Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: A City of Roses Kind of Night

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All photographs by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

Night, canvass for city’s dashes, strokes;
lights, sharp or soft gestures in dark like
greetings tacked onto daylight farewells
as I explore alleys that curl and strike
through each block traversed.
These were scarred caverns, warehouses
where now entrepreneurs set up shop,
and housing, the sips ‘n eats and chic ice cream
along shiny parkways: like a giant bullhorn
it shouts new new new. I regret and accept this.

Every corner hawks its lore, ferments ideas.
Emptied lots host food cart delights,
a window is a doorway to other doors,
old industry is broken into new lines
that frame present and future,
each a step removed from the past.
Rubble can be made cutting edge,
even if not buried under thirty floors.
This big brightness of prosperity
hums in the night like a forgotten
tune reworked; it catches my ear.
I want to hum, too, though progress
may spurn a romance like mine.

But this is my rose; I’ve come to adore it.
My city has brought me to its embrace
through rains (and pain) that shatter air,
heat (and longing) that leaches greenness,
dirt and smog (and anger) that get into my house
like a pestilence. And then those winds–
they play every chime as if made of silver
and gold, spells of joy by day and an
alarm in odd, fang-studded nights.
Some voices that cry out are human flares.
I need this familiar and strange beauty,
even weeping, snarling. Prayer and love in shadows.

I carry my heart on and off the streets
to find people, a glory of sights,
twisty tales with more to come.
We all have our hands out, minds ajar.
No one gets away without something
to tuck into, to take back somewhere.
We slide by one another, eyes sweet

or lost in the kindness of lamp light.
We are who we wish under veil of night
in the deep wells of our city,
inside this Northwestern flower, its
perfumes that wreathe steel and glass,
wonders which will make way for others
beneath the vast presidio of mountains.

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Friday’s Quick Pick/Poem: The View You Seek

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All photographs by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

This life as we imagine it draws breath,
expands and shrinks as is required, while
a universe births and thrives in a water drop.
It is a signal of more, a homily for humility.
Yet the scramble of cogitation thrills us and
we are diverted into mazes, veering off course.
Angst-ridden inquiry tends toward dead ends.

Try instead a pilgrimage of quietude.
Be chased and adorned by salty tang of sea,
let spontaneous wind usurp the worry, fear.
It matters less that you win a solution
and more that a stream of tawny or aqua sky
slips over the aching slope of your shoulders.
Any thoughts you hold close will captivate you.

This cave brought you here to lead you from
yourself, mend cracks and knots you’ve sustained
as has this earth with its eons of wisdom, power, beauty.
Why do you hope to find an enduring answer
within ego’s declarative restraints, its petty smallness?
Sit awhile with volcanic sand and agate, crab and whale,
wave and wing, the headland a bulwark against storms.

Visions and knowledge arise and find you here;
your compass trembles, horizon shines, skin sighs.
The soul does not need to solve one single thing,
nor travel fast or far to find its truth and be at home.
It feels familiar because it has made a place here, in you.

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Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Soul Sailing

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Photos of Tillamook River rest area, Tillamook, OR. by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

That light is captured by treetops again.
It shakes free its magic and onto me.
I slide into a leafy river afternoon;
earth refines its song, music for living.
What is this tugging
at the corners of my soul?

It becomes a broad sail shining so I go,
passing by smallest creatures that
know me by my name and I, theirs.
This is easy falling in love,
sun riding wind caressing earth,
more sparks from the universe.
Everything is in this balance.
Whatever has been, shall be sacred,
revealed in cathedrals of earth.

So tell me: why do we hurt each other?
Do the skies wound mountains,
or mountains defy their forests,
rivers bleed cradling lands or
lands shun bits of stones hidden deep?
We claim the same privilege of life;
it seeks not to rend, never to ruin us.

Forget not the Giver who loves,
hold back no small act of honor.
Find the root and its branches;
they anchor us, one to another.
This I recall by glossy waters,
by the greenness of things.

There, light is captured by treetops again.
It shakes free its magic, onto me.
I slide, reach inside a bloom of sun
sheltering a summer sky, soul gliding
like hope to truth, heart to heart.

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Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Night Vocabulary

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Then night’s dark environs curved a cave
about as I shut eyes and mind cruised
among a cornucopia of thoughts,
such a banquet that seemed not to
whet my appetite, so I let go and fell

in a wilderness of words, nets
of rapture and folly that caught me,
brave conspiracy of verbal happiness,
a wardrobe of syllables crafted for me
of dismal slags and daring surprise.

Such vocabulary leaving and arriving
hews deep, familiar pathways
to moments which manifest life
despite being paused–by age or health,
temporary material circumstance;

or that restlessness of worry,
all the hard prayers to high slung moons.
Every arc of words creates a visage
of love that recognizes me or not as yet
as I navigate waves of wakeful slumber.

These tricky acrobatics of curiosity,
capricious nouns holding forth, verbs astir,
a language of energy launching me toward
horizons colored with shining letters…
ah, may language of this small bestowed life not desert me.

May I attend and serve until the ending blesses.
And we shall leap, drift into rhapsodies of silence.

Friday’s Photography/Poem: High Desert Enchantment

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(Over the years we’ve spent time in Oregon’s breathtaking high desert and ranch lands. Our state is nearly 45 percent desert despite having lush forests and much rain in the western part. We once stayed at Kah-nee-ta Lodge, a resort on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and owned by Warm Spring Tribes. I felt a stranger in a strange land….but found it all compelling. Enjoy some photos of the area below. You will soon understand the expressions on our faces: true enchantment.)

Winds talk. Shape time. I listen to
stories riding on brittle air,
Native, Caucasian, Hispanic
tales woven and split apart like
strands of rope, bracelets
of bright, hard beads,
rawhide twisted and turned.
I am silenced, prepare for
discovery, too much I do not know.

Those old, old voices mumble,
whisper and entreat. They shear
rock and sand, insistent,
striated with memory of blood
coursing, blood spilling.
A woman like me can be entranced
so slips through mirages, spirits,
springs for healing, treacherous passes.
A landscape erupting with grief.
Desire. Power. Peace.

Raw beauty is strong,
burrows deep in dreaming,
hallowed and dangerous like a charm.
The scents of heat in high desert:
harrowing and pungent so it stings
but brightens the senses. The mind.
Light on rocky buttes, in valleys–
so pure I pray as it bridges earth
to Crooked River, volcanic ridge to beyond.
Chase it, embrace the land’s heart,
magic of juniper, sagebrush,
common woolly sunflower.
Life recapitulating. Surviving.

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