Echolocations: music and the divine in the canyon

It’s possible to over-emote how profound and evocative the connection between music and place can be. So first, just watch this:

Anyone who has read this blog knows of my love for canyons and the epiphanies that rock, water, and sky can beget. What Andrew Bird and Tyler Manson have done in this film is show the sacredness of a Canyon, how those cliff walls, how the slow trickle of time, how the austere span of a natural bridge (in this case, Coyote Natural Bridge in Coyote Gulch, Escalante, Utah) are manifestations of something divine. I love Andrew Bird’s music (how can you not love someone who does this and this?), but for me, his whistling and plucking in this film are secondary to the music of the place itself: his footsteps through the thin stream, his murmured awe when he enters the canyon, the silence of his scramble over slick rock. Even the way the light plays off the Navajo sandstone and filters through the cottonwoods is music. I look at the shadowy figure of Bird, dwarfed by the cottonwoods, themselves dwarfed by the canyon walls, and realize that music is equal to the task of the long arc of geologic time: an expression of the dwarfing nature of Sacredness, Divinity. I am in awe of this film. And, yes, awe is the proper word.

 

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What Faith sounds like

Faith (n). \ˈfāth\ [ME faith < AF feid < L fid(e)-, s. of fidēs trust]

1) a single bell struck: as in 

2) the low anguished moan and the soaring vibrato of John Coltrane’s saxophone, esp. from Alabama 

3) Biol. the emerging calls of spring, esp. Pseudacris crucifer: 

4) Slang. the pop of a baseball into a glove, usu. leather

5) http://www.freesound.org/embed/sound/iframe/223800/simple/large/

6) the rustle of sheets and the rhythmic sigh of my children turning over in their sleep

7) silence

 

 

Lenten Poetry Practice: Poem 37

TO ELLIE

 

You made a hell of an entrance, Kid,

cockeyed inside for thirty-plus hours

until choiceless they had to cut you out.

Were you aware of the huffing and screaming,

the beeping from instruments to measure

your pulse? I don’t remember

a moment of silence –

from the whir of the blade slicing through flesh

to them yanking you out already wailing –

until swaddled on Mom you both finally slept.

The way you arrived was not the exception

which is why late at night I watch while you dream.

Peace, little dervish, fleet though it be,

is sweeter when all the world is a-whirl.

_____________________________________________________________

for the season of Lent, I am writing a poem a day.  While each poem’s theme or content is not necessarily Lenten, the practice of writing these poems is meant to slow me down, to repair somethings broken within me, and to connect me more deeply to the metaphysical.  I put these poems up here largely unedited.  Your comments are always welcomed.

Lenten Poetry Practice: Poem 36

WHAT’S BLINKING IN THE SKY ABOVE

 

There’s something about an airplane at night and its trajectory

between the stars that puts me in mind of distance

and travel and time. That silent coincidence

of miniscule bodies crammed into metal and pulled

like on a pulley string so smoothly above

the bluffs. And me on this rocky ground, the asphalt

nearby ruptured and ridged by the hemlock’s

invasive roots, proof that it’s still growing

a century on or more. I might be puny beneath

its bottle-brush canopy, its sheaf of evergreen scent,

but those travelers aloft are punier still,

a minor comet, a one-time shot into Pacific Time.

They’ll wake in new beds to the thrum of the ceaseless

ocean pounding the shore and its aeonic grains of sand.

_____________________________________________________________

for the season of Lent, I am writing a poem a day.  While each poem’s theme or content is not necessarily Lenten, the practice of writing these poems is meant to slow me down, to repair somethings broken within me, and to connect me more deeply to the metaphysical.  I put these poems up here largely unedited.  Your comments are always welcomed.

Lenten Poetry Practice: Poem 35

GROWING UP IN DICTATORSHIP

 

Sis tested sirens in my youth every hour

though the Poles had already rebelled.

But those were still days of duck and cover

in our house where totality held.

_____________________________________________________________

for the season of Lent, I am writing a poem a day.  While each poem’s theme or content is not necessarily Lenten, the practice of writing these poems is meant to slow me down, to repair somethings broken within me, and to connect me more deeply to the metaphysical.  I put these poems up here largely unedited.  Your comments are always welcomed.

