Isn’t the Whole World Your Comfort

 

Tell me, ancestors, who now see with clear eyes
from the bright mountains where you now live,
are you no longer afraid?
Isn’t the whole world your comfort
splashed in the light of things,
and the clear mountains where you now live.
The valleys lean toward you, and
the Great Milky Way is your pathway
and soft sand underfoot.
I would walk the long road to the village at dusk,
the sunset behind me, knowing I’d find you.
Now you live in the Soul of the World.
Be near me in tenderness: humankind is not made for
too much aloneness. I have nothing to hide from,
do not turn me away; take me into to your firelight.
I am not always the hazy-minded kind of my species.
At what point does one come to know what is sacred?
Grandma, I ask you with an aching heart,
do not hide these last days from me.
Poetry by Gentle J. Pine

This Time, We Have Come

Slowly enough to be steady, rowing sturdy canoes,
old-speak appearing in the fog on the water
first language, hand-spoken, fur-hackles
predating the migration of babble.

The land that we love should not be carved into prizes.
Nobody owns a place until their dead are laid down in it.
Are you a wild god of fury?
Are you untamed, as suspected?
There is no safety with you, then,
Unpredictable Storm.
You are the end of safety,
but somehow you are comforting.

You would know, if you are here.
You must know, if what they say of you is true.
You too must have also suffered
a severance from family and tribe.
You must know the sadness
of all songs.

This time, O Lord of Burnt Offerings,
We have come bearing a trial of lanterns
to hunt you, whispering your darkened name

and your old shadow reclaims you,
curls in relief
down in toward wooded night comfort
slinking back into thickets
evading intrusive light.

This time, God,
we have come ready to find you,
wherever you are.

This time, Mother,
whoever you are now.

A Book About Evil and God

 

 

Laying down, reading a book about evil and God,

two insects wrestle on the ground below my eyes

while another carries her dead comrade away.

I, monumental–

and the ants– what devotion they show me.

Obscure, so near to them,

an incomprehensible cloud.

 

 

 

poetry and photography by Gentle J. Pine

Three Apples, This Child

“Three apples, this child,”

says the old woman beside me,

“Not a lot of twins these days,”

observes another: doppelgangers are

rare when nobody can see them.

Three apples, this child,

in the night woods of shadows and comfort, he follows and shapeshifts into a heart-piercing grown male,

she follows and finds him past the known world of her hairlessness

where the inhuman twins are carrying their beckoning apples.

they have fur and heat, too

they appear at the edge of the village,

sometimes with bundles of sweet red,

or green for a love potion

or yellow for the wooded sunrise winding into the east.

they arrive as the old shapeshifters,

beloved hidden in a cloak of marvelous danger

necessary, deeply and heralding

a happy death to all childhoods

song-speaking into warm beds in the great night, telling of futures past

the edge of the nursery

where for untrimmed beasts

at long last, the way is made open,

and the yearning halves of each become each,

these rightful pathways of good shadows,

full apples.

The Name of All Songs

 

When I write, who will come to visit me in my words?

Rumi, I also wonder who says words with my mouth.

But when you, Friend, come to my door

I will know to open it for you, and your name

will be the name of all songs.

 

And by many names do you come!

And through countless faces

you look out at the world in love.

Let me be your abiding place

where you come to stay without worry.

And by the good words that come

from the core of the happy heart,

may your breathing be the life of all lands.

 

 

 

Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash

A Road Running Two Ways

It has been a while since I’ve collected my thoughts fro publication, here. I’ve been occupied with learning Japanese  (again) in long and mostly satisfying hours of study. I began learning Japanese as a child, and I have always wanted to finish the job. T and I are also looking to move, soon, and I am fixated on discarding as many unnecessary belongings as possible, a task that is at once intensely cleansing and liberating while also anxiety-producing. Among the things that have piled up lately are the stacks of journal entries in various notebooks that I have been sorting through. Here are some of these writings.

The senses are an ally. They lead us into the heart of praise and happiness. Stoicism only takes a human heart so far. After the medicine of moderating and dis-attaching from inflated emotion, it is a sweet renewal to return to the upwelling praise and astonishment at the life of the physical word.

You who bring all the stars into being, my relationship with you is changing. I feel better about it because I am not so lonely when I am not missing you so much. I am more comfortable, now, in the natural apathetic doubt of adulthood. But I do not vilify this natural distance we humans feel from you, sometimes. Because of my refusal to vilify such a naturally-occuring disinterest in constantly thinking about the divine, I feel less theistic than ever. This is peaceful in its own way. Still, I hope that the quiet between us will not last too long.

Through the human ability to form words comes rushing the ancient, pre-humanly infinite energy of creation. But because we are so limited in our articulate power and so endlessly restless in our search for the holy, I am coming to understand how a departure from such chasing of truth and intensity brings great relief to the sapiens mind. Is this a part of what the Zen Buddhists allude to?

Our species, they say, was parted in ancient days
85,000 years ago at a road running two ways
out of Africa; it was on a cliffside, imagine:
the boundless earth of beasts beyond humans,
a deep wilderness yet to know a first campfire:
we wore the same skin, then. You stood
on the edge of a dry place, my right cheek
facing north to where the earth opened up
into a cavernous trail beckoning my progeny
into a country unnamed, a foreigner’s skin.

