Poem for the Summer Solstice, June 2017

06-20-17 – Rice Light is an Aging Process: A Light Poem after Jackson Mac Low

I send peace and bear witness to Charleena Lyles following her murder.


“To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread.” – James Baldwin



Written while listening to Narkopop by Gas



In dreams leading up to today:

Templates and types.


Spirits representing absence and presence.


The waking moment of remembering:

Sun or cloud, light blue or gray skies.

Layers upon layers of light. Layered light.


I parse through this field of light:

Objects and images illuminated.

I think of the flattened.

I think of the indistinguishable.

I think of the eviscerated.

Or just the barely recognizable.


A coastal way of seeing the world.


Through abundance, the question:

Where do these ideas come from?


It is warm inside, and outside, today, Tuesday,


The rain has stopped, for a moment.

I eat purple potatoes covered in salt, pepper, chili paste.


The light of the rice filling all the empty spaces.


This private space where I eat.

This public space where I live.

Private land bleeding into public land.

Or otherwise.



In a capsized light / thinking of Jackson Mac Low’s / endless sequences



Actually, they do end.

Like his beautiful descriptions of intimacy,

Which I want to go on and on, forever.

Which I wish could be written by me right now.


I remember the brine in the air.



In a hearty shower of light

There is divided time.

There is time: divided.

There is: physical awareness.

Mental joy through landscapes.


Despite reality, and knowing

What exists, what violence is out there,

I think of all the unsung accomplishments

And knowing more now than ever before.


I remember commenting on softness of light

But also a grainy ground filled with stones for throwing

And stepping upon.


I remember the horseshoes thrown

And an exchange of time:

An activity bluish when objectified.



The Cascades arranged / beyond this county park / like a choir / the damnation of our cyber / networks just out of touch / excision of the cruelty / the oppressive tossed aside / my lips are chapped with / a Saturday’s mocking / intensity / Puget Sound Day Dream / Reality and it is so rapid




I take little for granted in this curvy light

This tantalizing light

This extensive seasonal light


I have stopped taking for granted the people in my life

And I know them well enough

though some bring me pain and some I bring pain to


And pleasures

There are those


There is no way to share light with everyone of course

And exchange and be well and affirming


I scrape the few grains of cooked white rice up with my fork

To say I shoveled these grains

Reminds me of scraping the ½ inch of snow off the Maine driveway as a kid







Snow arouses and projects my verse

I think about the strangeness of longer days

And a longer mind, like walking across sand dunes



It was freezing at Lake Melakwa this past weekend where I saw the visions of friends and family loom over me like caretakers in that cold, watery pinnacle


in the alpine lakes, one of grave, chiseled light


I remember also back in February Camp Wariki and being lifted by 8 men above their shoulders after just having been pinned down and smashed into the ground like a flattened crab. It was that lifting of my heart: the blood pumping rapidly, my eyes twin streams, that created a cavity, an opening.


Some might call it a blessing.


A chatoyant light from one realm to the next


We move from state to state

Revelation to revelation

Illumination sequentially


We are, quote:

Chill and embraced.




When rivers are born: a concept / that pleases me.



Seeing the spillover creating the stream of light known as the Pratt River.

And understanding the mechanisms that are in place carrying one space to the next.

Carrying one idea to the next.


Think water: as life.

Think forest: as metaphor for water.

Think of the glacier as the artist above the forest.



It is glacial light I often identify / with, or find myself surrounded by




According to the English instructors at my school,

Seven seconds is the best period of time to await a response from the class.

Do not force the students to speak immediately.

They say: Have them take seven seconds to think through their response.


I stare at my keyboard for seven seconds before typing.

I have been rapidly moving from the light of each person in my life,

Wondering what to say of them. Considering a hierarchy of value.

In a better mind, observation is a plateau. It is 360 degrees.


There are four directions and a fourth dimension. All is visible. All identifiable.

Ideally, we see everyone the same. And they are all important.

But then I think of James Baldwin and his ideas and there is frustration.

I want to know how to break idealism but not forget each variation of light.


How? Another light poem, maybe.



There they all are, at this / freezing and beautiful lake. / I feel the dampness of my toes. / The verge of shiver, / and I know it’s time to go.




In yesterday’s coffee and donut America,

I sat to write a light poem that is not this light poem.

I sat in Seattle, as I am sitting now.

My feet were sore and swollen, as they are now.

My knees aching a Cascadian ache, as they are now.



Totality of illumination.



Today I started writing this poem with the following:


I think of light falling upon my mother and her travels. I wish her peace and wellness.

I think of light falling upon my father wherever and hope his suffering is minimal. I wish him peace and wellness.

I think of light falling upon my younger sister and my younger brother. I wish them peace and wellness.

I think of light falling upon those who struggle with anxiety, depression, and other disabling energies. I wish them peace and wellness.

I think of light falling upon my artist friends so that they may create what is necessary, what is imperative. I wish them peace and wellness.

I think of light falling upon those whose societies have forsaken them. I wish them peace and wellness.



Right now in this creamy light

I think of how much I love my friends.



Right now in this studious light

I think of how much I love everyone.


Mellow plastic light. Structurally sound light. Whisper light. Fragrant light. Peripheral breeze light.


We live in a world of tyranny and subterfuge.

But there are four directions.

And the work is being done.

And quote: “I wanted to imbue this one with a / peaceful ritual.” Unquote.

And quote: “The grandest surprise of the poem / is what’s already included.” Unquote.



In the cafe these words, in a different order were written:


Possession of awareness


            Robert Duncan sitting

                            on a log

            or stool.


Waiting for the enlightenment of the

images to just arrive

            Thinking of Spicer now.

But they must be instilled.

            Thinking of Olson and Pound now.

I must admit, like a beaming

marmot with language like frozen

liquid, that I only came back to this

bakery because of the gorgeous and happy

baker—and she’s here this time too.

[and gorgeous and happy still.]

And so . . . thinking of Rexroth.

The idea of the love poem like

that of the light poem . . .

it is less of romance and

more of this universality, of


This: Be present before

            the letting of the love (and the

work) loosen itself