Jnana's Red Barn

A Space for Work and Reflection

Tag: Relationships

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.

 

WITH AND WITHOUT OUR MASKS

Behind the masks of public life – our occupations, religious affiliations, social status, economic positions, family connections, educational accomplishments, and so on – each of us engages in another struggle, an attempt to find inner balance and direction for our own life. As we do so, we soon face a plethora of interior and exterior forces that must be reconciled. We get glimmers into this struggle – both within ourselves and within others – in statements that begin “I am” and “I am not,” as well as “I have been,” which recognizes the history and habits we accumulate and carry with us. There are also the voices – “he remembers” or “she insists” – that also recur in our lives, defining and redefining ourselves both within, as conscience or the angel or devil on our shoulders, and without, as any of a host of authority figures and friends or family members.

~*~

Village of Gargoyles

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

TAKING HOLD, AS A VENTURE

I’m not that young, even to be this foolish
and this time, a month of rainfall starts
with fireworks, of course, viewed from our second-floor deck
before consulting a plumber about a bathroom
and heating for the barn
or a boiler replacement in our cellar, connecting
natural-gas appliances and restoring the downstairs toilet
and shower to use in a house

before drafting radical views of both the Garden of Eden
and Gethsemane and then the doctrine of Inward Light
alas, by year’s end, both would flower to book length
or, should I say, all? this time around, getting serious
as connecting the dots in a seedbed

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

ALONG WITH A BREAKTHROUGH, FREE TO PLAY AND TINKER

Somewhere in writing poetry I turned to the concept of “working in series.” Quite simply, this meant investigating a subject repeatedly, often in a similar form. The process allowed multiple takes from different angles and in different lighting, as it were. In music, it could be seen as a theme and variations.

As I recall, the practice for me originated with Braided Double-Cross, itself inspired by The Sonnets by Ted Berrigan, and quickly led to Blue Rock and Long Stemmed Roses in a Shattered Mirror, each with its unique structure and inspiration. (Anne Waldman, for the former; Diane Wakoski, the latter.)

Village of Gargoyles is the latest, often with a specific structure for each of the 10 sections. Some forms run longer than others, which introduces variety. And within each, I’m free to play and tinker.

Admittedly, the 200 poems of my Village fall short of John Berryman’s colossal Dream Songs, but it’s still a prolific output.

~*~

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

 

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.

LOOKING FOR AN IDENTITY

How truly does anyone know himself or herself, much less others, in the end? The poems in Village of Gargoyles spring from experiments in self-identification that spread into human interactions.

While many of the individuals within this collection are identified by occupation, their confessions typically reflect the more intimate concerns of their lives – relationships, activities, even the weather. These are, then, overheard snippets more than public proclamations.

What began as an exercise in self-definition breaks out nonetheless into an entire spectrum of personalities. Do we know any of these people? Or are they somehow eluding us, masked by the bits that are revealed? Those we recognize, moreover, happen by accident – none of these are portraits of actual people, as the disclaimer would go, but rather the inventions of the poet’s imagination and craft.

Chaucer had his pilgrims. I have my village.

Like an actor, you’re invited to slip into each of these 200-plus characters.

Tell me. What makes a community?

~*~

Village of Gargoyles

To see the full collection, simply click here.

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.

MOVING, AS IN SEEKING ROOT

we move. like the water, like the wind
– across rock, across soil –
until people speaking of common activities
and customs will completely baffle

sometimes the growing season’s quite short
compared to our place of origin
even so, she wants tropics
where everything in the closet
will mildew before sunrise
and there’s no worry of frost

we’ve gone underground, ourselves
after trusting too much in human love
emerged not on rock or air wholly
but collected from scattered places
and pieced back, as best anyone can
with blueberry-stained hands

so what’s the name of your divinity?
your desires? your natures?
the apple of your eye?

even the forest seeks climax
she’ll say, quartering a winesap
its burgundy ringing

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

POETRY SPRINGING FROM WITHIN ITSELF

Here’s a section from a collection of contemporary American sonnets I’ve done along the lines of those by the late and wonderful Ted Berrigan. It’s one of 60 from Braided Double-Cross.

~*~

As I said at the time …

In defining poetry, Berrigan’s concept of a windup toy serves well for me. How basic can I make it? (A single word? Maybe two?) As well as how extended or elaborate!

I still don’t like poetry that’s written as code, an intellectual equation of meaning.

Also, I prefer lines that are long enough to have something happen within each one.

I love when literature (or any art, for that matter) opens as a state of awareness – or fullest existence – which also expands into epiphanies of dancing or singing or perhaps, well, just imagine. Think twice about the chemically aided experiences – pinot, martini, pot? Yes, the Zone, when it graces. In a continuum, with differing specifics.

A set of skills and disciplined thought and, I would hope, tradition / culture. Not that every time I read a book or sit to write I’m there. Indeed, there may be good reasons we cannot dwell long in that Zone (Is it too isolated? Too exclusionary? Self-centered even when we find it occurring in Otherness?) …

A break, then. And then back to work.

~*~

CROSSING XXXVI

A green-streaked sentry flanked by thistles
on every town common is more explicit
than any boom box. Please, my darling, please
don’t let carnal memories expire between us.

I set forth at a disadvantage.
Ribbons of baby oil. Snaking Chinese dragons.
One flesh, lagoons. Trembling like the wind
in shrubs and flowers. You chained

criticism on my Academy of St. Martin
in the wallpaper, provoking blatant spice factory
peppers and cinnamon misrepresentations
of common logic, as if you were running for office.

Without proper camouflage, there’s nothing to repulse
destitution overtaking military-issue fortifications.

Poem copyright by Jnana Hodson
(originally appeared in the journal Plungelit)
For more, click here.

Poetry

Poetry

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.