not a pretty picture. not a good. not a bad. picture. but an argument.

Friday, January 10, 2014

the world fulfills itself

"Landscape's a lever of transcendence-

Who among us will step forward?"

(from Charles Wright's "Apologia Pro Vita Sua", Black Zodiac)


  1. Replies
    1. thank anita. i wish i would have been able to take a video of this the first time we passed them. that would have been something incredible. but then seeing them and being there with them was enough.


  2. Apologia Pro Vita Sua by Charles Wright

    How soon we come to road's end--
    Failure, our two-dimensional side-kick, flat dream-light,
    Won't jump-start or burn us in,

    Dogwood insidious in its constellations of part-charred cross
    Spring's via Dolorosa
    flashed out in a dread profusion,
    Nowhere to go but up, nowhere to turn, dead world-weight,

    They've gone and done it again,
    Spring's sap-crippled, arthritic, winter-weathered, myth limb,
    Whose roots are my mother's hair.


    Landscape's a lever of transcendence--
    jack-wedge it here,
    Or here, and step back,
    Heave, and a light, a little light, will nimbus your going forth:

    The dew bead, terminal bead, opens out
    onto a great radiance,
    Sun's square on magnolia leaf
    Offers us entrance--
    who among us will step forward,
    Camellia brown boutonnieres
    Under his feet, plum branches under his feet, white sky, white
    Church bells like monk's mouths tonguing the hymn?


    Journal and landscape
    --Discredited form, discredited subject matter--
    I tried to resuscitate both, breath and blood,
    making them whole again

    Through language, strict attention--
    Verona mi fe', disfecemi Verona, the song goes.
    I've hummed it, I've bridged the break

    To no avail.
    April. The year begins beyond words,
    Beyond myself and the image of myself, beyond
    Moon's ice and summer's thunder. All that.


    The meat of the sacrament is invisible meat and a ghostly
    I'll say.
    Like any visible thing,
    I'm always attracted downward, and soon to be killed and

    Vessel of life, it's said, vessel of life, brought to naught,
    Then gathered back to what's visible.
    That's it, fragrance of spring like lust in the blossom-starred orchard,

    The shapeless shape of darkness starting to seep through and
    The seen world starting to tilt,
    Where I sit the still, unwavering point
    under that world's waves.


    How like the past the clouds are,
    Building and disappearing along the horizon,
    Inflecting the mountains,
    laying their shadows under our feet

    For us to cross over on.
    Out of their insides fire falls, ice falls,
    What we remember that still remembers us, earth and air fall.

    Neither, however, can resurrect or redeem us,
    Moving, as both must, ever away toward opposite corners.
    Neither has been where we're going,
    bereft of an attitude.


  3. Amethyst, crystal transparency,
    Maya and Pharaoh ring,
    Malocchio, set against witchcraft,
    Lightning and hailstorm, birthstone, savior from drunkenness.

    Purple, color of insight, clear sight,
    Color of memory--
    violet, that's for remembering,
    Star-crystals scattered across the penumbra, hard stars.

    Who can distinguish darkness from the dark, light from light,
    Subject matter from story line,
    the part from the whole
    When whole is part of the part and part is all of it?


    Lonesomeness. Morandi, Cezanne, it's all about lonesomeness.
    And Rothko. Especially Rothko.
    Separation from what heals us
    beyond painting, beyond art.

    Words and paint, black notes, white notes.
    Music and landscape; music, landscape and sentences.
    Gestures for which there is no balm, no intercession.

    Two tone fields, horizon a line between abysses,
    Generally white, always speechless.
    Rothko could choose either one to disappear into. And did.


    Perch'io no spero di tornar giammai, ballatetta, in Toscana,
    Not as we were the first time,
    not as we'll ever be again.
    Such snowflakes of memory, they fall nowhere but there.

    Absorbed in remembering, we cannot remember--
    Exile's anthem, O stiff heart,
    Thingless we came into the world and thingless we leave,

    Every important act is wordless--
    to slip from the right way,
    To fail, still accomplishes something.
    Even a good thing remembered, however, is not as good as not
    remembering at all.


    Time is the source of all good,
    time the engenderer
    Of entropy and decay,
    Time the destroyer, our only-begetter and advocate.

