Jnana's Red Barn

A Space for Work and Reflection

INSIDE HISTORY AT FANEUIL HALL

Just imagine the figures who have spoken here through the course of American history.

Just imagine the figures who have spoken here through the course of American history.

Maybe it’s all a reflection of classic proportions, but so much in Peter Faneuil’s historic town hall and marketplace simply feels right ever since it was erected in 1742 and enlarged in 1805 under Charles Bulfinch’s masterful design.

Boston is a rich and varied destination – the Hub of New England, or the Universe, as they used to say. Living a little more than an hour to the north, we’re well within its orb.

Reaching for the top of the hall.

Reaching for the top of the hall.

 

STARTING OVER DINNER

the scene broke up the night D and V
connected the same time R and M did

all in one apartment . for me
only torment and loss

her haunted poster of the gaunt Gypsy
came off the wall a week later

~*~

of course, the living arrangements
would change . “when I first met you,
you were giving off funky vibes
like at a 90-degree angle . all nervous energy”
of course, we remained friends
for a while

~*~

there they were
like a bad novel
on Doubleday Street

there, he smiled from the kitchen
“anyone want some cooked garbage”

To continue, click here.
Copyright 2015

HUNTING IN THE OLD DAYS

True hunters in this country live on what they track, Kokopelli explains.

Articulating this precinct means drawing on three language stocks: Sahaptian, spoken by Klickitat, Yakama, Kittitas, Wanapam, Palus, Nez Pierce, Cayuse, and Umatilla; Salishan, by Wenatchi and Columbia; and Chinook, by Clackamas and Wishram.

Nine thousand years ago the climate resembled today’s. Around seven thousand years ago, Mount Mazama lost its head and Crater Lake emerged. Did the ash fall reduce the game? Kokopelli assumes so. About that time, Olivella shell beads show up in archeological sites, revealing coastal trade, in addition to a new kind of projectile point. About 6,500 years ago the roost became drier and warmer. Rivers ran significantly lower. Adz blades of nephrite and serpentine, about 4,500 years ago, permitted heavy woodworking and expose trade relations with what is now British Columbia. “That’s when I got this pipe,” Kokopelli says, allowing me to stroke the instrument. As winter temperatures became warmer, sizable winter villages gathered in river valleys for fuel, fresh drinking water, and greater protection from bitter winds. Such clustering required food storage capabilities and also permitted greater social and ceremonial activity, perhaps a result of more efficient food gathering. Most likely this involved salmon fishing, properly dried and preserved, caught in great numbers; fish traps and weirs were much more efficient than spears, lines, dip nets, or bows and arrows.

From this came pit houses, some of them earth-covered for insulation, others covered with mats and grass or brush. The mats swelled and froze in winter to keep wind and rain out; as spring temperatures rose, thawing provided ventilation. Such housing required well-drained soil, such as that of desert.

The tipi was introduced much later, from the Great Plains.

A-frame mat houses developed from the pit design. Their emergence especially reflected the introduction of horse culture, which added to trade possibilities and also brought saddles, bridles, quirts, dress, and ornamentation such as feathered headdresses, but above all else, ideas about tribal organization. Appaloosa were on the way. Whalebone clubs, as well as fishing nets and harpoons, were acquired through expanded trade networks.

Horses allowed more food to be brought back from summer sojourns in the mountains. Soon bowl-shaped mortars and elongated pestles were used to prepare food. “Let me tell you about real progress,” Kokopelli insists.

Each local group assumed stewardship over the economic resources of its locale. Leadership arose out of respect, not law. Ritual purification occurred in sweat houses. Three-day workouts weren’t uncommon. I wonder whether voters and candidates alike should do the same before Election Day. There is, after all, a kinship to hunting and fishing.

Kokopelli agrees.

The major run of king salmon and oil-rich sock-eye salmon comes in late May or early June, when most of the year’s food supply is caught. The best spot for dip netting is where rivers bear down through narrow channels or over low falls. Wooden platforms tied precariously to basaltic cliffs hang over whirlpools and eddies. Such stations are inherited and highly prized. Permission must be sought before fishing there.

Fish head pulverized in a mortar, then carefully packed in baskets and stored for winter, provides a highly concentrated protein food. Even a few ounces serves as a full meal.

Bears caught in a dead-fall were hunted mostly for claws and teeth — ceremonial ornaments.

Wapatoo was a type of wild potato, perhaps like camas.

Cooperative hunting and salmon harvests were common. Women’s berry picking parties, too, even though some tribes were basically river folk. Excepting the Wishram band, the Yakamas believed in individual rights. They differed from coastal tribes, which possessed slaves who might fall to a cannibal ceremony.

Much the way rabbit skins are cut in a spiral to produce long strips, I keep learning. Once you acknowledge the importance of certain foods in a given turf, you discern zone-specific energies. In ecologically aware feasting, hamburger and hot dogs are thoroughly inappropriate for many reasons. They have no authentic geographic home.

For more insights from the American Far West and Kokopelli, click here.

PURPORT

I confess everything
I’m guilty
even when it comes to crime
I’ve failed
I can’t even lie, if I try
as for confronting an issue
I understand none of the charges

they say a house
even an old house
settles
but that’s not precisely
accurate, where
sinking
and sagging
are more apt

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson
To see the full set of
Partitas, click here.

