Jnana's Red Barn

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TWAS EVER THUS

Just a taste of what’s popping up. In case you were looking for a prompt.

~*~

  1. The anticipation mounts when we espy our first asparagus shoots. At this point they express their kindred alignment with ferns, but we know how incredible the spears will be cut minutes before cooking. Forget what you buy in the stores or restaurants.
  2. “Twas ever thus,” as my Mr. Natural tee-shirt still proclaims.
  3. With a sticker covering part of the box, what I read was “Rock Pot, the Original Slow Cooker.” You know, like back in the Stone Age.
  4. It wasn’t in the plan when we decided to dine in Manchester, but I wound up leading a tour through the city’s West Side, plus the millyard and overlook of the Amoskeag falls and dam. “That was as satisfying as having a destination,” she proclaimed.
  5. Pondering the Holy Spirit as Shekinah. Why not a female as holy lover? The Kabbalist perceiving sparks (holy Light) everywhere! Consort of God as feminine action. As for Lillith? Ah, yes, what of her?
  6. Trying to translate from one era or culture to another presents a host of challenges. The term “kingdom of God,” for instance, can convey both patriarchy and monarchy at odds with contemporary American outlooks. I like the “commonwealth of God” instead, though there’s nothing common about it.
  7. How I’ve come to enjoy any stay-in-my-sweats day, one where I drive nowhere. Soon it may turn into slip into shorts and sandals, but the effect’s the same.
  8. How does that big city newspaper get the partygoers to look so good in its weekly charity events page?
  9. I hate “small talk” – or at least struggle with it in many social settings. Any suggestions?
  10. What do I crave? Lust for? (As for you?)

~*~

Virtually all of the rail traffic to and from Maine and the rest of the nation passes along these tracks in downtown Dover, along with the four Amrak runs to Boston and back each day.

Virtually all of the rail traffic to and from Maine and the rest of the nation passes along these tracks in downtown Dover, along with the four Amrak runs to Boston and back each day.

For my slideshow of Amtrak’s Downeaster in town, click here.

LINKING HEAVEN AND DIRT

Now, he wonders. Are there any squirrels in literature
as mythic powers? Not science? And then,
in Old Norse! There’s RATATOSKR. (Rat-tat Oscar!)

“carrying hateful words”

the messenger between the eagle and the top of the tree
and the dragon at the base
all this running up and down

Yggdrasil, the sacred tree

Just like Jack and the beanstalk
or Jacob’s angels on the ladder.

*   *   *

to see a squirrel as cute misses the point
as in teeth

there are advantages in developing
a taste for garbage

bounding, bounding, break

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

 

TAURUS, TENDERLY

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

~*~

  1. Daffodils and rising scrolls of ferns are two of my favorite proclamations of spring. Last year a sharp drop in temperature cut the daffodils down just as they were starting to bloom. We were so disappointed. (The same snap also wiped out peaches across New England.) How quickly, too, can a vibrant patch go scraggly if you don’t divide the bulbs every few years. As for our ferns, I now feel vindicated for all the ones I transplanted in futile efforts that first decade before they took hold here.
  2. Likewise, hold true to a vision of progress, of a more just and loving society, a realm of selflessness over selfishness.
  3. Hard for me to believe I composed Village of Gargoyles while living in an apartment complex atop the highest hill in the biggest city in the state – before moving to the smaller city where I now reside – a place more befitting the village of these poems.
  4. Need to get new Tibetan prayer flags. The old ones are totally frayed.
  5. Has anyone else read Ned Rorem’s Paris Diary or its New York sequel? Saturated in the self-centeredness and self-indulgence of youth, they’re deliciously juicy and fun reading, though I could never be snide like that. Besides, if I did it here at the Barn, you wouldn’t know anyone in my circles. They’re not even celebrities, even of the minor sort. So much for the gossip on my end.
  6. While assembling the hammock, I heard a squirrel overhead scolding one of the neighborhood cats, likely the one we call Spooky. “Get it,” I urged the cat. Whereupon an empty Nutella jar landed on the table, barely missing me, its lid neatly chewed around. Something the squirrel had pilfered from what one of the kids had likely hidden in the barn sometime over the winter. I looked around but saw nobody to confirm was had just transpired. Trust me.
  7. My emotional wall just may be a shell, too.
  8. In my first moves, all my goods fit in my car.
  9. During the American Revolution, the village center that served as Rhode Island’s capital changed its name from King’s Town to Little Rest, with its delicious double meaning.
  10. Yearning for a renewed feeling of bliss – the holy ecstasy – something I wish she, too, would experience, however foreign it might seem now.

~*~

By my side at the moment. My coffee mug's on a shelf above it.

By my side at the moment. My coffee mug’s on a shelf above it.

NO BLACK FLIES OR SKEETERS – YET

The mind dances here and there, rarely in a linear fashion. So what’s on my mind these days? How about counting on these fingers?