    For instance, my fingernail,
    so pink, so amplified.
    In the half-clerk, for instance,
    These force-fed dogwood blossoms, green-leafed, defused,
    limp on their long branches.

    St. Stone, say a little prayer for me,
    grackles and jay in the black gum,
    Drowse of the poetry head,
    Dandelion globes luminous in the last light, more work to be

  4. Replies
    1. there's certainly been a lot of movement to consider this year, eh, ollie? it has been difficult to keep up with in perception, winter beginning in november and coming on so strong. but what an opportunity. what an incredible opportunity:))) we're pretty lucky being in the north.


  5. Lovely and such a set of words for these days we are in, and so faraway from the world I'm in where it's nearing 50 degrees F! Miss seeing your words!!! Hugs - Aimee

    1. aimee))) while i'd trade some of the shoveling, i could not trade for a moment what the winter grants us. it's staggering for me to be inside of. i feel very lucky.

      yes, i wonder how you are these days. i must drop by to see. i get further and further away from the computer these days and lost out there to the world (and thereby found).


  6. I saw exactly this on my drive yesterday and have been filled with it since, wanting to find words. I have not yet been able to read Wright's words, here or elsewhere yet. Images seem to be everything at the moment. Defiant in the face of existence, yet also limited. But you get close here to what it actually felt like driving through these birds, and you get to something beyond.

    I will try to read Wright, soon. I was familiar with him only when he was editor of Poetry, or the Best of American Poetry, or some such journal.


    1. i'm grateful that you think this is close to the experience, ruth, but not close enough. i wonder if it is possible. we tried. but even as we arrive and ready ourselves, align ourselves with what is happening, it has quickly become what has happened. we are too late into the progression of it all.

      and these birds were very close to you. in LaPorte. Christmas day. it was after a dinner with james's daughter. we drove out of the town and whoosh, we were caught up in a flurry of wings, so much more dense than what i show here, so much more significant. we circled back around in the hopes of capturing them but a moment happens only once. this other encounter, while awesome (how incredible to stand in the middle of a road while it snows and birds whirl in black clouds, and the cold finds your core!) it was not that first moment. it never is.

      wright is incredible but elusive. i could have read him a 100 times before and never heard a word. i suppose it is this way with any poet, you have to be ready to hear them. he writes with a water colour voice. while last year i could hear the bold strokes of Vallejo or Gilbert, this year i am ready for a lighter brush. if you try wright, read him aloud perhaps. it becomes something different. it drives its body like a silent bird toward the horizon.


  7. Love the photos and the crows. I have a special fondness for corvids, smart buggers they are.

    1. deb, i'm thinking these weren't crows but i could be wrong. it was only my impression. i've never seen anything like this up here, such a flock of crows. maybe they were blackbirds? still i don't know. not knowing is fine by me.

      i don't know corvids. i'll have to look them up. but all this bird talk has me remembering that while in indiana we saw blue herons as well, on another cold day, gliding along a river that looked much colder than any ice might have been. (god, i love birds:)


    2. Crows are corvids, it's just the family name. I watched a program on crows, about their intelligence, their habits. They're amazing. I just thought the photos looked like crows. And the flocks can be huge. Every night they gather together and then fly to their roost for the night. We watch them on the way home after work in the winter. They always head north west in our part of the city. I would love to find their roost for the night.

  8. Amazingly moving poems and photos, Erin. Girlie, I'm wearing shorts today and cleaning house. No shit, it's that warm after being 17 degrees on Monday night. Love you, you magical, mysterious, beauitful being!!! xoxo

    1. oh marion, aren't we funny? i would weep in such heat. isn't that foolish. would you cry here? but no, you can't. you mustn't. i could take you to a snowbank that had me struck still the other day, so incredibly perfect it hurt. if you saw such a thing as a windblown snowbank, then you would understand:)))) (and i know, you would have me bend in your garden and know.)


    2. I surely would be crying in all that snow. :-) Would that we could trade places for a day or a week just to experience it all. I think we'd both come away amazed and speechless.

