On-ramp Underworld

A dream.

There is a portal to the Underworld in Fresno, California. In the middle of the unassuming, circular on-ramp to Highway 41 heading south on Friant, north of Riverpark, you may find it. I recall it was a beautiful small piece of unrecognized land. But in my dream it is an off-ramp. Through this door you can see the big businessmen and the greedy and powerful who abuse their power are half human, half beast. We are all half beast, but these who are evil have bloated bellies and foul fluids dripping from fangs. They pull their sweatshop workers behind them in chains. Their money is blood and gold trinkets which they bargain in lives for.

I have a partner here with me, my companion exorcist. We find the portal to the Underworld in the earthen middle of this circular ramp to 41. There is a spiraling pathway into the center of the circle from the asphalt, a miniature map of where the wild begins, and reclaims what she lost. “Do you remember the way in?” My companion asks me. “The Earth will open for you, and will close around you. Darkness will be all you can see and your breath will leave you entirely as the weight of the ground presses in. There will be no breath for a moment, and all will be blackness. Then your breath will return in a great rush, and your eyes will open, and your ears and nose will open, and you will be on The Other Side.”

We go into this place, and my breath is lost to the darkness. When it comes rushing back, it is a new breath unlike in the world above. My name here is Edath, and my companion is Adair.

The spirits here are up to no good, and it is up to myself and Adair to foil them. Scouts on reconnaissance, Adair is to fly the plane, but the bad spirits discover this and are angry. We must go quickly. We fly above their dwelling with our invisible wings, the ones I always have when I am an exorcist, attached to my arms and down my back and legs. But we have dropped our silver sword, Adair falling toward the abyss along with it, but by a great energy I lift him back up to me.

 

 

image: Creative Commons CC0

Coyote’s Cloak of Death

I dream I am playing frisbee with men whose faces match those of my friends and some family members. The game begins lightly but turns unexpectedly aggressive, then violent. they are throwing sharp rocks at me. Something is changed in their faces, and I see that it is not my friends or family, but the face-stealers, the demons I have dreamt of many times. I run from them, underneath a large stone-built bridge from centuries past. It makes an arch over the water and the bridge’s walkway is flat and high above the river. The mens’ faces have become demonically angry underneath the thin disguise of the human, and terrible women are with them too. They are all a part of a horrific regime.

Nearby, built into this stone bridge beside the water are stables for animals. I go inside and hide in a stall barely large enough for me to fit into laying sideways. Now Coyote appears to me. She tells me to take off my clothing and be only in my skin now, to hide in this stall curled up, and to play dead. I do as she says, and a moment later a soldier of the regime finds me, and thinks I am dead. I hear him crying regret, saying “Her face haunts me,” at seeing what he had done to people, that he had killed them. So I look convincingly dead, and I see myself from his perspective now –sickly greenish as a corpse, and in a stage of decay with the bones of my face showing.

Coyote speaks, “It is the cloak of death that covers you and saves you, though you are not really dead. I know the way. I bring back to life everything.” And the soldier falls to the ground in contrition, begging forgiveness, and his gun becomes a pile of ash. Beneath my shapeshifter’s cloak I also grieve for my people who have been lost to the jaws of the regime. When the repentant soldier leaves, I crawl out of the stall, in the movement of animal forms down the corridor of straw beds to where two of my beloved friends are sitting and waiting with water on their heads catching light, welcoming me back from the dead, and laughing with Coyote.

 

 

image: Creative Commons CC0

What Wild Is

 

Starting out on a wander across a bridge

that sways under feet, between gravity and air

you meet Northern Flicker. You stop,

body posed in mid-step like an animal;

you and the bird look into each other’s eyes.

He stands on the ground, flees from your burning gaze.

You straighten your beautiful back and walk on.

Like the river you now part the meadow,

rose-hips and brambles surround us.

I take note of the names given the flora

by Man in the garden– Thimbleberry and Alder.

Again your hand sweeps the grass to one side,

serpent of rushes, apple light falling over your face.

Is this what wild is? Coming onto

the riverbank, sandy pebbles,

a spiral made with blue stones.

Some come to be warriors.

Some come to love.

You leap up on a log.

 

 

 

 

image source: Creative Commons CC0

On the Porch at Cedar Lodge

Written for the closing week of Anake Outdoor School, 2013.

 

On Linne Doran land,          the Otter-Pond,
beside Cottonwoods           with heart-shaped leaves,
water-wood,                        and Cedars somber with
their overhanging eaves.    “Look at the light
on the Cottonwoods,”          the dancing-fire trees,
you speak from where         we sit at sunset
smoking on the porch.         Night breeze.
This is plenty seeing you     like a human,
talking quiet, no pretense,   no display.
“Did you see                        the Lagomorph
who went that way?”           The same hand gesturing
toward the ferocious green  of vernal mire
that instructs, that holds      my bee-stung arm
in tender reassurance.         “I have the gift
of tears,” I say.                     “My heart is tired.”

Someday,                             I’ll be sitting in full sun
and remembering                 that blanket of dusk:
the unnamable places,         initiation,
re-welcoming, the whole      in-between world
we could not                         have expected.
Animal voices                       from beyond the woodshed
and ravine, laughter             down the path to where
we gather in Malalo              for magic, wrapping the bundle,
burning,                                being seen.

I know you love                    this time of night,
the silhouettes of trees,        the ones that tip their tops,
that spread their branches   out like praise,
their differences of ways      discernible from a distance,
one more lesson                  in vision, but there is
black sleep                           creeping in now,
flowers are closing,              ferns keep unfurling
as they should,                     as is right in time,
in Nature’s time.                   But this is natural.
This cannot be planned.      Active hearts are tired hearts,
dirt-time for elderhood.        The way of the Scout
is to take no credit               even where credit is due.
Respect, Honor and Love.  The veil lifts.
Something more                  than what we signed up for
comes through.

