Jnana's Red Barn

A Space for Work and Reflection

Tag: Poetry

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.

LIVELIHOOD

Ants swarm over a sugar maple’s
spigot and sap bucket.

In earth and in air, green spirals
uncoil.

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

IN THE OVERLAPPING KNOTS

What the heart hears and sees may be quite different from what the mind observes and records, much less decides. These may be considered two strands in a braid, into which a third is woven. As for the third? It may be the beloved Other or some Unknown factor or even the undisclosed Rival. Each possibility leads to some distinct  tension in the series of overlapping knots.

The poems of Braided Double-Cross move through sexual attraction and passion into obsession, rejection, even betrayal. In the heated accusations and arguments between lovers, the dialogue – reaching into childhood, history, geography, career aspirations, and the future – invokes an absent, silent third participant, a recognition of the inequality emerging in the core relationship itself. Details of confession mount quietly. Truth becomes unbearable. At times a scream is silent. The braid ultimately becomes a whip. As Diane Wakoski has observed, “Rapunzel and the witch were always one / and the same.”

It’s what Ted Berrigan, in the American sonnets this set emulates, called belly-to-belly white heat.

~*~

Braided Double-Cross

Braided Double-Cross

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

Three sections from MOTET I

1

pick a language . a religion . a star, somewhere

of what I’ve distrusted
and yet seek

in the night of spring greening
where birds begin arguing (the males, as usual

but listen

good questions
guide better
than many answers

let me relate notations
of elk found on mountains
behind mountains – beside mountains, too
where streams run fast and clear
in everlasting rapture

before they appeared to me in their flesh
before I had children
before you appeared
but now

we’ll argue theology over lunch or dinner
or the menu

but first, grace

2

all this is not the same
as sitting by yourself

not the same as watching
anything

or listening to anything
or tasting anything

you can touch

since you asked, I’ll tell
you everything I know

if you tell me
where you’d like to start

3

to be completely honest
is so simple
you would think

until facing others
until facing yourself

all the temptations
all the screw-ups

all the aspirations
all the ruins to your back

all the idealized masks and labels
you wear
the childhood you’ve never left
all the flattery and self-delusions
all the false accusations you can’t quite shake

all the flaking paint on the siding of your house
all the cracking plaster within

as you age, all the lost years
you deny
all the shortcuts

so much of what your mirror
never reveals

no matter what you say
no matter what they say

the sins of omission
as well as commission

all the skills of a Philadelphia lawyer
all the skills of public office
all the skills of executive decision

any or all

the impossibility of saying exactly who you are
or why

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

GARDEN DIMENSIONS

“They already were like gods
made in Yahweh’s own image
and didn’t even know it.”

“I could see the Woman would be easier
to convince. She appreciated color and
the bouquet, where the Man noticed
only the fruit’s heft and taste.”

Every snake has its own hole.
Sometimes a snake is just as snake,
Doctor Freud.

And the Serpent went on to make a fortune
developing shopping malls lined with retailers
promising to cover everyone’s nakedness.

* * *

God creates a Helper for the Man
and she helps him, all right:
helps him get into trouble,

helps him to the forbidden fruit,
helps him get ejected from Paradise.
Not only that, but I’d venture

she believed she was doing something
beneficial for him all along,
something for his own good.
(And it was very good)

* * *

Where has Eden gone? Maybe
it’s now ahead of us, down
the road, rather than behind
with its gates shut tight.

As for Original Sin,
life’s not fair.
Some parents gamble
away the mortgage,
their children’s
college tuition.
Others get to be boss
through the injustice
of genetic roulette.
But that’s not really
part of this story.

* * *

Where do the other people come from?
Maybe the question becomes, for us,
where do other people COME FROM?
You! My neighbors! My antagonist,
my friend, my spouse, my children?

Perhaps they come from that other couple
God created, in the first creation story,
just before Eden. Perhaps they, too,
are ejected from their own Eden.

Perhaps there were other gardens
that were also released –
the ones whose stories we’ve forgotten.

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

OF MASTS, SPARS, AND BROKEN YARDS

1

in moonlight
Cape Ann, two months after the Perfect Storm
maybe three
while standing back on a broad outcropping
25 feet above the roiling and ebb

unpredictably, a wave explodes above me
from behind
washes around my feet

I could have been swept away

so step back, gingerly, if you will

2

driving a ridge, no view of shimmering expanses

between country club and great estates
sand plowed like snow
two feet deep, both sides of the state highway

mixed with kelp

3

nothing to trifle with
this fluid motion
in its hypnotic attraction

all recitative
with cymbals and snare drum

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

GENESIS

Each seed, each root, each bud
unfurls on schedule. Melting
and rain come together.

In the daylight you open
so slowly you do not hear
their snap. Between pale tendril

and miniature leaves, we will gaze,
then, no longer doubting
our own inward spiraling galaxy.

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

OH, BOY, WHAT A MESS

from the heart of the building in the night

“I hate your ass!”
countered by
“do I look like somebody who’d put you away”

and then she just screamed

~*~

behind the scenes at the fancy restaurant

a cook got shot
the maitre d’ was in the hospital with food poisoning
and the chief dishwasher overdosed on something

how many knives went missing

~*~

with all the Freudian potential

“Daddy, I LOVE you!”
drawing the twisted
“I want you out of here”

oh, boy, what a mess

To continue, click here.
Copyright 2015

AIR, AND THEREFORE

imagine
some flying heaven

with sparks
and the fantasized constellations

wind . inspiration . beclouds and clears

memory . learning
philosophy. theology. mathematics
within logic a song or cunning ethics

the conception . over land, over waters
even fire

all the legged and winged creatures
the very words God said

goodness as well as
food for the mind

dreams
wishes
visions

nothingness
and everything that moves in some fashion

positioning sun, moon, stars
the multitudes of birds
yes, singing

the WAY

I breathe, therefore, and am

ANY

light entering a shadow

light chasing a shadow

headlight of a passing car
swirling around the room

*   *   *

come to me anyway

come to me any way

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