Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Lanterns/Lanturnes to Guide Us

Tibetan monks building a mandala in Placerville, 2012
—Photo by Irene Lipshin

—Irene Lipshin, Placerville

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
~Dalai Lama

Six days creating a mandala, a sand
painting colored with healing prayers.
On the seventh morning, a dissolution
ceremony. The Monks destroy
their creation, brush the grains
to the center, pour them into a brass urn
no bigger than a hand. In the blessing,
they ask the deities to heal the earth.
Afternoon at the river, the Geshe
scatters wisdom of non-attachment,
north, south, east, west, releasing
sacred sand to the flowing water.
Witnesses observe, wishing
to reverse so many words
and deeds, as easily as sweeping
them away with a feather and casting
them to the currents. 

 —Photo by Irene Lipshin


—Taylor Graham

last time
I saw you,
plum-trees danced for

in this night—
only the long


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

This owl, for instance,
has no eyes—what had been
amber lanterns in the dark

are dead. Toe-tagged,
the talons grasp at species-name
and measurements as if a ticket

to flight. The girl holds her
carefully penciled notes; knows
somehow she's been

scammed. It was the living bird
she loved. Royal gaze
of an osprey. Vagabond journey

of the thrush caught outside
its range, its regular schedule.
A bird in motion—hawk

so high she can't see field-
marks; or that tiny
twitter weaving in and

out of thorn-berry tangle.
She misses
the eye of the bird.


Guided by the vague mottles
fireflies pirouetting in August arias
of draught or mistral
zephyr or chinook,
lost on the moss-covered path,
thanks fate
these lanterns
in the darkness
are inspired tonight
to hover and play
in the magnolia- and marigold-heavy night.

—Michael Cluff, Corona, CA


To construct bridges
across the deep pits
of ink and ignorance,
Professor Graham Stripling
was not the best
lantern in the intellectual darkness
to achieve this.

He had never overcome
the razors that lightning-flash
emotions and knuckles
had placed into his discretion
and disposition.

He only wore
tie-nooses around his neck
binding stiff belts
and wincing heavy wingtips
to keep himself disciplined
in a doctrine
that his draconian-driven
father forced
into the pre-schooler's childhood fissures
reinforced by fulsome fears
and which Graham would not question....

just like his students are compelled
by him to always
unflinchingly do.

—Michael Cluff


—Michael Cluff

Mina rode the wild winds
into an oasis
mottled by cheeky breezes
and fern-ringed kangaroo paws
dipped in leaves a sculptor
would envy.

Roscoe waited
for her at the entrance
to the pottery shop
next to the hot dog stand
in the third-rate outdoor mall
on a clipped back street
near the faltering freeways.

He grew just for her
and she just caroms and drifts
from one tienda
to the other.


I will pause
at the mouth
as the stream lingers
before shooting down
to the gulf of dark waters.

A fish gathers air
above surface
a long bit
then plunges
in the brackish solution
it does not wish to seek
but must.

—Michael Cluff


—Michael Cluff

Unlike the Italians
in Pisa,
the British want
to defy gravity
and not let nature
tumble Big Ben down.

Americans are like
their English counterparts:
consider that a replica
of the London Bridge
spans the Colorado River
between Arizona
and the land that some
hope will slip
into the uncontrollable


Today's LittleNip: 

—Patricia Wellingham-Jones, Tehama

If Medusa’s hair
is any indication
of the way her mind works
I don’t envy the girl.
All that white-noise hiss
and endless loops
and thoughts tangling
in each other,
it’s a wonder
when she opens her mouth
she ever makes sense.
It’s no wonder
in the legend she hands down
things go badly.


Things sometimes go badly for Medusa, indeed—especially when we don't hear from our SnakePals for a long time. Patricia Wellingham-Jones has been busy with her many other projects, and her absence in the Kitchen has been missed, as has Irene Lipshin, who lives part-time in Placerville and part-time in New York. It's a good day for Medusa when prodigals return! Be sure to check out Patricia's interview over there in the green column at the right of this, under Kool Thing(s) of the Week.

And thanks to Taylor Graham and Michael Cluff, too, for tackling some of our Seeds, including our SOW, our FTFW, and some N-SOWS. And James Den Boer writes to let us know that Swan Scythe Press's 2012 Chapbook Contest is now in full swing; see Submission Tip of the Week. Details for all of these are over there on the green board.

—Medusa (speaking to your despite all the white-noise hiss and endless loops! Ah, non-attachment—the work of several lifetimes, yes?)

—Photo by Irene Lipshin