 

 

 

 

Image © Gentle J. Pine. All rights reserved.

Cure-All

Cooking alone on a hotplate,

sound of a Spanish guitar plucking notes

from some other time and place

in Mediterranea, over songs of gentle want

she boils cures for broken hearts

from Dandelion, Laurel and Nettle,

one with a sting and once with spice,

and another sweet to cure-all.

This is Spring and much is scarce but weeds,

though she knows their names and secret uses

with a smile, the way the leaves and flowers

soak slowly until steam rises

reminds her what determination

with a spritz of fragrance is required

to taste the feast beyond famine.

Hot jewels of blooming stars, fair Orion

and the Dippers lend their love overhead

while she brews Springtime satisfaction.

Summer’s almost here.

 

 

 

image source: public domain

My Little Miacid

I dreamt I went fishing in a little river, and I caught a little miacid, an ancient animal. He was adorable with his shiny grey fur, just a baby, not bigger than a cat. He must’ve lived like an otter in the water, for he was a mammal without gills. How did I catch him?! I wanted to eat him. I was very hungry and that’s why I went fishing. But he looked at me and spoke to me in my mind, begging for life. He curled on up my shoulder and nuzzled me like a dear pet; sorrow for my hunger, loving him already and hating myself for what I knew I would do. I was very hungry, and my people were hungry, and we had nothing else. I thanked him for his little life. Then he showed me into a strange house with many mirrors, where there was blue water and a meeting of the ancestors. My grief and guilt, my love and hunger all mingled together as we each took our places at the table. The ancestors would speak. How I loved him, my little miacid.

 

Photo by Steve Huntington on Unsplash

Union of Pomegranates

 

I believe in the believers who live
in earthly bodies; these are angelic
whose genesis is the Tree of Life.
A union of pomegranates, gazelles grazing
give image to our beating hearts.
Whereon a sidewalk the unknown beggar
turns to friend and sudden bard
we hear a story about
Christ in the faces of everybody,
Saint Francis walking out naked,
leaping from his horse, offering his cloak,
rejecting his father’s hoard
for the love of God. It’s courage that
our action does not hinge upon
the weekly bulletin or the ordinary office.
Calling our men home from the long war,
horn of peace sounding, we women up
in flocking colors, folding you into me,
I put away empire. I like you best.
Somebody begins a riotous laugh
in a circle, slapping thighs hard,
throwing necks back like Sophia
going down with her flame-tongue
licking foreheads, good news
breathing into translation.
Behold, two fingers and a thumb
unfurled in benediction.
Bring the fish, and the wine,
and the bread.
Now we’ll lie down in green pastures
of city parks with each other;
you turn over and whisper,
Sweet Lord of the salt earth,
this is my body.
I give it up to you.

 

 

image: Creative Commons CC0

The Sign of the World

 

They move in unison across the landscape
separating their bodies but remaining one mind.
Now and again their minds are one.

Paint-blue storms from the sea call down the power,
flicker-snow flower as the sun parts the big arc
of the firmament and you’re surrounded on all sides,
baby eyes seeing, skin breathing, doe ears perked,
the long learning of grace and a large understanding:
love sacrifice and how the spring waters flow from it.

Warm fire, imagination. Cool, white heat.
Vision forever and ever.

True light goes where it wills,
recalls in it’s old smiles the first day
it seeped through the tan canyons,
caressed the green hills.
Now I am sure we are back at that first day for a moment.

I saw the grieving crowned with laurel and cedar,
the scent of sage and your sweet sweat in the mountains.
I heard a melodious sound on both sides of the night gate.
I saw bodies whole, our own bodies at play and at peace
and the stars all wheeled in their way overhead.
I felt the hands of a child bring to me the stag’s antler,
I saw the sign of the world in turtle tracks in the cool mud,
I saw ravens barrel-roll on the blue hem of heaven,
I awakened to the caravan’s laughter and water, fish in deep water,
I saw the sun called up by a father with heart and fire,
I heard a violin in the Juniper thicket.

Everywhere your face is clear to me,
whose lovely name is known by the mountains,
whose generations live in your being
from song into form into life.

I give my hands with yours to make the bread of the world,
cure for the sick, the heart that is restless for home.

Move through the woods and arroyos with beauty and grace
all my people, all one.
All souls are one.

 

Written for Anake Outdoor School of Wilderness Awareness School class of 2012-2013, The Awakening Otter Tribe, at Quail Springs Permaculture Farm, Cuyama, California, February 2013

 

Image © Gentle J. Pine. All rights reserved.

Nebula Bed

 

Night forest, black trail.
Second-growth February.
Water-thick gaping mouth wide
the dark wood eye-blinds the pitch path,
brush before sight.

I go to my solo bed
in the place of the forest
where mankind does not
see this animal aching.

Let me lie contented with dreams
as companion
sleeping warmly alone in
thick wool, heat condensation
–those pretty nebula clouds
far above me.

 

 

image source: public domain

Baby Lion

Last night I dreamt I was holding a baby lion. She bit my hand hard teething, but it didn’t hurt. Her little teeth felt good, like I was getting a gift of her cat power. There was an almost-grown male lion near us on the dirt road. Another human said I should not go near him yet because he has too much power. The older boy lion has a dazzling, brilliant golden coat and budding mane against the backdrop of the savanna grassland. The whole feeling of the dream was one of glory and joy. I woke up feeling delighted and blessed. Greetings and thanks to the whole family Felidae!

 

 

 

image: Creative Commons CC0