Jnana's Red Barn

A Space for Work and Reflection

Tag: New England

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.

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.

 

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.

SCROLL ON A SNAIL

From the stone tower atop Blue Hill
Boston’s skyscrapers resemble tombstones

“Daddy, did you build those?” A pause.
“Well, did somebody build them?”

Let us now delineate an array
of solar and lunar expectations
parenting the human condition

~*~

This sawtooth display
counters basic nature

spirals, branching, honeycomb
So which one are you coursing?

~*~

On my parking spot, Brianna’s
blue-and-purple chalk spells out

BELLE
BEAST

– perhaps she has the story straight
where beauty’s rainbow masks terror

Even a fruitcake granny can see
“He needs to get right with the Lord”

~*~

I’ve gone tracing
THE OLD SANTA FE SNAIL

Some rain. Some sun
The labor spreads before me

poem copyright by Jnana Hodson
(originally appeared in the journal Indigo)

YES, IN THE BASKET WHILE PICKING

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. And now, fresh strawberries. The bed we renovated last year is making amends. So how do you like yours the best?
  2. So delightful to have cut flowers indoors, too. A sprig of laurel (from the burial ground) is stunning against the deep purple velvet of a Siberian iris.
  3. French 75s. That’s the cocktail they like at Chris and Linda’s.
  4. I still aspire to writing a novel with only three or four characters. Two, however, feels just too tight. It would be something tightly focused and linear. But the current has often pulled me in the opposite direction. Big Inca, for instance, is essentially four – but look at all the others who keep wandering in and out!
  5. How little of the traditional canon I’ve pursued. There are vast gaps in my reading repertoire. That doesn’t mean I haven’t read – far from it.
  6. A perfect June morning: cool, touch of breeze, sunny and clear. After a full night’s sleep.
  7. Her eye is so close I see my own reflection.
  8. Maybe writing and revising have been my first love over all these years.
  9. Headed to the liquor store to make sure I’d have enough gin for a martini but arrived five minutes after it closed: take that as a sign.
  10. Being remembered as “an intense young man.”

~*~

The sign over a sidewalk on College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, immediately had my attention. Alas, we were strolling a few hours before noon. The day was evolving in other directions.

The sign over a sidewalk on College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, immediately had my attention. Alas, we were strolling a few hours before noon. The day was evolving in other directions.

 

THAT BIG BEE FUNNY MOTION

long enough we could see the flashes of ruby throat
a flash of flight in front of me
only one thing that could be, such fast motion

later, sitting in the crossbars of the feeder
before dropping to the sugar water

continue to see flits around the house
that big bee funny motion

a hummingbird at our feeder, size of a dragonfly

hummingbirds arrive late April or May
leave in August or early September
fly 600 miles across the Gulf of Mexico
bulk up in Georgia and Florida adding
an ounce of fat to their four-ounce bodies …

to wit, some most amazing creatures

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson
For more,
click here.

 

FORTRESS OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE

While much of the surrounding financial district of downtown Boston is rising ever higher in the sky, some of the older buildings hold their own, adapting to change.

While much of the surrounding financial district of downtown Boston is rising ever higher in the sky, some of the older buildings hold their own, adapting to change.

Downtown skyscrapers embody the financial and corporate enterprise of a great city.

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.

 

TOPOLOGICAL DISPARITY

1

any stretch of shoreline
is not two sides of the same coin
viewed from water or land

even assuming you know the twisting roads
or clusters of housing and wharves
or white steeples and beacons
the familiar melts unevenly

even the maritime charts and roadmaps
conflict
one measured in knots
and the other, miles

for many good reasons
the pieces rarely fit

even if you could walk on water
and still the rough waves

2

land is a kind of insurance
if you don’t crash

any grounding and the atmosphere
both move, often in contrary
currents, you navigate a facade

blue is never the ocean’s true nature
even on a summer day
unnoticed red or yellow modulate

when rain comes up
the beacon vanishes
in fear or arrogance

3

no matter how similar
they initially appear

waterfowl bridge this disparity
moving, air

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

I COULD BE LIGHTING THE GRILL

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

~*~

  1. In my life, a renewed period of purging and cleansing. One personal goal: to wear out shirts and shoes I don’t particularly like before donning the others – exhaust them and then discard them with a sigh of relief – rather than leaving them untouched. That way the pile keeps getting smaller.
  2. How many talented people I’ve known. And how much blown opportunity.
  3. How rarely I seem to read for pleasure. Rather there’s often a sense of duty – obligation – as in I ought to read this or that. Especially when it’s a gift.
  4. Sometimes in revising a piece I touch on something (often I have no idea what) that sets off a deep grieving. It’s a psychological release, however painful.
  5. Both the Hebrew Bible and Greek Logos point to a heightened sense of the individual and individuality in contrast to wider society and social norms. We’re each responsible – accountable – for our own actions.
  6. We’re hoping to get to Lowell, Massachusetts, this month to take a boat tour on the canals that pass next to its historic mills. Sometimes, from the photos we’ve seen, the route’s like a narrow brick canyon.
  7. I turn to the singer next to me and tell him how much I envy his fine tenor, especially in pieces where the melody’s in the tenor line. (He’s able to belt it out, too.) The woman in front turns to us and says, “I’m sitting in front of you two again tomorrow.”
  8. Everything we’ve transplanted to the garden is looking happy.
  9. PERFECT WISDOM, a John Woolman term, as in Sophia. Or Christ.
  10. We can’t just sit on these things. Yada-yada-yada.

~*~

The Rhode Island Capitol, as seen from our hotel room. The tiny statue on top of the dome is not Roger Williams, as I'd assumed, but the Independent Man, originally named Hope.

The Rhode Island Capitol, as seen from our hotel room. The tiny statue on top of the dome is not Roger Williams, as I’d assumed, but the Independent Man, originally named Hope.

ESTABLISHING A RHYTHM

greens

plant and weed     beside the kitchen     and
the forerunner of a fern bed     behind lilacs

on the swampy side     ignore omens     asking

the real question

if you’ll ever cry      Where are we going?
“it’s a big mistake”     Going     where?

my earth sinks / would always sink     if

it weren’t for stones     floating to the surface

each winter

land bridge jeopardy

cruel ground

stone soup     rather than potato     I intended
to tame     with compost, yes      and worming

so it was     holes in dirt     with next year’s
garden already planned out     she’s ready
to hear    I’ve never been fond of mowing
a lawn     but take to composting anyway

digging in

royally singing     in praise of red wigglers

like a man

so truly      the Cadillac

on my daily
commute

extending the scale      new construction
along all his options     have me wondering
how the routes would be     by the time
I retire

what will be planted     where forest was

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson
For more,
click here.