued walking through the park, watching the motion of the water, feeling the branches of trees waving over my head, and noticing all the people who were also walking out on this beautiful autumn afternoon. That is when I saw Oisin walking toward me, not particularly on the road. I looked up, and our eyes met.   Much passes between people without words. And so it was then, an exchange of all each of us was in that moment, which would have taken embodied humans several days to talk through to the end.

 

He walked over and took my hand. For a long time we walked in silence this way, I between Allegro and Oisin, connected to both of them. The quiet calm compassion that Oisin has for all living things seemed to wrap around all three of us, and I felt at peace, more at peace than I could remember ever feeling. Any sense that I was less than anyone had simply vanished. Any trace of feeling like a wayward orphan who neither fit in, nor could make sense of the world had vanished also. This was unconditional acceptance, and I knew I was blessed to experience such unconditional belonging while in this world. It is the belonging we all share in the world beyond, and it was not just mine to look forward to, but mine to have, here and now.

 

Holding hands with an otherworld person is a unique experience. It’s obviously not like holding hands with an embodied person. Unlike human hands, otherworld people’s hands are cold and also obviously lack any density or definition. Though my hand felt cold, it didn’t actually drop in temperature, and it felt almost like it was about to fall asleep without the unpleasantness of actually falling asleep, like there were currents of energy coursing through it. I was fascinated by the experience. Somehow we could reach each other across worlds, world boundaries notwithstanding, as if, I thought, such boundaries were only precursory or nonexistent.

 

When I’d completely become grounded and he thought I was all right, Oisin let go of my hand and started walking a bit ahead of me, now actually following the road. I smiled at that. In order to hold my hand, I realized, he’d had to walk through the reeds and other plant life lining the path down to the water, and at some points he would have been actually walking in (on?) the water. I was impressed, though I suppose it made no difference where he was concerned. No embodied person could have pulled that off. There were advantages being an otherworld person, I mused, even if you can no longer enjoy manifest world food.

 

We’d been walking together for a few minutes more when a thought occurred to me, one which I admit I’d never before considered. The thought was this. Here I was, walking with Oisin, and he not only was from another world but had lived long, long ago. Surely he’d know things I never would have imagined, and I hadn’t thought to ask him any questions. I could ask, I realized, any question I wanted, though I might not get an answer to every question I could ask.

 

For a moment I thought hard about what kind of question I’d ask such a one. Perhaps not a question about his, or even our, past, I decided. I did have endless questions about the past, but felt that any answer to such questions would be information only, and I wanted to ask something of more permanence than mere information.   I realized too that like most people he wouldn’t be able to answer a question about the future, mine or his. I wanted to ask an experiential, not just factual question. One that could transcend languages and time, cultures and conceptions of the good. I already knew we had some philosophical disagreements, and wanted to avoid them at the moment.

 

When I’d finally settled on a question, I asked it in pictures. “Oisin,” I asked, “Can I see the world through your eyes? Can I experience the world as you experience it?”

Ode With a Twist _ April Fools!

Ode(ious) To the jackhammer

 

You noise polluting, chaos creating, scum of all human invention
I hurl all manner of insult in your general direction:

You dimwitted droning drill
You senseless skewer

You gravel grinder
You asphalt hole digger

You headache hasslre
You incessant, irritating, irascible instrument

May you be abducted into the pit of infamy
May you rot in a warehouse

May you whine neglected
Abandoned and lonely in a junkyard

May your operators always get promoted until you are merely a thing of the past
May your glory days of sidewalk sundering not last

May you be superseded by a superior machine
Whose efficient demeanor spews less smog and sound into the world

Whose placid quiescence shames you into permanent obsolescence
And resounds doom for all reproduction of your kind
May your specs never come again to a homo sapiens’ mind

May your obnoxious noxious cacophony now cease
And leave these poor unsuspecting denizens of apartment complex and business office in blissful peace.

May you dwell where no citizen sets foot
And may your motor go kaput.

Oh noisome noisy nuisance,
Oh abominable apparatus tunneling tirelessly through terrain
Oh contemptuous invader of contemplative space

May you be driven very, very far away
And be remembered as the odious mistake among technologies today