ALONG WITH HIGH STYLE

Rouge on lips or toenails, the glimmer of gold jewelry or a gemstone, the glossy photograph or the slick magazine, the light in a drop of costly perfume, the shimmer in a particular weave or pattern of spectacular cloth, or the haute (hoity-toity) air of a trendy boutique: each reflects eternal desires and feminine intrigue. The interplay of status-seeking, gamesmanship, the swift-changing hunt, and the theater of fashion spreads out far from its urban epicenters – and crosses nations, languages, continents, and ages. How quickly a little girl insists on her own definitive style! The poet and poetry are not immune, either, infused with their own tastes and passions. Where a dictionary observes  gloss as “the luster or sheen of a polished surface,” there is also the danger of “a deceptive or superficial appearance” as well as “an effort to hide or attempt to hide (errors, defects, etc.).” Still, a gloss may also attempt to interpret or translate. The curve or the motion, the smile or the gaze, skin itself, or hair in sunlight or moonlight, each concealing while hinting of revelations. So often, awaiting next month’s editions.

These are the poems that conclude my newest collection, Foreign Exchange.

~*~

Foreign Exchange

Foreign Exchange

For these poems and more, visit Thistle/Flinch editions.

CURRENT, CURLING

1

 prevalent, from the west
clear and cooler, from the north
rain on the way, from the south
tempest, from the east

reading the wind

in a flag
in smoke
in running clouds
or water in a clear thistle tube

2

listen, a storm approaches
through leaves and hills
the same sound as falling water

surf repeats its snare drumming
along the shoreline

matching a far-off airplane

all voice great power
resounding

in a stream
in the tide
in air
even in a light bulb

what’s present, now
within some great
motion

around each wing
the flow of thought
keeps running

3

ring around the moon
as a warning

listen, rainfall
will warm the ocean

and swimming is best
just after high tide

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson
To see the full set of seacoast poems,
click here.

UPHOLDING THEIR REPUTATIONS

The question about being “careful for the reputation of others” raised special concerns about our actions in our workplace perhaps our most unguarded location. One mentioned how, in staff meetings at his clinic, it becomes commonplace to speak of the clients in a derogatory manner, to which another noted how it then becomes “us” versus “them” in ways that allow “us” to glorify ourselves while denigrating “them.” That is not the way of loving our neighbor as ourselves, obviously. Nor does anyone ask “them” if they want to be excluded. We’re back to the old log in our own eye while we complain about the splinter in the other guy’s.

~*~

For more Seasons of the Spirit, click here.

WADE IN THE WATERS

Why wait for the dust to settle? Here are 10 bullets from my end.

~*~

  1. Tide-pooling requires climbing around on slippery boulders in the intertidal zone that exists between daily high and low water marks along the coastline and its tributaries. It means parting the various kinds of seaweed or lifting rocks to observe what’s underneath and then placing them all back very gently. My favorite time to go is at extreme low tide, when we can venture into reaches that would otherwise be too deep. How I love to overturn my first submerged rock and find both starfish (officially, a sea star) or urchin – and then a second, with two starfish. The first time I find three in one day, my wife proclaims me to be a member of the Order of Starfish. In another week or so, the water may be warm enough for brisk swimming, too.
  2. We seem to be on schedule with the garden, despite a late start. But there’s always something that will be left behind as we go.
  3. Professional (as in JOB) – a prop, identity, or purpose? Now that I’m retired, I’m still working.
  4. He admits, “I’m a skin man” for attraction, more than tits, ass, or legs. Well, if you have to get picky?
  5. Keep asking myself what my life would be lacking if I hadn’t moved to the hippie farm or gone to the ashram at all? My novels Hippie Drum, Hippie Love, Ashram, and likely Subway Hitchhikers would have never come forth, for starters. As I look back, the experiences look inevitable – and essential.
  6. As much as Dr. Bronner’s bottle-label diatribes arose from a splash of water, I suppose.
  7. You don’t know about hillbillies in a Yankee state? Oh, my. Then and now.
  8. Our neighbors’ block party is always a big occasion. Living one street over, we’re always included.
  9. What’s it mean to be a LANDLOCKED SAILOR?
  10. How much of my “real life” has been COUNTER-CURRENT – that is, occurring apart from the time and labor that paid the bills?

~*~

Spire in the city.

Spire in the city.

The historic Park Street Church sits at the edge of Boston Common and just a few blocks from the Massachusetts State House. In addition to the long list of influential speakers who appeared in its pulpit, the wonderful composer George Whitefield Chadwick was organist here. He beat Dvorak to the punch at a New World symphony.

 

TOGETHER

Of course complications disrupt and delay
the old house transaction could be an omen
nothing they undertake together would be as simple
as any movie

Of course the vacillation impeded
the insertion of daffodil and hyacinths bulbs from
cobwebbed dreams His Lady of Two Daughters considered
gardens by ambition and suspense

Of course they passed papers and camped overnight
in the empty century-old house a porcelain faucet handle
shattered in His Lady of Mount Olive’s hand nearly severing
her thumb on his birthday like a blood sacrifice sprinkling
the wood floors and they wondered about
her lacking medical insurance, as well

Of course they had no way of foreseeing
the coming weeks his lists and plans
only the beginning as for omens he’d recognize
together resolutely for the long haul

Poem copyright 2015 by Jnana Hodson
To read the full set of squirrelly poems,
click here.

 

COLONIAL LINES

Facing the street ...

Facing the street …

Novelist Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) was born in this 1774 house owned by her grandparents, which she would inherit from them. The site, sitting in the heart of South Berwick, Maine, just a few miles from us, is now owned by Historic New England and open to the public.

Like many New England houses, additions have kept growing to the original structure.

Like many New England houses, additions have kept growing to the original structure.