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Life Arts    H4'ed 1/28/21

Reflection of the self followed by thoughts on the writing of this poem

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(Instruction: Read slowly to accompaniment of Yann Tierson: .youtube.com/watch?v=o5fUnZ9YxME, start at 10.00, low volume)


Fraction of the jobs
Conservative interests
From the sacred tree
Full of amusing things


With loving insight
Branch on a tree
Hundreds of stories
Lost sight of


If I must say something
Appears from emptiness
It became a game
The palm tree won


Ancient principles
Other social classes
Rickety foundation
Training for the man


Suddenly thrown out
Into the blinding sunlight
Each intelligence comprises
Mosaic of patterns


Swimming with frogs
I walk on and on
Regard to passion
Poem with picture


Apologists had explained
Undergoes the change
Entered the gate
Reflection of the self


Orienting themselves
Inside the young child
Strangely piquant
Queen of the dead


Without knowing them
A day or two later
Pressed into the surface
Slippery to grasp


Misinterpreting sensations
Out to the very edges
A curious resistance
The crumbled car


Showers of flowers
Boy walking the hills
Still blocking energy
Only way to escape


You've been so nice
Longing fell away
May I come again?
Secret of this practice


Your everyday life
The actual feeling
Swear to me
Deer in the field


You already knew
Artistic disorder
In the usual sense
The one surviving manuscript


No need to understand
Upon my knees
Fed the flames
Four kinds of horses


With angry humiliation
In crimson shadow
Chorus under the sun
Full human knowing


How can I sleep?
The tenderest grasses
So I was free again
Life becomes the axis


Taste it, swallow it
This is bad business
Extraordinary sense of power
Has a better chance


The capricious earth
Scales of reality
Smiled at the ceiling
So many young people


Receiving the inspiration
Some crummy coffee
Their forgetfulness
Reflection of the self

..........

Thoughts on the writing of this poem:

I have written a number of these longish poems that are meant to be read aloud to the accompaniment of a soundtrack. The language is not original to the poet, but the groupings of the lines is original, as is the whole of the nonlinear narrative of the metaphors and images in the finished piece. My process for writing these poems is as follows: I sit at my desk surrounded by my library from which I randomly pull about 6 or seven books from a handful of subjects. I choose a book from the pile and open to a chance page, letting my eyes wonder down the lines of the text until I see three or four words that can stand alone as a unit of meaning. It can be a description, a bit of conversation, or part of a list. After typing a couple sentence fragments (onto a blank page on my laptop) I open to another place in the same book and I repeat this operation a few more times before moving to another book and so on working through the pile. I don't stop until I have a column of 60+ phrases. At this point they are in a vertical sequence in order of their quasi-random selection. I say quasi-random because each one attracted me for a reason, albeit a "weak" reason, that I would be hard put to explain. The fact is there is an intelligence that is guiding this process, and "I" am only partly in control of it. (More on that by and by.) Once I have my stack of sentence fragments, I begin reordering them very methodically, but without paying any attention to any of the language. I force myself to dull my vision. I cut and copy the first two lines and paste them somewhere in the middle. I copy the last two lines and move them to the top. I repeat this copy / move / paste operation until I feel certain that the original groups are completely dispersed. Then I separate the lines into three or four line stanzas. Then I rearrange these stanzas to different placements, still dulling my gaze. I do this until something tells me that I have created enough chaos to be able to reinstate a new static order and I stop. Now I read what I have for the first time. Normally I am amazed that there is a kind of disjointed narrative that makes its own sense, sort of the way a dream makes sense. All I have to do is alter the placement of a few lines and single out one or two phrases that I repeat at irregular intervals to serve as a chorus, such as, in this poem, "reflection of the self". Now I consider the poem finished. Finally I see how it reads to the soundtrack. If the soundtrack I picked doesn't work I hunt for one that does. There are similarities between this technique and throwing the I-Ching. Without going into this in too much depth, the idea is, in all serious poetry there are archetypal patterns around which units of meaning constellate. With the I-Ching it is the synchronistic grouping of the trigrams that communicates the gist of the oracle. In this technique for breaking up the linearity of composing a poem it is the synchronistic ordering of the sentence fragments that carries the meaning. The more fragmentary the units of meaning the easier it is for the larger intelligence of the Self to move into the process. Really though, this is a collaboration between the small self of the poet and the large Self of the creative psyche and the results are often refreshingly original and even, at its best, oracular.

Books used:

The Chalice and the Blade Eisler

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying Sogyal Rinpoche

Man and Transformation Bollingen Series XXX

Becoming Animal Abrams

The Maiden King Robert Bly

Women in Praise of the Sacred Hirshfield

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind Shunryn Suzuki

Ask the Dust Fanta


(Article changed on January 28, 2021 at 17:31)

(Article changed on January 28, 2021 at 17:34)

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger  and author of several books, the latest: 13 Seeds: Health, Karma and Initiation. Over the last few years he has begun calling himself an activist poet, channeling his activism through poetic (more...)
 

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