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The Landscape of Forest

Welcome to this place.

I hope that my voice will provide you with a gateway into the forest.

Your response is welcomed.

“Writing in landscapes, landscapes write in you.”

– Joan Halifax, The Fruitful Darkness

Some Years ago, while visiting Nepal, I had the good fortune to listen to the words of a Nepalese Archeologist. We were standing in front of an excavation in Lumbini, said to be the birthplace of Buddha. There the mother of Buddha was said to have given birth while holding onto the Sal tree. As he continued to speak, he referenced several other trees in the story of Buddha, and then paused to make an aside:

“It makes you wonder, really, if this is not actually all about the trees.”

He laughed and continued his discourse, but the words stayed with me as softly spoken ideas sometimes do. I remembered the impact of trees in my life and the subtle flavor of places, of landscapes that have moved me. Today, I have given a certain credence to this sensation and have concluded that whether it is a lower brain response to a safe and healthy landscape, or a higher brain desire for beauty, trees do hold a significant place in my relation to earth.

The expression of such things is understandably elusive. All aspects of our interconectedness can seem a challenge, at times, to express. We recognize them in flashes in our consciousness and then turn away to resume what we believe to be the important work of our lives. I have often felt helpless to express such thoughts on the world I have witnessed, in Europe, North America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Sometimes the human pain I saw, due to economic imbalances, or the compassionate sorrow that twisted my gut, when disrupted landscapes destroyed or displaced plants and animals, became unbearable.

I would try to speak of my experiences with friends and acquaintances, but such topics seem to slide away from peoples interest focus. Their eyes typically glaze and they make a perfunctory remark, returning to the issues they know, relegating your experience to some other world beyond their ken.

This apparent disinterest was a tipping point for me, one day. I identified with a world much larger than the one my associates knew. I also felt compassion, hope, and fear for that world. I began to wake in the night, while living in Africa, and tell myself fictional stories of people who saw and solved the worlds issues. I set aside two decades of filtered ramblings in a journal and opened up into poetry, fantasy, and science fiction. It was personal and it was private. It was also a healing place. This is what I hope to share in these pages.

Fallen Leaves, Fallen Trees

Words fall away from my mind in orange and yellow
They litter the ground, leaving me silent
The flavor of it sits in my mouth
Bitter or sweet
A nameless perfume rife with memory
 
I am at last
Finally, That Tree
Tall, still, I brace the landscape
My leaves fallen about me as past glories to dissolve
Food for saplings
 
I am that tree
Shading the heads of pilgrims
I stand as safe roost for eons of flocks
Soundless, I shrug a shoulder 
Or fan my hands
 
I am post and lintel
Cup, bowl, canoe
I am fire hardened spear and arrow; slit for the stone
Cradle, coffin, crucifix
I take the hangman’s name in silence
 
I am that tree.
Support for Maya in her birth throws
Canopy for her son as he awoke
Gathering place for the elders
The sentinel in silence forgotten
 
Standing within the cycle eternal
Fully aware and in silence
I am falling, falling
My essence dreams
And wakes again

Kiora Tash
2012

Hints of Gladness

When I Am Among The Trees

by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness, and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.”

Wishing you all a peaceful end to 2020.

SFWA Names Nalo Hopkinson as the 37th Damon Knight Grand Master

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has named Nalo Hopkinson as the 37th Damon Knight Grand Master. The award is one of the genre’s highest honors, and Hopkinson joins the ranks of such authors as Robert Heinlein, Joe Haldeman, Connie Willis, Samuel R. Delaney, C.J. Cherryh, Ursula K. Le Guin, William Gibson, and Lois […]

SFWA Names Nalo Hopkinson as the 37th Damon Knight Grand Master

Listen, (Please?) The sound is lovely; forgive me if I also wax hopeful.

Neil Gaiman reads Leonard Cohen

Democracy

Leonard Cohen

It’s coming through a hole in the air
From those nights in Tiananmen Square
It’s coming from the feel
That this ain’t exactly real
Or it’s real, but it ain’t exactly there
From the wars against disorder
From the sirens night and day
From the fires of the homeless
From the ashes of the gay
Democracy is coming to the USA
It’s coming through a crack in the wall
On a visionary flood of alcohol
From the staggering account
Of the Sermon on the Mount
Which I don’t pretend to understand at all
It’s coming from the silence
On the dock of the bay,
From the brave, the bold, the battered
Heart of Chevrolet
Democracy is coming to the USA

It’s coming from the sorrow in the street
The holy places where the races meet
From the homicidal bitchin’
That goes down in every kitchen
To determine who will serve and who will eat
From the wells of disappointment
Where the women kneel to pray
For the grace of God in the desert here
And the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the USASail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate


Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail onIt’s coming to America first
The cradle of the best and of the worst
It’s here they got the range
And the machinery for change
And it’s here they got the spiritual thirst
It’s here the family’s broken
And it’s here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open
In a fundamental way
Democracy is coming to the USA

It’s coming from the women and the men
O baby, we’ll be making love again
We’ll be going down so deep
The river’s going to weep,
And the mountain’s going to shout Amen
It’s coming like the tidal flood
Beneath the lunar sway
Imperial, mysterious
In amorous array
Democracy is coming to the USA

Sail on, sail on I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can’t stand the scene
And I’m neither left or right
I’m just staying home tonight
Getting lost in that hopeless little screen
But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags
That Time cannot decay
I’m junk but I’m still holding up
This little wild bouquet
Democracy is coming to the USA

accidental capture (a gift)

Seen and Unseen

Mars beyond the shrouded full moon

This month, the full moon danced with mars. As I watched, she appeared and disappeared repeatedly, flinging her scarves of cloud about her and letting Mars have moments of unobscured brilliance.

The beauty of our natural world; always available to heal the spirit.

Let’s go dance!