Category Archives: Nature

Joy Harjo: Soul Mate to the Human World

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Reading Joy Harjo’s poetry is like discovering there is a paradise after all. It’s like discovering a soul mate. To select only one poem must necessarily be a random act because it’s all good. A link to her website will lead you to her books, and you do the rest.

So here goes, since of late I’ve been writing about maps…

A Map to the Next World

BY JOY HARJO
for Desiray Kierra Chee

In the last days of the fourth world I wished to make a map for
those who would climb through the hole in the sky.

My only tools were the desires of humans as they emerged
from the killing fields, from the bedrooms and the kitchens.

For the soul is a wanderer with many hands and feet.

The map must be of sand and can’t be read by ordinary light. It
must carry fire to the next tribal town, for renewal of spirit.

In the legend are instructions on the language of the land, how it
was we forgot to acknowledge the gift, as if we were not in it or of it.

Take note of the proliferation of supermarkets and malls, the
altars of money. They best describe the detour from grace.

Keep track of the errors of our forgetfulness; the fog steals our
children while we sleep.

Flowers of rage spring up in the depression. Monsters are born
there of nuclear anger.

Trees of ashes wave good-bye to good-bye and the map appears to
disappear.

We no longer know the names of the birds here, how to speak to
them by their personal names.

Once we knew everything in this lush promise.

What I am telling you is real and is printed in a warning on the
map. Our forgetfulness stalks us, walks the earth behind us, leav-
ing a trail of paper diapers, needles, and wasted blood.

An imperfect map will have to do, little one.

The place of entry is the sea of your mother’s blood, your father’s
small death as he longs to know himself in another.

There is no exit.

The map can be interpreted through the wall of the intestine—a
spiral on the road of knowledge.

You will travel through the membrane of death, smell cooking
from the encampment where our relatives make a feast of fresh
deer meat and corn soup, in the Milky Way.

They have never left us; we abandoned them for science.

And when you take your next breath as we enter the fifth world
there will be no X, no guidebook with words you can carry.

You will have to navigate by your mother’s voice, renew the song
she is singing.

Fresh courage glimmers from planets.

And lights the map printed with the blood of history, a map you
will have to know by your intention, by the language of suns.

When you emerge note the tracks of the monster slayers where they
entered the cities of artificial light and killed what was killing us.

You will see red cliffs. They are the heart, contain the ladder.

A white deer will greet you when the last human climbs from the
destruction.

Remember the hole of shame marking the act of abandoning our
tribal grounds.

We were never perfect.

Yet, the journey we make together is perfect on this earth who was
once a star and made the same mistakes as humans.

We might make them again, she said.

Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.

You must make your own map.

“A Map to the Next World” from How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems:1975-2001 by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 2002 by Joy Harjo.

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Filed under Nature, Poetry, Poetry Books, Poets, women poets

Happy National Poetry Month

National Months, if their topic is dear to one’s heart, can be useful, even something to look forward to. This blog was started, in fact, by the intention to “do something” for NaPoMo (the inevitable nickname), although I never joined an oulipo marathon as I had intended. Time always seems to be run out, but this month is something set aside. Almost like a bank, it makes me consider writing a poem every day, posting a poem every day, even reading a poem every day (although that doesn’t need a month for obsessives like me). Time was running away, so I didn’t post daily or even weekly as I’d planned. But reading another poet’s blog, where she brought up NaPoMo on April 10th, I decided not to let it having been National Tax Month do away entirely with Poetry, thinking I haven’t yet run out of time. So I’ll file a few poems and other poetry-related writings before it slips away entirely…
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A Cucubano, a bioluminescent clicking cricket found in Puerto Rico. In an abandoned building, on the ceiling, they gave the illusion of the electricity being on. That’s how bright they were. May poetry bring us all that illusion!

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New Poem and Art at Postcard Poems & Prose!!

The lovely site Postcard Poems and Prose has a new poem of mine up today along with my original artwork and a few must-see insect portraits. Where would this world be without insects, or tea, for that matter? Or art, or poetry? It’s a fun site which explores the connection between art and poetry, with brief diversions about the artists themselves.

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Filed under Art, Nature, Poetry, Publications, Siham Karami poems

Cricket (Insect) Poems

And while on the subject of crickets (see previous post), here’s a few poems (one never before published! scroll down) about crickets (as opposed to cricket poems about the sport, apparently a whole genre in itself).

Something old:

On the Grasshopper and Cricket

By John Keats

The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s — he takes the lead
In summer luxury, — he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

Something new: A never-before-published poem about crickets:

Triller

By Martin Elster

Somewhere in the bedroom a common cricket
trills with inhibition like something bashful,
quavers growing ever more metronomic,
shaking the shadows,

rousing the rat terrier, height of fierceness,
blessed with ears of keenness and legs of lightness,
denticles of devilry. Hear it? Hear it?
Where is it hiding?

There it is! The acme of bouncy vigor
lacquered in the lamplight between the bookshelf,
bed, and table, preening its tarsal toenails,
taking a breather,

nonchalant — its glistening tar-black noggin
wigwags side to side as if deep in daydream,
pondering the blizzards that soon will bluster,
rattle the windows.

Dauntless Duncan, jittery as a jailbird,
promptly breaks the calm with a strident barking,
rushes like Sir Galahad toward the bug and,
savagely pouncing,

shreds its heart, blue hemolymph slowly seeping.
Quietude returns as the hero slumbers
heedless of the others beyond these ramparts,
scraping and crooning,

warbles growing longer and longer, evenings
cooling like an animal lately fallen.
Fangs and hoarfrost: equally skilled and eager
killers of trillers.

Something borrowed (As in “Can I borrow your Emily Dickinson?”):

The cricket sang,

By Emily Dickinson

The cricket sang,
And set the sun,
And workmen finished, one by one,
Their seam the day upon.

The low grass loaded with the dew,
The twilight stood as strangers do
With hat in hand, polite and new,
To stay as if, or go.

A vastness, as a neighbor, came,–
A wisdom without face or name,
A peace, as hemispheres at home,–
And so the night became.

And of course, something haiku!

A Cricket Haiku by Basho

Such utter silence!
even the crickets’
singing . . .
Muffled by hot rocks

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The Heavenly Choirs of Crickets

The familiar sound of crickets chirping has taken on a new dimension. Their lives are lived on a faster scale than ours, but if one were to record their sounds, then slow them down to what would be the equivalent of human time, we have a “translation” of their chorus that will transform your understanding of the natural world. Listen to the sound of crickets: that sound like amazing human choirs! Listen!

 

cricket choirs

Note: the audio has superimposed cricket sounds on their scale as we normally hear them over the human scaled sound. A voice-over briefly describing what this is also shows up briefly. Imagine that these earthly heavenly hosts are singing like this (to their ears) for hours (perhaps longer on their timescale), and what does this mean?

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