Honoring Okla Elliot

A version of this post was featured on this series in December of 2010. It is being shared here today as As It Ought To Be mourns the loss of our founder. By Okla Elliott: THE IDIOT’S FAITH Three lanterns floated in the dream she told him, but he didn’t want to hear about lanterns. […]

via SATURDAY POETRY SERIES REMEMBERS OKLA ELLIOTT — As It Ought to Be

Daybreak at the Abiquiu Monestary

Barefoot along the dusty arroyo
above the deep painted river canyon
the brown robed Jesuits
walk in prayer.
Early morning shadows
move across the red dirt and agave.
A rabbit sits watching
the sun arc over the Sandias.

Morning rays light and warm dry chapped skin
The golden hour stirs. The blood and breath rise
Cliff swallows alarm as the falcon glides
past their home on the canyon wall. 
Crackle of far off thunder foreshadows an autumn desert rain.
Hair on the skin rises.

This is where God is. In this moment of hush, light, earth and sky.

Under a Waxing Moon

Not full by fractions
light blunted by whisp of cloud
she wolf howling

me

BORDER WALL — The Matt Gonzalez Reader

original to The Matt Gonzalez Reader, November 7, 2016 Luis Pinto’s installation for “Welcome to the Left Coast” exhibition at the Luggage Store Gallery, San Francisco, May 13, 2016. Curated by Andres Guerrero and Matt Gonzalez. Build the Wall by Matt Gonzalez The 2016 presidential election has been dominated by incendiary rhetoric. In Donald Trump’s […]

via BORDER WALL — The Matt Gonzalez Reader

Kyomu e (Into Nothingness)

Your laughing eyes draw me down a darkened corridor
the whites of those eyes like candles in the night
leading home where the hush of evening is broken by
the popping of a wine cork, piano riffs
I thought I’d turn in early
yet the tenor of the evening turns
with a joke about woman and slugs
I launch into a rail against demeaning humor
how you can belittle women by such words
I get my dander up, but you cajole me with different jokes
I am giggling, then laughing out loud.
We make popcorn – the old fashion way,
with oil and a covered pot.
I’d forgotten the lovely sound of the sizzling
and slow roil of the popcorn until the first few explode
followed by the rat-a-tat-tat of the kernels as they all reach their
popping point. We eat it with butter, on the roof
under a full moon peeping between low clouds
my legs over yours beneath an old quilt I made
You slide a hand along the inside of my thigh
I melt into you with your breath in my ear
my hand in your hair. I warn you I might faint,
because sometimes I do, it doesn’t deter you. You are not afraid
to take me over the edge into that oblivion.
and I go, to that bright exquisite place where pleasure blinds me.
I am both acutely present and out of my body all at once.
I am brought back by your quieting breath.
We finish the popcorn, still on the roof.
I hear your coming of age tales
I tell my own, keeping a few secrets for myself
this evening is unexpectedly energizing
surprising turns of lust, humor, anger and joy,
of kindness, warmth,and vulnerability.
I might not know you after tonight
after you board that plane to a place I have no intention of ever going
but I thank you
for this perfect night and for the chance to look at you while you sleep
so peaceful, so trusting. I thank you.

Summer Chinook Wind

In the Colorado high country, summer is about the wind.
Wind blowing hot and dry, chapping the skin
A foot of lingering snow evaporates in less than an hour.
Where one lives remote from the
paved over landscapes of the city,
you live every moment aware.
Aware of the climate, the environment that holds you,
of which you are a feature but have little, if any, control.
No stoplight will halt a coming storm,
No roadblocks can be erected in time for a flash flood
No lighted signs marking an emergency exit
from a fire roaring up the canyon walls.
There is no foundation, no dwelling completely immune to the forces of the Chinook winds.

I move between the city and the Colorado high country every year
and relearn in a moment or two to change my level of awareness.
In the city we are alert to man made dangers,
or dangers presented by being in close proximity to other people
Those dangers fall away here at the edge of the snowline.
I stand with hair whipping my face, skin parched like cracking earth
checking the water level in the well, traveling the acres gathering dry fallen
branches, removing dead trees , cutting back vegetation around the home.
Protecting from fire.
We secure everything outide against the Chinook winds.
Reseal windows and doorways where the winds blow in dust and dirt.

The body is endlessly aching with thirst as is the land.
A resplendent afternoon shower frequently nourishes
the parched air and ground for a moment.
But sometimes, thunder, shaking the trees and the ground is accompanied by lightening that will set the dry grasses ablaze,
the fire roaring up a canyon or pass in minutes.

The Rocky Mountains stand in the path of the warm air currents.
Warm, dry down slope winds known as the Chinook,
named after Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest,where the winds originate.
Weather patterns produce a strong, deep flow of air across the Rockies,
the peaks along the Continental Divide act like rocks in a stream-bed.
Just as a rock in flowing water produces ripples in the surface of the stream, the mountains cause ripples in the atmosphere.
Forced up by the peaks, the air seeks to return to its original level
roaring down the eastern slopes only settling down once they blast onto the plains in the east.

I am acutely aware of the changing conciousness
as I leave the high country,
Driving down the passes,
my attention turns to the gradual thickening of traffic,
reception comes back to the radio and there is the sound of the Lemonheads that replaces the sound of the wind.
I reach the airport among throngs of people each with their individual dramas.
But part of me is thinking of the drama of the build up of the afternoon clouds and the blowing wind up on Copperwood Pass as I board the airplane.
As we fly through the sky out of Colorado we fly over my land,
I check on more time the weather below,
read the clouds for moisture content, velocity of wind,thunder and lightening.