My Latest Publications

I am pleased to announce that my poetry has been published in two literary journals, with another set to be published in the summer of 2018.

My poem, Continental Drift, has been published in the latest issue of Stonecoast Review Literary Arts Journal (Winter 2017, Issue No. 8).

Another one of my poems, Fine Print, has been published in Brickplight Issue 8.

Forthcoming in June of 2018 will be my poem, Teenager, published in Illuminations Literary Magazine at the College of Charleston.

The Surest of All Loves

 

 

Great World, Great Soul whom I love,

I run into your arms

without perfect words, a mind-full

but never quite perfect words

recited by mortals, save birds.

Where, my love, are your hands?

Your hands that will hold us?

I sit in the rain and the snow,

meditating, finding you there.

Surely you are more clearly seen

by the hoofed ones, and by the creatures

of feather and fur.

They do not spend their lives in worry of grief.

Be at peace, heart of fire.

This human anguish– fall now into the arms

of the dark earth, the surest of all loves.

 

 

 

Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash

A Harbinger in Autumn

 

Rufous autumn leaves, cold day,

lambent at sunset, grey skies.

Love, welcome. Winter fire logs

from the tarn. The colors of

my youngest cat; golden brush-brown,

streaked black is the good earth below me

and the colors of my eldest cat above:

fluffy white cloud belly, grey-blue, deep silver.

Sweet little purr-bears on my lap, my back;

leaves fall and flutter to the dampened ground.

The wind, the tidings-bearer, harbinger

of the whole wide-overhead come down to visit.

Ye creaking bones of time gone-by, coming up for

another dance, find life anew this second spring

where your progeny more lithely sing; enter, soul,

this body new and here-below

to vivify the heart of our Creator;

living, moving imminent in earth

the wheel, the firmament’s rebirth.

 

poetry by Gentle J. Pine

Sienna Acorn Luminance

A journal from 7.18.2016

Sixteen years ago I was here. In summertime in Fresno, California, there is River Camp on the San Joaquin River. The air heats up quickly here, but by the river it is not so bad. The water and the trees make it cooler. This way you can go down to the river at Woodward Park some extremely hot dry valley day –try it in the afternoon, sometime– because you will find water there. You will find beauty you didn’t see before. When you go, be yourself caught in the river’s sienna acorn luminance with cheerful pale green leaves, where living water flows from the Sierra Nevadas. It was on a day like this I was ten years old and Grandma was driving me to this our beautiful river. There would be wonderings I could never forget, owl pellets and river rocks and the feel of the golden silt-sand underneath my bare feet in the shallows of the shimmer-green river. Now I am here visiting without a car, this day as an adult, and it is difficult to get around these parts without a car. Without a car you have to walk to the river because the places where the people live aren’t built like they used to be, how people used to be able to expect to get to the rivers on their own two feet.

This morning I walk the streets of my desert city and I meet an abundance of purple wine grapes planted for the joy of the public on the side of the road, at Blackstone and Shaw. In handfuls, they give themselves to me. The energy of this climate is condensed into these tiny clusters of grapes, a land and air so akin to the Mediterranean, and so the climate is called. These grapes are care-taken by some kind human who comes by to see that they are robust, but mostly the sun does his work and the valley soil does hers, even in the middle of the city. Firm and gleaming, a pale dust settles pleasingly on the ripe curve of each grape, making the backs of my jaws water by the look of them.

Margaret Hudson is a famous sculpture artist from here in Fresno. I went to visit her studio in the month of June earlier this year. It’s very hot in June in Fresno. Margaret wasn’t home because she is very old now and living elsewhere, but her art is still lively and all her sculpted creatures are still smiling who are created by day, by kiln, by the work of her hands. They are formed out of mud and earth and some deep joyful material. It must be the same joy that knows about making a desert a paradise, because the bringer of good words, the great one who forms faces from clay, is in all places in need of good water.

Every time I come back here I love this land more and more. When I was a teenager dreaming of other places, it wasn’t from a lack of love for this place. I wanted to take the pink blossoms of The Blossom Trail with me so they, too, could live in cleaner air by the sea in San Francisco. But that city didn’t really open to me, and I was never at home there, a traveller there for two years. But I always feel at home in Fresno, close to my Sierras, especially in the north by the San Joaquin River, or in the east near Clovis where in spring the Blossom Trail blooms.

 

8.13.2017

I think again of this poem I wrote, Heat Time Dawn

Heat time sunrise Fresno California
roses hum cricket’s continuous singing–
mourning dove’s soft hoot on the terrace
is perched at the edge of the sky

My desert is alive with the spirits of pine needle,
cottontail bounding in sage, to San Joaquin river
white live oak offering incense,
a hanging pot floats magic carpet to red roof

In the lush breeze of July dawn in the valley
listen for Worldmaker sauntering in the garden,
with Coyote and prickly pear he goes in the garden–
run out to meet him in dew drops on adobe

 

Photography © Gentle J. Pine. All rights reserved.