Obvious

movement obscures the form
the light on the water dazzles us
we can’t quite see

we peer and probe
seeking always seeking
as if there is some power
in depth

as if that surface glitter
is not enough

maybe movement is all there is –

the fine oscillation
of atoms, more space
than substance –

energy transmitted and transforming,
the slow drift
into entropy

flames dancing on the surface
of the universe

 “It is life’s work to recognize the mystery of the obvious”
Jim Harrison ~ Songs of Unreason

 

It finally arrived – the last day of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason project. It’s going to be strange without the daily wrestle with Jim Harrison’s gnomic sentences. Thank you, Jilly, for bringing this to us. 

It’s too hot to poet much tonight. We hit 31 degrees today – unheard of in this green and pleasant land! – so this is my offering for dVerse’s open link night as well.

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Never coming down

The house can’t hold me
and I’m

up

and away

looking down on
the little town,
strung with streetlights,
glittering like
a girl drinking rum and coke
in a dirty bar

and as the sky lightens
I’m banging on the clouds
shouting

let me in

let me in

because there’s always a party
somewhere

and I’m dancing with strangers
and I’m watching the sun come up
as if it’s the first sunrise
on the first day

and everything else
is
insignificant

never coming down

“At four in the morning my body bumped against the ceiling” from North American Image Cycle in The Shape of the Journey

 

Day 27 of Jilly’s month of Unreason, poems inspired by Jim Harrison. This is the penultimate day of a great project. 

 

Solstice pilgrim

This, then, is her solstice pilgrimage,
this six monthly walk, down this too long corridor,
ticking off letters, – M is for Women’s Health,
P is for Medical Photography
Q is for X-ray and Imaging.

She’s here in the long days of summer,
when the windows are open in this small room,
letting in voices and slow moving air,

and again in the short dark winter days
when there’s not enough light to spare,
not enough warmth to go around –

stripped of power, clothing, efficacy –
she has a name-tag in her bag, out there
she’s someone, here she repeats her name,
address, date of birth at each desk –

Open Sesame

– and she’s touched gently, probed by soft, kind hands,
that press and smooth her skin,
searching for the death that bubbles under it.

 

And there you go – Day 26 of Jilly’s 28 days of unreason challenge. I’m going to make a confession now: I haven’t read any Jim Harrison apart from the quotations put up here. I will, but I wanted to do this challenge without any preconceptions about his work, and just take each quotation on its own terms. It’s been a great series of prompts. I can’t believe we only have two to go. 

And here’s the quotation:

“There is a human wildness held beneath the skin that finds all barriers brutishly unbearable”   from Songs of Unreason

 

I’m also linking it up to tonight’s dVerse prompt – opposites attract, posted by Lillian. She asks us to write a poem including some opposites as contrasts. I’ve used the two solstices here.

Solstice storm

They bring the weather with them –
wild winds that flutter home-made pennants,
set lanterns rocking, shadows leaping
up canvas walls and wooden pallisades –

they sing out loud, gathering in loose groups
and drinking sun-gold cider, moonlight vodka –
tell stories round the dancing flames
of midnight fires: their stories –
tales that shift and change
with every telling, forging their own myths.

They’re gathering here before the solstice,
a ragged caravan of feathers, flapping, black;
of russet coats and cool green gazing;
of blues and yellows, splashing monochrome,
dark masks, striped faces, brown eyes
blinking in the light. A mustering of

muddy feet and velvet coats. Silk scarves
and dirty claws, and silver rings.

They bring the weather with them,
call up the wind, send cloud wolves
rioting across the sky,
wait for the sun to rise.

Day 25 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason project. A whole month of poems inspired by quotations from Jim Harrison’s work. 

“A violent windstorm the night before the solstice”. from Solstice Litany

 

Deep waters

There are all sorts of things down there –
I’ve seen them glimmering in the murk,
moonfish, mirrorfish, memories –
sometimes a pale hand rises up
to press the surface.

I’ve seen my face reflected there
a thousand times. A million.

Vile, snapping things rise suddenly
in a whorl of mud, and sink again,
and gleaming predators glide smoothly,
light dappling their flanks.

So many things – lost things, that
unexpectedly break free, appear –
things jettisoned in the fight
to stay afloat. Illusions formed
from kelp and moonlight.

In this small boat,
I’ve sat out storms, and calms.
Some days I’ve waited hours
in the harsh, baking sun,
and nothing’s bitten on my line at all;
sometimes I’ve pulled a hundred
shimmering mackerel;
sometimes a single silver fish,
that I’ve let free, to leap and grow.

Sometimes a word, and sometimes silence,
sometimes a poem.

This, of course, is primarily for Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason. It also works for today’s Mindlovemisery’s menagerie prompt – I’m going with When the fish stop biting as my alternative title…

Here’s the quotation, from the man himself:

“Saw a poem float by just beneath the surface ” from Songs of Unreason

Cradled

Those of us cradled gently,
basking in the warm gaze of the universe,
who blossomed quietly,
opening in love

we have deep roots

and we carry light within us,
and the silence of the living forest.

For Day 22 of Jilly’s month of Unreason. 

“The world that used to nurse us

now keeps shouting insane instructions.

That’s why I ran to the woods.”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

What is the question?

He was a man who gathered facts
what does moonlight taste like?
as if he could build a world from them,
who first fell in love? with whom?
snatched dates and data from the atmosphere,
what do flowers dream of?

cross-referenced, indexed, filed.
what colour are my eyes?
He questioned endlessly, collated
can you hear a sunbeam strike the ocean?

all the answers, in boxes first,
where did I leave my keys?
then just in piles, great tottering heaps
what noise do Saturn’s rings make?

that rose around him,
what’s the gestation period of the unicorn?
and still, the world eluded him.

where does love live?

For Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, where we are all Jim Harrison tribute acts. Today’s quotation is:

“I see today that everyone on earth

wants the answer to the same question

but none has the language to ask it.”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

She doesn’t want to write about love

She’s not going to write about love –
because everyone writes about love,
and everyone knows
that love is a rose
and love is a thorn,
and love is a glistening
bead of blood on a fingertip.

There’s so much more to life
than love – there’s moonlight,
and reading, and bottomless coffees,
but everyone knows that
love is a warm jolt of caffeine,
and love is a poem,
and love is the moon,
and love is a lone wolf howling,

and even when she strips
the metaphors out of her work,
writing a forest – a real one –
she drove there, and pressed her hand
into the bark of a tree
’til her palm was marked,
still everyone knows
that love is a tree,
and love is a forest,
and love is the road
that carries you there.

 

“Love is raw as freshly cut meat,

mean as a beetle on the track of dung”

~ Jim Harrison  from Songs of Unreason

 

Day 20 of this 28 day delve into the world of Jim Harrison. Jilly is hosting a month of Unreason. Check it out. There’s some great stuff being written there.

Babble

Did I babble? Did I spill the secrets

of my immediate desires, not deep,

not very deep, just basic stuff –

water.

Sleep.

Did I reveal myself, in my

vulnerability, my coming to,

my emerging from that hazing mist,

my brain stretching itself, releasing

small thought bubbles that had no

real life, just that primal craving –

water,

sleep.

“I’m quite tired of beating myself up to write.  I think I’ll start letting the words slip out like a tired child. “Can I have a piece of pie” he asks, and then he’s asleep back on the cusp of the moon.”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

That Jilly is totally unreasonable, expecting us to keep up with this challenge! Day 19 of 28 Jim Harrison prompts.