I land back in the city, move through the lines of people to collect bags and scuffle to get a cab, fighting traffic and accidents back into the city.
step over excrement on the sidewalk to unlock my door, secure the locks when I get in, answer the phone messages, prepare for urban job travails for the week.
The transition is almost complete.
But when I lay my head on my pillow, I am still listening for the Chinook wind.

Road Trip

Road trips stave off the wanderlust
for awhile. Until the coffers belch
and I take to the air, where
the language bends my ear; the landscape awakens my eyes;
the foods and fragrances stir up the blood.
Now, in my car, music takes me far away
heading towards the salt air where the heart opens to the expanse of the sea
your company, my newest landscape,
a new rhythm. We are off the paved roads
where the dirt trail and adventure begin
and for a moment I feel comfortable enough to sit silent.
Not awkward. Not a void. Its a beckoning. A communication
of comfort and intimacy as we slow the pace,
as the trail narrows into the grass
next to a brook, crossing a stream into the woods.

Bergen

Midnight sun illumines,
salmon dancing in baskets
set out for market
brightly painted boats expel
seamen icing down the catch,
setting up for sales along the pier.
Rain thundering down
does not change the pace or activity.
Houses, painted the color of the boats,
overlook the early bustle.
I meander down the moss covered
cobble walkways,
past ivy covered walls, along tree lined streets
into the hustle.
I am offered writhing catch,
fresh shucked oysters.
I slide a few oysters down
into a breakfast hungry stomach.
I am reminded of Kodiak Alaska,
but this city offers more than –
the industry of fish.
My bones respond to this place,
where ancestors lived
worked and drew their last breath.
It is an unfamiliar home.
An internal GPS leads me to places and people connected
to my blood, heart.
In a library
an unknown chance relative
shows me pictures of places
of my people,
shares names, dates,
relative to the tree of which I am the smallest branch.
I ride a tram to overlook the city and harbor.
I stand in this
Green Meadow Among the Mountains
looking upon
the City of Seven Mountains
as a resident of the distant
City of 14 Hills.
Everything I am, have been, is echoed before me.

Paula Kirkeby

I only met this woman twice though her reputation as a art collector, art enthusiast and owner of Smith and Anderson Gallery /print studio in Palo Alto was well known to me for some time. She charmed me. It was a brief and meaningful connection. I hope we cross paths in another place and time. RIP. Please read more about her at http://www.smithandersen.com/

paula

Air & Memory

Following you, the breeze lifted the bottom of your curls, suspending the hair in a dance around your head. Wind playing the tendrils like my fingers did hours ago against the soft cushion of pillows cradling you.

The wind rises up with the scent of the sea,  wild honeysuckle, eucalyptus, the green of spring.  Memories,stored in brain cells related to senses, secure this meditative ambling as a moment of aromas – hoping it is with you still, inside this damaged head, in this still body.

Sea grass quivers, quakes. Trees creak in warming wind. A red-tail hawk cries hunting the bluffs in slow circles. Movement everywhere enabled by the strength of the wind. I imagine your limbs rising, your body swaying, eyes lifting to watch where the hawk flies.

The sand, warm on the surface, cool as our footsteps churn the wetter layer beneath. The sunlight brings out my freckles. The wind cools the burn on the skin. Promises inscribed in driftwood set out to sea, carrying our intentions to the whole world touched by water.

All the senses are singing, blood quickens, breath draws deep into the lungs. The body is whole, invigorated by all that is today; all that is seen, all that is felt, all that is heard, all that is sense, all that is air. I am with you. I am here. I am memory.

Class

Swirling organza, lace, floating on
enriched air warmed by 6 foot fireplaces.
A private library with hidden books,
lit by chandeliers.  Melodies filling heated air
from a tuxedoed man at a grand piano.
Grgich vintage wines, rare truffled pastries
Waltz through the rooms by those who serve at great price:
The night’s purpose is to raise funds to cloth children without a shelter, place
simple food in their bellies, secure a lighted place
for study, tutoring, buy school supplies, that
their parents can no longer provide.
But the children are not here, nor their parents.
They are in tents set up in churches, synagogues, temples
In tattered clothes, warmed by space heaters and each other’s bodies
Nourished by spirit, camaraderie, hope,
Listening to street noise and the coughing of neighbors
in tents lined up like barracks.
At the gala , pockets empty mindlessly.
True Golden nuggets are formed in deep veins along a common route
through pressure and time.

Common Law

Altruism runs silent and still in a trickle of blood down the gutter, into the sewer.

Justice dies in a chokehold, gasping “I can’t breathe”.

Racism rears its ugly head towards a crimson hoodie, underneath a winter moon, scattering skittles across the ground.

Corruption stands in a crowd of blue with backs turned on the people. A mayor calls for an investigation, but he is to blame.

Faith is pummeled into wet pavement with batons breaking bones over screams of surrender.

Hope. How, where, when, can I rise?

Drawing

Charcoal residue on the heel of my hand up to my elbow
tracing a curve onto paper
exhaling, the line follows with an arc
inhaling, the line draws in against a paper rib-cage.

Breath in the Air

Words hang with our breath
in small clouds above our heads.
The heated words create a physicality, temporary,
dissipating, as brief as the heat of that moment
– they hang just long enough to be examined, in thoughtful pause.
That pause being long enough to realize
there is perfection in this moment of imperfection
Wabi Sabi the Japanese call it.
In that quiet abeyance I see in your eyes
we are agreeing to accept these intimacies as they are
no longer trying to correct any wrong
change any quality of character
or force our will.
As the heated words dissolve into nothingness,
our breath, heated with a different kind of fire
rises into the air. We are surrounded by snow,
by deeply scented evergreens, by a snow fox, by the dimming winter light.