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

Welcome Summer Solstice

A Likely Lake

In Summer Time

Paul Laurence Dunbar – 1872-1906

(The author of numerous collections of poetry and prose; he was one of the first African American poets to gain national recognition.)

When summer time has come, and all
The world is in the magic thrall
Of perfumed airs that lull each sense
To fits of drowsy indolence;
When skies are deepest blue above,
And flow'rs aflush,—then most I love
To start, while early dews are damp,
And wend my way in woodland tramp
Where forests rustle, tree on tree,
And sing their silent songs to me;
Where pathways meet and pathways part,—
To walk with Nature heart by heart,
Till wearied out at last I lie
Where some sweet stream steals singing by
A mossy bank; where violets vie
In color with the summer sky,—
Or take my rod and line and hook,
And wander to some darkling brook,
Where all day long the willows dream,
And idly droop to kiss the stream,
And there to loll from morn till night—
Unheeding nibble, run, or bite—
Just for the joy of being there
And drinking in the summer air,
The summer sounds, and summer sights,
That set a restless mind to rights
When grief and pain and raging doubt
Of men and creeds have worn it out;
The birds' song and the water's drone,
The humming bee's low monotone,
The murmur of the passing breeze,
And all the sounds akin to these,
That make a man in summer time
Feel only fit for rest and rhyme.
Joy springs all radiant in my breast;
Though pauper poor, than king more blest,
The tide beats in my soul so strong
That happiness breaks forth in song,
And rings aloud the welkin blue
With all the songs I ever knew.
O time of rapture! time of song!
How swiftly glide thy days along
Adown the current of the years,
Above the rocks of grief and tears!
'Tis wealth enough of joy for me
In summer time to simply be.

The Blog or the Tree

The Blog that ate reality. (Only consider the indigestion.)

Perhaps this is closer to the electron vs. the tree product? I would not know. I am not sure at all what the blog is in terms of my real world. This is not due to diminished tech ability so much, but rather to a lack of curiosity.

I was given stern instructions to begin a blog, if I ever wanted to produce marketable writing and be able to sell it; to have an electronic presence. I made the effort, thinking that I would open a door to creativity and meet people of ‘like mind’.

I have a very different view today. Somedays I think I am shouting down a well, on others, I am walking along whispering to myself (which is cause for some worry).

Today, it seems I am talking to a very small group of ‘friends in the shadows’. It has a magical and unreal quality to it. I feel myself reaching out and taking a hand, or starting a conversation here and there. Sometimes I simply brush someones cheek with my knuckles and look deeply into their eyes with an attempt to understand who they are. I am looking deep into a mystery that eludes me. You.

Ever Onward

It is this sense of presence in an electronic world that has ignited my curiosity again. What is this web we weave? How does it penetrate creativity? Is the glue still kindness, or does the ego rule?

For me to even voice these words, feels strange. Clearly, the precipice of my ignorance is high and airy. I lean out and see only hints along a skyline. I know nothing. Perhaps knowing nothing, much more is possible. Perhaps I can fly after all.

I will let you know.

Ganges River

Wild Wild West

Cattle Drive

This grainy old-time view is how I hope to display a world that is passing: two cowboys, a rare cowgirl, a couple of cattle dogs and a herd of 30 head. The next generation won’t see this happen. There are too many folk, too little land, too large a drive for money and power. Thus, the world changes as it always has.

Do not, please, assume I am denying change or supporting the meat industry. I am simply playing observer and noting the inevitability. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I wonder if we can play the part of guide in this process. Often the very idea of inserting myself into the maelstrom of change terrifies me. How dare I, how could I? Certainly there is very little that I know about the balance of man and nature, the balance of man and mankind. I wonder if it is simply the process of bringing authentic kindness to the process each time we move. This too terrifies me, as I am so inadequate to the task.

Hot Dusty work.

So I left the boys, girls, and dogs behind to travel another road, where my inadequacy will be forgiven, if it is ever noticed at all.

The land is dry here, the road is inches deep in the dust of a dry lake bed. The map is torn.


Road North

Other travelers have stopped here to discuss something, some story, some prayer. I stop and open up to what I see.

Sky, cloud, life.

Your Story

This basalt block holds the key to a mind long past. These images, tapped patiently into the rock surface, are thought to be as old as 12,000 years. I am caught by the truth that I will never know what the meaning of all this felt like for them. It is so simple to take a bit of poetry, a bit of some novel, and place myself within the perceived meaning. I realize though, that whenever I write, or read, or gaze at art, that the meaning slips here and there, never the same for artist or art gazer.

Really, this is the point. I do not wish my creations to have some kind of solid, inflexible meaning that will be prattled on about in a classroom. I want the bubble that exploded from my heart and mind to engender a bubble of yours. It is a form of touch. I reach for you and you return the gesture. There is a deep mystery in this, a beauty.

Stone Yard Biota

Here is a change of perspective. See the stone-yard biota above? This is the other side of the picture rock I just showed you. Moss and lecithin making its own lovely message heard above the roar of the universe. Here, below is hot spring biology with the same gambit.

In just such moments, it is the striving to understand that precipitates change within. There is no correct answer, there is only the quest.

Hot spring biota
Out Beyond
by Rumi
Out beyond ideas of wrong doing
and right doing,
There is a field. I will meet you there.

When the soul lies down in the grass,
The world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase
'each other'
does not make any sense.

Body and Earth

Puzzle Bark

To understand an eccosystem, you must be able to see that every part effects every other, creating a delicate balance. Modern man carefully placed himself above the rest of existence, so as to safely rule it. Slowly, he is finding out that such a pinacle is both unsafe and unreal.

Wild Wood

“You are what you eat” has long been a part of common parlance, but what we are beginning to recognize is that we are what we eat, breath, drink, touch and even think.

Spring Fed Stream

It is difficult from our present position to see a world where we are integral, not dominant. I suspect that we must look back at story telling and myth for guidance.

In ‘The Fruitful Darkness’ by Joan Halifax, this idea is brought forward:

“Yes, stories are threads that draw one back into the fabric of the Earth. Bright fibers that join worlds, stories illumine our deep past, our origins, our ancestors and the ancestors of all creation, and our psyches and societies.”


The startling beauty of nature, combined with our creative capacity may provide information which our hard, inflexible minds otherwise refuse to comprehend.

Northwest Native American Pictograph

Let’s read a story, tell a story; dig deep into the past, future, or flights of fancy. Open your heart to whatever may be.

I invite you to bring it forward.

Quartz, azurite, malachite: Earth candy!