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Life Arts    H4'ed 11/20/22

In the eye of the hurricane (tribute to a friend) followed by notes

Message Gary Lindorff
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Shining in the Dark [Explored October 25th 2016]
Shining in the Dark [Explored October 25th 2016]
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My friend lives in a house of shell

That floats beneath the moon and sun.

His life has conjured a kind of spell

A beautiful shell of protection.

There are those in this world of ours

Who understand the rain,

Whose presence calms the flowers

In the eye of the hurricane.

There are those who sing to the trees

And those who drum for pleasure

(I've heard some drums travel breeze to breeze

Just how far no one can measure.)

I live in a house of several floors

With a room just for guests,

With many windows, and many doors

Surrounded by fields and forests.

But I think of my friend in his house of shell

Who understands the rain

And I know of all people he will do well

In the eye of the hurricane.


The rhyme scheme (abab cdcd etc.) forces me to scale back or distill the story I am telling here. One thing that never ceases to amaze me when I am writing rhyming poems is how few rhymes there are for almost any given word. Take the word "word" and see what you come up with without trying too hard, like absurd or bird, or nerd or herd or curd. Now go to rhyme zone. About fifteen words down, the choices start becoming useless, like whirred and purredand chauffeured, and there is Byrd for some reason (# 16). I'm just saying, you would think that out of the whole English language, there would be more choices. I don't mind engaging close sounds like sword for the "rd", which I think adds to the richness in a sonnet, but suffice it to say, in sticking with a rhyme scheme, the choices are limited and that limits what you can explore in the poem in terms of themes and metaphor. Once I accept my limitations and start concentrating on what is possible, the poem begins to open up.

Here I am describing a man who is my friend, who lives in Tao, at the center or the navel of the world. (He "understands the rain" and his shell house floats beneath moon and sun, i.e., at one with the cosmic opposites). But he also lives in a world of storms. We all do, that is, live in a world of storms. But we don't all live in Tao (in houses of shell beneath the sun and moon). Far from it. Most of us, I think it's fair to say, live close to the TV or some media feed, managing stressful lives, girding ourselves for news of the next mass shooting or flood or famine, so I need to come up with a metaphor that says two things about his situation - that he lives in a world of storms and he lives at the benign center. And, again, my rhyme scheme is limiting my choices. So, I have this man who understands rain, tending his flowers in "the eye of the hurricane". With Tao, you have the micro and the macro in sync. Tao is not limited to large scale or small, it is universal. The spiral of the sheltering and centering shell is cognate / simpatico with the spiral of the hurricane. But the shell is solid and stable and protective, and the eye of the hurricane is unstable in the sense of moving, and it is energetic and ominous. One thing that is implied in this poem is that my house of several floors surrounded by fields and forest, is much more exposed to the hurricane and I, along with most of the rest of the human race, who are not in Tao, may not "do well" in the eye of the hurricane. Picture the likes of me racing around to get ready for the onslaught of high winds and rising waters while my friend, who-understands-rain, tends to his flowers.

I am reminded of a poem I posted a few years ago, "Dream of an old woman". (Click Here) In that poem I and some others are trying to find a safe place to weather a cataclysmic storm when we chance upon the home of an old wise woman who allows us to stay with her, but to our surprise, in her world, because, like my friend, she inhabits Tao, there is no storm! (Here are the last two stanzas of that poem.)

Soon the great storm will hit
But this old mill-turned-home
Built of locally quarried granite
Will stand and we will survive
As we talk we anxiously inventory her provisions

As the winds pick up and the rain begins to fall
The woman reaches outside the window
To touch the rain saying
There is no storm
You may stay anyway

Like my friend, she understands the rain. So, the question is: Is there a storm or not? The answer is Yes and No, depending on your relation with the universe.


(Article changed on Nov 20, 2022 at 1:51 PM EST)

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of several nonfiction books, a collection of poetry, "Children to the Mountain" and a memoir, "Finding Myself in Time: Facing the Music" Over the last few years he has begun calling (more...)

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