~*~

  1. I’m still impressed by all the latent energy stored above the waterfalls in the streams around us.
  2. The water’s flashing. Rivers and ponds spark – shoot away – fire away – in rippling sheen.
  3. Another of my spring tasks involves bringing the garden hoses down from the loft, connecting them to the faucets, and going to the cellar to reopen the valves.
  4. It’s time to pencil in a trip to the Garden in the Woods in Framingham, Massachusetts. The site, headquarters to the New England Wildflower Society, is especially popular through May into mid-June, for good reason. The organization goes to great lengths to enhance nature, though you have to look close to detect their careful irrigation units and similar touches.
  5. Even when the material for a blog is mostly already done, this act of posting takes up more time than anticipated. Where do the hours go?
  6. A fine time to hike in Maine woods: no black flies and no skeeters. The only sounds in some places: wind in the trees or water sounding like highway traffic.
  7. It’s one of those years when the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western dates for Easter coincide.
  8. Time to be on the lookout for tender young dandelions for our diet. They’re surprisingly good with eggs over easy, a drizzle of bacon fat, or homemade vinaigrette. Gotta pick ’em, though, before they bloom and turn bitter.
  9. A favorite minitrip: Head up to Portland, Maine (just an hour northeast). Hit the Standard Bakery near the docks and then the 10 o’clock mail-run ferry around Casco Bay. Six stops on five islands. Reminds me at times of Puget Sound, so many years back.
  10. And, as they say, introduce yourself. These days, could use something catchy, humorous. Something, for that matter, like a good pickup line, not that I ever had any. Feel free to share your examples.

~*~

Here's a view, one backyard to another, only a few blocks from our house. Looks a lot wilder than it is.

Here’s a view, one backyard to another, only a few blocks from our house. Looks a lot wilder than it is.

 

REGARDING WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

despite a full plate of crumbling renovations on hold
Squirrel adopts the Yankee attitude on old-house syndrome and its endless repairs
that is (lots of laughs) wait until something actually falls off
if you can survive doing so
until the savings recover
or there’s thawing

* * *

by late May, the soil firms enough
to get about removing an extensive box elder
for light to expand a space
for a 25-by-4-foot raised bed
of asparagus

in late September, with 20 raised beds of various sizes
boldly placed
the child moans she hates wood chip pathways
and would rather have a soccer field on a hillside

still Squirrel wonders who’s kicking next in their recipe
invoking a snaking rainbow, and is grateful

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

ALL IN THE WILD

Being mindful of what’s right in front of us can always be a challenge. Here are 10 new items from my end.

~*~

  1. On the highway north, somewhere just before Tamworth, comes that first big view of Mount Washington. This time of year the crest is an eagle span of ghostly white spreading atop powder-blue ranges below. Sometimes another band of clouds resembling mountains stretches above, and all three sit below a blue band of real sky. Knowing what’s coming up simply heightens the anticipation.
  2. Back home, my rounds of outdoor spring tasks soon lead to the Smoking Garden. The bags of leaves stacked beside the barn as windbreakers will need to be moved to the big compost bin, which needs to be emptied first (though it’s usually frozen tight this time of year). Then there’s the hammock to reassemble, after being stored in the loft. Strings of twinkle lights will go up overhead, too. I’ll often take lunch here, though my wife finds the air too chilly. Not too chilly, though, to prevent us from grilling on charcoal.
  3. Yes, warm enough to grill a beer-can chicken (insert open can into bird, which you cook upright). Excellent, despite the stiff wind.
  4. Seapoint in Maine (town-resident sticker required for parking, May 15 to September 30, where the road ends at the ocean): trek out to the spit between beaches, hunker down in clefts between rock and sunshine for needed respite against wind. The restless blue ocean opens before me. A tease, awaiting summer.
  5. Woodpecker still has a splitting headache.
  6. Income tax time runs up against my professional life as a journalist. How much I hate waiting till deadline to finish something. Get it off, quickly, if you can.
  7. Need to find ways to keep my lair from becoming a chamber of static energy. Ditto, the loft of the barn.
  8. The leadership we’re seeing is a bunch of cowardly brutes.
  9. Once again, the moral issue of civil disobedience comes to the fore. For the record, regarding the Transcendentalist Henry David, it’s THOR-oh, not Thor-OH. And Nixon lawyer Charles Colson came to advocate some powerful moral guidelines for civil disobedience, after he’d repented – that is, “turned” – while imprisoned.
  10. What turns you WILD? (As in dreams and passions, secrets and fetishes. Am I really so orderly or repressed at this point? I’m clueless, apart from anger.)

 ~*~

It's our end of Dover.

It’s our end of Dover.

 

EXODUS

If spring arrives without rain,
would the root and leaf open?

Seed that has not rotted
or satisfied hunger,

become buried too deep
or fallen on stone,

may reply, in its own season. And so,
in your own way, rise up and walk.

Keeping your heart tender,
within reason.

Poem copyright 2015 by Jnana Hodson
To see the full Green Repose collection,
click here.

WEEDS ARE ALREADY RISING

Just a taste of what’s popping up. In case you were looking for a prompt.