      I enjoy seeing it through your eyes, though, and through your photos. More, please. Love you! xo

  9. Peut-on, à la naissance, deviner que le monde fera de nous, ce que nous sommes, que nous le voulions ou non. Je ne connais pas tes frontières, mais tu es une rebelle impossible à cadrer. On aurait tort d'essayer. Je vois dans ce vol de corbeaux, comme des copeaux de bois, nés d'un immense chantier et simplement disposés sur ton chemin, entre le ciel et toi, pour te faire réagir et prendre une photo instinctive. La poésie est là, en ce moment sans voix, sans parole prononcée. Elle rejoint la symphonie naturelle de la Nature qui te prend et te possède dans le froid au point de perdre tous tes sens. Morte, tu l'auras été, au passage, figée dans l'instant avant de reprendre vie, avec une haleine glacée pour reprendre souffle. Ainsi l'inconscient nous fait-il oublier toute connaissance pour sentir ces grands moments d'échange, et ce n'est pas rien. L’initiation, c'est aussi cela, chère Erin.
    Amitiés et belle route en 2014

    1. again i bring a translation of your comment by james so that i might remember:)

      "Can we, at birth, guess what the world will do with us, what we are, whether we want it or not. I don't know your frontiers, but you are a rebel impossible to contain in a frame. It would be wrong to try. I see that in this flight of crows, like wood shavings born from an immense work-site and scattered simply on your road, between you and the sky, to make you react and take an instinctive photograph. Poetry is there, in this moment without voice, without a single word spoken. It joins the natural symphony of Nature that grips you and possesses you in the cold to the point of losing all senses. Dead, you will have been, in passing, frozen in the instance before taking up life once more, with an icy breath. Thus the unconscious makes us forget all knowledge in order to feel such great moments of exchange, and it is not nothing. It is also initiation, dear Erin.

      Friendship and a beautiful road in 2014"

    2. roger, how is it that understand me? or perhaps in not shielding any part of me i encourage everyone to see.

      i can't help but smile deeply at the word rebelle. i look back at my younger self as though she is separate (and of course she is still me) and i feel fondly for this aspect of her that she can not help.

      but most important is that nature does grip and possess. it can. it does. and it should! it is our place of resurrection. our source and our destination. i can not stand before it and be ill. i can not help but to be quieted, and in the taming of even a wild spirit (especially in the taming of a wild spirit), i find a peace and purity i can find nowhere else but in love.


  10. I could lose myself in these photographs for hours. Thanks for posting.

  11. if so, jonathan, then we must know one another. perhaps in this way we are one another))


  12. Replies
    1. thank you, dirk. i wish somehow it were more, more truthful, more moving, more awesome, for the moment certainly was.


  13. after reading this article in the New York Times i wonder if the fulfillment of the world means the erasure of mankind. i don't say this sadly. (i traveled through that sadness first.) i say it with wonder that perhaps it is ok if we, not only individually, but cumulatively, cease to exist.

    but yet viscerally i do not believe this. i do not want to believe this. something in my abdomen thrusts me towards the future, not just for myself but for all of us.

    i do not understand it all. in increments, perhaps, but not cumulatively. my understanding moves me between yearning and peace. i continue to yearn for tomorrow, if only for our children (see how specificity breeds emotional twining) but i try to be well inside of the possibility of there not being one.

    the article i link to is an incredible articulation of our place in time. it should be read, not to incite fear but to promote the philosophical investigations that have always been required to live (and die) well. choice must be informed. it is up to us to develop our own philosophical discourses so that we might make fruitful choices, not haggard and deficient ones limping us onward into, not only environmental devastation, but philosophically decrepit devastation, an unholy state of relationship of self to self and self to the rest of the world.


  14. Bonsoir,
    je découvre votre blog et je suis très touchée par votre sensibilité, votre univers. De vos photos, on ressent des ondes qui ne nous traversent, on ne ressort pas indemne de ce lieu, je ne saurais vraiment expliquer pourquoi... c'est votre magie.

  15. isa)))) (who are you? you come at the precise moment when i ask for someone alive to come. are you alive?)


  16. Je pense que je suis vivante puisque ces photos ne me laisse pas insensible ;)


"Words at the limit of hearing, attributable to no one, received in the conch of the ear like dew by a leaf." (philippe jaccottet) or even a quiet presence is appreciated))