Reprint-“Return”

This is a poem that I posted once before on my blog, but not alone. It is actually part of a much larger “journey poem” that needs a fair bit of work. Since I have been reflecting about Pakistan in recent posts, I thought that this poem about the last time I actually went there (1992-93) might be good to post. In all honesty, I think I rather need to reacquaint myself with Pakistan, its culture, and the its culture inside of me even more.
return
i stand and breathe
my last few gulps of air duty-free
shuffling up the aisle of this airlock
between atmospheres
soon i will be complete
torn into a duality
that appears unseamed in separate hemispheres
that tears each time they meet
at the touching of my sleeping eastern flesh
with east
i walk from the door
and I am me
in ways that i have not been for years
as thick warm eastern air enfolds me
and fills my lungs
displacing stale indifference
and leaves me coughing
sputtering
amidst these warm embraces
invading my protesting western space
amidst these cluttered streets
breaking life into me
more honest and complete
it may take some time to breathe

Forest Park Soundtrack

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Photo courtesty of explorestlouis.com
One of the many brilliant, free things about St. Louis is its crown jewel, Forest Park. Take a gander at these Google images pages. And even though I like my winters to be cold and snowy, yesterday was just too lovely and flirtatious a day to ignore its wooing.
So after church I decided to take a hike there, and with the goal of going off the paths. The only flaw in the plan was to not go home and change my shoes. Instead, I chose to go with the thrift store Doc Martens that I bought the day before which I had nowhere near broken in. My heels are still sore. But the pain did not begin until I was about 2/3 of the way through, so there was not much to do about it.
I imagine that there is probably not one inch of the park that is virginal, no line of its contours which has not been artificially shaped, but such shaping has been very well done for the most part, and that, combined with some magnificent buildings, often create the effect of being on location for a Jane Austen movie. Or for fleeting moments, one can imagine oneself on the shoulder of a mountain.
The most evocative moment of the afternoon, though, came from another, quirkier, blend of nature and human endeavor. It came as I was walking up a somewhat thickly wooded hillside. There was contant, high-pitched breathy drone from Highway 40 about half mile away. Immediately I was reminded of being at the top of a Himalayan peak in Pakistan, either amidst the pines (Mushkpuri) or just above the treeline (Miranjani). It was very like the sound of a strong wind rushing through their needles.
And for a fleeting moment I felt the lonely, joyous-sad, make-you-breath-deeply, feeling I felt then.
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Mushkpuri (9243 ft) and Miranjani (9763 ft) are mountains right next to one another. Miranjani has the more spectacular views, being higher. See picture with unknown tourist below. Mushkpuri is the snowy, lower peak in the background. It has more pine trees. I like peeking out from their cosyness toward the lonely, spaces and far-off peaks. Its top too, though, is tree-less, where once we used plastic groundsheets for improvised sleds. Brilliant.
Miranjani.jpg

Slanting Light…

…is one of the lovely things of the world. I cannot decide, though, if it is more the light itself or how it illuminates things differently that I like.
This morning it was both. Driving into work, crossing the state line into Illinois, listening to Sufjan’s Steven’s album of the same name, a bright, yellow sun was rising up and streaming on to the city of Alton. There seem to be a cliched set of words we use to describe sunlight, some of which I used in the previous sentence, but cliches are cliches exactly because they often express the sentiment best.
Alton, a city on a river bluff was perfectly situated to catch the light. It was awash in a light. The buildings were clean and fresh, like a baby just out of a bath. Further up the bluff, the eastern side of branches of trees were as white as birch bark. If not for the lack of sparkles, I would have sworn there had been an ice storm the night before.
Dramatically adding to the effect, indeed perhaps the only reason I paid attention to these pageants of beauty at all, was a dark, grey bank of clouds in the west behind them.
Ouch.

Two From the Vault

7/23, a fractional accounting of sorrow*
(reflection and epitaph)
a sabbath cycle sets this year, mom
and me 23
that means that come this time in a year
a third of my life will have gone by
without you
and slowly it goes on
the gradual slide to accept as commonplace
the thought that chilled with horror
my cozy childhood heart; me alive
without you
and so it will go on
until God moves His hand
in countless moments of joy and pain
the sun and rain will weather me
without you
——————————————
God, please let the mantle fall
of one who loved you well
and let me live like her
as she sought to live like you
and pierce and punctuate
the busy fabric of my life
with memory
infinity lite
i like the stars at dusk
one or two
that nestle in the blue
of a slowly darkening sky
as if they too
were only mirrors
like the moon
and hung within the tether range of earth
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*The current fraction? 19/36, over half a life. Commentary from Ache for Eternity on both poems is in the comments.

Copycat-But Beauty Wants Sharing

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This screen shot is from a whimiscal/beautiful advertisement, or “advert” as the Brits call it, that I became of aware through the auspices of Junkmail for Blankets via Karagraphy, two blogs which I highly recommend to you.
Click here to see the advertisement. Have patience and view a high definition version, perferably the long one. You will be rewarded.
Click here to view the making of video. It takes a bit of the magic away, but is fascinating. A man on the video notes how easy it would have been just to do this digitally, but that there is an “extra bit of soul in doing something real.” Amen to that, though I still want a digital camera.
No definitive word on whether the frog was planted, but I have my suspicions…

Band of Brothers

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Nathan, Neil, Lloyd, Jesse
How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down upon the collar of his robes.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.