~*~

  1. The amount of sunlight these days is equivalent to September. That equinox thing. But with snow and no foliage or even plain gray, the sensation’s quite different from autumn green turning golden and hazy.
  2. Spring rainfall turns our side yard into a glade. Are ‘gators next?
  3. So who do they resemble, these women in my life? Which movie stars? Which protagonists in fiction? Even before we get to the guys.
  4. On a walk about town, I stop at a bakery and pick up a selection pastries as a surprise for later in the morning. As my wife and elder daughter view me strolling up our street, they notice the box wrapped in ribbon and the way I speak with other pedestrians, and quip, “What a perfect picture of a guy a woman would want to have coming home.”
  5. How delightful, too, walking three miles on a leg of the Community Trail beside rapids and sparkling waters. No need to drive several hours to the mountains for a similar experience. Reminds me of my hidden retreat at Lake Massabesic, back when I was residing on Wellington Hill in Manchester.
  6. When I enter a house of worship, I close my eyes and feel the vibrations. Too often, the air feels leaden or dead, rather than welcoming, warm, filled with deep calm. Maybe I’m spoiled by so many Quaker meetinghouses and other sanctuaries of quiet heart-centered devotion.
  7. Suppose I’d wound up back in Dayton or Cincinnati, rather than moving on? The very thought has me feeling emotionally constrained.
  8. A reminder. Be authentic to your dreams, even in the face of the Greek chorus intoning, “Yay,” “Boo,” Ahh,” even “Mmm,” throughout. Much less Job’s friends in those periods of siege.
  9. What do we do with the superrich freeloaders?
  10. Internally, I’m still on Standard Time. How can it be so late already?

~*~

A view from Fourth Street, Dover.

A view from Fourth Street, Dover.

ON INTO ARIES  

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

~*~

  1. First crocus, first hyacinth. More welcome signs.
  2. “Ice out” in our yard – the first day you can walk a diagonal pathway without stepping on snow.
  3. At the feeder, our goldfinches have regained their yellow, first as a tone under the gray and then full-out bold. How rapid the change!
  4. Jazz trumpeter Clark Terry had a special relationship with the University of New Hampshire, one town over. His legacy continues around here. Still wish I’d heard him live, when it was an option. Remember, he taught the incomparable Miles Davis. And my, how I remember that night!
  5. How I love Robert Rauschenberg’s concept of Combines! Neo-Dada, me? Harvesting? (As in wheat. Or driving into fields of corn.) His approach infuses so many of my poems and much of my fiction. What got me labeled as a Mixmaster. Let’s see what we can throw together. Don’t leave out Roy Lichtenstein, either, with his Ben-Day dots fetish from the hot-type days of newspaper production. Oh, how that dates my sense of contemporary!
  6. Another magazine renewal form, among those I’ve let drop. Constrained income has meant limiting my memberships, too.
  7. Here, in a period when I’m supposed to be emerging from my shell, I find myself retreating instead.
  8. In the graffiti at the top flight of the observation tower: “Sometimes love just isn’t enough.” (Looking down, I saw no evidence the author had acted rashly.)
  9. What do we make of capitalism that buys a company and then expects the workers to make concessions to pay for the move? Shouldn’t the ownership go straight to the workers?
  10. Buzzards – more properly, “turkey vultures” – have returned.

~*~

The spires show signs of serious damage.

The spires show signs of serious damage.

 

The stained glass has been removed as St. Charles Roman Catholic church awaits demolition. Just three blocks away from St. Mary Roman Catholic, the two congregations had sharp differences, as some oldtimers will relate. One originated in the Quebecoise immigrants; the other, in the much earlier Irish. Now they're part of one parish.

The stained glass has been removed as St. Charles Roman Catholic church awaits demolition. Just three blocks away from St. Mary Roman Catholic, the two congregations had sharp differences, as some oldtimers will relate. One originated in the Quebecoise immigrants; the other, in the much earlier Irish. Now they’re part of one parish.

 

Water damage had weakened the structure, and repairs were deemed too costly, especially after the city's three Roman Catholic congregations were merged into one parish.

Water damage had weakened the structure, and repairs were deemed too costly, especially after the city’s three Roman Catholic congregations were merged into one parish.

 

PLAIN GRAY AND GRAYING

Within the range of distinctives
of nasty red, the Capitol black
the ethereal albino instead
he aligns with the eastern gray
and the western gray.

Yet who would be saint of the squirrel?

Not Lord Rama, who caresses one
as a pet. Nor the cultivating Hermes.

The Blackfoot know him as Old Man.
As he was becoming.

*   *   *

of course squirrels have faith
of a practical sort
in running the wire, in leaping from a branch
and landing a full eight feet between trees
with such airy jurisdiction

*   *   *

in a flash         such as music
or the tail        as a sail

just leap
and grab hold somewhere    

*   *   *

the question, at heart, what was in his blood?
as well as what was it becoming?
not the patriarch, then          free from bondage

*   *   *

overhead, the years overlap
underfoot, the roots tangle

to be light, then         lighter than pigeons
or laughter and tears

become gray pussy-willow                 at the end of winter

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