(I realize I am soon becoming the Queen of Grief, but you can always read the “Molting Chicken” entry after this one and restore some balance.)

Last Sunday Amie played in her Orchestra concert. This concert featured four Rivers Youth Orchestras, from Preparatory (that Amie is in) to Symphony. It’s absolutely riveting to follow the progress from beginners to as-good-as professional orchestra. The Symphony played Elgar’s Nimrod (Enigma Variation IX). This piece always brings tears to my eyes and they played it superbly, with great restraint and sensitivity.  It’s for the same reason that I prefer this version to, say, Solti conducting.

Nimrod is a tragic landscape: a gentle rise, dramatic summit, then the plunge off the map. As a story, it is sweetness, triumph and then, as for all music, all stories: silence, oblivion. All in under four minutes. It’s like the whole life of a person I would love to meet, beginning to end. You think, when it ends so quickly: wait… what?! It’s unfinished, unfinished. And it’s a species on a planet, taking billions of years to grow into its own, exploding in a matter of a century, then slipping away, quite suddenly, like a question. What happened? Where did they go? Those questions cannot be answered, but one thing is for sure: they will not be back. That’s what this piece is to me: a great goodbye.

The Thirteenth Moon

Even if you have lost heart
She puts a tide in you
Even if you have lost heart
You will be moved
You will be all lined up
The soil has tides
Bedrock has tides
The horizon heaves
She will drag even you

“That turns out to be a place where it’s just it and me.
When I wrote that, it occurred to me that that is how – in solitude –  many seek their god(s) and that that is how I used to experience spiritually during rich introspective times in my life, before all this came down, before Transition.  Why had I lost sight of that? This is why: I forgot it in my sudden rush to act, which soon turned into a full-blown desire to save the world, which meant, of course, coming out of my solitude.
It turns out that what I thought I had to do (save the world) is not my role. These last few months, I have been letting go of the wish to save the world. Being the committed activist that I still am, and still a seeker of joy-even-though-I-have-considered-all-the-facts, and still a believer in my power to change things, there can be only one thing that could make me give that up:  I let go of the hope that the world is, at all, savable.
As I write this, I am amazed at how easy it is to say that. It wasn’t easy coming to accept it.
Here, ask yourself: what is it that you most cherish, that you most want and might even have? Ask yourself: why won’t I give it up?  Because you made it or worked for it? Because you deserve it and it makes you happy, maybe even makes you you? Consider any of those reasons, and any others. Then ask yourself:
So what?
Do you dare to test
the endurance of your hope
To take it to that far place
where still it refuses to leave
or maybe not.
Where, regardless,
it turns out to be
not what you wanted,
but what you need.
This poem is evolving as I try to explain my growing insight into what hope is and what my role is in this world. I started it here.
    Do you dare to test
    the endurance of your hope
    To take it to that far place
    where still it refuses to leave
    or maybe not.
    Where, regardless,
    it turns out to be
    not what you wanted,
    but what you need.

There has been a major change in my thinking/feeling about our culture, our future, and my role. An upheaval big enough for me to burn some bridges (to set fire to them, at least), to shed some tears. Well. Good things are happening too as a result of it, I hasten to add. Clarity is one of them. I hope I can write about it soon. But in the meantime, here’s part of another poem I am working on.

Do you dare to test

the endurance of your hope?

To take it to that far place

where still it refuses to leave

or maybe not.

My friend Janine, fellow Transition worker and fellow blogger, has written a gripping poem. It haunts till the end. This is the beginning:

                                          I dreamt a sword fight broke out in the cornfield
                                          I was dodging poison arrows in the brassica
                                          tripping over minefields in the brussel sprouts which
                                          when stripped of their leaves
                                          look like tiny holiday trees lined up
                                          like an enchanted forest
                                          but then what enchantment doesn’t conceal
                                          the poison apple
                                          or the rings of power?

 

Visit her post to read the rest. You will not be sorry!

Change of plans! This poem will not be our friend’s birthday poem after all.

So it is going out to someone else, with the following ink and water color painting by Pinka Das, from Kolkata, India.

The inkling

Some things just must be said

Some things just say themselves

If only for a mouth

I just need to sit here and watch the fire

And know it

That it works and has worked for all time

That it is showing itself

And I would be an oracle for it

Is that what we are

The ones who can say it poetically

And once we have said it

Are we done here?

Now I can’t stop blogging! I just wanted share this, from Jim Harrison’s North American Image Cycle:

The boy stood in the burning house. Set it up

that way, and with all windows open. I don’t want

a roof. I want to fill all those spaces where we

never allow words to occur.

That’s what I feel like. The house is burning. I want to fearlessly invite and feed and explore that fear.

And will declaim it!

~

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

~

Has anyone put this to song yet?

Poem 2 in the 350 poem project was sent on its way on 5 June and must have arrived at its destination (or I wouldn’t post it here!). I’ve not received any poems back as yet, but it’s early days yet.

This poem too was sent on its way on the back of a stunning art work by Pinaki Das, a Calcutta artist.

And I am here

and the everflowing Now

is in me

wishing I would

let go of it

but I want to continue

the even keel

on the free rudder

stay with me

we’re going somewhere