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Archive for Essays

My religion is the open empty field

(1)

I passed through the window looking for the outside and landed back here in my mind.

When did I find this scene? I have never been here before but with closed eyes I smell the trees and summer afternoon. I can easily recall sepia-toned memories of the rusted red swing set surrounded by a chain link fence in the yard across the street from the old school that is now a church.

Do we ever leave behind childhood? No matter the desire and effort to push away from, to bury, to set fire to the house built for protection, a place to hide… it is still there in dreams and in passing and in the air you breathe.

Concealed beneath watery dreams, steam rising from the black tar, and autumn’s gift to the earth, I found what the wind guided me to… a portrait sparingly resembling myself.

I did not realize until then what I was even looking for. I did not know I was lost and scattered to the earth. I had never seen my own face.

In this moment of clarity, I let go of the self in the present and relinquished to the past, giving up the concept of moving through forward time into unexplored seconds. When I realized I have been here before with closed eyes, the space infused with scents of home.

(2)

Myths and legends of god’s thrones in the mountain passes, of spirits in the valleys and of the gateway hidden in the cloud shrouded peaks.

The snow mist and snow drifts conceal not only the mountain but ourselves as we lose and strip away false hoods and misconceptions of self.

I left this body, the only one I knew, and drifted into the open spaces.

Turning I saw what I was or I am and felt no regret as I drifted through the open fields into the valley and through the mountain pass.

(3)

Each visit to the open fields casts away burdens and questions. Each visit dips the body in water and bathes the mind in light. My religion has become the open field that opens the mind to limitless knowledge of the infinite universe with hints of my path and genesis.

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Fall 2014 Issue of Stone Path Review has been published

The Fall 2014 issue of Stone Path Review is now available for reading at http://www.stonepathreview.com and http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/823370?__r=322616

Interview with: Peter Vircks
Poetry by: Amanda Barusch, Anuja Ghimire, Deonte Osayande, Gary Glauber, Lisa Megraw, Ralph Monday, Robert Henschel, Jr., Rochelle Natt, Salvatore Folisi, Samantha Tetangco, Wendy Brown-Baez
Short Story by: John Richmond
Paintings by: Margaret Karmazin
Photography by: Kristy Johnson, Louis Staeble, Rohnda Monroy
Photography for written pieces by: Twisted Root Studios


Stone Path Review Fall 2014

Stone Path Review: Stone Path Review Fall 2014

Issue twelve of the artistic journal Stone Path Review featuring an interview with a musician, poetry, short story, paintings, and images of people and nature. The focus is what we harvest and what we become.

Find out more on MagCloud

Changing Paths

Changing Paths, by William Ricci


A few months ago, I found myself moving beyond my physical and mental limits. Limits I was not aware of until they surfaced and began pushing back and against the space I was within.

After hours squeezed into a sea kayak, paddling from Decision Point to Blackstone Glacier, beneath low, grey and heavy clouds, consistently showering our group, I found myself. Literally, I found the physical body that detached from my mind, wearing layers of shirts and pants, thick wool socks and hat, sleeping. Wrapped in the blue and orange mummy sleeping bag, pressed against the side of the tent, there were no dreams to be had. Exhaustion and the comfort of being dry for a few hours were all that mattered.

Outside, beneath the midnight sky, the wind howled, grabbing every branch and loose corner of the tent, slapping nylon against the ground, rocks, and itself. Off in the muted distance, rolling waves crashed on the rocky shoreline, and kayaks banged against other kayaks. Empty dreams morphed into fear of tents wrapped around trees or kayaks blown out to sea.

I have spent weeks in Alaska, and twice before I gave into the allure and call of the water – to be close, at its mercy and open to its power.

This time was different. This time the Sound won. The sound destroyed any postcard vision of the land, and replaced it with raw nature at its best. And I am humbled and grateful for the experience. I know years from now, when my perception of the events morphs and softens, the speed of the wind, amount of rain, and the 72 hours of being cold and wet, will not seem all that bad. But deep within, in the places not easily found and sometimes hard to explain or understand, my path changed. I changed and I feel different each day – I grew closer to the land, mountains, sea, sun and the energy flowing between all of them.

On Writing Poetry

I’ve spent most of the weekend reading a book titled “Sky Above, Great Wind”, the life and poetry of Zen Master Ryokan.  Out of the zen masters I have read, I am finding his teaching to be uncluttered, using only the words that are needed to show the path.  His poetry is sparse, honest, self-depracating, and beautiful in its approach and imagery.

This started a thought about the purpose of poetry and what works in a poem.  I think what is said and what is not said, are equally important in a poem.  Saying too much imbues the authors viewpoint on the reader, and leads them.  A poem should provide an idea or an image, and let each reader find their path, find their meaning.  A poem should be timeless and at the same time placeless, this allowing a poem to be enjoyed and understood regardless of where and when someone reads its words.

Zen Master Ryokan teaches zen, Buddhism, and what is a poem with these simple words:

You see the moon by pointing your finger.
You recognize the finger by the moon.
The moon and the finger
are not different, not the same.
In order to guide a beginner,
this analogy is temporarily used.
When you have realized this,
there is no moon, no finger.

Ryokan

What is a Poem?

Many people write poetry, or at least have at some time in their life, for various reasons and purpose.  Perhaps while journaling, a poem emerged from a thicket of weeds and grass.  Or when a significant other attacked the heart and soul, the only solace to be found was buried deep within Neruda, Rilke, and your own words.  These words probably flowed with little effort, the pen moving magically across the page.  But, what exactly is poetry, and why should we care about the technical aspects of poem and form?

Poetry consists of two distinct parts; the poem as the message or purpose, and the vehicle or delivery mechanism known as the form.

A poem expresses images, moments, daily activities, landscapes, soundscapes, life, and death through an assemblage of words.  A poem must read in such a way granting the audience an opportunity to grab hold of a word or image and experience it within.

The form is the vehicle and presentation system cradling words and gluing them together.  Depending on the writer’s focus or intention the form can enhance, play an active role such as visual poetry, or simply structure words logically into stanzas.  There are many examples of forms: ballad, sonnet, haiku, rhyming, which themselves have components parts such as stanzas, meter, etc.  The form is chosen by the author, or by the poem itself.

There is a perception that the free-verse form is the default when other forms fail to deliver.  Free-verse is still a well-structured form with its own rules and intricacies.  It provides a playground of sorts to move words around the page and optionally inject punctuation, spaces, pauses, and dashes.  It should be planned and treated the same respect as any other form.

When a piece begins to lend itself to a specific form, the form should be consistent, make sense, and followed throughout the entire piece.  Of course, not all rhyming poems rhyme in every stanza, but where there is a difference it should have been planned and for a reason.  Often, too much effort is put into a rhyming scheme that overshadows the stanzas and blocks the path a poem was heading down.

Form and structure can dictate line length, placement and choice of words, and how the message is presented.   In the simplest state of mind, a poem is an experience, a life or moment changing experience.  Therefore poetry is the art and understanding of how to balance these two forces pulling at each other.  It is the equilibrium of concept and image with the structure used to convey abstract or concrete thoughts.

When the ink dries the two distinct parts of poetry will come together in a piece that is an extension of yourself, while allowing a reader to peer through the windows you have created.