Lenten Poetry Practice: Poem 34

UNTITLED

 

Then I awoke and May had come again

all splattered through with laze and ease:

the clouds that roam – no stagnant haze – and trees

that flutter like a lash, or clearing skies beyond the rain,

withstood by selfsame lashing leaves

erect, not battened down to sweep like damsel’s hair

along the frozen street; instead that image intact

of lifting lash on damsel’s lid, secondary reflex act

which is the breeze then gone.

I blinked and on autumn’s air

was May’s spry breath like fingers splayed across my back;

or better still the butterfly of a caress,

her lash to feast glissando morsels on my nose

as she into my crook finds crevice.

                                                                          Then I arose

to watch the West infold that breath into its breast:

she’s gone from my bed where I’ll await and somehow know

of every step and pause and fluttered breath –

her return from where she goes.

_____________________________________________________________

for the season of Lent, I am writing a poem a day.  While each poem’s theme or content is not necessarily Lenten, the practice of writing these poems is meant to slow me down, to repair somethings broken within me, and to connect me more deeply to the metaphysical.  I put these poems up here largely unedited.  Your comments are always welcomed.

Lenten Poetry Practice: Poem 33

MY MELANCHOLY

 

Tearing down main street –

the cherry blooms pink –

the wind makes them tremble

then fall in the blink

of an eye, then the street’s

at a loss and I think:

beauty and sorrow

forever are linked.

_____________________________________________________________

for the season of Lent, I am writing a poem a day.  While each poem’s theme or content is not necessarily Lenten, the practice of writing these poems is meant to slow me down, to repair somethings broken within me, and to connect me more deeply to the metaphysical.  I put these poems up here largely unedited.  Your comments are always welcomed.

Lenten Poetry Practice: Poem 32

TO JAMES

Sweet boy who cuddles close because

in waking time you don’t fit in:

I know. That is, I’ll never know

what wires crossed to make you so

or if wires played a role at all,

but, closer now, for I do know

of feeling forsook, of feeling alone,

as community moves in a way you don’t move.

I’d say take heart but truth be told

some days I feel the heart can’t hold

in a sad land bounded by only sad seas.

But see me and know that I’m still here –

and countless others – though solace as such

seems shallow when shadows make life a hard slog

and leaving makes all the sense in the world.

Not a soul that I know hasn’t pondered the same.

and still I’m not sure which one I’d choose:

To vanish into the wild and live

your days apart is shameful enough,

but is it more shameful than showing up

and being alone among the crowd?

_____________________________________________________________

for the season of Lent, I am writing a poem a day.  While each poem’s theme or content is not necessarily Lenten, the practice of writing these poems is meant to slow me down, to repair somethings broken within me, and to connect me more deeply to the metaphysical.  I put these poems up here largely unedited.  Your comments are always welcomed.

Lenten Poetry Practice: Poem 31

UNTITLED

 

Spring night,

the frogs in heat.

But I am loath to climb

in bed and snuff their mating calls alone

again.

_____________________________________________________________

for the season of Lent, I am writing a poem a day.  While each poem’s theme or content is not necessarily Lenten, the practice of writing these poems is meant to slow me down, to repair somethings broken within me, and to connect me more deeply to the metaphysical.  I put these poems up here largely unedited.  Your comments are always welcomed.

Lenten Poetry Practice: Poem 30

THE FALCON AND THE FALCONER

 

What says the falcon to the squire?

“The lies press down on us like fire

and breathe our pain. I’ll soar no more.”

 

“But oxygen’s thick with smells of her hair

and blossoms would do less to the country air

than her flavor of laughter from prairie to shore.”

 

“Land from up here looks tattered and stolen,

the rivers descend and rush country-wide, swollen.”

“Whose mind gets made up while the rest of us eddy?

 

The only perspective I get is on knoll

but valleyed distances soon take their toll;

I’ll pull back that veil only when ready.”

 

“My eyes sweep a broader horizon aloft;

I can trace whence things came and where they got lost,

but the details I’m far too longsighted to see.”

 

“Here on the ground is the most detailed view, then,

and you can stay airborne and say where we have been.

But the how and the why will be up to me.”

_____________________________________________________________

for the season of Lent, I am writing a poem a day.  While each poem’s theme or content is not necessarily Lenten, the practice of writing these poems is meant to slow me down, to repair somethings broken within me, and to connect me more deeply to the metaphysical.  I put these poems up here largely unedited.  Your comments are always welcomed.