Sniffing Cedar

He’s out in the shop again, the fine
clean scent of western cedar wafting
through my office window, drawing me
out to see what perfect hands are crafting
now from raw;

The straight-grained lines of red, variegated
with a neutral light, white as a crosscut wafer
of eastern pine, carefully- sawn cleats sliced
into freshly band-cleaved matched boards,
comprising the backside of a custom cabinet;

Americans on the whole hesitate to pay craftsmen
for fine work such as this, but rarely (like now)
one gives him artistic liberty and oh, I am loathe
to part with it, knowing such beauty will soon
be taken for granted, preferring to add yet
another flair to our own interior’s design,
knowing (as nature does) how appreciative gazes
cause giddy ripples in the bellies of gods.

Portal

There’s an invisible portal
in the mantle covering Earth;
look closely without staring:
focus softly, not sharp, and you
might conjure enough filaments
to pop through, unexpectedly
shifting into another realm
long ago expunged
from collective recall;

Most mortals have crowded
out memories beyond three
generations if that, not nearly
enough to make lucid a time
when indigenous folk and their
predecessors roamed a
wondrous green and blue planet,
gathering food and medicine,
striking camp to ramble because
that is what humans do, plagued
as we are with restless impulses,
compelled to elude perceived
restrictions;

The great Mystery held magic,
little known beyond one’s own
boundaries, where wildness
thrived, was necessary to a world
where life seemed more equally
met between predator and prey,
lacking modern means
of expunction;

Where have we come
in telescopic time, how now
to call ourselves civil, struggles
now stranded in boardrooms
and alleyways, even into ethers
of social media where the enemy
that is our own mind can be
sequestered in shadows
without cast;

Are we simply stuffing monsters
back under the bed as bequest
to future generations?

Rock face, Kohala coast
Spirit of the waterfall, Palouse Falls, WA. (See the face looking toward the right? And the leg ‘stepping out of the shower?’
Pele’s fire tender, Kalapana, HI
Do you ‘see’ the greenish/bluish fish toward the bottom of the frame? It wasn’t there, but then again it was. Near Walla Walla, WA.
Even this: someone hung an old deer or elk skull on a tree (to mark a trail? To scare someone or something?) Yet look at it from the side, and you can see an owl pecking at the bark. Clancy, MT.

Welcome to my world. I don’t often write about such extra-sensory experiences, but I have always observed things in nature that are difficult to describe to others (save my husband and girls, who likewise see what most do not.) Don’t look too hard, but try the soft focus suggested in the poem. You might view things differently, and maybe you’ll strike out in nature more often to ‘see’ for yourself! Aloha. (All photos © Bela Johnson)Rock face, Kohala coast.

Confusion

What do I want to
Do with my life?

To explore and explode
a thousand thoughts
and color-filled words
that spill out and scramble
for the page … Confusion!

It’s all I want, and
then the pictures begin
scrolling, rolling on the
insides of my eyelids
and I am dazzled
and amazed and fully
invigorated by those
visions as well;

Then I wonder about focus
and how I could possibly
slice the creative pie
I’ve been eyeing all my
life, drooling until I die
over-stuffed, never
sated.

slice of home ~ bj

Ink Blot

Quill pressed to vellum
and the raven liquid bleeds
onto the page, seeping
into parchment as words impress
themselves on minds of those
who seek elucidation;

There is no turning back
save the alchemy of fire,
while a mere century later,
fingers snap plastic keys
as a chosen cypher spins
into centrifuges turning out
multiple languages simultaneously
in a virtual world where assurance
of retrieval is never warranted;

Still we tap away, searing mots
into memories like images
of aging film stars who can never erase
a thirty year-old face from the fantasies
of future generations.

image: Amanda Johnson

written in response to the prompt “quill:” https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/quill/

 

 

In Your Midst

Each time I am asked, my spirit is willing,
yet somehow I still suffer from a sort of social malaise,
and I cannot name where it comes from,
save enormous overwhelm in situations
where many discover delight.

I know I may fool you, for I genuinely love people,
though I am ill suited to groups and exposure,
small one hiding under desks, trying her damndest
to remain invisible, the observer, the writer,
the introvert shoved onstage, deer in footlights,
yearning only for the quiet of forest and stream
and creatures who do not conclude.

Still I soldier on, tears streaming down weary cheeks,
attempting to share my humanity, my heart;
participating in the human dance
for the first time in over thirty years of isolation;
and when I try and stop the waters,
it’s like imploding on myself, bursts of mortar
and powder, notwithstanding.

This tearing up is not stifled emotion,
decades of mining the depths of my soul; neither is it
a call for sympathy or pity, I cannot imagine
what my own sobs bring up in you, we do not share lives.
Still, despite discomfort, I vibrate to the strings
that tether us, sensing the tremolos of repression,
and perhaps the gods in their eternal quest
for amusement simply interject
this collage of a human, cobbled together
with paste and faded construction paper
into your midst for reasons unfathomable,
especially to her.

 

2015-12-14 18.46.34

Itch

You like it, you do not –
I really don’t care
enough to stop writing
what comes through my hair
straight into my brain,
fixing there.

When shadows collect,
fester under the skin,
they erupt like a boil
leaking poison within.
I would much rather offer
my musings to you –
even have you reject them –
than to cleave self in two.

iu

CHOICE

Being married to a builder for many years, I cannot look at a bathtub spout without likewise intuiting the plain galvanized pipe that lies at its center, conveying both hot and cold water from their respective copper pipes and sources to that vessel of respite at the end of a long day.

Similarly, I can no longer look at a person and glimpse the veneer they inhabit without also sensing the undercurrent of dissatisfaction or dissimilitude in the presentation.

It might seem like a curse, and I can understand your thinking. It is the bubble burst; the dream splintered into fragments of a plain vanilla reality. Strip away the many-hued veils and the dancer appears, naked and exhausted, as simply one of us.

This commonality is what draws me in, oddly enough. It humanizes the lofty and elevates the mundane onto the level playing field of life. If you dare to join me there, we can soar on thermals of imagination because we know there are no limitations, now that we’ve cast aside that heavy cloak of artifice.

Freedom lies in that shared parenthesis inserted into the continuum of existence. Authenticity is paradoxically that which we cannot view with conditioned eyes, yet it is felt right down to the bones. We either meet there or plunge like Icarus back into the practiced abyss of suffering and into the dreams of others.

 

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Image: Anna M. Rinaldo