The Northern Lands

 

564C8F95-C450-4075-831B-8F8E98710F26This evening I thought there would be little to see until the sun was close to setting, in another 45 minutes. It was grey and rainy all day. Then, without warning, the clouds parted and distributed god-rays over the ocean, and all surfaces, on water and land, are sparkling.

This part of N. Wales is a patchwork of stone-walled fields, a crazy quilt dotted with the cottonball sheep that are ubiquitous in the region. There are crazy rugged mountains to the east, and a vast ocean to the west. This time of year, the weather can change quickly, but benevolently, and as the clouds have risen from the sea to meet the sinking sun, I can see by the layers and textures it will be a stunning sunset. The wonder of it is, I’m watching from my cottage kitchen, situated in an old train station in a small village called Llwyngwril on the west coast of Snowdonia National Park.

Why Snowdonia? I have a good friend from Prestatyn, up near the northeastern border of the park. Through our mutual Facebook entries, I saw some photographs of the area, and was stunned. I had never heard of this place! So over the last five or six year, I’ve been paying a little attention to the area.

When my sweet Mama died in October last year, I decided to use part of my inheritance (that she and my daddy worked so hard to nestegg for their kids) on a mid-life solo walkabout. My very first thought was Snowdonia and Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Not an obvious choice, perhaps — I live in a place of mountains and ocean and forests and great natural beauty. Why not an ancient European city, or the Indonesian islands of Bali? Or the stark glacial landscape of Iceland? Or any one of a hundred places I want to see?

All I can say is, I decided, I acted quickly, I planned for months, and here I am on the second leg of my many-part journey. And as I try to think of an iconic photograph that represents my journey thus far, I can’t decide if it’s the sweeping mountainous vistas, the Bronze Age burial site, the 13th Century castle, the drooping bluebells, or the endless green fields and their charming ovine denizens. My feet lapped by the waters of a different ocean seems somehow appropriate.

I will be writing more in the days to come to celebrate this amazing, friendly, ancient country. I am honored to be here, blessed and lucky beyond measure, and thrilled that my intuition of the trip I needed landed me here.

Night Stand

How can I sleep at night
with so many nouns nearby?

eye-drops lip-balm cough-drops
phone tums book

I am distracted by the phone charger
Annoyed by the dictionary
Dismayed by the sleeping pills
Thirsty for the water.

Eyemask
Earplugs
and now to wrangle the nouns of dreams
with verbs out of my control.

Stumble

running
Stumbling

bumbling

in my dream
I fumble for my keys.

Some danger is close behind,
unclear whether man or beast.

At the last second I hear the
tumblers in the lock
but of course
it’s too late.

Do I wake?

I ask my partner, did I
mumble or scream?

I know I stared
down a gun-barrel
and saw a spiraling metal beetle
fly toward my third eye.

I wake.

Stumble to the bathroom,
still fumbling for the keys.

Asleep in the Back Seat

streetlight

We left the grandparents late,
late for a 6-hour drive, anyway.

My dad, stern in his horn-rimmed glasses, driving
through the failing light;
My mom, her foot perpetually pressed
hard on the imaginary brake.

I could only ride in the backseat at night
after the ocean-waves of prairie
could no longer be seen from the car window.

And as we neared the highway turn-off
toward the country roads of our home.
The street lights flashed through my closed eyelids
flash

flash

flash

flash

flash

and half-awake I folded myself smaller
in the backseat,

happy to be near home
sad to leave the speeding capsule
that held us in a separate time and space.

Catch-up Haikus 4/20-26

i.
o you sweet rebel
i call you out for cheating
show me your crib notes

ii.
narcissist girlfriend
i’m tired of your excuses
put up or shut up

iii.
the room in the sphere
had no comfortable bed
nor hiding places

iv.
sounds clash and clang
i’m just trying to sleep here
jeezus christ don’t yell

v.
you died in your time
and you let us know you were
we waited with love

vi.
if you touch this poem
it may electrocute you
so stand back buster

vii.
see red hear laughter
smell memory touch softer
taste your saltiness

Lacuna

Painting-Waves-500x357
Watching the ocean
I had a place to be.

I wanted so very.
I wanted completely.

Ride, whitecaps,
tossing
uphill
downhill
everywhere.

Wind, decorate
today,
crazy
today.



The wind has been completely crazy today. While the sun shone so very warm, and I wanted to wear shorts and a tee-shirt for my bike ride. But the ocean wind cut through the trees, tossing leaves and eucalyptus bark everywhere. Since half of my ride is downhill, I have to make sure I’m windproof. But uphill, I don’t want to roast. I found a nice medium place to be, had a lovely ride, and am now watching the whitecaps decorate the ocean.

 

Black Sunday, April 14, 1935

black-sunday
This a true story.

We know it is true for two reasons:
My mother never lied.
And all the stories across that choked rolling plain are the same
about that day.

While out on a drive with her beau (who was not my daddy)
(but I often wondered if the two of them’d been off necking somewhere, but
she says not, so I believe her, because see reason #1 above)
Ahem to get back to the story:

Whilst out on a drive with her beau
on a day no one identified as sunny or not before the event
(and my mama never really said *exactly* what they were doing, but
it appears the car was stopped even before they saw the cloud coming,
so I thought maybe they were parking, but she says not, so see reason #1 above)
but I digress:

They saw the cloud coming and quickly rolled up the windows
(because it was spring in Western Oklahoma and the weather was probably
really nice and warm and you know, springlike, because every day of the dustbowl
wasn’t a miserable nightmare, you know about spring and the goat-footed balloonman
and they were 17 and I’m pretty sure he must’ve at least stolen a kiss but my mom says not, and reason #1)
so to continue:

The wind shook the car and the fine dust sifted in
through the closed windows and doors
and the world outside
was dark with it, like midnight, when a beau
would under normal circumstances kiss his girl

unless she happened to be my mother. Which she was.

So he didn’t.

I wonder what story his kids tell.

 

Starchild

main-qimg-db17624bbdee099f25c301ed5b356e11-c
Begin Life in a moment
End Life in a day
A moment in a lifetime
Where no clocks come to play

A statue in the hallway
A hallway in the door
The blood-brain barrier
’twixt now and nevermore

The room where Life is ended
Is the room where it began
Did you see yourself by looking
Or by holding out your hand?

Begin Life not with breathing
End Life with waking up
See the world you have been given
As a shattered crystal cup

Swim on waves of gravity
Through nurseries of night
Amniotic oceans
Umbilicus of light

Amniotic oceans
Umbilicus of light

Amniotic oceans
Umbilicus of light



 

This was a song written for a musical version of 2001: A Space Odyssey. A group of very creative friends stages “Musical Emergencies” based on movies, fables, and other source material a couple of times a year. This one was staged by me and my partner (mostly my partner, who saw the movie 10 times in the theater at age 11).

Imagine a slow, contemplative song, minor key, only four chord changes, played on organ as accompaniment.

Amor

amor

There is no innocence in this boy-god.
His eyes have seen death and depravity
for the sake of love.
His arrows do not care what blood is drawn:
deep blood of cruel dreams, locked rooms,
denied desires.

His smile is too smirking by half, as he knows
desires denied
can bring down kingdoms
begin and end wars
and can make music a mere accompaniment
of lust.

His child-man body
His lustrous wings erect
His tiny, proud penis —
it is clear, your desire
is not his.

His
is to shoot an arrow to the center of you

and bring clanging down
your armor and your crown.