Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Natural Instincts (Found Poem)

Natural Instincts  ~ A Found Poem 

    Nature is not a place to visit; it is home.
            ~ Gary Snyder

There is fretful urgency in the racket of cicadas
logging in the surrounding evergreens — a gathering

of vertical coffins beautifully balanced on unshapely
mountains — and in the roll of the rumour of outsider

rigs on the upper slopes, a cluster of the red-eyed
coming to witness the morning spectacles: the dissolution

of a hundred acres of ground, shamanic hills wiped
out. In the clearing converted to desert moonscape,

lone dogs mouth the manic sound of non-native species
enthusiastic for human society. On a bright Sunday,

the narrow-eyed man with thin silver hair lit from behind
can take no supporting role in leisurely pushing the limits

of his Buddhist mind; his destiny was to understand
the hunger for the natural and career-defining, the drift

of the porous life the troubled Zen poet, zeroing in on clumps
of lichen on an inch of rock, confirmed was his for eternity.

He walked the road, offbeat thief of time, but seeing
nothing, moved into the forest, stretches of wilderness his

backdrop for a final self-constructed mystery programmed
through meditation on the required orange prayer

mats scattered in the shade of his pioneer homestead.
The solution to the koan was rice. He kept a gun

for business, and the proper means of getting away, fast,
when noises of chainsaws came close, and to give

greeting to students heavily dosed on Ginsberg readings,
a dark thesis topic, a sequence of his own early quotations.

He set daily routines by diverted rain and weeks of winter
snow, by wood-choppers, the mad chanters of translations

from the Japanese and Chinese, the unfolding scroll
of ocean beyond, a rally of seductive clouds, the spray

of weekend tourists at brunch around a central fire pit,
green tea in a hanging pot. Poems took their toll, uncoiling

in a space where inspiration came like no natural
occurrence and the instinct for betraying the approaching

ghosts required constant migrations, a home nowhere,
and the certainty of what was inside and brilliant.

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

This poem was crafted using words from the marvelous (and more than 6,000-word-long) essay "The Man in the Clearing: Ian Sinclair Meets Gary Snyder", London Review of Books, Vol. 34, No. 10, May 24, 2012

Direct Article Link: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n10/iain-sinclair/the-man-in-the-clearing

For those unfamiliar with poet Gary Snyder, see my post "Poet Laureate of Deep Ecology".


Chazinator said...

This is an impressive hommage to this fine poet. That you were able to craft such a stunning poem from your source a tribute to your own art. I found the descriptions of nature very stunning and the place of the poet and his art in it especially wonderful. That you also placed it within the context of his belief system is really illuminating.

Peggy Rosenthal said...

Fascinating, Maureen. I've been pondering lately what differences there are between poetry and prose. In this poem, turning gracious prose into gracious poetry, placing lines so that their natural rhythms stand out, you make the differences minimal.
Peggy Rosenthal

jen revved said...

Exquisite elegy, Maureen-- I have goosebumps at your imagery of the vulnerble and virgin forest...you should send this to him! Believe it or not we once danced in a conga line at an English department party out in the country! xxxxj

aprille said...

Very sophisticated and requiring me to find some background. So detailed.

Brian Miller said...

goodness maureen this is gorgeous...you really flushed him out in this and all the detail of him and his surroundings...really it was a very moving piece and to choose any section to highlight would be an offense to the whole...needless to say i love it...

Joan Barrett Roberts said...

'constant migrations & a home no where' ~ a mist beautiful writing for homage to such a poet ~ his life set in nature away from formal preoccupied living! Such a blessing for all of us that he wrote his poetry! Thank you for the research & the sources ~ it is GREAT to learn such details! I really enjoyed your word flow & pace! Superb writing & that you use selective words from text is amazing! Thanks

Beachanny said...

Of course I know his work! What a fabulous piece "found" in a thicket of words! Kudos on this Maureen. Once again your sure eye and artistic abilities shine.

nance said...

He kept a gun

for business, and the proper means of getting away, fast,
when noises of chainsaws came close, and to give

greeting to students heavily dosed on Ginsberg readings...


Louise Gallagher said...

I am in awe of your gift.

Britton Minor said...

There is a "this has always existed" feel to your work, as if, when you create, you are simply (though the work is not simple, nor the effort) giving voice to unburied works that had been lost yet not forgotten. There is a quiet celebration when I read you; long moments of satisfaction in which I linger in your words and thoughts like being being in a carefully drawn bath where the water stays the perfect temperature the entire time you are in it.

Maureen said...

All of these comments are so wonderful. Thank you for such generous readings.

Old Ollie said...

found poems are the best...as is Gary Snyder