Archive for July, 2008

Independence Day

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 7/4/08

Monocroping is no issue here, the yard
Being enveloped in a mishmash of wild
And cultivated foliage, which forms a
Bird and insect permeable, but otherwise
Impenetrable membrane around the property,
Affording the inhabitants a quiet enclave
Of privacy and joy. Pitasporum, several
Varieties of ivy, pear, plum, rose briers,
Alders, tallow, ligustrum, even bamboo
Baffle the incoming commotion
Of the neighborhood, so that a filtered
Language of light and sound saturates
This vivarium with the euphonious
Embossings of children’s laughter,
Bird song and insect stridulation —
Such a hullabaloo of flyby talk
From the gods and goddess of health
And change that happiness is injected
Directly into the senses, as though upon
The grounds of a medieval palace
A peacock’s cry had brought us the news
Of the day, saying, in the that wondrous
“This is the place to live.” Any inadvertent
Re-entry, say, just strolling out of the house,
Pollinates the spirit, not only with the step
By step linkages of nature, but also with
The more dissociative boundings of the imagination,
The vegetation becoming cunningly figured columns
Of wild agate and wilder jade,
Whose intricacies announce from the blues
And gold of a supreme artisan:
“I am the queen of life, the maker of worlds,”
Her message threading the mazes of the hedges,
Easily, lightly, briskly,
Just as it does the mazes of our hearts.

Salty Blessing

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 7/11/08

An aggressive high tide has usurped the salt flats
Of the estuary channel, and, backed by the muscle
Of a militant wind, she roughs up and pushes back
Her languid freshwater creek. The evening air is cooling
After days of heat, and there is just enough respite
From the constant atavistic struggle of tyranny
And anarchy to discover something beyond
That nervous laughter, which separates our heads
From our bodies in times of stress or revelation.
In this uneasy between-space, we listen to the voice
Of the summer’s saber master. How arrogantly
He praises the unseen underwater darkness
And turbulence. “When you kill,” he says,
Through the interminable bird, insect,
And water ruckus, “it is different each time,
Just as it is different each time you bed
A women.” And as we hear these
Blasphemies, the whole of the estuary
And its entire tidal environs becomes somehow
More actual, more savage, in a way that lifts
The heavy, hitherto incombustible, curtain
Of the day, and ruffles its deckled fringe
With the hurrying fires of sunset.
We have to admit that these movements
Are evocative of an ineffable strangeness,
Half terror, half delight, in which love
Takes root again, even in the very maw of fear.
And thus, thus, we are calmed, when the tide-line
Wrinkles its long white scar, as if,
Serpentine and insentient as she is,
She can still inhale the immaculate odor of prayer.

Practice the Presence

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Hidden Opportunity

Hidden Opportunity

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 7/7/08

This ivy’s trunk, as thick as a man’s girth,
Is both self-supported and self-strangled
By its own subsidiaries, which are mostly
Hidden by the glossy, outer flourishings
Of its leaves. The whole of the plant is
Interwoven with the tall hedge’s varieties
Of dense shrubberies and dwarf trees,
So that its tapestries appear and disappear
Like the colors of heaven, creating a deep
Forest for the wandering vision, whose pathways
All lead inward. In here, down here,
In the under-formations, the sounds of the Cross
And the Book slip far away into the distance,
As the Sky-Father’s black iron barrier dissolves
Into pulse-throb and birdsong. And because we have
Ears to hear, the high weirdness of all that begrudging
Lizard-love gives way to a green jostling
Of interior tongues — slithery, swift —
From which the word “dragon” emerges.
We read the letters as we would gaze
Upon a living creature, stock-still as iron,
But breathing, breathing, and illuminated along its
Alien skin by spots of pale blue light shot through
With so many other subtler, more crinkly
Colors that it is difficult to tell which is
The true one. The dragon stares at us.
And for a long time, we stare back,
Too shocked by the silence and by the ivy’s
Primal rawness to speak. And what would
We say? “Give us two virtues: The first,
Your instinct. The second, the ability to trust
It.” These would be boons worth receiving,
Even if from a dragon, twin fires that might
Mollify the iron and forge into something far
More faithful our stubborn and ferocious human hearts.


Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 7/8/08

Unseasonable lightning-strike fires
Have prowled, uncontrolled, through our mountains
For more than two weeks, and high pressure
Inversions have made our cities infernal
Vapor chambers. Now, along the elevation
Of a crowded freeway, we see a row of exhausted
Eucalyptus, and we wonder what sort of sad,
Human fatuity has prevented us from feeling
The profound grief of vegetation.
Without reproach, the trees, their drought-stricken
Branches rising and falling only to the wheezing
Of car exhaust, tell us of the signals that occur
Just before our social conditioning perverts
Our sense perceptions. Here, the conspiracies
Of the periphery, freed from all false premises,
All masking of sight or touch or taste or smell or sound,
Complete their trajectories through a magical
Phase-space of random advances and non-random
Feedback. For the first time, perhaps, we can sense
Beyond sensing, how the spastic movements
Of head and upper body, rhythmic and periodic,
Of certain autistic children, have paralleled
The movements of these trees and of the humps
And hollows of hillsides denuded by fire.
From this chaos, something complex and gigantic
Is taking shape. This Master takes hold of us,
And through the immense power of his active will,
He thrusts the padding of the bombasted
Intellect outside of itself, and confronts us
With the disinterested instinct of branching —
Branching in trees, in fires, in nerves. Suddenly,
We are ravaged by a new mode of consciousness
Called “Naked,” where we at last attain,
Even in this obscuring smokiness,
To the pellucid immobility of compassion.


Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Incalculable Musical Researches
Baby Says “Sky”

Incalculable Musical Researches

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 6/30/08

Just at the cresting top of the gigantic fan
Of this sycamore, a breeze, not very far
Removed from its mother, the sea,
Innocently alchemizes the dark/light swiftness
Of greens into murmurous silvers.
The sight sees these dancing metals against
The foil of a June-noon-blue of sky, and a body,
Not wholly physical, sails up to the flighty, defuse
Surfaces, and rubs fingers, hands, forearms,
Forehead, hair against the revelation, trying to make its
Own integral, resonating marks to weave
Human and tree together in a fermenting
Copulation of sap and vision, blood and leaf-sensation.

The mundane greatness of this coronation,
For a moment re-establishes the empire of peace,
Whose sovereign still beautifully deifies
And unites the numbers of music, mathematics,
And the sky. This is how that perpetually winged,
Yet fleeting, dissolution differentiates between
Precise questions — “Who created this magic? —
And spontaneous assertions — “Stand erect.
Inhale a complete breath. Release same.”

Now we can exile that accountant, who is
Always commanding us to submit to the rules of putrification.
And now our 25,920 daily responsibilities
Can no longer resist the reign of lucidity.
Because now, the other, the one in the tree, the one of the tree,
The we that bursts free from the binding strictures of me,
Insidiously invigorates the body
With the thrashings of the hybrid sycamore,
So that the whole of the ocean mated with noon and the sky,
Sweeps overhead, and gathers unweighed silvers,
Like stars touching stars, chiming and chiming,
Without recourse to numbers.

Baby Says “Sky”

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 6/28/08

The senses, too, have a destined parentage, so that
Seeing these pastel clouds, blotted misshapenly
By sunlit boulders of weightless mass,
We hear our distracted father, his voice fading
As if he has just leaped off of a high, dark bridge:
“I have lost you, my innocence, my child,
And now I am sentenced to life by drowning.”
But before his suicide, the father had foretold
Of a frontier of perception, of clouds parted
By the to and fro of angels, of a shining canopy
Of enormous flowers and of burgeoning, unknowable
Trees, each thing and no-thing shaped and reshaped
Beyond his punitive editorial lash.
Here, the mother, so long disparaged for her
Style, sits quivering happily,
Sewing a patchworked fabric to seamlessness.
A new feminine sense receptor, conflating sight
And sound and taste and smell and touch,
Arises like honey just at the tip of the tongue —
In one sphere, matter a-swirl with simulation.
The angels stop for a second. The clouds stand still,
As that great frontier —
A blue made sweet by the mating of water and air —
Is at last traversed by a flight of infant words.