Jnana's Red Barn

A Space for Work and Reflection

Tag: Poetry

PSALM VI

1

what blows
to kindle sunset and sunrise
sprouts wings on the field

is faith planting
for a harvest at the end

all these tough nuts to open
amid rest

*   *   *

each day
always more
bands of light

turn within
fields and currents

tempted by more as well as less, but first
those cries being born

*   *   *

crossing water
invites rest

answering the call to dinner

2

 when we are vanilla
           chocolate the strawberry
rhubarb and asparagus
a cake topped in cherries
sweet corn and trout
with apricots and peaches
the scallions, leeks, garlic
carrots, potatoes, yams
spiced pumpkin
whipped cream, fresh butter
applesauce with pancakes
a bowl of black walnuts
yogurt and sharp cheddar
            or baby Swiss
when we are sap returning to maple
when we are …

when we are snow peas or sugar snaps
            a pear or …
fordhooks or limas

3

I’ve had a taste of these things
Hindu Yogi
Zen Buddhist
Sufi
Amerindian
Mennonite, Dunker, Amish
Old-Style Quaker

all of them, with holy visions

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

INSCRIPTION UNDER THE LID

to the glory of, et cetera

just keep singing
or moving your fingers

all these years, still floating

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

ROUNDED WITH LIGHT

rounded stones of the shoreline
or a garden path glisten
many navy blue or nearly straw

others speckled with indecision
speckled, within and without
what grows hard as rock on a rock

nearly black stones exposing white ridges
to the light, blue veins, like mothers
slate-blue orb cleft with white quartz

some color of cooked lobster
glow of berries
in dull eddies

of clamshell or snout of rising seal
given an eye, the face of a cod or shark
approaching with its mouth closed

another burnt
and still burning
none yet look like washed potatoes

between them, broken mussels and sand
firm in clear brine
each retaining its shape, for now

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

BY UNINTENDED DESIGN

relocating
once again recognize
some possessions as useful

simplicity, sincerity, modesty, honesty, justice
that dwell in the Life and Power

when goods are tools
style arises within purpose

*   *   *

addressing basic practices
ordering well-made clothing
that’s both simple and expressive
and fits properly
liberates
from inbred feelings of victimization and deprivation
O Holy One

to choose what is not fickle
instills elegance
of clear function

I’m a sucker for clean, balanced design
outward expression of orderly life
gingerly facing the idolatry of things
made from metal, wood, stone
and yes, plastic

look, there’s nothing wasteful

O Holy One
elegant is also simple in design and execution
though not always easily accomplished
(the skillful hand and eye – the years of mastery)

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

IN PLANNING FOR THE YEAR

Just what more do we need
in addition to the beginnings of two panels of ferns
behind the lilacs – my woodland mirror

or a blooming tepee with gourds and climbing beans
surrounded by zinnias for my Lady of Sunday Comics
in the heart of the exposed swamp

and the race to implant the kitchen-door garden  …

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

OUT OF A WHIRLWIND IN A GUST OF PASSION

Composing my Braided Double-Cross collection marked a turning point, one that came as I was getting my feet back on the ground as a poet after getting sidetracked into the demands at a shirt-sleeves management level and later focusing on novel-length fiction. Up to this point, my poems and, for that matter, much of my fiction focused on place – the outdoors, especially.

Personally, recovering from the collapse of a marriage and what I thought was better tomorrow on the horizon, I hunkered down back in the ranks of my career rather than trying to climb the proverbial ladder. I needed to catch my breath and nurse my wounds. This included a deep review of my life, the nature of relationships, the meanings of being male, connecting in contemporary society – and somehow, that all came into play when I came across an announcement for a book-length poetry competition by a university press. In some flash of intuition, I decided to do a 60-page collection based on notes I’d been gathering. Two weeks later, I was exhausted – but the draft was done.

It wasn’t the first time I’d done a poetry manuscript based on a focused theme. My American Olympus, conceived as a longpoem, had earlier tackled the Olympic Peninsula. But this was the first time I chose to work with individual poems of a general length and style, and it was a leap into love, not in the traditional vein but of a more brutal, realistic take on today’s interactions.

While I had already drafted a novel that would break out into Promise, Peel (as in apple), St. Helens in the Mix, and Kokopelli’s Hornpipe, its focus was more on marriage and trying to work as a couple or with other couples.

Now I was venturing into fresh territory. With Braided Double-Cross – and the subsequent Blue Rock and Long Stemmed Roses in a Shattered Mirror, each of which tackles the same subject in its own unique structure – you could say I was taking the “inner child” concept a step further. These look at love and loving from the perspective of an “inner teen” – one full of adolescent passion, defiance, anger, hunger, raging hormones, overwhelming loneliness. I wanted to record it in its fullness.

At the time, readers and editors under the age of 45 seemed to rave about the work. Those older were largely appalled. Somehow, I still find that telling.

Over the years, the material has also worked itself into many of my other poems; I do have a fondness for Baroque and a respect for the way Bach and Handel recycled so much of their composition. I think, too, that much of the graffiti mosaic or jazz infused energy found in my poetry takes off from this point.

Well, about three decades have transpired since all that. I’m glad I wrote the poems when I did, the way I did. Today would be a different story.

~*~

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

BY DAY, BY NIGHT

1

I admire a lighthouse more than a ship
without masts, as a qualifier

anchored in some upstanding foundation

I, who have roved the continent
and no further
gaze from the shore

or out, from the water,
to peer at each obelisk
instructing the coastline

yet masts, in open sail
could make this a wash
or a wish-list

2

I look in vain for a painting or photograph
of ocean only
always some shoreline
or ships – naval battle
conflict or simply
what attempts to bridle wild space

the lighthouse, as a genre, especially
countering the fabled variations of blue

at last, O’Keeffe’s large canvas of clouds and sky
comes closest
even more than her cross by the sea

3

costly as a ship
to construct and to run

this marker
of commerce, progression, and change
made obsolete, still

a warning as welcome

faithfully alludes to danger
in homecoming

a way around obstacle
a passage through the mouth
to safe landing

as much as the other abode
sailors justly dread

4

in daylight, a solitary standing figure
a sentinel
upright numeral one

a spire, a prayer
shrine, stupa
gravestone

defiantly erect penis

by night, its repetition
insisting
“Here! I’m here!”
as much as “Beware!”
in a tally of shipwreck

once with its whale oil and great lenses
arrayed on a crystalline comb
investment in life

such magnification
casting its spark
so far

this rock, uttering its expletive
to death

pinprick of light

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

TRACING THE BRAIDS

In the early 1990s, when my writing focus returned with a vengeance to poetry, I found myself drafting in a fevered few weeks the 60 pieces that span the Braided Double-Cross collection.

Soon, I was drawing on many of the images and phrases for two alternative series, one of them being Blue Rock, with its own structure and style, and the other being Long Stemmed Roses in a Shattered Mirror, released last year.

Many of the poems, presented as “Crossings,” have appeared widely in small literary journals around the world. Now, for the first time, they’re presented complete, as originally intended.

~*~

Braided Double-Cross

Braided Double-Cross

Enjoy this collection and more at Thistle/Flinch editions.

 

OUT OF OBSESSION INTO THE BLAZE

Words or appearances often mask deeper, contradictory currents. Sometimes, as they tangle, each knot becomes an aching triangle.

In the throes of romantic passion, a participant will choose one line of argument over the evidence of another. To call him or her a victim is hardly accurate, no matter the pain, even after the heart and mind conflict.

The poems of Braided Double-Cross arise in such obsession, the white-hot tension rather than in some cool quietude years later – the pursuit of a golden ideal and then falling. Call them love poems if you dare.

~*~

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

LEVIATHAN, AS AN EMBLEM

1

now to see
North Atlantic
in my sphere

landlocked
till twenty-eight

that week, camping tide-to-tide
beside North Pacific

and you speak of turning to Christ?

2

who found the eagle in the desert canyon
and high mountains
before the Upper Mississippi
or Great Falls of the Potomac?

still, moose fail to inspire me
as elk did

3

whales, then
rather than moose
in contrast to elk of the Yakima Valley

this mirror of historic economy

besides, moose and whales do not leave tracks
everywhere we trek here,
unlike the elk out west

to say nothing of ticks

4

water, defining land
defining water
and the overlap

I want to know what the ocean voices
in its repetition
addressing the absent moon
or distance, even in the erasure

bank of fog
curtain of resounding
fog horn or bell

or vast silence
before

the hundred thousand variations of nor’easter
just off this point

no need to circle the planet

we have our fill of floundering
agents of change

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